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Saturday, 29 May 2021

A YEAR OF WEAVING


It's more than a year since I reported on my weaving exploits so I thought it was time for a catch up.


Weaving has become a passion for me and I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can interpret the things I see into woven textiles. 
This cushion for my granddaughter Steph's birthday last year was inspired by her geological slides of rock formations which I have already drawn and machine embroidered in previous years.


Kirsty, my eldest granddaughter, was setting up home with her partner Barney so I decided to make them some special place mats for her birthday. The words are their Instagram hashtags and they loved them!


Youngest granddaughter Sarah is a nature lover so her cushion depicts her beloved trees.


My sister Juliet came to live in France last year so her birthday cushion was designed to go with her new red rocking chair.


I have a subscription to the Weavers, spinners and dyers journal and some of the articles are very inspiring, the one about Saori weaving in particular caught my eye.  For this process the idea is to weave using a variety of different textures and making it up as you go along.  I used the colours of my garden as inspiration for this cushion starting at the bottom in winter and going through the seasons right to the walnuts near the top.


Living by the sea is wonderful and every time we walk on the beach I come home with a head full of ideas and this method of weaving lends itself perfectly to these wavy lines.  This was daughter Joanna's cushion this year.


Last year I made Jo a cushion to go with the new sofa she planned to buy for her renovated kitchen.



Just for a change I had the idea of making covers for the cute tins our tea comes in that are far too nice to throw away.  I had a lot of fun working in the strings of beads I acquired in a charity shop at Christmas.  The make lovely pots for pens and crochet hooks too!


This year I made Kirsty a cushion cover inspired by a sunset at sea.  She had taken me on a virtual tour of their new apartment and I spotted that her bedroom was decorated in burgundy and gold colours so I came up with this design.
I knitted the throw in the background using more of my yarn stash, lots of fun working diagonally and knitting in each square as I went along.  It's very cosy with a black velour backing.


I made myself a new shoulder bag from an old plain one with a weaving using some of the lovely blue yarns in my collection for the front.


Steph asked for a bag as well to use for her shopping trips to the local farm shop and I was delighted to make this using some fabulous wax print fabric for the lining.


This wall hanging was inspired by the ripples left on the beach when the tide goes out and I have incorporated some shells gathered on the shoreline.  They are attached to the yarns using a hot glue gun.
Well that's all the weaving so far but I have been experimenting with tapestry after buying an instruction book a couple of months ago.  I'll share what I've learned with you next time.
By the way, apparently Blogger is changing how you get notified about my blogs and in future I think there won't be any email notifications so you'll have to keep an eye out on Colours in the Breizh on Facebook instead. 
A bientot!

 

Saturday, 27 February 2021

3 SILVER BIRCHES


My latest wall hanging is a felted and hand embroidered depiction of the three silver birches growing in our garden.  We planted them about 16 years ago and as they are visible from my kitchen window I'm always observing the changes through the seasons and over the years.  I've sketched and painted them many times as they have grown but this is their first incarnation in stitch.


I started with a base made of coloured wool tops which I had bought a few years ago when I thought I would try my hand at felting.


 I built up the layers using appropriate colours and pulling the wisps apart to make the shapes I required and added some chopped up pieces of mohair and silk yarn for the twiggy bits at the top of the branches At this stage the image is very loose and fluffy.


 I then began the felting process which involves wetting the piece, rubbing soap all over, covering it with nylon net curtain, wrapping in bubble wrap and then spending about 15 minutes massaging and turning the piece around until all the wool has begun to blend together.



Then I rolled it up in a bamboo place mat and rolled it in all directions till the felting process was complete, another 15 minutes of rolling and rinsing in hot water to remove the soap and I ended up with a piece of felt quite a bit smaller than I had started with.  I put it in a warm place to dry ready for the next step.



I started to hand stitch the details on the trunks, shrubs and distant trees.


I decided to extend the piece with another piece of felt which I prepared and then attached by extending the branches beyond the edge of the first part.


This picture shows some of the equipment necessary to do the felting, the original photo of the trees and the work in process.



A close up of the felted on yarns of the extension ready to be joined to the bottom part of the picture.


It's nearly finished and now all I had to do was add some extra long branches to use to tie to the twig I cut from a fallen branch of the tree to make the wall hanging you can see at the top of this story.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this description of my work and maybe you'll think of having a go at felting too, just remember the yarns must be wool to be sure they blend together in the felting process.

 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

FLOODED WOODS


This month has been rather wet and there are many flooded areas all over the country.  We are fortunate to live at the top of the hill and don't see much standing water so when I spotted this view in the woods on our regular Saturday walk I had to stop and take a photo.


The sky looked wonderful reflected in the pool and I knew this could be the inspiration for a textile art piece.


The first thing I always do is to make a sketch to try and understand the layout of the elements of the picture and to think about how to set about portraying it in fabric and stitch.


I had a handful of fabrics treated with matt acrylic medium already painted with a home made mixture of natural ochre pigments from Roussillon and acrylic medium, just waiting for their chance to be used.
I discovered the treated fabrics adhered to each other with the application of heat so first I ironed the base layer of crinkly cotton fabric to some plain white cotton using a sheet of baking parchment to protect my iron.


I then built up the picture with an assortment of scraps cut from the remains of other recent projects.  
I should say here that nothing is ever thrown away in my workroom where I have a big bag under my table where everything is put to wait for re-purposing.


I machine embroidered the first layer of trees and grasses, then cut some more trees out of a lighter brown for the foreground tree trunk.


Lots more machining to give texture and complete the picture.


The back looked rather interesting too so I decided to use a translucent iron on interfacing for the title.



I edged the trimmed picture with brown overlocking stitch then went round again stitching on a length of brown woollen yarn.


The finished picture, photographed on my pine desk, measures 28 x 20 cms. 








 

Sunday, 3 January 2021

PFA 2020 COMPLETED WALLHANGING


Here at last is my completed 2020 Postcard Fabric Art challenge wall hanging.  Each A4 sized card has an eyelet in each corner so that they can be joined to form this piece measuring 85 x 90 cms now hanging in my entrance hall.


Following on from my last post in the summer the next month was June and the 1930s theme.  I chose to highlight the inventer of the A to Z of London, Phyllis Pearsall, a publication which made a huge difference to my life as a representative driving around the city and the rest of the country.


In July the 1940s and the Women's Land Army became my focus and especially as my mother worked there in her twenties during the war and wore this particular uniform.


The 1950s in August and the fashions of Christian Dior were a highlight. My mother became a mum to me in Sweden where she was living at the time with my dad, and as she was a dressmaker I could imagine her sewing and wearing a dress like this.


The 1960s was the subject in September and my time at art college became the theme.  I printed a page from my sketchbook, collaged a handful of images and hand stitched my portraits of the time in black thread.


In the 1970s for October I chose the start of my married life with Bob and the setting up of our home together.


In November the 1980s and 1990s saw us working hard to save for our boat and enjoying our spare time sailing around the south of England and across the channel.  This piece started as another group's  challenge during the lockdown in spring and then seemed perfect for this month's card.


In December we were challenged to come up with an idea for the 2000s and beyond and our life since we retired here in France in 2003 was a perfect choice as the subject.  We bought a camping car and spent our holidays exploring our new country as well as further afield in Spain and Sweden where we searched out my birthplace.
All the pieces in this collection were made using fabric collage and hand and machine embroidery.  I'm lucky to have a large stash of assorted fabric to choose from to make the appropriate parts and frames for the pictures.
I also want to thank Ann Hillman Lamy for her original idea for this wonderful group which works so well with people around the world sharing their work and inspiring each other. In 2021 we have a whole new set of challenges to try so maybe I'll share some of them here in the future.

 

Sunday, 13 December 2020

TREES, TREES, TREES!


Did I ever tell you that I have always loved trees? 
I love to observe them in their natural habitat and to interpret them in drawing and stitch.
We have a deodara tree in our front garden, first planted about 15 years ago that is now nearly as tall as our house.  This year I decided to make images of it for my family Christmas cards.



These first two are free machine embroidered in three different greens on some sun printed fabrics.



This is hand embroidered in thick yarns on to a black linen background.


The background for this one is something I made a few years ago, dyed interfacing that went all crinkly and produced those lovely lines that look like a wintry forest.


Earlier this year during the lockdown I decided to make a little wall hanging from a photo of trees taken at an arboretum I visited with Justine last year, it's woven on a small pin loom.


My granddaughter Sarah is also passionate about trees so I made her a woven tapestry cushion cover with a forest on the front.


Last year I used another photo taken at Winkworth arboretum to make this autumnal tapestry.


This is an earlier attempt at embroidered weaving, it's a bit rough but was useful as a learning process.


When we go away in our camping car I'm always on the look out for interesting trees to depict in hand stitching, done while we're away as a sort of postcard to myself. There are lots more but I'll post them another day.  
Have a very happy, safe Christmas and lets hope for a much better 2021.