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Friday, 17 July 2020

LOCKDOWN LANE TEXTILE ART



At last I've completed my Lockdown Lane piece of textile art, started as a response to the nature we studied on our walks during the lockdown.  It started on March 17th here in France and we were restricted to one kilometre of home and one hour of walking, this meant we walked a similar circuit nearly every day in different directions so that we got enough exercise to keep ourselves fit.



I soon started to notice the different flowers as they came into bloom and picked a few to take home and draw, as you may have seen  in the previous post, but also as the sun was very strong for a few days I started to make sun prints using acrylic inks and pieces of old sheets.  Very soon I had a stack of these pretty images and started wondering how I could use them. At the same time the Textile Artist.org group had started a series of video workshops and one in particular caught my imagination: Cas Holmes who showed us how to join all sorts of pieces together and stitch on top to tell a story.



Another workshop by Sue Stone suggested sampling various stitches to see how many different ways they could be used.  I've used a lot of chain stitch to depict these flowers on fine organza which I later cut out to applique to the main piece.


The dandelion is stitched on black linen using a single thread as suggested by Emily Tull in her excellent workshop on careful observation.


I had a lot of fun with the spider using a shiny thread on pale blue organza.


I love to see the different grasses as they grow and flower.



This is the start of the story in March when there were only a few flowers: wild garlic, primrose and violets, soon to be joined by the bluebells and celandines, daisies and dandelions in April.


The swallows came back in the middle of April and it's such a joy to see these acrobatic birds as they celebrate their return to their old barn where they nest every year.  The plantain flowers and cow parsley were joined by the ragged robins and scentless May weed in May.


One of my favourite spring flowers is the navelwort with it's tall spikes of pale green flowers that usually appear on the shady parts of the lane like slim candles. Red campion and foxgloves add some more colour to the banks in semi shade.




I added a winter tree at the beginning as there are no green leaves in the middle of March but by the end of three months all the trees were covered of course!


A few more little blooms from the meadow, clover and buttercup,  fumitory and herb Robert that pepper the sides of the road like little pink stars.
I hope you've enjoyed my stroll down our lanes and may even be inspired to try interpreting nature in stitch yourself.
Here are the instructions for sun printing if you fancy having a go.



Thursday, 4 June 2020

SPRING WILD FLOWERS IN DANGER


We've been in Covid 19 confinement since March 17th and apart from missing seeing friends and visiting family we've coped very well.

The government rules at the beginning meant we could only walk within 1 kilometre radius of our home for no more than one hour a day.  

Living in a beautiful part of Brittany we felt very fortunate to have plenty of lanes and fields to walk through and as we did a walk every day we became very familiar with the nature on our doorstep.

We observed each new spring flower as it bloomed and I carefully gathered only two or three of each species to take home to draw in my Coronavirus Chronicles journal.

I'm very conscious of the need to leave as many flowers as possible for the bees and other insects to feed on.
When the rules were relaxed a little we were able to walk a little further and find new paths to explore.

As spring progressed more and more flowers appeared and replaced some of the earlier blooms which settled down to set seed and draw nourishment from the sun to feed the plants ready for next year.

We also noticed the birdsong seemed to be stronger and started to recognise particular trees occupied by different birds as we strolled along the same paths so often.

We even managed a very long walk on Ascension day as far as the valley of Traoero which is a nature reserve and has a sign at the entrance saying DO NOT PICK THE FLOWERS, which of course I respected.

On our return down a particularly pretty lane I noticed some ragged robin flowers, quite a rarity around here so I gathered only 2 or 3 stems to study and draw in the journal.  Little did I know this was the last time I would be able to see any of these and many of the other flowers you can see here.
The bank outside my garden is a haven of wild flowers too, full of blue scabious, red sorrel and yellow cat's ears, always buzzing with bees. 

 One morning in mid May we heard a terrible noise and when I saw the council cutting machine approaching I went straight out to plead for my bank to be left uncut. Fortunately I was in time to save most of my flowers but the rest of our lanes were not so lucky.

The cutting machine worked all day over several days until every verge and bank had been razed to the ground.

This one had bluebells as well as many other species all still blooming.

The earth was scraped clean in many places so even the roots were gone.  I feel sure that I read in the newspaper some time ago that there was a policy of cutting verges less short in order to preserve the nature but the message has obviously not been passed on to the cutting machine operators.

I can understand the need to keep main roads clear for traffic but why is it necessary to clear these beautiful footpaths through the woods.  All those flowers have been destroyed for the sake of tidiness and the bank has already started to collapse because there are no plant roots to hold it together.

It will be some time before anything regrows on these bare patches and with the dry weather we've had recently I'd be surprised if anything comes back.
This is a patch on our bank that is still bare from previous years of cutting and scraping.  I am sure that the cutting has been done at least a month earlier than usual and this will make a difference to the survival of the plants we normally take for granted but are all vital to support the very important pollinators and insects in our ecosystem.
I'm finishing this very long post with an early May bouquet from down the lane to say thank you for reading to the end and please let me know what you think and if you have any similar experiences.








Sunday, 26 April 2020

POSTCARD FABRIC ART THE NEXT 4 MONTHS


It's a while since my last post so I thought I had better do a bit of catching up. 
I posted the January challenge earlier in the year and here are the next four months pieces, starting with February.  The theme was ancient Rome and Greece so I thought of the Greek goddesses and Aphrodite came to mind along with the Acropolis in the city of Athens.  I found an image which I traced onto a piece of sky printed fabric and as I wanted the picture to be a standard 30 x 20 cms I decided to add the greek key pattern along the top and bottom and machine embroidered then coloured with inktense pencils.  For my goddess I have a photo of my granddaughter dressed like this which I copied onto piece of flesh coloured linen then added her clothes and hair with applique and embroidery. I cut her out carefully and hand appliqueed her to thebackground and finally made a frame with a navy heart printed fabric.


The subject for March was the Mediaeval era and I started thinking of some of the ancient castles we've visited here in France.  Carcassonne is one of my favourites so I found one of my drawings and transferred it to some beige linen before machine embroidering the outlines, then colouring with my Inktense crayons which I wetted with fabric medium.  The figure is an applique of different silk fabrics with hand embroidered gold threads and details, then the picture finished with a frame of batik in deep red and russet colours.


April's theme was the Renaissance and after studying some paintings of the era I remembered I had an old duvet cover printed with just the right kind of images for my background.  For my figure Elizabeth I was the perfect example with her fabulous clothes, all appliqued in silks and lace with red yarn for her hair and red beads stitched for decoration.  The frame is a lovely gold printed royal blue, ideal for the regal image.


The latest theme for May is the 1920s and I soon came up with a plan using a beautiful art Deco fabric as the frame and also printed on paper in light blue for the background.  I overprinted the blue art deco with an image traced from a costumes through the ages book then layered a piece of white organdie, then the print and then some blue coloured netting to complete the background.


Here I have machine embroidered most of the ladies in black thread but my machine suddenly stopped working in mid flow.  


You can see from the back of the picture that I had to stop on the third ladie's arm.  Fortunately Bob is an electronics engineer and after completely dismantling and reassembling the machine she is now in perfect working order. He said how lucky I am to have such a useful husband!  I'm lucky too that my beloved Bernina has lasted 30 years with no trouble at all till I overworked her!


So the rest of the picture was done with hand stitching to make the costume of the main character and here are the ingredients before I started. She was traced onto organdie backed with fine interfacing and various scraps appliqueed for her coat, dress and hat with beads added later for a necklace.


The finished front of the piece measuring 30 x 20 cms with the picture stitched to the frame.


For the reverse I embroidered the caption on organdie so that the stitching on the back was just visible and added a couple of cut out shapes from another fabric scrap.


I have now joined the first 4 pieces with split rings passed through eyelets on each corner and hung them on a net curtain hanger in my studio.
  I'm thinking maybe this will turn into a much larger wall hanging so watch this space!



Saturday, 22 February 2020

A DAY OF WEAVING


Last week I treated myself to a day of one on one tuition with Georgette Meyer, a weaver I met at an art exhibition last November.  She lives about an hour away in a pretty house in the countryside with her studio in a separate building.

I was shown around her studio which houses three looms of varying sizes and an incredible stash of yarns in all colours, piles of finished blankets and mountains of works in progress!



Georgette started me on the smallest loom and explained the basics of weaving with 4 heddles, the parts of the loom used to make different patterns, operated by 4 pedals.  It took me a while to get the hang of using my feet to press down on the different combinations to make the designs.  I had to borrow a pair of thick socks so I could easily slip my feet left and right to change pedals.


I was using a boat shuttle that holds a bobbin of yarn to make the wefts, it's easy to change colours in this way as you just lift out the bobbin and put in a different one when you've used up the previous one.


Georgette was a patient teacher and demonstrated the different patterns then left me to play till I got it right!  We added lots of different textured wools and even a twig from the garden.


I couldn't stop smiling all day and even had a little tear in my eye when the chevrons I'd been working on suddenly came through correctly. The day included a delicious lunch cooked by Louis, Georgette's husband and although I was tired by 5 o'clock I didn't want it to end.


Here we are posing with my day's work, a beautiful wall hanging that just needs the fringe knotting and a twig to hang it from to be complete.


 Here it is, now hanging in the lounge at home.


Of course I had to have a go when I came home and I've had a lot of fun on my frame loom playing with my yarn stash and practising the various weave patterns.  I had picked out these colours after seeing a beautiful dawn sky.


Now I'm wondering what to do with these pretty pieces, I haven't got room to make them all into hangings so maybe I'll cut them up to make into cards for birthdays or Christmas cards.  I've got a box full of these hot colours so I've plenty to keep me busy!