Saturday, 25 January 2014

Never heard of a gelli plate ... but boy do they make good collages!!

I'm just back from teaching the first Make it Personal workshop at the Bramble Patch - which was wonderful - but before I tell you about that, I need to catch up  a bit. I also taught  a very talented group of girls in Wragby Lincolnshire last week - the second day of their collage and applique workshop. Both days were hard work for the students, but hopefully fun and the group made some extraordinarily good work (and fed me some extraordinarily good lunches!). And quite amazingly, had never heard of a gelli plate!! - I love Lincolnshire to bits, but this is fairly typical of our style .. we are a few years behind .. and basically proud of it!! Anyway, after our detour into mono-printing .. we got done to the business in hand .. abstract fabric collages, with applique on top. So lets start with some general shots around the room. Apologies for the change in wall colours - I don't think the place was repainted between my visits, but I used a different camera second time, having sadly dropped and broken my main man (now replaced).
Sue and Enid getting stuck in, plus my usual pile of destruction in the foreground .. 
Carole and Clare deep in design and more mess of mine in the foreground ...
Mum and daughter, Brenda and Kate trying out pots and flowers ....
Carole and Margaret, also arranging their vases ..
ooooops - lunch!! ... how did that pop in there??
Katrina working hard and resisting the food just to her left
Sue and Jill - both teachers enjoying rest time....
Brenda, Frances and another Sue .. and I've crept into the foreground again ..
Ok - lets also have a look at that lunch ...
cutlery rolled in napkins .. posh in Wragby you know ,. I shall expect no less on future workshops ..
it is so long since I have been able to indulge in homemade sausage rolls . and these were sublime .. could have scoffed the whole plate by myself .. I didn't - thought it would look a trifle greedy
and talking of trifle ......
Every last thing homemade - thank you so much girls .. what a welcome ..
And now - this is what they managed to achieve in just two days ...
Brenda - who was worried and unsure at the start .. but had to admit she had achieved something pretty damn good by the end ...
Carole - who organised the workshop - a beautiful and generous bunch of daffs in her own jug .. gorgeous
Clare ... poor soul streaming with cold during our second session - but didn't let it stop her one jot ... dark blue silhouettes on a wonderful vibrant background ..
Enid - really wanted to get that perspective look and has succeeded quite beautifully with her wonderful daisies
 Frances - also a smidge unsure at the start ... but soon got into things and made this gorgeous and vibrant piece in complimentary purples and yellow ..
Jill - who joined us on day two, having had to miss the first session. Sue C had done a sterling job of helping her get her background in place and she managed to get this fantastic piece done  in just one day ..
Kate - who came with her mum Brenda and just quietly got on with making this yummy collage in the most beautiful pale yellow and wine tones ... so beautiful
Katrina started with just the blue daisies in this lovely blue and white piece, but then decided to just add a few yellow tulips to her jug, ending with this wonderful delicate piece ..
Sue F - who was convinced that as traditional patchworker this was going to be learning curve too far for her .. but it most certainly wasn't. This piece is fabulously loose and lively with diagonals and jaunty angles galore. Gorgeous colour combinations too - I loved it and Sue had to admit she was rather pleased with herself ..quite right too ..
Sue C (very important woman - she holds the purse strings!!) came with a definite plan of wanting to use these very jolly Echinacea flowers (inspired by a piece Carole had made at a previous workshop. I remembered Carole straight away as she cane to a small silhouette workshop and proceeded to make a large jug of very colourful flowers - I love that attitude) Sues background was a stunning delicate collage in blues .. to which she added that glorious jug and fabulous flowers .. and it works just so well
And talking of people who come to my workshops and take no notice of what I think they should be doing - here is lovely Margaret's beautiful collage of red poinsettia. Margaret determinedly does it her way and yet always comes up with the goods - and that is absolutely fine by me .. I love this very Christmassy piece
Margaret also brought this piece, form the previous workshop she had attended for me to see. I love it when students do this - all teachers will know what a thrill it is to see students complete a piece - especially when it is as lovely as this ... 
A lot of superlatives used here I know - but I was, and am again when I look at them, just so impressed with the quality of work produced - I would proudly have any one of these on my wall ... no doubt at all. And I think the girls are now going to be tempted to learn about that gelli plate! - together with some more surface preparation techniques - we just need to find a day. Their work certainly deserves some extra personal materials and I'm already imagining what wonderful stuff they will create.
But for now - here is one last image of the kind of treasure village halls frequently have lurking in their cupboards .. look at this plate ... what about that for some design inspiration??
Back soon with news of the next workshop .. Hilary x

Monday, 6 January 2014

It's all about seeing possibilities isn't it ...

You can tell I'm enjoying myself when I need to blog two days in a row, because I just have to show you how it's all going ..
So here are some images of trying out various arrangements of my blue gelli prints and coppery leaves on my canvas ..
I finally decided on this background - which is none of the above .. but that is just typical of me .. I am always open to a quick nudge and slip
I sealed it all with matt medium and then glued on the leaves using matte gel - which is thicker and stronger. I've just recoated it in medium to get everything well sealed and then I shall be getting back in with crayons and some metallic buffings (yes spello - I do mean buffings). It will then get stitched
- I'll post again when it's done.
Moving on a bit (about 2 minutes in real time), yesterday I made these pages in a sketchbook. I was inspired by an article in Quilting Arts magazine - which frequently inspires and enthuses me about techniques both old and new. I used to be a member of a yahoo site for quilters and they had a discussion  a year or so ago, where they were rather disparaging about Quilting Arts magazine - sort of saying that unless you were fairly new to contemporary quilting and green behind the ears - it didn't have much to offer. I disagreed at the time, and still do. I am moderately new to art quilting, but have been around in modern textiles for many years and have obviously come across most techniques and ideas already. But I try to stay open enough to be able to still see possibilities in all sorts of things. I have always got Q Arts and still do, and it is rare issue that doesn't get my little brain ticking off down new paths - and this was a classic example. I have made fabric books, I have included fabric in my sketchbooks and included papers in my fabric books. I have even covered a board book with fabric - but I had not actually stuck fabric all over the pages of a paper sketchbook as background to work over. I wasn't overly enamoured of the actual examples shown (not a criticism - just not necessarily my thing) - BUT I didn't let that put me off. I read the article and it sparked the thought off - and I immediately got out a nice big posh A3 sketchbook and started preparing some pages with fabric (another lesson here - use your expensive sketchbooks!).
That in itself was enjoyable enough to justify the time - but I really wanted to get past the fact I already quite liked them - and use them. So last night I splobbed (yes - splobbed) gesso over page 1 . I used a cheap gesso (the works) so it is pretty translucent ... and no .. it doesn't look as pretty any more - but I'm holding the faith ...
then today, whilst making my canvas, I chucked - sorry, stored the excess blue printed paper on my sketch book ... and it looked rather nice!!
I also had a piece of scrap paper I  had been using to blot up dye and gesso - a classic 'duffer' - and this seemed to look ok too
the next image is especially for Sam Packer - a close up of the DUFFER - anyone else ignore of you wish ... Sam has a soft spot for them
so I started chopping and trying out bits on the page, whilst the canvas dried
I had traced the leaves before painting them, in order to make some stencils for the Make it Personal course in January and February .. which was very handy, as I was able to just trace onto my duffer and cut out more leaves
(quick interjection here - we have an extra Make it Personal, day one class running on 5th/6th February 2014, to take the overflow from Day 1. It still has some spaces if you fancy coming and playing ... my big gelli is coming too if that helps)
 interjection over - back to laying out bits .. lovely job
Happy with the pattern - I stuck them all down and then coated it all in matte medium. When this dries, I can go back into it if I wish  (almost certainly will - I'm liking it, and I left gaps between pages, so I could stitch)
but even as it stands - it is already setting off thoughts and ideas - some of these crops could be printed of and stitched for a start .. or used as patterns for larger work .. or .. or ...

so I think it all depends on you and how open you are to seeing the possibilities. Always look for that little spark of an idea, then play and experiment (what if?, what about?) and see where it takes you - so often it is somewhere good.
For instance - when walking Dixter this morning I spotted these lovely passion flower leaves (excuse the dye stained drop cloth) .. aren't they gorgeous?? You know what I'm going to have to do don't you??!!
thank you for visiting - Hilary x

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Why wouldn't you??

I think firstly I should wish you all a late Happy New Year (not to mention Christmas .. which we won't as I missed it) .. so Happy New Year. I hope you had a good break and did lots of lovely things - what ever that means for you. For us - it usually means going to the beach - which we did on Christmas day .. here are my boys playing footy with a handy lump of grass (that is my treasure bag in Stephens hand) .. happy day ..
most of the pictures I took though were firmly art inspiration based - including this beautiful one of the sea edge and sand ripples - the colour of the sea was a really extraordinary blue that day - must have known it was a special day .. this will get used without a doubt - just need to decide how .. a thermofax is already shouting at me
Anyway - enough holidays - back to it, and I have two exhibitions coming up in March and April. The dawning of January has finally clarified in my mind that I need to get on with these properly - so I'm starting with the first .. Jenny Rolfe and I have a shared gallery at ICHF Fashion Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC in March. We have a lovely big space (thank you Jane B!)and although we have already done some work (well Jenny especially) - I want to do some using some of my newer techniques and ideas as well. The gallery is called The Shape of Nature .. which plays into my strengths rather nicely ..
I decided I would get out some of my plenteous gelli prints of leaves and make some work with them. As I cleared the table in preparation, I found a dog dump bag - no nice way of putting that .. BUT .. it didn't have the pooh in it (phews all round) No - it had some oak leaves, that I picked up last week during one of Dix and I's walks because they were such an interesting variety of shapes.
I then obviously 'stored' them sensibly on my work table and promptly buried them. Now - given the number of leaf prints I have, one could argue I should have just thrown these away ..
One could - but I didn't ... I decide to paint a long thin canvas (below) with copper and bronze setacolour, and mount the leaves on it. The lines and marks you can see (hopefully) are neocolour 1 put on before the paints .. pale blue to just give some markings and division of space. Obviously this needs some turquoise blue behind the leaves to make them perk up a bit and the leaves wouldn't say no to a smidge of brightening themselves. I decided it would be nice to have some blue voided leaf shapes behind the real leaves, which would be coppered up a bit.

And what do you do when you want leaf voids and prints?? You grab your gelli. I think I should just say here that I don't either make or sell gelli plates - wish I did - but my enthusiasm is totally genuine. In fact anything I do sell, I only sell because I love it, not the other way round. Ok - back to the gelli - this is my big lad, loaded with a mixture of cobalt blue setacolour opaque and pearl white, with leaves placed on top

pulled off and I have some very nice blue voids and the leaves gave a reasonable print too
I did several blue lots and then changed to copper and brick red shimmer (remember I want the leaves coppery) and printed some of those too - the leaves are now printing more clearly as they take up paint ... they were very dry initially

20 minutes and a lot of pleasure later and I have a lovely little (24 x A3) stack

Stage 1 done - and off into stage 2 .. adding some dye. First jade, bottle green and turquoise over the blue prints (this is for my canvas background panels)
then the same dyes over the coppery prints
ooh - then scarlet red, terracotta and red brown over blue, with leaf veins put in using neocolour 1 before dyeing
the blue dyes over copper with iridescent markal randomly applied in strips before dye added
similar, but with neocolour used on the leaves before adding dye
They are all hanging drying now, whilst I write this. They look gorgeous and I am so looking forward to getting on with the canvas.
But just before I go and do that - here is a piece made using one of my horse chestnut gelli prints from Harrogate K+S - made in just this way. Here it is collaged and machine stitched and it will now be hand stitched and mounted. This was a big print - A3, so this piece is a good size - about 24" x 26"
I have printed it on to a fabric canvas, which has picked up all the detail beautifully and has a nice surface texture itself
I heavily stitched the collage, over wadding, in a variety of patterns and weights - so it needed a good blocking to sort it out
sorry about the fluffy focus here - but I've included this close up as I think it would make a lovely design in itself
 and lastly - here is the next in the series (not sure how many yet) - this one is a blue version - just bonded down here and ready to start stitching tomorrow.
But today is canvas day - and I'm off to play with my newest prints .. I'll post the result as soon as I have it. Talk soon - thank you for visiting - Hilary x