Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Free machine while it snows!!

I suppose I should blog about the S-N-O-W. We have a LOT of it and it is still coming down with no sign of an end to it.

But I won't.

Instead I am going to blog about free machining.

I had a hit on my blog from a lady in America who has posted about my art quilt free machining on her blog. Many thanks for her complements.

It set me thinking. Although I am a fibre, textile and mixed media artist using many many different techniques in my work, I have always been an avid free machiner.

In my early days I was influenced by Liz Hubbard and bought both of her books. It led me to begin buying my stock of threads: cotton, rayon and metallics. I even dyed my own variagated threads and wound them onto empty reels - thanks to a gadget my husband made for me to make it easier. At the time, Guttermann sold packs of 50m themed threads and I bought every set - almost every colour that Guttermann produced. Then I added other makes to them and started my collection of rayon and metallic threads. I am still adding to the collection. You can never have enough threads.

Another influence was Annameike Mein and her work led me to creating 3D pieces.

Free machining has continued to be an integral part of my work and at the moment I am really into creating free machined art quilts. I have already posted a number of them in recent posts and have just finished another seven of them - yet to be photographed.

For this post, I thought I would show some of the diversity of free machining dating back over many years.

Here are some examples of my 'Thread Painting'. I took the photographs, painted the fabric then free machined.

I made a box with thread painted images on each face and a gold thread free amchined image on the inside lid.

These were the days before computers and printers. I had to use the negatives and project them onto fabric (mainly calico and sometimes satin for a richer finish) and mark out the features with a pencil before painting with a mixture of diuted acrylics, fabric paints and silk paints. Oh how technology has changed things; computers, digital cameras, printers and many new products appearing all the time to continue the diversification - wonderful.

I also created the covers for books - this one is a digitised image created in photoshop, printed onto transfer paper, applied to fabric then free machined. Free machined lace added surface texture thanks to soluble fabrics.

I used free machining to create the surface texture on fabrics for bags as with these two bags. They started out as a silk skirt my daughter no longer wanted. I free machined and surface embellished the squares of the design before making up into bags.

When I was creating jewellery, I used a great deal of free machining as with the next series of images.

This last jewellery piece was the one chosen for the cover of my book - Embroidered Jewellery. Sorry, but I could not miss an opportunity to give it a plug. All the techniques for creating these pieces are in the book, however, the skill of free machining is down to practice and dexterity.

As soon as I have managed to photograph my latest art quilts I will post images of them but there are lots to see on previous posts - Domes of Venice ; Purple palm; Richmond falls; Himalayan Poppy; Rusty kaleidoscope to mention just a few!!

So as I have shown, free machining is a very diverse technique once mastered and modern sewing and embroidery machines have made it even easier so if you haven't tried it - have a go.

And it is still SNOWING!!!

Cheers for now.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Dubai, hexagons, silk and cog wheels

My last post was all about my preparations for a fabulous photo trip to Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Well, we made it to Dubai and in the afternoon of the first day my OH missed his footing, stumbled and in an attempt to prevent a fall, twisted his back so badly it put paid to the rest of the trip. We had to fly back home after only a couple of days. He has now recovered after numerous sessions of physiotherapy but the trip is sadly gone.

I did manage to take some photos of Dubai and I have to say I loved the place. We thought we would have problems with the heat but we didn't. As long as there was some shade the heat was wonderful.

Dubai is a fascinating blend of old and the most spectacular new architecture.

This is the the Khalifa Tower. It is the tallest free standing structure in the world and so beautiful.

I have enough images to create a reasonable good audio visual and I have also decided to create a project of embroidery and textiles based on Dubai so watch this space.

Since my return I have been busy with some textile and embroidery work. As you will have gathered, I take much of my inspiration from my photography. I have created two pieces based on this image of a gravel path in the gardens of Richmond Castle here in North Yorkshire.

The first piece is a little goldwork piece on some woven silk fabric. I used a gold and silver twist for the wire mesh and beads for the gravel.

I haven't decided how to display it yet so it is a sample at the moment.

I put the image into Photoshop and played with it and the result of one of them led to this panel.

The hexagons are couched silver twist onto black velvet and the gravel was created using free machining with variagated metallic threads. Metallic beads were added to give more texture and depth. At the moment it is a hanging but I keep folding it and think it would make a lovely bag! Not sure which it will be yet.

Every time I finish a piece on black velvet, I promise myself it will be the last. It is so difficult to work on. Obviously, I never keep that promise.

I have had the insides of an old pocket watch stored for some time now always intending to use it on a textile piece. I finally did just that with this little piece.

The background is an even weave piece of silk. I tea dyed it and sponged it then I made some cog stencils in different sizes and painted the cogs onto the fabric with various metallic paints. I also used some cogs from the garage to stamp various different cogs. I free machined around all the cogs , stitched down as many of my old pocket watch cogs as I could and filled the open areas with upright random cross stitches to add more texture. Job done.

Two of the pieces so far have been stitched onto silk , this is because I have had a pack of textured and woven silk pieces stored for many years and thought it was time they were put to good use. So the next piece is also stitched onto silk. This is a piece of dupion slub silk. It was big enough to make a book folder. I decided to use one of my digitised designs for the front. I stitched it out with gold thread and used gold thread in the shuttle too so it was the same on top and underneath. I used sponged pelmet vilene for the lining to give it strength and I put some wadding between the silk and the lining to give it a quilted look. Tiny pearl beads were stitched around the edges of the folder to finish.

I have another piece of silk with a large binca style weave. I am thinking 'pulled work' for this. Meanwhile I will be busy designing lots of pieces for the next project - Dubai. I am totally smitten by the place. It could be as big as the Craster project and the Egyptian project. I already have an idea for some of my jewellery which I always include in a project. The more diverse the better.

Until the next post - cheers everyone.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Time to share more art quilts

These long lapses are becoming a habit although this time I do have a lot to show.

As well as my textile work, I have been busy with my photography too. I bought a delightful little glass bottle in Venice (probably imported from the far east but it is pretty) and have been playing with light and reflection on and through it with both artificial and bright sunlight.

I still have to set up to take images with light passing through in the dark and see what effects I can get.

I am also playing with a digital microscope attached to the computer to see what kind of images I can create. Looking interesting so far.

We have also been out and about with our cameras. We took our grandson for a shoot at Saltburn-by- the-sea and he came back with almost 200 images to sort!! I showed him how to create an AV and he is on with that now. Picked it all up very quickly including all the ‘bells and whistles’ that can be applied. I had to point out, however, that using too many of these can make the viewer go dizzy!!

I too have completed a couple more AVs using the images I took in Venice and also one using all the images I took of time pieces. It is such a nice way to use all the photographs you take and show them to music. the hardest part is deciding which images to use!!

I have also been busy with all the things that have to be done before we go on our next trip. Just made arrangements to have any vaccinations we may need, checking on the insurance cover for all the camera equipment, getting the trip flagged with our credit card company so that they don’t put a stop on it thinking it has been cloned, finding comfortable shoes (very important), more cool skirts, mending the big suitcase which was damaged during a trip by my daughter and her family to Monte Carlo, and I expect there will be a lot more to do before we leave. Remembering now why we stopped travelling so much. Just hope the threatened strikes don’t effect us!!!!

Onto the textile work.

The first piece was created from an image of the Basilica in Venice which we took on our recent visit there.

I opened it in Photoshop and played with some of the special effect filters and liked this effect.

I used this image to create an art quilt. I duplicated it four times and created this design.

I painted some silk for the background then and printed the domes onto another piece of silk. I ironed soft iron on Vilene onto the back and cut them out. They were pinned over the background, a quilt sandwich made and then I free machined the domes onto the background.I used French knots for the multi crosses on the top of the domes and towers. Finally I quilted the background ‘sky’.

I haven’t decided how I am going to display it yet. I am considering stretching it over a frame.

The next piece was created using an image of some palm leaves taken while over in Florida last year.

Again, I played with filters in Photoshop and decided on this effect.

This was printed onto silk, painted with metallic acrylic paints, made up into a sandwich and free machined. Beads and sequins were added for additional texture.

Again, I haven’t decided how I am going to mount this one.

The next piece was designed from an image taken at the foot of the waterfalls at Richmond in North Yorkshire.

I played, as I do, with the image in Photoshop and decided on this effect.

This time I took different parts of this image and duplicated them creating 15 small pieces. They were all then arranged into a large composite piece.

When I was satisfied with the layout, each of these 15 pieces was printed onto cotton, highlighted with gold acrylic pant, made up into a sandwich and free machined. When the machining was complete , I added some hand stitching then cut them down to their edges, arranged them onto a heavier backing and zigzag machined them down. The whole piece was edged with a loose satin stitch.

The final piece was created from yet another image. This was part of an image of a porcelain ornament of a little girl with a broom. I decided to use the Andy Wahol effect and have four different colour effects of the same image.

I turned it into a black and white and stylised it.

Next I changed some parts of each image into another block colour so that there were four different coloured images.

I made each of the backgrounds a different colour too and arranged them into a large square. Colours were changed and adjusted at this stage until I liked the colour balance.

I painted and highlighted each of them with metallic acrylic paints then made a sandwich and free machined the piece using different coloured threads including an invisible thread. the final quilt was edged with black.

I free machined little flowers over the backgrounds of each square.

That is it for the textile work.

At the moment I am getting to grips with extra features of Photoshop CS5 and expanding my knowledge of what this program will do. I have subscribed to Photoshop Creative which is a monthly magazine which is full of tutorials and tips for Photoshop. It comes with a CD full of video tutorials and images and brushes etc. Pleased with it. All the extra techniques and features will come in handy when I start on another batch of digital images and composites.

I recently purchased a new extra external HD (you can never have enough back up) which I am going to use as a library. I am trying to develop a way to catalogue all my images and resources which suits me and the way I work.

I must also begin to plan the next batch of textile pieces. I find making these decisions the hardest part. I have a file bulging with sketches and ideas and find it hard to decide which to tackle first. I am like a kid in a sweet shop unable to make up my mind as I want to do them all.

Until then – back to CS5.

Cheers everyone

Friday, 2 July 2010

Venice and blue poppies

Hard to believe it is July already and yes I have been very lazy about keeping up with my blog. I do manage to keep up, to some extent, with my long list of favourite blogs so I do keep abreast of what these bloggers are up to even though I don't manage to keep my own blog up to date.

Since my last blog I have been to Venice and completed another art quilt. I have also created quite a number of AV's - something I am really enjoying. I just wish there were more hours in the day to give the time I would like to ALL my creative activities.

First - my visit to Venice. This was quite a sudden decision as was the next trip to be taken in September. It is thirty-one years since I last visited Venice. I went for five days and at the end of that time I had 671 images to bring back. We had lovely weather except for one day when it rained heavily ALL day but at least it was warm rain and we were wearing long capes which helped to keep us reasonably dry. It did give us different kinds of images.

This was the very first image I took while out on the first evening getting out bearings.

A very typical image of Venice as is the next one -

of the Grand Canal. I took many well known images of Venice but I was mainly interested in taking images of the side of Venice we don't normally notice. Everyone is used to seeing the gondoliers standing on the back of the gondola weaving along the side canals. I was amused by this group of gondoliers gathered together relaxing.

This was a very unusual building and not one to miss. It took some finding, hidden down a narrow ally. It was surrounded by a stout railing so could only be photographed through the railings. Could have done with a set of steps!!

When we left Venice, we hired a water taxi which gave us a speedy and exhilarating ride back to the airport. VERY expensive but fantastic.

It has taken a long time to process all my images and have reduced them down to just over 400 - still rather a lot but......

Before we went to Venice we had a visit to a sculpture garden known as The Hutts. It is part of a farm which has created a Himalayan garden which features lots of sculptures - mostly contemporary. The garden was full of azaleas and rhododendrons and it closes when the flowers on these bushed die off. There are two lakes which have large floating sculptures in them. It is quite a testing walk up and down the hillsides but well worth a visit.

I took this image of some blue Himalayan poppies which are very difficult to grow.

I used this poppy image as the design source for my next art quilt. I took it into Photoshop and played with lots of effects, keeping those which rang the design bells like this one..

and this one....

I created fifteen different designs and used the computer again to bring all the different designs together into one large art quilt panel. Once this was done I could edit and size each image which was then printed onto white cotton. Each was highlighted with metallic and acrylic paints then sandwiched into mini quilts and free machined. The stamen and anthers were stitched using French knots. I cut the surplus away and satin stitch edged each of them.

I took a while to decide how to join them together, eventually deciding on free machine fagoting which worked well and suited the panel.

I am now creating an AV showing how the panel was created which is quite a challenge to do it the way I want to do it so I am having to learn some new tricks. I have found a lovely piece of music for it.

I went over to the Lake District yesterday - more images to process - and bought a pair of the most comfortable sandals I have ever worn. Much needed for our next trip to Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. My feet really suffered during the five days in Venice with so much walking to do and carrying all the photo equipment. To top it all, we were on the third floor with no lift!! I made this climb usually in bare feet as they were pounding so much and the stairs were cool marble. We would spend the next few hours laid on the bed resting the feet ready for the next trip out including the late evenings for night photography.

The next trip will be sixteen days and again - a lot of walking so better and more comfortable footwear was a must.

OK, I think that is it for now. Don't know how long to the next blog but until then

Cheers everyone.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Hong Kong dragons and NASA leaves

Another long gap but I have been busy. The work I have been doing has been rather time consuming so not a lot to blog about while creating them. It is another case of 'not enough hours in the day'. So much I want to do and not enough time to do them. Housework tends to slip to the bottom of the list although I did do a good dust bust and hoover yesterday - well actually, my OH did the hoovering bit while I did the dist busting bit.

We have been out on a number of photo shoots and when we return there is always a long and time-consuming session processing and playing with the images. I have also given two talks to embroidery groups with another one later this month. i was also persuaded to give a workshop for one of them so have been looking at ideas and creating samples for that too.

Another new passion of mine is creating AV's (audio visuals) from my photography. I have created five of them now. The latest one evolved from the need to scan and rescue our huge library of slides taken when we used a film camera. They were beginning to degrade and were also covered in dust particles and tiny bits from just the general showing of them over the years. Each one has been scanned, every tiny dust mark removed, the image enhanced and brought back, as close as was possible, to the original and saved as a digital image. It brought back so many memories of that trip that I decided to create an AV from some of the best images. We did not have the camera or the lenses of today and you can imagine the results of taking images sitting in a sanpan travelling over the water with the boat going up and down, an iso of 100 and no VR lens (for those not in the know about this - it means slow speed film and no anti shake lens). Many of the images were a bit blurred but in spite of that I did manage to sharpen and enhance them enough to use in the AV.
I have used a fabulous piece of music called Fishing junks at sunset - perfect for this AV. It is about 8 minutes long and uses about 74 images. I have also learned how to pan and zoom which makes for a more interesting effect.
These are a few of the images I used.

This is Hong Kong in Cantonese and was part of the intro.

We were there a few years before Hong Kong was handed back to China and I created this Dragon box as a memory of that visit.

We are now in the process of putting together another visit to Hong Kong to see how it has changed over the years and now that we have a camera and the lenses to do the photography should get a fabulous record of the place. I loved every minute of the last visit. I hope the next one will be as memorable (in good ways with no disasters).

I have still been creating some textile work - and yes, more art quilts. I am really into these at the moment.
When we were over in Florida we went to NASA space centre again - having lost all our photographs of it from the last visit when my computer crashed. I took this image of some very large leaves which were outside a restaurant. This image has been played with a little to get a better composition.

I played with this image in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro and came up with several designs for art quilts. The first one was created using PSP and the kaleidoscope filter.

I also played with the colours and quite liked this rusty red effect. I also extended the design with some copy and paste. I made it 30cm wide so that I could print it on the A3 printer to its maximum size. The colours were saturated for the printing and I used pigment inks on white cotton. I also put it through the printer twice to enrich the colour. I have devised a way to fool my printer so that it will overprint. Once printed, it was made up into a quilt sandwich and free machined.

I couched some thick yarn and added beads for effect.

The second quilt was quite different. I kept the leaves but played with the colours and effect. I also selected some leaves and pasted them over the top to create a balanced design. I used these selected leaves and printed them separately to apply on top of the finished quilt.
This is the finished art quilt. It is 60cm wide so fairly big.

I had to divide the design into two and printed the two halves separately - each 30cm wide. They had to be joined with a single seam down the middle which is partly hidden by the applied leaves.

Again, when the printing and joining was complete it was sandwiched and free machined. The separate leaves were stabilised with vilene and free machined. Then they were cut out and stitched in place over the top to create a 3D effect. I made six of these.

And that's about it. I am now ready to start designing the next project. I have more designs based on the leaves ready to print but might do something else. I have noticed that the bluebells are pen in the garden so may go and bring some inside and do some macro photography on them. Hmmmm - a bluebell art quilt!!!! but I really need to use some of my other materials. In a quandary as to what to do next. Watch this space.

Cheers for now everyone.