Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Many Hands Make Light Work

This is the postcard I sent to my swap partner Kathy, you can check out the postcard she sent me on her blog she also includes a great tracklist of Orange and Yellow themed songs she put together on a CD for me. The techniques I used for this postcard were inspired by the experimental sampler I recently completed, I really enjoy combining fabric layers, with machine and hand stitching and a little burning. I have already got some ideas for next months postcard. I went with a proverb theme and the one I chose is particularly appropriate for Project Spectrum, if you follow Lolly's blog there are now over a 1000 participants in Project Spectrum. That is a lot of creating going on!

I should have also thought of this proverb earlier today instead of using another proverb (too many cooks......). My mouth is currently housing a foot, mine to be precise.... Anyway I have apologised. By via email, text message, his wife and now this blog.

Anyway this cook needs to go and make my husband supper, hopefully my new CD will improve my mood.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Real cake

Lots of lemon cake today - in an attempt to lighten my dark mood. The black dog is back again. I made these lemon muffins late last night because I had to cancel tea with a friend until this morning, I hope these go some way to make up for me mucking them around. The leftovers will, no doubt, be consumed by my colleagues.
The recipe came from the excellent muffin book "Muffins Fast and Fantastic" by Susan Reimer. This is one of my favourite books as it means just so long as you have an egg in the fridge, some flour and some muffin cases (the last lot were curiously difficult to find) you can have cake.

Of course if I wanted a more traditional lemon cake then I could have gone for my Grandmother's lemon Cake:

This always broke me when I insisted that I wouldn't have a piece of cake with my cup of tea, when popping into see my Grandmother after work. Luckily I got her to tell me the recipe because I couldn't find it any of her notes or clippings. I note the recipe card says "serves 12" which is a slight error maybe doubled or tripled it might. This is also good served as a pudding and summer berries.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Experimental Sampler 3

Did I mention I had finished my third and final experimental sampler for City and Guilds? The brief was to create a layered piece with freestyle machine embroidery, cut out areas (scissors or burning) and then experiment with two hand stitches:
- one to be a straight stitch e.g. seeding/running, cross-stitch
- one to be a composite stitch e.g. raised chain band

After I had done my machining and worked the magic with my soldering iron (how did you guess that I would choose the soldering iron over scissors - am I that predictable?) I chose my stitches, running/seeding for its versatility and woven circles because it just clicked with the free machining pattern that I had sewn.

This was an opportunity to be as free with the stitches as much as possible and not be restricted with the choice of threads - even to choose not to use threads in the traditional sense. For some of the seeding and woven circles I used torn strips of silk habotai which I had previously dyed or painted. One beautiful piece which had shades of orange on it I painted years ago for a waistcoat for a friends boyfriend. I added some buttons which had been embellished with the chosen stitches - giving extra dimension.

The layering was created by bonding scraps of fabric onto a calico base using bondaweb (wonderunder in the USA), I then layered over the turquoise organza and chiffon by applying another layer of bondaweb. Although the bondaweb was good at attaching the sheer fabric, when cutting out the design some of the under fabric had been altered by the bondaweb. For instance, the velvet was matted and lost its lustre and softness. In future I would prefer to use a temporary glue such as 505 spray adhesive to temporarily fix the fabric before machining.

I have really enjoyed the techniques involved in completing this sampler. As I discovered with my 3D functional item* last year, I like combining machine embroidery with hand stitching. I found myself automatically limiting myself to 2 complementary colours : blue and orange, like I did for my canvas work sampler. I have really enjoyed working in this abstract manner, using thread and colour choice to lead the stitching rather than any other outside design choice.

As I like this techniques so much it has given me an idea to base my Project Spectrum postcard on - all will be revealed after my swap partner has received her postcard...

* a blog ommission which I need to rectify.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

and some tea

My Grandmothers usual tea making things consisted of a stainless steel tea pot (plus knitted cosy) and either some bone china mugs or some browny green cups and saucers that went with her dinner plates. Very practical. One thing she did give me though was a really pretty pink tea set which is gilded (and still is - one thing that I have managed to prevent M. putting in the dishwasher, unlike Grandma's cake plate that I got.... boy, did he get a tongue kicking when he did that). The tea set was originally her aunt's - my great great aunt - who my sisters and I all "lovingly" called Aunt Smelly (mainly 'cos it rhymed with her name Nelly).

The series of cups are collaged from papers extracted from magazines, old origami calendar paper, and brusho/bleach papers from previous design work.

This not-quite-finished collage was inspired after my recent visit to the V&A. In the British galleries there were a selection of 18th Century teapots and in the shop there were some crafted cups which had been made out of unglazed porcelain which had been stitched into (very messily I might add!).

The large teapot was collaged onto white card using a very pretty napkin that I found in my "weird stuff" box. The teacups to the right where molded from some modelsoft clay. When dry I gouged holes with a thick needle and then used a thiner needle and some embroidery floss to decorate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More cake

More collage cakes in my altered book. Although my Grandma baked most of her cakes she did buy Mr Kipling's French Fancies on a regular basis. I loved them more for their style rather than their content. They are nestling on a plate with some butter whirls - these were the simplest of biscuits that Grandma made but were always wonderful - butter, sugar, flour with a cherry on top! The Chocolate dipped Viennese fingers were a similar recipe and have been nestled amongst some choux buns. Grandma usually made these for a pudding, if at all. In fact, my clearest memory is my Mother making a huge pile of these for a lunch party that she threw for my Dad and his colleagues, I ate rather a lot of them......

For the collage I used a selection of papers: Origami calendar, distressed kraft, bits from my first batch of handmade paper, and crayoned tissue paper. I also used a couple of paper doilies as a stencil to create the lace effect.

Grandma used doilies a lot, although I remember her also using this plastic doilie which the mere mention of brings a pained look to my mother's face. By the way where do you get doilies from now? They are quite out of fashion and so even John Lewis have stopped selling them. When I finally tracked some down the lady in the cake decorating shop where I got them from admitted that most of her customers for them used them in art projects as I was doing.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Here is one of latest samples which was required. Hardanger is a type of drawn thread embroidery, and takes its name from the southwest region of Norway which it is associated with. It is traditionally a whitework technique which involves counted threads (not my favorite pastime) combining drawn threads and filling stitches. The main purpose of this sample is to show embroidery with drawn threads.

Top row from left:
Kloster blocks, drawn threads wrapped, with square filet filling,
Eight pointed star in satin stitch,
Kloster blocks, drawn threads with needle weaving, with divided branch stitch
Middle row from left:
Square eyelets,
Kloster blocks, drawn threads with needle weaving, with beaded square filet filling,
Satin stitch hearts
Bottom row from left:
Kloster blocks, drawn threads with needle weaving and picot
Traditional tulip in satin stitch
Kloster blocks, drawn threads with wrapped bars, with dove's eye filling

Inside border : pin stitch
Oustide border/hem: back stitch picot with beads and open-sided square edging stitch

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I survived!

And came home with this (not so little) beauty! Its hand woven, Indian, wool, 200x300cm and is perfect for the new bedroom. Which is probably going to end up being my Project Spectrum project for this month as the walls are painted Edwardian Lemon, bit of a cheat though - because M has done much of the work - I have just had to do the shopping for it. Sometimes this has been a pleasure, sometimes a pain. IKEA shopping is a lot less painful when you get there early enough to park with ease and Sunday morning traffic is calm. By the time I left early afternoon there was a major scrambling for my parking space.

The photo above is the one I took using my camera phone to email M with, it is currently rolled up in our hallway as we now have to wait for our newly sanded and waxed floor to fully dry. When that is done we can roll the carpet out and fully admire it in situ before moving our furniture in. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rug shopping

As M is nearly finished with the DIY, I am returning to shopping duty. Got the curtains and fabrics needed, now need a large rug to go over the sanded and finished floorboards when they are finished. As you can see from the photos not much luck on the rug front - but I fell in love with this set of tiffin boxes in Habitat as well as the lime green mug. I also picked up a couple of half price linen napkins which I will use for my embroidered book cover. It is very tempting to go back to Habitat for more mugs, which are stackable, and other lime green goodness: salad bowl, salad servers and not forgetting the garden table and chairs. yum, yum, yum.

Have been doing a little surfing and am resigning myself to the hard fact that I am going to have to subject myself to the horror that is IKEA on a Sunday. Not sure which one to go to, I have four choices: Bristol, Brent Park, Croydon or Thurrock...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Birthday Girls

Today is my niece L's birthday and I thought she would like a pocket wallhanging like the one I made for my sister's little girl last year.

Again, this was fun to do I customised the fairy's to look like her and her family. So we have:
Mummy Fairy:

Birthday Girl Fairy:

Grandma Fairy:

I realise now that the birthday girl has since grown her hair longer. No doubt her mean and bad Uncle M will tease her about cutting it! Grandma fairy has a hat because its her trademark. The pockets are being filled with candy and erm... some funky toy cars (guess who bought them). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tea & Cake

I have decided to start design for my panel in the form of an altered board book. I picked up a Child's board book from one of Eastleigh's many charity shops for 50p and set about ruining altering it. First I sanded it roughly to removed some of the obvious print, wiping of the residue with a baby wipe. Then, I got out my old can of smelly gesso and coated the covers and pages with it. I think the smell was due to the fact that its old. Whatever it is, it isn't a nice smell and the rest got lobbed. By the time the gesso was dry the original text and pictures was pretty much hidden but was definitely obliterated when I painted the pages with a mixture of general acrylic and textile paint. I blended in the colours with my sponge paint roller. This left me a board book ready to collage and paste things in.

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