Thursday, June 22, 2006


And I am exhausted! Still, gotta keep on going as I have a mini beer festival to organise for M's incredibly old man party on Saturday. Have had a quick look at my email and saw that my postcard swap partner got her Project Spectrum postcard that I sent her. Have put the postcard up on the flickr group.

Here is a peek of it here:

"A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner" - English proverb

Considering this month - never a truer thing has been said!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I'm working really hard!

Honest! Burning the midnight oil to get everything finished, mounted and signed off. Got the samples and notes done. Just need to finish the accessory. I have leave next week so I hope to be a bit more concientious about updating then. TTFN

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Funky stuff

Yesterday returning home from a dull day at the office I found the postman had been and delivered more than the usual phone bills and junk mail. My postcard swap pal from May hand sent me the above goodies. She apologised for the funny shaped postcard but in my opinion who wants a rectangular postcard when you can have this gorgeous shamrock? Not to mention the delicious chocolate and rock.

Last night was a busy one with laundry (yawn) followed by a bit of blanket dyeing (still drying so wait for the pictures). Whilst that was all heating up I got my friend G's felted jumper she gave me. I remembered something that I had recently seen on on whipup and thought I would try a variation on it and embellish it with some of my recent cheats felt. I had to make my own design of bag different to the one on whipup because the original jumper was a V neck. But I think it was very successful.

This is the front of the bag. I was inspired to use the bird motif and colours by the orignal donor of the jumper.

This is the back of the bag:

G, I need to use this as part of my sampling for my finished item, but on 1st July it's yours if you want it! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cheating at felt making

Its sample time again. Was busy last night felting an old woolen blanket - whilst that was being pummelled in the washing machine, I got out my felting kit and turned my sewing machine on.

I sandwiched 3 layers of merino tops between water soluble fabric and then hooped the sandwich in my machine embroidery hoop. I experimented with the bird and flowers using 2 different thread colours - although the shapes do not relate to my project's design work I have them in mind for something else felted.

The shapes below require a little more trimming but overall I am pleased with them. I think I prefer the less is more approach to allow the surface to actually look felt like. I was cautious at first because I was worried I wouldn't have enough stitching to keep the wool together.

I experimented with 2 ways of dissolving the soluble fabric : cold water rinsing or pouring over the contents of a recently boiled kettled. I think I prefer using the kettle I have a better rinse out of the soluble fabric (if its not rinsed properly then things remain rather stiff) also I think the "felt" actually felts a bit better - as you are shocking the wool fibres. This something I actually want to have a go at trying with some woollen tapestry thread to make some felted mini pom-poms - this was shown in class but I never got round to doing it as I had a myriad of other things to do. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Accessory: A story in 2 parts

So we come to the final finished item that is required to complete my City & Guilds Level 3 certificate (a.k.a. Part 1). The requirement is for an accessory : "This can be an item or set of accessories selected from jewellery, gloves, bag, cuffs, fan, shawl, scarf, belt or similar items."

The previous items I have made have had different approaches to their conception, design and fabrication. My 3D item (shoes) were inspired through a love of shoes and some design work that I created specially for the purpose after observing pictures of kimono silk patterns. We were looking at pattern in class at the time and we were encouraged to use our pattern design work for our first completed item - in this case I did not think what I had done was right for a pair of shoes, hence I did the extra design work but based it on more pattern studies. For the wall hanging I had a client in mind and my design work was based on the location, I spent a considerable amount of time agonising over techniques and found it hard to transfer sketch to prototype to samples to finished item. With my next piece, the panel, I wanted to try out a way of working when designing and already had what format my item was to be delivered in (a book cover). In all the cases I spent a lot of time scratching my head wondering what techniques to use. This time I want to use some specific techniques for my accessory. This all came together when I went on a trip to Wales and found this book in the CAT bookshop. I also recalled one of workshops in the March issue of Workshop on the Web, which used soluble fabric to create a "cheats" way of using felt. We had already made felt in a pre-Christmas workshop and I had really loved the feel of stitching into real wool felt (see this). So I had the technique chosen. I chose to create a briefcase/laptop bag (inspired by one in the aforementioned book). So what design influences was I going to use? Though some of the people on my course think its acceptable to just make something up from their head (though my tutor begs to differ) I like to follow some sort of design process (i.e. the whole point of me doing this course). This time I thought it would be a good idea (especially from a time perspective) to use the design work from my shape and pattern module.

I thought the design work was particularly appropriate for making something more interesting out of a laptop / office bag. Office culture is awash with boring black laptop bags and dull accessories, if you look around my desk I have my colourful Origami, inspirational quotes (which I don't pay enough attention to, especially: "... and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant..."), hand painted pottery containers with my tea bags. So, why don't I extend this to what I cart my laptop around in? Currently, I have forsaken the standard issue for an IKEA laptop bag which is compact and well designed but it is still regulation black.

I based this work on some sketches I did from a photograph from this book (its a search inside book look at page 70). I then spent an indecent amount of time playing with the scans of the sketches producing patterns and creating new shapes from the negative space in the patterns. I had a lot of fun then recreating the patterns using cut outs from watercolour papers. I was originally inspired by the shape cutting employed by my friend C, my own arrangements reminded me of tattoos and but others on the course thought it reflected Matisse’s style. At the time I thought the work suggested an interesting avenue for designing a wall hanging or 3D item.

The decorated papers were produced by creating stencils and homemade stamps.

Sticking with the red background of my original design board I created a cardboard prototype of the case I intend to make. As I have some strong shapes to play with I used them to influence the shape of the front flap. One shape suggests a design for a fastening.

I want to experiment with some sampling next to see how refined a shape I can achieve from felt and the "cheats" felt from wool tops and soluble fabric. Also, as I am time pressured I am going to try felting a section of old woollen blanket in the washing machine and dyeing it - if its successful I may consider using that as my fabric for the body of the briefcase instead of having the whole body workout of making a huge piece of felt.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sample "quilt"

I say "quilt" because I'm not sure what is it. Some of it is quilted, some of it isn't. Maybe its a throw? But I won't be throwing it around anywhere any time soon - some of the sections are too delicate! I decided last weekend to put into action what I had thought about doing for a long time: sew my applique, quilting and patchwork samples into a sample throw of some sort. We are encouraged on our course to present our work in different ways so I thought about doing this. Now I have actually done this.

I also put together a bag to store it in. It's attached to the throw (cropped out of shot) and I transferred on the technique description for each section - thus providing a handy guide.
A few extra touches are up for consideration but I have decided to devote my time for the rest of the weekend on progressing with my final piece: the accessory. Things to add are:
- extra ribbons so that I can tie up the pocket opening when the throw has been folded in side.
- a tassel or other tied embellishment at each corner where the sections meet.
- a strip of cloth slip stitched to the top back of the quilt so that it can be hung up by a pole (this would be good if I had room at the end of term exhibtion or for a more permanent hanging in my studio)

Some of the sections are new but a few of them I have blogged, when completed, over the past year. I hope I have found all the backlinks (wish blogger was a little more helpful doing this).

Cut-through layers
Layering with machine embroidery and the soldering iron
Layering with hand stitches and cutting by hand

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A busy month of churn

I have a very busy month this month. My course is due to finish and I have to have everything finished for the exhibition at the end of the month.

To do:
- My accessory - mostly thinking about this but have got my design work done. Have prototype to make, felt to make and then embroidery and construction. Of course I'll get it done!
- My samples mounted/presented. Some of them are being sewn together into a throw/hanging. The others need to be mounted in some way and presented appropriately either in a box or a book.
- Tassels and pom poms completed, only done a fraction of what I should have done, then displayed either with the others as described above or in a bowl of some sort.
- Toggles and buttons completed. Done most of the work required for this but a few extra toggles would be good. Then, again, its a matter of presentation.
- Put together my folder or artists, craftsmen and exhibitions.
- My panel write up, though this is very nearly done.
- Present my wall hanging write up nicely. Its written but its stuffed in a plain box file with the prototype and samples.
- I am sure there is plenty more....

On top of that I have the following non-course things:
- Organise M's birthday beer fest (although M can do some of the leg work for that)
- Research and more importantly understand a major financial decision
- Project Spectrum postcard (luckily its well in hand - its currently my light relief)

At least I have a week of leave booked but I suspect that that will be spent de-jungling the garden and decluttering and degunging our pig-pen of a house.


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