14 June 2015

Landscape & Architecture in Hand Embroidery

We've been looking forward to our June Saturday workshop with Gina Smith, and 12 of us and our large bags of fabrics and threads arrived with eager anticipation.  Gina gave us a talk earlier in the year and showed us her lovely work and described her technique of layering sheer and more opaque fabrics to create a "painted" surface for stitch, so we were keen to learn her secrets.  It is such an effective technique, but a lot easier when Gina does it than when we try!  She was kept busy putting us on the right track and encouraging us when we despaired.

We had been asked to find a photograph that inspired us and blow it up to A4 size, and then get a couple of black & white copies.  These were helpful to pick out the different tones and we also used them to cut up to place them on our background fabric so we could trace the areas correctly - particularly important with the architectural subjects where the perspective so vital.  Some of us had favourite photographs, others were inspired by other art works so there was quite a variety of subjects on view and with Gina's help we all mapped out our work and were able to start on the fun bit of layering on the fabric.  I chose a picture of a canyon in Arizona taken from high on the rim, so had fun layering misty blues, pinks and whites for the dreamy scene below.  Harder is going to be working on the foreground rocky pinnacles, so I still have to work my way through my scrap-bag to find just the right piece of opaque fabric to work on, so when it came to the show-and-tell I cheated by including my black & white cutout!

There was much pinning and un-pinning and a little sewing but all too soon it was time to clear up and prepare for the Show-and-Tell.  Gina didn't seem to mind that we had all strayed from her delicate and subtle technique and her generous critique and description of each piece made us all feel we had really achieved something and just might finish a masterpiece given time, patience and a following wind!

Thank you Gina, for a lovely day.  Lots more pictures in the Photo Album.  J 
Say "cheese" Gina!

8 June 2015

Fusing Old With New

We arrived at the Hall early on Monday for a committee meeting to find the power off - calamity!  What about our cuppa?!  All was not lost, the caretaker supplied a kettle so we were able to move supplies and crockery to the next room so disaster was averted.  Despite an extension cable from another hall our speaker, Karen Casper, still ran into computer problems, so we were unable to see her Powerpoint presentation, but she had some large professional photographs and magazine articles to show us as she spoke, as well as examples of her fantastic wearable art.

Karen describing some of the many
techniques that make up her
Fairground Skirt
Karen admits to a passion for old lace and textiles, even torn scraps are treasured and she uses them to blend with her own sewing to create new, beautiful and unique wearable art.

Her Coral throw is once such example and below is a close up of the rich texture she achieves with recycled tulle and lace together with metal thread and velvet - it looks good enough to eat!  She has used some dramatic glow-in-the-dark threads in this piece.  Have a look at her website www.tulleandcandyfloss.blogspot.com to see the full effect.

This veil (one of a series of three) uses old bridal veiling and the "lace" is achieved using the Cornely machine at Manchester Met.  This machine is over 100 years old.  It was manufactured by Ercole Cornely in Paris from a design by a French engineer called Bonnaz . It is a chain-stitch machine made to imitate tambour work.  The stitches can be worked in any direction, guided by the operator using a rotary handle.

We were also privileged to examine Karen's sketchbooks, filled with her meticulous research and sampling.  A lovely afternoon.   J.