Wednesday, June 29, 2016

inspiration versus limitation...

i've been known to be a bit scattered when it comes to all things creative

wanting to try almost everything i see, it can all get a tad overwhelming at times

not to mention the ensuing issues of cost and storage...

"artist's block" rarely ever happens to me - instead, i usually have more ideas than time, and that's certainly been the case with my latest online class

"stitching a story"

each of us have chosen a children's storybook and we're embellishing them in all sorts of wonderful ways... amazing stuff happening in this class by some very talented people...

my chosen book was "the bedspread", by sylvia fair... it's the story of two elderly sisters  who are confined to one very large bed, and, in order to ease their boredom, they've decided to each embroider their end of the white bedspread they also share

 the book is full of amazing illustrations which provided me with four full pages of notes - ideas drawn from both the images, and from the story itself - enough that it would take me a year at least to explore them all

added to that were all the scribbles done by a very young hand some time in this book's past
{i bought my copy from a book-seller on amazon, and it was an old library book, so well used}

i traced out some of the scribbles, identifying shapes within them that i could then take forward into more design work

below is an example of that - one scribble resembled a heart and so i stitched french knots all along it... love, love, love

 below is the beginning of a limited colour study

i had to set the book, as well as my pages of ideas aside for a few weeks whilst i concentrated on the quilt show our guild held back in early june, and though i thought i was keen to get back to class-work, i kept dragging my feet

i couldn't decide where to start

in looking over my pages of notes, and flipping through the pages of the book, i halfheartedly tried my hand at a small sample of tree-bark and colourful leaves

no go

overwhelmed, i think

and as i mulled it all over i remembered the book i'd originally chosen for this class, but set aside when i discovered "the bedspread"

"the red apple"
feridun oral

it had me at hello

soft brown and beige, off-white and red
trees and snow and animals

a winter's scene

in the end i'd decided against it because i thought there just wasn't enough design inspiration to work with... the scene rarely changes, only the animals do

it's always winter - bare trees, and snow falling incessantly

now i was thinking this narrow field of vision might be exactly what i need

today i dug it out of the closet and began what will be

"an extensive exploration of snow and winter trees"

 so far - a few simple french knots on the dedication page

one wrap, two wraps, sometimes three

a fabric bought a few years back - white, with raised star-shaped stitches arranged in circles - perfect for a tiny drawn tree

a scrap of fme lace makes perfect falling snow

 another of circle fabric circles, this one with the centre cut out helps define the fallen apple

 still trying to decide where to put thesnowball-tree

and what other shapes could be drawn in more of them - what kind of snow-storm to create?

a narrow focus this time, one with serious limitations, might be enough inspiration for me right now

 exploring limited shapes in unlimited ways has more appeal than dealing with pages full of glorious illustrations; a well-spring of inspiration can sometimes be far more daunting than working with one simple shape

"the bedspread" proved to be all too overwhelming... and i was always wanting to do something, yet never able to decide on just what that should be, and i ended up doing nothing

today all that changed - fabric and scissors flew, needles and thread all over the place, baskets emptied in the search for scraps of lace and paper-shapes

we're on a two week break from class, before it resumes for another 8 weeks, and no one in class knows i've pulled a switch-up... not even the teacher

 it seems i'll have an interesting "story" to tell about what i did on my two week vacation!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


really, that should read "finished"...

i made a little "art quilt" to display in the quilt show held last weekend by our local guild

but as there are things i added to make it look "complete" which i know i'll remove and re-work, "continuing" might be the better choice after all

i love that about pieces like this - they never have to be 'finished'

you saw some elements of this work a few posts back... pieces of silk and such

I basted, tacked, and stitched the silk background together using a very fine thread and tiny invisible stitches, a cotton diaper bought in the uk a few years ago is a supporting base

the only things i knew for sure when i began this piece were: there would be paper, and there would be queen anne's lace

if i was ever hard-pressed to pick a favourite flower this would be it

a very rough sketch

transferred to tracing paper, pinned in place

the design stitched with a very fine back-stitch and then the tracing paper torn away

some lace i made, some vintage
{since this photograph was taken another flower was added - i'll  show that in my next post}

much of the silk had subtle patterning, which was a perfect opportunity to add stitch detail

chain stitch to emphasize stems

fly stitch to bring forward "ghost" leaves

quilting stitches to lift surface design and add texture

the plant stems were stitched in a staccato-style - short, choppy stitches, layering different colours of thread, a single strand at at a time

trying for a "sketchy" look

plants printed on paper using water, steam and pressure, indentations providing stitching lines, the plants themselves giving colour

stitching these was a huge challenge - what to leave alone, how to add without taking away

creating fanciful flowers of my own

working with nature at a truly wonderful level

when i stitched these i felt like i only wanted to stitch on paper, ever again...

i got to this point, what you see below, and then had to step back to consider

as always, i learnt a lot from doing this, much of which i plan to take forward with me to other projects

i still can't decide if the paper is my favourite thing about this, or the transparent effect of the embroidered flowers - that I really want to pursue, learning better how to achieve it whilst maintaining a focal point - tricksy stuff

so now the show is over, my guild presidency is also finished, teaching is done... it's summer vacation alright

i feel like i've been away this whole year, my poor sad blog suffering from massive neglect and blogging friends who haven't heard from me in ages 
it's my hope to be able to return to posting here a couple of times each week as i've very much missed this - my way of "thinking out loud"

i have so many new ideas, things i want to try, stitching experiments, new directions to travel in... summer is such a great time for creative explorations

there's an easy freedom in the air and a needle in my hand