Saturday, 24 October 2020

Open Exhibition 2020 at the Harley Gallery

Self-Portrait from Travel Card - Alistair Mavin

The Open Exhibition at the Harley Gallery in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire is made up of selected artworks made within 100 miles of the gallery.  Here are some of my top choices...

Alistair Mavin's Self-Portarit was made up of postage stamps
St Dymphna - Patron Saint of Stress & Anxiety - Susan Dodd

Eruption of Waders (Humber Estuary) - Stephen Todd

Glitch - Roanna Wells

Kingfisher (Blue Lobster) - Lucy Stevens

Let Them Eat Cake - Chris Cooper

Social Isolation - Marie Muir

Distant Boundaries - Myfanwy Williams

Francis and the Birds - Jaqueline Warrington

Under the Blossom Tree - Maria Emilov

Rabbit Hole Day - Susan Isaac

Juxtapose - Gill Edwards

As you can see there's a wide range of styles and media.  These are just a few of the works on show.  There are lots more fantastic pieces.  The exhibition is on until Sunday 1 November 2020.  There's a cafe just next door, a farm shop and plenty of carparking.

Islanded Tent - Joanna Whittle

There's also an exhibition called Between Islands by Joanna Whittle, who won the open exhibition in 2019.  This explores the relationship between ‘creating worlds’ and ‘creating collections’ and the role curation and display of collections plays in developing narratives – real or imagined - also on until 1 November 2020.

Go see if you can...

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Can-Do Crafts - Stitched Panel


The City of York Embroiderers' Guild is making a wallhanging for the Folk Hall in New Earswick, York to represent the groups that meet there.  I have been making the panel for the Can-Do Crafts group.  My brief included the size of the panel, that it should be landscape in orientation and that it must include the group's name.  Apart from that, I had free rein.  I spoke to textile artist, Deborah New, who took the group in 2019/2020 to find out what the group had been making.  It sounded like a great group to be part of - they'd tackled weaving, patchwork, felting, simple embroidery and stitching and other textile based crafts.  Deborah also promoted the use of recycling and upcycling in her teaching to make best use of resources.  (If you like the sound of Deborah's style, she is teaching a Hand Stitched Fabric Robins workshop on Zoom with York Learning on 28 November 2020.  You can find out more here.)

Blue/black denim base fabric

In keeping with Deborah's recycling ideas I used some blue/black denim from an old pair of jeans as the base fabric and hoped to use scraps and leftover fabrics, threads and yarns for everything else. 

Various Fonts

Starting with the group's name, I printed it out in a number of different fonts and sizes to see what would work with the panel size - something quite tall and not too wide was what I was looking for. It turned out that Bahnschrift Condensed fitted the bill! The printed out font acted as a template for the letters.  Next, using scraps of colourful patterned fabrics I ironed on bondaweb, a double sided fabric adhesive with a paper backing.  Then using the printed letters that I had already cut out, I reversed them, placed them on the bondaweb paper backing, drew round them and cut them out. 

Font Template and Cut Out Bondawebbed Letters

These were then ironed onto the base denim fabric after the paper backing had been removed.  I had zigzagged the edges of the denim panel to stop them fraying and had stitched a line round (to be removed later) beyond which I didn't want to go when adding the rest of the design so that it wouldn't get lost in the seams.  I allowed a little more than the seam allowance to be on the safe side.

Lettering Ironed in Place

I had chosen 3 of the techniques the group had learned to make small pieces to be part of the panel - weaving, patchwork and felting... 



Small Felted Purse

Also, I thought it would be nice to add some text to the piece mentioning some of the techniques used.  This was done as though it was the thread coming out of a needle.  To make the needle, I ironed some bondaweb onto the back of a scrap of silver fabric and drew a needle shape, which was then cut out, ironed on and machine stitched in position.  Using tailors chalk I roughly drew a line where I wanted the stitching to be and set off.  I had a practice go on a spare bit of denim that helped me decide how to place the words.

Wording Complete

After that, I machine stitched round the letters of the group's name twice, and stitched the three sample pieces in position.  The patchwork piece was machine stitched on.  The weaving sample was hand sewn in position and the felt purse was attached with a combination of the two. As a final touch I added some simple embroidery stitches - chain stitch and cross stitch, that the group might have used in their work.  Finally I took out my stitching guidelines round the edge and the panel was complete...

Finished Panel for the Can-Do Craft Group

And now it's on its way to join the other panels.


Sunday, 26 July 2020

New Acquisitions to the Quilters' Guild Collection

Quite some time ago (in fact it was back in 2018!) I went to the Quilters' Guild new acquisitions mini exhibition in the Guild HQ at St Anthony's Hall, York.  I came across my pics recently and thought you might like to see them.  Below are the acquisitions I liked best...

Jean Grimshaw - Berlin Wall Quilt - 2005

Jean Grimshaw's triptych incorporated fabric painting, photo transfer, applique, quilting & embroidery.  She was in Berlin in 1961 with her penpal when the Wall went up and her penpal's family were divided by it.  The quilt represnts Jean's feelings and experiences of Berlin and her joy when the Wall finally came down in 1989.

Val Jackson - The Lilac Dress - 2014

Val Jackson explores the role of women in the 1950s in The Lilac Dress. The text is taken from advice manuals and popular culture of the time.  It is heavily quilted and embroidered

Thirties Log Cabin Coverlet - Maker Unknown

Made from lots of different printed dress and furnishing fabrics, this log cabin coverlet has been hand sewn. 

Mosaic Coverlet with Art Nouveau Fabrics - Maker Unknown - 1880-1910

The back of this coverlet by an unknown maker features a number of Art Nouveau fabrics.

Corded Quilted Stomacher - Maker Unknown - 1730s

This stomacher features a floral design woked in backstitch.  Stomachers were popular in the 18th Century and filled the gap in the mid section between two edges of an open robe.

Other acquisitions included: The Muriel Rose Cot Coverlet - maker unknown (1930s), Betsy Cope's Irish Chain Quilt (1872), All the World's a Stage  - Linda Straw (1993), Applique Cot Coverlet - Mrs Routh (1890s-1900s), Child's Fabric Book - maker unknown (1920s - 1930s), Eiderdown Doll Quilts and Designs - Mary Morgan Lloyd (1930s).  You can find out more about them all here.

Open days and events at the Quilters' Guild Museum Collection will resume in 2021 - more info here.


Sunday, 19 July 2020

Rainbow Yarnstorm in Rowntree Park, York

Rainbow Yarnstorm in Rowntree Park, York

You may remember, back in April, I told you all about the Friends of Rowntree Park Craft Group's plans for a Rainbows for Rowntree Park Yarnstorm and how you could join in.  Well, thanks to everyone who did because the yarnstorm is now on display in the park and looks fantastic! The display is a big thank you to the NHS, carers, key workers and anyone who has helped others throughout the last few months.  The rainbows are also a celebration of the park itself which has been a special place for many, especially recently! And it's to celebrate the Park's 99th birthday.  Rainbows are a symbol of hope and in some ways that was why the Park was created -  to symbolise a hopeful future for the people of York.

Firstly, there's a truly magnificent gigantic rainbow yarnstorm on the tennis court fence.  It's a collage of knitted, crocheted and stitched squares.

Rainbow Yarnstorm Detail

On top of these squares there's extra interest added in the form of flowers and other stuff.  See if you can spot the frog, the car and the whale! 

Check out some of the extra decorations

It even looks good from the back...

Back View

Fun facts - did you know there are 86 red squares, 77 orange, 64 yellow, 55 green, 42 blue and indigo and 49 violet.  That's more than 370 altogether!  The whole display was made by over 40 people, from primary school age to over 90, from all over the city and further afield.

Rainbow Bench

You can even sit on the rainbow bench and have your photo taken which quite a lot of people were doing when I was there.  It seems to be proving very popular!

Lots of people like the yarnstorm

You can then move on to see the individual rainbows which are hanging in the arbour.  Here's a sneaky peak...

Rainbows in the Arbour

and a bit more detail...

Rainbows in the Arbour

Don't forget to take a look at the display board by the cafe...

Display board by the cafe

because there's alot of interesting rainbows and rainbow coloured pieces there too!

Detail from the Noticeboard

The Friends of Rowntree Park Craft Group hope to keep the yarnstorm up until the end of August so you've got plenty of time to take a look.  Why not take a pic of yourself with the rainbow and post it to social media with the hashtag #RainbowsforRowntreePark. 

Thanks to the Friends of Rowntree Park Craft Group and all who took part for such a fabulous display! 

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Benode Behari Mukherjee at David Zwirner, London

Benode Behari Mukherjee - Untitled

I thought you might like to see some of the Indian artist, Benode Behari Mukherjee's work which was shown earlier this year at the David Zwirner gallery in London.  Entitled "After Sight" it was a showing of the artist's collages from the 1950s and 60s after he had lost his sight.  Born blind in one eye and short sighted in the other, Mukherjee lost his eyesight completely in 1957.  This didn't stop his visual arts practice but inspired him to try tactile media too, such as sculpture but particularly collage, as well as drawing.

Benode Behari Mukherjee - Untitled

Mukherjee (1904-1980), a pioneer of Indian modern art,  studied at Kala Bhavana, the arts institute, in Santiniketan, West Bengal which was pre-eminent in modern art in 20th century India.

Benode Behari Mukherjee - Reclining Man

Mukherjee organised his collages by touch and chose the colours and subject matter from memory.

Benode Behari Mukherjee - Boy With Shell Nose

Mukherjee's collages were very colourful and vibrant.  His style reminded me of Matisse's cut-outs.

Benode Behari Mukherjee - Faces with Sutli

On another point altogether, the David Zwirner gallery has an impressive staircase.  Take a look...

Staircase at David Zwirner

Staircase at David Zwirner

Next time you're in London why not check out what's showing at David Zwirner?

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Solar Dyeing

Bottles for Solar Dyeing

You may remember that I had a go at natural dyeing with Rhubarb, Dandelions and Forget-Me-Nots a while ago.  Well, now I've had a go at solar dyeing.  This is the same sort of thing but takes much longer, is all done in bottles or jars and uses the sun as the heat source.  

Dandelion Bottle
In this bottle, I put the dandelion remains from my natural dyeing, some boiling water and a piece of calico fabric that had been mordanted with light soy milk.  A mordant is a dye fixative.  It helps bind the dye to a fabric to make it more colourfast and can affect the resulting colour. (The boiling water made the plastic bottle collapse a bit into a slightly bent shape)  After a couple of days, I topped the bottle up with some fresh dandelion heads and left it out in the sun for about 7 weeks.

Dandelion Mulch
Bottle with addition of fresh dandelion heads

Forget-Me-Not Bottle
This bottle had fresh Forget-Me-Not flower heads, some rusty screws and bolts,  hot water and unmordanted calico fabric.  After a few days I topped the bottle up with some distilled vinegar, gave it a shake and left it out in the sun also for about 7 weeks.  I added some linen yarn, that had been washed but otherwise untreated, about half way through.  I hoped the rusty screws and vinegar would act as a mordant here.

Fresh Forget-Me-Not Flower Heads

Dark Red Rose Petals & Leaves Bottle
Another bottle contained some dark red rose petals and rose leaves from the same plant, warm water and washed wool and linen yarns.  The yarns had been washed to remove any dressing.  This was left for about 5 weeks.  I thought the rose leaves might contain enough tannin to act as a mordant here.

Bottle with Rose Petals & Leaves

Red Onion Skins Jar
To this jar I added red onion skins, warm water and some washed wool & linen yarn.  This jar was left for 3 weeks.

Red Onion Skins Jar

When I finally decided to empty all the bottles out, the dandelion mixture smelt terrible and had done very little...

Dandelion Results

The forget-me-not fabric and yarn had gone a nice grey colour with darker patches which I think this was largely due to the screws, bolts and vinegar...
Forget-Me-Nots With Screws & Bolts

The rose petals and leaves had produced a promising pale orange wool yarn and pink linen yarn...

Rose Petals & Leaves Results

whilst the red onion jar had the most vivid colours of all, with a deep orange wool yarn and deep pink linen yarn...

Red Onion Results

After getting everything out of the jars and rinsing off the plant matter, all the fabric and yarns were washed.  The yarns from the red onion jar needed most washing to get rid of the onion smell as I had put a few bits of onion in the jar with the skins.  After washing a lot of the vibrant colour had gone and none of the pink was left at all...
Dandelion Results

Forget-Me-Nots Results

Rose Petal & Leaf Results

Red Onion Results

You can see a small amount of the original fabric and yarn against the dyed results to show the change.  Apart from the dandelions, which I think were completely spent, all the results were interesting, although I was sorry to lose the pinks from the linen yarn from the rose petals and leaves and the red onion skins. All the linen yarns came out in different neutral shades from pale grey (Forget-Me-Nots) to beige (rose petals and leaves) to ivory (red onion skins).  The wool yarn was quite yellow from the red onion skins and much paler from the rose petals and leaves.

I have since bought a couple of books to find out more and hope to have better results in future!