We all had yet another extremely enjoyable and fun day at SCCS on our regular Saturday workshops.
Una taught is lots of different techniques for folding and stitching fabrics to create a sort of 'resist' in order to obtain the most beautiful effects when dyed in an indigo vat.
We all had yet another extremely enjoyable and fun day at SCCS on our regular Saturday workshops.
After her hugely successful and enjoyable Zoom talk during 'lockdown', Zoe very kindly returned in person to show us her beautiful 'broken' vases that she painstakingly covers in silk fabrics and stitched back together again.
It was lovely to inspect these beautiful vases close up to see the intricate stitching that holds them together. We were even lucky enough to handle a small piece to feel the fragility, and yet new strength of these reconstructed items.
It was lovely to welcome everyone back to the Trintiy centre for our September AGM on Thursday. There was some lovely work on display at our mini exhibition, it seems that everyone has been extremely busy and creative over lockdown.
The winner of our 'Chairman's Challenge' award this year was Brenda's lovely quilt.
It was also a real treat to see the beautiful friendship rings that had been created.
If you haven't yet made yours, there is still time. The instructions are on the website, and you can bring it along to our next meeting.
We were treated to a very inspirational talk last night by Gail Tutcher.
Gail told us about the history and origins of Bargello stitch, she explained how it is worked, and showed examples of her own work, and the many ways in which it can be adapted to achieve beautiful effects.
We would like to set a challenge this month for members to create an item using bargello stitch. It could be a needlecase, a book cover, a cushion, or even perhaps a doorstop!
The basic stitch is a very simple, repetitive counted stitched traditionally worked with wool on canvas, but it could possibly be worked on any even-weave fabric using a thread that is thick enough to fill the holes and to cover the fabric.
Sometimes its nice to sit and stitch something simple and repetitive that’s not taxing on the brain, and the results can be just stunning.
Pattern inspiration can be found on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rgreen6040/bargello-free-patterns/
Canvas fabric can be purchased through Amazon and eBay, just search for 'Zweigart Tapestry Needlepoint canvas'. 12 or 14 count is probably about the best to work on.
Appletons Tapestry wool can again be purchased through Amazon and eBay for about 99p a skein.
HOWEVER, it would be nice to see what can be achieved using materials you have to hand - maybe embroidery floss on Aida, or knitting wools into Hessian...?
Please send images of your work to email@example.com so that we can add your work to this blog post.
There are a few books on Amazon that teach new and modern variations should you wish to add them to your wish list :)
PS. I have received a message from Gail:
"If anyone is interested, there is a new book available on Bargello which has good illustrations:
‘Bargello Stitch: A pattern directory for dramatic needlepoint’ by Laura Angell & Lynsey Angell, pub by Search Press August 2020
I’ve been looking up the details of the tapestry canvas that I use. I think it is interlock 10 holes per inch canvas like the example here: https://www.stitchtastic.com/store/interlock-canvas-10hpi-2 or here: https://www.woolwarehouse.co.uk/fabric/zweigart-10-count-interlock-canvas-white-40-100cm-40inch-wide
I have used Wool Warehouse several times for threads and they are very efficient and reasonably priced."
Jayne has very kindly written a blog post describing her journey through Nicky's fun pdf workshop:
I was really excited about doing a remote ‘workshop’ with Sutton Coldfield Creative Stitchers. Usual weekend workshops would include raiding the sewing room of resources to pile into the car to unpack at the other end and hope, with fingers crossed, that you had all of the necessary equipment for a day of creativity.
‘A day of creativity’ can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a whole day to be absorbed in fabric, stitch, print and to engage with so many like-minded, passionate, inspiring people is an absolute dream. On the other hand, the pressure to feel the need to produce your ‘best work’ or explore new techniques during the day can somehow squash the creativity and opportunity or permission to simply have a go!
Nicky Barfoot, an art and knitwear designer, provided a PDF with video mini tutorials to ‘build your confidence and broaden your horizons’ through a ‘Stitched Selfie Workshop’ with a virtual follow up meeting via Zoom. Exploring techniques and design this way provided the step-by-step scaffold to work through at your own pace, at home, with all of the resources needed at hand. The videos brought to life the text and provided a real insight into the design and creative process.
So, here we go…
The first obstacle to overcome was to take a selfie, not something that I am comfortable doing, but in the confines of your own home and with the benefit of filters and technology, an acceptable image can be ‘created’. I then traced a simplified drawing of the image onto tracing film.
before tracing the outline onto tissue paper.
Using back stitch and 2 strands of black embroidery thread, I worked the main outlines onto the fabric.
Having completed the initial thread tracing, I arranged a selection of threads and fabrics that I thought I wanted to use that both reflected my personality and represented my image.
Nicky Barfoot talked about the importance of the ‘pout’ and selecting a few important features, I therefore stitched the lips first. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you look at your eyes and you recognise the person you are looking at, I felt it important at this stage, to get the eyes right in thread in order for the selfie to take shape.
Something I had not tried before was to incorporate colour through pencil crayons. My dad, who enjoyed drawing pictures of work colleagues using 4B and 6B pencils, letting the pencils show depth and texture; explored painting with watercolours, taking photographs, and drew technical drawings amongst many other creative things, passed away last April, due to COVID-19, and left a treasure trove of materials. I decided to use some of his coloursoft crayons by Derwent to begin to be more creative with my selfie and to push some barriers of conformity, that I know, many stitchers feel.
‘Artistic decisions’ was the next step to take, and I began to think about layers of design by arranging drawings onto the selfie and ‘placing’ materials before taking a photo, to see the effect.
I continued to add stitch to my selfie, adding colour and shading.
The hair then began to take shape with couched thread, adding a bit of silver as the natural highlights of age emerge! Adding red acrylic paint for the jumper, after using a heat'n’form block to obtain an impression from a recently completed hand knitted cotton jumper, increased the number of exploratory techniques used in this piece.
A little ‘chipping’ using fabulous silver bright check purl to highlight leaves on the cheekbone and then all that was left was the background – depicted by wrapped curtain rings, creating ‘bubbles’ and further couched threads and French knots.
The follow up meeting with Nicky and members of Sutton Creative Stitchers served as a fabulous occasion to share, explore, push more creative boundaries and to learn so much more from each other.
And therefore, so much more than a days’ workshop. An exploration of techniques, creativity, ideas and a personal reflection through a stitched selfie workshop.
Here is a gallery of 'selfies' by other members:
We were very happy to welcome Nicky Parmenter via zoom on Thursday evening.
She told us about her work, using plastics and machine stitch in the most colourful and creative ways. Her amazingly intricate works were spellbinding.
Much of her work is inspired by artistic traditions from around the world, and often created using the most obscure materials found in hardware stores, but all to the most beautiful effect.
Nicki will be joining us next year for a workshop. We very much look forward to meeting her in person, and seeing some of her lovely work in real life.
Dionne Swift's Zoom lecture, Establishing a Rhythm, was a lovely introduction into Dionne's artistic practice. She explained how her local Yorkshire countryside inspires her vibrant energetic work.
Her quick observational sketches are trasformed to textiles using her sewing machine as a mark making tool.
Saturday's workshop was fun and enlightening from start to finish. Dionne taught us how to use an holiday photograph to create a beautiful machine stitched image. Her advice and knowledge of sewing machines, threads, fabrics, hoops and sewing room practices were invaluable.
My journey into creative textiles began in September 2014 when I enrolled on a course with textile artist Kim Thittichai. I had a teaching and art background but my only sewing experience was making some clothes as a student and having a nasty, scary needlework teacher at school who convinced me that I was hopeless with any form of sharp implement.
I’d first come across Kim at a DT show at the NEC where she was happily shrivelling up tyvek and layering painted Bondaweb. I bought one of her books and decided I had to get in on the act. Her ‘Experimental Textiles’ course was run at The Inkberrow Design Centre in Redditch. My husband looked at the things I brought home and referred to it as ‘Extreme Textiles’ instead, which wasn’t entirely inappropriate. I loved it! We met one weekend a month and it was huge fun learning new techniques and using different materials. It didn’t matter that I only knew how to do a running stitch as the emphasis was on ‘play’ and ‘design through process’. I began to see stitches as a form of mark making.
I also met some talented, creative women on the course. We finished in March 2015 with an exhibition at the NEC at a textile show which was great experience in itself. However four of us decided we didn’t want this to end and formed our own textile group. We booked a space at the NEC show the following March. Kim kindly took us on as an ExEx Tex group and tutored us for the next year too.
We initially called ourselves Kinetex and came up with a theme of ‘Elements’ for our first exhibition. We like to have a shared theme as it helps focus us and although we all work in different ways it gives an exhibition a sense of unity.
So we had fire, air, land and water and each took one element. I had land. I made large silk bowls and textural hangings that were reminiscent of aerial photos.
It was nerve wracking at first. Just physically setting out and putting up the pieces was a steep learning curve. The exhibition went really well though and those people who came and talked to us seemed to like it. For me, talking to complete strangers about the work was difficult initially but now I really enjoy it.
Since then, we have exhibited once or twice every year ( until COVID came along) at large textile shows at the NEC, Bristol, Leicester and Uttoxeter. We want to branch out more and are hoping to show in the spring at Art Yard in Cradley Heath although that depends on lockdown.
The numbers in our group have varied as we’ve acquired and lost members over time. We also changed our name are now called ‘On The Surface’. We always have 3D and 2D pieces and our work is quite art based. We currently have eight talented and diverse members some of whom are in other groups too including Out of Line, Prism, Meniscus and Midlands Textile Forum as-well as exhibiting in their own right. At the moment we are not on social media, it’s something we know we need to tackle. We did have a website but were hopeless at updating it.
Currently, three of us are working our way through City and Guilds, two have completed Art foundation courses. Catherine Howard went on to enrol on an MA and she’s now doing a PhD in her 60s ! I’m also a member of the Society For Embroidered Work.
What began as an exciting, non- traditional textile course has led to so many further opportunities; forming an exhibiting group, developing our individual creative practices, gaining further qualifications and giving us a supportive network of great friends.
In February we were joined via Zoom by Zoe Hillyard.
Zoe is a lecturer of textiles at Birmingham City University, but also has her own artistic practice.
Zoe re-builds broken pottery and vases by covering the pieces with silk fabric and stitching them together again.
Zoe's beautiful works have been focused in many home decoration magazines and exhibited widely, including the Saatchi Gallery.
Warwickshire Open Studios
In 2014 I applied online to take part in Warwickshire Open Studios and one of the organisers, Jo, invited me to share her studios near Bedworth. I started a visitors’ book and asked people to leave their details if they were interested in taking part in a workshop and I held a workshop the following autumn and did not need to advertise it as I filled all the spaces from my book.
It was quite a blow not to be invited back the following year, but as I learned, most artists like new faces to show their work with. Jo introduced me to Dawn, who at that time ran Ragley Studios. I was shocked to experience some hostility from the full-time professional artists there. However once they realised that I was paying the same weekly rent as they were (for much less space!) there was a definite warming of the atmosphere and we got on extremely well after that!
In following years I have teamed up with contacts nearer to home and shown my work in their homes.
* meeting other artists and widening my circle of contacts
* being accepted by “proper” artists
* learning to discuss my work with visitors
* my visitors’ book - looking back at all the positive comments cheers me up
* having fun!
* there are always people who say, “oh no, it’s textiles”, and veer away in horror.
* other artists can be unfriendly at first - take cake and offer to make the tea.
* it is quite an expensive process - there is a fee to join WOS, a fee to appear in the glossy brochure and often more printing expenses charged by the individual venue. I have sold work but never made a profit - yet!
* I had taken unfinished pieces of work as a conversation starter or to illustrate ideas and ended up selling most of them, against my better judgement. I still regret this and would strongly advise against doing this.