Monday, 26 March 2012

Nice day for a white wedding...

Another set of our friends got married this weekend (a different Bride than the one who I made the Hen Party Rosettes for in an earlier post) and I wanted to make them something memorable for their wedding present.

I saw a set of 'tattoo' inspired embroidery pieces in an old issue of Mollie Makes and thought they would be perfect to be reworked into a set of wedding wall hangings!

For the centre image I used a 4" emboridery hoop and added the dates of the wedding to the scroll. This was my first attempt at using metallic thread and I did struggle to thread the needle with it as there was no way of combining the ends as with conventional thread. I think the overall effect it gives makes it well worth the effort, but not something I'll be using for 'everyday' sewing projects.

For the two name panels I used an 8" hoop and had to enlarge the template image to the correct size (thanks to my art training and the grid system this was pretty easy, although I had run out of tracing paper, and was forced to use baking paper as a last minute fix!). I then added the names of the Bride and Groom in the scrolls. I also flipped one of the images so the birds would be face to face.

To finish off the frames, I made a backing piece using thick cardboard covered in black cotton fabric. This meant I could hide the rough stitching on the back of the image, and tuck all of the loose ends inside. I cut the cardboard circles to the size of the inner hoop and pushed them into place. They were a very snug fit so I decided against using glue to hold them in place.

And here's the finished product! Hopefully they will signify the start of another long and happy marriage!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Cassette Tape Nostaligia

I have recently been having a bit of an overhaul of my folksy shop and trying to establish an identity for myself. My general approach to being creative has always been to do what I feel like doing at the time. I can happily jump from baking to sewing to knitting to cross-stich to drawing and have drawers of half finished projects to show for it. So my plan was to try to work in a more considered way and to actually create a collection of things with an underlying theme.

I had been thinking for a while about making a series of felt cassette tapes. There is something great about the cassette tape which I have to say I miss. As good as iPods are they are slightly soulless compared to analogue music playing devices. I remember happily swapping cassettes with people at college with no worry about whether you'd ever get it back. I used to paint the body of the tapes in nail varnish and stickers. And I miss the 'slowed down' thing that tapes used to do when the batteries were dying in your walkman. So the cassette theme seemed like a logical starting point (and links well to the record bowls I already sell)

I started by designing a make-up bag/pencil case pouch with a zip. I raided my stash of random felt, starting with light grey and adding the details in pale blue, dark grey, white and black (including letters for the A and B sides). I added a bright blue zip (by hand - still haven't mastered doing it on the machine) and a blue and white start patterned cotton for the lining.

Once I had designed the basic pattern, I decided to make a scaled down version to use as a brooch. I used the same basic colours but in a smaller version with a silver brooch back on the reverse. I like the cute diddy version a lot, it has a certain (wonky) charm!

All of the above can be found at the Rescued Rags shop.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

We always find something to give us the impression we exist...

Bumper post for you today! On Thursday, my good friend Chris and I had a bumper art tour of Leeds, taking in art, opera and theatre!

Glamourie at PSL

We started our tour at Project Space Leeds, for its Glamourie exhibition. The exhibition is focused on the common themes of ritual and ceremony, with artwork collected from a variety of little known British artists. It is a slightly disjointed exhibition, which doesn't always work as a whole, although there are a number of stand out pieces within it. It seems a little too like a graduate arts show, where not all of the work is of the same quality and not everything seems to link to the common theme. Not to be overly critical, as I did enjoy the majority, but this remained a minor criticism for me.

Below are a selection of my favourite pieces from the exhibition:

"Snap Like a Diva" workshop

"Nothing Here" - Kitty Clark

"I am a Real Artist" - Johannes Fa

"Zeco Sun" - Leon Sadler

"Super Supra" - Iona Smith

"Ruach Ha'Shem (Brain of God/Creation of Adam?) - Ant Macari

"The Law of Excluded Middle" - Ant Macari
My personal favourite, based on the work of Jorges Louis Borges.

Five Truths at Opera North

After finding a flyer at PSL we decided to investigate the new work at the Howard Assembly Rooms for Opera North. The work was a large video installation with numerous screens showing 5 different versions of Ophelia's mad scene from Hamlet. These were filmed in the style of 5 great film directors and overlapped the images and sounds so you were quite literally surrounded by the performance. I found this to be a really effective exploration of madness, and it was interesting to see the same scene and words interpreted in different ways.

Some images from the installation:

Waiting for Godot at WYP

To conclude our day of artfaggery, we went to see the newest production of Waiting for Godot at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I am a big fan of Samuel Beckett, having based my MA dissertation and artwork on his plays, and performing the last scene from Waiting for Godot as part of my final exhibition. However, I had never seen it live.

The WYP version differed slightly from convention as it had an all black cast. Obviously there is no limitation to how the characters can be portrayed (they are, after all, only descried as wearing bowlers) but this was something slightly out of the ordinary.

I have to say that I enjoyed the performance very much. The set was very minimal as expected, with the tree bursting up from what appeared to be cracked judo mats. The background projection provided the difference in lighting, and added to the sense of nothingness about the scenery. The actors were very good, transposing Beckett's words into a Caribbean patois which worked surprisingly well. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Lucky and Pozzo (who I wasn't too fond of in my previous readings of the script). I was very pleased with the overall production, which had the right amount of humour and pathos, updating Beckett's words to a new audience.

Yet another example of the great Art on offer in Leeds. I often think how lucky I am to live somewhere with great artistic opportunities, and all this in one day really confirmed what the city has to offer! Even if all the walking around really takes it out of the knees!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Happy Birthday to You!

A friend of mine teaches Baby Sign Language and commissioned me to make a set of Happy Birthday bunting to use during her teaching.

I wanted to make a unisex string of bunting which could be used for any group of children, but which kept a home-made quality. After raiding my stash of randomly acquired fabrics and rummaging through the fabric offcuts in the local fabric shops, I had a pretty good selection of old and new fabric (including some amazing Cath Kidston star fabric, orange and yellow checks from an old vintage dress and the trusty recycled Ikea pillow cases rescued from Karl's old bed!)

I printed the required letters out (Arial font) and used these as templates to cut out the fabric. I decided to leave the edges raw as it would add to the old fashioned style of the bunting (and because I couldn't dream of creating seams which would allow you to still read the letter!).

Once these were cut out and paired with a contrasting background fabric, I hand sewed each letter onto the triangles which will make up the completed bunting. This was then sewn together on the machine and attached to the bunting cord ready for hanging. Two snazzy felt ends later and it was ready to go!

I was really pleased with how it turned out (and so was she!) but I was amazed at how long it was compared to my usual 9 flag bunting! I attempted to get an image of the whole thing, but it shows off more of the garden than the bunting!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mouse Guard!

For a while, my boyfriend has been asking me to make him some felties of the characters from the Mouse Guard series of comics. They had been on my radar for a while, but with Valentines day looming I decided to get on with making them.

I started by drawing up some templates based on the characters, using mainly trial and error to get the sizes in proportion. The first template mice had massive heads, but this was easly rectified. First I made the ears, by glueing two contrasting pieces of tear drop shaped felt together and squashing underneath some heavy books until dry. I then squeezed them in the middle to create the 3D shape of the ears. I modelled these on my own rats, Basil and Loki, aiming to get the angled look of their ears.

Next I sewed black seed beads on as eyes and started to oversew around the edges of the head, trapping the ears inside. Once this was completed and stuffed with toy filling, I started to make the bodies. These were based on the Zombie Felties I have made before, so I simply drew around the body of the zombie to create the mouse template.

I adapted the arms slightly, as the lopsided zombie arms didn't look right for the mice. I sewed and stuffed the body in the same way as the head, adding a string of embroidery thread in the same colour as the inner ear pieces for the tail. I then sewed the head and body together. Lastly I made up a cloak shape with long thin strips at either side. These were then knotted around the mouse's neck to hide the join.

And here is the full set!




Saturday, 11 February 2012

Utopia/Dystopia at the Hepworth

I was lucky enough to get myself put on the guest list for the opening of the new exhibition at the Hepworth gallery (Thanks Hayley!). Despite the 2-pairs of gloves temperatures, and much faffing trying to find the car park (no thanks Sat Nav) I made it in. After claiming my free drink (part of the art fag tradition) I went straight up to the exhibition, ignoring the speeches so I could get a good un-interrupted look at the work.

Walking into the space you are met with a series of what appears to be antique fabrics. On closer inspection, these are painted, ceramic and had cut leather representations of fabric. I was very taken with the leather versions, which you really did have to get very close to before you could figure out what they were!

I then went in to watch the Ben Rivers film. He has put together 4 short films about islands and fictional islands to look at the idea of utopia. I will admit that I didn't watch the whole 4, coming in halfway through the screening. You are handed a set of wireless headphones with the films soundtrack playing and go into the space filled with beanbags, cushions and folding chairs (I managed to claim an empty bean bag - left empty as it was directly in front of the projector meaning I had to slump in the chair to avoid projecting my giant head over the screen).

The first film I saw was documenting a Japanese psychiatric centre on an island which was starting to decay (your usual art film gubbins, but not too interesting). The second film was about the fictional island of 'Somerset' which was inhabited by primitive natives in creepy wooden/found object masks. The soundtrack discussed the history and traditions of these people and was a much more successful piece in my view. I later found out that the soundtrack was written without seeing the finished film, which explains the disjointed elements of the film, but also added a sense of confusion which was in keeping with the images on screen.

By far and away my favourite was the collaboration between Heather and Ivan Morrison, who were exhibiting a collection of objects which are complimented and used as part of a puppet show. The objects all appear to document some form of decay, from a collection of carved animal bones to paintings created with burnt bone dust and soot. There is also a metal stool which is being slowly dripped with water from above which will gradually rust over the course of the exhibition. This is quite startling at first, as my first impression was that something must be leaking from my bag! The story of the objects will be shown through interaction with the puppets, and is a story about the loss of a child, who is represented here by a giant floating ball of light filled with helium.

(Image taken from the Hepworth Facebook page, where you can find full images of the exhibition set up)

Sadly the puppets weren't in action on the night, but were hanging up in the Hepworth reception area. They have been hand carved, and correlate to the massive paintings displayed in the gallery space (grey for Anna the protagonist and Black for the man).

I will be going back to see the puppet show in a few weeks so will be able to expand on this review then. At the moment, I think that the objects are very interesting apart from the puppets, and am intrigued to see how these creations interact.

Overall, this is a very different show to the Eva Rothschild exhibition which opened the Hepworth. It is unified by the themes of utopia/dystopia, but without the additional explanations I had before and after looking at the work I think that this may be missed by some visitors. However, I would definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dont Tell the Bride!

Two sets of my wonderful friends is getting married in March this year and I'm Bridesmaid at both weddings!

The first to Tie the Knot are my friends Kirsty & Gareth, and to celebrate the Hen night we are going away to Centre Parks! I wanted to make something that could be kept as a reminder of the weekend and have been secretly crafting for the past 6 months.

So, inspired by some of the lacy and romantic wedding/party photos shoots in Mollie Makesmagazine, I designed rosettes for each of the wedding party!

Bride to Be

Mum of the Bride


The lace and fancy bits are a combination of vintage scraps I had lying around, bargain bin offcuts from Leeds markets and repeated trips to Samuel Taylors! The Bride to be is a big lover of all things pink, hence the colour scheme. I wanted to avoid the traditional Hen Night neon and make something a bit classier.

I also wanted the other hens to have something in the same theme as the wedding party, but as ever was rapidly running out of time (where does it go?!?). I decided to make a smaller, simpler rosette to make sure that they were done in time! Each one is slightly different, and has a unique sequinned or embroidered embellishment to the centre.

These were put into 'party bags' which were personalised by the fabulous folksy seller Shinta Shop and filled with sweeties.