Tuesday, 19 April 2011

embossing felt

I've moved the contents of my studio space at college to my home studio. I know it will all have to go back again but for a while I'll need to work at home and the end of term seemed as good a time as any to shift it all.

Last week I did some experiments with a devore process into my thick felt. The usual devore technique uses an alkaline paste that eats into cellulose fibres, cutting them away. This wouldn't work on wool and the equivalent process that does work on wool uses an acid paste to do the same job. The technician said no one had ever done this before at college. He didn't say I couldn't though... I later found out that it hasn't been allowed before due to health and safety reasons! The process uses caustic soda, which is pretty nasty stuff. Needless to say I was very careful. And it worked, really well in fact.

The trouble is though, it doesn't sit very well
with the sustainability issues that I'm exploring in this project. I don't feel at all comfortable with it as a process. I won't be taking it any further.

So, now to find a way of creating that embossed effect in my thick felt that doesn't involve harmful chemicals... I tried burning into the felt with a soldering iron. It worked but not brilliantly. I tried using a drill to 'draw' into the felt. This didn't really work at all: the drill got all caught up in the fibres. Then I tried threading wire through holes drilled into a piece of wood and clamping this onto the felt before steaming.

This is still drying off after steaming, as are the next few samples which were wrapped round thick cardboard tubes and steamed or dyed with onion skins. I'll leave them all for a few days before undoing the various bundles to see how they worked.

This last one looked like a roast joint cooking away!

Current listening: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

Sunday, 17 April 2011

end of term

End of term: everyone is tired. I'm completely exhausted actually. Having finished off my dissertation this week and got three copies bound ready for submission...

I should be celebrating. But actually I'm rather overwhelmed by
everything that I need to do in the next couple of months. For most of the other students on my course the Easter holiday is a chance to catch up and get lots of work done. For me it is a time to spend with family. I have to put my work aside for a while, get the house in order, try to relax a little.

I spent most of yesterday asleep, just trying to catch up with myself and I did have half an hour of garden therapy.

I planted out these lovely broad beans as well as runner beans and climbing beans. I constructed wigwams for them to climb on. It felt a little like the preparation of a warp: getting the structure right before adding the in-between bits.

There is a lot of hope involved in this game. You nurture these little things, watching them grow in the protection of the pot and the window sill and then release them to the mercies of the weather and the slugs.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

full stops

I'm in the midst the final edit of my dissertation before handing it in. I've spent the last couple of hours moving full stops and commas around. I've also discovered that I have a bit of a penchant for writing really long sentences!

As my subject is 'the garden as a creative outlet' I looked back through some photos yesterday to find a suitable one of my own garden. There were some really interesting colour combinations from late in the year but in terms of the garden looking 'at its best' it has to be May or June.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

cutting and printing

This week I took the plunge and cut up my large piece of thick felt. I had been procrastinating about what scale to work on for my final pieces and at one point was convinced that I should keep this big slab of wall-like felt as one section that could really become part of the wall. But I was worried about the difficulties of working on such a large scale, both in terms of committing to one design and the practicalities of working with this big slab of wool. I wondered whether the possibilities of developing ideas over a number of smaller pieces that would make up a larger whole might actually be the better way to go. After a very useful tutorial, which confirmed that I should go for the smaller units, I decided to cut up the felt.

I've returned to the idea of repeated units that featured in this project earlier on this year and that I'd moved away from for a while. So many buildings, particularly contemporary ones, use repeated units as their basis.

My units will be the same dimensions but their surfaces with change, grow, develop.

Current listening: Inter-generational cello duets drifting up from a lower floor of the house.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

growth and death

There is daily change at the moment as everything seems to be growing and filling out at great speed

inside and out.

I found this beautiful nuthatch in my front garden a week or so ago. I can only guess that it succumbed to one of the cats. I've never seen a nuthatch round here before ... perhaps there aren't any round here any more!?

It is absolutely beautiful and I've had
it sitting around waiting to be drawn. I now realise I'm not going to manage to find the time to draw it (before it gets a bit smelly) so I photographed it and I'm going to put it in the compost heap to rot down and hopefully I can collect the skull. I have done this in the past with all sorts of found birds. As a child I was really quite fascinated by collecting dead insects, skulls and other things macabre, purely in the interests of natural history study I hasten to add! I still have this collection.

Today I happened to come across Susan Silas' stunning work recording found birds.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Last weekend I had the pleasure of leading a workshop for ladies from various textile groups based around Fulbourne in Cambridgeshire. What is lovely about this group is that they've come together from various different specialist interests (including patch workers, knitters and stitchers) and are joining with a creative writing group who are investigating the history of their village. They are all collectively working towards an exhibition in 2012 that celebrates that history.

We had an action packed day investigating various aspects of design and composition using sketching, collage and bonding and we had a pretty fab lunch too!

I'm really looking forward to seeing the exhibition that they create.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

journey colour

red kite
black rabbit
spring greens
white bloom
black thorn