East Anglian Stitch Textiles
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Jenny’s experiments with fermentation dyeing.
 I think this must be the slowest form of dyeing as it is done cold. I started with weld which wasn’t very successful, but red cabbage has been very exciting.
I chopped up a quarter of a red cabbage very small and put it in a clean plastic milk bottle with the lid on. I shook it 3 times a day and let out the gasses, it was kept in the dark and after 4 days this was the result.

I know that red cabbage is very sensitive to the PH, so I tried painting the silk with washing soda, that is an alkaline ph.

This was quite a startling colour, and so far after a month it hasn’t changed. so then I tried lemon juice, this goes a very pretty pink, but it did tend to rinse out.

Iron water made from [ferrous sulphate] turn the silk blue and does seem colour fast at the moment.

finally I did a black berry leaf print, not such a good result.

I shall have to see how the colour lasts, red cabbage is notoriously good at fading, the idea is that the fermentation will help the colour to stay.
  Now I have started 2 more one with buckthorn bark, I have kept the PH high by adding slaked lime, this took much longer about 3 weeks but I am pleased with the red colour.

I now have a birch bark vat going, it is supposed to make pink, but after nearly 3 weeks I am not sure yet.

Brushing Up on Colour

At the beginning of September I went on a Jo Budd workshop in Eastbourne, although Jo comes from Bungay in Norfolk.  Jo is a trained artist but works in textiles and has a method of working with Procyon dyes whereby she uses them like paints, mixing her colours in a palette using the thickener Manutex.

Every artist seems to have their own method of working with Procyon dyes and I find it useful, every now and again, to brush up on technique and ideas.

Jo makes up the basic dye powders with water and makes up the Manutex with chemical water.  She then takes what she required from the dye pots to mix up the required secondary and tertiary colours and it is at this stage she uses the Manutex.  She will also apply chemical water to her fabrics if she wishes to use them wet but quite often she applies the dyes to dry fabric – obviously you get different effects.  She does not add chemical water direct when making up her basic dye colours as the “clock starts ticking” the minute you add the chemical water to the dye.  So when she mixes a secondary or tertiary colour she uses the Manutex which contains the chemical water and then can create effects by applying, for example, the colour to a plastic surface to create a mono print or apply the dye direct to fabric using various brushes, sprays and mark making tools. 

When I first did a workshop with Jo, besides adding soda ash as a fix for the dyes, she was also using a bullet steamer to fix the dyes.  With limited space and facilities in Eastbourne Jo had simply bought a large electric water heater in which she has stood a trivet in the bottom so that the fabrics (wrapped around a cardboard tube) did not come into direct contact with the water.  The fabrics were stood on the trivet and the water brought up to temperature and the fabrics steamed for three minutes before the fabrics were then rinsed.  Alternatively you could steam iron the fabrics on both sides for three minutes before rinsing.  Jo follows this method to ensure colour and light fastness.

The fabrics could be overdyed with unthickened dyes as required.

I composed the two landscapes below with the fabrics I’d dyed – think they have possibilities.

Poppies : Wave – posted by Julie Toppesfield

Southend has said goodbye to a sculpture commemorating the First World War – Poppies: Wave moved onto the next stop on a national tour.  Poppies: Wave, by Paul Cummins (artist) and Tom Piper (designer), was installed at Barge Pier, in Gunners Park, part of the old ranges which has a long military history, and was a perfect setting for this art work.  Most poignant was the playing of the last post every evening at sunset, well worth seeing if you should get the chance.
“Poppies: Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, was originally seen at the Tower of London as part of the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. “

It can currently be seen at the CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial until the 19th November, 2017.

Fabric Fields and French Knots – Celebrating East Anglia in Stitch

What a fabulous day out at the Museum of East Anglian Life today –  Carol, Lorna and ex EAST member June Carroll and myself went for a day out to see the exhibition Fabric Fields and French Knots.  This exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the Museum of East Anglian Life. To celebrate they have teamed up with members of local Embroiderers’ Guild groups in Suffolk and Essex to create new works inspired by the museum collections.

Among the artists exhibiting is our own Carol Dixon, along with such familiar names as Jan Lovell, Susan Cranwell, Malelaine Nightingale, Vendulka and Olivier Battais, Mary McIntosh to name just a few. 

The exhibits are housed in various buildings on the site as well as in the Abbot’s Hall Gardens. You definitely need the little guide to find all 68 pieces and even after three hours we still did not get round it all, so make sure you allow plenty of time when you visit.  For more details go to www.eastanglianlife.org.uk

The photographs below show a selection of the exhibits which hopefully will give a taster and make you want to go along to have a look.
The first exhibit below is to be found in the conservatory in the main Abbot’s Hall and is a joint effort.

Below if a detail from the tree above.

 Winter Hedgerow by Carol Dixon

Winter Hedges by Madelaine Nightingale

Gypsy Caravan by Vendulka and Olivier Battais

Country Faces by Madelaine Nightingale

Steam Power byJan Lovell

Footplate Jan Lovell

Cedric – Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell

Frieda – Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell
Felted Lady

Allan – Suffolk Sheep Lamb by Susan Cranwell

Edges by Madelaine Nightingale

Celebration Stitch by Gay Macbeth

Sculpture Exhibition

Since the end of July up to 10th September there is a sculpture exhibition at Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum in Coggeshall (postcode for satnav CO6 1TG) and so far I have been four times.  There are over 250 sculptures in the gardens which are made from all sorts of materials from Portuguese and Carrara marble, Zimbabwean springstone, bronze, bronze resin, marine grade stainless steel, galvanised forged steel and blown glass, Welsh slate, aluminium gauze, wood and willow to name a few and many incorporate movement whether by floating or wind power.  They are all amazing but the few I have selected to show here are chosen on the basis of material, one of which is my favourite, the fact that the subject of one had his tercentenary last year (and the Embroiderers Guild did a project inspired by his work), one in particular made me smile and the last one I chose is very impressive. 

The two photos above show pieces by Carole Andrews from Kent and the materials she has used are an aluminium gauze with copper or steel support.  The aluminium gauze has been manipulated and pleated and trap in the gauze is some sort of resin or plaster.  Detail pictures below.  

The sculpture shown in the photos below is by Pam Foley from Northamptonshire and made from iron resin.  However, it looks like the figure has been wrapped in some sort of scrim like material and, in fact, this piece is titled Wrapped.  I think it has the look of a Giacometti figure and is my favourite sculpture in the exhibition.

The figure below is of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown by Laury Dizengremel and is described as being made of  “resin for bronze”.  Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was the inspiration for Embroiderers Guild exhibitions across the country last year which was his tercentenary. 

The two sculpture below were chosen for humour and scale.  The photo on the left shows Fork in Pollen by Mark Reed from Norfolk and is made from cold cast pewter and fibre glass.  We wondered if he suffers from hay fever – say the title quickly.  The sculpture on the right is titled “Close” by Paul Vanstone and are made from Portuguese marble on Italian marble bases.

TSG Summer School with Kay Greenlees

I also attended the TSG Summer School this year, returning after a few years.

The rather splendid venue was Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham, Lincs. Very imposing on our arrival and even more impressive at nightime, all lit up.

The Overall theme this year was ‘Beyond the Line – Seeing and Stitching’
And Kay’s working theme was ‘Seeing Through Stitch’

We were asked to bring a small collection of natural objects to work from either 
shells/coral/barnacles or seeds/pods/cones, mine are pictured above.

The first evening was spent with loosening up drawing exersizes, working big and with the 
wrong, in my case, left hand. making interesting marks from our chosen objects.

                                    We then went on to some relaxing stitching, working with our ‘favourite’ stitch and trying to                  exagerate  it’s qualities – open/closed, stretched, thick/thin, big/small, high/low.


The following day we made large drawings from the marks on our subject matter

We then went on to make similar marks on the long rolls of emulsion painted fabric that  Kay had prepared for us

We continued to stitch on the fabric using the stitches we had familiarised ourselves with earlier. Both the marks and the stitches are an expressive interpretation of the source material.

Textile Study Group Summer School – Lorna Rand

At the end of July I was lucky enough to be able to attend this year’s TSG summer school in Grantham – the tutor I chose was Jean Draper and the title of the workshop was “Stitching Lines – Leaving Spaces”.
“Line, in all its varieties, whether drawn, painted or stitched, is a very important element in design, giving us the ability to create a wide range of effects. Of equal significance are the spaces left between lines – the negative shapes – which add strength and cohesion to our designs.”

On the first day Jean gave a talk about lines and spaces and gave each student a notebook, which we were encouraged to use, a small wire wrapped shape and a piece of foam board.  We were asked to fill the space within the wire shape with bars, weaving and wrapping etc.

The piece of foam board had pins inserted around the edges around which we wrapped threads which were knotted together to form a net which could be filled or layered with more pieces or used for weaving and filling in other ways.  Jean showed us some of her wonderful examples.

On the second day we covered sheets of paper with charcoal which was then erased with a putty rubber to draw one of the objects we had taken with us – I used a shell.  The patterns on the shell were fantastic, I am not sure that my interpretation did them justice.

The charcoal was followed by pen and wash drawings, being instructed to use just pen and wash and not to draw with pencil first. I found this quite difficult, I think I would need a lot more practice to be successful with this method.

We then did exercises using cut paper to encourage us to look at lines and spaces in between, learning to look at the size of the spaces as well as the lines.

Using the work we had done we experimented with the cut work and ink drawings.

Finally, we worked on our own ideas which has given me some great inspiration to use on work which I am doing at home, ideas which I will certainly use.  A very interesting few days so many thanks to TSG and Jean Draper.

Arty Day Out in Suffolk

As July is my birthday month I thought I would try to do a blog post for each week – so here goes with my final birthday post.

This Sunday three ladies (Lorna, Carol and myself) in a car set off for Snape Maltings, Pond Gallery, to see the textile exhibition by Anglia Textile Works called Sentinels.  This group includes textile artists Fay Allwood, Yvonne Brown, Niki Chandler, Kathy Colledge, Sara Impey, Chrissy Leech, Annette Morgan and Cherry Vernon-Harcourt.  Each artist had interpreted the title of the exhibition in their own particular way and most of the works take the form of panels.  Below are a few pictures of some of the work.  The exhibition continues until Wednesday 26th July.

The photo below shows work by Fay Allowed and Sara Impey.

The photo below shows a detail from the work of Kathy Colledge.
Part two of our day out, after a delicious lunch of course, was to drive onto the Suffolk Craft Society exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh.  However, before we climbed the metal staircase up to the gallery, I noticed another gallery had opened on the ground level underneath the Peter Pears and to my delight I saw that the work being exhibited was by Sara Johnson, a watercolour artist.  I noticed Sara’s work when EAST was exhibiting at the Pond Gallery in Snape – Sara’s work was being shown in the Maltings Gallery.  At the particular moment we spotted the gallery the heavens opened so we rushed in to look at Sara’s work which is so subtle and just enough to indicate watery landscapes and straw coloured fields and shadowy shapes in the distance.  The additional bonus was that Sara was actually there and we had a lovely chat with her, discovering that she is giving a few experimental, technique based workshops at the Watershed in St. Osyths – feeling very tempted.  On top of this she lives in Bungay and knows Jo Budd, another textile artist I much admire and with whom I am doing a workshop in September, making me feel even more tempted to book Sara’s workshop at the Watershed.  However, it was Carol who gave into temptation by buying one of Sara’s small pieces.

This picture by Sara is one of my favourites that I saw when visiting the Maltings Gallery.

It was still raining when we emerged from the ground floor gallery so we dashed up the staircase to the Peter Pears to see the Suffolk Craft Society exhibition which is held here every year.  It is always good to see all sorts of crafts from amazing woodwork to weaving, glasswork, ceramics and the stand out pieces for me were some wonderful metal work pieces by Zoe Ruben.  She works at her East Anglia studio with ferrous and non-ferrous metals, both cast welded and etched to produce intriguing sculptures.  I found the best place to look up her work and to view images is on Pinterest.

Textile art work for the Crown Hotel Biggleswade, I have been lucky enough to get a commission to make a textile work for the Crown Hotel, it is being refurbished by Wetherspoons and will be re opening in about 2 weeks.
Its a big piece 40 inches wide by 30inches high and time was limited so it was a bit like running a stitching marathon.

They wanted some aspects to be local so the silhouette is of the high st Biggleswade and the windows indicate where the Crown Hotel is. Its called ‘Big Sky’ I was inspired by some Turner skies at the beginning of the year and I thought I’d love to try to capture something of the texture in textiles. Can you see the planes when I visited six weeks ago there were planes from the Shuttleworth collection in the sky.

  Here is a close up.. perhaps you can see the kantha like stitching.

I used  sketches of a stormy sky and of the high st to guide me.

The fabric is naturally dyed scrim and muslin.

Cambridge Open Studios 2017

Sometime last week I picked up a Cambridge Open Studio catalogue and flicking through it  and thought I would visit a few artists the weekend just gone (15th/16th July) which actually was the third weekend out of the four that the studios were open.   On looking through the artists, to my delight, I saw that a ceramics artist, Sarah Jenkins, who I much admire was opening her studio in North Essex.  I think it was a couple of years ago I bought a piece of Sarah’s work from Bircham’s Gallery in Holt, Norfolk.  I so love her style and her work just seems to get better and better.  On reading about her it said

“Sarah’s journey has been unconventional, and includes: leaving her Fine Art degree; a long period working as a plasterer in the building trade; adult education classes; clay work with people with mental health problems; a lot of experimentation, including building more than one studio and raku kilns and a sabbatical in a Cape Town ceramic studio where Sarah was able to focus on consolidating technique.

Sarah’s ceramics are always hand built and fired several times. Currently, she likes to use simple slips and oxides with scant use of glaze.”

On meeting her on Saturday I found out that she had studied at Braintree College for two years and just happened to mention “Did she know Grayson Perry” as he had also studied at Braintree College.  Her reply was “Yes, I was there the same time as he was although we haven’t stayed in contact.”

Her studio is lovely, close to her home and tucked down a narrow lane that went on and on until it came to a full stop with Sarah’s thatched cottage and studio.  Her ceramics are very much a reflection of her and her experiences and I find them very inspiring – as of course they are all about landscape.  The material may be different to what I use but I just love those simple marks and shapes that capture what I see around me. 

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