Sunday, 22 May 2011

Playing with paper serviettes

Our second meeting in April was right after Orange Fibre Forum. Usually members come back full of exciting news and thoroughly inspired for another year. This year was a little different because for various reasons, most members couldn't come, and there were just three of us. Our plan was to play around with paper napkins (serviettes) We all have a decent collection of paper serviettes for Artistic Purposes, so we brought along our treasures to swap. The first May meeting was also devoted to paper serviettes, for those who missed out initially.
Carol brought along this postcard for us to admire. It was made in Dale Rollerson's Ratty Tatty online workshop a while back. Carol really recommends Dale's online workshops as great value and full of interesting ideas to explore. The postcard uses layers of the same serviette, a base layer, fused to felt, and then subsequent layers, stitched and frayed. It adds a real depth to the work.
Then we started work. Carol had brought along some mat board offcuts, cut into a variety of sizes, including ATCs and postcards. We had PVC (white) glue and card or old credit cards as spreaders. Nola brought along an old phone directory as a base to glue on. It's an ideal base because, after each time, you can turn the page and prevent glue transferring to places where you don't want it!

When you're working with paper serviettes, it's important to remember that they are usually two- or three-ply. That means there's a layer of printed paper and at least one more layer of plain paper. You can use the serviettes as they are, but you need to ensure that the medium you're using to adhere the paper goes through all layers. Using all the layers results in a more opaque image; using just the top layer allows you to play with layers a little, since the layers below may show through. Sometimes the second layer has a shadow image of the main image, which can be useful. As you can see with Carol's postcard, you can use images from the same serviette, or multiple serviettes with the same image, several times, on top of one another, to achieve shadow or texture.

Carol made this cute cat postcard:

She used a modelling medium under the cats, to make them stand out from the background. The medium takes a long time to dry but the effects are interesting. Nola used the same medium on two similar postcards. You can manipulate the wet medium once the image is added:
This one has quite a lot of texture, especially in the sky for wind effects, but it needed some extra details. She added more layers of the same serviette, to deepen the colours, and some Treasure Gold to tone back the brightness of the colours and pick up the highlights. The wind effects are much more pronounced, aren't they? She also added stronger outlines in some places, to make it look less flat.

For Nola's second one using the modelling medium, she laid the medium down in a grid pattern, before adding the serviette. The grid pattern isn't very marked, although it's still present. It was outlined and rubbed with Treasure Gold, as well.
Helen was more interested in adhering the serviettes to fabric. She made several  fabric pieces, on calico:



She also adhered one to card:
I'm sure we'll see these again, in works to come!


Carol used the same serviette as Helen to make an ATC background.
She later added a Chinese teapot and cups from a second serviette, but hasn't photographed it yet. It was a good illustration of how these serviettes can be used as the basis for other things. She used the same serviette as the basis of a bookmark:
And here are some tiny cards she made, using the scraps of serviettes as a colour palette. Again these make an interesting background to other media. I hope we'll see what she does with these!
Nola used two layers of a simple serviette to make an elegant book cover.

But, once it dried, she wasn't very happy with it, as it just seemed dull and dirty. So she added some
colour with Carol's tiny set of kids' watercolours, bought in a cheap store. Very handy for taking on the road!
It probably will have more exciting things done to it, but it's certainly a good basis for a book cover.

Nola also liked this image of a Fifties housewife and added it to a postcard base.

The shadow behind her looked ominous, so she added borders of tissue paper to emphasise the sense of foreboding.


I'm not sure it's a postcard for swapping, though!
Speaking of swap postcards, Helen brought along this one for swapping:
She looks gloriously ditsy, doesn't she? The stitching really works to set the mood.

Helen also brought along a book she made, from pseudo-vellum. The paper was coated with Shellac, giving it a gorgeous leathery feel and look.


Meanwhile, our absent members returned, with treasures from their week at Orange Fibre Forum. Maz took a workshop with Barbara Schey, specialising in Dorset buttons. During the week, she made this very clever box.


As you can see, the decoration includes the Dorset buttons, but the box is very cleverly constructed as well. Maz also made a brooch from a Dorset button.
 She has several more underway.
Dorset buttons were made in a cottage industry in East Dorset from the late 1600s. "Cottage industry" is a bit misleading, since it suggests a small scale industry. But as many as a thousand people were involved in their manufacture in the heyday of the industry, when the buttons were fashionable and sold world-wide. Many of the button makers were children but, like the spinning and weaving cottage industries, whole families were employed making buttons. The buttons are made by stitching over rings, these days made of metal but probably bone, horn or other natural materials were originally used. You can see some brilliant examples of different styles of button at the British Button Society.

Beverley was also at Forum, and her week was spent with Isobel Hall, making amazing complex layered media. A typical piece might have layers of Crash with fusible web, coated with Gesso, decorated with soft pastels, layered with Mod Podge, painted with alcohol inks, sealed and then coated with encaustic wax. Or tea stained media with acrylic wax, embroidery, and beading. Amazing! You can see her latest books, with Maggie Grey, Mixed Media: new studio techniques, here and a brief bio on the same site, here.

Bev made this beautiful book in the class:
She made a complicated layered & textured background, and added hand stitching. It's absolutely gorgeous! She also made this handbag, yet to be finished,
This book cover included cocoon strippings made into a kind of paper, tea staining and acrylic wax.
 She also made this sheet of mixed media work for later use:
So I guess she had a pretty busy week!

First April meeting

Our meetings in April were rather disrupted, first because of Fibre Forum at Orange and then by Easter. But we still managed to find a time to meet, although we were few in number. Our first meeting in April brought the unveiling of our second challenge, Lost Treasures. You'll have seen some of the pieces along the way, but here is what was unveiled on the day.

Helen's Lost Treasure was a treasure box, made for her, years ago, by her granddaughter. She had collected togather all sorts of tiny treasures in a chocolate box and presented them to her grandmother. There are buttons, a pretty marble, beads, all manner of lovely little things. It really is gorgeous! Helen decided to cover the box in "treasure" fabric and present it back to her now-adult granddaughter.
Nola struggled to get her Lost Treasures done in time. She's making a journal cover, but it didn't come together well. This is what she unveiled on the day.
She's hopeful of things to come....

Carol lost her Lost Treasure. However, she made this beautiful crochet shawl. Made from man-made fibres from a pattern, Exquisite, from Heirloom Afghans for Baby. She had hoped to enter it in a local fair but it wasn't finished in time.


Carol also brought along an experiment she'd been working on.  It was a dye silk cap, moulded over an Ikea vase and stiffened using floor polish. She notes that it's important to use a shape which is larger at the top than the base, or it becomes a probloem to remove it from the mould!