Thursday, 14 August 2014

Show and tell

We had an interesting mix of show and tell this time.

Helen brought along her Houses round robin from the Mt Colah Embroiderers. She made this block of flats at the start of the year,
and it's been passed around the group, with each person adding a house. Here's how it looks now:

Cindy, our new member, brought along a work she'd made as the result of an online course with lacemaker Karen Ruane a while back. During the course, she built up a journal full of different techniques and ideas, which will be a brilliant resource in the future. 

And here's the final work. It's inspired by tiles in the Avignon Papal Palace and involves transfer dyes and transfer inks on felt, cut with the soldering iron and heat distressed.

Just gorgeous!
Maz brought along some little books she'd made for her sister and her sister's friend to use as travel diaries on their upcoming trip.

Just perfect for recording those special moments.

Ruby Challenge

While we're on the topic of challenges, remember how Maz challenged us back here to make a work on the theme of Ruby, as part of our ongoing work on Birthstones?

Helen made a tiny Ruby basket with a red bead necklace.
 It's made of rug canvas covered with cloth.

Nola made a little book, inspired by a High Renaissance manuscript in the Walters Art Museum.


Maz's hand-embroidered work is still in progress, mostly because she decided it needed a lot of French knots, which have taken quite a lot of time.
It's looking really interesting, isn't it? More later...

Challenge No 2 - the mystery envelope!

Helen volunteered to create a challenge for us this month, and how interesting it was! This is where we began:
We each had our own envelope, and we soon found out why.

Each envelope contained a piece of black card, a 6in x 4in canvas, a small envelope and a sheet of coloured card in colours that began with the first three letters of our names. Helen had to be quite inventive in some cases... the green above is L for Lime and the brown is Nut Brown!

Each person had to draw the first three letters of her name, one on each piece of card, not necessarily matching the colour it represented.

Then we put everything back in the envelope and passed it along to the person next to us. She had to cut out the letters we'd drawn. That wasn't always easy, as we didn't all draw easy shapes like these ones, and we all groaned and laughed and generally carried on about it.

Then we put everything back into the envelope and passed it along to the next person. She had to cut the letters into sections, whichever way she wanted. Then we passed everything along to the next person.

By now the shapes bore little resemblance to letters. Helen asked us to make a face with the shapes we'd been given.
From left: faces from Nola, Helen, Carol, Maz and Cindy
This was harder than it sounds, which was the point of the exercise. It really makes the creative part of your brain work hard, even though it's quite easy to make something that is recognisable as a face. Humans are hard-wired to recognise faces.
Then we packed the pieces back into their envelopes and passed the loose pieces along to the next person. This time, we had to make something living in the natural world, a plant, an animal, an insect...
From left: Cindy's rose, Maz's insect, Carol's flower, Nola's caterpillar, Helen's flower
By now, we thought we were getting the hang of this!

The next time we passed the envelopes along, we had our own letters back. Now came the real challenge, to make something from our shapes that would be the basis of a creative work. And this time, we would glue down our design to the black card, so we'd have it for reference. We could add other shapes from our card sheets, but we had to use all the letter shapes. Hmm.

Off we went.

Cindy's patterns
 Carol leapt right in and made this bird...
.. and added pattern for the texture she planned to add later in the work.
Helen glued her shapes down and cut out the whole shape.

Then she flipped it and traced around the shape (she's done this before, hasn't she?)...
... and began to see what she could make from the shape. She said she's "good at seeing faces".

Maz had trouble with her shapes so, after a false start..
... she decided to try Helen's method.

We all decided it looked like someone waving around a very serious weapon!

Nola had trouble too, because she had very few shapes from her letters.

She added some other shapes from cardboard and made one called The Big Bang,
but then she moved on to this strange animal, which she decided was a horse. Or maybe a dog. Or a dinosaur?

And here is a book that Helen showed us afterwards, of a similar thing she did previously with another group.
 They had to use the letters of FLORA to make a design.
 The she traced the outline, as she did in our group.
She played about with the shape and eventually made a face, which she described as "a Ruritanian in a funny hat".

I can't wait to see what works eventuate from these designs! The finished works are due at our meeting on October 27.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

July Postcards

Happy postcard week!
Maz's postcard this month was based on painted paper. She added embroidery and a fabric binding with running stitch. 

Nola's postcard was called Sea Monsters, in her Sea Creatures series. It was hand painted, and the edges were couched yarn with a pinked and clipped fabric fringe.

Helen's postcard is called Sally and is based on a sample she made a while ago. It has layered fabric scraps, with hand drawn and machine embroidered lines in metallic thread. She finished it off with a stain stitch edge.
Carol's postcard was based on a sun print with string. She couched yarn, and added painted Tyvek, beads, gold ribbon and netting. The edges were finished off with running stitches.
Isn't it amazing how different the postcards are each month?

Challenge: Scavenger Hunt

Everyone agreed that the day we did the journal covers was a lot of fun, so doing things like that, though perhaps on a smaller scale, might be a good thing. So, in addition to our Ruby works and the usual postcards, we decided it might be fun to have a small "getting us going" activity available for those who want to do it, when we meet.

We'll take turns to come up with something broad enough that we can all work in our individual ways. The result may not be a finished work (though it could be) but at least something coherent that could be used on a postcard or small work.

Nola offered to come up with the first one:
The task, for those who chose to accept it, was a Scavenger Hunt. These were the terms:

1. a second-hand piece of paper - i.e. paper that has been used for something else, by someone else (not you). It can be newsprint, advertising, an envelope from a letter, a page from a magazine... whatever you like.

2. something from a plant - leaves, flowers, roots, twigs, fruit, tea leaves.... use your imagination! It has to have come fairly directly from a plant, without much processing - mulberry leaves are fine, mulberry paper isn't. You don't necessarily have to incorporate it into your work, but you do need to use it in making the work.

3. words - three words from your life during these three weeks, i.e a book title you've read during the time, a sign you've seen, a headline... anything from these three weeks. Be prepared to explain!

4. something, anything, blue

5. three embellishments: beads, buttons, metallic elements, small samples or embroidery, stamping ... to become part of your work. It doesn't have to be three of the same thing.

6. an insect. Any insect. (No, spiders are not insects.) This can be a picture, a fabric, an embroidery, a three-D model, a stamp, a real insect....

7. something long and thin. Yarn, ribbon, braid, paper strips, embroidery thread.....

The idea is to construct something from your elements on the day, in whatever way you like to work. A finished item or a part of something else... You have three weeks to think about what it might be!

You can bring whatever other materials you like, but you must use all seven things somehow in the making of your work.

You can also do deals with other people on the day, to use their materials, tools or products (if they have enough to share).
On the day, three members chose to participate.

Helen brought along a page from a catalogue, a green jacaranda seed pod, some blue felt, an image of beetles, some flower embellishments, multi-coloured thread and a tassel, and some multi-coloured cord. She decided to make a special bag to hold the envelope that houses her Magic Seed Pod.

She added four flowers on the felt square hand stitched a lining, using multi-coloured thread and blanket stitch. She added small circles in the corners and ran the cord through as a drawstring.

She folded her magazine sheet into an envelope and added her words and the image of the beetles.

Maz brought along a piece of blue material, some muslin in various colours, some beads, leaves, paper and thread. She used the blue material as a background, with torn muslin in various colours on top.

She began by embroidering a butterfly motif on her blue cloth.
"The beads will be stitched on at the end and I will use the leaves as a stamp (maybe) and also cut a bird shape from the paper .. Well, that is what I think at the moment ... all could change ... what it is going to be, I do not know!" 

Nola brought along several DL envelopes with windows and coloured insides, a twig from her garden, blue cardboard and some blue, black and white acrylic paints with drying retarder, various brads, a dragonfly stamp and dragonfly brads and some gold wire. She was obviously going to work in paper this time. She also took some blue and green variegated net yarn from Helen's free-to-a-good-home bag.

Her first task was to open three sides of the envelopes and paint them inside and out with Gesso. She trimmed them to a specific size, to be booklet covers.

She also tore some cartridge paper to a slightly smaller size, as the signatures inside her booklets and folded the blue card into a concertina. Helen helped her by sewing the booklets to the concertina with pamphlet stitch.

Nola cut the same cartridge paper to a specific size, to cover some pieces of matt board as the covers of her book. She mixed the blue, black and white acrylic paints with drying retarder and quickly painted a general scene on a glass plate. Then she took a monoprint of the plate. She touched up the resulting print a little, so it looked like she had imagined.
She wrapped the print around one of the mat board covers, and fastened it with gold brads, catching the net yarn in place on the inside of the cover. Then she wrapped the wire around the twig to make a closure for the book and attached the wire through holes in the cover.

She folded a piece of card into a pocket and decorated it with cut outs of dragonflies and words from a Leonard Cohen song. Helen stitched the fold into the concertina and Nola folded and glued the pocket into shape.

Finally she covered the back cover board with blue paper and brads and used the same blue paper as the end papers.

It was a fun challenge! Next time, Helen is bringing an envelope of goodies for each of us as a challenge. I wonder what that will be?