Book Making, Embroidery, General, Printing

Process – Again! – 8th February 2021

I am aware that I frequently mention process, but it is essential to both printmaking and book construction. This flow of work has not been able to be maintained over the last couple of weeks mainly because of the inclement weather and my warm bloodied self to venture to the studio. Many times I have brought materials into the the house and then to optimistically return them to the studio, only to return them to the house. At the moment it looks as if I will remain in the house for several more days. It means that the process becomes disjointed and consequently I have several projects on the go. Still, following on from the last blog I constructed the plate designed from my second piece of woven silk.

I then started to cut away the background

The cutting away was completed but I got no further, it awaits better weather before I can print from the plate.

I did fold the four books and six greetings cards from my last print run, I need to decide a colour scheme and style before painting papers for their covers, which I want to match, so making ‘Vulnerable to Alteration’ a compact group.

I have read several books and continued with my note taking

Embroidery, General

Disruptions – 11th January 2021

If I had had a plan then life hasn’t gone that way. I had hoped in these early days of 2021 I would form a plan for the next few months, but it snowed.

So I moved into the house with books, paper and textile fragments to wait for it to get warmer.

I haven’t been idle though. There is a new page on the website called Shop where I have placed the books that I have made in 2020. Do have a look and contact me if you are interested.

I have been reading and continuing with researching my theme of ‘Vulnerable to Alteration”. I still haven’t completed the prints that I had planned to do a fortnight ago, hopefully when it gets warmer. I feel that I need to do these before I really get inside another textile and explore its alterations.

The image at the beginning shows the front and reverse, (top half of the image), of a woven Spitalfields silk, the back with the lengths of floss silk going from flower to flower are wonderfully bright and provide a contrast to the front. There are signs of two seams along all four sides of the 38 x 40cm fragment and I think that this will become the focus of further investigations.

This whitework collar, from c1830, also shows marks of alterations, a row of needle holes going from left to right. I suspect that these are marks where the large collar was turned inside a neckline and stitched in place.

I have read a lot over the past couple of weeks. When I embarked upon the project to go through all my books I hadn’t foreseen all the memories that came with the reading. The bottom book I bought in the 1970’s and was my first text book on sewing/embroidery and was  a source of reference on techniques until I began as a serious student of embroidery over a decade later. The top book is brand new and I have enjoyed reading about how other artists approach their art especially as I know several of them.

So here’s to better weather!

Embroidery, General, Printing

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – 14th December 2020

During my reading of the text books on my shelves, the words “vulnerable to alteration” stuck in my mind, it related to C18th dresses. 

In the past I have focussed on the reusing of textiles, often until they had become rags, but these words seemed to present a slightly different meaning and I had a starting point for a body of work.

I knew that there were very few unaltered C18th dresses in museums around the world, fabrics could often be dated to up to 20 years before the style in which they currently presented and with signs of old seams, pleats etc.

I decided to focus on this piece of 1780’s woven silk, it’s heavy with metal threads woven through it, but what really appealed was that the side selvedges were still there, with a distance of 21” between them. Standards of the day prescribed that the width of woven silk should be half an ell, i.e. 22.5”. So even when it was new it had already  altered from the norm, being narrower made it cheaper and quicker for the weaver.

At the sides there is evidence of two different seams, one with fawn thread and one with red and the top edge has holes, probably where it had been tacked to a board and then ripped off. There are also some stitches in the fawn thread that might have been darts or pleats. All the threads are old, probably pre 1850.

I used the width of the silk as the length of my printing plate, 53.3cm, as my starting point, and then, full of enthusiasm I began designing. However my first two designs fell short of what I had in my minds eye, never seeming to capture the spirit of the silk.

So I started again, from a different angle and this is where I am now.

And the books that I looked at are…..