Art time yesterday was spent stitching on the appliqué wall hanging I’m doing for City and Guilds. I think I’ve posted enough ‘in progress’ pics of that – the hand stitching is taking a long time, but I want it to be finished next time you see it!

In the evening we went down to the Kendal Torchlight Carnival, a procession of marching bands, Caribbean carnival bands, heavy horses, steam engines and decorated floats. I haven’t quite mastered the art of night-time photography but a few pics did come out OK. I love seeing the dramatic carnival costumes and the dancing and drumming is so exciting. The mosaic links to my Flickr.

Kendal Torchlight mosaic

getting on with some Textiles exercises

I’ve been conscious that though I’ve been doing lots of of textile-y and colour-related things, which I’m sure contribute to the learning curve I’m on with OCA Textiles 1, I haven’t done any actual exercises since August, so yesterday I sat down and did the next two from the course folder. The first involved choosing images that have a colour scheme I feel drawn to and collecting fabrics and threads to match the colours. This was fun – I chose a couple of postcards – one is of the stained glass window designed by Patrick Heron for the Tate in St Ives, Cornwall, and the other is Liesbeth Lange’s photo of ‘Colours from Nepal’ – I guess they are dyes, but I don’t really know.

matching colours

The second exercise was to stitch onto a black background using two primary colours. I am finding that the more I hand stitch the more I enjoy it – it takes time, which I lack, but the patterns are so lovely and I’m fascinated by the variations that grow between one stitch and the next.

stitching with primary colours

I’m off now to make a few sample paper beads to take to youth club tonight, but I must just mention a magazine I read about yesterday on Worn Fashion Journal sounds like a great publication for anyone who’s interested in fashion design, wearable art or the cultural meanings of clothing.

time out

The last week has been mad, work-wise, so not much happening, art-wise. I worked in my sketchbook a little, and got round to watching a very interesting ITV1 programme – Harry Potter: The Costume Drama. Ben Shephard was talking to a range of people in the wardrobe department about the way they created the costumes for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. They even have a ‘breakdown department’ where people spend their whole working day distressing the garments after they’ve been made or bought. Why did no-one ever tell you about that kind of job at school?

I was particularly struck by the head of the wardrobe department, Jany Temime, and her approach – how the costumes themselves contribute to the acting – fascinating. She also said – never let your ideas be constrained by what’s practical – you can always find a way to do it. Though I’m not quite sure this can be extended to everyday wearable art (the really wearable kind, I mean) since she also said later on that many of the costumes can’t be washed (they make several of each instead)!

[Here I edited this post to delete a link relating to the programme, for copyright reasons.]

Part of my work week was setting up a gallery for all the entries to a competition run annually by the UK Embroiderers’ Guild for its members. The 2007 theme was Water, and the brief was to create an original design, primarily hand stitched, though the work could include any technique. Working with all those lovely watery images was very soothing… If you’d like to immerse yourself – the gallery’s on the Embroiderers’ Guild web site.

back from Islay

Just returned from a wonderful week on the Hebridean island of Islay. We stayed in a delightful cottage at Kintra Farm, looking west over the sea – beautiful sunsets.

sunset from sgeir cottage

Islay is home to many beaches, from sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, to rugged coves where seals haul out onto the rocks, and pebbly strands with glass clear water. Home to deer, wild goats, rare pigs, alpaca, many colours of sheep and cows, rabbits galore and all sorts of sea and land birds, plus eight whisky distilleries – we visited the newest at Kilchoman, but came home with Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain – and a brewery.

On the textile trail, we visited the Islay Quilters, Elizabeth Sykes Batiks, and Tormisdale Croft Crafts, which doesn’t yet have a web site, but is full of luscious yarns and handdyed silks.

Highlights of the week were watching the seals sleep, swim and fight at Portnahaven, and encountering a beach sculpture of a woman gazing out to sea at Machir Bay. She fascinated me, I’m thinking about garments with nets and ropes and the colours of the rocks further along the bay.

seals at portnahaven
sea woman watching
sea woman
sea woman sketches
fringed rocks