safe crafts and summer challenge

Today I finished the summer challenge I’m taking part in with the Embroiderers’ Guild – we have an online Members’ Forum and a few times a year there’s a swap or a challenge – this summer it was both, as we had to make a mixed media piece for our gallery, and an ATC along the same lines to swap. This was my piece for the gallery, it’s a collage of yarn, hand-dyed scrim, silk paper and buttons on the sponge printed background I mentioned in a recent post. It was inspired by the sight of my dyeing experiments blowing on the washing line, and all the colour studies I’ve been doing for OCA Textiles 1.

mixed media collage
A Good Dyeing Day

I also spent a lot of time (too much) today, trawling the web for safe, quick, funky crafts to use at the Youth Club where I run an art/craft session. Most of the kids who come spend every evening on the street, many have a short attention span, they’re boisterous and occasionally aggressive, they’re about 13-16, and most are boys. We don’t have a huge adult to child ratio – sometimes just me and one helper in the craft area, so anything that require needles or other sharp tools is too risky. Plus we can’t do anything too messy, both because of the limitations of our space, and because the kids are easily excited and prone to decorate each other with whatever is to hand! They love little kits from the excellent Yellow Moon – tiny boxes and picture frames to decorate, anything with funky foam, miniature mugs and candles to paint – and I’m always impressed by the way these bring out their creativity. But I do also like to offer them more open-ended activities sometimes (though they prefer the kits!). I’ve decided on rolled paper beads for this week – and while I was looking at paper crafts I found a great listing at Craftzine, linking to tutorials on Flickr and elsewhere. How generous so many people are with their skills on the Web.

One thing I really want to do more of with these kids is recycled crafts, but I need to train myself to plan ahead and get people at church to collect things for us. Alan does his best to amass a goodly number of beer bottle caps and lemonade bottles during the average fortnight, but I’m glad to say he doesn’t quite generate the amount we’d need, all by himself!

web discoveries

Two exciting finds on the web yesterday. One is a new group – a social networking site for textile artists – Fiber Arts/Mixed Media, which I found via the Flickr group Contemporary Textile Art. Having so far resisted Facebook, etc, I just couldn’t resist this one! It was started by Susan Sorrell of Creative Chick Studios and is already growing by leaps and bounds.

The other is Dear Ada, discovered thanks to Kim Carney of Something to Say. Dear Ada is a blog full of delight. The author, birdie, posts links to artists/makers in many different disciplines, each with a photo or two of their work – and the site is a visual feast. But what makes it stand out for me is the way she writes about the work, whether simply expressing her pleasure in it, or analysing more deeply the impact it has on her. Inspirational food for thought – I’m really enjoying this.

brusho and bleach…

… are what I’ve been playing with today. Along with wax crayons, water colours and the odd feather. Inspired by reading A Sketch in Time by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, which I suddenly remembered I had, I’ve been adding more marks and textures to my sketchbook.

bleach and brusho inks
bleach and brusho inks

I’m nearly ready to start stitching! The second half of this first project in OCA Textiles 1 explores the use of stitch in markmaking and creating texture, based on the mixed media studies created in the first half. I have till the end of the month – no pressure there, then – plus a few work deadlines to meet, so I may not be sleeping much in the coming week.

I heard about a new book today (thank you Sue) by Claire Benn and and Leslie Morgan of Committed to Cloth and Jane Dunnewold – Finding Your Own Visual Language: A Practical Guide to Design & Composition; the blurb says:

“this book aims to help those who are seeking a surer artistic voice by providing practical exercises and guidance on different ways forward”

I’m really tempted – even though I have quite a few design books already – as I’m very interested in what the authors are doing with art cloth and surface design.