I have just spent a wonderful week at Fibres West with the gorgeous tutor Canadian Artist Amanda McCavour in our class Experimental Surfaces: Machine Stitching and Unexpected Materials.I was drawn to attend Amanda’s class through her stunning installation works – and in hope that my previous failed attempts at machine embroidery using water soluble fabrics could be rectified.
I came to the class with a tonne of ideas, but put them aside to try samples of the techniques Amanda taught us. These first two days of technically successful samples became a solid foundation for my experiments and discoveries over the next three days.
We used Solvy, a water soluble “fabric”. Basically you stitch on the Solvy and as long as you have enough intersecting stitches, once you dissolve the Solvy the whole piece stays together, as a stitched line only. Sometimes easier said than done…
We sampled three types of Solvy, each useful for differing types of work. Firsty, sandwiching fibres, threads and small pieces of fabric.Using some scraps from my cut away workAs long as you capture these small pieces with stitch…it should all hold togetherAlternative materials such as security envelopes, poster card, acetate and paper held in place between two layers of sticky solvy.Stitchedand washed out And all stitchThis type of work can be light and airy or heavily stitched.I came to the workshop wanting to further explore cocoons and spent the remainder of the week working on this challenge. I wanted to make one complete cocoon, not having to join it in any way. This first attempt was too rounded at the top. So I started with the capsCreating a method for the peak and threadThen the baseTrialing the whole cocoon in one piece, adding some patternThen, consoling myself that the cocoon would need to be in two piecesTrialling a stainless steel/linen thread in the bobbin The cap
Work of others in the class – ClaireWendyJan The Group sample wall growing all weekThe classroom was a buzz with sewing machines (mostly Bernina) all week. Some, the price of a small car. Claire’s 1970s, vintage? model was much admired and worked beautifully all week. Such tough machines 🙂
Studio work has been sparse in the past few weeks. Writing seams to have taken over…Writing artist statements and bios, drafting ideas for a magazine article after the twentyONE+ exhibition, an application for a wearable art project and lots of emails. Other time has been sucked up with family/work priorities.
I have been slowly working on a new canvas… I’ve got back to the machine stitching steps in the past few days, now that I have my head around the article and application. The constant hum of the machine, the repetitive stitch is great thinking time…new ideas are sparked, formed and my mind can just wander…
At the same time I have a back log of interesting looking podcasts to listen to…another cup of tea? but I need to sew…I set the iPad up with headphones at the machine and listened to Alyson Stanfield‘s new podcast on TIME – how long it really takes to do things, how we dislike and avoid some areas in our arts practice, and how actually completing these things out of our comfort zone gives us the greatest sense of achievement. After an initial grumble to myself “why can’t I just quickly read this?” The machine stitch/podcast multitask worked very well, and of course the podcast was great.
It seams to be a theme for me of the past few days, also been reading Mark Manson articles. They are pretty gutsy…I like what he says about Passion – even when doing a job/project/whatever that you love and enjoy there will be a %, probably a biggish % of it that you are really not going to enjoy…
Although I’m not making much at the moment, the result of what I was doing in May/June have come back with great news. I was delighted to receive notification that two of my works were selected for Australia Wide 5 presented by Oz Quilt Network. Australia Wide 5 will be launched at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries at 6pm on Friday, 23 September 2016.
And on Monday afternoon I was surprised and delighted to find out my garment “The Gilded Cage” won the “Red Light Review” category of the Worn Art Revamped show in Broome over the weekend. Very excited that I have been awarded a prize by Merc Electrical WA of a Broome Pearl! supplied by Camdons Broome Pearl and Fine Jewellery. What a pity it doesn’t include traveling to Broome to collect it 🙂
I feel like I have been endlessly cutting strips of fabric and sewing them together lately…with great monotony. Usually creating my work has relief in its repetitive nature by the interesting hidden layers to discover along the way, variation in pattern and/or texture, and no two sections are ever quite the same. The wearable art piece I am currently making has 100s of identical pieces and I am still to reach the point where I think I have enough to create the desired effect. I am close, and I am relatively happy with results so far (this is only step one) but I am becoming distracted, having unraveled half a jumper, made two summer skirts and a shopping bag in the last couple of days. As they are being sewn together the 1.5m pieces are taking up more and more space in the studio. Usually I can pack up a work in progress in a manageable copy paper size box or 2. I
want need to finish this step, pin it together and leave it on my dress maker dummy for a while…see where the next step leads.
I have 800 litres of Sheep Manure and Mulch being delivered tomorrow, an urgent job to get my garden ready for the hot, hot summer ahead. This time away from the studio will be a good chance to refocus.
Tonight I have a stall at the final WAFTA meeting for the year.These 5″ x 5″ canvases, some in a series, have been fun to make over the past month, individual little art works, are anything but identical!
With a couple of deadlines fast approaching I have been very busy trying to get work to the point that I know I will get it finished on time. In the last two weeks I have –Made more transfer prints. I think I am up to about 65 A4 sheets for this project.
Cut out a lot of very small pieces for fabric… over 2000!Machine stitched so much I
should must take my machine in for a service.Piles of motifs at various parts of the process.Edging…And finally stacks awaiting assembly… I have quite a few hours (in reality – days) of hand stitching to go, and I can see the light in the distance.
A couple of months ago I went to Creative Partnerships: Artists’ Discussion introduced by Winthrop Professor Ted Snell, Director of the Cultural Precinct at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery UWA. Pippin Drysdale and Warrick Palmateer spoke of their well known 20 year collaboration. Here is a wonderful 5 minute ABC clip The Perfect Thing about how they work together. Sandra Black spoke of various collaborative processes she has been involved in along with her partnership with Andrew Nicholls for the exhibition HERE&NOW14
It was very interesting to hear the variety of ways artists could work together to produce a new body of work. This lead me to think about what I could do. Chatting to my son Josh Wells he also liked the idea. Josh gave me free rein to play with some of his images of gorgeous young ladies.
Here are a few of the results.
I have machine stitched directly onto the photographs and all of them other than “Aliza” have hand stitched silk fabric remnants, saved from my cut away works. These works have been a joy to create and are something I want to explore further.
The works are going to be on display and for sale this Sunday 23rd November at Hyde Park, cnr Vincent & William St Perth WA from around 4pm at launch of Minky G’s new CD. She is the very talented musician who played at the MELD exhibition opening. Bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy the music. Love to see you there!
Hidden Revealed Transformed – Part 2
The Cathedral Windows series was inspired by a visit to the Medieval Wells Cathedral in the City of Wells, near Bath in UK. We were told the story of a how all the beautiful stained glass fell out of the windows due to the deterioration of the lead surrounding the glass. Unable to redo the intricate jigsaw of broken pieces, the window was restored “as best they could” but never the same.
These works are made from hand woven Cambodian silk organza. The prints are from my son’s drawings and old family letters. Simple hand stitch has been used to highlight some areas. The piecing and machine stitch is inspired by Bojagi techniques. Each panel is approx 100 x 45cm.
And yes, we went to the City of Wells on our way to Bath because my husband couldn’t resist the side trip to his namesake. Although, as far as we know there is no family connection.
My body of work for the MELD Arts exhibition Hidden Revealed Transformed consists of 14 works. In this first series I have used the cut away technique that appears in many of my canvases. Silks and polyester fabrics have been dyed, printed and stitched.
Rose Coloured Glass
Distant memory is often seen through rose coloured glass. But the truth is often more colourful.
Rose Coloured Glass #7 is a 61 x 61cm work made from 625 x 1 inch squares, each individually stitched onto the canvas.
#1 – 6 are 30 x 30cm.
I will never make one of these again!
I remembered saying this to myself after I finished Rising in 2012. Never again was I going to stitch 576 1 x 1 inch squares onto a canvas. I thought of this again as I sat machine stitching around another set of these little squares.
Last weekend, whilst watching the entire 4th season of Downton Abbey, I stitched them to the canvas. This was a last minute change/addition to my series of work for the MELD exhibition.
I have had some potentially serious issues with my shoulder and arm in the last few months, so it was very reassuring to realise that how I have been working in the last few weeks is not causing my body any pain.
Last night I celebrated this with my husband and kids. They have
been felt like they have been ignored for a while now…
My complete focus is now on work for our MELD exhibition
Hidden Revealed Transformed opening 17 October 2014.
A few hiccups along the way such as a very painful shoulder in the past couple of months has lead to a slight change to planned works and some of the techniques I had hoped to use. Now mostly resolved, I am really pleased to show…
Not very exciting? To me very. These are completed works ready to hang/place on a plinth. I still have a lot of work to complete, but with a photography shoot booked for the end of this month these images are wonderful to me.
Here are a couple of sneak peaks.