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 🙂
My Mother’s Day gift was a 1 day WAFTA workshop with the lovely Katrina Virgona. 3D Textiles (or what the heck to do with an armature?!) I have admired Katrina’s work for some time and her piece “Emmeline” from twentyONE+ has pride of place in my studio.
The workshop was a great reassurance that I was generally on the right track with the few armatures I have made and has given me confidence to explore a range of wires, sizes and techniques for future projects…now happily sitting in the background until needed.
We also discussed the pros and cons of Instagram…I now have an Instagram account louisewellsartist
Aha and AHHHH…These are the words you want to hear from participants in your workshop. That lovely moment when something clicks or they can see a connection to what you are presenting and the type of work they already do…a new way of working, a slight twist, an “of course”… I’ve had all these moments myself at workshops and artist talks. Some of them are defining moments in my work. Often a small, seemingly insignificant part of the whole, has made the difference.
I had the great pleasure of running two half day workshops for WAFTA late last week. Simple Steps to Surface Design was part of a series of Textile Techniques Toolbox workshops to coincide with the launch of “Altered States” WAFTA’s member challenge exhibition. The challenge is to create a small work of art from the surprise contents of a bag of materials. These workshops are designed to inspire and expand possibilities.In my half day workshops we covered screen printing in various forms, gelli printing, stamping, spray stencils, fugitive medium, Dylon and RIT dyeing. A lot to cover in a few hours, just a taster to explore further if it was of interest. The participants made lots of A4 size samples – reference material for future work.I loved seeing my stencils and stamps used in ways I would never have thought of…how each participant explored new possibilities. I loved their delight when something surprised them and they were excited to explore further.
Firstly a transformation of the studio into boudoir for our friends from Sydney for a long weekend. It’s amazing what you find when you have a good clean up…
Five lovely days including an unheard of visit to the beach on a Monday morning…what an extravagance. The beach and weather stunning – it was meant to be 🙂
Then the submission of my 2017 entry for Wearable Art Mandurah WAM. The work has been finished for a while, photos taken, but pressing that “submit” button…it’s when you let go of your work.
On Saturday I gave a talk to the WAFTA WASG (Wearable Art Study Group) about my journey and experiences over the past 4 years making wearable art followed by a mini workshop.A simple way to start making Wearable Art – Discover the possibilities of upcycling your recycling bin!
Participants worked directly on dress forms, playing with recycled materials. Using pins, staples and masking tape to speed up the process.
It’s always interesting to see a garment develop on a body shape. You can do lots of drawings and designs, but when you place the items on a body form it comes to life.
All the participants made wonderful and unique starts to wearable art garments, including two 10 year old girls present by default. I could see the start of some wonderful garments for the 2018 WAM competition!
The workshop reminded me that I really enjoy teaching, something that I have been pushing aside for a long time.
On a last minute enrollment, I found myself at a brilliant Common Threads Wearable Art workshop last weekend. “The Human Vehicle” with Catherine Taylor-Burge. The workshop was held at MANY 6160, the old Myer building in the heart of Fremantle. Whilst the buildings’ new long term use is sorted out it is being used for artist studio/work spaces with a retail space on the ground floor full of pop up artisan shops and a cafe. There are some gorgeous things to be had…
Catherine has an extensive background in theatre costume and mascot making in the UK and she freely shared her knowledge. The workshop introduced us to light weight materials we could use in large scale costume design suitable for wearable art. We looked at how to use the body simply as the vehicle or foundation for the artwork rather than the body determining the shape of the work.
Catherine placed us into groups of two and gave each group a section of “Larry” to create a piece of artwork for. With a theme of architecture and a brief to have at least 70% of the work off the body.
My team member Julie and I were given Larry’s right leg to work on. We chose this image from the book supplied.After a little hesitation on the materials, we chose a compressed type foam to make the framework for our piece, connecting the pieces with T pins. We started at the waist making triangle shapes inspired by the original image, soon discovering that the arm would get in the way of our design so split the panels to accommodate this. We added some support pieces to hold the shape of the panels.
Once we were happy with this the lower leg section came together quite quickly. We originally planned to cover the panels, then thought to cover with something sheer.Interestingly, when another participant offered to model the work it really came to life. Unfortunately, my videoing skills on my camera are lacking – I have a great little clip of our model wearing the piece…sadly it flips sideways part way through, so you will have to imagine the movements…next time! The possibilities!The other two groups made some amazing pieces from cane and cardboard.
My piece for the 2016 Common Threads Wearable Art completion is well underway, although this workshop has taken the possibilities to another level.
Following Fibres West I have made a couple of repairs to Gloria (Once) my piece from 2014 competition. The Tea Bag Bag has a new handle and the head band has been replaced. Not bad wear and tear since Gloria has a far better social life than me. She hasn’t come home since the showcase last year. She has been on display and/or worn at many events including 2014 Common Threads exhibition, Mandurah Tourist Bureau, Mandurah Council offices, A High Tea, Claremont Craft Fair, Mandurah Crab Fest, opening of 2015 Common Threads Showcase, Fibreswest. I find it delightful that my work about the “One Use” of items in our throw away society has been constantly “in use” for 18 months, wearing out, rather than just thrown out.
A week of indulgence – no cooking, no cleaning, no washing, no taxi service…what bliss!Fibres West is a week-long live in retreat, this year, held at Muresk Institute just over 100km from Perth, Western Australia.Ten Australian and international tutors ran week long classes in their various fibre art disciplines. I jumped at the chance to be part of Vicki Mason‘s workshop Jewellery:Alternative Materials – Revaluing the Ubiquitous.
We spent the week playing with PVC sheet, Vinyl tube and sheet, Acrylic sheet, telephone wire, learning joining techniques and having FUN!I had lots of aha moments thanks to Vicki’s clear and simple explanations and demonstrations of the various tools and techniques used in the class. I now have a broader range of options to draw from for my own work. Especially Wearable Art!
These simple looking acrylic bangles represent to me finally feeling comfortable using a jewellers saw.
Vinyl sheeting carved with a lino cutting tool and dyed.The classes were only part of the program. Throughout the week each of the tutors presented inspiring lectures of their own work along with Fiona Gavino the installation artist, who transformed the grounds with stunning works.There was an opportunity to stock up on textile supplies at the Traders Corner and the massive garage sale of donated goodies. Beautiful handmade artwork by tutors and students was for sale at the Bizarre Bazaar. The following night bargain priced artworks were snapped up at the 15 x 15 Creative Challenge fundraiser.The wonderful Barb Thoms (Arts Festival Officer for City of Mandurah) brought Common Threads Wearable Art to Fibres West. Selected entries were exhibited throughout the week, artist talks were presented and many of the garments were paraded on the the final night.
L-R Philomena Hali , Val Hornibrook 2013
L – R Val Hornibrook 2015, Jennie Abbott, Val Hornibrook 2014
New friendships were made, faces were put to names and work that I am familiar with. Chatting with artists I admire, the developing and continuing of friendships with women I adore…what a great way to spend a week. None of this is possible without the extraordinary efforts over the past few years (and ALL week) of Martien van Zuilen and her committee to put this event together. Thank you all for giving your time and energy to this outstanding event…where is the sign up button for the next one?
A few months ago I wandered into Beau est Mein. A gorgeous print shop and studio in Northbridge. The shop at street level sells lovely original prints and giftware and screen printing, etching, collagraphy, linocut and pigment transfer workshops are taught by owner Magali Dincher and her staff in the light filled upstairs studio.
The timing was really bad with a busy few weeks and being a week prior to Fibres West, but the one day collagraphy class really appealed to me. I did a lot of etching at high school and really enjoyed it, although isn’t the sort of thing I could continue to do in a home studio, it had some pretty nasty chemicals, and textiles won me over anyway!The design inspiration for the class was architecture of your home area or your travels. I chose some photographs of doors from our holiday in Lucca, Italy a couple of years ago. We loved this part of our holiday and the variety, detail, colours and texture of the doors was a big focus of my photography at the time. I have images of over 60 doors. I met an American lady who had been coming to Lucca for 30 years painting these doors, so I think they are an inspiration to many. I hadn’t really known how to use them in my work until now.In the workshop we used A5 card print plates. My focus was to learn the technique, so due to the time constraints I traced the doors rather than freehand drew them. The design was then redrawn several times before it was transferred to the plate through the etching press, so it became more stylised and simplified. The plate is varnished with several coats and when dry, etched into with an etching pen.The plate is then ready to be inked up and run through the printing press. Lots of the etching processes came flooding back…
At home I coloured this with water soluble pencils
I am very pleased I squeezed the workshop into this busy week. I can see the possibilities of printing on fabric, of course a lot of experimentation required, or incorporating paper with textiles. I like the texture of the plate and that every print will vary, unlike a screen print. Most of the processes can be done at home (other than the printing) and there are no nasty chemicals which is a big priority for me.
Yesterday I attended the last of a series of workshops presented as part of the Common Threads Wearable Art competition. This workshop focused on the overall presentation of your garment. The need to consider not only the garment you have made, but also the hair and makeup to suit the style and ideas. Michelle from Metro Modelling Academy talked us through the judging criteria with tips and suggestions and then Duvah from Onyx Hair Crew taught us some simple although highly effective techniques for extending the theme of our garment to hair and face.
We then had a couple of hours with a very patient model each to experiment and play. The challenge was to think outside the box, using unusual props on the face and hair. I chose a picture frame and some gift wrap ribbon.
The picture frame had a lovely delicate, lace edge, so I decided to experiment with another similar frame used as a stencil to apply make up I added some glitter. Seeing this photo, I now realise I missed one side of her hair!
Although I still need a lot of practice, I have a good foundation for coming up with ideas for hair and make up for my garment. I just have to finish it now!