Thursday, 19 April 2018

Cropped hedges

Before the extraordinary sudden growth in the hedges since the warm weather finally arrived this week, I went out with my camera to photograph the neatly cropped hedges all around where we live. The farmers seem to have been especially active this winter and have created a very particular, controlled look to their field boundaries.

Yet I am fascinated by the variety of pattern that still manages to exist within these hedgerows - all little more than waist height. Some have negative spaces at their base and dense top-knots of closely interwoven branches that form a small canopy at the top. Others offer a haphazard mat of trunks that cross over one another at random. They all seem to be asking me to stitch them - and this time, to use some colour, albeit muted and rather wintery.

In Photoshop Elements, I turned two of the more interesting photos to black and white and then colourised them to give a mahogany brown that I hope will offer interesting possibilities of colour contrasts in the stitching.

These two resulted for now and will do for experiments while I am away in Scotland next week.

Seeing them on the screen makes me realise that the mahogany brown will need some enhancement, especially on the top version!

Monday, 16 April 2018


In March, I posted about the development of work from photos of high rise buildings in Vancouver, Canada. The last post stopped short of showing the final pieces that resulted as they were then yet to be finished. Now that our exhibition is over and I have them home again, here are the images that made the final cut:

They had a small amount of top stitching added as well as the black stitches at the corners holding the photos onto the backing paper. Unfortunately, this doesn't show up in the photos. The choice of stitches that are viable on photographs is limited: too much and the holes become perforations and everything starts to fall apart. This time, it took the form of a few long stab stitches to give textural contrast. 

And these below are some that did not then pass the test - but may yet see some minor modifications, that small amount of top-stitching, a mount and possibly a frame - and then even the light of day at some time in the future:

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Stitching for the sake of it

From time to time, perhaps between larger, more thought out pieces, I stitch purely for the sake of it, trying out weight and style of stitch maybe, or pattern, and interval. The simplicity is soothing and refreshing and it keeps my hands busy while I ponder more widely.

This little sample was stitched over a couple of evenings in black and white and with a touch of red to liven things up. 

There was delicious relaxation here - nothing else afoot other than unstructured play, and taking the needle for a walk across the fabric. 

Friday, 6 April 2018

Exhibition in Malmesbury

As I promised to members of Great Western Embroiderers, I'm posting gallery views of all the 53 pieces we have hung in our exhibition. Apologies to some members for the tricky lighting in one or two of the photos that Photshop couldn't improve on and for the reflections off glass. Otherwise, I hope this post does justice to all your hard work and inspiration.

The exhibition is open in the John Bowen Gallery, Malmesbury, until next Thursday 12 April. Opening times are in the side bar of this blog. We have had an excellent number of visitors so far. It has been a great pleasure to meet you all. 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Colour and a Battle of Wills

At times when I've felt like a break from investigating the power and impact of black and white, I've intermittently been playing with and then stitching an image that evolved when I was doing the online Pixeladies' Photoshop Elements 3 course last year.

The orginal photographs that fed into this image were taken looking out from a copse on the Ridgeway path at Hickpen Hill south of Swindon in Wiltshire not far from where we live. The views from this spot across to the Cotswolds are magnificent. It is a favourite viewpoint of ours and I have taken photographs at all seasons of the year. These I took as we walked along the Ridgeway towards Barbury Castle on a cold, crisp spring day before the leaves were out and long shadows were cast through the trees.

The image has been much manipulated (it was a complex task) and I gained much pleasure from the exercise. However, a significant problem arose when I tried to print it out ready for stitching several months ago. I was caught in a battle of wills between my PC and Photoshop Elements on the one hand and my Epson printer on the other. After much adjusting of the colour using levels and hue adjustments, I achieved something that I felt was as close as I was likely to manage to the original. I have no unstitched photograph of this image but now I look at the stitched version several months later, I can see much subtlety was lost.

I can also see that the colour I chose to stitch with was quite a distance from the original - another battle lost - and lost for two reasons. I hadn't looked at the original for so long I'd forgotten the colour and because I had a delicious reel of magenta silk thread that I couldn't wait to use. 

So, I have several things to take from this experiment; one: to remember to check that the printer is set so that colour management is controled by Photoshop (on Adobe RGB) not the printer - a trick I've only recently learnt after researching on the internet; two: If I want to reproduce an image faithfully, I need to look at it carefully when choosing colours; three: Have I really gained anything by stitching this image in this way when my stitch is inevitably less subtle than the original?

These two little croppings from the image above may answer that last question for me. 

They negate the problem of expecting to reproduce colours faithfully as they seem to have taken on a life of their own (especially the first). When I look at them now, I don't have such regret at the use of that brilliant magenta or disappearance of the original image. In fact, when I look at them, I seem to ignore the original altogether - perhaps a lesson in the value of abstraction?

And the good thing is that, because it's my own, I still have the original undamaged image to use in a different way if I wish, so nothing was lost by this experiment.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Sinchie Challenge III

The final posting of GWE sinchies before our exhibition opens on Saturday morning, this time featuring particularly five pieces in purple and turquoise (perhaps my favourite colourway giving great contrast)  ...

Janet Dowd cross stitch on felt ground
Marion Salter machine stitch
Janet Cassselden folded and machined
Anne Carter folding handstitch beading
Judy Joiner fine ribbons and beads

Freda Skull pieced hand stitched
Jane Smith padded and handstitched

I hope that I have now posted at least one sinchie from each member who participated and examples of each of the colourways selected at random.

I also very much hope that anyone able to come to our exhibition in Malmesbury will enjoy what they see.