Saturday, 19 May 2018

Stitch trials

Experimenting with stitch and colour this week, I've stitched on a length of hedge using two groups of colours.

Various things were going through my mind as I stitched. In this naturally-themed piece, should I use colour to mimic or reflect nature. Or perhaps I  should use a range of colours I liked, maybe to suggest ideas and thoughts, to reflect the seasons or to create imagery. Then there was also the problem of drawing the eye, giving focus and depth, and enhancing perspective. 

I was also working to develop and suggest randomness, allowing stitches to grow organically as in nature while at the same time maintaining balance and cohesion. these two, randomness and balance always present me with a difficult tension, since being deliberately random is almost impossible, a contradiction in terms. It is a quality that happens without conscious thought, yet I’m using thought to create it. 

In all this, I was working to maintain sparseness and restraint of stitch - I battle all the time not to overstitch.

There was a lot going on in these small pieces. 

Monday, 14 May 2018


Two dandelion clocks, perfect, delicate spheres in the warm evening sunshine ...

... until my husband cut them down. 

We have a difference of opinion about what should be allowed a small unfettered space to grow in our garden. 

Is it a man thing?

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Vancouver Skyline

As I've mentioned here before, from time to time, I go to the Stroud Artists' Book group  in Gloucestershire just north of where I live (for details, see below). This group is very welcoming and knowledgeable and it's fascinating to see how differently the members interpret the themes suggested for each meeting, producing such varied and individual work.

Last Thursday, the theme was Holes, to be interpreted in any way we chose. As regular readers will know, I've been working for some time on images of high rise buildings I took while travelling in Vancouver B.C. and one particular image seemed to lend itself to this theme. Conveniently, it already had some 'look-throughts' cut into it and it also gave me a context for continuing the creative circle I described here.

I printed out several copies of the image, flipped some, played with colour, printed on both sides, cut out the resulting shapes and holes, added small dots, and then worked on possible arrangements of the elements. Finally, I stitched the piece together in the valleys.

After much fiddling, I ended up with this as my preferred final arrangement - interestingly not the one I had originally envisaged when I started.

When I began putting things together, I had intended to line them up as below and to stick them by the small 'ears' on each side but I found this gave unsatisfying breaks in the line of the piece and less interesting central shapes on each element. When I turned everything inside out, things seemed to flow more easily and those 'ears' gave useful detail within the structure.

While experimenting with alternatives, I turned the whole thing upside down, though this seemed somehow less resolved and solidly building-like. 

Then I played further with arrangements in bright sunlight, enjoying the shadows created.

Abstracting further and playing with colour and light levels has maybe given me possibilities for follow on work?

To present the piece (more correctly, I suppose, a paper sculpture) in the context of a book group, I made it a cover / box to sit in. 

The group's theme for next month is A Book of a Painting. That will give me something to think about. As yet, nothing leaps immediately to mind! 

 * For those interested in seeing more of the work of the Stroud Artists' Book group but who are unable to come to a meeting, images of work produced are available each month on their Facebook page. Between meetings, members also post useful hints on techniques and equipment.

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.