Tuesday, 20 February 2018

A new Art Cloth

Yeah!  I finished the art cloth I started at Littleheath Barn in the Autumn of 2106.  You can read about its progression here, here and here.  And even here!   I hadn't realised I had shared about it so often!  Anyway, it's finished and if you want to see the finished piece you can see it at the NEC in March.  I was determined to finish it before I started Liske's new and extended course.  And I did!

There are 5 sessions to the new course with lots of exciting screenprinting ideas.  I'm really looking forward to it.  At the first session Liske encouraged us to do some sketchbook work.  She had also suggested beforehand that we choose our favourite artist as inspiration.   My favourite, favourite is Turner.  I love all his work but particularly his Venice pictures.  Although I think I've still got several pieces of work I could make based on Venice, I really didn't want to use Venice as the art cloth inspiration.  Liske suggested I used the colours rather than the place as inspiration.

I had taken other inspiration with me.  I had taken the book with me that I made for Finding Sanctuary.  This uses the same colours but is about Florida.

I started by looking at the Neocolor II crayons I had and then the dyes.

I did some work in the sketchbook.  Some of the pages shown are just painted with the leftover dye at the end of the day.  I used a patterned roller with white acrylic paint on the left hand page

I used a star stamp on the right side page with copper acrylic paint.

I thickened the dyes with manutex and then painted it onto the fabric.  I decided only to paint sample pieces so I still have another piece of fabric for the piece of work.

This sample has the acrylic paint on it, whilst I didn't use it on the one above.

Before we finished we set up a screen for breakdown printing next time.

I'm really looking forward to the breakdown printing.

Thanks for joining me today.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Collages at C2C

In my earlier blog post about playing with 6 pieces of paper to make random collages I ended up with this piece.

I photocopied it in black & white.

I enlarged this and made several copies.   I cut two of the copies and joined them together. I then cut the two pieces up expanding them on a black background.

When I had finished gluing it together I looked at it from different angles and decided I liked this way up best:

Then I cut it again and expanded it using a red background.

With another set of photocopies of the original turquoise collage I assembled the two together in a different configuration.

  I cut the two copies again and expanded the pieces.

I decided to keep it in the horizontal view.  However it was obvious that the black spaces were too wide so I started playing with some orange paper.

I got a bit stuck with the composition about now!

After some discussion with the whole group about composition I ended up with this.

The last of the collages I'm sharing with you is the one that I think is the one most likely to be made in fabric although I'm not sure how yet.  It's actually made from bits of left over papers and photocopies.  Leslie helped quite a bit with the composition.  I had looked at samples of her design work and was trying to come up with a rectangular piece that was completely covered in elements.  Leslie suggested taking away bits and not trying to make a perfect rectangle.  We ended up with this which is much more my style.

When I glued the collage down I put it onto a piece of black paper but the black edges are too small.  I've added some more black using a photo editor to see what it might look like and it does improve it.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at some of the activities I played with at Committed to Cloth. I enjoyed it so much I have signed up to go again next January.

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Playing at C2C

As you know I love to make books so it was lovely at Committed to Cloth to be encouraged to make a book.

The activity started with us attaching a scratchy old paintbrush to a stick and drawing on a large sheet of paper using black India Ink.

When the first side was dry I worked on the other side using diluted ink.  When that was dry I used a needle pen to write words and also added some circles.

I cut the large sheet of paper up into different sizes.

I added orange ink and white acrylic and some painted papers randomly to pages.

I assembled the book and after stitching the signatures together I wouve thread through each of the signature threads to make the book.

Here's a video flip through of the finished book.

Thanks for joining me today.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

More Talk and a free class

Thank you for all the comments from last week's post Time to Talk.  This is another long, wordy post.

I wrote the original of this blog post as an email to some friends in September 2013 while I was suffering from depression.   I am sharing it now to further our discussion about mental health.  And also to help those of you who don't have problems to recognise when your friend or colleague is having a problem.

September 2013
It is very difficult for me to even write this. I'm not terribly keen on making myself vulnerable and admit that I need help.

I am currently very depressed and feeling like I want to cry – but daren’t in case I can’t stop. I've just done a questionnaire on a website and probably answered 95% of the questions as being depressed.

I'm very good at giving the appearance of being altogether, having my life altogether and being strong. I am very independent and rarely ask for help.

I just need to explain to you what's been going on. I have in the past been diagnosed with clinical depression and so over the years I’ve always known when it was creeping up on me and I've been able to take avoiding action. But this time it has crept up on me without me noticing because I was keeping myself busy. A lot of it stems from the whole of the last 12 months with my dad being ill and living partly in Solihull, partly in Pembrokeshire and then sitting with him while he died. Then keeping myself really busy by clearing out the house and still living partly here and partly there. This has meant with the sale of the house every little thing that pops up to stop the signing of the contract seems to be a major issue for me and I'm not dealing with it very well.

I can probably trace it all back to January 2006 when Andy left home and left the country and I didn't allow myself to cry. Somebody had said to me that him leaving home would be like a bereavement and I thought that this comment was really silly & spent the year saying well everybody's children leave home, lots of children go off to college and lots of people's children emigrate so I didn't allow myself to grieve in that sense.

In 2007 when my mother died I think I cried for about three minutes but really more from the shock of seeing someone die and so I continued on my merry little way.

Then there was the issue of the ending of King’s Church, which I have dealt with in terms of forgiveness and other things like that, but didn't allow myself to grieve about the loss of something that I'd invested 13 or more years in my life into. (I had been the church administrator.)

I very much like to be in control of things, to know exactly what's happening and how things going to pan out. In the last 12 months obviously that's not been the case. I never know whether I will be at church, or at group, not knowing whether I would be in Solihull or whether I’d be in Pembrokeshire. I've really felt that my life was totally out of my control and this obviously added to the stress.

As you know I haven't been sleeping well and the noise in my ears is quite appalling & have really struggled with the fact that despite lots of prayer that God hasn't done anything about that.

I’m currently feeling stuck as though if I make any movement I will fall into the abyss – in order to write this I had to start by dictating it on my iPad. The inability to start something is really trying!

It’s easier to borrow the words from the website I was on to describe how I am.
• I am low-spirited for much of the time, every day
• I feel restless and agitated
• I get tearful easily
• I feel numb, empty and full of despair
• I am unusually irritable or impatient
• I find no pleasure in life or things I usually enjoy
• I feel helpless
• I’m not doing activities I usually enjoy
• I am having difficulty remembering things
• I find it hard to concentrate or make decisions
• I blame myself a lot and feel guilty about things
• I am having a lot of negative thoughts
• The future seems bleak
• I have difficulty sleeping
• I feel tired and have no energy
• I have physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
• I am moving very slowly

I have been told I should allow myself to grieve and that my emotional ‘tank’ is on empty and I need to give myself time and activities to refill it. So I would appreciate your support as I deal with all of this.

Thank you.


You may find this video useful to watch if you want to help people: The Power of Empathy

February 2018
My friends did support me and I'm pleased to say that I overcame.  In 2014 I was asked to construct a class for an online class called MADE.   I accepted and called it Redefining Normal. Using a BrenĂ© Brown quote: 'grief is the absence of normal' as a starting point the class explores the things that naturally occur in life - children leaving home, parents dying, job events, retirement - the things that happen to almost all of us. The class investigates what is our normal and how we deal with a new normal.

I am offering this class for free.  Click on this link: Redefining Normal to get to the class.

Thanks for reading all of this and thank you for joining me today.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

More play

Thank you for the comments left on my last post.  I am going to write some more about it on Saturday but in the meantime let's get back to playing at Committed to Cloth.

On the first day of the Unlocking the Mystery of Creative Play, Leslie talked about the principles and elements of design amongst other things.  She suggested various activities that we could try including Splitting Shapes and Colour & Pattern Collage.   If you own Leslie's book 'Finding Your Own Visual Language (written with Jane Dunnewold and Claire Benn), you can find these activities on p12 and p26 respectively.

I opted to do the latter activity first and gathered 6 papers that I had brought with me - mostly gelli plate prints - and a piece of sheet music.  The activity involves cutting the same shape out of each of the 6 papers in the same place and then reassembling each page with a piece from another page and repeating several times.  I took photos at various stages so you can see how the pages developed.

These are the collages after I had cut 3 circles in each paper and reassembled the page.

The fourth circle


I took the last two pages and cut them up, splitting the shapes and reassembling them on black paper.  These were pinned on my design wall.  (Sorry the photo is a bit out of focus.)

On the last day when Leslie was talking about composition, she turned the pieces round and moved them together.

The thing I enjoyed most about doing these collages was that it was pure play.  I had no end in mind, no theme to work towards, just a manipulation of the papers.  And I ended up with something that I could use as inspiration for a textile piece.

Thanks for joining me today.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Time to Talk Day

This wasn't what I was planning on writing about today.  Actually I wasn't planning on writing a blog post at all today.   But here it is anyway!  On reading this post by Julie Kirk I found out that today is Time to Talk day.

Time to talk about what?

Mental Health

In January there are always television programmes, newspaper and magazine articles and new DVDs on sale to encourage us to diet or to get fit.  But mental health is every bit as important as physical health.

I've had mental health issues over the years.  Only of course they weren't called mental health issues back then.

My first dealings with depression came in my 20s.  Real depression - not just feeling down.   I was married (unhappily) and had a 24 mile commute each way to work.   There were so many times when as I drove home I wondered about driving straight on at a particularly nasty right hand bend.  I never did.  I went to the doctor instead.  And he was amazing.  I saw him every week and we talked.  This was my GP not a trained mental health worker and he saw me through it.  Firstly with valium and talking, and then with vitamins and talking.  And I survived.  And I got divorced.

Everything went well for a couple of years and then I got a job where I was bullied.  Only of course it wasn't called bullying back then.  Because it wasn't recognised that adults in authority bullied those in positions below them.  Apparently only children were bullies back then!   One evening I got together all my medications and a bottle of Bacardi and contemplated them.  Then I stood up, poured the Bacardi down the sink, threw the pills in the bin and went to see a friend.  I didn't tell them about what I had planned but we did talk. Talking is so good for you.

The next episode of depression came when I was pregnant.  Everything was going so well.  I was (and am) married to a wonderful, faithful and supportive man, had a good job and was pregnant against the odds the Doctor quoted to me.  I was 36, which in 1983 made me a geriatric primigravida.  So lovely to be called geriatric!  The relaxation classes made me anxious and I would walk out worse than I went in.  The dog died unexpectedly.   The vet thought it was from eating rat poison.

And I thought it was my fault.

How could I look after a baby if I couldn't even look after a dog?   After Andy was born I was referred to a clinical psychologist as it was obvious I didn't have postnatal depression.  I was clinically depressed and was given 2 years of psychotherapy.  These days prenatal depression is a recognised condition.

Since then I have been able to mostly keep the depression in check.  I know when it's creeping up on me and I know what to do so that it doesn't stick around.  I wrote about that in this post about choosing Participate as my 'one word' in 2014.

What I have learned is that bottling up what you feel does you no good.  Find a trusted friend who you can talk to and who will listen without judgement.  Who will talk to you about everything and nothing.

If you have dealt with depression find some good in it.  Your experience can help someone else.  Become a listening friend.  Recognise what someone is going through.  Find a way to see behind the mask.

You see for years everyone thought I had my life together.  I like to be in control!  I have a wonderful husband, fantastic son and daughter-in-law and two handsome grandsons.  I have lovely friends.  A nice house.  Enough money to be able to travel.  You can look at me and see the good life I have.  And it is good.

But sometimes.  Just sometimes.  The facade cracks and the darkness tries to creep in.

For more stories and information:
visit the Time to Change website
follow the #timetotalk hashtag on @timetochange on Twitter
or their @timetochangecampaign on Instagram

Well done if you've stuck with this post today.
Thanks for joining me today.