Saturday, 24 March 2012


I've kind of stalled a bit on the course this last week or so.  I'm really struggling with the Grinling Gibbons stuff.  It's not really grabbing me.  While I can appreciate the beautiful work and the amazing attention to realistic detail it just feels way beyond my skill.
I didn't really feel comfortable doing the sketch work (sorry you'll have to twist your head a bit to get the idea this photo didn't upload correctly)

I don't know what it is I just don't feel inspired.  I've also been struggling to gather the things I need to come up with my own composition for the stitched piece in this style.  I'm thinking I might have to cheat a bit.  On my wall I have this lovely doll that I picked up on a holiday in Greece a few years back.
She's holding this really pretty posy of roses, which reminded me a little bit of the Grinling style of wood carving.  So I might just do a sketch and stitched piece based on this.  We'll see I'll mull it over.
While I'm mulling I think I might move on to the next exercise for a while and come back to Grinling else I could be stuck procrastinating around this one forever.  (By the way isn't Grinling such a fabulous name, I love it!!!)

Saturday, 17 March 2012

In the style of ... sample 3 finished

After another long week at work which left me pretty drained and not feeling like I wanted to do much in the evenings, I hit the machine this morning and got round to finishing the last 'In the style of Cefyn Burgess' sample.

I'm much happier with the way this one turned out.  After a bit of a rocky start, I decided to cheat slightly and sketch some rough placements in pencil on to the fabric to give me a bit of a guide and this helped me get things a bit more where I wanted them.

For something that looks so simple in style, I have found it quite difficult to get to grips with.  I do like the style though and its something that I hope to find time to explore some more in the future.  For now though it's time to move on to Grinling Gibbons

Monday, 12 March 2012

Slow going

If anyone tries to tell you that exercise is good for you, my advice is don't believe them.  On Friday I took a new class at the local gym and oh boy was it hard work.  I used muscles that I didn't even know I had, I was barely able to move all weekend!!  Hence stitching has been slow, my shoulders and back were so stiff I was only able to sit at the machine for 5 minutes at a time.

Some progress on the third Cefyn Burgess inspired piece but not much
Am hoping to have it finished tomorrow, I'm already feeling less achey today so am hoping to be fully fit again and able to sit at the machine for longer.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Trying to think differently

Today I haven't had any time for stitching, but I have had plenty of time for thinking as my mind went a wandering while I was sat in a work meeting today.....oops.  I was thinking about the images of Cefyn Burgess' work that I added to my sketchbook, and the things that I liked about them. 

One of the things that struck me about them was how much variety and detail he includes in his pieces, and so far I've tried to keep my compositions quite simple, including only a few elements in each.

So this is where I'll be going next

I've tried not to worry so much about getting proportions right, about making an accurate representation.  This time I'm trying to think more about shapes and filling the space on the page, I'm reasonably happy with the sketch that I've come up with, I'm looking forward to seeing how this comes out in stitch.

Monday, 5 March 2012

In the style of Cefyn Burgess - part two

Straight back on the horse, well er the sewing machine, after yesterday's disaster, for another attempt at working in the style of Cefyn Burgess.

A couple of weeks ago my lovely colleagues bought me some flowers to celebrate 10 years at my place of work, they have lasted really well and are only just getting to the point of needing to go to the garden recycle bin :)  So before the petals disappeared completely I thought I'd do another kind of recycling with them first.

My composition.
 My sketch
 Translation in to stitch
Much better than the first attempt, yay!  The lines are a lot cleaner and less heavy, and I've managed to get the proportions slightly better, though that is still something I need to concentrate and work on.

I don't think I will have time to get another complete piece done tomorrow night, but I will at least make a start.

The Cefyn Burgess Disaster

Don't you just hate it when things go pear shaped?  My attempt at the next part of chapter one certainly has.  The task was to have a look at the embroidery work of Cefyn Burgess,( you can go take a look here),  create yourself a little still life, then sketch and stitch your design in the Cefyn Burgess style.

This is my still life, created with some bits and pieces I picked up on a lovely walk around and about Castle Combe yesterday.
 This is the sketch ...... looking at it now I can see I got myself in a right muddle, nothing is in proportion and it all looks generally awful.
 From awful sketch to even worse translation into stitch, yuck!!
It's even less in proportion than the sketch, nothing looks quite right and it's all so heavy and horrible, nothing like the feel of Cefyn's pieces at all.

I will try again tomorrow.  I think sometimes things go this wrong because I'm always trying to cram lots of work in to the weekend.  I'm so conscious that I took way too long to complete  the first module and I need to speed things up, but it's hard to find the time to space things out well when you work full time in the week.  The trouble is the more you try to cram in the more the concentration goes and stuff like this tends to happen.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Thread sketching

Sorry I know I've been quiet here and it's been a few days since my last post.  Have had an up and down week and didn't manage to get as much as I'd hoped accomplished....isn't that always the way, life is just so darn busy.

I did manage to finish collecting my resource pictures, and this morning has found me busy sketching away for the next exercise in the chapter.   Don't you always find that moment when you put thread to a nice blank piece of cloth really exciting and scary all at the same time.  I'm always eager and apprehensive to find out whether I can translate the image that I have in my mind.
I don't think that I set myself a particularly easy task with the image I chose in the end, the flower petals were all different shapes and most of the shading and darker parts of the picture were at the middle and outer edges of the flower.  However I think it came out ok in the end.
I'm not convinced that my drawing is really a good accurate representation of the flower, but I think my thread sketch came out very similar to my drawing which is a good thing ..... I think?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Collecting Continues

I had a lovely, but busy, weekend away in Glastonbury so I'm afraid things haven't moved very far with the chapter yet.

I have though finished collecting my images and have begun to group things in my sketchbook.  I won't show you all the pages yet, as they'll get shown properly when I do my submission post at the end of the chapter, but for now here is a quick glance at one or two.

I have a few more pages to complete.  Am back at work now so not as much time to spend on coursework, but am hoping to have these done by mid week and then I can move on and see what the rest of the chapter has in store for me.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Books Glorious Books

The start of a new module is a good excuse to get treating myself to some new books - not that I really need much excuse I'm a bit of a bookaholic.  These are the books I've treated myself to off this module's recommended reading list.

Lots of good reading for me to do there.   I also have a few other books and things that will be useful through this module I think.
 The Trees book is one that I recently bought,  I tend to keep a whole bunch of things that I would like in my amazon basket and then keep an eye on prices, if anything goes down low then I'll get tempted in to buying.  The David Attenborough I picked up at a local charity shop.  The National Trust garden calendar was gifted to me by my lovely friend Sue, it has some great garden pictures.  The Garden and Cosmos book is also on loan from Sue, the details and patterns in the paintings in this book are incredible.

I certainly shouldn't lack for inspiration for this module.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The 'D' Word

Isn't it funny how powerful words can be, just a single word can provoke a smile, or a feeling of fear.  My favourite word is cheese ..... don't ask me why, it's just fun to say, and of course it has the associations with happy family holidays when you're all made to stand in front of the camera and say it to provoke some smiles.  Or maybe I like it because if you add a simple four letter word to the end you get my all time favourite pudding  ....... Mmmmmm cheesecake.  Anyway I digress and I'm drooling all over the keyboard at the thought of pudding.

The real point of my post is to think about another word, one that fills me with dread, and one that has been mentioned several times in this first chapter already ... draw.  And it seems I'm being asked to do it ...... aaaarrrrggghhh.

I know it is pretty unrealistic to take up any kind of creative course and not expect to be asked to put pencil to paper at some point, but it's an idea that fills me with terror.  I think it stems from all those awful art classes at school in which I was constantly being told that I had no talent for drawing.  So now I have an aversion and the idea that I have to sketch and show the results here in public just fills me with fear.

But one of my promises to myself for 2012 was to be brave.  When I told myself this I wasn't thinking about it in the heroic 'jump into a burning building and rescue someone' sense, but it was more about pushing my boundaries, doing new things and putting myself in situations that wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable.

So deep breath, here goes I'm sharing the first of my module two sketches .... please be kind to my fragile ego when it comes to this drawing thing, and if you have to laugh can you try and wait until you leave the room and are somewhere that I can't here you.  ;-)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Module Two begins

Module two is entitled 'How does your garden grow' and chapter one is all about collecting resources and looking at shape and form.

At the moment I've only gotten as far as collecting a big pile of images, but it's a start :)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tidying up

After some really lovely feedback on my work from module one - thanks Janet - I'm excited to get started with module two.

Before I get cracking this is just a quick post to explain that I have tidied up the labels in the side bar a bit.  As you know I like to blog 'chatter' posts as I'm progressing through the module, this way I can keep posting regularly without having to wait until I've finished each chapter. 

You can click on the labels in the side bar to take you to all posts relating to a particular chapter.  I thought this labels section would start getting a bit overwhelming if I left everything in there.  So in the sidebar I have now hidden the links to the chatter posts for module one, and will put up links to the module two chatter posts as I progress through.

I have left the labels in to link to the submission post for each of the module one chapters and any general stuff that I blog about so anyone passing by can still pop by and look at those quite easily if they wish.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The end of Module One

Although I have already done my submission post for the final chapter of module one, just in the interests in rounding things off.  This was the final sample that I stitched up based on my design inspired by the Japanese ceramic.  And this is the one that I chose to submit as my resolved piece.

I've really enjoyed the first module of the course, with a house move and a broken sewing machine, it took me longer to get through than I imagined but hopefully things will speed up a bit from here on in.

I'm looking forward to starting module two in a while but for now there will be a short break in transmission.  Hope to be back soon.  X

Friday, 3 February 2012

Number Two

 Experiment number two started with some transfer printed satin.
 To keep the fabric from moving around too much I stitched this sample in a hoop.  I'm not a big fan of stitching in the hoop.  I know it serves a purpose, I just find it a bit cumbersome.

The finished piece looks like this .......
Again I like how it turned out.  I do like how the colours sing out against the white background, they look really fresh and vibrant.  The one thing that I don't like so much is the effect of the stitching gets lost a bit on top of some of the printed sections.  I stuck with the same threads that I picked out when working the first piece on the black, and this might have been a mistake, particularly in the orange and yellow sections.  The thread is such a close match to the paint colour that the pattern of the stitching really doesn't stand out .... and that was one of the things that I loved about the first sample.
Here are the two samples laid out side by side.  I have one more idea to play with, I hope that by stitching again on a white felt background I'll be able to combine the things that I love about these two samples and combat the things that I'm not so keen on.