Saturday, 23 November 2013

Stupidity and Success

So from necessity it has been another week of making, making, making. I am slowing down now which means that a) I must be not quite so worried that I won't have enough things to sell at Crafty Birds and b) I am extremely tired. My dear Christian friend Laura prayed for me (as I've said before, I will accept any help that's going) and apparently God's verdict was that I needed a rest.

This week I met the lovely Holly, an A-level student with a burgeoning passion for textiles and Africa and we did some felting together. I was supposed to be teaching her everything I know, which of course really didn't take long. We did some experimenting with trapping things in the fibres; I had seen a felted dress with peppercorns in a book a while ago and so we raided my spice drawer. We found that peppercorns, coriander seeds and fennel seeds worked really well, cloves kept trying to escape and cardamom pods just ended up on the floor. As the felt was drying on the radiator there was a lovely smell emanating from it. And I quite like the look of it:-

This one was Holly's:-

(We were also experimenting with snipping through layers of felt to reveal different colours underneath, which explains the little stigmata on our pieces). I might try adding some peppercorns to my beaches when I feel like a pebbly effect. Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes with you to make you discover something new.

So what else can I show you that I made in the last few days? Well for a start how about these?

I really enjoy making these pebbly ones. I love the rounded shapes and I find the contrast of fuzzy felt and sharp fabric designs really appealing. And the colour combinations are pleasing, and endless. They look great in their frames. I don't know if anyone else will like them but I have four different ones now; I guess I will find out next Friday.

Have I got anything else to show you? Yes I have...

This one is going to Clevedon Art Club's exhibition, on the basis that if you want to exhibit something that might sell in Clevedon, better make it the Pier. Or, depending on how you look at it, the Taj Mahal on stilts. 

An update on two stories I've told you before: first the Belgian glasses were indeed a little too Eighties; I shan't be getting my prescription lenses in them any time soon but I am rather pleased just to own them in a drawer for old times' sake. And then the other story (this is daft, humiliating, annoying but ultimately really really positive): I'm not sure if you will have seen that I submitted a picture online for the selection process of the forthcoming RWA Open Exhibition quite a while ago. I never held out any hope for it after I'd done it. This was the picture:-

There was a set date when the online system would show whether or not submissions had been selected. I marked the date on my calendar and when it came to the day, I quickly looked, bleary-eyed, in the midst of children's arguing over breakfast and senile cat howling under the table, and saw "N/S" which I took to mean "not selected". No surprise there. Move on and forget.

So I couldn't quite understand why last week I had an email inviting me to a private viewing for selected artists only. I checked online again and this time in big letters it said "SELECTED". Huh? I rang them and sure enough, yes it had been selected. And then, as the artwork all had to be delivered to the RWA on the previous Friday, it was now too late and I entered a new category of "selected not hung" (as usually 10 or so artists do each year for one reason or another), and now there was nothing that could be done. And apparently this weird "N/S" did not exist, I could not have seen it. I put the phone down with eyes filling up. What on earth had happened? I can only imagine that I must have looked too early or got distracted and misread it. Bloody idiot. How stupid. The embarrassment. What a waste, how different could life have been after exhibiting at the RWA? And then, after a few hours of grieving, how lovely to have been selected, to have this little secret (well OK, you know now too) and to know that I had Success, on the quiet, and that I can bask in that until next year and do it properly next time. Which leads me to wonder: is it better to have Success and have to follow through with all the responsibilities it entails, or to have Success and do nothing whatsoever with it except to know it? Maybe I'll find out the answer next year...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Coming full circle

The creative urge has been upon me. Either that or the fear of an empty table with nothing to sell at a craft fair, and a horror of missing out on the opportunity of Clevedon Art Club's exhibition. So I have been making and making and making. Some things are very clearly more suitable for the exhibition:-

And some things have been very obviously Craft Fair items:-

And then we have one or two in-betweens; I am not sure what to think yet. After stitching my felt onto a couple of canvases I bought, I've had an experiment with two new frames: floating canvas frames. What do you think? I quite like them, but husband, being a husband, doesn't like them at all and is spouting practicalities about gathering dust.

These leaves started life as brooches for Crafty Birds but a) I wasn't convinced anyone would want to wear one and b) I was just sad that they didn't turn out as beautiful as the ones on Dog Daisy Chains, for whom I have a new-found respect. But I quite like them all together like this (although again husband doesn't). The other frame was for this:-

I keep humming and ha-ing about swapping the colours over, but probably won't. 

Other than that I am ridiculously excited to have just won something on Ebay: an old 1980's pair of glasses from Belgium. Oh dear how crazy do I sound now? Let me explain: in 1989 when I had a year in Belgium, I used to walk through a beautiful old shopping arcade nearly every day and I always passed an optician's in this arcade, and would gaze in at the artful display of Lafont glasses wistfully. Those glasses just seemed the pinnacle of style and they came in every colour and finish you could imagine back in 1989 when coloured glasses were all the rage - although these were definitely classier and more toned down than your English Timmy Mallett's. Eventually I saved up all my spare cash for a term (£130 which was some feat back then) and, armed with a British eye prescription helpfully written out in several different formats, I went in and got the ones I'd been lusting after for months (despite the optician trying to persuade me in a very Belgian manner that some other ones might "make my face look more cheerful"). I loved them. So how sad I was, just a couple of months later, when I left them on a bus and they ended up on a journey to Great Yarmouth on their own, never to return. I don't know why I've been thinking about that episode again for the first time in years but I did get a glimpse of myself in my 5 year old glasses recently and realised how awful they are (this time husband says they are good, heaven forbid we should agree on anything). So I went on a quest and found the very same Lafont glasses, just one pair, going on Ebay from an old Belgian shop clearance, never been worn, still with the "Jean Lafont Paris" written across one demonstration lens. Not the same colour (my old ones were a speckled chestnut, these are a marbled dark grey) but the very same style and for old times' sake I felt obliged to bid. And for the grand sum of £15.44 including postage to the UK, I have won them. Of course they will probably be terrible: I wonder if they came in different sizes? What if the plastic has decayed over the years? How about the fact that my face has definitely decayed over the years in between and could certainly do with "looking more cheerful"? Maybe the opticians here won't be able to fit lenses in them? And, the dreaded, what if they fit and suit me but they just look really dated and I look like Su Pollard in them? Do you know what? I don't care: I have just had closure. And I don't even have to wear them. Ha. 

Monday, 4 November 2013


So the creative streak is back into play again. I managed to get a bit of surreptitious felting and sewing done over the weekend in the end and have been doing a bit of finishing off and framing today. And I think very modestly that it's gone pretty well. It's good to be back in the proverbial saddle. Still plenty more to make though, if I am to have a fairly decent table full of wares at the Crafty Birds thingy at the end of the month.

So I started with a bit of inspiration from our trip to Lyme Regis: one of the cards I bought:-

I love the shapes and colours. It is tiny intricate work: each of the squares on the right is just 1 inch across. For felting, and for my sort of machine stitching, I needed it to be on a larger scale. So I gathered together some old pieces of pre-felt (and made some more, lovely variegated pieces) and then cut out ovals and started felting two pieces, both on a black background. I was quite pleased with the results after the felting process:-

But I had more planned for them. Next off to my old patchwork fabric stash (I was inspired by the use of different fabrics in the card I'd bought), and then to some stitching. And this is what I ended up with:-

With this one, I have sewn it onto a plain stretched canvas. I personally think the simplicity of it works very well (and it echoes the plain white wooden backgrounds I saw at Claire Hall Glass the other day). And it should be a good budget option at the upcoming craft fair.

This one fitted perfectly into a little white box frame I ordered a while ago, again a little cheap one. Meant to be. I am quite pleased with their "pebbliness" and the colour schemes and hope that I'll be able to sell them. I also hope that k3n, were she to stumble across this, would not take offence at me copying her lovely card; I hope that translating it into my form of textile art has not made it into too much of a rip-off. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all that. 

Friday, 1 November 2013


It's been quite a positive week in terms of my felting. Not that I have managed to do any. Nor that I have had any particularly positive anythings. But there are some seeds in my head that have started germinating and it feels like some very healthy roots and shoots are growing.

We had a long weekend in Lyme Regis. Fabulous food at the Town Mill Bakery. Please do go there if you are ever nearby. Then good fossil hunting. I have been hatching a plan to make a felted picture of a fossil for some time and although I don't feel the project is getting any closer, the vision in my head is getting stronger. And I sneaked out on my own and wandered into a shop and bought a felted card by Helga Starck. I had a connection with her work and said to a lady in the shop that I make similar things and showed her one of my business cards, and very gratifyingly she said straightaway "ooh like Rosiepink!" which I took to be a huge compliment. I saw some of Helga's striped rectangles of needle-felted wool, mounted so simply. That sowed a seed. And then I found a lovely textile exhibition in the Town Mill. And I bought a beautiful quilted and machine-embroidered card by K3n (Kathryn Chambers) which has helped me to have another little idea sown in my head. And for my final piece of inspiration this week I visited Claire Hall's studio in Backwell one evening this week for a North Somerset Arts meeting, and this time I saw some more wonderful simple mounting: tiny glass landscapes that had been stuck onto rectangles of MDF that were painted white, and which had a little hole drilled into the back for hanging. What a good idea. Another seed. What about attaching my little pictures to stretched canvas? I am determined to make a good productive start to the next term when it starts on Monday. Lots of felting. Lots of stitching. Lots of framing. Lots of creation. Lots to get out there. I have at least two things to think of: Clevedon Art Club exhibition at the end of November (I need something big and competent to make a splash with) and at the same time a stall at Crafty Birds in Backwell, a Christmas craft fair. Not something I would normally think of doing, but if I make a lot of small and cheap bits and pieces, little pictures, cards, maybe even the odd brooch, I might surprise myself.

So now I just have to get through the weekend before I can start...