Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Sketchbook Project: Part I


So, a new project has begun. I've been wanting to start sketchbooking for a while, just for personal development and enjoyment more than anything else, but I'm the sort of person who finds it difficult to do something without a real reason, and I work far better when I have a focus, and even better, a deadline. I had only considered it in passing, but then when I found The Sketchbook Project on the wonderful Carolyn Saxby's blog. Her work inspires me so much, and I was delighted when browsing her blog led me to this project. So without further ado, here it is!

Basically, the purpose of the project is to pick one of the themes they give you, and then go and fill a sketchbook in any way you feel like. I'm going to use it to explore some ideas and techniques I've been wanting to try for ages, and I'm so excited! Then when the book is complete, I wrap it up and post it back to New York, where they send it off in their mobile library with all the other sketchbooks from around the world, before it gets archived in their main library in Brooklyn, where anyone can go and browse the sketchbooks. They also 'digitize' it and upload it to their online library. Neat, huh? Not only is it a great chance for me to do something I've been wanting to do for ages, but it also means my work will fall into the hands of people who would never have seen it otherwise! I think that's pretty cool.

The theme I chose is 'Wanderer', and I'm going to incorporate my own photography, as well as found objects, text and textile art to create pieces based around this theme. I've wanted to do something like this for a while, and it's really exciting to have a focus for it! 

So me being me, instead of sleeping last night when I got home at around 2am, I sat up and started planning. 

And today, me and my little sister took my grandma out to Tynemouth for the afternoon, where we had a walk and a scone in a nice little tea house, and then went into The Land of Green Ginger (a cool little indoor market), and I wasn't expecting to find a treasure in there, but I did! Outside the little vintage shop was a shelf of books, and on it were these two lovely books - Junior Modern Poetry (1930), and English Verse Old and New (1922), both owned by an N. Brodie. They're full to the brim of lovely poems, some of which fit the theme of Wanderer perfectly, as they reference travelling and nature and all sorts. I can't wait to use it in my work! Has anyone else found any gems in vintage shops/fairs which they've used in their work?

So I'll leave you for today with the first poem which caught my time you see this, it'll have a beautiful embroidered frame, I think! Watch this space!

Happy Sunday!

Amy x

Friday, 11 April 2014

Vanishing Fabric and Fairy Wings

First blog post! Exciting! I'm really looking forward to starting my blogging adventures, and what better way to do so than to share something I'm working on?

Something I've found about most creative practitioners is that while we all love to try new things and experiment with different materials/techniques, most people will have one or two beloved materials/techniques which they absolutely swear by. For me, that material is vanishing muslin/Aquafilm. I first came across it when I was studying textiles at AS Level, and it's been a staple of my textile kit ever since. I didn't use it much over the first two years of uni, but it became a major embellishment tool during my final year, and my love was rekindled.

So, what is it? Basically it looks like really thick cling film, but can be stitched into as it is, or used to sandwich fabric, bits of yarn, felt fibres, threads...anything you can sew over! Then after sewing into it, you run it under a hot tap, and the plastic melts away, and you have a whole new piece of fabric to play with! The possibilities are pretty much endless with this stuff, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to give something new a try. I might do a proper tutorial on it at some point, with some examples! There's some great artist out there who use this material beautifully.

As for me, I'm always trying to think of new ways to use it. When I was at uni, I used it to make some sweet little butterflies to embellish a tutu with, and to make the scales pictured below! I had a lot of fun doing those.

So, I've been struggling a little bit to come up with things I can make relatively quickly to sell at Whitby Goth Weekend at the end of the month - which is difficult since the sort of work I do is very time consuming! But I wasn't even trying to think of anything at the time - I was at work when the idea to make little fairy wing necklaces suddenly hit me.

I started sketching immediately - at work we have iPads now to aid with visitor interaction, but also for us to use for research when the galleries are quiet, so I started looking at wing shape and sketching out ideas. The top right and bottom middle are my favourites! 

Then of course, I had to try it out. I used a plain white organza and black thread - something simple just to test it. And I couldn't believe how effective it was! And it looks so sweet and delicate, like a real pair of wings. A very successful first attempt!

So then it was time to get creative. I have lots of floaty and light materials which will make beautiful wings, but first I had to have a go with Angelina fibres. This is another material I swear by - the fibres are what is known as 'hot fix', meaning that when heat is applied, they will bind together beautifully. Angelina fibres are beautiful when teased out and ironed into a flat sheet, which can then be cut, sewn into, sewn to things, and used to embellish as desired. It's gorgeous stuff! (Can you tell I like sparkles?) So, I ironed out a sheet with every colour I have (nearly twenty I think...), and then drew out the swing shapes onto a sheet of vanishing muslin. Drawing and organising which colours to use for each wing and which thread to use took as long as the sewing did! 

And this is the (still not quite finished) result! Aren't they lovely?

I still have a few more to do, but this is almost the full set. They just need to be put in hot water to dissolve the plastic, and then I can turn them into necklaces. I knew the fibres would make beautiful wings, and I'm really pleased with how they turned out! I might try to do some larger, more embellished ones too, as well as ones with regular fabric and fine glitter (which sticks really well to something which has just had vanishing muslin rinsed off it), and ones with eyes made from Swarovski hot fix much fun! After Whitby Goth Weekend some of these will be appearing on my Etsy shop, so keep an eye out!

I'll post later on with the finished results and the remaining colours, and any more experiments.

Thanks for reading, have a wonderful weekend!

Amy x