Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

I hope you’re all having a lovely Easter weekend! I just popped by to show you these Easter eggs - with a difference…

Easter Eggs on display at The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK
Photograph courtesy of Toby Lea

On display at The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK, the red and white eggs in particular, are from Romania, dated pre-1911. 

Easter Eggs on display at The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK
Photograph courtesy of Toby Lea

“Hen eggs are blown (to hollow them out) and decorated as Easter gifts and ornaments in many parts of Eastern Europe. Each of these eggs bear motifs with names such as ‘spider’, ‘strawberry leaf’ or ‘canine tooth of a pig’. A pen or stylus is used to apply the pattern in wax, then the eggs are boiled in a logwood solution. Bark, tea and even bricks were all used as a source of dye. When the wax is removed with a hot cloth, the pattern remains.” (Description courtesy of The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK).

Interesting huh?! I really like the idea of these decorative little keepsakes!

The Pitt Rivers Museum is an absolutely fascinating place, not your average museum by any means… quite random in fact - definitely worth a visit if you’re over that way. Check back to read more about my visit in coming posts….

Thanks for dropping by, enjoy the bank holiday!

Abby :-)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

ICHF Event’s Sewing for Pleasure / Embroidery, Fashion & Stitch / Hobbycraft 24/03/2013

Visiting exhibitions really motivates me. Whilst wandering around, I often feel the urge to rush back home and get crafty - they give me my fix, not to mention loads of ideas! I particularly enjoy a craft show, where it’s not only an exhibition, but also an opportunity to meet the artists, stock up on supplies and to spend a day (or two) among like-minded people. ICHF Event’s Sewing for Pleasure/Embroidery, Fashion & Stitch/Hobbycraft shows (3 shows in 1) at Birmingham’s NEC were no exception.

I didn’t buy a lot… I’ve bought so much in previous years, which I’m yet to do anything with, that I’m more restrained nowadays. I was on the look out for upholstery/interior fabrics for my bags, but in the end all I bought was a lamp and a rather brilliant greeting card by artist Michala Gyetvai, whose work absolutely blew me away…

Michala Gyetvai – A Winter’s Walk (Painting)
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Michala’s work always starts as a sketch, in media such as oil pastel on coloured paper. She then develops this into a painting, a textile piece or in the case of the artworks above and below, both. 

Michala Gyetvai – Snow on snow 
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

The way she manipulates fibres and stitch to emulate the marks she makes on the page, leave me in absolute awe – both flow alike.
Michala Gyetvai – Rhapsody of Colour
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I like the way Michala displays her work, mounted onto a canvas, which helps the piece to keep it’s undulating shape. Her use of colour is incredible, incorporating so many more shades than I would see in a scene like this, but so true. 

MichalaGyetvai – Rhapsody of Colour (details)
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

She embellishes either old blankets or her own handmade felt, before adding stitch by both hand and machine.  

MichalaGyetvai - A story within my stitches
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
To be quite honest, I struggled to tear myself away from Michala and her exhibition – as she too is so approachable. I’d love to have a go at working with felt, fibres and stitch the way she does, but I’ll never be able to create works as awesome as these!

Another artist whose work I stumbled across, and whom is one of my personal favourites, was Susan Chapman. Susan is always a joy to talk to, so free in her experimentation and forthcoming with her knowledge – I’m guaranteed to feel inspired following a visit to her exhibition/demonstration space.

SusanChapman’s exhibition/demonstration space
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Susan Chapman
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I’m drawn to works that incorporate people, whether that be drawn, painted, stitched or appliquéd etc, and it’s for this reason I was drawn to Susan’s work in the first place.

Susan Chapman
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

That was before she incorporated another love of mine... handwriting!

Susan Chapman
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
I’ll freely admit… I’m afraid of using colour within my work and although Susan isn’t, I really like that these artworks are simply black and white!
Susan Chapman
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
In addition to the work on display, Susan encouraged passers-by to sign their name on to pieces of plain white cotton for use in a piece of collaborative work… I couldn’t let this opportunity go by, (bottom right) not when I was signing the same piece of fabric as Ineke Berlyn and Edwina MacKinnon (whose work I also admire/adore).

The work of many other artists caught my eye, however, I can’t possibly mention them all, else we’d both be here forever… so for my final offering, I give you textile group, Studio 21

Studio 21 - Chinese Whispers
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
I was drawn in by these pieces, created in response to sound. You can tell can’t you?! I like the simplicity in the raw edges, the straight lines and the minimal use of colour. 
Studio 21 - Chinese Whispers
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
I appreciate the three-dimensional quality to this work. Again you can see the subtle influence of sound, in both the mark making and the form. 

Studio 21 - Chinese Whispers
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

These pieces remind me of samplers (they may well be samplers). They’re a great idea to trial a stitch or an idea on a small scale.

It’s fair to say that if I could only afford to visit one show next year, then ICHFEvent’s Sewing for Pleasure/Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch/Hobbycraft at Birmingham’s NEC would be it. It caters for all crafters and is much more manageable in size… definitely quality over quantity!

Now all I need is find some time to have a play…

Thanks for dropping by :-)


Friday, 22 March 2013

'Sew'... I finally found time

Despite having a 'To Do' list the length of my arm at the beginning of the week, I actually managed to make time to sew!

Excuse the rather 'off-the-cuff' photo, but I thought you might like a peek at the trial designs for my up and coming Autumn collection...

Trial designs for my up and coming Autumn collection
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I'd love to hear what you think/would like to see, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for dropping by...


Monday, 18 March 2013

Print Club (Intermediate) 10.03.2013

Apologies for not having posted in over two weeks, the day job has been somewhat getting in the way… a double-edged sword! However, T and I still managed to find the time to undertake Iain Perry’s (aka Print Garage) Intermediate Print Club last Sunday. This time, rather than printing using paper stencils, we exposed our designs onto the screens using a light sensitive emulsion. T went ready prepared, having designed for his screen on the computer, but I’ve been so busy, I had no choice but to wing it by hand… it’s more fun that way.

Design development
(Left) Photograph courtesy of Toby Lea
(Right) Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Once again, I went along armed with photographs from my trip to New York some five years ago. By tracing from these, I developed a design incorporating the repetition of the Chrysler building, overlaid with an illustration of Brooklyn Bridge and an authentic New York-style lamp/sign post.

Deciding on which elements should be which colour – planning my screens/layers/separations
Photograph courtesy of Toby Lea

The brief was to create a print, using at least two colours, but using only one A3 screen. Therefore, each colour separation/layer could be no bigger than A4 in size and would sit side-by-side (slightly unconventional, but both effective where cost and time are concerned – so why not?!). This meant we either had to use registration marks (small crosses in the same place on each layer) to line up the separations, or be content with lining it up by eye. 

Tracing my design out onto the acetate 
Photograph courtesy of Toby Lea

If the truth be told, I took so long in designing and tracing my design onto the acetate (ready for exposure), that for once I was content with lining the elements up by eye… very unlike me!!!

We traced our designs onto special acetate using black markers, so as the light wouldn’t penetrate the emulsion/screen below where we’d drawn, during exposure. 

Two of my three colour separations, Magenta & Cyan
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

We used the same print beds, screens, squeegees and ink as we did during printclub for beginners. I decided I’d repeat the image of the Chrysler building three times, in three colours. Two of the separations were of the same silhouette-type image, for which I reused the one screen twice, by washing it out in between colours and repositioning the paper, rather than exposing the same design onto a screen twice. I simply had to use cyan (turquoise) as one of my two colours since it’s my favourite – can you tell? By overlaying the magenta (pink) with the cyan, I was able to achieve purple too – a free colour as it were!

The third of my three colour separations, Black
 Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

The third, a more detailed illustration, was effectively my second ‘screen’ - although both designs actually resided side-by-side on the one screen. I’m really impressed that such a fine, hand-drawn line printed so well on this layer – love it!

Finished print
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I adore this print – even if I do say so myself. It will definitely be going up on the wall! Finally I’ve done something with those mementos from New York and what’s more, Iain‘s Print Club has given us the perfect grounding to get set up at home. T and I can’t wait – just watch this space...

You can see the work of the other students who took the intermediate workshop (including T’s delorean) here.

To see the work created during previous Print Club events, click here… and then why not sign up for yourself?!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Whats on... March 2013

Mini-egg cookies, before & after.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

There's not a lot that I can actually show you this week, as I've been working on the secret commission that I mentioned in my previous post. However, I'm pleased to announce that yesterday, I both finished AND photographed it... so watch this space!!! In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy casting your eye over these delicious mini-egg cookies, that T and I made last weekend, (so delicious - they've all gone!).

Anyhow, I thought I'd mention a few (or 10) exhibitions showing in March, that caught my eye. I'll be popping along to (and posting about) as many as possible... so if you're looking for something to do this month, then why not check them out for yourself:

Until 9th March 2013, ‘FourFront’ - Manchester Craft and Design Centre

Until 10th March 2013, ‘Talking Textiles’ - Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford

Until 10th March 2013, ‘Telling Tales’ - Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford

Until 23rd March 2013, ‘World Eco Fibre & Textile (WEFT) Art’ - The Brunei Gallery, Russell Square, London

28th Feb - 25th May 2013, ‘Traditional Twisted’ - Unit Twelve, Stafford

1st-3rd March 2013, ‘Knit & Stitch it 2013’ – FIVE, Farnborough

1st March – 28th Apr 2013, ‘Local Attraction’ - Ferrers Gallery, Ashby De La Zouch,

14th-17th March 2013, ‘The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show’ - Olympia Two and West Hall, London

16th March 2013, ‘World Textile Day’ - Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes, Wales

21st-24th March 2013, ‘Sewing for Pleasure’, ‘Fashion Embroidery & Stitch’ and‘Hobbycrafts’ (3 shows for the price of 1) – NEC, Birmingham

Nowhere near you?! Then visit the excellent websites below, for possible listings in your area:

Thank for dropping by and 'Happy Friday' :)

Abby x