Leaves, Fabric Scraps and Stitching

I am revisiting the leaf theme I was working on the last time I posted here.  However now I am working with fabric, machine embroidery and handstitching.  I wanted a fairly simple idea that I could endlessly experiment with…and I would like to create a motif that can be used for different things.

My last blog was a year and 8 months ago!! largely because the focus of my attention has been on surface pattern design.  Basically surface pattern design is the designing of patterns for absolutely anything where a pattern is required from dress fabrics to wallpaper to crockery. This is a new direction for me and there has and still is a lot to learn.  

A couple of years ago, I returned to sketchbook work and I really wanted to be able to make more use of my drawings. I discovered digital pattern design and it provided me with the answer I was looking for. It has surprised me that I enjoy digital work so much…but I find it to be enthralling and the endless possibilities are exciting! 

So, I am now juggling my embroidery work with surface pattern design, however I try as much as possible to connect the 2 things and that is not hard to do.  After all, any sketchbook work I do for embroidery can easily be explored digitally and developed into a surface pattern and in fact I am hoping that the development of my signature style is distinctively informed by my work as an embroidery designer.

Nevertheless, on the whole I am going to focus on embroidery in this blog and I am working on a dedicated blog for surface pattern design (link to arrive shortly).

Therefore to continue, I have been exploring the combination of fabric scraps (re-using materials is at the core of my endeavour to be as ecologically-conscious as possible), handstitching (inspired by darning and Japanese Boro), freestyle machine embroidery and handmade felt;  because I love the quality as a base fabric for embroidery.

My plan is to try to refine my process as much as possible while simultaneously experimenting with many variations.  The leaf shape was chosen as a simple motif that I can apply different themes to.  For example my first designs are around the theme of ‘Springtime’ and I am using a colour scheme which, is quintessentially of this time of year.  The colours are of fresh green shoots, young leaves and blossoms in an array of pinks and lavenders. Creams and yellows complete the positive and hopeful energy of the colour scheme.

Soft Like a Wilted Leaf or Petal

 

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Ink with Copper Paint

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Corals

I have always found the sea to be such an abundant and enchanting source of inspiration.

For someone who works with textiles, as a theme it offers so much in terms of texture, colour, mood and pattern.

To me, the seaside can mean 2 things: either the subtle, understated but deeply haunting, sand or pebble coastlines of the UK, or the exotic, sandy beaches in hotter countries, where the waters shimmer with the brightest colours, exhibited in tropical sea creatures. Of course I am generalizing, but those are the associations I have!

Anyway back in January I decided that it had been far too long since I had explored the ocean in a textiles project, so I looked at lots of images of marine life online. I felt most drawn to corals because of their delicate, lacy patterns; jellyfish, because of the beautiful, dreamy and muted, transparent colours and the arrangement of fish scales in mesmerising iridescent and glittering colours. My aim has been to explore each of these qualities.

I began by drawing some of the patterns found in corals. To begin with they were hard to decipher, however with practice, I made more sense of them. It wasn’t long before the potential for patterns became obvious.

In terms of colour, I actually really like the fact that both incredibly intense colours are present, as well as more gentle pastel versions. I chose to use watersoluble pencils and watercolours to explore some of the strong colour combinations.

My next consideration was how to explore the addition of iridescent effects. I decided to experiment with metallic papers, crumpled and dry-brush painted.

I also painted on glitter paper with gesso, leaving areas unpainted to subtly reveal areas of sparkle.

I was most pleased with the effect created by painting on holographic paper.

As I am also very interested in transparency, I have also looked at how tracing and tissue paper can be used with colour.

Now I am working on combining these elements as well as considering ways I can use textile materials and processes.

Lourdes x

Crochet, Frayed Tatters and Sequins

imageI have been working with combinations of freeform crochet and distressed fabric pieces for some time now and more recently I have started incorporating beads and sequins as in the above piece.

I have always loved the idea of using beads and sequins with the surety that I will at some point add them to the materials I habitually use.  However for a long time I avoided starting as I saw it as yet another technique to have to practise extensively before feeling that the results are good enough.  It would seem simple enough to just add this form of decoration without too much thought, but actually when faced with vast ranges of beads and sequins to select from, it is quite overwhelming to select the perfect choice for each project.

Anyway I felt it was time to take the plunge and I can see that I will need a lot of experimentation before I know how to use them in a way that I feel happy with.  However I am confident that including them will really help me to start achieving the more fantastical aesthetic I am aiming towards.

Lourdes x

Feathery Fabrics and Fibres

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I started making a choker today.  I already had the length of crochet lace made and I was playing around with ideas for a suitable background.  I decided to use small frayed pieces as I liked the feathery effect and felt that if layered, would create a pleasing contrast for the crochet.

I cut up lots of pieces of lightweight and transparent fabrics, mainly along the bias, as the irregular edge formed was appealing.  I then frayed each piece, I wanted to include the loose threads as they reminded me of the fluffy material in flower heads.  I felt that the best way to do this was to add some wool fibres to the threads and then to needlefelt them with some of the frayed pieces of fabric.  Needlefelting is achieved by using a purpose-made barbed needle which tangles wool fibres together, when used to repeatedly stab them.  This creates a felted fabric and the more it is worked, the denser it becomes.

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These are some of the pieces of fibres needlefelted with frayed fabric.  They are possibly a little thick, so I will use them sparingly, combined with the layered, frayed pieces and attach the crochet strip on top.  I will include the finished result in a coming post.

Lourdes x

Crochet Elements

imageThis is a selection of crochet elements I have made for my accessory collection.  I really like to work in a disorganised but organic way, in so far as I go very much with my mood when it comes to developing my work.  Some days I like to say, make a whole lot of crochet flowers or a batch of something else all the same.  However I mostly like to work on one piece with an open mind towards it’s evolution as the

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spontaneity is more enjoyable.  I believe that the more enjoyable a job, the better it is done!  I may work on another piece altogether the next day, so it is normal for me to have a box of projects all at different stages.

To be honest I do find it a difficult discipline to complete things and I am far more comfortable with the experimental stage of design; I could remain in that place for eternity!  I have overcome this inner obstacle of mine by retaining a small element of improvisation to my method of creating finished pieces.  Therefore I allow room for a brand new idea to be included in a piece.  I am enjoying this approach as it suits my personality.  It does mean that I have to put more thought into how each individual piece comes together, but again I like that and it means that no 2 pieces will ever be the same.

Lourdes x

Blossoming Heart at Beltane

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Most mornings I like to start the day by centering myself.  I do this by looking at my feelings and trying to identify them.  I don’t always want to and it’s not always easy, but if I manage it, I find that my energy flows better.

Sometimes feelings and thoughts provoke a journey that provides inspiration for creative work, and they additionally resonate with themes that seem to emerge through the day.  I really like to try to understand what these ‘signs’ are representing in my life.

The last few days have brought up many references to the light and power of the sun.  Unfortunately I can’t say that this has been encouraged by the weather, which has not been so great!

However it so happens that today is Mayday also known as Beltane, which is a Celtic fire festival.  The word ‘Beltane’ combines ‘Bel’ the name of a Celtic God, meaning ‘bright one’ and ‘teine’ which is a Celtic word for ‘fire’.

Beltane is a celebration of the beginning of the brighter part of the year.  It is also a festival which celebrates procreation, sexuality and the reproductive energies of the earth, now fully reawakened after the winter.

I decided to continue using the heart as a metaphor for emotion, and this time with the intent to evoke the spirit of abundance of Beltane, and what it may symbolise for us internally.

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‘Flora’ is the name of a Roman fertility goddess and as her name suggests, is a goddess of flowers.  Also known as the ‘May Queen’, she has significance in pagan rituals at this time of year.  The festival of Beltane is flamboyantly characterised by the wearing of flowers and this has also inspired my decision to make a heart shaped from textile blossoms.

I also like the idea of a heart that ‘blooms’ in response to warmth, much as the rays of the sun are vital for the opening of flowers.

I decided to work on folded satin fabric which I felt suggested enclosure of something secret, as in an envelope or folded piece of paper.  I like the sense of mystery and the way that the heart of textile petals is viewed as a symbol or embellishment for something else unseen.

Hey!

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Hey!

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