Thursday, 8 March 2018

Lace UnArchived

From having a tatting shuttle in my sewing box for over 30 years, I decided not long after I graduated I would try and learn how to do this heritage craft.  The problem was finding someone to teach me.  I even joined a group called, "The Ring of Tatters", but never quite managed to link with anyone to get me started.  I eventually taught myself with the aid of lots of reading, a short DVD tutorial and plenty of You Tube watching until I got my skills up to an acceptable level.

I have to say I am still learning different techniques and ways a creating the lace I want to create but all in all I find tatting a delightful and relaxing craft.

Lace illustrating Russia and the Red Square - William Pegg

Recently I spotted that there was to be a series of events to celebrate Nottingham Lace, one of which was the Lace Unarchived exhibition at Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University.  It's an exhibition of traditional and contemporary work from past students, modern designers and archived samples.  I think my favourite piece was created by a 1930's famous lace maker and designer called William Hallam Pegg in which he expressed his socialist beliefs.

In light of this contemporary piece I was left with the question, "So what is lace?" What defines a piece of lace.  The dictionary definition gives the following:-

...a fine open fabric of cotton or silk, made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread in patterns and used especially for trimming garments.  Oxford Dictionaries

...lace is a very delicate cloth which is made with a lot of holes in it.  It is made by twisting together very fine threads of cotton to form patterns. Collins Dictionaries

Anyway, I will leave you with this video I found about the exhibition, it may inspire you to pay a visit.

As tatting has holes, uses loops, twisting, has lots of holes and creates patterns I will continue to create lace using this very old craft.

My next lace adventure will be a one day Lace Symposium at Newstead Abbey, which is the former home of Lord Byron which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Seeing the Wood for the Trees - Winter Theme - Week Three

During this session the group used a portable printing press to produce a series of prints using the collograph plates they had prepared from the last couple of sessions.

Following a demonstration by Carole, we (yes, me included) inked up our plates then wiped them down removing as much ink as we could but leaving enough so that there would be an impression on the paper at printing time.

This isn't as easy as it looks, although there were some in the group that took to it like a ducks to water. "You just add some colour and wipe it off", came one comment. Mmm my colour sort of squigged together and there didn't seem to be any definition apart from purple.

Once the ink had been applied then rubbed back the time came to lay out the plates on the press. It was here that a little thought was need to the layout as these prints would serve to be pages in our Winter themed books.

Next came the rolling of the printing press.  We were taught to do a number of runs through the press, the first being too heavy on the ink, the subsequent ones being lighter but more successful in showing the lines and marks that had been added in the first two weeks of preparation.

Here's just one of the prints that was created.  If you would like to see more from the session please visit here.  And whilst all this printerly activity was going on, Phiona was in and out of the kitchen making cups of tea and coffee to keep us replenished. This was balanced with a range of snacks organised by Carole.

A job well done, by everyone I think.  Next week they'll be taking their prints along with other ideas and making them into books.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Chinese New Year celebrations at Leicester University

What a fab day this was and I was so pleased to be part of it even though it was hard work.

I was commissioned by Leicester University Student Centre to create a workshop for 50 students.  Initially my idea had been to create lanterns using, "Lucky Red Envelopes".  However, due to the cost involved for the volume of students I had to adapt the idea to use red card with a stencilled image, either a paw print or the word dog in Chinese writing.

As sometimes happens plans for the day changed from 2 x 1½ hour workshop to 1 x 1½ hour workshop.  Somewhere along the way this had also gone from a sit down workshop inside to a Make and Take opportunity outside in the events square.

Thinking cap on, and I decided the only way I could run this smoothly without too many frustrated people was to make up kits with all the things required to make a lantern apart from scissors, sticky tape, stencil and ink pads.

The workshop day finally arrived with preparations all done. When I arrived on campus I was guided to the area I would be working in which consisted of 6 separate tables covered with gazebo's. I had visions of me running up and down the tables maintaining 30 people.  This would never do.  I had two tables moved together to form one long table and then 2 separate tables.  That way there was an area to stencil and an area to assemble the lanterns

Sad to say I missed the dragon dance but please click on the video above to get a feel for the day.  Don't blink though or you'll miss seeing the lantern

Although my time was 1½ hours, I stayed for 2 just to make sure everyone had completely finished.    And it was full on for the entire time I was there I can tell you. All in all it was a lovely experience, with excited chattering, plenty of huge smiles and completed lanterns which says it all to me.

I worked out that every 2 minutes a new person turned up to the table to do some making.  A job well done, don't you think.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Seeing the Wood for the Trees - Winter Theme - Session Two

In this session the group continued with their collograph plates.

To get us all started I made a cuppa for everyone and re-filled during the session. This was accompanied by protein balls, to keep our strength up and cheese and crackers.

We had been shown by Carole how to create our plates from our own drawings.  Having a range of  depths and textures would be the key to having interesting results when we use our plates for printing off at the next session.

Carole encouraged us all to make 3 to 4 plates, keeping in our theme of winter.

Once completed we had the option to add a little PVA glue in places for additional interest or go straight onto sealing our plate with a shellac solution.

Here's a couple of mine drying and ready for next week's printmaking session.

Until next week......

This project has been kindly funded by the KHL Big Local and overseen by the Northampton Community Fund.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Lace Tatting Demonstration at the National Centre for Craft and Design

As a Fellow member of the Design Nation, incorporating Design Factory we all have the opportunity to provide a demonstration of our work to the public.  There are many, many members and most are keen to share their work.

My slot had been booked about 6 months ago so there was plenty of time to decide what I would share in my demonstration, in this case tatting.

If you have never heard of tatting I describe it thus, an handmade lace created by making a series of tiny knots using a shuttle or long needle, not unlike Macrame but on a very small scale. Loops, chains and picots are repeated to form patterns that make up the lace.  I tend to use it in my jewellery, but more recently I have been exploring different ways I can utilise the final product.  Here is one way I currently use the lace by making "Petite Flowers" which are available at NCCD or on my online shop at madebyhandonline

There's one thing I enjoy about being around people is sharing my craft, my making skills and my joy at seeing people just having a go.

So, being no exception, I was able to show one lady who was currently working towards her Final Major piece on her foundation course how to tat.  The challenge was that she was left handed but between us she got there.  Another lady who I had been conversing with on twitter came along to find out how to join pieces together, again she went away happy and shared some ideas she had about working with shells.  It sounds very interesting.

I laid my work out so that people could see how it looked blocked out and I had a selection of just finished pieces with all the raw threads showing that people could handle.

All in all it was a lovely day made all the better by a steady supplier of hot drinks. form the cafe. If you would like  to see more of my work please visit my Facebook page.

I will be running a Lace Tatting workshop on Wednesday 9th April at the Leicester Craft Centre, Market Harborough.  If you would like to join me please click or contact me via my Facebook page.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Seeing the Wood for the Trees - Winter Theme - Session One

Well, what with all the dreadful weather over the past month, taking a walk through Kingwood woods was totally out of the question.  So instead Carole and I decided to use the first session for creativity.  On the menu was collographs, run by Carole and she certainly didn't disappoint.  She brought a selection of examples so the group could understand a little bit about the process. It really is amazing what wonderful results can be achieved with this print technique.  Here's an example of one of Carole's collograph printing plates. I chose this image as it seems rather apt as we are heading towards Valentine's Day.

Following a quick demonstration by Carole, we were all give a piece of mount board, a pencil and a cutting blade.  The pencil to draw out our design, a blade to either score the surface or cut and lift layers from the board.  Here's my design, a barren tree in the moonlight,  (although I was only about halfway through my cutting out) I managed to cut away half the moon by mistake.  Ah well we live and learn.

Wandering around the room, it was lovely to see everyone fully engaged. One of the group commented on how relaxing she found the process was.

As usual, the two hours of creativity flew by.  Next week we will continue to prepare plates for printing.  Until our next cuppa.......

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A Hectic February

Gosh, this month is going to be busy.  That's the thing with working as a Freelance Artist, you can have a period of quiet where there is no work, then you come across lots of interesting opportunities and they stack like dominoes side by side.  Planning is definitely the key sprinkled with an good portion of forward preparation otherwise it all goes pear shape and you're running around like a headless chicken. (Yuck, what a thought)

It's part three of a creative project I'm working on with artist Carole Miles (The Eloquent Fold) called "Seeing the Wood for the Trees" funded by KHL Big Local.  The theme for this round is winter.  I posted the first week recently.  If you'd like to read about it click here

Seeing the Wood for the Trees - Part Three, Week One

A great project connecting people with a local woods, allowing them to take a walk, click some photos then explore their findings creatively through bookmaking, art journalling and printmaking.

I'm also back at Fermyn Woods Contemporary Education Academy.  I work with the students once a year to prepare them for their Arts Award.  I show them how to make a re-fillable book wrap and pamphlet books.  A very versatile structure that is used to document their progress through the award.  These are youngsters who for one reason or another have been excluded from mainstream school.  I usually sneak in a bit of origami or paper play of some description.

The art award is a great way to improve confidence and self worth.

I'll be demonstration my skills in Lace making at the National Centre for Craft and design, namely tatting which I will blog about soon.

Finally, I am working at Leicester University doing a Chinese Paper Lantern workshop in readiness for the Chinese New Year, which is the year of the dog. Again, I hope to blog about that.

So you can see, my work is very varied and when I'm busy, I'm super busy.

Thanks for reading