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Henry Moore Helmet Heads 1

This photo is of the preparation stage for the series of pieces inspired by the Henry Moore heads.  I decided on three things:

  1. That I would make some small collages to get me into the flow of the appliques.
  2. I would make monoprints using my gelli plate to use in the fabric pieces.
  3. I would use the Sanderson prints that I had got from Bristol Children’s Scrapstore as the backgrounds

I had a lot of fun doing the prints:

I made a lot on paper and then on fabric, which was also from a variety of furnishing fabric samplebooks I have collected over the years.  The time has come to use them.

Because we are in lockdown it is hard to get things quickly.  I really could have done with some textile medium to keep the fabric soft as I was using acrylic paint which is nasty to hand stitch through.  As it was, I decided that I would just have to put a jeans needle in the sewing machine and do a lot of machine embroidery.  I thought I had some textile medium somewhere, but it seems to have gone to ground.  I love gelli printing and have piles of the prints.  It is good finally to be using them.

I decided to use the Sanderson prints because they epitomise the English country house, gentleman’s home is his castle look to me.  They are traditional.  They never date.  They have gorgeous botanical prints on them, and they are very high quality fabric.  These pieces have been through the washing machine at least three times to soften them up a bit, and they have not faded a bit.  They haven’t really softened much either, but I did get a lot of the paper backing off the,m as they had been mounted on mood board pages in the swanky sample book.

I wanted something that said home, tradition, stability, safety and protection and the Sanderson brand has all these associations for me.  That’s why I decided on them as the substrate.  I mounted them with spray glue onto some eco-friendly recycled wadding.  I think I should possibly have tried this out first given the size of the project – getting on for 25 pieces, but patience has never been my strong point.  The wadding is okay to work with, by the way.  The Sanderson fabric stitches like what it is: high quality furnishing fabric rather than quilting weight or dress weight cotton.  This means that the hand sewing on it is necessarily pretty basic:

There is a lot of simple stitching like this, mainly straight stitches but a bit of stem stitch which you can see on the left.  I might go mad with some colonial knots on some of them and possibly some bullion stitches.

I used some of the more textured fabric to print from by inking the gelli plate, pressing the fabric into iy and then lifting that off, and putting a lighter smoother fabric onto the gelli to pick up the paint left on the plate.  I got some nice prints, which I will point ou,t using this technique.  I know that gelli plates are expensive and that you can make your own, but I have found that the proprietary ones are surprisingly robust and highly reliable.

One interesting thing was that in lockdown I used some acrylic paint which I would not normally use.  I usually use Golden Fluid Acrylic, which is the best in my book, but I had found a lot of paint in my stash as I had been clearing stuff out.  There have been a lot of cupboards cleared out during our isolation period, I think.  I found some really cheap stuff in big tubes that an ex-Brownie leader gave me, and some that we have had in our house for at least twenty years.  This paint is all thin and as luck would have it, acted much like ink so the prints worked well.  I stuck to black, white, red, a pinky red, yellow, dark green, ultramarine, dark grey, peach and burnt umber.  Mainly I used the black and grey.  Unusually for me there were no metallics to jazz it up a bit.

The next blog will be about the process of putting the pieces together so far.

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Ring pillows for the wrinklies

This post is about more work for my other role in life, that of humanist celebrant doing weddings and namings.

I was thinking about older brides in particular after leafing through another wedding magazine.  There really are only fresh-faced, porcelain-skinned young women in them.  You would be excused for thinking that no older women ever get married – or remarried.   I think it’s the equivalent of thinking women over 55 only ever want to dress in navy blue or beige artificial fibre tents.

I was wondering what sort of thing would suit older women.  I wanted to make some hearts that could be easily converted into ring pillows for weddings, and could be keepsakes thereafter.  Thinking about myself and my own tastes, these are hand-embroidered hearts worked on recycled fabrics.  Some are on the reverse of a very nice linen furnishing fabric:

You can see the front on the back, ironically, of this small heart:

The print is of these gorgeous, overblown tulips, but it would have fought against any lettering.  The fabric is leftover from some upmarket curtains.

The other is a printed commercial king-sized quilt which I bought in a charity shop and have been cutting up and using for a couple of years now:

The embroidery is largely stem stitch.  I learned how to do it a couple of years ago when a wonderful teacher explained to me that it is basically back stitch done on the back rather than the front of the fabric.  The scales fell from my eyes and I have been using it ever since after years of frustration not having any success and having to unpick it every time.  You can teach old dogs new tricks.

The little heart with LOVE on it is worked in two rows of chain stitch.  They are all done in variegated embroidery floss which is my current favourite thread.  They are all partly stuffed with the leftover fabric from when I cut them out.  All part of my drive for more sustainability.

You may have noticed that these all have quotations from Beatles songs on them.  These take me right back to being a little girl and being given Beatles singles for Christmas.  I would love to do a Beatles-themed wedding.  A couple coming into the ceremony to ‘Here comes the sun’ would be lovely.  I’m not sure what they would go out to.  The chorus of ‘All you need is love’ maybe.  Might be nice for a sing-song half-way through as well.

Just in case you are thinking of getting married and would like to use one of these as a ring pillow, they will be going in my Etsy shop which you can find by putting PomegranateByAnn in the search box on Etsy.com.  I can convert them to proper ring pillows by embroidering a little loop to thread ribbons through.  I am also happy to stitch any other song lyrics that have special meanings.