Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Fate, calm and authenticity

Interesting times at the moment. Fate seems to be happening quite a lot more than usual. Serendipities. Odd events throwing things into my lap. I could mention the hail that fell earlier while I was out, forcing me into a shop and just compelling me to try on and buy a top that I didn't need. Or the boy spending an extra long time swimming and then showering one evening last week, which meant that by the time we got home, husband had had some peace to read the letter I had written after an argument, absorb it and let calm return to the house. My making seems to be going the same way at the moment: I am trying to get lots and lots of work together to show during Arts Week and so quite a bit of making is going on. I have an idea, start to get some wool out for it and suddenly something else altogether is getting made. I wanted to do some lettering in my felt, some beautiful, breathtaking wording, a life-changing slogan, but while I was trying to work out what I wanted to say, this happened:

(Incidentally this is an odd one, I feel really happy with this picture and then other people keep saying  that it will look great when I've finished it. Maybe I need to revisit it with the sewing machine. Or maybe people just need to get over themselves. I bet nobody told Picasso his picture would be great if he put his eyes and noses in the right place.) 

This time for Arts Week I'm branching out and showing a little bit of photography as well as the textiles. It's a gamble and an unknown, which is probably why I'm clinging to the idea that fate has a hand in these things. It's all for a reason. Even if that means I'll have enough greetings cards and postcards leftover to send to people for their birthdays for the next ten years. My amazing shiatsu friend Alexandra,  whose words always carry a great deal of truth in our sessions, and who always manages to point me in the right direction, suggested I get some photos printed onto canvas, and I've done it, with just three pictures. To be honest, I couldn't remember which photos I'd picked. My lovely friend Laura, who I will be exhibiting with, suggested I get my daisy photo mounted to hang with the felted version above, and says she will make a handbag with a daisy on the front to display with it. Great idea, add this to my list of things to do. So imagine my surprise when the photo, on canvas, arrives in the post:

I started making again last week, a sea picture this time, the one that the cat kept sitting on. I had intended something different but this happened:


The photo doesn't quite do it justice; I need to have a fiddle with it as the colours are a bit brash. This is the first time I think I've done a sea picture without any beach on it. At one point I was half thinking about using some sandpaper as a mount for it, to add a bit of beach.  The sea itself has a lot less movement than my usual ones, and there are (apart from the breakers in the foreground) no beads, as I normally use. I wanted to convey something a bit different, and I was reminded of it today, lying on the floor after another shiatsu session with the lovely Alexandra. I felt just the same as I do when I'm floating in the sea when we stay in Brittany, the most beautiful calm and freedom in my head. I told her about this picture, and of the photo that inspired it and a little of the event that inspired the photo: an evening after the people on the beach cleared off for their dinner, an evening of whipping a swimming costume on as soon as the children were in bed and dipping in, floating and flipping, watching little fish swim by, and emptying my brain. That evening a still came like no other, the light had a strange quality about it and you couldn't see where the sea ended and the sky began. Once I'd dried off I took a photo of it. At this point in my writing I'm trying to eke the words out a bit to make more space between my felt and the original photo, so you can't quite see how inadequate my felted version is in comparison to the real thing. But rest assured that in person, and away from the photo, the picture does convey that same feel (in my humble opinion).

By the way, maybe this is the moment to mention that I've recently set up an Artist's Facebook page for myself in a gesture designed to make things a little bit more serious rather than just messing about on the kitchen table, do check it out if you are a Facebook sort of person and like to see what I've been making...

Anyway (she says, continuing to make the space between pictures bigger) I've never really been one for these things but as fate is having a hand in things, why not: Alexandra, who brings me truths and calm, tells me that the time between the solar eclipse last Friday and the next full moon (Google tells me 4th April) is significant and momentous, and that I need to be authentic to myself. I wonder what this will bring...

Monday, 16 March 2015

Pasta and the sea...

I had intended to show you some new art I've made but it may have to wait...

It turns out that I'm not the only one in my household who loves felt. A few months ago I insisted on getting a cat from the local sanctuary. Our eyes met across the room, he rolled on his back and offered up his belly for a tickle and the rest is history. It was a gamble getting a five year old cat; we were half expecting a cat of a nervous disposition, but Pasta is a great big butch cat who stands his ground, respects nobody's rules and now has a territory that seems to span half of Long Ashton.


He follows us to school in the mornings (although he sometimes forgets the way home and waits until we are going home in the afternoon to follow us back up the hill), and he follows us on walks through the woods...

And I've found out once or twice recently that he loves felt. Today he was getting involved with the making of it. Here's a brief lesson in felt making for cats: get your owner to assemble your wool, cover it with warm soapy water and rub it until it stays in one piece, on a base of a piece of bubble wrap. Give it a good sniff every so often...


Wring it out a bit and roll it up in your towel, rolling backwards and forwards a few times in each direction...


Rinse it several times, squeeze it dry, and while it's still damp and rather cold, sit on it.


To help make it even flatter, you could lie down and go to sleep on it...

You probably can't tell from these photos that Pasta seems to prefer beach scenes. I'm doing quite a few in preparation for Arts Week in May. I can show you these examples of previous pictures I've made, but the one Pasta is asleep on is a new approach. Come and see when the pink flags are out!


Saturday, 7 March 2015

A bit of making at last

A creative urge has come upon me since half term finished. Well it really needed to; three people asked me, in the week before, how my preparations for Arts Week were going. Arts Week? Nah, ages yet.  May? Oh no, not so long... um, er... OK better get making. North Somerset Arts Week is happening from 1st May to 10th May and I need to get enough beautiful buy-me buy-me things made to fill around half my lovely friend Laura's studio in Nailsea and convert what was a garage into an extravaganza of lusciousness, along with her ceramics and beautiful felt. A few weeks ago I had about one and a half pictures to sell but things are looking more rosy now. For a start there is this:

It has beading aplenty as well as some lovely Kaffe Fassett fabrics appliqu├ęd on and some swirly embroidery.

Then I made a smaller one along similar lines. I was thinking about cow parsley when I did the embroidery and beading for this one...


Then I had a sleepless night. Something unknown made me completely awake at a time when no human being should be awake. It went on. And on. And in the middle of it, Monet's waterlilies came to me, and I started wondering how they would be translated into felt. So the next morning I set to work...

I am still not sure if it's finished. 

I've started on some beach pictures to become my trademark long thin "beach windows". I tried to take a picture for you but the cat sat on them. The cat seems to enjoy sitting on damp cold felt laid out to dry on the kitchen table.

And yesterday I started work on a new one. It's far from finished but I actually rather love it just as it is. It's very very loosely based on this picture I took of a daisy my youngest picked one day on the way home from school with a friend:

Before I started with the hot water and soap, it did look pretty similar:

But it changed a bit in the felting process, as they always do...

Lots of machine stitching and it will be transformed. Is it me showing my age or does it make you think of The Good Life? I was trying to work out why I had that theme tune in my head earlier...

And that's not all; this week I've been sorting out all my very best photos and getting them mutated into some very posh postcards, a few canvas prints and some large prints which will be for sale mounted. Look out, coming soon to a garage - oops sorry, a studio - near you in Nailsea. Here are a few examples to leave you with...