Pressure was on, as soon as we finished one project we had to have ideas for the next. 

I chose to base my project on woodland mosses and lichen on oak trees in a nearby wood.  It is north facing and really damp and fairly undisturbed.  I spent a few happy hours drawing and stick painting and using my finger in the mud.  Fab fun.

I did quite a bit of artwork but as usual one image tends to work its way into my head and my designs more than the others.  This is the one.  I loved the chalky greens with the bark showing through and the bright mosses on top.

I ordered some gorgeous yarns from Rennies in Scotland.  Cheviot.  But then had big concerns about how fine they were.  In my last project, I vowed never to do any fine work again.  Ah well. 

Sampling went pretty well.  I wanted to explore the idea of Estate Tweeds -they take the colours from the landscape for camoflaging the estate workers in scotland.  One traditional weave structure for this (amongst many checks) is herringbone.  I thought the diagonal lines in this reminded me of the fronds of moss.    The best samples were the ones that I felted in the machine.  I have used boucle and linens in some.  I am pretty pleased so far.  The samples are hard to photograph – the colours are a bit muted but they look ok in real life.

I plan to make bags, with some leather in.  I have found the right brown leather and some perfect lining.  I have warped up my table loom for as wide as it will weave and am about to weave my first batch of material. Really exciting. Then comes the stressful bit – the sewing of the leather.  But I am on target time-wise.  I decided against using the floor loom this time. I haven’t got time to sort out problems with it at the moment.  So all in all, things are going pretty well – 8 weeks to final show!

Thanks Margreet for prompting me to do a post.  I get so behind with reporting where I am up to, that it seems to hard to start.  But…..(jumping about 6 months work)…. here goes.

I finished my project on Morecambe Bay.  I produced a linen cushion with rippling effect.  I used some felting wool at intervals in the weft and when washed at 40 degrees in the washer, it gathered up nicely.  The only problem was, that because it gathers, it meant that I had to weave a very wide piece of fabric.  I had to use my floor loom which was new and wasn’t set up perfectly.  I didn’t have time to sort it so I just ploughed on with it.  I was really happy with the end result

It will always remind me of the coast where I grew up and it’s great to have a souvenir of the Bradford Course

I grew up near a tidal river estuary in Lancashire.  I spent lots of time walking there.  When I was about 8, we went on a school trip to Sunderland Point – a little hamlet- the road to which is often cut off by the high tides.  I remember learning the name of wading birds.  Ever since I have been really attracted to the openness of estuaries.  I love the long horizontal lines that make the view, the merging of colours in the distance and the feeling of wanting to walk forever across the mud.

After the caterpillar project, I wanted something  I really could connect with.  There is also a fab campsite just next to the coast where we went for a lovely weekend away in September.  Thus the scene is set for my next project.

 

 

This was in October.  It seems so long ago, I will only briefly mention it.  My tutor supported my decision to drop the PVC idea and the caterpillar inspiration (Inspiration is a bit of a strong word for it).  She made some noises about how, if I’d cut the strips narrower, it might have worked.  But we both acknowledged that the limiting colour from paddling pools was driving the project.  This isn’t the way we have been taught to work.  The inspiration is supposed to drive the project and determine the choice of materials.  Not let the materials drive the project.    Is this the way all designers work ??  I am reading the book about Ann Sutton (Sheehan and Tebby)

and her inspirational use of materials seems largely to drive her projects. This is a photo of her famous Love Seat – made by stuffing woollen tubes (made on a sock machine).  Surely this was a material-driven project ??

  A different way of working…. I need to think about this some more.  How does anyone else work ?  I’d be interested in hearing any views.

I presented my 3 samples that I had worked on using my Estuary theme, and got some very helpful advice (and time to try out) ideas on how to achieve texture in samples without resorting to novelty yarn.  Not that there is anything wrong with novelty yarn, but distorted weaving seems to have more energy.  More on my estuary work in next post.

The last caterpillar post was quite delayed due to camera problems.  Since then I had been away for lots of weekends – non-weaving mainly but always on the look out for weaving inspiration!  Coursework demands, young kids… I feel as if I have a few too many balls in the air!

 I will try to update you on my next constantly evolving project soon.  How do designers design with something in mind.  My samples don’t look like I intend.  Is it called experience ?

I used garden wire as a warp – the green stuff, plastic coated.  It was quick to warp on  6 epi.  I wove in double weave to make a tube and used lots of different strips of plastic.  Green, transparent green, white, yellow.  It sort of matched some of my art work.  Of course it was flat and looked more like a squashed caterpillar but it would TRANSFORM magically once released from the loom (aka chryslis).

Well………  3 hours of work later…. it did not look at all caterpillar like.  I can hardly bear to post a photo of it.  Should I ? 

Even my husband was lost for words (and that doesn’t often happen).  I don’t think I have ever woven anything un inspiring before.

I didn’t give up. A lot of time and energy had gone into getting the PVC, I couldn’t just give up on it.  I tried warping up on my 8 shaft table loom.  I used polypropolene garden string as warp.  It comes in lots of different colPVC Weavingours and isn’t slipperly, knots well.  I chose yellow and blue and warped it in stripes. 

It wasn’t as bad a disaster.  It was colourful.  It was PVC.  It looked a bit like plastic deck chair covers.  I persevered for a while.  Honeycomb weave didn’t work particularly well – I think I would need more shafts to make it look 3D with PVC.  Basket weave looked OK. 

I looked at it critically.  Did I want to spend 4 more months trying to make something look OK, when it was only looking fairly mediocre at the moment (with rose-tinted glasses on).?  Did I want to be a PVC Recycling Hero ?  No.  Why not do something that straight away looks quite good and with some more work and inspiration could look fab.  Well, I tried…….. Do I get environmental brownie points for trying ?

But not to worry….. I have inspiration for a new project……..

The most interesting caterpillars move.  The ones that don’t move look a bit like slugs.  I took my daughter for a drawing trip to Sheffield’s Butterfly House.   They were very helpful and provided a box full of caterpillars to draw.  They weren’t very colourful but one of them caught my eye – black and spikey with bright green bits.  As they are small creatures, and I am not a super-dooper photographer, I couldn’t get a decent photo but the drawing went alright. 

Later this developed into my caterpillar period of artIMG_2903IMG_2905.  I got a bit caterpillar-obsessed.  Potato prints, collage,  lino cut ….they all crawled off my sketchIMG_2907book. 

 

 

 

After a  while,  I explored other species of caterpillar.  The black spikes of my first caterpillar were too dominant.  (I also had a lot of blue toddler paddling pool, as you would imagine ).  I found a caterpillar to match.  I think this would be called a Materials-led project.IMG_2910

Right then,  the next logical step is to take all the art work over to the loom and see whether I can create anything caterpillary out of recycled PVC.

Next installment….  (you already know the ending, don’t you)…….