Monday, 10 October 2011

Breakdown Screenprinting Course

This weekend I attended a Breakdown Screenprinting course at the MAC, led by Emma Jackson. It was a fabulous weekend. We started by building up print paste and dye on the back (face down when printing) surface of the screen, and then pressing various textured objects into it to make impressions in the paste.




Another way of working was to draw onto the screens with print paste using bottles with thin nozzles, with the drawn lines transferring to the finished prints.

The screens were left to dry overnight, and the next morning we came back to them, and picked out all the embedded objects.

Stars screen


Then the big fun began. We laid the screens down onto the (pre-treated) fabric, applied either clear or coloured print paste, and pushed the squeegee down across the screen. Initially heavy areas of dried pastes were acting as a resist, so applied colours only came through the thinner areas. As the paste got wetter and broke down, more and more transferred onto the fabric, meaning that each screen placement resulted in a different print. While the process was hard to tame, it wasn't entirely unpredictable, and produced beautiful results.

Heather's button print

Sadly, someone accidentally picked up two of my three finished pieces of fabric so I can't share them with you at the moment, but the MAC are trying to get them back for me.

Monday, 9 May 2011

From Print To Stitch

I'm now a fully paid up member of Birmingham Embroiderers' Guild, and had a marvellous evening at the members workshop, where we were printing with collograph printing blocks of leaves.

We applied the leaves to stiff board with double sided tape, and then inked them with rollers, applying the print firstly to paper:

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Print to Stitch (1)

My paper print was a bit light, so I inked it a bit more, then printed onto a batik fabric:

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Print to Stitch (3)

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Print to Stitch (4)

If anything, this was probably a bit dark - I think I pressed a bit hard with the brayer.

Here is the collograph print block, apparently they keep rather well & can be reused:

Birmingham Embroiderers Guild May 2011 Print to Stitch (2)

I'm certainly going to experiment more with this technique. It was an easy way to get some lovely prints. For now, I'm going to stitch into my print, to add definition and texture.

If you like the look of the Guild, then pop along to their blog (which I also run!) to find out more about how to join.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A Pair of Seahorses

I recently joined the Embroidery Hoopla Swap (Round 4, diptyches) over on Craftster, and was paired with Kanawinkie, who said she loved seahorses. I decided to stitch her a pair of seahorses, with the pair being opposites, so one would be warm colours, and one cool, and one would have a heavily worked background and plain seahorse, and the other a plain background and embroidered seahorse, and with the outlines reversed, so they could be facing toward/away from each other

Here's what I stitched up:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (1)

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (10)

The embroidered seahorse has a watercolour pencil tinted body, and wide bands of raised stem stitch* for his belly:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (3)

Most of the rest of the seahorse is variants of back, running and satin stitch, in a range of DMC embroidery cottons. The background is a simple running stitch design in DMC perle, to mimic the sea on the blue hoop.

While I enjoyed stitching the seahorse, I loved sewing the sea hoop - I really enjoy heavily textured pieces, and including beads and a range of stitches in my work:

The middle ground is many many rows of running stitch in a range of colours, graduating from light, to dark to medium, broken up with little triangles of colour breaking into the next rows. Stitching this area was really meditative.

I filled the bottom third of the hoop with lots of very dense stitching, both patches of broadly circular stitches, and long linear rows. I took lots of pictures of these areas, so click through to flickr if you want to see the full size images!

The bottom left, lines of wheatear stitch, with seed beads tucked in, and two widths of gorgeous shiny rayon tape woven through, and a few colonial knots** for good measure:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (8)

This is the second clustered area I did, and it has quite a few wheels (both whipped and woven spiders webs & buttonhole), as well as clusters of colonial knots, castons, the wonderful bullion knots (the squiggly coils round the left hand part of the area), a button applied with needleweaving, and more beads for good measure!

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (4)

I also discovered Fly Stitch, and how lovely it looks in long rows overlaid, with some rows having beaded tails. The blue feathery line across the middle is something I invented when trying to do something else, it was the first bit of the bottom area I did, and I've forgotten what on earth I did now, apart from that I whipped the middle:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (7)

This is the first clustered area, which gave me the confidence to really go nuts with the second. Lots of different threads here - DMC cottons, DMC perle and some great threads from a texture pack I bought:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (6)

The far right of the hoop has long lines of chain stitch in two different shades of variegated perle cotton. I wanted them to visually mirror the tall reed like lines on the other side of the hoop. There's also a big shell like ring shaped bead, secured then incorporated with needlewoven bars:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (5)

And here is the seahorse, outlined with a dark blue backstitch, and with a line of chain stitch in perle in warm shades to contrast with the coolness of the hoop overall. There are also little bits of orange beads and knots tucked into other areas, to add interest:

Craftster Hoopla Swap R4 To Kanawinkie (9)

All in all, I'm really rather proud of it, and Kanawinkie likes it, so all is good!

* I can't find a particularly good description for Raised Stem Stitch. It's actually really easy once you get going, and looks lovely
** I can't do French knots!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Hoopla kit packed

My hoopla swap stuff is all packed up, ready to sew during lunch times at work this week.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


I spent yesterday evening working in my sketchbook. The current module is about adding interest to pages through cutting and adding extra paper.
The page standing at the back is a practice piece for the ivy page, with leaf outlines cut and folded out from it. I applied pastel to the sketchbook page off the inside of a stencil, this is the one which is going to have the leaves cut and folded from it.
Tonight I'm going to do the cutting, and work on the page below which will be revealed through the cuts.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Beautiful Tulips

Yesterday, Simon surprised me by popping up for the day, instead of sleeping. We had a wonderful day, ate lots of lovely chocolate, and he brought me these beautiful purple tulips. I don't own a vase, but they look great in this purple vase on my dresser.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pretty vegetables

I was making one of my favorite suppers the other night (scrambled eggs with lots of veggies in), when I noticed all the pepper slices stacking up on the knife in a pretty little row. Lovely.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Swap Partner Stalking Assistance

I'm getting back into swapping on Craftster, and have signed up for the Embroidery Hoopla Round 4 Swap on Craftster. With that in mind, I thought I'd make this helpful post for future partners.

So, if we've been partnered in a swap - hello! Here is a bit about me:

Things I love:
Spending time with friends, geeky board games, cooking, reading recipe books, baking glorious cakes, exploring, popping to the farmers market to pick up tasty bread, cheese and veggies, reading (especially young adult fantasy & sci fi, apparently!) and my favourite authors are Roald Dahl and Jeanette Winterson. I also enjoy taking photos, especially macro and texture shots.

Crafts I do:
I'm a bit of a Jill of all trades - I dabble in knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, spinning, embroidery, cross stitch & crewel, machine embroidery. I enjoy zentangling to unwind. At the moment I am getting over my fear of drawing, and working towards a City & Guilds qualification, which I am really loving. I want to do more papercrafts - altered books, ATCs, etc. I also want to develop my machine embroidery skills.

Music & Movies:
I enjoy a lot of (British) folk mysic, my favourite group are Oysterband, but I also like Billy Bragg, Eliza Carthy, Kate Rusby, Mumford and Sons, Stornoway, Noah & The Whale, Chris Wood. I love how folk music tells tales that are beautiful and moving, and still relevant to life today. I also like bouncy pop of all varieties, bits of country, and lots of other things. For a better idea of my musical taste, here's My Spotify Profile (needs Spotify to view it).
My favourite films are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge, Amelie, Stranger Than Fiction, Juno. I love Pixar movies, and am hard pressed to pick a favourite amongst them, but if I had to, I think it would probably be WALL-E or Up, and the Boundin' short.

How I like things:
Bold, confident, bright, burlesquey, striped or polkadotted, natural, oceanic, jewel toned, soft, comforting, Gorey-esque, playful, elegant, symmetrical/patterned, odd, kooky, well made, thoughtful.

I collect:
Driftwood, shells, rabbits, hand carved wooden spoons, 1980s Ravensberger childrens board games, keys, leaves, conkers and other natural things, BPAL perfumes (foody, spicy, woody, not floral scents), art & craft supplies, buttons. I also have a set of the 5 Nat West Piggy Banks from my childhood which I love.

I'd rather not:
Pastels, cutesy, gas masks & post apocalyptic themes, gore & horror, excessive swearing!

I'm really looking forward to swapping with you :)

(With thanks to Knickertwists for the inspiration & headings.)