Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cloth doodling

Cloth doodling?... Well, I can't think of a better name for it! It's what you do when you just pick up the cloth and thread and without really knowing where it's going, you start something ;)

It's what you do when you forget the iron and your sketchbook!

Calico and two strands of DMC embroidery thread.

A design outline sketched in graphite and then stitched using blanket/buttonhole stitch.

Couldn't resist peeking! Reverse applique using a scrap of hand-dyed, upcycled silk, in a slightly darker tone as the under layer.

For successful reverse applique it's important to do the stitch so that the passing of thread through thread happens on the inside of your design, where you'll be cutting through the top layer of cloth.

Intricate designs are hard to stitch in this fashion. It's diffiuclt to get around all of those complex corners!

This is how it's looking so far.

Reading through missed posts on Jude's blog yesterday, I was introduced to Manya Maratou's blog Mythcolor. If you don't know Manya already, I recommend that you visit her soon! Have a lovely Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tropical Botanical Miami

Back at the farm and only just catching up.

I really like this from Sandra at inanna shamaya.

Waterlillies at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Miami.

The Fairchild gardens have become one of my favorite places on the face of the planet.

I was there last Wednesday. But due to the Thanksgiving Eve traffic, only for 30 minutes before the gardens closed.

And it seemed strange to us that they would close the gardens at what might well be the perfect moment for viewing them. During the cooler hours, with a soft golden sunlight creeping along the pathways...

And the shadows are growing long...

And things get kind of hazy...

And magical!

Do you want to know if everything glittering will turn into the gold...
Heart of Mine by Peter Salett, & clip from one of my favorite (shamlessly romantic!) movies "Keeping the Faith"

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Of Old Roses (and other pretty flowers)

I've been out and about in Escazu this morning. Escazu is my husband's home town. Thesedays, it's the Knightsbridge of the San Jose area. It sure makes for some great window shopping!

This pretty sofa caught my eye. Upholstery that wouldn't last 5 minutes in my house! I love this color combination right now!

A little self-indulgance! A new blouse from Zara, a label which I'm finding often has something for a girl like me *:) It's so hard to find stylish smart/casuals for the nearly 40's! I really like the micro pleat details on the shoulders and the pretty old rose print! Feminine, not girly!

And, today, I had my first ever manicure! Not the prettiest of hands, but they look a whole lot better here than they do when I'm at work!

Simple pleasures! [Did you know the sugar and hand cream trick?]

Right before I left the farm last weekend, I grabbed this stash of cloth, hand-dyed earlier in the year with logwood purple, which, for me at least, produces a pale shade of prune, or of old roses. Pretty pale shades that are calling to me at the moment! Each of the differnet cloths in these images come from upcycled clothing items.

Prune and rose.

Wax resist on silk and linen.

Wax resist on linen.

Detail of wax resist motif on a textured silk.

Detail of wax resist stencil work on linen.

I was really excited at the idea of getting my teeth into this new project during travel time this coming week. Until it dawned on me that all sharp items - such as needles, scissors and quick unpicks - would be rapidly confiscated at customs :( PAH! So it's just going to have to wait!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Learning and moving on

In one of her October posts, entitled The nature of woven cloth, Jude wrote:

"The basic understanding of your materials is crucial in developing the character and individual style of your craft and the satisfaction that comes with that...."

For folks like myself, just beginning to translate into cloth, this is a fine piece of wisdom. Because, not everything works! And that kind of understanding only comes through experience, trial and error, [and in my case, some pretty steep learning curves!]

This morning I finished the embroidered pillow that I've been working on for the past few weeks. Hurrah!

It's far from perfect! But I did my best, learnt alot, and will be moving on shortly. Before I do that though, I'll share a couple of simple little things that I learnt - or was reminded of - along the way with this piece [although not illustrated by the greatest images!]

The importance of trying to make even-lengthed stitches, particulary when filling in geometric patterns.

Blanket stitch twists the thread as you stitch. The finer the thread, [in this case I used a regular black cotton thread to hand piece the central panel to the border] the more it twists. This makes for a lot of knotting when you try to pull the thread through to the back!

White embroidery transfer paper does NOT vanish when made damp, after a while!

Kantha stitching, on some cloths, acts like elastic smocking. Instead of just adding a pleasing surface texture to the cloth, it gathers the cloth and pulls it out of shape. I started to do a running kantha over the borders of this piece, but ended up unpicking all of it because it just warped the cloth too much, even though it was stitched even and loosely.

This is the finished center panel before being pressed. I was reminded that I least like the part of construction! Hence, the appeal of moving into scarf design!

And here is the finished item [momentarily stuffed with some kapok to give me some idea of how it will look when it finally gets a pillow inside it]. Wish I had some fancy piece of furniture to model it on, instead of the cream-colored plastic patio chairs that we have at the farm these days [the nicer wooden chairs are in the house in town].

Kellie, forgive me! ;)

I'm hoping that the next time this piece gets featured here, it will be sitting pretty on the sofa that it was intended for. That should be the week after next, as I have an upcoming business trip to Florida. YIPEE! A brief escape and a few hours of in-flight time to work on whatever I plan to do next!

Hope everyone's having a great weekend :)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The need to move swiftly

One thing I'm still learning about inspiration, is the need to move swiftly when that sense of something stiring breezes through. It's like catching butterflies. You have to hope the inspiration will alight somewhere nearby, and then you need to creep up, and throw your net over quick!

Typically, these days, I'm finding that I don't have the time, or the materials, to translate my ideas into something tangible when the inspiration alights. And before I know it, the idea has metamorphosized, or, I find myself off on the next butterfly chase.

I had been Planning on Pink. I started a pink theme board with my new account at Pinterest, which you can visit here. Now, I feel the idea growing into something new... and I don't know what that is yet! Patience...patience, Catherine!

A silken white moth, with feathery puffs, seated on a cotton scrap, dyed with Lac extract.

Sopa de ropa: The last of the Lac dye and some other recycled fibres simmering on the stove this morning.

And here it is turned out of the pan, looking for all the world like a Summer pudding!

This is more like the intensity of color I was hoping for. Hmmmm, I think Summer pudding is a good name for these shades of deep pink, [yes, the sun has pushed his way through the clouds for a few minutes!] And for those of you who love to cook, a recipe for Summer pudding can be found here on the Barmy Baker.

I'm excited by this small scrap. A silk shirt that Megan and I wax batiked with a stencil we designed earlier in the year, now over dyed with Lac extract to achieve a deeper shade.

A new motif that I'm playing with. I like it's formality. I like the fact that, if I play with it some more, I could probably make the negative space into a formal motif as well.

This almost reminds me of Suzani textiles from Uzbekistan, which I admire very much. You can see a couple of my favorite online examples on the Flickr photstream of Circa by Courtney Pyle, starting here. I also love the colors of this.

Hope you're enjoying your Sundays!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Still here, still at it.

Thanks to all of you well wishers following my previous post:) We are all doing fine here. Just growing tired of the relentless cold and damp, and hoping that Summer starts soon!

It's still raining.
I'm still stitching this...

I've sheared of the excess fabric around the edge of this central panel, ready for the next part of the process.

I'm aiming to have this piece finished by the end of next weekend (although, originally the plan was to try to get it done by the end of last month.)

HA! Lesson #1: Never underestimate the amount of work involved in stitching something like this by hand!

I would carry on working on it tomorrow, but I've just realized that I left my iron at the house in town!

Hope everyone's having a great weekend.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The edge of Tomas

I should have known when I saw this last week, that we're in for some serious rain!

Costa Rica has been on red alert for the past 48 hours, a national state of emergency has been declared...

Towns are flooded, main roads closed, people have been lost or killed in landslides.

There are swamps everywhere! There's no way out of here.

We're on the edge of Tomas, and it ain't much fun!
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