Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Under the weather

I had all intention to write at least once week, but I haven't been feeling all that great in the last few weeks. First a tummy bug and then some problems with my eyes. Anyway I don't want to talk about my ailments and there has been enough talk about the weather lately, especially with my mother-in-law in Guernsey. For having been snowed in on a island that far south is a bit more unusual then snowed in sheep in Cumbria and Scotland. Although I do feel genuine sorry for all those sheep and people affected by this cold and snowy weather.

 A view of the park near our house.

The good news is it will not stay forever like this, because nothing stays the same, as everything is always in the process of change, which brings me to some textile talk.

I am in a small group of textile artists, which comes together once a month, rotating at each others house.
We haven't got a name, although I call it the Wednesday Stitch group. We stitch, chat and network, drink coffee and tea, eat biscuits and cake and set ourselves some challenges every now and then.
One of our current challenges is to make an unfinished piece of work about the weather, which is then passed on to the next person who changes it by adding, taking away, cutting up, reassemble and so on. It will then move on to another member and so on until it comes back to the one who started it. The idea is to become more flexible and 'let go' of what we consider to be our creation. Accept the change, go with the flow and be not so precious about what we think we own.
It's a damn good exercise, even more so if you take it further into your life and apply it to other aspects of your existence......

Anyway for my piece I wanted to create some fabric design which not only evoke the weather but also uses the weather in creating it. So I decided to use the Cyanotype, a photographic print method using the sun. I had a packet of already impregnated fabric, so all I needed was a sunny day, work out a design, lay it on the fabric under a glass plate and leave it outside for the recommended time. Rinse and voila.

I used plastic snowflakes from a cut up Christmas tree decoration ( I use to rummage in stores after Christmas for any possible 'finds'), feathers to present the wind, small wooden shapes of the sun, moon, and stars - think sunny days and clear starry nights, wooden cloud shapes and a raindrop, a carton leaf stencil to indicate autumn and some starry sequins for seeds blowing in the wind.

I had no idea what the next person could do with it and although curious I didn't really care what would happen to this piece of fabric, possibly because I didn't spend much time on it, so I didn't feel a strong connection to it.

But then I passed it on to Gina and this is what she did with it:

The weather (vane) pigeon

I know it is not finished but I absolutely love it and because of my love for the bird as a symbol I felt immediately strongly connected to it - which means, I know, I have to 'let it go' one day.
Gina obviously knew about my interest in the symbol of birds and wanted to honour that. It did however strike me that she told me beforehand what she wanted to do with the fabric as she wanted to be sure that I was OK with it. I experienced a similar  hesitation working on her weather piece, a beautiful winter veil.

For much better pictures look at her blog here.

I didn't want to cut it up, certainly not after reading the comments on her blog. I also didn't want to alter or add to it directly as it felt like I would dishonour her work by doing so. So I took the very safe option of creating a 'new' piece as a background and attached it to the back of her veil.
I used a bit of commercial dyed fabric, which looks like sky, a piece of hand dyed linen and some commercially dyed purple.

It was all a bit boring and not very creative but I didn't know what to add, so I left it for a few days. By then I had bought the Stitch magazine, which had a project article to make this wall hanging with a tree by Sam Packer. I know it is cheating, not drawing my own tree, but why spend more time when someone created a perfect tree template which fitted exactly on my piece of fabric?

As it was (and apparently still is) winter, I left out the leaves and the birds, which had not flown back yet from warmer climates.

But I had seen the first snowdrops, little white bells ringing the message that Spring it on its way. It was just before my birthday when I was out with my daughter, Ilana, for a museum visit, lunch and a spot of retail therapy in Great Missenden. She told me that she remembered that her dad used to tell her when she was very young that when the snowdrops were out it would be mummy's birthday soon. So I thought the snowdrops would present a bit of me and a message of new beginnings for Gina, waiting beneath her Winter's veil.

The single buttonhole stitch in a thick white thread seemed to lend itself well for these little bells.
The temptation was great to keep on adding things to it, but I was mindful that there there are 3 more people who need to put their mark to this work. So here it is:

Now, go and visit Gina's blog, read her side of the story and enjoy some better photographs.


Toffeeapple said...

I love what you both did with each other's pieces of fabric, you both dealt sensitively with it. I wonder what will happen next?

Gina said...

I may or may not have better photographs Catherina but you describe the process far more eloquently than I have. I do realise that I probably should not have asked permission if I'm really embracing this project. But that again is all part of this learning process!

dottycookie said...

Both projects are absolutely lovely. I think you've each improved on the other's beginnings and can't wait to see what the other members of your group do with your pieces!