Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Photo Inspiration in the long dark days of winter

It’s Christmas week and to be perfectly honest, I’m ready for a lovely family break (only need to find the lovely family now!).  The kids are seriously over excited about Christmas and I’m just enjoying their enthusiasm.  Their sole disappointment is the lack of snow.  All the songs and photos of crisp white Christmases look so beautiful and they want to go sledging.  Instead, here in Scotland, it has been non-stop rain for what feels like weeks. It’s very grey and damp.

So to cheer me up, and as I haven’t got much work to show you this week, as wrapped presents and homemade fudge doesn’t really count – here are some hopefully inspiring photos of our gorgeous world, chosen totally at random, but all taken on days that were not, to use the Scottish expression, dreich!

A Merry Christmas to those of you who are celebrating it and a wonderful 2016 to you all.  See you in the New Year!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Pauline Burbidge Exhibition at The Bowes Museum

Honesty Skyline by Pauline Burbidge
As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost, I had a lovely weekend in the north of England at the end of November.  The highlight (in art terms at least!) was visiting the Pauline Burbidge exhibition at The Bowes Museum on its opening day.
Detail of Horizons of Puglia by Pauline Burbidge
I don’t think I have ever been to an exhibition where the visitors all spent so long looking at the artwork.  Apparently, the normal time a museum visitor spends looking an artwork can be measured in seconds.  All of the visitors I saw spent several minutes carefully absorbing each artwork on show.
Samples of Pauline Burbidge's mark-making on fabric
This exhibition is of Pauline’s most recent work.  Having moved to working in simple monotone, she now is adding a striking band of colour to her work through the use of cyanotype printing.  Her subject matter continues to be that of the nature which surrounds her.  She doesn’t make work of a recognisable place, more to give you a sense of place.  I felt as if I was out in a field, totally surrounded by tall grasses; the wild countryside and high at the top of my vision was a brilliant blue sky.  This was pleasurable viewing, especially given how awful the reality of the weather was outside – I had no desire to spend time in the real landscape that day – Pauline’s created one was much more congenial!
Samples of Pauline Burbidge's cyanotypes
To make the visit more encompassing for the viewer, there were two videos: one of Pauline’s awesome inspirational photos; the other of her at work in her studio.  The visit was also accompanied by specially composed, haunting music.  There were  her tools, sketchbooks and samples on view – all the things makers want to know about her working processes.
A selection of Pauline Burbidge's tools and equipment
It was my first visit to The Bowes Museum and all of us (R and the kids included) really enjoyed it.  There was a great kids trail and activities for them to do and we all wished we had had the time to sample the cafe. 
Starscape by Pauline Burbidge, with added reflections!
Pauline’s exhibition was in the Fashion and Textile Gallery, which was worth a visit in itself.  Tantalisingly, to accompany her exhibition, there is a display of quilts in the Glass Cube.  They were all overlapped, so you couldn’t see them properly, but apparently if you go as part of a group, you can arrange to gain better access.
Honesty and Fern by Pauline Burbidge
I’ve written articles about the exhibition for Popular Patchwork and The Quilter, with proper, high quality press images.  So you will need to read them if you want to see those photos and to read about my thoughts on the exhibition in depth.  These are just some snaps I took on the day.
The antique quilts on display at The Bowes Museum

The exhibition is on at The Bowes Museum until April, when it transfers to the Ruthin Craft Centre.

I would really recommend a visit.  If you are unable to go, there is a lovely catalogue which accompanies the exhibition, which is available directly from the museum shop website for £9.99.  If Santa is being generous, some of Pauline's quilts are also for sale there!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Things to do with Gelli Plate Prints - 1 Sketchbook Covers

Since I started using a gelli plate a little over a year ago, I have created an awful lot of prints.  It is a rather addictive method of printing as each time I think of some small variation I can make which might make another interesting print.
So I have a lot of prints on paper and fabric.  What to do with them all?  I have turned some into pictures, mounted ready to be framed, some of which are at the Green Gallery at the moment in its Christmas Show.  But that still leaves a lot of prints.  Over a number of blog posts, I’m going to share with you some of the other things I’ve made from the prints, starting with turning them into sketchbook covers.
I love books of all descriptions and sketchbooks are fabulous due to their potential before they are drawn in and due to containing so many possibilities after they have been filled.    Having a pretty cover on the outside is nice, but often when you buy one with a printed cover, the quality of the paper inside is less good.  So I’ve bought some blank books, ones with good paper and covered them with a print on fabric to make the front cover more interesting.  I took them along to the Primary School Christmas Fayre at the weekend and they generated a lot of interest.
Sketchbook in the photos below
How to:
1.   Measure the size of the cover (I used mainly A5 landscape books),  and cut a piece of medium weight iron-on Vilene and wadding about a 1/4in bigger than you want, if you are going to stitch heavily as it will pull the fabric in.
2.   Iron the Vilene onto the back of the wadding and place your fabric gelli plate print on top, making sure it is at least an inch bigger all around.  Pin in place.
From the back after stitching
3.   Stitch as you want.  I filled in parts of the pattern and created raised areas by stitching heavily around them to flatten the surrounding parts.
4.   Press flat, then wrap the left hand edge round to the back.  Press in place for a nice, sharp crease.
The left hand flap folded over to the back
5.   Glue the flap in place.  I use decent PVA glue.
6.   Spread PVA around the edge of the Vilene and the flap, centre on the sketchbook cover and press firmly in place. 
7.   Open the cover and glue the corners of the fabric over to the inside first, then all the way round, pulling tight as you go.
Fabric glued down over to the back of the cover
8.   Cover with wax paper (it won’t stick to the glue) and then weight down with books whilst it dries.
9.   Either glue the first page of the sketchbook over to the inside of the cover or use a paper gelli plate print to hide the edges of the fabric and to give a neater finish.  Cover with the wax paper and weight it down again whilst the glue dries.

Simple really, but rather effective.  Have you come up with other ways to use gelli plate prints?

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