Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December TIF finished

Here's the sketch and the machine embroidery. I like the lines of stitching on this so much, I don't want to add to it so I'm doing another one where I will fill in the shape with gold passing thread, and machine embroider the background as in the sketch. I may then bead it and count it as my December Bead Journal Page - we'll see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cards done

I crocheted this little woolly hat while watching the news the other day, but had a bit of a break from making things. It's that time of year - just mailed the last package out to loved ones for Christmas, along with all the cards and the newsletter. It seems to take longer each year, for a shorter letter!
Then I bought this magazine as a Christmas present for myself: it features the exhibition of Picasso & the Masters being held this year in 3 of the big museums in Paris. Although reading the magazine is not as satisfying as going to the galleries, I'm really enjoying it, and it's improving my French at the same time, adding technical art words to my vocabulary.

Which brings me to this sketch, my interpretation of the December Take-It-Further Challenge which is about generosity, or what giving means to me, using red, green and gold Christmas colours. My first reaction was to think of Mother Nature's genorosity and the biggest gift of all which I think is life itself. Having just reread Jean M Auel's The Plains of Passage, I thought of those little statues she describes of the Doni or Earth Mother, where the legs are just pegs and the head does not have a face, just spirals or decoration of that sort. I'll probably rework the sketch to make the belly more pronounced to stress the mother message. So I think I'll make that up using fabrics from my stash and free machine embroidery.
A big Thank You to Sharon for running the Take It Further Challenge this year. I won't be taking part next year but will continue to follow others' experiments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November BJP page finished

Here are pix of my November page, using a photo of the vineyards I took the other day. One shows the fabric collage I made as a background, the other with beads sprinkled on top.

Here's a pic of the finished piece - it's a bit lumpy because I just folded back the edges, leaving them like that for now until all the pieces for the year are finished when I can decide how to mount or frame them or make them into something. I'm surprised at how fast I did it - finished in just one day!

I may do another piece based on the sun shining through this clump of foilage.

November TIF finished

Here's the finished piece and pix showing progress. I used my initials, MJB, as the basis for the design, using goldwork couching technique to do the first two gold designs, then decided to repeat them larger in a fan shape on top but just couching in the negative space, and the final piece reminds me of a maple leaf, not a bad design considering I'm originally from Canada.

I think it may be a little bag when it grows up. I've since added a couple of beads but will post that pic later.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


As usual, I've been working on both the November TIF and doing head designs for the November BJP. A head design is where you know what you're going to do in your head but you just haven't had time to get it out there in the real world.

The November TIF was "to use typography as inspiration for a piece". OK I'm a bit of a snob because I thought, "soooo design school exercise," and "been there, done that" when I used to do graphics and typesetting three decades ago. But no - try to get inspired and do something new. Here are a couple of bad pix of my "signature" on some old pieces I have around the house - my initials - MJB - mostly in fly stitch.

So I decided to use my initials as the lettering and to execute the design in goldwork. Here is a pic of progress - I've since ripped out the first motif and re-did it with sharper corners and much neater. I'll be adding some beads and I also want to explore the design with "voided" shapes, where you stitch the negative spaces around the shapes ... if I have time.

Here's a field we drive by regularly that I want to use for the November BJP, where the vintner has planted all different varieties of vines that turn different colours in the fall. These pix don't really do it justice, but it's my inspiration. I had to laugh as I was walking back to the car, passing a man with a serious camera heading to the spot I'd just vacated to take his photos.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Loading up the new workbox

Just finished the new workbox this morning and decided to transfer my sewing implements from the old one. The pic shows both - you can see how the old one was disintegrating.

My sister sent me this little case of implements that she never used, which came from my gran - it's mostly crochet hooks, with a couple of bodkins, but it felt really nice to mix her implements in with my own, and now the box feels finished. I'm going to wash and press gran's hook holder and keep the really fine hooks in it, then try to look up on the internet what those curved needles are used for - they look like knitting needles bent into a j-shape.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October Progress

Bead Journal Project (BJP)

Here are some pix showing my BJP piece for October finished, and some in-progress. I wanted the grapes to be the star of the piece which is why they appear more in relief. I did some free machine embroidery in the background to represent the leaves and the land, but first I laid the beads on top to get an idea of how they would be positioned.

I may come back to it at the end of the year and add more embroidered organza leaves on top. Or not - I find that letting a piece rest out of sight improves my vision of it and lets me analyse it with fresh eyes.

Take It Further (TIF) Challenge

And here are some pix showing progress of the sewing box I'm making for the October TIF Challenge. These pix show construction of the box itself, from the inside and the outside. And yes, those are florist's glass blobs trapped under the organza and net on the bottom, making little "feet" for the box. I still have to take some stitches into the gussets so it doesn't open entirely flat as shown. Having decided not to use any glue at all, I've made holes in my fingers stitching the pieces together but I think it's worth it.

Here are some pix where I'm deciding which piece of embroidery to use for the inside of the lid. I still have to figure out how to piece it together, but that's always a challenge I enjoy. Well, must dash - there's still a lot of stitching to do before month-end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Too busy to blog

Sorry for the absence - I've been busy, though...

Bead Journal Project(BJP)

I started the month by doing some thinking and sketching for the BJP, having decided that the theme was to be "vendange" or grape-picking as it's that time of year here.

In the village newsletter, the local association had organised a morning to show how to collect the grapes, a picnic lunch, then a demonstration of how the grapes are pressed to produce juice and eventually wine. When I called up to inscribe, I was embarassed to learn it was meant for kids only - o well. Still, I got out and took some photos and did some sketching using watercolour pencils and a study using acrylics.

We were very lucky that our neighbour offered that we could pick some of his "lucques" olives from his trees, and they are now curing in a couple of buckets in the back kitchen. I also thought of doing a piece based on the olive trees, but I think I've convinced myself that it's to be the grapes. However, I put aside BJP work because I finally decided about the ...

October TIF

This month's theme is our artist's workspaces. My studio is the guest bedroom, so I have to concede space for the pull-out bed, upon which I pile things.

But thinking about it, I only work in here on the computer or the sewing machine. For hand work and painting, I use the dining room table.

This made me think that the studio is really a storage space, which led me to decide that I want to make up one of these sewing boxes that were all the rage about 10 years ago. In the pix, you can see my old one which is falling apart as it was only ever glued together, along with the pieces for the one I am making, and this long piece of fabric from which I am cutting the sides.

One pic shows the background fabric with the snippets of threads and the other shows it with the organza top and stitched down. The inside of the box will be a dark turquoise silk dupion.

I also had a birthday in there and a couple of unproductive days due to depression as a result, but I'm over that now.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September TIF finished maybe

This pic shows the curtain wall just finished.

This pic shows an experiment with a bit of crochet sewed on to represent the cobbles.

This pic shows the cobbles unpicked along with some of the blue shadow, and this is how I'm leaving the piece for now. As usual, I was wildly enthusiastic about it while I was working on it, but now that it's finished it reminds me of a cheap souvenir cushion cover - probably the satin backing making me think this. It's pinned up on the studio wall for now. I'm looking forward to the October challenge, and am starting to think what I want to do for my October BJP page as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's update & Thanks

Here's a pic of today's progress, and I'd like to say a big Thank You to all of you who have left comments on my blog over the year. I try to respond by going to your blog and leaving a comment or sending an email, but I don't always succeed. I'd just like to let you know that your comments light up my day and make me feel great - like a little kid with a wonderful new toy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Picky Picky

More pix showing progress on the September TIF, a view of the medieval City of Carcassonne.

It may not be apparent in these pix, but I'v unpicked as much as I've sewn to get the balance of colours and textures about right. I hate unpicking, but I've actually done it a lot in this piece and I'm pleased with the result so far.

Here is where I'm at today. I think it may go faster now, as it's the curtain wall and the building in back of the lists that are left to finish. Then there is the vegetation up the hill and the cobbles along the front of the Aude Gate. I think some French knots for the former and oyster stitch for the latter, but we'll see...

Here is a pic from going to the market on Saturday - it's mushroom season, and these orange girolles looked lovely.

Walking back a different route through the Bastide St Louis, I took loads of pix of this architecture, but couldn't seem to get the whole facade in one pic because of the narrow street and losing patience.