Thursday, February 27, 2020

Recalling the 1920's

In my doll makers group , Gumnut Dollies Newcastle, this year our theme is "The Twenties".  So, on the weekend, I consciously had images of the 1920's firmly in my mind when I did a sculpting class with West Australian artist, Linda Misa. 
Not really looking like anything 1920's until the paint goes on.... the next day. 

And below are a few of our tutor's beautiful sculptures .... so much personality. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Playing with Photos

One of the things I like to do when I have a bit of spare time is play with photos I've taken ... today, when I didn't have spare time, I played nevertheless . 

Having printed out black and white copies, I very quickly and roughly applied watercolours to the prints, and further cropped to make some interesting Facebook cover images. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Nest & Wings for a "Spring" Tag Tuesday - 29 Faces continued.

I am really hoping that a bird in a nest and a set of wings with a butterfly might be considered signs of "spring". At Tag Tuesday, the theme is "Spring is in the Air" so I am hoping that these two free motion stitched tags might be acceptable.  The stitching is done on my Bernina 550 machine - straight stitching, free motion - with the feed dogs lowered and a "darning" foot. I usually don't  draw first, but with both of these I did make pencil marks to delineate the positions of the person and the bird in the nest and the placement of the wings( below) 

These two are also in the series of 29 for #29 Faces online challenge to create a face every day in the month of February. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Does Mood Affect Speed ? 29 Faces continued

As most of my blog readers know, I am completing the #29 Faces Challenge - this challenge is to create a face a day for the month of February - any art medium. 
I chose to stitch faces, using free motion machine stitching - basically it means sketching with a sewing machine by moving the material around while the machine stitches. ( different from the computerised machine embroidery where a design is pre-determined and completed automatically) 

This week I have been monitoring the speed  I use my sewing machine as my sketching tool  during the creation of the stitched faces, experimenting and using different ratios of speed - hand:foot - some of the results have been good and others not so fantastic.... my aim is to get better control, so it seems to be a matter of coordination,  too - a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. 

I referred to another stitching blog ... 

Expert advice from Tigley Textiles, UK : 

 You may well be an experienced stitcher, in which case your brain is used to seeing the fabric move quickly the harder you press the foot pedal. With free motion machine embroidery, you have to forget that relationship. My motto is – Fast foot, Slow hands. It seems so strange at first, but after a while you’ll see that you don’t have to move the fabric quickly- but it helps if you keep the revs up. You are aiming for a smooth drawn line of stitching. If you move the fabric too quickly, the stitches  will be too long, equally if you leave your fabric in the same place and continue to stitch, the stitches will build up to create a raised blob of stitches. The success of your stitching totally depends on the synchronisation of the speed at which you move the fabric, with the speed at which you press your foot down. This does take practise, but do persevere. Don’t feel like it’s running away with you, you are in control. Once you have “clicked”, you will always pick up that speed next time you set up the machine, it is just like riding a bike.
Remember that free machine embroidery is supposed to be quirky and whimsical and free looking. If it’s a bit wobbly and jagged, just go over the shape a second time,  make it look like it was meant to be.  Quirky is good and gives your work character. The main thing is that you need to play! Just go for it and see what happens- yes you will make mistakes but that’s the only way to learn isn’t it?

 The comparison of machine speed to the speed and fluidity of the manual handling of the fabric obviously affects the stitching,  but I suspect there may be another factor... mood. I have also  been registering my mood as I work the machine faster or slower and the way I move the fabric around.... One of the days this week  I felt very stressed and I seemed to work a lot faster and ironically, the sewn "sketch" was in fact a lot better, I thought - as per the advice above , " Fast foot, slow hands"!  While the speed ratio is important, I am beginning to think coordination and being in  the right mood or frame of mind seems to be pre-requisites for free motion machine embroidery.  

I wonder if you can tell from the different faces which might have been stitched when I was sad, mad, happy or relaxed?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Dotee Divertissement

Dotee by Wendy Anderson 

What is a "dotee' doll? ...  A dotee is a mini art doll, meant to be traded or swapped. The dolls 6 inches /15 cm tall or smaller, but the hanger or tail can exceed that measurement. They have a face, but do not require arms or legs. Dotees have a loop for hanging, and come with tails (tails are fibres, ribbon, charms or other string-y things that add to the theme of the doll). Dotees can be made from a variety of materials - fabric, felt, paperclay, yarn, beads, gourds or any other material/media that you can make a doll from. Most dotee makers add buttons, beads, sequins, embroidery, or charms to embellish the doll.
Dotee dolls by Wilma Simmons

At the February meeting of Gumnut Dollies Newcastle, the group activity was to revisit these little dolls, which were very popular for doll swaps around the world about 10 years ago. As our theme for 2020 is The Twenties, the little flapper girl face buttons were a good start.... 
Dotee dolls by Connie Allen

Dotee dolls more than often have hand drawn faces, so the beautifully painted face by Wendy Scott was perfect for a dotee . Wendy also got creative with the shape of the doll. 
Dotee Dolls by Wendy Scott 
The other idea was to cover a button with printed faces .
Dotty dotees by Wilma Simmons 

Christmas dotee by Wilma Simmons 
I am going to make more of these and will most likely revisit my own tutorial . All that will be needed to turn these beaded goddesses into dotee is to add a fanciful tail ( as pictured in the pattern image) .
Tutorial : Beaded Goddesses
As you can see these dotee are very simple to make but a warning ... making dotees can be mildly addictive! ... And "divertissement" - a minor entertainment or diversion - seems exactly the right word to describe "dotee"

Thursday, February 6, 2020

29 Faces - Days 3-6 - which machine?

Continuing with my #29 faces series of stitched faces. Day 5 "owl"  was stitched using my Bernina B550  and the others  were stitched with my really old Bernina Nova ( probably manufactured in 1980s or earlier) I am still not sure which I prefer using.... the old machine works really well for free motion stitching because I can change the settings so much more easily as there are no electronics involved. During this month, I will use both - can you tell the difference from looking at the results? 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Black, White and Red - 29 Faces

Black , White and Red - a favourite colour combination! Tag Tuesday has this as its current theme. 
Here is my tag .... a stitched face. I use my sewing machine as my drawing implement.... a technique called free motion stitching or free hand machine embroidery. Of course, nothing is symmetrical or perfect but this is quite easy to do. Just lower or cover the feed dogs on your sewing machine, and move the fabric around manually while stitching and so the sewing machine "draws" a line, free hand.  In the photo, the black line is the stitched line - what I try to do is an unbroken line, so often I go over and over the same line to get to the next  section of stitching.
When I have finished stitching, I cut around the stitching and attach the face to a prepared painted tag with heat applique. Then, I use Inktense pencils to colour  features and/or shade the face.  In "Spots" I have also appliqued the clothing and the head wear.  'Spots" is the first in my current series #29 Faces. The faces are on larger #8 manilla  shipping tags and  are a development from a previous series of art tags , called 'Red Cheeks' 

'Red Cheeks' 1-9 - stitched faces  
The  "Red Cheeks" portraits  are much smaller but were created in exactly the same way. I thought it would be easier to do larger portraits but the first two have proven that this so far isn't the case.   I much prefer working smaller! 
'Red Cheeks" 10-18 - stitched faces

I am currently participating in the February 2020 Art Challenge - 29 Faces , so I created for myself a month of prompts just to keep myself on track each day.... " Spots " is the first of my 29 faces . 
" Fruit" below is the second.... not only black, white and red, but a few other hints of colour, again applied with pencil. 
My goal for #29 Faces is the daily practice of stitching a face each day for February  and improved fluidity of motion and control of my sewing machine during free motion stitching. I am also looking forward  to exploring the potential of using Inktense pencils on cloth.  Hope you will see improvement as you follow posts of my work during the month - please watch this space for more....