Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Threads of Feeling

In 2010 The Foundling Hospital Museum in Bloomsbury, London put on an exhibition called "Threads of Feeling - 18th Century Textile Tokens left with Abandoned Babies". You can see more about it HERE on a slide show.

When babies were left at the foundling hospital the only things identifying them were tiny scraps of fabric. Although the babies were given new names and were not told of their previous history, mothers were encouraged to leave a token with the baby so that, should they ever be able to return to claim their children, they would have something that would identify them. 

The Foundling Hospital Museum is a moving place to visit - the thought that, out of all the abandoned babies only a few were ever reclaimed, is heart rending. Also, almost two thirds of babies taken in died - not through neglect but because the infant mortality rate in London was so high. 

I have woven a copy of a piece of cloth that was pinned to a baby boy who was left at the Foundling Hospital. He would have been under 2 months old (the hospital was so overwhelmed with babies that it could only take 20 children a month - under the age of 2 months) and, if he had survived, he would have been sent off to a wet nurse in the country straight away.  At age five he would have returned to the hospital to be educated and then apprenticed at 10. (Sadly, he died soon after he was taken in).

Threads of Feeling woven sample

If you are visiting London please put The Foundling Hospital Museum on your itinerary of places to visit. 

Jo X

Friday, 18 September 2015

Weaving for the Soul Part 3

My second sample

Last week I wove my second tapestry weaving sample.
It didn't go too well.  The problems started as soon as I wove the first few wefts because the warp thread wasn't strong enough and it snapped.  I had to keep tightening the right hand warp and, as I wove, the weft on the right hand side got thinner and thinner.  The weft on the left hand was fine.
Anyway, I couldn't complete the piece because, by the time I reached the top the warp was shrinking too much.  Lesson learned: make sure the warp yarn is strong!

This piece is all about experimenting with different yarns including metallic thread and silk.  The weft from the green section up to the top of the piece is all silk thread, hand dyed by me, left over from embroidery projects. As it is space dyed it gives the tapestry a depth that uniformly dyed yarn doesn't have. Also, silk has a natural lustre to the fibres which I love. 

I need a lot more practice at circles and shapes - hopefully I will be able to get an even weave eventually.  You can follow my weaving journey on Pinterest too.Jo X 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Glass Dishes Workshop

On Saturday 7th November I will be teaching Glass Dishes at The Garth at Skipwith Common, just outside York.  Here is a bit more information about it.

Enjoy a day designing and making a trio of fused glass dishes including trinket dish, curved dish and square dish (13cm square).  Experiment with opal and transparent colour glass, add inclusions such as mica and copper to create sparkle. Stunning results and lots of fun.  No previous experience of glass cutting necessary.  Fees: £80

If you would like to book a place on this one day workshop please click on the link HERE which will take you to Silver and Stone where you can book your place. Any questions about the workshop (or future workshops) please email me HERE

Tealights or trinket dish

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Weaving for the soul part 2

My first finished sample

I have finished my first weaving sample.
I thought I would have a try at weaving circles - they came out bigger than I thought they would. The cream coloured one turned out the best. After the first one (on the left) I realised that I needed to make the sides of the circle longer so that it would keep its shape and not look squashed.  After that I wove a row of soumak before moving onto straight lines.
Below the circles I attempted to weave a blend of beige, cream and brown lines but I made a bit of a pig's ear of it (weaving three colours under electric light wasn't such a good idea) so I tried it again after the circles by using only two colours (rust and cream). Definitely an improvement. My final band has been to practice shapes with a wavy background of a slightly thicker yarn.  

I can't begin to tell you how therapeutic this has been so far - it really takes all my concentration. This has to be good for the soul! 

I've cut the sample from the frame and woven all the ends into the back.  My next sample will be straight lines because I need to practice getting the selvedge even - it's quite lumpy and bumpy. 

Jo X

Monday, 7 September 2015

Glass coaster workshop

Fused Glass Coasters

On Sunday 11th October I will be teaching a one day workshop on creating your own fused glass coasters.  This will be my first workshop at The Garth, a workshop complex on Skipwith Common, near York, i am booked to teach more of them from October.

There are eight places at this workshop - I like to work with small groups of people to ensure that everyone gets enough tuition and encouragement.  Each student will design and make a set of 4 coasters which are then fired off-site in my kiln and returned, along with rubber bumpons on the base of each coaster. This is aimed at beginners and improvers alike - if you have never cut glass before then this is the ideal project on which to learn.  You don't even need to bring along a design - I can supply you with ideas and inspiration.

To book a place please visit Silver and Stone HERE, you can book on-line or email Helen for more details.  The workshop is from 10am to 3pm and refreshments are provided.  However, it is advisable to bring a packed lunch. There is plenty of free parking. 

All materials are provided but you must wear old clothes or bring an apron. Also, make sure your arms and legs are covered (jeans or trousers) and no open toe sandals please.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Weaving for the soul

My first sample

I have taken up tapestry weaving.
Whilst on holiday I visited Woolfest at Cockermouth and re-ignited my love of all things textile. When I studied textie design (many years ago) I did a short course on handweaving at The Handweavers Studio  in Walthamstow and I absolutely loved it. But printmaking dominated my studies and I abandoned constructed textiles in favour of surface decoration.
I am amazed at how much I remember from that short course as I embark on the first of a series of samples I am going to make in order to practice and re-learn the techniques of tapestry weaving.  This first sample shows plain weave, a soumak, blending colours, pick and pick, stripes and curves.  I can already see that the warp is bulking out at the sides (!) because I am not puling the weft firmly around the end warps. (This is because I am trying to avoid pulling the weft too tight and distorting the warp)

I have a very long way to go before I am a confident weaver - I am waiting for the lovely weaver Chrissie Freeth to start teaching so that I can become an improver rather than a beginner - but it is such a therapeutic activity.  I shall be keeping a weaving diary here on my blog so that I can chart my progress. 

Jo X

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hoorah for Small for All!

Box of smalls

Last month I decided to collect undies for the charity Small for All. Between us my daughter and I managed to gather four bras but then I put out an appeal on Facebook and the response has been overwhelming.Here is the box packed full of new and barely used undies, all collected by lovely creative Yorkshire people including brand new packs of knickers. Most people brought their contributions to my stand at Art in the Pen, the rest dropped them off at the shop where I work in Saltaire. 

Smalls donation box

The satisfaction of collecting for Smalls for All is that I don't have to ask anyone for money or sponsorship and the donations go directly to the recipients. Here's what the charity has to say about it.

"Because many women and children in Africa can't afford underwear, they fall victim to disease and attack. And girls who are lucky enough to have a place in school often miss 3 or 4 days a month due their lack of underwear. Smalls for All donates underwear in many ways - through links with established charities; through hospitals that treat women with conditions like fistula; through IDP camps and children's homes and orphanages"

If you missed the collection and you would like to donate to Small for All please visit their website. If you don't have any smalls to spare they accept financial donations too.