Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week 12 - Colour Book making

At college this week we learnt how to do a simple book-binding stitch to sew the pages of our book together. We created 3 long stitches, through which we will later thread ribbon to 'bind' the pages together.
The cover of our book is made from mount board cut slightly larger than the pages, covered in crinkled tissue paper and painted in a distressed and gilded finish. I cut out the letters for the word 'colour' from old card in the hope that they would give enough texture under the tissue to show up when it is finished. The whole lot was coated in watered-down PVA before applying the tissue paper.
I experimented on a sample at to whether it mattered what colour the tissue paper was and felt that a darker colour gave a better effect so used purple. The tissue paper was scrunched up into a ball first but it was still difficult to get a nice wrinkled finish. I then coated the whole lot with watered-down PVA again to give it strength.
Now for the fun bit! Using acrylic paints I painted the background with orange, yellow and red streaks. You have to work it into all the wrinkles so it looks really garish at this stage. Next I picked out the lettering in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. The first 3 letters looked good but I was worried that the last 3 looked too obvious. Finally with a very dry brush and hardly any paint I skimmed the tops of the tissue wrinkles with blue and purple paint to bring out the texture and add depth. You can see that I also worked some of the darker colour round the edges for interest.
The last stage was to rub on the gilding cream. You have to do this sparingly as you cannot get it off again if you use too much. I wiped a small amount on a piece of kitchen paper and then stroked it across the 'tops' till I was happy with the effect. Then using my fingers I applied more to the lettering to tone them in further.

Of course I had to do the same for the back cover and also fold the tissue paper over the edges and glue, paint and gild them on the inside as a bit will show around the edges.

I am pleased with the final result - it is amazing what you can do with tissue paper, glue and paint!

I have also been working on the inside pages - see a few below. Overall this has inspired me less than the zig-zag line book shown on the blog in week 10. I think this is because the pages are so small (about the size of a normal paper-back book).

At the end of the class we all made a 'Beady Bod'. This is a fun thing that our tutor sometimes does at shows etc. It has a brooch back and is only about 9cm high, including the legs. This is mine, although it is not really my sort of thing I will pin him on my bag with all the other 'makes'.
At we were leaving our class we noticed that the floristry students in the classroom next door had been busy doing beautiful Christmas displays like this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 11 - Brusho pages and Water-Soluable Lace

Wet pages
At college this week we started by making a book in which to eventually display our colour design work. Using lining paper from the DIY shop we ripped strips off the height of our pages. These were then folded in half, ripped and then folded in half again. This makes what is called a 'signature' in the book-binding world (i.e 4 pages/8 sides).
Dry pages

We then mixed up 4 colours of Brusho (powdered pigment ink) and painted both sides of the pieces and left them in a stack, overlapping at angles to let them dry.

This results in random blotches and mottles as the paint and water seep through the stack. Next week we will learn how to stitch the pages together to make the book.
Then we moved on to create a piece of 'lace' using water-soluable fabric. This stuff comes in a number of forms but we were using something called 'Romeo', which looks like thick cling-film. We snipped bits of fabric and thread onto a piece of the film and then pinned another piece on top, ensuring that there were still some gaps.

Using the free-motion embroidery technique we stitched all the way around the edge and then across the centres to secure the fabric snips in their plastic envelope.

Next we had to stitch across the whole surface in a steady motion, making sure that we overlapped with the previous row of stitches. I chose to go in a circular loopy pattern. You have to hold up your piece to check that it is the same density of stitching all over and that all areas are interlinked else it will fall apart when you dissolve the film away.

A quick rinse in hot water dissolves the film and you are left with a limp looking coloured spider's web! It is re-shaped as you spread it out to dry.

I am pleased with mine - no holes that fell apart, although I did have a real problem with my machine again as I broke 4 needles making it.

Although it is very lacy it is amazing how different it is on the front and back. The lace has remained quite stiff too - I don't know if this would disappear if I rinsed it more thoroughly.
Our tutor showed us how to make a contemporary christmas tree out of an old magazine - she had read how to do this in one of the Sunday papers. I really liked it so here is one I made out of a Hotel Chocolat catalogue, as I always seem to have them lying around!

To make it you just fold each page diagonally inwards, and then again and fold the bottom triangle up on each page (see below) . This makes 'half' a tree so you need 2 brochures/magazines to make a full circle. I might dip the edges in glue and glitter to enhance the christmas feeling.

If you want more ideas for beautiful paper decorations to make, I spotted this star in a shop window which reminded me that I made these at my parents' house last year. The instructions are here.

Finally, I went to see the terracotta horses in the local heritage centre. These are just a few of them - there are 468 in total. They were made by visitors to the centre as part of the Arts Festival, so each one is decorated in a different way and they have all been given a name. They commemorate the war horses of  WW1, where people were encouraged to give up their domestic or working horses for the war effort. They were bought to a Remount Centre, one of which was on the outskirts of Romsey, to be fitted out for war. Most of them didn't come home. You can see the free exhibition in the garden at King John's House until Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 10 - Blackwork and Finished Line Book

This is the image chosen for the Brickworks Christmas Card/web message. I had the brainwave of covering the cut-out with greaseproof paper to filter the light and so photographed it with candles behind to give a nice glow.

At college this week we concluded our work on colours by mixing and printing tints (i.e by adding white) and shades (i.e. by adding black) of the primary and secondary colours. We used found objects, such as bottle tops and electrical blocks to do the printing and got quite messy doing this!
Then we went on to create a grey-scale collage out of newsprint, the idea being to choose pieces of different tonal values. I went for a stylised flower bell shape and drew the stems in afterwards.

We then chose an interesting portion of our collage with the intention of stitching it in machine pattern blackwork.

Blackwork is a very old form of embroidery where different patterns, usually fairly geometric, are hand-stitched in black thread on white fabric.
First we tried different stitches out on a sample using a twin-needle in our sewing machines. This required 2 reels of thread, a special double needle and a single bobbin. Unfortunately, although my machine would do straight stitching it just wouldn't do any of the patterns with the twin needle - I just got a loopy mess on the back and then it would jam. I had a go on a college machine and the patterns are wonderful.

Our homework was to create a formal blackwork sampler of different stitches using machine patterns to create different densities of black. I completed mine with a normal single needle, however I still had problems with my machine as it appears to not feed evenly so that some of the patterns don't line up e.g. bottom middle square.

Some interesting patterns did emerge from the unpromising set of patterns that my machine can do. The most surprising ones were the 3rd row middle and bottom row right hand squares.

I edged the squares in bands of black satin stitch - not particularly elegant but solved the problem of how to secure all the loose ends created when you had to keep starting a new row in the pattern. This took ages so I haven't attempted to use the patterns to sew a portion of my collage above.

I have had fun this weekend creating some Christmas cards using paper and machine stitching. It took quite a while to come up with the designs, choose the different papers and then test the techniques with the sewing machine.

This robin features a real twig and the following are variations on a tree design, the last one using some security printing patterns from the inside of envelopes.

Finally, I have finished my Line Book as it has to be handed in tomorrow. In the end I decided to secure it with this striking ribbon.

Here are photos of the whole book in the order in which they appear. I hope my tutor likes it.
Fat and thin lines

Angular lines

Curvilinear lines

Lines evoking a mood


Overlaid lines