Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Break - Colour Book

Happy New Year to everyone. Here is a picture that I couldn't put on my last blog as it was a christmas present that I had made but not yet given. It is a silver clay oak leaf pendant. This is made by covering a real leaf in many layers (about 10 in all) of silver clay paste, firing with a blow torch, polishing up to a brushed silver finish and then creating a patina with Liver of Sulphur, which you then polish off so that the black patina just sits in the cracks and dips. I also made a pair of earrings in the same way based on rose leaves but gave them away before I photographed them. Learning point - small items are much harder to get right than larger ones in silver clay.
In between Christmas and New Year we went to see the angel sculptures at Mottisfont House. We all liked the large wooden carved angel best, although the woven wicker one (bottom middle) was intriguing as it had fine wire patterns on its surface that the artist said were tattoos!
As college starts again this week I have been finishing off my colour book. I threaded some ripped silk strips through my signature stitches and then temporarily stuck them in place with double-sided tape before sticking on the covers with copious amounts of PVA glue. Before I did this I also designed my fastening - a cardboard circle held with a brass split pin, around which to wind a cord and tassel that I made from variegated thread (see week 8). The ends of the cord were stuck between the back page and the back cover. I am pleased with how this has all come together, although the middle two signatures are a bit wiggly as I could see they would be, as it is only the silk strips holding them in position. The name plate is made by embossing thick foil from the back with mirror writing and then painting and highlighting with gold as for the cover.

Here are all the inside pages:

I got some more Brusho colours for christmas so this week I have been experimenting with some of them, primarily to see if I could get a suitable effect to make the collage fig in my colour book above.
Top left: left to dry with crumpled cling-film on top; top right: left to dry with dishwasher salt scattered on top; bottom left: wet in wet colours; bottom right: wet paper with paint dropped on then scattered with a few grains of black 
I had another birthday card to make for a friend's daughter last week. This is a white card blank with the handbag shape cut out with a scalpel and backed with a clear sticker. Onto that I stuck the flap cut out of blue pearly card and then drove myself mad with sticking on the tiny beads that make up the rest of the bag. These beads are only the size of poppy seeds so go everywhere. It was finished with a loop of white crystal trim for the handle, a flat crystal for the fastening and a Happy Birthday sticker.
Finally I have made a New Year's resolution to go walking in the Hampshire Wildlife Trust reserve near where I live at least once a week. I took this photo there on Christmas Day and like the contrast of the spiky gorse in the foreground with the long golden grasses, backed by the purple haze of trees. In fact I like it so much I have been inspired by another christmas present I received ('Stitchscapes' by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn) to create an embroidery.
First I painted the background on a piece of calico using Brusho. This is about A5 size and only uses 4 colours (purple, brown, black and green). I found that a fairly dry brush worked best to give subtle strokes.

I then mounted the calico into a window of poly-cotton so that I could put it in an embroidery frame ready to stitch.
This is as far as I have got. The trees were completed in random fly stitch (which creates a stitch like a letter Y) using a variegated thread. I then used a single strand of dark purple sewing thread to add fine details at the ends of the branches in straight stitch and also filled in any gaps in the fly stitch with small straight stitches in the same thread. I put in a tree trunk with dark grey stem stitch (on the left) and intend to put more in when I have decided on which colour to use for the silver birches in the photo above.

For the grass I have been doing an uneven satin stitch with two different shades of ordinary sewing thread in my needle for the first tow rows and three shades for the third row. Compared to the trees, these rows take ages! I am pleased with the effects so far but I think it will be more challenging as I come nearer the foreground and the stitches have to be more random.

I went back to the reserve this week and found that I could walk right under a pylon and take my own version of the pylon photo that so intrigued me in my line-book work, without endangering my life!

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