Diverse Manners exhibition, Riverfront, Newport

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently – I don’t know what happened to the UK summer but it seemed to shoot by and turn into autumn in the blink of an eye.  I haven’t been doing much art either.  Too much juggling of family needs… and a few weeks ago, our 21 year old cat had to be put to sleep which proved pretty traumatic for the whole family as he had been around for as long as the boys could remember.

But next week, my five Reeds wallhangings are going to be hanging in the Riverfront arts centre here in Newport as part of an exhibition by the Diverse Manners arts group of which I’m a member.   If you happen to be in the area next Friday, you are warmly invited to the Preview Evening which starts at 7pm.

diverse manners exhibition at Riverfront Newport

Reeds 1 is on the background of the flyer!  The exhibition is on until the end of September.

A few book reviews!

At the end of last year, I was asked if I would review a few books published by New Holland Publishers, and, being a complete bookaholic, of course I agreed!  So here is the first one…

This is called The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns.

Felted bag book by Susie Johns

It is hardback, very colourful, and contains instructions for 21 different bags.   There are lots of photos and a detailed section on making felt at the beginning, as well as lots of photos of possible buttons, handles, zips, etc.  The book is split into four sections – making bags from scratch using merino wool tops, knitted felted bags, crocheted felted bags and using recycled felted sweaters etc, reconstructed into bags.   There are lots of different embellishments, including how to make felt beads and cords, and I do like the look of the circular crocheted bag!

I decided to test it out yesterday and have a go at Scarlett.

red felted bag from book

Well, the instructions said a total of 12oz of merino wool tops, so I had to use a mixture of colours … here they are all in a tangle:

tangle of merino wool tops

The ‘recipes’ are very well laid out and numbered step by step, just right for a novice… I got all my stuff together successfully.  There are templates in the back of the book and here I met my first little hitch, when I failed to notice that it said ‘template shown at 70% of actual size’.   I had to guess that, percentages aren’t my strong point! 

Here is the bag halfway through in the process of being felted (complete with fingerprints!).

DSCN2634

All went well apart from getting the sides felted together … for some reason this didn’t happen so I’ll have to stitch them, but no matter… here it is busy drying:

felted bag

Not a very good photo I’m afraid.  Once it dries, I think I’ll trim it a bit but I’m pretty happy with the results, though maybe the instructions for the side felting could be a bit clearer.  It may be my materials, of course, since I was using what I had sitting around.  If you’re new to felting I would advise trying out the basic instructions at the start of the book first.

This is the circular crocheted bag I want to make:

crocheted felted bag from book

Despite the hiccups in my experiment, I think this book is pretty good if you like bags and especially if you are new to felting and want to have a go.    Maybe I’ll try an easier one next time!

The  books I’m reviewing are called Self Sufficiency: Hen Keeping/ by Mike Hatcher (£7.99), The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns (£14.99) and The Artist’s Guide to Perspective by Janet Shearer (£8.99) and New Holland Publishers are offering 20% discount plus free P&P if you buy them through their website – put the code Spiral at checkout (this lasts till 31st March 2011, UK customers only).

Sketchbook update

blue, green and yellow fat stabilo watercolour pencils

* * UPDATED 17/09/2016 with better photos!**

My sketchbook is coming on apace.  I did an intro page for it covering all the types of stuff in it (isn’t ‘stuff’ a useful word?).  No doubt I will add to this in the coming weeks:

sketchbook page with inspirational words

The left hand page below is one of my latest.  I stamped the background with the home made ‘fence’ stamp which I see makes great texture as well, stuck an old railway ticket on it and drew a rather inept set of railway tracks.  They are a bit wonky – I expect that if an actual train tried to travel along them it would derail pretty quickly!

fence sketches
I’m using train tickets even now! (see trainticketart project)

This sketch is based on a photo I took in the tropical biome at the Eden Project.

sketch of palm leaf from Eden Project, Cornwall
This palm frond looked amazing with the sun shining through it!

For these, I’ve stuck some of my screenprinted fabric on and a smaller layer of polyester organza printed with the same screen in yellow acrylic paint.  I like how I’m using this sketchbook to try out possible fabric designs.

I haven't used this particular colour combination on any of my work so far...
I haven’t used this particular colour combination on any of my work so far…

I did this sketch this afternoon – it is based on a photo I took the other day when I went for my monthly reeds walk, showing a curve in the fence by the river and its shadow.

fence and shadow - sketch done for sketchbook project with watercolour pencils

I thought I’d post some pictures of the tools I’m using in my sketchbook.  As well as PVA glue to stick some of the pages together and make them thicker and more able to take paint without bleeding through to the opposite side; and clear gesso too.  I was introduced to these woody Stabilo water soluble pencils when I did the online course run by lk ludwig and I absolutely love them.

a set of fat stabilos

You can see which colours I’m using the most for this sketchbook!

blue, green and yellow fat stabilo watercolour pencils
Love these colours!

I also love these Neocolor II watersoluble crayons and I like the fact that they make so many different shades.  Drawing shadows, I’ve bought several different greys!

a line of neocolor watercolor crayons
Landscape colours!

And here is a pic of my box of pens.  That grey Pitt pen is getting used a lot in the sketchbook!

box of markers, pens, pilot parallel pens, silver pens
pens, pens and more pens!

Sketchbook progress

I’ve made quite a mark on my Sketchbook Project book!  Rather a lot of marks… in fact, disintegrating pages and unintentional upside down sketches and all sorts of stuff!

I started by stamping backgrounds on several pages, to get over the fear of marking the pristine white pages.

background stamping for sketchbook project 

This one is actually a gold gocco print but it will do quite nicely as a background, too.  My theme is lines and grids so there will be plenty of them.

background gocco printing in sketchbook

I also did an image transfer of this inkjet print of a photo of reeds – lots of verticals and a few horizontal…  This will provide some background as well for something on top.  Not sure what yet but time will tell!  This exercise showed me just how thin the paper is – as you can see, the pages are looking a bit distressed already!  I think I’m going to run with this; most of my work is pretty distressed anyway.  Or distressing…  I have painted gesso on a few pages to see how that works out, and I plan to glue a few of the pages together rather than replace them completely with thicker art paper.  Oh well, with one thing and another this will certainly look like a working sketchbook when it’s finished!  I have already exploited the thin pages by making marks with my parallel pens on the reverse side of a sketch, which show nicely through the thin paper.   I’ll try and remember to photograph that one next time.  And I plan to layer some of the pages with polyester organza.

image transfer background

This is one of the sketches I’ve done already.  I’m very into shadows at the moment, particularly over bridges and I like how the shadows from these girders on the footbridge almost form an enclosing tunnel.  They interact with the corrugated metal sides to form grids. 

DSCN9879

This is a postcard sized piece of card which I think I’ll stick into the sketchbook later if I’m happy with it.  I drew crayon lines on to the card before making an image transfer of another photo – this one is of the shadow cast by an iron fence.  Not sure where I’m going with this yet and if it’ll end up in the book or not…

DSCN9878