Thanks for reading
Terry & Hazel
As Hazel mentioned last week, whilst she was in Petra I was at the other extreme in Iceland. And it didn't disappoint. Whilst its climate often has a reputation for being a colder, wetter version of our own, the week we were there started with glorious sunshine, with clear skies perfect for Northern Lights chasing, and ended with snow as Storm Gareth hit the east of the country.
We toured the whole island with an Icelandic guide, which was a great way not only to see the sights but also to hear about the way of life, customs, folklore and of course the sagas. Being on a minibus for long stretches of time even meant that the sketchbook (which always optimistically accompanies me on holidays and rarely sees the light of day) actually got filled, albeit in a somewhat wobbly fashion, which did sort of suit the scenery.
Iceland's location at the junction of two tectonic plates is responsible for the volcanic landscape, with rift-valleys (moving apart 2cm each year),
130 volcanoes, many of them beneath glaciers [the one on the left below is Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010 and caused airline chaos in Europe],
hot springs, geysirs and lakes,
black sand beaches and seemingly endless flat lava fields stretching between the mountains and the sea.
Add to that its latitude, just on the arctic circle, which explains the huge glaciers which cover much of the interior,
creating beautiful glacial valleys, meltwater rivers and waterfalls and which formed the eastern and western fjords.
The scenery is stunning and with such huge variety it has a very other-worldly quality, which is why it has been used for a location for many films (James Bond, Batman Begins, Game of Thrones, Star Wars).
It would seem that I have taken over 1500 photos, many of them of interesting textures and lines, for inspiration!! So here are a select few for you to enjoy.
And since I haven't yet touched on folklore, traditional houses, old ways of life and arts and crafts, I think there might be another post in the pipeline ….
Thanks for reading
Terry & Hazel
Before you get excited and think that this is a definitive tutorial on how to monoprint - it isn't! More of a peek into my tentative journey in the technique.
We've acquired* several large thick Perspex sheets and think that they'd be great for Monoprinting, but the only way to be sure would be to actually have a go. We've dabbled with Monoprinting on and off over the years, mainly using old laminated sheets or small pieces of thin Perspex, and used a safe wash block printing ink form Seawhite, this is a great product and is easy to use - but isn't fast once dry, so you can't add further wet processes.
When we moved studio earlier this year one of the (many...) things we found were several tubes of Caligo safe wash inks from Cranfield. Bought and forgotten (and how many of you have done this too?) However, having recently read an article on the Caligo inks it appears that these inks will become permanent on fabric and paper after a curing process; it was high time I tried them out.
How much ink to put onto the plate is difficult to gauge and only by actually having a go can you really get the feel. Inking up is also really tricky on such huge plates, it needs to be spread much thinner than you'd imagine, as I found out with my first (paper) tries. In fact I actually only inked the plate once the whole day (yes - that's how much ink I'd put on!) and between prints just rerolled with the brayer to smooth the surface again.
My first attempts were very disappointing (but at least they didn't stick to the plate). To begin with I was using a very light pure greaseproof paper ('deli' paper) and it was only once I was happy that the plate was behaving did I moved on to fabric.
I used a cotton sateen fabric, which I 'floated' over the surface, letting it drop very gently onto the inked plate. I nearly stopped breathing at this point, but as the fabric settled I could see that I had finally achieved the correct level of ink on the plate - the fabric settled but did not absorb ink. As you can see, this meant I achieved really clear marks and lines: I'm very pleased, and relieved!
In today's world instant gratification seems to be taken for granted - from ready made and fast food, the pinging of texts or emails on your phone to the ever increasing ways to access online data. We don't even need to stand in line anymore because more and more we buy on-line.
But in the creative world it's good to travel a slower road, taking the time to play and experiment, to explore the 'what if's', celebrate our successes - and mistakes, because after all a mistake is just a creative opportunity! Often students roll their eyes at us when we say ' I don't know, have you tried making a sample?' Terry and I are both firm believers in 'doing', having a go, trying things out. It's only through the act of doing will you ever find out what will work, and what won't, which techniques are suitable and which aren't. Time spend in practical exploration is never time wasted - besides which, look at all the fun and joy you will have on the way.
Meanwhile I have to wait patiently for the fabric pieces to cure and then I can start to add colour before layering up and stitching. I'm so excited, and not a little impatient, to get started....
Hazel & Terry
P.S. You didn't think I'd be throwing away the over inked first attempts did you?? They've been put to one side to dry with the rest of my trials and will be added to the stash of creative papers ready for including into sketchbooks some day!
* as with many things we have in the InStitches Studio these had had a previous life and were heading off to the scrap yard!
Wednesday was such a beautiful day here at the Studio that we decided to have a 'walking meeting' instead of sitting in the studio
so on went the boots and down the lane we went...
It probably won't come as much of a surprise to some of you, but a 2014 study by Stanford University in the US has shown that people are much more creative when they are walking around as opposed to when they are sitting still.
It's also one of the reasons why we encourage students to stand up to work and why, after lunch on a Textile Adventures workshop we suggest everyone goes outside for a 10 - 15 minute walk; besides which it gives us time to clear lunch away!
The walk was also an excellent opportunity to look for line inspiration for us to use in a monoprinting session we've planned for ourselves later in the week.
From the twist and knots of barbed wire,
the concentric circles on a felled tree
and this year's growth on the hedge
to the stark outlines of the cow parsley seed heads
and the prickly cones of teasels.
And if you've ever visited us (or plan to do so in 2019!) this is why we always tell you to ignore the ever helpful Satnav and follow our instructions to avoid ending up at/in the ford, which is along the road from the studio!
Hazel & Terry
Hazel takes every opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park because its such an inspiring place , but last bank holiday, when spring and summer finally arrived all at once, I went to explore a different sculpture park. Set on the northwest corner of Portland in Dorset, Tout Quarry sculpture park is a fascinating place with views over Chesil beach and Weymouth to die for.
Tout Quarry is one of only two remaining quarries where Portland Stone was extracted using the old methods. The last stone was taken from there in 1983 for the sea defences at West Bay (30000 tons of it) and since then the landscape has been left to nature. The Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust Project protects the site, and artists have created over 60 hidden sculptures from the stones left behind by the quarrymen. It’s a great place to explore and gives a sense of the geology and ecology of the area, as well as the history and of course the art.
Works are carved into rock faces, extracted boulders or built from shale, and there is something to see around every corner of this magical landscape. Some are inspired by animals, with detailed carvings or simple line drawings. . .
.. . .others by the human form: the work on the left & middle below, entitled Still Falling, is by Anthony Gormley, and is carved into a massive rock face of unquarried stone in the centre of the area.
One recent sculptor took inspiration from the grizzly local folk tale of the Roy Dog, which hunted smugglers and ate them, weaving their eyes into its fur so they can still see. Look closely at the picture on the right and you’ll see the eyes!
All around are remnants of quarrymen’s work - tramways, bridges, caves and the places where the spoil was tipped over the cliff.
As you wander around the park you will discover a wealth of marks and lines to record and inspire you. (The ones bottom centre are known as Portland screws - fossilised shells in the rock - often seen when Portland Stone is used in building.) Nature has been left to reclaim the area and it is managed as a nature reserve.
We had only intended to stay for an hour but ended up staying all day, walking to the local town centre (Easton) and buying a picnic from White Stones Cafe and Gallery, which is a gem with an artist’s garden and well worth a visit.
We’ll definitely be back to discover more in this fascinating corner of Dorset. Put it on your list if you’re ever in the area - you won’t be disappointed.
Until next week
Terry & Hazel
Lines are our link to quilting and we find inspiration wherever we happen to be. Sometimes it can be on an autumnal walk through the Peak District
or a blustery winter's walk along the shoreline.
Inspiration comes whilst strolling around classical Bath
or through the streets of London.
So, where do you find your line inspiration?
Hazel & Terry
Welcome to our blog! Here you'll find out what's been going on, plus plenty of ideas and inspiration and the odd cake recipe!
Check back often to see what we're up to - it's great to have you along
Hazel & Terry
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