Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Sow and Sew...

So we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s pretty rare for something awful to be touching the lives of everyone around the world at the same time isn’t it?




How are you all doing?

It’s a really strange time isn’t it...very unsettling.

As I write this we are still in lockdown in the UK...our own and countless other businesses are affected by COVID-19 and so many lives have been lost..it is a big worry. Unless you're a keyworker (huge thanks to all) the best we can do is to look after ourselves, our neighbours and more vulnerable members of family and community as well as support local businesses and charities as much as we can...sometimes it doesn't seem enough. But it is.

I read a very truthful way of describing our current situation..it basically said that we’re not all ‘in the same boat’. We are all sailing in the same storm, but all in our own individual boats...some boats will be shipwrecked and some will not...some people are in little rowing boats and some are in tankers.  

Our little boat is managing to ride the storm so far - we get the occasional wave coming over the side, but nothing we can’t bail out.  I truly hope you are all okay, and that we will all find ourselves in much calmer waters very soon.

It has been weeks since I’ve  posted anything anywhere on social media and having a break from online activity has actually been good for me.  However, whilst I foolishly thought this lockdown period might mean I could create huge bodies of amazing felting work...that just simply hasn’t happened. 

But that’s okay.

Gardening for the soul...


The weather has been lovely and we have immersed ourselves in being outdoors in our garden and allotment...I am so very grateful for our outdoor space, especially at the moment. There’s just something about growing your own fruit and veg and bringing on your own plants and flowers that is very therapeutic.   

It’s also reassuring that, whilst many of us have our lives on pause, Mother Nature carries on regardless...the other day we heard a cuckoo and the swallows have started to arrive, the bluebells are blooming and we already have some fledgling wagtails bobbing about in our garden; wonderful.



I’m a bit of a ‘have a go’ gardener...not an expert at all.  I’ve always wanted a wildlife pond in the garden, and we’ve cracked on over the last few weeks, cleared an area of lawn and dug one out...I’m really pleased with it and can’t wait to get some plants in and around it...and hopefully some wildlife too!  We’ve recycled lots of things that were just lying about, like the stones and the edging that we’ve now reused as a path...it has been a really satisfying project.




I even made an insect hotel...guarded by a couple of very worn out gnomes I uncovered! 




Areas of the garden are starting to bloom...




Our allotment is slowly being turned and planted...the potatoes and onions are already showing and I’ve sown lots of flower seeds that are all germinating.  Gardening is a very optimistic thing to do isn’t it? Isn’t there a quote: ‘to plant a garden is to believe in a better tomorrow’? 








The apple blossom smells delicious...

Stitch therapy...


Well, you were maybe hoping to see some creating of a different kind in this blog post...I have been stitching, but only a few things for our own home - things I've been meaning to do for ages but have never quite managed to find the time for.  Firstly, I made a cushion for our kitchen...I used a magpie fabric patch from Mrs Bertimus  which I absolutely love and used scraps and raw edge appliqué to put it all together.

If you don't follow Mrs Bertimus on Instagram, I'd recommend her page - I love her paintings and she often shares works in progress on her stories.










With the cushion finished, I wanted to dive straight back in to make something I’ve had in my mind for a long time, and again I’ve used a Mrs Bertimus hare (from one of her printed tea towels) to create a wall hanging which will go in our front room.  It’s not finished yet, but here’s a peek of how it’s coming along. The hare has been carefully cut from the tea towel and then appliqued on to an antique plain tea towel, which is a really lovely thickness.



 Quite a few blogposts ago, I shared how I had eco dyed lots of fabrics using plants...




...and I ended up with lots of scrummy, unique pieces of cotton and silk.  I remember loving them, but wasn’t sure how I was going to use them and just put them away in a box. Well, I have been putting them to good use in this wall hanging by using them for the hexagon patchwork pieces...I just love them all together like this and it all just blends in perfectly. The vintage flowers had been dyed with onion skins.







I am so enjoying doing this...I actually can’t wait to spend an hour or so on it in the evenings.  It’s totally absorbing, and the rhythm of hand stitching is very calming - it has become my place of escape.

I haven’t quite decided how I will edge it yet, but I’m sure that will come to me at some point (exercising my 'make it up as I go along' method). I’ll share the finished wall hanging next time, all being well!

So that’s it for now...the quilt is all I wish to be doing for the moment, but I’m sure the wools will be out soon for a spot of felting...hopefully some more inspiration will come my way, maybe as the garden takes shape and starts blooming!

Just before lockdown, I did make a rather apt sale of 'Home to Roost' - I was due to meet up with the new owner to give it to her in person, but that didn't quite work out.  So I'm keeping it safe and hope to deliver it as soon as local travel restrictions are relaxed a little...never has a title of a picture been so fitting!

'Home to Roost' - now sold x

Looking forward...


There is much to look forward to, and I think (and hope) that we will all have learned to cherish the more simple things in life as we come out on other side of this pandemic together.

Personally, I’m looking forward to giving my son a proper big ‘mummy hug’...though he may cringe at the thought! It’s been hard not being able to see family.

What are you looking forward to? Have you managed to achieve something positive during lockdown, no matter how small? Or are you a key worker and have experienced the front line of this pandemic?  





Here’s looking forward to better days, because they ARE coming...best wishes to you.

xx Tanya xx












Sunday, 8 March 2020

Home to Roost...a felted landscape

I’ve already shared some pictures of this piece of work on social media, but thought I’d write a post about where I got the inspiration from.

Inspired by...


My starting point for this picture is a photo which  I took in one of the fields on our farm. There’s a sixty acre field with a round of trees in the middle and I often walk over there with our dog. The field is called ‘Downs’ and the trees are kind of an ‘I’m home’ icon for me when returning home from anywhere in the car.

The roads in Cornwall are pretty manic during the summer, and when I pull into the long driveway that leads to the farm and glance across the fields, I quite often breathe a big sigh of relief as I catch sight of those trees, knowing that I’m nearly back at the sanctuary of home. The farm is a relatively quiet place to live...we are very lucky.

The photo itself is pretty unremarkable, but putting it through a photo editor I played around with contrasts and effects.










I could see potential to use some of my favourite autumnal colours to create an abstracted version of my trees.

Using Procreate...

I then uploaded one of these into an iPad app called Procreate and played around with the image some more. Painting over it, smudging it around and generally just messing about until I found a good place to work from.




I enjoy using Procreate as a tool, because it just doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t ‘ruin’ anything or waste valuable materials - it’s quite freeing! 

Layout...

Before I’d started to lay out my fibres, I began to change how I wanted the composition to look...I didn’t want the straight horizon, I wanted to make it look more interesting and engaging.

My physical sketchbook game is not strong, but I did a very fast sketch with pencil just to simplify the composition right down.  My brain seems to appreciate that simplification! I just found that little scribble sketch of a swooping horizon a real help, and everything else just followed.





So a little bit of a journey before actually laying out any fibres! But I think it was a journey worth taking to just clarify and make mindful decisions rather than just ploughing headlong into felting...which is something I have done before with bad outcomes! Preparation is key, right?!

So here is some of the initial layout stage of merino wool, silks, yarns and fabrics...again keeping layers fine. The layers are so fine you can just make out the zigzag pattern of the mat underneath.





I then added the trees...ready for the full felting treatment at this stage. Starting off really gently to keep everything in place.




Creating a story...

Once felted and dried, it lacked a certain something, so I needle felted some crows flying home to the trees to roost. This turned the piece into one that had a story...it was also very apt as my original inspiration was one of ‘coming home’.




The finished piece...

And so with a bit of tweaking, some further needle felting and playing with a mount to help decide on the final composition ‘Home to Roost’ is now finished and ready to be framed.





I hope you like it...I’ve really enjoyed making this one...some of my favourite colours, the lovely layers and the story.

I’m typing this blog at home, in my safe place, my sanctuary...home is definitely where my heart is xx

Feel free to leave comments below or let me know what you’re working on at the moment - it’s always lovely to have feedback.

Best wishes

xx Tanya xx






Saturday, 29 February 2020

All about the layers...

January was a time for experimenting...


Playing with layers...









Playing with paint...







Sketchbook explorations...








Exploring nuno felting in a more painterly way...








Experiments led to two finished pictures which I'm happy with, but there's always progress to be made...


‘As the Crow Flies’


‘Pink Haze’


February was a time for trying something new...


An oil and cold wax painting workshop with Laura Menzies...



Luscious layers...



Contrasts in textures...soft/hard...creating differences.



Dissolving layers...



Scribbling...


Pressing in bubble wrap...





Scratching through to show what lies beneath...



Colour pops...



Wonderfully waxy





Scrummy colours...







Still all about those wonderful layers, this workshop seemed so relevant to what I’m trying to explore within felting...but also now has me inspired to try oils and cold wax again in the future...it’s such a lovely medium to spread around and play with.

February has also been spent getting our holiday cottages ready for our first guests at Easter, so less time for felting, but I've been studying, reading, listening to podcasts, following free art courses and trying to get my head in a good place for creating when the time allows...

There's no rush, but my fingers are starting itch...the need to get making is real...

I am laying out a work table of intentions...inspiration, materials, sketchbooks and notes...







Particularly liking this image I’ve created on Procreate which is basically a photo I took in one of our fields that I’ve ‘painted over’ in the app.




I can't wait to get stuck in!

Hope you are all well and have started 2020 as you mean to go on...

xx Tanya xx