Monday 23 October 2017

Anne Kelly Workshop

...try new things and keep growing...

A little while ago I was lucky enough to take part in a workshop with Anne Kelly (Textile Artist).

I haven't taken part in many workshops, and I have to say I was a little nervous about it.  Why?  Oh, I don't know - worrying about whether I'd be 'good enough' or that I would just generally feel out of my depth!  Also, you know when you follow artists on Instagram and Facebook, have their book and admire their work, it's kind of like meeting a celebrity isn't it?  (or is that just me...)

I probably just don't get out enough!

I needn't have worried so much, it ended up being a lovely way to spend a rainy Saturday and Anne was a great tutor who created a calm and easy going environment for us to, essentially, play with the techniques she shared with us.

The theme was 'Drawing with Plants' with the aim of creating a fabric concertina book.

I went armed with ideas, sketches and photographs - and actually didn't really use them much!  Instead, I just went with the flow and let the process take over.  Perhaps you can be TOO prepared and end up restricting your creative play!  ...and play we did - cutting, printing, drawing, layering and stitching. 

I had some pieces of vintage table cloth I wanted to incorporate, as well as teabag papers, ribbons and cotton doily scraps from my stash.

During the course of the day (punctuated with cups of tea and slices of homemade cake) I managed to get all my layers done and had started stitching - a project to take away and continue to work on at home.

In typical Tanya style, I didn't make easy choices of how to stitch my layers together.  I decided I wanted to hand stitch over the entire piece, with just a few areas left untouched.  I hadn't consciously thought of Kantha when I decided to do that, but it is reminiscent of this type of embroidery which originated in India. 

'Kantha' translates to 'rags' in Sanskrit, which reflects the fact that Kantha embroidery is made up of discarded garments and cloths, the stitching bringing together  the many layers into a new, usable piece of fabric - recycling at its best!

So the stitching began...many, many stitches! I started fretting a little about having a 'plan' to my stitching, and keeping my stitches even etc - however once a few had been laid down I began to relax and the pattern and direction of the stitches just kind of evolved.  They curved and twisted around the different elements  I'd placed on the panel, just letting the needle and thread weave in and out in a way that became quite meditative. A spattering of french knots were also added.

That continual running stitch was something I looked forward to doing each day in a quiet moment - in fact because the piece was a good, portable size, it was often in my bag when I went out.  That ten minutes in the car waiting to pick up my daughter from netball was no longer filled with trying to find some decent music on the radio, it was spent thoughtfully stitching in peace.

I chose to create a similar style panel as the backing, but with a much simpler layout and inclusion of words.  I incorporated some dried hydrangea flowers and leaves, and a hand stitched quote:

I understand that Audrey Hepburn quoted 'to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow' (if you believe everything you find on the internet!) so I adapted that with my own added words.

I decided to keep it more simple on this side, and just sew the running stitch in horizontal lines.

After joining front and back, so my folding fabric book was borne!  Not only that, but I was actually really chuffed with it!  It most certainly is not perfect, and some may sneer at some of my stitching, but somehow the imperfections add to its charm...and look, not a scrap of wool in sight!

I will definitely do this again - I see these fabric books as a lovely way to create keepsakes of different times in your life, or to make as a very special gift. 

I am thinking of ways to incorporate some of these techniques into felt making (oh, there I go, can't keep felt making out of the picture for long!) and I have loved the Kantha element - definitely sparked a few ideas there


In other news I've also been trying to get a few commissioned needle felted pictures completed, and I'm about to embark on something new with some lovely white and grey fibres and textures - I'll hopefully be able to share this with you on the next blog.

Goodness, my next blog is likely to be in NOVEMBER - I can hardly believe we are hurtling towards the end of October already! Where has this year gone?

Have a wonderful week xxx