Monthly Archives: May 2013

Eluned Winney, Radio expert!

Ha!  What a brilliant, fun morning!  Today I was a studio guest on the breakfast radio show on Radio Cymru, the Welsh language BBC radio station for Wales, teaching the presenters how to knit.

Knitting on the radio – have you ever heard anything so absurd?  Well, obviously I didn’t do much knitting or teaching to knit while on air – it’s difficult to demonstrate how to knit with mikes, headphones and other technical paraphernalia getting in the way, obscuring your view and pinning you to your chair, and it probably wouldn’t be that interesting for listeners at home, but we had a very lovely chat about knitting, crafts, my embroidery (woop!) and stuff.  I gave a little one-to-one tuition off air and left them with a challenge, to knit a washcloth by Thursday, when I’ll be back to assess their progress.

Check me out – media superstar with my own reserved parking space at the BBC!

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Afterwards I popped into the local Welsh bookshop to show them some of my cards and they requested 6 each of 2 designs.  All in all, a very good start to the week.

Making excuses and a sneaky peek in my sketchbook

I’m very aware that I haven’t posted any pictures of finished work for ages, it isn’t that I haven’t done any, I either haven’t photographed them before they’ve gone on their way or I haven’t wanted to post pictures of ‘more of the same’, as I’ve been doing a lot of balloon girls recently.  A lot like this one:

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A little gingham embroidered girl with their shibori balloon, very, very sweet. I do enjoy making these.

I promise to take more photos in future, even of things that might be dull. ;0)

This evening I’m settled in front of Eurovision with my sketchbook, trying to realise the Family Tree idea/design that’s been mooching about my head and pin it down in graphite in my sketchbook.  It’s kind of going ok.  Maybe I should open some Lambrini to help oil the creative wheels.  Because I’m classy like that, and it *is* Eurovision night.

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A work-in-progress shot of tonight’s sketchbook. This is a scribble of my youngest with her stuffed rabbit, “Bwni Cwtsh”. It made me smile and I thought I’d share it with you.

Embroidering on Photographs

On Saturday I attended a free workshop on embroidering photographs at the Cardiff Diffusion Festival.  The workshop was held at Chapter Arts Centre to coincide with a Maurizio Anzeri exhibition held there as part of the month-long photographic festival.

The workshop was great fun.  We were shown how to pierce a photograph using a drawn paper pattern to position the stitch holes, then lace the fabric to mimic Maurizio Anzeri’s style:

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Maurizio Anzeri

Now, here I must admit that I don’t like his work.  Shocking, I know.  The patterns he stitches over found photos mask the faces while suggesting a reveal of the subject’s inner (often dark) psyche.  This is discomfiting when applied to adult images, and more so when applied to children and infants. 

His latest work, exhibited at Chapter this month, is darker still.  His new work uses black thread only, has introduced machine stitching which adds an element of chaos and which breaks up and distorts the paper beneath which, held together by thread, can come out towards the viewer creating a three dimensional form.  In ‘Baby‘ (2013), below, the unstitched eye comes forward of the original photograph adding a macabre deformity to the mask.

Maurizio Anzeri, Baby, 2013

Maurizio Anzeri, Baby, 2013

By all accounts Maurizio Anzeri is actually a very lovely, jolly man who just has a more Mediterranean relationship with death than me.

Stitching on paper doesn’t have to be so challenging or macabre.  Before attending the workshop I had a mooch around the internet to see what I could find.  I’ve put them all in my Pinterest account, feel free to go and have a nosey, but here are my two favourites:

Another wonderful headdress / costume piece of embroidery on a found photograph, this time by Stacey Page

A wonderful headdress / costume piece of embroidery on a found photograph, by Stacey Page

Embroidery on photograph

Who could possibly resist this amazing stitched and applique head dress by Laura McKellar?

There are many wonderful examples of embroidering photographs which don’t involve obliterating or disfiguring the subjects.  (I believe Laura McKellar transfers the photographs to fabric before stitching, which is how she’s able to create such intricate and detailed work – but please don’t quote me on that, I might be wrong and I can’t remember where I read that.)

So, back to me.  How did I process this quick research into embroidering photographs at the workshop?  Well, I quickly turned my back on the idea of stitching over the subjects and didn’t want to plain ‘lacing’ on a photograph, I wanted to see whether more variety in stitches was possible than the running stitch, cross stitch or seed stitch you see in most examples.  I found a copyright free vintage photo online that I could easily work with (not against), printed it out and took it along with me.

Once I understood the process we were going to follow at the workshop, I drew a very simple design on tracing paper then punctured stitch holes where I needed them with a brad or a needle, and after the initial ‘lacing’ style stitches I experimented a bit with French knots and bullion knots.  I was surprised that they worked so well!

TOP TIP:  If you tear your paper while stitching you can repair the paper with masking tape or sellotape and stitch again.  In the same way you can stitch layers by taping over the back at the end of layer to give you a new backing surface to stitch.  And you can secure your ends of thread with tape, too.  HOWEVER.  If you’re planning on using bullion knots, don’t expect to be able to draw the thread through sticky tape and make clean, swearing-free bullion knots.  I’m afraid it won’t happen.

So, here it is – the result of the workshop, my embroidered eyes.  This was 2 hours very well spent, I enjoyed the opportunity to explore photographic stitching and I’m pretty certain I’ll make use of what I learnt in future work.  And it was free! Bonus!

I fancied leaving that yellow thread dangling loose - it seemed incomplete without it. Not bad for a 2 hour workshop.

I fancied leaving that yellow thread dangling loose – it seemed incomplete without it.
Not bad for a 2 hour workshop.

Bleaching and tea staining cotton calico

I’ve been thinking about what to ‘put’ my embroideries on.  Calico is lovely in its simplicity but I want to move some pieces on, which means having some sort of depth, texture and colour behind the main character or object.

So I’ve been playing…  heh heh heh *sinister laugh*

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This is a large-ish piece of calico that’s been tea-stained then bleached, it’s out on the line to dry from the bleach right now.  (How lovely is it to be able to dry things on the line again.)

I tried being clever with the bleach by soaking a cotton doiley in thin bleach and laying it on the fabric to transfer the pretty doiley shape.  It didn’t really work like that, either there was too much bleach and it spleurged everywhere, or not enough and the pattern didn’t transfer.  But some bits of it look quite interesting.   It isn’t satisfactory or complete yet, but I’m having a lovely time experimenting with it.

I’m also thinking of enrolling on Karen Ruane‘s online course on embroidering lace (as in embroidering on lace and embroidering pieces of lace to create a background fabric, not making lace out of embroidery, IYSWIM).  I only have a couple of days to enrol if I’m going to do it, and no lace in the craftroom to get me started!

In other news – I have a place in another local gallery for three small embroideries with shibori balloons and one large, so I’m busily finishing them so I can deliver them next week.  Yay.