Wednesday, 28 October 2015

How about a Retreat in beautiful Wales??

Good news - well I hope it is good news ... there are a few spaces on the Spring Retreat  I am running in May 2016  at the Minerva Gallery in Llanidloes, Wales. The retreat will coincide with a the exhibition 'Identity' by Art Textiles Made in Britain - and all in a stunningly beautiful area of Wales.

 The retreat is entitled 'Sanctuary' and we will be making pages which incorporate the things/places/people/objects which bring you joy, comfort and peace. You can work on individual pages, or in a book, or on khadi or watercolour paper, or canvas; you can use paper or fabric or both: you can stitch and embellish with any ephemera or found objects you may have collected. You can bind the pages, or mount them or make a hanging . or .... . the point is you don't have to make all the decisions at once .. that so often stops us doing anything. We will be printing and painting on day 1, then working up pages for the remaining two days. 

Following are some ideas of things you might try:

Some fabric pages .. using prints I have made of a crab found on the beach - a definite sanctuary place for me. Not sure how I will finish these yet .. may mount on canvas; may make some more an bind together as a book or I may make a soft wall hanging with them .. I can think about it whilst I stitch them  

some khadi paper pages - featuring found objects from nature - picked up when I am walking the dog. Again - not sure yet what these will become - I have many options as above .. but I can keep making them until I decide

These pages are made using opened out blank greetings cards

and I do have a plan for these .. when I have finished them, I shall stick them back to back in a circle like this - to make a circular standing book

I have just made these pages, using gorgeous leaves I have picked up - collecting treasure is another form of sanctuary for me - again, still to decide what I will do with them - they are on khadi - so lots of options

in this case I decided to mount them as a possible finished page - I shall probably put this on canvas after adding some stitch. I made three backgrounds so I can make a set

of course you may choose to make pages direct into a sketchbook - you can always remove them and use them elsewhere .. or you can add other pages you have made into the sketchbook many options


these pages are made using leaf prints .. an activity that I find soothing and replenishing .. another form of sanctuary - I have added in some extra pages with washi tape (I would count washi tape as a treasure too!)


there again - maybe you would like to prepare a books worth of pages to work with - these are khadi paper coloured with neocolour 1 crayons and dye  .. they started as a pack of A5 in two weights. I tore the end off each and then used that to make a spine for the page. These can now be worked into and bound when you are ready


these are also made from A5 papers .. a pack with an assortment of paper types this time. I have used some of the pack to make the spines for this book, so keeping the A5 dimensions


the pages are all still loose - some spines have two or three pages in them 

I can work in to these any way I want .. with paints, dyes gelatos, crayons, collage and stitch and then put the pages together to bind


below is an example of one way you might choose to bind your pages .. I have woven them together 


this is the book - made using a pack of two different sizes of long khadi paper - still easy to work into as it opens right around into a spiral and

another little book option  with the long pieces - a homemade zigzag with pockets

and that is another thing you might like to do - make some zigzag books - these are great for keeping mementos, photos and ephemera in so you can enjoy them every day ....
this little one uses some brooke bond cards of the coast, which I have had stashed  for years ... so much nicer to have them out and enjoy  them

this taller zig zag is made from two little zigzag books stuck together - so I could use my long thin photos of my beloved gulls .. ready to stitch now

a couple more zig zag books - larger this time, both reflecting my love of the coast .. and my boys!

 at the most simple - these are just little pages that I am going to put in some lovely wooden frames I have when they are stitched

maybe you would like to alter a book - one with a resonance for you to contain some of your treasures and images of your sanctuaries

this one is a nature diary - reflecting a passion of mine .. and I have been altering  and working in it  for a couple of years now - just slowly building up images and memories for myself
....some collected twigs and a drawing of them too

beloved echinaceas and the paw print of the artist - from my beloved gelli plate

more gelli prints of leaves - all set up for colouring into

and simple drawings of favourite flowers

this is a new/old book I am altering. It is one of those colouring books that are very popular right now
 ... that spoke to me as I love colouring. I've started gesso-ing some pages and adding bits - in this case from Bettys tearooms - surely the ultimate sanctuary!! I am planning to use this one for my favourite northern haunts and visits

another option (the last for now!!) is a fabric based book. This one is again a beachy one .. the pages are all my own dyed and printed fabrics and like some of the paper books - it is not yet bound, so I can easily work into the pages

some pages are half done - this is a paper thermofax print and some free machine stitcthing

empty pages ready to go

some pages reflecting my love of the boats at the seaside

 at present it is all held together with an elastic band .. when I am ready, I can stitch it all up

The truth is, just making pages and working into my sketchbooks is a place of sanctuary for me. Add in favourite subjects and special things, and make things that keep those close to you and visible ... and you have bought sanctuary right into your home and heart


All details about the retreat can be found on Minerva website .. and booking is via them too. Here is a link:

Hope to see some of you there - our own sanctuary for three days! xx

Friday, 11 September 2015

What are gelatos?? asks Heather ...

Well - simple answer my little friend - is - these are gelatos:

They are yummy, lipstick style, very creamy, watersoluble sticks - and they can do this sort of thing on paper and in your sketchbooks:

and this sort of yummy thing on fabric:

I first saw them in February when visiting  the trade show at the NEC with my friend Steph (this is a very dangerous place to visit alone .. take a sensible friend ... I haven't got any so I went with Steph). Anyway - saw theses and immediately thought they had a potential for use in place of neocolour 2 (not 1) - in bold because they are so easy to mix up .. and that is the point ... you know I love neocolour 1 for rubbings, drawing, sketchbook work, and on finished work, canvas etc etc. For me they are the essential one of the two neocolours, so I avoid neocolour 2, as they look exactly the same once the wrappers off (about 10 seconds in my case). But I would still like a watersoluble crayon of some sort .. tried inktense bars and they are lovely (I got the biggest set to check this) .. but they are very messy on the paws; tried the pencils .. but too fine really for what I want; tried artbars - again lovely, but messy on the hands too; watersoluble pencils - lovely but again too fine. So (I am getting to the gelatos - honest) I saw these and thought they looked very promising. My sensible friend said - oooh - yummy - I would deffo get those - so I did. 
Then all my wheels fell of (pneumonia, house move, eye falling out, and car vandalism to name just the major players) .. and I had no chance to trial them out properly until recently. But when I did - ooh-er .. they do just what I wanted and so much more - my favourite type of tool - a multi tasker ..

So - what do they do? ..

They are wonderful when you are out and about and want some transparent colour to wash in your sketchbook - either as a base, or over images already made .. even I quail at the thought of carrying pots of liquid dye in my sketch bag ..


These above are all done either onto plain pages, or over other bits in my sketchbooks and once the gelato and water are dry, they are ready to work back in to. You may have noticed that you can sometimes see the lines made where I have laid the gelato colour on the page .. like this:


this is red gelato being washed out with a paint brush and spritzed water .. I have found that the marks do not wash away completely on most papers .. you can use this as a feature, as here, where I have lets the marks act as a vague outline on the pages .. I like this use a lot


or you can use another page as a palette .. like this:


or if you don't want the marks of the palette in your book - then you can use deli paper as a palette - just take a few sheets in your travelling kit - this pear on fabric was done like that .. and of course I have kept the deli paper to use with it.

Deli paper gives up virtually all of the colour so is really good as a palette for the gelatos

They are also handy for 'inking' little stamps whilst on the move .. just rub the stick (take lid off ..) over the stamp, give it a quick spritz of water and stamp .. it's a gentle impression .. but very useful ..


 although they are water soluble, once they are dry they don't move much .. so I could go back over these with another wash of colour


they also mix beautifully with gesso to make gentle pastel semi opaque washes .. I can't find my image right now (been looking for 30 minutes) .. so will come back to you on that one ..

But washes and being lovely water soluble crayons is not all they do - in fact, it's not their most exciting use for me .. no ..  that would be that they can also be use very much like oil pastels - but without the 'never dry' issue and smell - this page was just seeing how they blend and mix (answer - very very nicely)

so then I started drawing into some of my sketchbook prints (mostly from the gelli plate) to see what they were like:


oh - that last one is done over a background of gesso and gelato .. neutral colour pack on top

then inevitably, my mind turns to the need to add more colour .. and how to make these water resistant for that? Matt medium of course. Tiny splodge from tube brushed over the image and bingo - sealed . The colour moves a tiny bit whilst you are doing this -  but that is actually very nice. So then you can do this : washing gelatos over fixed gelatos .. how multi task is that??

that is SO exciting .. here are a few more


 the hole on the next one is where I was showing how to use a Japanese screw punch .. just in case you were wondering ..

I suspect a bit of gesso mixed with the gelatos in this next one ...

  the next couple have had dye added over the top instead of more gelato .. remember I have sealed the prints with matt medium ..

 and this next one has some repair tissue with a stencil print of clocks on, pasted over the top of the gelato drawing and gelato wash .. to show how transparent the repair tissue is .. and also how everything plays together so well 

then of course comes the question - can we do this on fabric? I should coco .. the gelatos work and blend beautifully, just make sure to seal with some matt medium and then add some liquid dye and voila ..



you can see where I laid a palette out on the one below .. but I like it

lots of dye runs and drying lines - not perfect .. but I like that too


I have not tried these through the washing machine yet - I will and let you know.  A gentle hand wash will be fine though as the gelatos are sealed with acrylic medium. They are still quite soft enough to stitch - and I shall get doing that next


 I have only really scratched the edges so far with these and am planning some time to play some more and see what else they will do . But I am totally convinced they are a great addition to my tool kit .. colour rich and versatile .. plus in a nice case for messy bods like me .. perfect.

I took them to the NEC to demonstrate and sold out of all sets ... but I've just got some more and put them in the online shop. I was going to wait until I had the new shop ready to launch ... but that may be a while yet!! so I've put them in the old one ..

Here is a quick step by step .. just showing a drawing, palette and wash, then going back in again to add some more colour

the background is a stencil offprint and the drawing is done with blended gelatos..

 bit too pale after first wash .. so went back in on top with more gelatos

 and added some more to the main image .. 

as ever - just keep gong and keep playing. This could easily now be transferred to fabric and then stitched. I'll be back soon with some results using these pieces. Thank you for reading - Hilary x