Monday, 30 August 2010

Exhibition, Manchester UK

Yoyo san will be on display at The Stitch and Creative Craft Show at Manchester Central (GMEX) from 3rd - 5th Sept. She would be honoured if anyone would like to come along and be introduced. :-)
I'll be there as well, as will other members of Japanese Embroidery UK. We'll have lots of different pieces on display and will be demonstrating traditional Japanese embroidery on our stand throughout the 3 days.
Looking forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

White blossoms

I've not done much stitching over the last few weeks, but I have got some time in. I've been working on some of my own new designs but they are still at the drawing stage so until they get to the point of being transfered onto silk and starting the embroidery I'm working on White Blossoms from JEC.

This is embroidered on black shusu and uses only black, white, and a bit of gold. I've had this piece for a while and it includes some variations on techniques which I've been looking forward to learning. The large chrysanthemum above looks a bit 'gappy', I'm hoping this is just because the fabric is black and it's showing through more than normal. The spacing was fine before I put the knots on the top. I've done another chrysanthemum on another section of the piece and have put the foundation a touch closer together. We'll see what it looks like once the knots have gone in. If it looks better I'll take this first one out and re-do it. One of the techniques I've been enjoying is this two tone katayori. I love the stripey effect it makes. A slightly thicker black and white katayori is used to outline the large chrysanthemum petals. I wound both of the katayori onto koma to help to keep the tension on the thread. This has made it much easier to work with, particularly in working the turn at the top of the petal.

I've done a bit more on this since these photos were taken and it's starting to come together very nicely. I was looking at my photos from my Japan trip this weekend and came across this photo of a decoration on a huge door at the Meiji shrine in Tokyo. Look familiar?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

MC Escher and other thoughts

I've been thinking recently about what influences our taste in art, design, and craft. Why do we consider someone who paints an 'artist' and someone who embroiders a 'craftsman'? Why is one considered better than the other?
I'm not going to get into this discussion, it is being held in lots of other places, except to say why can't we be both?
Visiting my brother, a very talented architect (another field in which you need to be both artist and craftsman), last week he was showing me a book on Lucienne and Robin Day who are influential designers and artists of the 20th century. Lucienne is famous for her textiles and Robin for his minimalist chairs (though this isn't all they did). Looking at some of the textiles Lucienne designed and learning from my brother about how the technology of the day influenced the finished product has brought me back round to this artist v craftsman question.
Fabrics by Lucienne Day
I don't have an answer to this question and don't suppose we ever will, but I think I'd like to consider myself both - at the moment I'm a better craftsman than artist. Actually I should more accurately say I'm a better at embroidery then drawing - but I'm working on the drawing part.
All this has brought me back to an artist/craftsman whose work I have always enjoyed. MC Escher. A little while ago I had a thought about embroidering a mobius strip and this thought has been percolating away in the back of my little head ever since then. I've seen lots of mobius strips over the years but the first one I remember being fascinated with was this one by Esher.
Mobius II
This morning I went on-line and did some searching. I have a book on Escher but it doesn't go into his history and for some reason doesn't say how he created his pictures. On the MC Escher website I found that information - lots of his work was created by wood block prints or lithographs - another artist/craftsman. Don't you love it when things just seem to link up without any rhyme or reason.
Mobius I
I think I prefer this version of his mobius strip to the one with the ants. I like how the two colours work. This one, the Escher website tells me, was printed from 4 blocks. What artistry to design it in the first place and then the craftsmanship to carve the 4 separate blocks so they match up.
The more I looked at the gallery of images the more they seemed to remind me of Japanese embroidery. I can't quite put my finger on why, maybe it's the use of shading which we get with our flat silk and Escher creates with his printing.
And the more I looked the more I thought some of these would look wonderful worked in various JE techniques. How about either of these sprial designs worked as cords?

Sphere sprials

They remind me of the JEC phase piece - Resonance cords. This fabulous example was embroidered by Iris who lives in Australia. So I will continue to ponder on how to interpret a mobius strip in JE techniques. I'd love to do as suggested by Michelle Griffiths, a shibori artist based in Wales, and embroider a giant one 6 feet or so across but not really sure how I could do this. So I'll start on a smaller version and work up to the giant one (maybe!). In the meantime I am working on the JEC piece white blossoms - I have to have something to stitch. I am finding this piece very restful. No pictures to share yet - watch this space.

This last photo, also an Escher, is just because it's lovely. It has just the right level of 'catness' don't you think?

PS - have been getting some spam comments recently so have had to switch the comment moderation back on - sorry

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