Made in Kings Heath 2016 Invitation

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Autumn has definitely arrived with falling leaves, frost and beautiful blue skies and so has November. That means this month also welcomes the return of our annual Made in Kings Heath open studio Christmas fair. We would love to invite you to come along on Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th November to share a glass or two of mulled wine and festive nibbles. This year we have expanded to include two open studios and yet more Kings Heath linked artists, designers and makers for you. You can find out more about the artists participating this year and and the event at www.madeinkingsheath.com

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Felting in Sutton Coldfield

I had a wonderful fun filled evening with a group of Sutton Coldfield ladies at Sutton Coldfield Sailing Clubhouse, sharing how to make felt. We worked with a monochrome scheme using only white with shades of black to grey. This limited colour palette helped everyone to focus on pattern making, texture and design.

The white base layer of merino wool was complimented with a range of cotton fabrics and fibres including knitting yarns, linen, nepps, recycled plastic bottles and silk. The felting was helped along with a glass (or two) of wine & some treats to eat!  Plans for some of the finished peices include hand and matching stitching into the work and simply framing on a float mount. Congratulations everyone on your first try of Feltmaking and a big thank you for inviting me; you all created some beautiful felt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace

It was thrilling to make my first visit to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October. Teaching comitments have previously prevented me from visiting, and since the show no longer visits Birmingham, it has been a few years since I have been able to attend. It didn’t disappoint, the venue is wonderful, Alexandra Palace is situated on top of a large hill in North Londons’ leafy Muswell Green and Wood Green. The view from the terrace across London gives stunning view to the centre of the city and gave my friends Jane, Anjum and I a lovely backdrop to our pitstops and lunch break.

imageThe show brings together fibre artists of all types, demonstrators, guilds, mini workshops, how to talks and suppliers, Habu and Merchant & Mills being my personal favorites! Aside form shopping, it was the Gallery spaces I was most drawn to, here I found the work of Michala Gyetvai. Michala paints and sculpts with threads, stitching and layering her images in a variety of materials employing hand & machine embroidery techniques. In her ‘Enchanted Landscapes’ exhibited here, she uses blankets as the base to draw and paint on with threads, building layers of wool, fine threads of cotton and silk felted together.

I love sculptural forms and there was a great selection on show. Stella Hardings use of measuring tapes and metal basketry is inspirational. Stella  combines organic and manufactured materials into complex geometric forms. Her interest in natural mathematics is applied in basket weaving techniques and its application is neatly echoed in her use of measuring tapes as the key materials in these vessels.

It is the sculptural and architectural qualities of Bernie Murphy’s New Beginnings that attracts me to these pieces of wearable art.

I have to include Sophie Digards work here, I love her use and combination of colours and admire her patience and the stamina it must take to create her work. The palette used by Amanda Clayton and Vivien Prideaux’ transparent and stitched surfaces was also a visual delight.

Finally I want to share to the witty work of Kate Jenkins, Kate’s Plaice, The Stitchmongers made its debut at Alexandra Place and had the wow factor of the show for me. Displayed as a traditional fishmongers counter, it was filled with freshly knitted, stitched and sequined anchovies, mussels, scallops, prawns and Atlantic salmon. Visitors to the show could select the fresh product of their choice from the counter and have it mounted and signed as an original art peice. There was also a wall of framed tinned sardines and other fishy delights!

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Kate’s Palaice, The Stitchmongers

If you have not been to the Knitting & Stitching show before I would highly recommend a visit, the exhibitors are diverse and the standard of work on display is excellent and inspirational. You can find out about the next shows at www.knittingandstitchingshow.com

 

 

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Family Textile Workshops

Wax resist papers made into lanterns

Wax resist papers made into lanterns

In July I held some of my favorite children’s workshops, the Family Textiles workshops, a format I established at mac, Birmingham. These are learning experiences during which the children experiment with textiles alongside thier parents, grandparents or guardians with the emphasis on working together as a fun sharing experience.

The first session saw us experimenting with wax as a resist and dyes, to explore pattern and mark making, creating decorative papers and summer lanterns. The exploration of pattern and mark making continued in the printing workshop where printing blocks were made. These were then used to combine how to choose colours, printing and repeat printing processes.

Sewing was the focus of the third session enabling the children and their adults to work together to create these wonderful owls and mice.  Using socks, felt and buttons everyone learnt how to understand and cut out a 2d pattern and then assemble them to make a 3d object. I love these, the middle one being a personal favorite, do you have one?

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Striped Sock Mice

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Felting with ‘Sense’

Over the last four months I have had the pleasure of working with Sense Jessica Evans (Sense Art Tutor). Sense is a natioanl voluntary organization that works with and supports people of all ages who are deafblind and / or have sensory impairments.

In August I delivered a drop-in activity at the annual Sense (West Midlands) summer gathering, held at Rowheath Pavillion, Bournville. This year’s theme was a 1950s Summer Rock ‘n’ Roll Tea Party,  a celebration event bringing together all the regions’ Sense clients, their carers, friends and family. The atmosphere was fantastic, music, dancing, and reuniting friends along with a display of home made cakes, biscuits and treats that was truly amazing and very delicious! Our drop-in activity involved making ’50s vinyl record inspired brooches and summer bunting.

In November I was invited to design a project to give Sense clients the opportunity to develop new skills, produce a wall piece to decorate The Garden Room, (Smethwick), and provide a future income generator to help fund the centers’ activities. Health & Social Care students from Stourbridge College joined us, combining their learning about working with people who have multi sensory restrictions and to experience occupational interactive sensory art activities.

A Tree of Life became our theme for a hand felted wall hanging. The tree was made as a bare trunk and branches so the wall hanging can be an ongoing interactive art work; decorated with additional work attached at later dates. The finished wall hanging is to be hung up, but also shared as an interactive multi-sensory table peice, to be handled by visitors to the centre who can enjoy it’s tactile nature. To achieve this is was important to include contrasting colours and highly tactile surface relief.

We did this by including shining glittery threads, Angelina fibres, differing textured yearns, varying depths of wool and smooth silk fibres. The group worked together to prepare and lay out the the wool and mixed the yarns and fibres, before wetting and felting the whole peice together.

As it was close to Senses’ Garden Room Christmas Fair, we also made textured felt pieces to be made into festive baubles for Christmas tree decorations. Future projects are planned using the new skills learnt, these will include making leaves and flowers, to decorate the wall hanging and to sell for fund raising as book marks and brooches.

I would like to thank everyone who participated during the project; Jessica, all the Sense clients & Stourbridge students, carers, friends and family – it wouldn’t have been possible with out you. You can find out more about Sense and donate towards their services by visiting www.sense.org.uk

 

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Matisse Inspired Feltmaking

One of Year 3's laid out Les Velours compositions

One of Year 3’s laid out Les Velours Compositions.

Peterbrook Primary School, Solihull invited me to work with them, using a C20th artist as the theme, during their 2015 Summer Arts Week. With Years 5, 3, 2 and 1 we choose Matisse’s cut out period as the inspiration to create collaborative group felt wall hangings.

Each year group worked to recreate one of the following Matisse work; The Snail, The Composition Les Velours, Les Figures and Polinesa The Sky. In each group individuals worked on different sections of their wall hanging, emulating Matisse’s cut out method of working, using pre-felt instead of paper. The elements of leaves, shapes, figures and birds were cut out of the pre-felted wool by the children, with the aid of templates, and then arranged on colour blocks of prefelt.

Once the groups agreed about the layout of their wall hanging, the fun began, spraying warm soapy water over their work, much to everyone’s surprise! All hands went on deck, rubbing their work to adhere the cut out felt to the background. Team work was then needed, as each class group divided into smaller teams to start rolling the wet prefelt, and begin the fulling process.

Throughout the sessions each group learnt about the artist Henri Matisse, his work, the processes he used and discussed the period in which he lived comparing it to today. Everyone also learnt about the materials they were using and how the process worked to create a fully felted finished piece.

Matisse Felt Wall Hangings

Year 1, 2 & 5 Matisse Inspired Wall Hangings drying in the sun.

I would like to express a heart felt thanks to all the students and teachers at Peterbrook Primary School, who made me feel so welcome and for working so hard to create their wonderful wall hangings. Thank you also to Adele Deane of Workshops for Schools for making this event happen and giving me the opportunity to work together.

After the Arts Week I was delighted to hear such positive feedback from the school about the event.  “I started work yesterday afternoon and can’t tell you the amount of positive feedback and praise I received about Emma and the felt workshops as soon as I got in! All year groups absolutely loved it and thought she was fantastic at organizing the children and explaining the process so clearly and all in an interesting manner.” Liz Thorne (Headteacher)

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Made in Kings Heath 2015 Invitation

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We are very excited to announce the dates for our second Made in Kings Heath Christmas Fair. Once again we are opening our studio doors and inviting you to come along to join us in a glass of mulled wine and festive treats whilst enjoying a friendly start to this year’s search for unique Christmas gifts.

This year in addition to Melanie Keevil and Emma Jackson (Silversoles), we are delighted to have textile artist Jane Bradsaw and jeweller Sarah Carlton- Gray as our guests, exhibiting their locally produced art and designs.

Pop in any time over the weekend;

Saturday 28th November 11am – 5pm and Sunday 29th November 11am – 4 pm

Venue: Silversoles Studio, 129 Hazelhurst Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 6 AG

Direction: Silversoles Studio is at the rear of the house at 129 Hazelhurst Road, which is situated at the Featherstone Road end of Hazelhurst Road, (from the road on the right hand side, woodwork painted blue). Reach the Studio via the garden door on the right hand side of the house, following the signs to the rear of the garden to the studio.

Travelling by – Bus: No. 50 bus from town/ to / Kings Heath High Street. The stop is opposite the doctors surgery & Featherstone / Tenbury Road junction. Cross the Alcester Road and walk up Featherstone Road, turn right onto Hazelhurst Road. 129 is half way on left hand side. (Walk max 5mins).

Walk/Cycling: From Kings Heath High Street walk down Vicarage Road, turn left onto All Saints Road and take the first right onto Hazelhurst Road. Continue down Hazelhurst Road crossing Howard Road and Tenbury Road junctions. 129 Hazelhurst is on the right.

Car: Sat Nav users post code is B14 6AG. If coming from north / central / east follow directions to Kings Heath join Alcester Road A435, turn in to Featherstone Road and onto Hazelhurst Road. If coming from west join the A4040 and follow directions to Kings Heath. At the junction with Red Lion turn right at second traffic lights onto Howard Road. Follow Howard Road to second exit on right, turn on to Hazelhurst Road, cross Tenbury Road. 129 fifth house on the right.

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British Values in Screenprint

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In late May I was invited to visit Moreton Community School in Wolverhampton by Amy Draper (Head of Textiles), to work with some of their gifted and talented textiles students. The students from Years 8, 9 & 10 were to spend the day learning how to screenprint using dyes and developing work as part of piece representing British Values. 

The subject matter was certainly a challenging one, what are British Values? I really had to think carefully and investigate what are thought to be British Values today. I spoke with friends, my adult students and researched the governments recent papers on the subject – it certainly sparked some interesting debates!

We agreed to focus on creating symbols that represent the following values  – freedom of expression, community, democracy, tolerance, rule of law, respect and equality. Following a discussion on what these values meant to the group, they selected symbols to interpret in their own designs. These were drawn and stencils cut out to attach to their screens.

Then the messy bit began – no matter how hard you try when new to printing with dyes, it seems to find its way into your gloves, across the table and even onto your face!  We used white cotton pre soaked with soda ash and red & blue dyes to represent the Union Jack colours to continue the British theme. Some students decided to work with one colour, others printed with both and some even swapped screens with their fellow students to create their printed designs.

Once the prints were dried, bunting and figures were cut from the printed fabric to assembled into a collage. The group machine embroidered words, representing British Values, and the details of the figures onto the wall hanging, using the work of Laura McCafferty as their inspiration.

Everyone worked extremely hard during the workshop and I was very impressed with the students ideas & perseverance whilst working on a difficult subject and tricky medium. The group are still working on completing the final stage of the wall hanging during their lunch hours and hope to have it completed very soon. Amy has promised to send us a picture of the completed work – so photo to follow!

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BCTF 2015: British Craft Trade Fair, Harrogate

A number of people ask how and where I sell my work, so I thought I would write a short blog on one of the ways I do this. As well as selling directly at retail and craft fairs, online and from open studio events,  I also attend trade fairs.

This April I made my annual visit north to Harrogate, to attend the British Craft Trade Fair. This is a three day event where I display current work and share my new collections as Silversoles. The event gives me an opportunity to meet buyers (from retail outlets, museum representatives and gallery owners), who are looking for work to show in their exhibition programmes or stock in their outlets.

It’s a wonderful event, organized by Margeret Bunn and her team with attendance by selection. Only UK makers can take part with all work having to be made in Britian. It has been an honour and privilege to exhibit my work at BCTF along some of the best makers in the UK, producing exceptionally skilled work of such a high standard.

We arrived on Saturday morning to set up and transform the bare shell scheme, ( see below). Initially the walls have a clean, then we start installing furniture, electric cabling and lighting ( thanks Dad), before beginning the process of displaying the work.

Starting with an empty shell scheme and in boxes…

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Beginning with the empty shell scheme…

Transformed to this…..

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The space transformed and ready for the show to open on Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

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The Stitched Figure

 

During the spring term the Paper, Fabric & Stitch group have been exploring the formal elements using the figure as our theme. I am loving the stitched interpretations created as stitch samplers to explore mark making with line, shape and pattern.

As the term has progressed we have worked with laminated paper, hand and mono screenprints using dyes. Stitched collages have been worked up using appliqué with hand and machine stitch; see below for some work in progress.

Pop down to mac, birmingham to see ‘Made @mac’ which is currently exhibiting work created by students who have attended the Paper, Fabric & Stitch course and runs until the beginning of May 2015.

 

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