‘Peace Talks’ chairs made for All We Are Saying.

Over the past month, I have been working on part of my piece for the Artists for Peace ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition at the Holy Biscuit. Until, I have finished the whole process and made all the pieces, it’s still a fluid concept. But, the two chairs I have reupholstered in patchwork signify difference, getting together, comfort and talking. I have used many fabrics from different cultures and countries, patchworked side by side.

Wing-back arm chair.

Wing-back arm chair.

A while ago, I bought two wing-back arm chairs from Tynemouth Market, lovely old stable chairs covered in what looks like an old Welsh textile weave. I chose these chairs for the exhibition as I wanted them to be homely, the type of chairs families would sit on if they were having a family dispute and trying to ‘sort things out’ over a cup of tea. As far away from the large, grand, gilt covered chairs that heads of state would sit in to have their ‘Peace Talks’.

Making patchwork

Making patchwork

The two chars were stripped and using fabrics I had (I’m a terrible hoarder), including clothes my children had grown out of, they were patchworked together. Both chairs has a African seed bead square on the front, which can sometimes be found in other pieces of my work.

Hand stitching the cross sections of fabric.

Hand stitching the cross sections of fabric.

These patchworked panels were tacked onto the chairs and cross sections sewn.

Seat back and wings finished.

Seat back and wings finished.

The last stage I really don’t like doing – pipping the cushion! But as it is a free standing cushion pad, it had to be done.

First finished AWAS chair.

First finished AWAS chair.

The two chairs are the same but different. Like we all are, really.

Second AWAS chair with Wilf.

Second AWAS chair with Wilf.

There are a few little fiddly things I need to do to finish the chairs off, but as long as they are ready for Friday 11th September – preview night- then I’m not too worried!

Next, to continue this piece, I plan to redecorate  small ‘pedestal’ side table. During the preview night and during the exhibition, I plan to encourage people to sit in the chairs, have a cup of tea, talk about their thoughts the whole exhibition has evoked in them and maybe document these discussions in a small table book… The ideas keep evolving…

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How to: Yarn Bomb a chair!

WARNING!! -This is a really fun one and could possibly get addictive!

Finished yarnbombed chairs.

Finished yarn bombed chairs.

You will/may need:

Knitting wool – double knitting and above in thickness, and lots of colours!

Crochet hook or knitting needles,

Wool needles,

Foam/seat pad,

Fabric for patchworking,

Webbing and webbing stretcher if there is not ‘seat’,

Tacks/small nails,

Hessian or similar fabric for underside of seat.

This is a great way to recycle an old chair you/friend may have or that you’ve found down a charity shop. Firstly, you need to clean your chair and tighten up any nut and bolts. If your seat has wicker for the ‘seat’, strip this as close to the wood as possible.

Strip wicker or any fabric/wood from the seat.

Strip wicker or any fabric/wood from the seat.

If you have a wooden seat, check there’s no nails etc sticking out, which could be dangerous. If you have a seat which was a woven wicker, which you have now stripped, then you will need to ‘web’ a seat – YouTube has many sites explaining this method.

Finished 'webbed' seat.

Finished ‘webbed’ seat.

You are now ready for the fun stuff! Using either crochet or knitting, make narrow strips according to a rough estimate of the width and length of you chair. I started with the legs. I calculated roughly by first crocheting a chain which I wrapped around the base of the leg and worked in treble crochet, making brightly coloured stripes.

Striped lengths of crochet for chair sections.

Striped lengths of crochet for chair sections.

When I had reached a ‘joint’ in the chair, I would slightly decrease the number of stitches to work around the joint, then increase again after. (When two joints meet the crocheted sections will be sewn together to cover the join.)

Once, the crocheted length was the correct size, I would cast off, then sew the section to around the leg of the chair, pulling tight to ensure the wool stitching is discreetly disguised.

Continue working this way, making lengths of crochet to wrap around the different joints of the chair.

Stitching the 'joints' together.

Stitching the ‘joints’ together.

If you have webbed the seat, stitch the lengths of crochet through the webbing. If you have a wooden seat, using small tacks, nail the crochet length around the base of the seat, ensuring your tacks will be covered over with your seat pad later. Also, ensure all tacks are safely hammered in.

Wrapping the length of crochet around the webbed seat.

Wrapping the length of crochet around the webbed seat.

Once your chair is fully yarn bombed, you will now need a foam seat pad which you can either buy pre-cut from a shop. Then, you will need to decide how to cover it. I choose to cover my seats using my daughter’s skirts and trousers they had grown out of. These were in great fabrics – ideal for upholstery – such as cord, velvets and denims. I decided to cut them and sew them into ‘crazy patchwork’. This is a traditional technique, which uses up small pieces of fabric. But, you could choose to continue with the crochet/knitting and make a cover or use a full piece of fabric to cover the cushion pad.

Chair covered in crochet yarn bombing.

Chair covered in crochet yarn bombing.

The fabric, with the pad positioned underneath, was tacked around about 1cm from the top edge of the seat. I then, made a crochet binding to cover the tacked edge, by crocheting a long length in two rows of double crochet. This was then discreetly sewn onto the patchwork and the chair.

Crazy patchwork seat cover, with crochet binding.

Crazy patchwork seat cover, with crochet binding.

You’re now almost finished! To make your chair look neat and tidy, it’s always best to cover your working, so that there’s no little wool ‘tails’ dangling from your chair. I would, therefore, recommend to now cover the underside of the seat with hessian to hide your working. This can be done with a small square of hessian, or another fabric you have at hand, and tack that to the underside of the seat.

Underside of seat, with the 'working' of your chair hidden underneath.

Underside of seat, with the ‘working’ of your chair hidden underneath.

Now, you can enjoy your most gorgeous and fabulous seat – invite your friends round and maybe make another!

My finished chairs on display at Ouseburn Open Studios this weekend.

My finished chairs on display at Ouseburn Open Studios this weekend.

Finished chair.

Finished chair.

Ouseburn Open Studios starts tomorrow

Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen

Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen

It was great today to finally get both my portraits of Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, both poets who died during World War One, up on the outside wall of my studio, number 11 at the Biscuit Factory, Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s been a busy couple of weeks tidying, cleaning my space as well as getting everything finished off.

Inside my studio - cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Inside my studio – cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Opposite my studio, there also a number of rather fabulous jewellery makers whose studios I enjoy popping into when I get a chance.  inthesilverroom is contemporary silver jewellery by Michelle – check out her fabulous website for distinctive designs.

The Biscuit Factory Studio corridors.

The Biscuit Factory Studio corridors.

'Matriarchal Trefoil' and 'Caretakers of the World, UNITE!'

‘Matriarchal Trefoil’ and ‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’

Both of the pictures above have been made using ‘hooky’ mat technique. I finally framed up the ‘Matriarchal Trefoil’ yesterday, as it had been tricky to source someone to cut me an oval board to mount the heavy picture on. You can see a link to the stages of this picture here.

Embroidered Love Birds

Embroidered Love Birds

Really pleased with these two little fellows! So cute! I do enjoy embroidering, very relaxing and again, another job finished. A deadline is always good to have and the Ouseburn Open Studios, is a great one!! I am so looking forward to getting down there now as it’s a great opportunity to meet people, show what you’ve been working on, get feedback and maybe even sell some things!!

And just a reminder for anyone in the area: it’s on this Saturday and Sunday 10-5pm.