Needlecase community workshop

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Needlecase project and ‘maker’ essential equipment.

Last year I worked on a large project to create the Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, whilst doing that I worked with a small, lovely group of women who were part of the ‘Syrian Family Group’ who met up regularly in Gateshead. The women made about 10 of the hand stitched patchwork squares for the quilt that is now on display at the Shipley Art Gallery.

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Hand stitching a needlecase.

Recently, the women have asked if I could work on developing some other projects with them, to help them get back into sewing. We decided it would be helpful to make up ‘sewing maker packs’, so that everyone had the essential equipment to get them going back at home. The pack included and pair of scissors, needles, thread and pins. So it was decided to make a needlecase as the first sewing project, to keep the needles and pins safe.

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Sewing flower designs onto the needlecase.

The needlecase was made with felt, so that it was practical, versatile and gave a lovely finish. The cases could also be further embellished with buttons and extra stitching.

We meet this Saturday at the Shipley Art Gallery and had a very busy afternoon. When crafting in groups, I always love the social aspect of it: lots of nattering, laughing and cups of tea!

Here are some of the finished hand stitched felt needlecases made by the group on Saturday.

 

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The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt update

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100 finished hand patchworked squares positioned for sewing together.

Over the last five months I have worked with and meet with people from all over Gateshead, the North East and the UK to encourage people to be part of the Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt. We have now received over 130 squares which have been made using traditional hand sewn,  hand paper piecing technique known as English Paper Piecing.

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Designing and making individual squares.

As part of the programme to make the quilt, there has been a weekly class held at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead. Attending were a mixture of people who had patchworked before and people who hadn’t stitched.  This was a really vibrant and supportive group of people, who within a couple of weeks were advancing very quickly in their skill development and very confident in using the new technique they had learnt to create their own designs. There was also a great opportunity for skills sharing and even the embroidery silk which will be used to stitch the lettering was hand spun during a skills sharing moment by one of our very talented group.

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The Shipley Art Gallery proved to be a great inspiration for our designs.

I have also worked with local craft groups, visitors the the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival, members of the local Jewish Community and a Syrian Women’s support group. This has been a lovely opportunity to talk to people about how sewing,  making and craft has played an important part in their family, community and culture.

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Just a few of the 130 squares made!

Members of the patchwork class have been helping me over the last couple of weeks to sew the 100 squares together into rows and then the rows together.  This has been a fantastic help, as I am working on the central panel which is white and cream hexagons sewn in the ‘Grandmother’s Garden’design. This will then be embroidered with hand spun silk to create the lettering. Next month, October, I will then start to quilt the piece ready to be hung in the Shipley Art Gallery for the 22nd November, 2017.

 

 

How to: English Paper Pieced Patchwork

Patchwork has a long tradition of using precisely cut, paper pieces to ensure that the complex geometric designs fit neatly into place, ensuring fewer mistakes and more economical use of fabric – which was and can be expensive.

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Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.

Follow these simple instructions below to help you with your own English Paper Pieced patchwork.

Patchwork 1

Stage 1

  • Pin the backing paper to the ‘wrong’ side of every fabric patch.
  • Fold over the seam allowance and pin it so that the paper and fabric are the same size.
Patchwork 2

Stage 2

  • Tack around this edge – contrast cotton works well as it can be easily removed later.

TIP: When sewing the corners, use your nails to ensure you have folded the fabric neatly to the points, then create ‘wings’ in the excess fabric, which will remain on the underside of your patchwork piece – giving you a neat sewing edge on top.

Patchwork 3

Stage 3

  • Place two patches, ‘right’ sides together, line them up carefully so that each corner you are going to sew from matches.
  • Pin along this line.
Patchwork 4

Stage 4

  • Then sew a very small whipstitch/over stitch, sewing this edge together – try not to sew through the backing paper.
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Stage 5

  • Continue placing new pieces together.
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Right side of English paper Piecing.

  • Looking at the ‘right’ side of the fabric, you should be able to still see the hand sewn whipstitch you used to sew the two pieces together. This gives it it’s authenticity and adds beauty to the piece.
  • The tacking stitches you can see around the edge (and the paper inside) will eventually be take out, once all of the patchwork/quilt has been pieced together, before the backing fabric is placed on.
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Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.

 

Get involved! The Shipley Centenary Quilt Project

The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear will this year be celebrating its 100th Anniversary, after being founded following a bequest by local solicitor Joseph Shipley (1822-1909). The gallery holds a beautiful collection of European Old Masters, to Victorian and more modern paintings. It now is also extremely well know and highly considered for its collection of decorative art including ceramics, textiles, wood, metal and glass by local and national makers. The Shipley Art Gallery has an amazing collection of whole cloth and patchwork quilts, which the North East has a long and strong tradition in making, either for private use or as a way of making money.

As part of the celebrations, I have been asked to work with and encourage creative people to work together to make a new patchwork quilt. As traditionally, patchwork would have been made using English Paper Piecing, this quilt will also follow in the tradition. To make this quilt, we need 100, 20 cm square (plus seam allowance) hand pieced panels.

 

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One finished 20 cm square patchwork panel for the Shipley Centenary Quilt.

 

If you would like to get involved, the individual patchwork panels need to be returned by the end of August, either to myself or the Shipley Art Gallery. The finished patchwork quilt will be on display for the centenary celebrations towards the end of November. So, this allows a couple of months to piece all of the panels together and to quilt it.

Day 1 of my Haxors Trosor Artist’s Residency at Bergby Konstcenter, Sweden.

After leaving Suffolk at 1 am, yesterday morning, we were all happy and excited to arrive at Bergby Konstcenter, where we shall be spending two weeks creating, making, demonstrating and displaying artwork produced during that time.

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Bergby Konstcenter

As part of the residency, there is lovely on-site accomodation provides by Helen and John who run the arts centre and gallery.

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After arriving yesterday, I set up the studio and gallery space, hanging up the ‘Green Pledges’ and the pennants made in preparation, plus emptying the two suitcases of art and textiles equipment I had brought.

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Environmental art pennants.

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‘ Green Pledges’

Already, my three girls are also getting into the digital detox, creative spirit and have started using the art materials that have brought. This is a piece below by Kitty, age 11 who has used pastels to draw this lovely picture.

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Pastel picture made by Kitty, age 11.

 

 

 

 

About ‘obsesivcreativ’

Rupert Brooke poet

Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

Louise is a Newcastle based textile and three dimensional artist making unique pieces, working with traditional north east techniques such as hooky and proggy matting, as well as spinning, quilting, patchwork, embroidery, felting, batik as well as upholstery and lino print.

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Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

Louise is particularly influenced by nature and environmental issues. Inspiration and influences include the Arts and Crafts movement, costume of all eras (but particularly military, late C20 and theatrical), contemporary quilting and fibre arts in the US, subversive crafting and textiles.

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Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

A constant maker, Louise sources materials from across the country. She is keen to react against mass production and uniformity.

Recently, Louise was very pleased to be involved in the exhibition of Grayson Perry’s ‘A Vanity of Small Differences’ at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. Louise worked with local community groups to create three large textile wall hangings in response to his work, these hung alongside the exhibition.

'The First Aspirational Tea Party' made with young mums for Grayson Perry's  'The Vanity of Small Differences' exhibition in Sunderland.

‘The First Aspirational Tea Party’ made with young mums for Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ exhibition in Sunderland.

Louise believes that passing on skills is very important and welcomes commissions involving school and community work, teaching textile crafts in formal and informal settings.

'All We Are Saying' blanket for Peace.

‘All We Are Saying’ blanket for Peace.

This year, with her family, Louise is heading to Sweden for a two week artists residency at the Bergby Konstcenter. The underlying theme for her residency is about the environment and she have come up with the working title of ‘Häxors Trosor’ for the residency. This is Swedish for ‘Witches Knickers’! This is a humorous term for the shreds of plastic bags stuck in trees and bushes which are such a common sight in our landscapes.  These are symbol of the sad condition of our planet, much of which is a result of a throw-away culture, with rubbish found dumped in beautiful landscapes, plastic floating in the seas and chemicals seeping into the planet’s ecosystems. Watch how the project develops here and on instagram.

Portrait project with Hadrian Primary School

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This picture is made by an extremely talented Year 4 pupil.

 

As part of the Drawing? exhibition at the Customs House in South Shields, Illustrated Stitch I was asked to work with a local school looking at the way I work, developing my portraits using drawing and stitching.

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I worked with 12 children aged between 5 and 11, who had been chosen as they all needed extra help developing their communication skills.

Through the discussion about the artworks in the exhibition, looking at how my portraits also used words and imagery drawn from a persons life, the children were encouraged to think about themselves and how they would like to be represented, what images they would use.

The two pictures above are made by young identical twins, one was interested in nature and bugs, the other robots.

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We worked together during two, one hour sessions, working with six children at a time, to ensure each child felt they had my absolute attention and I could help them throughout.

The children had photographs of themselves to work from. We worked on natural calico, drawing out the portrait, looking at scale, then discussing which areas the children would like to hand stitch to create extra detail.

On the second week, the children added more colour using pastels and painting parts of the fabric with tea.

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Once the children had completed their portraits, I finished they off by hand quilting sections of the portrait and creating a ‘frame’ with the stitching.

The portraits have all worked out beautifully, the colours and tones they have chosen, as well as the lovely lines they have used to draw out not only their wonderful portrait but also little key images which tell you a little bit more about themselves, are delightful. Such a fabulously talented group of very young people!

Current projects

Currently, I am trying to juggle a number of projects, which in an ideal world I’d be able to finish them all asap!

Final 'layout' decision on the Peace Blanket - ready to be sewn together.

Final ‘layout’ decision on the Peace Blanket – ready to be sewn together.

The ‘All We Are Saying’ Peace Blanket is coming on well. Today, I finished hand sewing all the knitted and crocheted pieces together – which we decided will be placed on the first row. All the other fabric rows have now been sewn together, so tomorrow I can piece all the verticals, ready for it’s backing and tabs for hanging.

W. G. Grace portrait- work in progress.

W. G. Grace portrait- work in progress.

I am also hoping to crack on with my portrait of W. G. Grace this week, too, as he was put on hold for the World Mental Health Day hanging (below). As you can see, I have been having a great time with his beard – very different (hadn’t noticed the different ‘textures’ beards had until now!!) to William Morris’s which I completed earlier this year.

W. G. Grace's beard!

W. G. Grace’s beard!

On Friday, I ran a workshop as part of World Mental Health Day in Cullercoats, North Tyneside. The day was for all members of the community and I was working with people to create a large hanging which will be used for similar events in the future. Everyone was invited to sew or design a square to go in the hanging, expressing their thoughts and feelings. It was a really great event and over the next month or so, I shall be taking the finished squares and envisaging their designs, to make the hanging.

World Mental Health Day 2015

World Mental Health Day 2015

The creative process, as many of you will know, is very good for relaxing the mind, reducing blood pressure, for meeting and making like-minded friends and stimulates the brain’s synapses.

World Mental Health day 2015

World Mental Health day 2015

‘All We Are Saying’ at the Holy Biscuit exhibition.

All We Are Saying at the Holy Biscuit

12th September to 3rd October, 2015.

 

All We Are Saying’ at The Holy Biscuit is an exhibition of local artists, who have teamed up with artists from Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle as well as in Liverpool, Germany and the Netherlands to create a multi-sited ‘Call-Out’ for Peace, throughout the months of September and October. The philosophy for the exhibitions is apolitical, non-religious, non partisan or nationalistic, and (as far as possible) zero budgeted and non profit making. It is only through the imagination, passion, enthusiasm and commitment of Sunderland artist, Barrie West, who started the ‘Call Out’ that so many artists, makers, creatives and other peace aware individuals have come together to make this such a momentous creative event.

 

As part of this exhibition at the Holy Biscuit, there is work from textile artists, print makers, painters, photographers and silversmiths. Leading up to and during the exhibition people are also being asked to be involved in making a ‘Peace Square’; a small textile piece which will be sewn into a larger ‘Peace Blanket’. So far there has been contributions from as far afield as Sri Lanka, America and Germany and well as from nearer to home across the North East of England.

 

As well as being open to the public between 12th September and the 3rd October, two special events are being held:

Saturday 19th September, to coincide with World Peace Day, visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to make peace doves using fabric, papers and ribbons.

Saturday 3rd October, there will be a special celebration day for the Peace Blanket and visitors will be able to see all the squares sewn together.

 

All We Are Saying would like to say a very special thank you to The Holy Biscuit for sponsoring the room hire for this event and for being extremely supportive throughout the exhibition’s development.

All We Are Saying at the Holy Biscuit has been curated by Louise Underwood

The Brownies visit for the opening of 'All we Are Saying'

The Brownies visit for the opening of ‘All we Are Saying’

The opening night for ‘All We Are Saying’ was a great success. Many people, young and old, found the different ways the artists had responded to the ‘Call Out’ fascinating and thought provoking. There was music by two local young folk musicians, Zak and Ethan Younger Banks who helped set a lovely relaxed tone whilst playing their acoustic guitars, accordions and sometimes assisted by their sister Erin on the flute. The artists had backed cakes and biscuits, to make a truly relaxed affair.

Preview night.

Preview night.

Also as part of the evening, visitors also made origami cranes which were placed within the gallery.

Origami crane making.

Origami crane making.

In total eleven artists exhibited at the Holy Biscuit but across Sunderland, Gateshead, Germany and the Netherlands many, many more artists have been involved in the whole.

Within this blog post, I shall try and give you a flavour of the exhibition and artists involved at the Holy Biscuit:

Gaynor Devaney

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Gaynor Devaney's work: Dreaming of Home.

Gaynor Devaney’s work: Dreaming of Home.

Michelle Follet

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Michelle Follet's piece: 'Silent'.

Michelle Follet’s piece: ‘Silent’.

Jayamini de Silva

Exhib 5a

Jayamini de Silva's: Tranquility, Medley and Affection.

Jayamini de Silva’s: Tranquility, Medley and Affection.

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Esen Kaya

Esen Kaya: 'The Conversation'

Esen Kaya: ‘The Conversation’

Kath Price

Kath Price: 'The White Bird Soars and Swoops'

Kath Price: ‘The White Bird Soars and Swoops’

Louise Underwood

Louise Underwood: 'Peace Talks'

Louise Underwood: ‘Peace Talks’

Margery Robinson

Margery Robinson: The Lovers

Margery Robinson: The Lovers

Patricia Bowles

Patricia Bowles: 'Symbol'.

Patricia Bowles: ‘Symbol’.

Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson: 'Remember'

Michelle Johnson: ‘Remember’

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Rob Patrick

Rob Patrick: 'Paveway'

Rob Patrick: ‘Paveway’

Angela Sandwith

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Angela Sandwith: 'Ritual'

Angela Sandwith: ‘Ritual’

Each of these pieces have very deep, thoughtful and emotive responses, which hopefully I shall have the opportunity to document fully along with the Peace Blanket.

The Peace Blanket has now over 60 squares to be sewn together and if you are interested in being a part of it, then we would like the pieces to be in by Thursday 1st October.

This exhibition would not have been the amazing success it has become without the help, support and guidance of Barrie West, Margaret Graham, Colleen Fernandez, all the fabulous artists involved, The Holy Biscuit team esp. Gemma, Sue Thompson, Zac, Ethan and Erin Younger Banks and all the wonderful people who have made a peace square.

Loom Band workshop at Gateshead Library.

Last week, as part of the school holiday Family Fun workshops at Gateshead Library, I ran a ‘Creative Loom Band’ workshop for local families. Although it was a lovely hot day outside – quite rare at the moment – it was extremely well attended and we had such fun!

Families creating loom band creatures!

Families creating loom band creatures!

As many children have been madly loom banding for over a year now, we looked at making things a little bit different to the norm and using other elements such as beads into the process.

Well prepared for the workshop!

Well prepared for the workshop!

Children as young as five joined in and they had great fun making things such as sea monsters, lights sabres, all sorts of fruit, groovy bracelets and even an ‘Elsa’ from Frozen!

Beaded loom band bracelet.

Beaded loom band bracelet.

'Elsa' from Frozen.

‘Elsa’ from Frozen.

'Teddy' loom band pencil holder.

‘Teddy’ loom band pencil holder.

Before and after last weeks workshop, my three girls have all seemed to have had a loom band resurgence and everyday, something new has been created during the summer holidays!

Octopus, made by mini obsesivcreativ.

Octopus, made by mini obsesivcreativ.