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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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.
Patchwork 5

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.

 

Final Day of Artist Residency at Bergby Konstcenter

The past two weeks, working as Artist in Residence at Bergby Konstcenter, has been very inspiring, productive, thought provoking and down right good fun! As you will have seen through the last 13 posts, the arts centre itself is a beautiful and inspirational place, based in an idyllic part of rural Sweden but also in easy access of Stockholm, Uppsala and other fantastic places to visit.

Visitors to the exhibition were welcomed with cake!

Visitors to the exhibition were welcomed with cake, as part of an afternoon tea party!

The last day of the exhibition was busy with visitors, many taking part and making ‘Green Pledges’ for me to sew into mini pennants when I return to England – written in Swedish and English.

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Afternoon tea party to celebrate the final day of the residency, organised by Helen and John.

As part of the residency, it had always been planned to parade the larger pennants up into the Bergby woods and hang them with the ‘Green Pennants’ as the closing part of the exhibition. This seemed only fitting, as it is an environmentally charged work about the planet and our job as ‘caretaker’s’ of it.

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Getting ready to parade the pennants to the woods…

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On parade.

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Deeper into the woods…

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‘Sea Juggernaut’ pennant.

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Hanging up the ‘Life giving bee’ pennant in the trees.

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‘Life giving bee’, ‘Haxors Trosor’ and ‘Sea Juggernaut’ pennant hanging in the trees at Bergby woods.

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Me, about to start hanging up the ‘Green Pledges’.

Once the larger pennants had been hung, we then hung the ‘Green Pledges’ which had been made so far as part of this environmental art project. Most of these pieces had been pledges by people from Newcastle, but there were also a few new ones from Sweden.

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‘Green Pledges’ hanging in the Bergby woods.

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More detailed view of some of the ‘Green Pledges’.

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‘Green Pledges’ blowing in the wind.

Besides fueling and developing new ideas, working as Artist in Residence at Bergby Konstcenter, talking to Helen and John,  and to the visitors to the exhibition, it has made me realise that I don’t want to finish this project but to continue with the ideas and ethos which has evolved from my time in Sweden. I have always fully intended to finish the now 50 plus ‘Green Pledges’ and to exhibit them in other places but I also wish to encourage more people to be part of this project and to either in writing make a pledge and/or make it into a textile piece which can be hung side by side with the others. Within each of these pledges, people – young and old – have raised important environmental issues and thought about how they can help address them in a small way.

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‘Green Pledges’ flying from a Suffolk bridge following my return to England.

I would like to thank Helen, John and their lovely family, who made us all for so welcome and comfortable in their arts centre and home, and for giving me this fantastic opportunity to be part of their work.

Artist Residency Day 13 at Bergby Konstcenter, Sweden.

In the last few days whilst my ‘Häxors Trosor’ exhibition has been open, many of my Swedish visitors have also been keen to make their ‘Green Pledge’. During this time I have also been busy making more from the list of pledges I brought from Newcastle.

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Visitors to Bergby Konstcenter making green pledges.

I have been using local resources to make some of the pledges, including milk cartons, plastic bread and chocolate wrappers. Helen and John the artists who run Bergby Konstercenter have also made a pledge to be hung with the others.

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‘I am making a compost in my garden’.

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‘Here I write my solemn pledge to grow and eat organic veg.’

Visitors to the exhibition seemed to really enjoy looking at the craftsmanship in the environmental textile pennants, from the heavy embroidery to intensively worked beading and the sentiment in the poetry. It was extremely heartening to hear the very sincere feedback.

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A local bee keeper and her daughter looking at the ‘ Life giving bee’ embroidery.

Talking to the visitors, asking them to also make a ‘green pledge’ has made me really think about taking this project so much further. The exhibition of the work produced during the residency is going to Gateshead Old Town Hall in September and October but I feel I would like to continue encouraging people to make pledges, so that the number of pledges made grows past the 50 we have so far.

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‘I will eat less dairy and milk.’

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‘I will recycle more’.

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‘I will try to raise awareness with my friends about the issues of sea creatures’, by Rosie age 13.

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Visitors to the exhibition.

If you would like to be a part of this project, please get in touch. You can just write a green pledge which I will make for you or you can make your own to form part of the growing numbers of green pledges made so far.

Residency Day 9 -new ‘Green Pledges’.

Before I came out to Bergby Konstcenter in Sweden, I had asked people who had visited my studio in Newcastle if they would like to make a ‘Green Pledge’ and I would make them to hang with the others in the exhibition in Sweden.

Here are some new pledges which have been made:

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‘I will encourage bees into my backyard’.

These new pledges have been made using resources I had at hand in Sweden including plastic bread bags (the tassels above) to milk cartons ( the patchwork below).

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I will stop eating beef.

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I will grow my own fruit and vegetables.

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I will turn off the lights.

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This one contains a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.’

All of the ‘ Green Pledges’ are now up in the exhibition, already more new pledges are being made. I hope to go and hang them all up in the woods this weekend! Then I shall send photos to all the people who have been involved in the project so far…

‘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’

Exhib 1

Rob Patrick

Rob Patrick: 'Paveway'

Rob Patrick: ‘Paveway’

Angela Sandwith

Exhib 14a

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.

‘All We Are Saying’ Peace Squares blanket update.

Just a quick update, showing you some of the lovely new peace squares we’ve received over the last couple of weeks for the Peace Blanket which will be part of the ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition at the Holy Biscuit, in Newcastle upon Tyne in September.

To date, we have over 40 squares (many I still haven’t shown you yet!) that have arrived to us from around the World, to be sewn into the blanket but I also know there are many more making their way to us.

There is still time, if you would like to be involved, check out the details at the below all these beautiful Peace Squares.

Maragret's craft group 2 Margaret's craft group 1 Peace 1 -Margaret's emb group Peace 2 Margaret's emb group Peace squares delivered 2 Peace squares delivered Sylvia Sinclair 1 Sylvia Sinclair 2 Victoria leeks Margery Dove 2 Margery Dove Margery Tree

Call out for squares:
We would love people to submit squares to be stitched into our blanket. These can be made in any textile media, including crocheted, knitted, embroidery, beaded, fabric painted, patchwork and quilting. They can be as detailed as you have time for and we are very happy to encourage as many young people and children to be involved in this, too. When designing your piece, please remember that this is an optimistic and positive project and we do not wish to offend anyone with the wording or imagery. The squares should be 20 x 20 cm, with an extra 1cm for seam allowance.

These squares can either be made in the gallery during the exhibition in September or can be posted to:
Blanket for Peace,
The Holy Biscuit,
1 Clarence St,
Shieldfield,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
NE2 1YH

Please send your squares before the end of September to ensure their inclusion in the ‘Blanket for Peace’.

Peace Squares update.

It has been fantastic to see the response to the call out for Peace Squares to be made as part of the Artists for Peace  ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition at the Holy Biscuit in September. I would like to share a few of the squares which have recently arrived.

All We Are Saying Peace Squares, a selection.

All We Are Saying Peace Squares, a selection.

The squares above were made by members of the North Shields Embroidery Guild and the Tuesday Crafternoon group. They are a fabulous collection, even using found items like shells to decorate the square.

Peace Square made by Margaret Graham.

Peace Square made by Margaret Graham.

Embroidered and progged Peace Square made by Kath Price.

Embroidered and progged Peace Square made by Kath Price.

If you would like to make a Peace Square and send it to us – wherever you are in the World – then please send it to:

Peace Blanket

The Holy Biscuit
1 Clarence Street
Shieldfield
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 1YH

The squares can be made in any textile technique – knitting, sewing, proggy matting, fabric painting etc. If the finished design size can be 20 cm square and please allow a few more cm around the square for sewing. The only thing we ask is if the square is not to be overtly religious or political, as we would like this to be a very inclusive work.

Peace in many languages.

Peace in many languages.

The beautiful piece above was sent into us anonymously and it’s a lovely piece on pretty fabric.

Two part peace square.

Two part peace square.

Give Peace a Chance embroidered square.

Give Peace a Chance embroidered square.

I hope to share more of the squares we’ve had delivered again soon.

Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’.

A couple of weeks ago, during the Whit week and the school holiday, we all went to visit Grandma and Granddad down in beautiful Suffolk. Having seen the Channel 4 programme the week before about Grayson Perry’s new work, a collaboration with FAT architects, called a ‘House for Essex’, we decided to go and visit it.

Tantalising glimpse of 'House for Essex' across the fields.

Tantalising glimpse of ‘House for Essex’ across the fields.

The house is built in a small Essex village called Wrabness, which is near the banks of the River Stour and a nature reserve.

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

To get near to the house, you can either walk from the local railway station (the best route for those who are unable to walk far or are unsteady on their feet) or like we did and many others, take a slightly longer walk but much more scenic and fun, by walking down the public footpath near to the historic and beautiful All Saint’s Church. The church itself is worth a look at too, it was built in the 1100’s with a separate bell ‘cage’ built after the bell tower collapsed.

Two excited and inspired children!

Two excited and inspired children!

One of my daughters had already seen the Channel 4 programme about how the house was designed and built, so she was super excited as we walked along near the nature reserve catching tantalising glimpses of the house as we walked along the footpaths.

Side view of house.

Side view of house.

With us, were other people making their way to the house, coming from different directions. It was a little bit like a scene in ‘Close Encounters’, when people were drawn to the hill ‘Devil’s Tower’ not knowing why and having no control over their actions – they just had to go.

House for Essex, details of tiles.

House for Essex, details of tiles.

House for Essex, details of tiles.

House for Essex, details of tiles.

The design and detail for the outside of the house is stunning. It also amazed me how wonderfully it sits in the landscape, being such a rural area. The gold roof, sitting beautifully above the trees.

House for Essex, roof detail.

House for Essex, roof detail.

During the Summer, there is an opportunity to stay in the house, for a large fee, of course. As a textile artist, I feel I would love to stay there during the Winter, using Grayson Perry’s interior tapestries and decoration, as inspiration only leaving the building to collect food, walk down to the nature reserve and observe the cranes at the docks of Harwich and Felixstowe. Plus, there would be less people – like us! – peering in at the fabulous house!

House for Essex, viewed from the road leading to the railway station.

House for Essex, viewed from the road leading to the railway station.

Having been lucky enough to visit Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’, with a young family, I would fully recommend it to anyone in the area to go and visit it. I also urge the people of Wrabness to get postcards made, the café open and enjoy this wonderful opportunity to celebrate having a major artwork on their doorstep.