space to work and play

In our new house my office and my art space are sharing the same room; it could also be an occasional dining room and we may sleep in here as well when we have lots of visitors – so I’ve spent the weekend creating that space and I think it will work.

Luckily we also have a walk-in cupboard where I can keep and deal with a lot of the essential but not very pretty stuff to do with accounts and correspondence, so there is space in ‘my’ room for more textiles. One set of shelves is for work and all the rest are for art!

I don’t have all my textile books here yet – we had to leave most of them in Kendal till the next trip back. But I’ve managed a shelf-full, even so! I’ve overflowed into a kitchen cupboard with dyeing equipment but otherwise most of my stash has fitted in here, as well as my beloved filing cabinet, a big table for artwork and the smaller one that serves as my desk. There’s just enough room around the big table to seat six friendly people, and it will also fold down to almost nothing when we need the floorspace for sleeping.

These are the four corners of my new space. Those who know me well will not expect this tidiness to last very long! I’m trying to take in how good it feels to walk into right now, to motivate myself to make a habit of putting away what I take out before it descends into chaos.

Fiona's room

Fiona's room

Fiona's room

Fiona's room

You can’t see it because it got dark before I finished, but the very best part is that when I look out of the window I can see the sea…

still here – just

September and October have flown silently by and it’s only just over a week till our move to Tiree. If I had time to think about it I’d be full of trepidation, but as I still have masses of packing to do, and there are a few other little chores like the quarterly VAT return to get out of the way meanwhile, I don’t suppose I will have any time to think at all.

Not content with my inability to keep up with one blog, I’ve started a second one as well, Tiree journal, (and I’ve been neglecting that one too). I don’t plan to separate life and art or anything like that, but I do want to keep the focus here mainly on textiles, and I know I’ll also want to keep a record of this adventure we’re setting out on, or I’ll forget.

Not much to report on the art front, but here is a little piece of silk, an experiment in ‘painting’ with stitch resist, made before I packed up the equipment. I am so looking forward to getting everything out of boxes at the other end and getting back to making.

stitched resist sample

Thank you to everyone who’s left a comment in the last month or two – if I didn’t reply, I apologise. It will be lovely to be able to catch up with you all soon. Just a few ferry journeys between now and then…

drawing breath

Life always gets away from me in the summer when time away (lovely as it is) means twice as much work to fit into the weeks afterwards – and it’s not long before we set off again, this time heading down to Cornwall. In between, a little space to draw breath and share what I’m up to.

Our visit to Tiree was momentous, to say the least. Alan’s on sabbatical next year and we’ve decided to seize the day and do something we’ve been thinking about for years – to live and work in a small community on a remote and windswept island. So we went there looking for a home – and found one! We’re now jubilant and terrified in about equal measure. The move won’t be till November but there’s going to be plenty to do before then. We have two daughters starting uni this autumn too, one moving from Cornwall to Liverpool, and one just moving round the corner in Birmingham, but both will need help with their stuff. I’ll need to work hard to keep time for art among all this excitement!

While we were on Tiree I at last joined in with the World Beach Project.

World Beach Project at Traigh Ghrianal

And I did a bit more sampling of gathered fabrics while I was away. The ones in the middle will end up being dyed, I think.

gathering samples

I got fascinated by the effect of visible stitching…

gathering samples

and tying…

gathering samples

Tomorrow I’m going to a short workshop with the intriguing title “Kendal Green meets Shibori Dyeing”. I think I’ve mentioned before that Kendal’s town motto is Pannus mihi Panis – “Cloth is my Bread”; and the arts centre is having a festival to celebrate the town’s heritage with lots of textile events. Kendal Green is an old dye colour mentioned in Shakespeare, but I think we’re going to use a modern version! It should be fun, anyway. I’m just wondering if I can take my gathered samples along and throw them in too!

And these are some pics of Tiree I’ve put on Flickr, colours of sea and sky, rust and sand, light and water.

Tiree mosaic

1. Gunna Sound, 2. rocks at Caoles, 3. light and waves, 4. Balevullin, 5. light, waves and seaweed, 6. fences at Balevullin, 7. cows on the beach at Balevullin, 8. rust and lichen, 9. Crossapol beach, 10. oystercatchers, 11. rusty machinery on Crossapol beach, 12. sunset, 13. clear sea, Gunna Sound, 14. rusty metal at Hynish, 15. Crossapol beach, 16. Balevullin

judging a book by its cover

I know you shouldn’t but sometimes it’s hard not to – this new book Eco-Colour by India Flint looks so beautiful and the subtitle is so enticing – ‘Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles: Environmentally Sustainable Dyes’. I feel a moment of weakness coming on. India Flint’s web site is delicious as well – beautiful work and a sidebar that takes the phrase ‘navigation metaphor’ to new poetic heights.

It’s been a lean and hungry textile week for me, with a time-consuming project keeping me stuck at the computer, but I did sneak away long enough to make a little piece of nuno felt, on a cotton scrim base. I’m really trying to get that lovely barnacle-like effect on the cloth side – this is a bit more like the nuno felt I’ve seen than my last attempt, so progress in the right direction.

The pastel side:

pastel nuno felt

… and the bright side:

bright nuno felt

I imagine a garment with the delicately coloured textural side outward and the bright soft fleecy side within.