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Stitched Up!

We recently had the second part of a two day workshop with Rose Mary Cullen, BA MA who teaches in National College of Art and Design (NCAD).  We were working on stitch, surface and manipulation techniques to interpret the drawing work we had produced in our sketchbooks in the first session.   This could have been very daunting, but Rose Mary brought loads of samples of work she had completed using different stitch and fabric manipulation techniques.  Rose Mary gave each of us individual attention, both before, during and after the class, suggesting ways in which we might achieve the textures, colours and shapes  that we were aiming for.

We spent a wonderful day revising (or learning for the first time) embroidery stitches such as fly stitch, feather stitch, Cretan stitch, blanket stitch, button hole stitch and lots more and getting to grips with using gathering and smocking to manipulate fabric in creative ways.


Among Rose Mary’s samples was this gem (pictured above) – a hanging made by using pieces of colourful linen union fabric stitched onto a grey background and embellished with layers of Cretan stitch in a variety of thread colours and thicknesses.  We loved the blending of colours, the organic shapes and the contemporary use of an old embroidery stitch.

And this sample of subtle colour threads, couched shapes, trapped buttons and a myriad of stitches also won our hearts.


These samples of chain stitch and running stitch highlighted how effective simple stitches can be when used in imaginative ways.


Some more images of the work we produced, both sketching and interpreting in fabric and stitch, over the two sessions.




We had a good learning experience, good chat and good food – and we hope to do it all again early next year if Rose Mary will put up with us!





The beauty of artists’ workbooks

We recently shared an image on our Facebook page of an artist’s notebook by Bridgette Guerzon Mills, a mixed media artist from the USA.  The particular page shown (see below) was entitled ‘As it is on Earth’ and the technique was described as “a gel transfer background, inkjet print, dipped in encaustic medium, oil paint”.  Doesn’t that sound so interesting and isn’t it fascinating that a notebook could be so beautiful!



And what is an Artist’s notebook or workbook?  It seems that it can be many things depending on the intention of the artist.  Some see it as a means of exploring an idea or concept, to make visual notes, rough sketches, visual details such as colours or shading experiments – a road map to how a final piece of art might work.  They can include notes and reminders, photographs or good ideas not to be forgotten.   Some notebooks can be a visual diary, a story or narrative illustrated by drawings, clippings, collage – a visual and written journey for the artist.


How about this one by Dorothy Caldwell, a Canadian textile artist? So much interest and texture created on one page with minimal colour!

Some artist’s notebooks are an art piece in their own right.  Pages have been removed, reshaped, remodelled, altered.  The interest lies in the techniques and media used (paint, stitch, ink, paste) the effect created and the reaction evoked.

As it happens, some of our group are very proficient at producing notebooks and have participated in the Kildare Artist Notebook project which is a permanent touring exhibition of 100 artist’s notebooks.


A page from one of Rose Mary Cullen’s notebooks

The majority of us are less proficient in this area and we recently invited Rose Mary Cullen to give a two day workshop on notebook work.  We each brought a source of inspiration and a blank notebook and Rose Mary led us through continuous line drawing, drawing the negative, timed observation, detailed attention to texture and surfaces and much, much more.

Here are some photos from our first day – we are so looking forward to the second session where we will look at surface and manipulation techniques using fabrics, threads, bondaweb, paper, tissue etc!