Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Festival of Quilts - part two

After the packing, the masterclass with Sandra Meech. This was held for two days before the show started and was entitled Connecting Art to Stitch which is also the title of her new book. ( Of course I bought a copy but I have not had chance to open it yet.) Everyone sent raving comments (just raving - not raving mad that is!) when I said I had bagged tickets so I had high hopes.

I have to say I was a little disapointed. Not with Sandra herself - she is a lovely person and an great enabler and encourager as a teacher. But I felt the class was high on art content and low on the connection aspect.

We had a huge list of art products to bring with us - not a problem but we spent much time 'seeing what they did'. I did get some value from this - I found out how she ( and I assume others like Jan Beany) make the white marks over paints and dyes I see in their books - a product I had never seen called Papermate Chinamarkers - will have to seek some of those out. I also found out why I could not get any different effect between my water colours and the koh-i-Noor dye set I had bought on recommendation.... I had not bought the dye set but the Koh-I-Noor watercolours in error! Sandra sold me the dye set and I love them. They are the white pallet below.

We painted with transfer dyes - which was new to me but I really disliked my paintings - childish and splodgy - but then as you can see, that is what we were encouraged to do. I also learned that you can draw on polyester or polycotton fabric and transfer the dyes - neat trick but I did not like my end result. Sandras' example of course looked fabulous.

I had a hard time with the drawing with a twig on papers set out on the floor exercise. We then coloured over the lines with oil pastel and scraped back. Big unattracive mess ensued in my view. However, I had another Eureka moment - have you ever read how people do collage with 'magazine papers'? I always wonderd how they managed to collect just the right colours of magazine pictures in the right quanity. Well, duh, no. You can paint the magazine pages with the dyes or watercolours. Works great. As does painting black and white photocopies with the dyes. Never knew that either, Both options of course will easily extend my available art supplies when I travel without sufficient weight allowance for specialist material.

We also did a fun thing where we made a collage of someone elses face and gifted it to them. No real connection to stitch but good for getting into collage if thats what you wanted. Here is Wendy and my version of her. We also transferred some painted heat transfer papers onto fabric.

We did the art stuff for a day and a half and then Husqvarna gave us machines to play on with free motion and we could also handstich - having been told to bring some threads and fabrics. There was no real tution in the connection to stitch though. It was just - this is what art materials do. This is how to get into onto fabric. Now you can stitch on it and I thought there was a gap in the course between the latter two. It also said in the decsription that we would work to a personal theme and to bring existing sketchbooks but that never came into it - save that I suppose we all did different things which were bound to develop into our own areas of interest anyway. But the sketchbooks we brought were never used.

I decided with my stitch time to see if I could improve one sample I had done which I did not really like much. It had been an African totem type drawing in black ink with transfer dyes over it. Bright and childish and not really intergrating with fabric. I threadpainted with the machine a bit and added a little straight hand stitch. I then tried to tone down the transfer dyes with oil pastels and metallic crayons and in the end ironed some darker transfer dyes over the whole thing, then added some fabric collage...... it is still definately a sample but it is a whole lot better than I started with.

Also, as I was alone that evening I got to sketchbook ( is that a verb?!) in the hotel and I found that the pages I did were suddenly a lot freer with use of coloured pages and cut outs etc than I have ever done before. They would be a whole lot better if they were part of a themed book - the theme of this sketchbook really being to try different ways of doing pages - but I did feel that there was some kind of breakthrough going on.


Diane said...

Very interesting to hear about your experience. I just got her new book this past week, and when I sat and read through it, I had vaguely the same reaction -- it's mostly about art exploration, and not so much about translating it all into fiber. But maybe it is intended to be (and really is, actually) a good reminder to start with the basic art part.

AND I just TODAY ordered a set of transfer paints in order to comlete a City and Guilds activity. I've never used them and they seem to be hard to find in the US. (Ultimately, I had to buy them from a Canadian supplier.) I wonder what that's about?

But I'm glad you had fun with the experience, and maybe having gotten "loosened up" with the exploring part, you'll find you're doing things differently or more freely in your next projects?

Me, I think I need to do a serious home-course in FINISHING SOMETHING. I seem to have a lot of projects in that "I just need to do X" stage. :-)

Karen said...

I have finally come to the conclusion that I do my worst work in classes. It can be embarrassing when teachers and other students wander around the room, with very little comment on what I'm doing! But I'm over that now, because I find that when I get home, little bits and pieces from the class start surfacing and I feel less stifled with what I'm doing. I was also a bit disappointed with the new book, maybe because the last one was so good.