Saturday, 30 April 2016

London Craft Club

Two weekends ago my friend Alex discovered the London Craft Club and invited me along to one of their Meet-Ups. The venue on this occasion was the basement of the coffee shop Tap Coffee at 26 Rawthone Place, London.

It's a great idea if you want to get crafty with people with similar interests. The London Craft Club is ran by Sonia Bownes who organises the meet-ups and also provides a fun craft activity to do for everybody or you can take your own project along and enjoy the company with a cup of tea and some cake. I decided to take a rather time-consuming (boring) task of unpicking a much loved RTW trousers from Gap that ripped open at the back pockets. I aim to use it to inform my perfect trouser block - based upon my Sew Over It Cigarette Pants too.

I would definitely join another one of their sessions when I am free at the weekend as its a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Here is a link to their website: London Craft Club

Friday, 22 April 2016

Raku Clay Effect Shells

I have been exploring the simple properties of line, texture and form in the art classroom with students and really enjoyed creating these examples.

Observational studies of shells using mixed media. Collage with pen and ink.

I then started to investigate texture and form using clay. Using a basic thumb-pot / pinch-pot method I produced a likeness of the shells then imprinted texture and used shallow relief techniques. The tools I used were the traditional clay tools alongside old screws, a metal fork and a handle of an old paintbrush.

If you do not have access to a kiln you can use air-drying clay or Fimo home-oven bake polymer clay. 

After firing the clay shells I decided not to use a traditional glaze but to layer acrylic paints on the surface. First I used a layer  of black paint ensuring the paint goes deep into the cracks and textural areas. The next step is to wash away the paint using a cloth - it's best to do this quickly before the paint has a chance to dry onto the outer surface.

This leaves the dark paint in the crevices of the clay. I then used a pearlescent paint and a dry brush method and gently brushed the silver paint over the surface of the clay shell.

The final finish is to create a raku effect glaze but without the need for fire-pits and sawdust. The process of what you would need to do to create raku pottery is quite dangerous if you don't have the specialist equipment!

After firing the clay in a traditional kiln, whilst still hot you move them using metal tongs and place the pottery into a metal container that can be sealed. In this container you can use sawdust / dried leaves / dried seaweed which when the hot pottery is placed into the container will ignite and burn. The container is sealed so the fire continues until all the oxygen in the space is exhausted. This process causes chemical reactions that affect the pottery and glazes and produce the most beautiful effects.

Image source: Clayhouse Studios
What do you think? I really enjoyed making them. You could you use them for ring dishes or use them purely for decoration.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

By Hand London Charlie Dress

A couple of months back Simply Sewing offered a free pattern for a lovely summer dress. I was immediately smitten with the slightly 70's vibe and a close resemblance to one of my favourite green Top Shop dresses circa the early noughties.

I was even happier when I realised the 'Charlie Dress' was a new release from the awesome girls at By Hand London.

Favourite Top Shop RTW from the 2000's
The free pattern came as a two-part piece (bodice pattern and instruction in issue 12 and then instruction for the skirt section and final finish with issue 13).

I decided the Charlie Dress should be made from a patterned gem from the 50% off Liberty Sale purchase in January called Curly Whirly. I started construction of the princess seamed bodice with great enthusiasm and even traced the pattern. I know, get me!

Unfortunately, as sometimes these things go, I didn't get a chance to sew the whole bodice together in one session and it sat in the UFO pile for a quite a while. The next time I had the inclination or energy to continue I realised my notches were not that easy to see and ended up sewing the individual bodice sections together wrong about 4 times.

I finally sewed the bodice together and measured out the quarter circle skirt using the By Hand London circle skirt calculator on their website. I finished the hem with some blue bias-binding I had in my stash.

The bodice had to be adjusted quite a bit to fit me and I am not 100% happy with the princess seam curves - more work needed here if I make another one. I will also probably move the straps further apart to be more in line with a regular bra strap position. I think I will also add some cute patch pockets too as in-seam pockets are not possible due to the quarter circle skirt construction.

Over all I am pretty happy with the dress. I am yet to see whether it will get much wear as the weather is still not quite warm enough for a cotton summer dress.
I will keep you posted if the sun comes out!

Pattern: By Hand London Charlie Dress = Free in Simply Sewing magazine over two volumes = £10
Fabric: Two metres of Liberty Tana Lawn 50% off online sale = £22.00
Gutterman Thread: Blue from stash

Total = £32.00

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Block Printing Fun

They are selling these great little block printing resources from a shop called Tiger UK along with quite reasonable cutting tools as well.
The printing block set is £2 and the cutting tools are £5

The printing block set also comes with 4 pieces of tracing paper to help transfer your design

I experimented with both lino-ink and Indian-ink. The better, clearer result was using Indian ink applied using the ink pad.

I had great fun making the block and printing the images. Several of the prints have been made into cards that have been sent to friends and family. I have got some ideas about how I could use these blocks to print something onto some of my me-made garments.

Tate Modern Flea Folly Architecture Course

I completed this artwork last summer and only realised recently I hadn't blogged about it.
The work was the final outcome of a six week course that ran at the Tate Modern with the architecture firm Flea Folly Architects.
We visited the Tate Modern galleries to get inspired after being directed to selected Surrealist works and a range of beautiful architectural etchings by Russian paper architects.

The Flea Folly Architects set us a brief to create a building from an old book. Pascall and Tom had bought a crate of used books and gave each person on the Tate course one each. Using the title and content of the book and works from the Tate as inspiration we were given full creative freedom to produce a building from the book to create a paper town.

Using paper cutting, folding, tearing and other techniques everybody set upon creating their own building based upon their book. We were encouraged to use the theme of the book to denote the buildings purpose / outcome. The book I was given was a biography of a Victorian war veteran Charles Gordon called, Gordon; Martyr and Misfit by Anthony Nutting. 

The content of the book was pretty heavy going but the gist of it was that Gordon was involved in the Civil war and then suppressing rebellions in China and also military exercises in Khartoum and Sudan. Needless to say the overall theme of the book was war and conflict. I decided that the book would have the purpose of military defense.

After playing around with paper folding and pleating using pages from the book, my initial thoughts were to create a defensive wall around the paper village. I started to cut into the walls by removing keywords from the text. I saved the words (I wasn't sure what I would do with them in the early stage) which later I glued onto thread that was used as a communication devise for the village. The many maps of military events in the book were manipulated by cutting away sections of the map to creat delicate almost 'stained-glass' looking pages. I interspersed these in the concertina-style defensive wall to add interest and serve to link the themes of  conflict, defense and travel to the village.

Here are some photos of my finished 'book-building' alongside the rest of the village. We displayed them in a room on the upper floors of the Tate with far-reaching views across the Thames - a perfect backdrop for the imagined village.

The rest of the books worked so well together to create this collaborative paper sculptural piece that looked amazing. Check out the photos below:

This 'waterfall' book was one of my favourite interpretations! Such fab use of highlighters!!
Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience and I would definitely return to the Tate Modern for a different practical workshop course.

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sophie Scout Tees

My friend Sophie lives in Hong Kong and pops back to the UK every 6 months or so. She usually stays at our house for a day or two and on the past two occasions she has kindly gifted me two metres of soft cotton printed fabric that she bought all the way from Hong Kong.

The first metre of fabric is a fabulous 1950's style print. The base colour is a dark blush rose with highlights of black, navy and burnt orange.

The second fabric is an awesome print of a famous Andy Warhol Campbell's soup can print which has been in my stash since Sophie's previous visit in the summer of 2015.

With a metre of each fabulous fabric I turned to my favourite simple top - the Grainline Scout Woven tee.

I know exactly how to make these now without referring to the instructions. I needed to interline the garment with some white cotton batiste which I got from Fabric World on Goldhawk Road for £3.50 a metre. I used just under a metre for each top - so in theory these Scout tees only cost me £1.75 each discounting the gifted fabric, time and thread to make them! Bonus.

In terms of construction, they were French Seamed throughout. Self-bias tape on the neckline. Simple rolled hems on the sleeves and main body. I lengthened the sleeves by about 40cm on the 50's print version and by 20cm on the Campbell's print version. I really love them both and look forward to wearing them in the spring.

A big thanks to Sophie who had such a good eye for these fabulous prints in the first place!

Pattern: Grainline Scout Woven Tee = Free (used so many times now)
Shell Fabric: Two metres of Cotton Lawn gifted by Sophie = Free 
Lining Fabric: Two metres of Batiste from Goldhawk Road = £3.50
Gutterman Thread: White and pink from stash

Total for two tees: £3.50