The finished embroidery on the blue felt with silk inclusions. I was aiming for a coral reef look but the "barnacles" ended up looking more like flowers - mainly because I added an orange centre to them I think. I'm still pleased with the final result though. 8 x 7.5 cm

Blue Brooch in Progress

Artwork by Liz, Artwork In-Progress

The photos below show the various stages of creating a felt brooch. Except that I forgot to take a photo of the wool fibres with the silk bits included prior to felting. I will get better at this “in-progress” lark – I am certainly getting lots of practice 🙂

I made a “sort of” new year resolution to use what I have in my various stashes (yes, I have more than one stash – one of the penalties perks of working with mixed media). I have quite a lot of embroidery threads – some purchased, some gifted, some hand dyed by me or friends. Embroidery threads tend to tangle and knot and this tendency can be tamed by winding onto bobbins. There were quite a few in the stash that I had been reluctant to use because they were “untamed” and I spent quite a bit of time getting them under control so that I would at least consider using them. This was an enjoyable task sparking lots of ideas as I wound, and wound, and wound.

This blue brooch is now almost finished – it just requires another piece of felt to cover the thread ends and a brooch pin to be stitched to the back for it to be wearable.

A picture of embroidery threads being organised. Some wound onto bobbins so that they are easier to use.

Chaos tamed. Winding threads onto bobbins so that I actually use them. When they are not wound onto bobbins I tend to avoid using them because I know they will get tangled and knotted.

The threads chosen for embellishing a felt brooch. Not all were used.

I forgot to take a picture of the un-embellished piece of felt with the threads that I chose so I took the photo once I had finished. You can probably tell that I didn’t use all of the threads.

Fully felted piece of felt ready for embellishment to make a unique brooch. 8 x 7.5 cm

Fully felted piece of felt ready for embellishment to make a unique brooch. 8 x 7.5 cm

The finished embroidery on the blue felt with silk inclusions. I was aiming for a coral reef look but the "barnacles" ended up looking more like flowers - mainly because I added an orange centre to them I think. I'm still pleased with the final result though. 8 x 7.5 cm

The finished embroidery on the blue felt with silk inclusions. I was aiming for a coral reef look but the “barnacles” ended up looking more like flowers – mainly because I added an orange centre to them I think. I’m still pleased with the final result though. 8 x 7.5 cm

Recycling a Little Blue Dress 2

Artwork In-Progress
The op-shop little blue dress unpicked so that I can attach strips of cotton fabric easily by machine. These 3 strips are to act as a guide so that I get all the patches straight.

The op-shop little blue dress unpicked so that I can attach strips of cotton fabric easily by machine. These 3 strips are to act as a guide so that I get all the patches straight.

This is as far as I got yesterday – the side seams and hem are unpicked and I have stitched on 3 strips of the shirt fabric to the back of the dress as a guide for getting the other patches straight. As I was doing that I thought “well, that’s mistake number 1 – I should have added to the length of the dress first”. Oh well, it might get some pleats added at the end, or the cuffs/collars of the shirts. We’ll see. I think I’ll carry on stitching patches on and worry about fit first (I’m thinking that all the stitching might pull it in a bit). If it fits then I’ll do something about the length – or not. 🙂

The op-shop little blue dress unpicked so that I can attach strips of cotton fabric easily by machine. These 3 strips are to act as a guide so that I get all the patches straight.

The op-shop little blue dress unpicked so that I can attach strips of cotton fabric easily by machine. These 3 strips are to act as a guide so that I get all the patches straight.

Recycling a Little Blue Dress

Artwork In-Progress

I bought this little blue dress at an op-shop.

The dress I bought in an op-shop which fits nicely but is made from thin fabric and is a bit short. I'm going to try stitching pieces of other old clothing onto it to make a unique "arty" dress.

The dress I bought in an op-shop which fits nicely but is made from thin fabric and is a bit short. I’m going to try stitching pieces of other old clothing onto it to make a unique “arty” dress.

It fitted well but the fabric was so thin you could see through it, and it was a bit short. I decided it was a candidate for one of a series of altered clothing pieces that I have had in mind for a while (read that to mean that I have a stash of clothing bought from op-shops destined to be modified into something I would wear!). I am concerned about the amount of textile waste and pollution there is from all stages of the fashion industry – from manufacture right through to the post-consumer. So I “rescue” fabric and clothing whenever I can see a way I might use it. Anyway, this dress was so thin I decided it would make a good base to patch other fabric onto. It is also a very simple shape so I figured I could open the side seams to make it easier to stitch those patches on by machine. That way if the stitching caused some shrinkage (which I think is almost bound to happen) I can add a panel at the side seams. I can do the same thing at the shoulder if that also proves to be a problem.

Nagging doubts that have prevented me from starting this project to date are, 1. it will shrink so much it won’t fit, 2. that it will look really old-fashioned and almost “hippy”, 3. that I’m wasting time that could be better spent on something else, 4. that I won’t like it once I’ve done it, 5. that people will laugh at it, 6. that it isn’t really “art”, 7. that I could make some yardage in the same way and then cut out a dress using a pattern that I know will fit, 8. well, the list goes on – I could probably add 20 more negatives easily. 🙁

Recycled blue shirts destined to be "married" to the Little Blue Dress to make a unique "arty" dress.

Recycled blue shirts destined to be “married” to the Little Blue Dress to make a unique “arty” dress.

So, I have decided to go ahead regardless. The best that can happen is that I end up with a dress that I like and the worst is that some fabric that probably would have ended up as landfill, will end up as landfill. I won’t have wasted my time because I know I will learn a lot along the way.

Only one day left!

Artwork Experiments, Exhibition
Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Finding ways to use up the leftover ink from the workshop

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Absorbent Ho Sho paper left overnight in inky water after the workshop so that the colour wicks up the paper.

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying various ways of using up leftover ink from the workshop on Wednesday

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

Trying different ways of using up the ink that was left at the end of the workshop yesterday.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay here at the Basement Gallery and feel really quite sad that this is my penultimate day. This morning I gave an artist talk – which turned into more of a conversation between friends so my nervousness quickly faded away 🙂 I pulled out all my materials, pens, brushes, papers, inks, display folders, workbooks and samples from the workshop yesterday so my work desk in the gallery looked like a bomb had gone off! It didn’t take too long to clear up afterwards and it was totally worth it. It’s always rewarding to talk to people who understand when I get excited about leaving paper overnight in the jar of used water loaded with ink to see what I get the following day.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm 24 November so if you haven’t visited yet and would like to then this is your last chance!

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

The results from leaving Japanese paper in inky water overnight and then laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional "swirl" and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

Rolled Japanese paper sitting in inky water left at the end of the workshop. This was given an occasional “swirl” and then left overnight before being laid flat to dry.

 

Artist Talk – Thursday 23 November 2017

Artwork Finished, Exhibition
Secret Cove was inspired by a 2011 news item about whaling.

Secret Cove was inspired by a 2011 news item about whaling.

The Gallery Manager (Mathew) here at The Basement Gallery has put all my works from Reef – A Fine LIne on their website as an online catalogue. There is still time to see the exhibition “for real” as the exhibition runs until 4pm on Friday 24th. I am giving an artist talk on Thursday 23 at 10am so if you would like to meet me and ask questions about my work please come along – I’d love to meet you and explain my techniques, materials, inspiration and discuss what it’s like to be an emerging artist. The exhibition comprises drawings, embroidery, textile jewellery and collage – all related to the reef theme. Oh, and don’t forget that I am giving a short drawing workshop tomorrow morning (which you need to book for by emailing basementgallery@colosoul.com.au )

Artwork Delivered to Basement Gallery

Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

On Friday I delivered my artwork to the Basement Gallery so that Lauren and Matt could begin the curating process and hang the works ready for opening on the 10th November at 5pm.

The curators decided to leave this artwork out because it didn't fit with the rest of the works. I think they made the right decision.

The curators decided to leave this artwork out because it didn’t fit with the rest of the artworks. I think they made the right decision.

I have 51 small artworks in total comprising 26 pen and archival ink drawings/paintings on Arches 300gsm paper, 5 collages of various papers on acid-free mat board, a collage on canvas, 3 textile bowls, a framed larger pen and ink painting, and an assortment of brooches, hair barrettes and necklaces (jewellery without the jewels – grin). With the exception of 2 of the bowls these are all new works not previously exhibited. I am interested and excited to see how they display them. I indicated that some works have common elements so would probably look good grouped together, and that one work might be too difficult to include from a curatorial perspective (and I won’t be offended if they don’t include that one because I think it is sufficiently different to be the start of a whole new series 🙂 ). I made some special hangers for the necklaces so it will be interesting to see how well they worked too. I find out 30 minutes before the opening starts what they’ve done…. Nail-biting stuff! I hope I like the way it’s displayed. I’m confident I will.

You get a glimpse of two of the artworks in the promotional video filmed by Matt 2 days before I delivered the works. But if you want to see the other 48 exhibited artworks you might just have to visit sometime over the next 2 weeks – grin. Venue: The Basement Gallery, 241 Hay St, Subiaco (opposite The Vic). Gallery hours are 10-4 weekdays only. Reef – A Fine Line is showing now until 24 November 2017.

 

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Altered States – Giving an Artist Talk

Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

I was one of several artists invited to give a 5-minute artist talk on Thursday 21 September about how it felt to take part in the WAFTA Altered States challenge exhibition. See below for the notes I used to jog my memory as I spoke.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line "hammock style" for drying.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line “hammock style” for drying.

Initial reaction

What a hodge podge of materials! How on earth do you marry up a beaded cocktail dress with smelly alpaca! And a guitar string with Watsonia leaves.

I think I’ll just put the whole lot back in the bag for now and leave it out of reach of my dog who is showing an unhealthy interest in the contents.

Initial Ideas

  • Make a triple-humped camel-like animal with a yellow beak wearing snow shoes and dressed to party.
  • A book of caricatures of the people who dreamed this challenge up. I didn’t like my attempts to create a scroll from that ridiculously stretchy cocktail dress.
  • It has a sort of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” feel to it – maybe I could sculpt or collage a scene from the novel. Mmm maybe not – this is going to be a public exhibition.
  • What is the smallest possible thing I could make? If I cut just a snippet from everything and roll it in glue I could a make a tiny fabric marble.

Adornment – that’s the direction I want to go in generally. Can I make a jewellery item from this lot?

Necklace

At the very least I can make a bead from everything else and string it on that carpet yarn. Ok, let’s go with the necklace idea.

I didn’t want to destroy the “good” things like the magazine and the pattern that had never been used. So, I trimmed all the excess paper from the pattern so that it can be used to make a very flattering prom dress and bolero for someone ¼ my age. And I used the Subscriber Newsletter to make some beads rather than cut into the mag. Free to any taker….

I decided I could cut into the dress (it had been repaired several times already) and use the doily as embroidery thread (as it was unravelling all by itself).

And me being me, I carded ALL the alpaca over a period of 2 days. My dreams of whiter than white, snuggly soft felt evaporating as 90% of it ended up either on my black apron or all over the house.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

The challenge is supposed to be confidence-boosting so I went with that as my theme for the necklace.

The Benefits

I found making paper beads and embroidered beads very relaxing.

I enjoyed the designing – for balance, comfort, weight, fastening.

I enjoyed keeping it “secret” – after my initial blunder of posting about it on my blog – but I did show one or two people (hands up who didn’t show anyone!).

I learned that there is such a thing as a “closed” FB group and enjoyed the camaraderie of that – making friends with people I’d never met.

I really enjoyed the associated Textile Technique Toolbox workshops – thank you to all the tutors.

I “pushed through” the “OMG – everyone else’s is much better than mine” barrier.

It was more FUN than I expected it to be.

 

Detail of the amulet bead made for the Artists Amulet necklace.

Altered States – A WAFTA Exhibition

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Finished, Exhibition
The contents of my bag (number 30) for the WAFTA Altered States Challenge

The contents of my bag (number 30) for the WAFTA Altered States Challenge

Altered States was the title of the exhibition challenge set by WAFTA. Buying a bag full of “bits” was the entry point for the exhibition launched in April 2017. The bag contained: A magazine, a dress pattern, a synthetic and very stretchy cocktail dress, 2 lots of wool carpet yarn, sea-grass rope, a piece of cotton fabric, a piece of yellow embroidered and beaded sari, some Watsonia leaves (a noxious weed here in Western Australia), and some unwashed and smelly alpaca fleece (my dog was very interested in that!), We could also, if we wished, use the bag itself.

Making an artwork from said “bits” to be shown in an exhibition at the Perth Town Hall from 16-25 September 2017 was the challenge. There were only 2 rules: One – to use a little or a lot of everything in the bag, Two – the finished item must fit inside a cube 30x30x30cm (if flat, 30x30cm).

I made a necklace titled Artists Amulet. The statement for the piece read: “This necklace has affirmation beads which the wearer may use to alter a negative state of mind by drawing on their courage and inner resources to meet the challenges of creating and exhibiting work. The amulet bead protects against those individuals that contribute negative energy.”

Artists Amulet as displayed at Altered States Exhibition, Perth Town Hall, Sept 2017

Artists Amulet as displayed at Altered States Exhibition, Perth Town Hall, Sept 2017

Detail of the affirmation beads in Artists Amulet.

Detail of the affirmation beads in Artists Amulet.

Detail of the amulet bead made for the Artists Amulet necklace.

Detail of the amulet bead made for the Artists Amulet necklace.

Detail of some of the paper beads made for the Artists Amulet necklace.

Detail of some of the paper beads made for the Artists Amulet necklace.

I was invited to give a talk about the making of my piece, including how I felt when I first saw the contents of the bag. I’ll put the notes that I made for the talk in my next blog post.

Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence, Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

Today both Robi Szalay and I set up our Artist in Residence spaces in the Shopfront Gallery, 149 Beaufort St, Northbridge. We were ably assisted by Gail Hawes (WAFTA AIR Coordinator) and Margaret Ford (a very willing friend). WAFTA have done a great job with the publicity – posters and postcards. Robi and I are both very excited at the prospect of 2 weeks to concentrate on our creative work and we look forward to visitors popping in to see what we’re up to and discussing our creations. The shopfront is open from 10-4 (weekdays only) from August 8 to 18th.

The brooch featured on the poster is prominently displayed in the shop window. Other finished items are displayed in the front half of “my” space and the other half dedicated to making. Margaret assures me that it looks like an atelier 🙂

Adam tagging electrical equipment prior to use.

Red Glove Brooch and Red Ripple Necklace by Liz Arnold on the shopfront mannequin.

WAFTA Challenge “Altered States”

Artwork In-Progress, Exhibition

WAFTA have issued a challenge to its members. To buy a bag full of “bits”, make an artwork from said “bits” and the resulting artwork will be shown in an exhibition at the Perth Town Hall from 16-25 September 2017

The contents of my bag was a very mixed lot – sort of cocktail dress meets rustic. Maybe a “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” theme would work!

We have to use some of everything in the bag (including the bag itself if we wish). The finished item may be 2D or 3D and it must fit within the confines of 30 x 30 x 30 cm. We cannot swap ingredients, nor can we leave anything out. We are allowed to add an armature and we are allowed to add thread so long as it doesn’t visually overpower the items in the bag. We can alter the items in the bag in any way – we can paint, dye, bleach, distress, weave, knit, crochet, felt, darn, unpick, unravel, slash, burn, screenprint, knot, net, glue and more.

Initial conservative thoughts are a vessel or bag. Second thoughts are for a burgundy, yellow-beaked, triple-humped camel-like animal wearing snow shoes and dressed to party…..