Thursday, 30 November 2017

Tunbridge Wells Artisans

We are OPEN!!!!

It's been very exciting. We've had the first initial quiet opening to allow time to iron out the crinkles and get a routine going, then the official opening on Saturday where we got to meet all of the other artists for the first time. The place looks utterly amazing- although a little deceptive and quiet from the front maybe. The building is set back off the main road slightly so we really need to make the most of the front of the building to draw in the crowds. Inside is a little haven, crammed full of all kinds of amazing artwork and handmade s.t.u.f.f- I recommend you all come and have a look, there is too much in there to show you on this blog!

This was my little space during the opening day. It was nice to see my originals hanging individually- a lot of the older ones sort of get buried underneath the stacks of the new ones as they build up on my studio shelves. Always good to give them an airing, and re-inspire new projects!

I am sharing my space with the lovely ladies at Snobb Ltd, who make a whole range of handmade items, from jewellery to bags, cushions, machine embroidered purses, table stands, glasses cases..... the list goes on and they are always coming up with new products. They also work very hard at the craft fair circuit, as well as selling on Etsy and in The Silver Sheep. There's still time for you to purchase those last little stocking fillers!

Opposite us in our alcove are two more amazing artisans. These very sweet dolls are by Dollie Day Dreams who has a Facebook page you can follow (yippee!). I really love the dyed orange and red curls in the dolls above, and they all have the most amazing outfits!

Tucked away under the eaves are the very bold prints of Sarah Abercrombie Jones. Although I really like her artwork, I have serious crate envy. Do you think she'd notice if I swapped her lovely printed, be-legged crates for my lined Hobbycraft ones? Even Dad comments on these crates every time he pops round to TWA. I wonder if she made them herself? Perhaps I could have a go at creating similar ones- it can't be that hard, surely?

I haven't photographed the work of all of the artists at TWA (there are 32 of us in total, all varying completely in style and type- which I hope you can get a glimmer of from these images), but on the other side of our mesh wall are Molly Williams with her amazing felt figures and printed textiles (and her own kits!)....

...and The Driftwood Shack. I really love the candle bases in the lengths of driftwood. If only I had the space to have them sprawling across a mantelpiece or adorning a large dining table. Someone will have the space for these lovely pieces- perhaps it is you?

Right down the other end of the upper floor are a couple more artists, one of them being Violet Elizabeth who doesn't appear to have a social media I can find, but she does a lot of work with saris so everything is beautiful and silky and golden! I really love her sari lampshades- such a cool idea!

I will probably blog a lot more about this space as it develops. Things are already changing around as people think more about how they want their space to work, and Snobb and I have been doing lots of thinking and reshuffling around to see what works best. We will get there in the end, but it keeps things fresh if we move furniture and focus on some products one week and different ones the next. Hopefully business will pick up- especially as there is a German style Christmas market planned for the 9th December. We have Christmas trees, workshops, choirs, German street food, mulled everything, twinkly lights- it's all going on and should not be missed! Find more details, and details of our mailing list and anything else you want to know on the website- Tunbridge Wells Artisans (TWA for short).

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Lazy Sunday Studio

It's been a lazy, productive sort of day- if you can put lazy and productive in the same sentence? A day I really needed after the last week! Manic is putting it lightly what with rushing to get everything displayed at Tunbridge Wells Artisans (TWA), which opened its doors to the wondering public on Friday. The Parents and I were there late on Wednesday night hanging pictures and cable-tying fairy lights around mesh walling. Other evenings were spent sorting prints and greetings cards, taking inventory, writing stock lists and packing into various boxes- then unpacking into different boxes. The house and studio were both a complete mess, and it was all just left there for the rest of the week as The Mother and I had our final craft fair of the year yesterday at Uckfield Community College's "Christmas Indulgence". I'm not moaning, it's just an awful lot to fit in around work and commuting- an hour's lunch break goes by in a flash!

So today was spent in a more leisurely fashion. Sunday morning lie in, toast with marmite, steaming coffee and a wander in the sunshine up to the studio. I tuned in to Radio 2 and Michael Ball helped me to organise the studio, put everything back in its place and spend a little while photographing some of my Christmas hoops ready to be put onto Etsy. I am also planning another kit based around these chaps so have been working on that as well.

I do really like these decs hanging in my studio though- perhaps I should just keep them all?!! No, that would be silly, they are all listed in my Etsy shop, go on and buy yours!

Ah my lovely studio. I am almost outgrowing it so it's good that I have alternative spaces to display my work now. Some of my 'scapes have returned back home to roost so my shelves aren't looking so bare and I really love the warmth and peace and serenity it gives me. Just walking there I can feel the weight of the world fly off my shoulders.

Excitingly (and totally nerdily) some fabric came in to my day job this week which I needed. No questions asked- perhaps you can see why? Uncannily, the colours are identical- absolutely identical- to the colours in my Dotty Textiles logo! I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with this material, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I mean, even the pattern of the splodges fits in beautifully!

After I had organised and photographed and relaxed and chatted with Michael for a couple of hours (I love that man, he's so endlessly chipper, and has excellent taste in music), I walked the long way home to enjoy the most of the sunshine and the Autumn colours.

So much gold and red and orange, burnt umber, yellow, amber, crimson, call it what you will, it all contrasts beautifully with the blue of the sky, and you have to soak up all you can get at the moment. I heard on the radio that at this time of year, the average adult gets less than an hour of sunshine a day, something I can completely relate to as I work in an office with no windows and don't always go out at lunchtime. It is dark when I leave the house in the morning, and dark when I leave work to come home. This afternoon was a sight for sore eyes.

Of course, this is only temporary relief. It's back to work tomorrow with the alarm due to go off at 6.15am precisely. Next Saturday is the official open day of TWA and I will be there stitching away (so behind on a couple of commissions!!) if any of you would like to come along for a meet and greet. I cannot tell you how beautiful some of the work is by the other talented artisans- there is literally something of everything there, including things you didn't even know you needed.

I am not totally happy with my display so am hoping to also be there during the week at some point with a new display idea, it depends when my storage unit arrives though so we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Collioure Commission Stitchscape

A couple of weeks after completing this commission, it has been gifted to its new owners and I can share the images of it with you! This little stitchscape has been in the pipeline since June as a friend approached me having seen my stand at the Bridge Arts show. As a gift for her parent's 60th wedding anniversary, she wanted a special present and asked me to create a very specific stitchscape of a favourite family holiday destination. Her family regularly visit Collioure in France, and as they were going in September, she decided to take some images when there for me to work from.

The must-haves included; The Church of Our Lady of The Angels, the boats and the houses along with the blue sky and the sea!

I think I have managed to pluck the most essential parts out of the photos and into the hoop. It was a slightly rocky start as the fabrics I had initially laid down for the buildings weren't capturing my friend's imagination so I had to get creative. For the church, I had started with a patterned vintage cotton print which had letters and numbers printed in a sort of cross stitch font, and rather than pull the fabric out and select a different one, I worked a thick brickwork backstitch horizontally across the bottom of the building, petering out at the tower. Over this, to blend the lines a little bit, I stitched tiny little seed stitches in a different coloured thread to make the appearance of old stones. The clock absolutely makes this tower I think (satin stitch face with back stitch definition and straight stitch hands).

Similarly, the fabric for the buildings, originally a triangle patterned fabric (the same one used for my beach hut in 'Incoming Tide') then didn't fit with the rest of the 'scape, so I gave it the same brickwork backstitch treatment, but vertically this time. The windows were added in satin stitch, and I also added in shutters and balconies with straight stitch. Extra buildings, such as the church, and further roof tops were also added in in satin stitch.

I really love the sea in this embroidery, Fat lines of mixed blue threads chopping around to create movement and waves, frothing ever so slightly with beaded bubbles and french knots. It is a little rougher for the boats on my harbour water than in the images sent over by my friend, but I think it helps you to imagine the boats bobbing up and down on the water surface, and allowed me to use my lovely water print fabric (also used in the 'Incoming Tide' stitchscape).

The masts of the boats were made by twisting several strands of brown embroidery thread together to make a cord which was then couched down. The top of the cord was then covered up with layers of thread to secure the snipped ends. The rolled up sails are two lengths of full embroidery thread (as in all six strands), couched under a support of chunky whip stitch, and the extra ropes are just long lengths of pale grey, stitched where the photos showed they attach and support the mast.

Funnily enough, after taking these final photos of the framed stitchscape, and packaging it all up very prettily with the bubble wrap and turquoise tissue paper, and the logo sticker, something was niggling at me. It was actually keeping me up at night feeling that something wasn't quite right with the 'scape, and I finally figured out that it was the selvedge visible in the top layer of sky! If my friend hadn't liked the lettering on the church, she probably wouldn't like the visible selvedge edge which hadn't been visible when I'd shared a finished photo of the embroidery still in it's hoop to make sure she was happy with it.
So, after these images were taken, I ended up unwrapping the stitchscape and trimming the selvedge off before re-wrapping it ready for the big day! I hope that it was worth it and that they love it!