Sunday, July 14, 2019

White on white in the West!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I have returned safe and sound to the mountain after the most amazing week in the west teaching Quietly and Gently...

It was a a fabulous class with a great gang of students who worked so hard and so collegially it was incredible.  They were all colour-focused type people and they worked with the challenge and restraint of only white on white with gusto and great success.

We covered mark making; sewing by hand and by machine; embossing and debossing; and cutting...
They sewed a coptic bound book and filled it with their samples, then they made  slip case to tuck it into.
Then they let loose and tested out ideas that they liked, found the things that were 'them' and made beautiful work.

On the Friday morning I reminded them all that only they can make their own work.  Their work is theirs. It' not the teacher's so if they were dying to add a little bit of colour - they should.  I would prefer if it was discrete, but if they felt a touch of something would complete the work for them; then they should add it in.

What's the point of forcing folk to make work that isn't them?

I think I have a shot of something from everybody (in no particular order) - the bits I remembered to photograph, the bits that I felt were unique, the bits that remind me of the work, the bits that show a few of the things we did.

Anne's second book with beautiful letter design and cutting. Lots of design thinking went into this piece and was executed brilliantly.

Shirley's second book - with embossing and pierced letters and threads dangling...finding pouches and pockets a wonderful home for small treasures.

Another Anne used her daily words - and hand-wrote and debossed them in a wee keepsake book. It is tiny but precious piece.

Erin's elegant bird and cloud motifs - here with embossing and the finest embossing of wire for the birds to perch upon. The other pages share the motifs in different sequences and techniques.

Jennifer's second book - a container for thoughts and leaves and nuts...a wonderful way to keep and display keepsake, memories, reminders.

The final page of Virginia's second book - the narrative led you through visually using all the techniques and the pay off for turning the pages was this fabulous mark.

Deb's second book - with so much subtlety, detail, repeat motifs and the perfect words...the act of hiding and revealing slows you down and makes you want to know where next? what next?

Marianne often preferred the back story, the page behind, the back of the work; and worked to create a book that was true and reflected those moments of confusion we all feel.

Frida found ways to produce the finest of hand embossings - getting right into those tight corners and lifting the image off the page with a bounce!

One of Lesley's sample pages - with the subtlest use of stitch and spacing to produce calm...the simple elegance of this work is beautiful.

Sharon popped her 5 days' worth of daily words into her sampler book, and loved that her final word was 'do' - I so hope they all get to make and do when they return home.

Penny has a ritual/routine/practice of stitching each day onto fabric. So for the week of the workshop she stitched white on white and chose to use them in her second book.

The final class display was a real delight. It was a vision of calm; an oasis in an otherwise brilliantly-hued room! So many folk commented on how beautiful the work was and how it made them feel.

The dawns were exquisite and we knew when it was 'corella-hour', as hundreds of corellas flocked to trees.

As ever, I love the remnants and the remains showing the marks of the making...

 We had a list of four letter words with no repeat letters to use with the old tattoo kit and came up with some new ones as well!

 We had a wonderful time.  It was a friendly, chatty, connecting and sharing group. We worked less than quietly at times; but that is the point of gathering and sharing is it not?  I wrote in my journal notes of - "happy murmurings as they hand stitched".

Even if at times there was raucous laughter, the work in the end is quiet and gentle and the processes meditative.  I imagine when folk return home they will both work quietly and gently; and produce quiet and gentle work.

With huge thanks to my gang for making it such a delight to teach them; and for all of the amazing work Fibres West, Martien and her team, did to make us welcome and have so many amazing opportunities to talk art, see art, watch art and share our passions.

On Saturday evening, heading east with the flying kangaroo as the sun set in the west...


  1. Have you ever thought of doing some workshops when you come over to Scotland. I'd love to come and play/learn with you

    1. Honestly Jac I never had thought of that, and now of course it's all I can think of!

  2. White on white can be subtle beyond the ability of cameras to record ... but you obviously overcame that here. Such beautiful work ... I can well imagine the joy of those who created it ...

    1. We had a fine time Liz, and somehow this white on white had so much personality! it was not the shy retiring type - most of it made its way into the world on the wings of a song it seemed...

  3. you are such a good teacher (((Fiona))) thanks for sharing all these fantastic variations from your class. Have to admit I have a loud & raucous voice and laugh and have been pulled up for it more than once in bookbinding workshops I try to keep a lid on it but get so excited about learning new things!

    1. there was much excitement and exclamation Mo, and everybody played so nicely together...

  4. Or how about coming to Massachusetts? The results from your class are nothing less than stunning. And that jewel of wisdom in the post -- "nobody but you can create your work." Love that.

    1. Thanks Dee - perhaps a round the world ticket is needed? If I didn't have to organise too many things it would be fun! Go well.

  5. wow.Extraordinary works.They must have had a great teacher !!!!

  6. Hi Fiona, I have just discovered this page [blog post?]. Thank you so much for posting it. I will try and show it to the Contemporary group which Lesley and I belong to. we both had a fabulous week with you. I learned a lot and found a comfort in the meditative stitching and although was out of my comfort zone re white on white I LOVED the results.


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