Sunday, December 1, 2019

Little bits of making

So I have been trying to commit to more time in the studio - to engage more actively with my making; to try and have it become a bigger part of my everyday.

I have been tidying up the studio space as well as my sewing room and I am interested to discover just how much I am gripped by enthusiasm for the possibilities that now await, rather than responding to the sense of chaos and unfinished business everywhere.

Observing your own life at times can be intriguing.

So studio time this week has seen me testing and trialling some printing on fabrics; trying a wee lino cut for the first time in ages; picking up some books that had defeated me for 18 months and finding new paths forward; and stitching together a small pamphlet book for my sewing group.

Small successes.

I had thought it would be fun to try and do a small (7cm x 7cm) lino print of the cottage in Scotland. And so I reduced a photo to black and white, traced it and transferred it onto a 10cm x 10cm piece of lino.

And then began to carve. Enthusiastically I dug out bits in the sky, and then tried to work my way around the small details of the cottage, the fences, the washing line. the gables, the door, the stonework...

What was I thinking?!?!  Not the easiest of things to attempt after years of not doing it, but hey.

I did a quick ink, masking off with some tape I had recovered from around some tubs of ink.

And realised that I had clearly cut our bits that should have stayed, but this was a beginning and I didn't beat myself up.

I pulled a couple of prints and smiled.

So many learnings from that small and quick process. I think in part because I had started something just for the fun of it, that I had worked out a few tricks for myself, and that nobody was invested in it I could really look at it clearly and work out what I liked and what I would do differently.

It feels surprisingly good to have printed something that doesn't work, yet offers so much potential.

And then it was back to the books that hadn't worked out 18 months ago. So many things were tricky with them and the documented process is full of ups and downs and roundabouts from way back when...

I said to Barry it felt as if they had been sitting there for that long quietly criticising me. It was a fairly negative conversation so I was interested to see that I suddenly wanted to pick them up and do something with them; that in fact I thought I might have worked out what to do to rescue them.

I had been stuck with the covers.  For whatever reason way back then I just hadn't thought through how I would attach the pages and the cover and they had ended up being totally loose and flimsy and I must say, rather awful and rather disappointing. So they sat there in their flimsy, weakened state for over a year.

I tested the idea of a cover, and then thought to make it better I could emboss something so pulled out the lino I had carved for the pages and tried to emboss/deboss it.  Interesting result but not what I had hoped for.  However, the trials remain in the ether as options in the future for something...

And then to my wee pamphlet stitched book.

My sewing class is finishing up next week forever, which makes me sad, yet grateful for the amazing time we have had and the many many things I have learned and made.  A few weeks ago I thought to go early on a couple of occasions and sit with Narelle (seamstress extraordinaire) and get her to to tell me some of the things she knows and which she says in class but which we always forget.

I wrote them down and typed them up.  I could have just printed them on A4 paper, stapled them and shared them around with everybody; or simply emailed them through to people, but I thought they deserved a little bit more and created a booklet in Word, then printed them onto 150gsm paper, creased them, pierced them and sewed them with a pamphlet stitch.

They look and feel nice and will be a nice memento (and a useful one I hope) for all of us as we head off to be independent sewers (eek).

A few tips and tricks for those of us who will forget - like which direction to press your seams; the sewing sequence for pants; how to do french seams and so on.

As ever, spines and stitching, I  love.

Its fun to realise just how much I have enjoyed no major achievements, some resolutions and some fun exploration and learning.


  1. a sewing tip that I discovered only recently is the eye of the needle has a front and a back, if the thread simply won't go through the eye just turning it over works a treat!

    1. I did not know that Mo - thank you! I shall definitely try that when I have one of those moments...go well.

  2. to my eye your lino-cutting is an unqualified success ... with a sense of the cottage reduced to essential lines ... and I do so love the laundry hanging on the line ...

    1. Thanks Liz - it certainly gives a sense of the cottage, but there are things to improve and tidy. I think I really wanted to do it just for the washing on the line! Love it!


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