Monday, 22 July 2019

Maggie Hobbs - Flatback Pottery and needlefelting

Our latest lecture on Saturday was from Maggie Hobbs. She was telling us about her passion for flatback pottery and how this has been combined with her love of needlefelting.

Maggie started by explaining the history of Staffodshire Flatback pottery, which was made for the masses.  It was typically very ornate and colourful, cheap and made in moulds. These cheap bits of pottery allowed middle class people to decorate their homes and it was quite common for people to have a go at painting their own. This is just one thing Maggie collects. She showed us lots of images from the collection at Compton Verney.

One of Maggies pottery pieces
Maggie's journey into needlefelting started when a builder let her down - she wasn't able to carry on with her normal "messy" hobbies of making pottery because the garage was out of action and she couldnt make a mess in the house.  Seeing her getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to create her daughter bought her a needlefelting kit and Maggie was hooked.  This fox is the first thing she made. He was very cute!  Maggie finds needlefelting a very flexible medium - the only downside when you start is the "pointy pain"

Since then she has moved on to making lots of different things - many based on flatback pottery.

she likes making birds

 Many of the pieces are mounted on wooden blocks with glass domes over the top. This gives them the feel of Victorian curiosities (to my mind anyway)

Maggie has also made some very realistic fish. The tree is an example of one of her first attempts to replicate the pottery.

These are some pottery brooches 

Maggie has been represented in several galleries over the last few years and taken part in events like Open Studios. It was a lively and interesting talk and a good example of how to combine two of your loves.  Thank you Maggie for a great lecture.

(I have promised myself that I DON'T need a collection of needle felted pebbles - these were the bases to some of the pieces and they were works of art in their own right)


Monday, 8 July 2019

Mary Gamester workshop

(written by Gail)
Following on from Mary’s lecture on 5th July about her travels to Uzbekistan, India and Vienna and how they inspired her work, we spent a day learning how to apply her transfer painting techniques. After an introduction to the techniques, we spent the morning preparing our painted and printed papers. Some sheets were covered with a single colour whilst others were decorated with mixed colours, printed designs or washes. We used carved wooden printing blocks, bubble wrap, sponges and even our fingers to decorate the paper.

 Another suggestion from Mary was to photocopy a design and paint it with a brush. There was deep concentration from everyone while we tried to keep within the lines. Some of us were more successful at this than others!

 Once our sheets were decorated, we laid them out to dry during our lunch break.

 Mary then showed us lots of examples of her work and explained how we could use various materials and objects to mask areas of the fabric when transferring the paint.

 Cheap nylon lace makes a delicate mask. It also picks up the colour from the paint and can be used for a second row of printing. Finally you can attach the lace itself.

 Acetate stencils make wonderful masks as shown here. A similar effect can be achieved with paper doilies. The paper also absorbs some of the colour and can then be used to make a further print.

 Mary’s trips to India enabled her to bring back many examples of local textile work and design ideas. Elephants feature frequently in her work. These elephants were printed with a wooden block onto paper first. This is very useful because you can cut away unwanted splodges of paint and choose to use your best prints.

 Mary also layers up designs with lots of block printing, as shown here, and then embellishes the design with beads and simple hand stitching.

 In this example of Mary’s work, you can see how she created the background by weaving strips of painted paper then transferring the paint to the fabric. She then cut out further painted shapes and ironed them onto the background. Decorative machine stitching gives the effect of applique.

 We used a hot iron to transfer the paint onto our fabric, making sure that we used a sheet of baking parchment beneath and on top of our work. Jean looks very happy to be doing the ironing for once!

   Finally, here are just a few examples of our work. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your ideas, inspiration and experience with us.

Mary Gamester lecture

Mary Gamester is best known for her skill in transfer painting - using disperse dyes to colour synthetic fabrics. She is also a very talented quilted and we were delighted to welcome her to talk to us about her travels in Uzbekistan, India and Vienna.

Mary started her talk in Uzbekistan and showed us lots of amazing samples of the suzani embroidery - all done in tiny chainstitch.  They dont use images of animals or people for religious reasons so there is lots of very subtle symbolism built into the embroidery - for example an 8 point star means eternity. 

She also explained Ikat dyeing where the warp threads are dyed first to create the patterns.  We were surprised at how prevalent velvet and velour type materials are in such a hot country.   Mary was also inspired by the patterns and colours in the tiles and has made several pieces of work using these as her starting point.

She had always wanted to go to India having been inspired by a teacher and when she finally went she fell in love. Now she has been 6 times.   This was the second country she told us about.  Her main theme from this country was, of course, elephants but she was also inspired by the large amounts of Shisha work and has made bags etc incorporating these mirrors.  The delicacy of the work was again quite breathtaking.

Her final tour stop was Vienna where she found it very hard to track down Hundertwasser but she did eventually and her piece with all the houses on was fun.

Thank you Mary for that lovely talk and all the inspiring samples you had to show - no wonder you always go with 2 suitcases.

a lovely  long waistcoat Mary made

india inspired elephants of course!

another fabulous jacket using indian fabric

Pieces inspired by India

textile transfers in action

inspired by Hundertwasser

Clare Starmer

Local artist Clare Starmer came to talk to us about her work and her artistic life. (there were a lot more images but technical problems means I cant load them- sorry)

Clare describes herself as a Mixed media artist, and Arts and Artists facilitator, Artivist, cultural development officer for Birmingham City Council, An assessor (Arts) for Children in Need. (its amazing she has time to eat and sleep with that lot!) She has a BA Hons Degree in Combined Arts as well.

She is a member of Wolverhampton Society of Artists (and on the committee) and has taken part in Open Studios with them.  She is a founder member of the Junction Festival in Chapel Ash and has taken more of a back seat in this role now but has still exhibited there every year.  As well as this she is an Ambassador for the Asylum gallery. 

Great use of buttons.

mixed media painting

lovely fun elephants

some watercolour experiments

this page in her sketch book made me laugh - don't we all feel like that sometimes?

included in her sketchbooks were some lovely works using machine stitch  on paper and interesting threads.

this is a photocopy of the back of a stitched  piece