Tuesday 27 August 2019

Funky Felted Abstract

The West Country Quilt and Textile Show opens on Thursday and runs through till Saturday. This year, we will be teaching a workshop for the first time and we're looking forward to sharing our ideas and expertise. We have sometimes been asked by visitors and show organisers and so decided to take that next step. Last month at Deb's studio, we enjoyed planning and sorting out packs of resources, which means that we will also have some kits with instructions for sale on our stand (G48).

Look at these lovely fibres waiting to be packed!

Thanks to Vicki for making this mountain of rice bags to use as felting mats!

When we shared our ideas with the show organisers, they came up with the title 'Funky Felted Abstract' and we quite liked it so it stuck! We will be needle-felting a square of individual abstract design to decorate the cover of a 6 inch square sketchbook, using a variety of fibres, threads and textured yarns with added simple embroidery. Here are some of the samples we made with different colourways.

... and here are some finished and stuck onto the sketchbooks.

We will be running the workshop daily at 12.30 and demonstrating needle-felting techniques on our stand at the show. In the mornings, we'll be using some of the beautiful fibres and yarns to show how we made the workshop samples and in the afternoons, we'll be using the Janome embellisher in various ways, as usual. If you are planning on coming to the show, we'd love to see you for a chat about our work.

We're heading off to Bristol tomorrow to set everything up ready for Thursday. Looking forward to it ...


Thursday 22 August 2019

Please Touch

The West Country Quilt & Textile Show is now just a week away and we are really looking forward to it. This year, for the first time, we will be sharing a larger stand (G48) with our friends at On The Surface. Alongside our current exhibition, Revealed, we will be collaborating with them in a collection of work, entitled 'Please Touch', where visitors will be actively encouraged to explore it by touching. This was suggested by Deb, one of our members, who has worked for a long time with Sense, a charity supporting deafblind people and people with complex disabilities, helping them communicate and experience the world.

As you can see below, we have come up with some very different approaches to the idea:


Deb has woven a varied collection of fabrics, yarns and threads to make a beautiful bag, lined with silk and decorated with dangling beads - just fabulous.





Bernice just loves hand printing wonderful fabric and here she has done exactly that, after making her own printing block, shown below.  She is piecing it together with some more of her amazing hand printed stash to make a wall hanging. There are plans to sew on some added extras, which will make it very interesting to touch. Can you guess what they might be?



Dia's first piece may look familiar as it has been featured in our other social media - it is a sculptural felt with metal inclusions, which she made during a workshop with Caroline Merrell at the the Felt Foundry. Unusually for Dia, who often works in bright colours, this is wet felted with Piiku Finn wool fibres in a soft grey colour, which contrasts well with the shiny surface of the metal.


Dia has returned to one of her brighter colour combinations here, wrapping a canvas with thick wool yarn and attaching some coffee pods, which will be fun to play with!


Spot the difference between the previous image and the following finished piece ...


Becca is continuing her personal exploration of deafness with three stitched pieces in simple black and white but the work is anything but simple. Showing the incorporation of braille to link with this 'Please Touch' exhibition, these photos are of complex work in progress.




One aspect of Vicki's work for this exhibition has been making some wonderfully tactile needle felted balls, as yet untitled which are also in black and white and decorated with tiny beads. They will possibly be displayed, hidden in a container, enticing you to feel inside.


Vicki has also been exploring ideas around consent with the following wall hangings of sculptural felt, also in muted colours with texture created by the felt manipulation and beautiful stitching. More work in progress, with a provisional title of Acquiescence ...


This last work of Vicki's reminded me of a vessel I had, lying somewhere in a container of its own, with the stitching half finished and I've resurrected it to become part of Please Touch.

Another older piece of my work has been featured here on the blog last year with details of how it was made. Painted, printed and stitched woven card, it was part of a Summer Challenge for my local Embroiderers' Guild and had never been exhibited, so I only had to mount it on a painted canvas and protect it with acrylic wax.

My final piece has also been glimpsed before on our social media but not in its finished form. I have always been fascinated by 3d mathematical forms and have enjoyed attempting simple fabric origami. I was reminded of this particular kaleidocycle form by the triangles of Bernice's folding book, 'The Road Not Taken',  and after spending some time deciding how many triangular sections I wanted, I chose this simple version and set about making the felt for the triangles with my embellisher. After machine stitching, I cut out the triangles, added some hand stitch and beads and assembled the piece, waiting with bated breath to test whether it worked ...



... and it did!

If you're coming to the West Country Quilt and Textile Show next week, please feel free to come and explore these exhibits and more from Traverse's collaboration with On The Surface. On Stand G48, we are also showing our 2019 exhibition, 'Revealed' and would love to see you there.


Hot off the press - well, actually hot off Whats App - Bernice's hanging is now complete with added extra 'fiddle bits' and looking fabulous!

Monday 5 August 2019

Q&A with Becca

For our third question and answer session, I thought I'd answer the questions myself! I joined Traverse in May 2018, having originally done a course with the founding members of the group and then going off to do a further course before coming back to join Traverse. So, here is my Q&A!

Who am I? 

Hi, I am Becca. I’m married to Terry and we have two teenage boys. I've stitched and crafted all my life; being creative has always been an important part of who I am and it allows me the time to tune out from the world and just focus on 'being'. This became very important in 2009 when after several years of ill-health, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. My children were just 5 & 7 years old at the time of diagnosis and instead of going back to work as my youngest started primary school, I found myself confined to the sofa trying to rest up enough in order to collect my children from school and do all the other things a parent does. It became important to find a way to make a life around my health issues, one that would allow me to cope with symptoms, flare ups and rest as needed and for me, art was that life.

What are your creative influences?

There have been a few influences in my life that inspire me to create but the 2 main ones I guess are:

1.      My Mum and various other friends! Mum started me on my journey into embroidery and sewing as a child. When I was in my late teens, Mum did her City & Guilds qualifications and seeing the new techniques and the work she created gave me a greater insight into what could be done. Via my Mum and then later on via courses and internet forums, I've met many creative people and all have inspired me in some way. You can be an artist and be creative on your own but seeing how other people create and discussing the way they've used a material or product or technique is really inspiring and I find it often sparks a new thought, a new idea and spurs me on with current projects.

2.      As well as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, I am deaf. I've worn hearing aids all my life and in 2008, after losing the little hearing I had in one ear totally and having minimal hearing in the other ear, I had a cochlear implant. It had been a devastating moment when I realised my 4 year old son was acting as my interpreter, I didn't want my children to have to be my ears and to feel they had to help me understand what people were saying. I wanted them to have a childhood and for me to support them not the other way round. So having a cochlear implant made a huge impact not just for me but also for my family. My experiences of invisible disability and illness have informed my work over the past 18 months and I feel drawn to exploring ways to make the invisible visible within my work.

Describe your style in 5 words - share your thoughts on these words


At the moment, with invisible disability and illness being a focus of my work, these 5 words seem to pop up most often. I'm looking at the emotions that come from coping or dealing with an invisible part of me. I have many layers (as do we all) and I want to reveal, to make visible these layers to try and make what I and many other people are going through visible and more understood and accepted by those who haven't been through the difficulties that these conditions can cause.

What are your favourite mediums and techniques to use?

I'm a 'child in a sweet shop' with techniques but if I really really have to pick a favourite, I can narrow it down to two - using water-soluble fabric with machine stitch and using Lutradur with paint, machine stitch and heat to alter the surface and create texture.

Fabric and thread form part of the mediums I use but I really enjoy including more unusual materials such as fruit nets or cassette tape and working with materials that originally came from other industries such as Lutradur, Tyvek and even dissolvable fabrics.

I do suspect I am a secret pyromaniac and vandal as I love nothing better than using heat, water and paint to change the surface of my work!!

How did find your creative style? 

I'm not sure I have totally found my style yet! As I said above, I'm like a child in a sweet shop when it comes to new techniques and methods, I always want to try something new! But over the last 18 months or so, I've been taking a couple of courses with Amarjeet Nandhra at the Windsor School of Textile Art and with Amarjeet's support, I'm slowly starting to find and develop my own style.

Do you dabble in any other crafts/art? 

I've explored many different crafts - scrapbooking, paper crafts, glass painting, lace making, macramé to name but a few. I can honestly say knitting and crochet are not crafts for me - I end up with so many added and dropped stitches as I go that the piece just looks unrecognisable! I also love creating upcycled one off pieces for my home with scrap wood but I think my husband might say those are more joint projects!

Favourite quote? 

I have a few that I keep a note of, two that relate to my art are:

"Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole" -  Louise Bourgeois

"Art is not always about pretty things. It's about who we are, what happened to us and how our lives are affected" -  Elizabeth Broun

Our next Q&A piece will be with Dia.