Saturday, March 19, 2011

Report on my recent trip to Canberra

Thanks to my online friend Doreen I DID manage that trip to Canberra to see the Exhibition of the Ballets Russes costumes at the National Gallery. I caught the 6.10 am train from my home to meet the CountryLink train at Strathfield station for the 4 hour 15 minute trip, arriving just after 11 am on the Thursday. My little portable DVD player with earphones came in very handy for a movie or 2 during the trip up and back.

Doreen met me at the station and we drove to the National Botanical Gardens to see an exhibition of large scale lace that had been recommended to me, called "Rhythm Interrupted - Life Redirected" by Jenny Rees and Vicki Taylor. 15 large panels 1.22 metre x 80 cm were worked in linen and raffia thread in bobbin lace with non-traditional plastics and chunky materials as embellishments to depict the progression of life before, during and after a bushfire. The girls used Jenny's experience of losing her home in the January 2003 Canberra bushfires and the more recent Victorian bushfires as their inspiration for the works.

Doreen and her lovely husband Stephen fed and watered me and gave me a much appreciated comfortable room for the night. That night after dinner Doreen showed me all her wonderful textile work and we talked and talked like we'd known each other for years. We even chose a similar friendship gift for each other, crazy quilted 3D hearts. On Sunday afternoon after a leisurely lunch we visited the Ballets Russes exhibition, and I ran into 2 fellow Embroiderers' Guild members also visiting the Gallery, what a small world! Fabulous exhibition, can't believe the costumes were largely trompe l'oeil effect with paint and cheap fabric. Finally Doreen delivered me to the return train in ample time for a fellow traveller to take a photo of us on the station seat. What a great trip, thanks Doreen and Stephen for your hospitality and friendship, must do it again some time.

Beginning a new course - Intermediate Historical and Contemporary Embroidery

HUGE apologies for such a long break between blog posts ! Finally the Sydney night time temps have started to fall which means easier, more restful sleeping and I'm starting to get my energy back a little. Also I've started my Intermediate Historical and Contemporary Embroidery Certificate Course at the Embroiderers' Guild NSW and everyone knows that the time alloted for homework assignments is NEVER enough, no matter how organised you are, LOL. Our class meets a different tutor each month over 2 years to study a different subject.

In February we looked at how to research Embroidery using the Guild and outside resources. We each chose a different piece of work from the Guild's extensive archives and studied it, then worked a sample from the piece. Finally we designed a contemporary version of that sample. Fitting the whole assignment on the set A3 page (equal to 2 A4 or standard pages) was the hardest part, but I succeeded eventually after much editing then trimming and gluing printed pages.

This was my chosen piece, an embroidered sage green wool jacket by Beatrice Russell from our Collection, featuring 12 graduated needlewoven motifs in silk thread on front, back and sleeves. Stunning !!

Above is my historical sample being set up. I hooped up a piece of hand dyed felted wool fabric in a similar colour to the jacket which I was lucky enough to find at the CraftExpo in Sydney the week before. Then I threaded my warps through a central point (Stef Francis variegated silk perle) and anchored them in the binding of the hoop for some tension.

I chose to work just one small segment of a motif, which I called coral or anenomes rather than stars as the catalogue card stated.
Although I couldn't hope to match the beautiful colours Beatrice had hand dyed for her original piece, I chose some colours similar to hers in perle cotton and silk threads. I anchored my thread on the back then started needleweaving using a back stitch, graduating to over one thread/under one weaving when I divided off, then wrapping towards the end of each warp. Luckily I choose a technique I have done before for my first assignment, no use re-inventing the wheel as they say. However I'd forgotten how long this technique takes and how fiddly, but the results were quite good. I wish I had time to work more of the motif, but the aim was to show an understanding of the technique used, and I did that. Here is the weaving completed, and below the finished motif segment after all the ends were plunged through the wool and secured with small stitches in machine thread on the rear, as in goldwork embroidery.

Then came my contemporary version of the motif, with gold beading wire warps and variegated knitted tubular rayon ribbon as the back stitched filling. Cute !