Sunday, 7 February 2016

Developing your creativity



In this current age, creativity is prized as a key skill. Employers want employees to have it and be able to use it. However in the educational landscape of the UK at the moment the subjects that develop creativity and being sidelined and seen as less important. Schools are dropping performing and visual arts at a horrific rate.
 
Q: So what is creativity? 
A:      1) The ability to form new ideas and solutions to problems.
           2) To make original work.
Many people just don’t believe that they are creative. All are creative, but we may be creative in different ways. Some are creative in thought and some in making. Creativity, if it is going to flourish should be fostered and developed. There are ways we can boost our creativity and there are barriers to its development.
As an artist, I have faced many barriers to developing my creativity and I still don’t always get it right but I’m getting there. Let me share some of the things I need to watch out for and some of the things I find helpful in boosting my creative development.

1.     Self Doubt – This is the killer of creativity. That little voice that says you are just not good enough. I used to believe this, and then I decided to create things anyway, whether they were good or bad, what I found was that as I became more confident my work became better.
2.     Opinions of Others – This is a tricky one. As Humans we value what other people think and in certain circumstances we need our work validated by others, but this should not be the driver to what we do. Create it anyway and if someone likes it – great. If not just create for yourself.
3.     Taught linear thinking – It’s very easy to get into a linear process when making. Just working towards the final outcome. I know that when I have a very specific idea about what I want the final outcome to be – I always struggle with creating it. Instead – enjoy the journey.
4.     Time – As I work full time, finding time to create is always a challenge. However, I try to use my creativity in everything I do. It makes my job more creative and enjoyable too.
5.     Opportunity – Sometimes we miss opportunities to be creative because we are looking for a particular solution to a problem, rather than looking for alternatives.
6.     Rules – Sometimes they are there to be broken!


1.     Plan time – I will set time aside to work on my designing and creating. It’s not as much as I’d like, but it’s a start, and it does mean at some times I say no to the myriad of other things that need my time. Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day!
2.     Collect, pinch, appropriate – become a magpie, collect things that inspire you, poems, images, items, photographs, keep them! Either physically or virtually. I love Pinterest to help with this.
3.     Explore and experiment – Break those rules. Try something new. A new technique, media. A new theme? Get some training, go on courses and apply what you learn to what you already know.
4.     Collaborate and ask questions – Work with others, learn from others, share with others, join a group, collaborate – all the time ask, “What would happen if…?”
5.     Shower Moments – Keep a notebook. We all have those light bulb moments, usually when in the shower, driving, drifting off to sleep. Keep something to hand to scribble or record your thoughts at those moments.
6.     Don’t be precious – don’t be afraid to push your ideas, take it further. It’s when we push it that new ideas develop and we get out of our comfort zone. This requires courage and resilience as it’s in this place that we allow ourselves to “fail”, for things to go wrong – this can force us to look for new or alternative solutions rather than the safe ones.
Write, think, draw, paint, make, decorate, act, sing, make music, design, engineer, teach, learn. How do you create?

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Asymmetric t shirt


I finished the t shirt that I posted about last week. It's the asymmetric long sleeve top from January 2014 Burda Style.
It was an easy make. I ran it up in about and hour and finished the neck edge and hems the following day. The hardest part about this make was fracking the pattern pieces from the sheet.

My sister took a quick photo of me wearing it. Sorry no construction shots! I made a straight size 38 with no alterations. I think it would look great as a dress, if you added about 15cm to the length, but it makes a great and comfy top. My mum and sister have already asked me to make them one.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Works in Progress

I've started sewing a top and have traced a patttern fro a wrap dress.
I fancied making a long sleeve t shirt, but wanted something a little different so I chose this one from the January 2014 issue of Burda style.

I'm making in it a plain charcoal grey jersey. I love the long length and the over long sleeves. I just need to hem it and finish the neck binding.

I've also been looking for a dress to make with the hand designed batik fabric that I finished last week. I chose this wrap dress, still a bit cool to wear something like this, but I love dresses and thought the design would look good in this style. It's from the march issue 2015 of Burdastyle.


I've just traced the pattern, size 36 as some folks on pattern review said it ran large, and after measuring the pieces , it does.
Can't wait to get it sewn up.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Drawing with Stitch





I'm trying to re-engage with the textiles techniques I used to love so much, but marry them with the sewing and art that I make. I don't want each of my practices to be a separate entity, but part of the same creative process and hopefully produce some mixed media pieces over the coming months.


With this in mind I have been attending some textiles workshops and experimenting at home. I'm progressing with my Batik fabric. I added a second layer of wax over the top of the pale blue dye and dip dyed in a violet dye. However the colour was rather weak and the over-all effect wishy washy. Idecided at the last minute to use the machine dye that John had bought me at Christmas. I took the fabric out this morning and I'm really happy with the results. I had used a mix of beeswax and paraffin wax. these melt at different temperatures and this has had an effect on the way the dye has penetrated the fabric. The blue under colour is not really visible, but there is a distinct layered effect. some of the lower temperature wax has washed out, leaving just a little to be ironed out later. I'm hoping to turn this fabric into some sort of garment. Your suggestions for suitable patterns would be appreciated.


Yesterday I attended a machine embroidery workshop at Weave in Lynemouth and run by Donna Cheshire. You can see some of Donna's work over on her website. I haven't done machine embroidery for years and years and the last thing I wanted to do was cut out neat shapes and applique them to a nice fabric and satin stitch around the edge. I wanted to create pieces that reflect my drawing style and use the machine as a new way to draw.

Pelment Vilene, watercolour and machine embroidery

Donna brought along her Bernina, which is a simlilar model to mine, so it was useful to work out how the techniques would work on my machine. I now have a darning foot, so more experiments will be forthcoming.

Emulsion image transfer, watercolour, angelina fibres, net and machine embroidery

We worked with several methods. Painting and stitching onti pelmet vilene. This is very thick and an embroidery hoop is not needed to support the emboidery. this is a poritive in my eyes as I find emboidery hoops a bit strange to use.
We also worked into water soluble fabric. this is useful for adding lacy or detailed pieces to work.
My favourite was applique and stitch, I kept this very loose. rather than attaching the fabrics with bondaweb, I applied them and manipulated them as I went along. using a range of coloured thread to embellish my design. which was based on a painting I completed some time ago.

Cotton dyed fabric, applique, silk fibre paper and machine embroidery

I'm hoping to incorporate these techniques into some 3D designs in the near future.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Batik experiments in progress

Batik "cap" carved wooden block

This weekend I have been experimenting with some batik techniques. I used to love dying fabric but haven't done any for years. My husband bought me some beeswax and a cap (carved wooden block used for printing the wax onto fabric) for christmas.  I tried using the block, however the cold british climate has meant the even inside the wax was cooling too quickly to apply evenly to the fabric. I might give it a go later in the year when its a bit warmer.

Experiments using a Tjanting

I still wanted to experiment and decided to use the Tjantings I had already to apply the wax. This works very well on a small scale and can easily be controlled, but I wanted to dye a large 3m piece of fabric. 

Dye bath and wax pot with Tjanting

I decided to use an old paintbrush to apply the wax in a random swirl pattern, drawn freehand.
I had experimented with the dye and used Dylon Bahama Blue. 

Design applied with paintbrush

On my samples it worked very well. I'm not sure it's working quite so well on my large piece. I did double up the amount of dye used, but I suspect that the fabric is not 100% cotton and has some polyester in it - despite checking at the shop when I bought it.

First sample - pre painted fabric, you can see the uneven stamping, then dyed blue

The fabric is currently steeping in the bath while I type, but will have to come out soon as the kids need their baths! I will be applying some more wax and over dyeing with purple dye. I'll see what that turns out like and may add a third layer of dye.

Fabric in dye bath

I need to invest in some Procion dyes. I used to use the a lot when I was a student, but haven't kept any for a few years. They are incredibly versatile and provide vibrant and strong colours.
Maybe a spot of tritik or shibori next.








Sunday, 3 January 2016

Back to the 70s


I've done a lot of sewing over the last couple of months towards our handmade Christmas. This was the big project! A corduroy coat for John.


He had seen a cord jacket on a website that he likes, but the fit was very narrow, more like a shirt than a jacket. So I took the features that he liked and drafted a coat pattern. The initial toile was slightly too slim and there was not enough movement in the arms. I changed the sleeve design and also lengthened the jacket. I used a coat that fits well to check my measurements.


The coat has a mandarin style stand collar, chest pockets and welt pockets. I included a yoke effect with design lines from the neck edge to the sleeve. I was going to do bound buttonholes, but the fabric was too tick so I ended up doing these on my Bernina. I have a onestep buttonholer on my Janome machine, but the buttons were too big for it, so it required a 4 step method on the other machine. My Bernina handles thicker fabric much better than the Janome. 


The lining is a lovely bright pink flowery cotton. It really adds a bit of interest to the 1970's styling on the coat.
The coat includes shoulder pads and interfacing support in the upper bacjk and chest areas as well as the facings.
I really was pushed for time with this make as I tried to do it while John was out of the house, and get it finished for Christmas day. But I did make it, and John seems to like it.






Friday, 1 January 2016

Well Hello there! Long time no see.


It's been a while. I only managed 23 posts last year and the last one was way back in October. It seems life has been rather busy and blogging was the one thing that went by the by. 2015 has been a strange year, good and bad, but nothing dreadful!


I look back and see I've been quite productive on the sewing front, but not quite so much on the art front, and this is something I want to get back to. I've decided that I will create art that I like and that is not necessarily commercial - If people want to buy it then great. If not it doesn't matter - it's my creative outlet.

I have sewn much this year, much of it has been unblogged as there have been gifts and just very little time in between projects. I'd like to use my blog to document more of my creative process this year and show things that inspire me.

So what did I create last year?

I created 5 new paintings for an exhibition in March. 3 of which are sold and 2 are in a local gallery.
I spent a day printmaking with my friend Alli, in which we made an awesome mess. Unfortunately the worlk I made didn't really inspire me to go further with it.
I refashioned a sweater into a cradigan and old jeans into a jacket.
I redyed some shoes.
Made a jacket for my Mother in law, Dress for mum, and one for my sister too.
Made a shirt for my Brother in law.
I made myself 5 dresses, two tops and a corset.
I also did a lot of sewing for Christmas - Pj's, dresses, bags, tops, a coat and a fabric trophy reindeer.
I attended workshops on Feltmaking, silk paper making, applique and fabric printing.


John and I spent a few days away in April, but that was pretty much the only time away. I'm really looking forward to a proper holiday this summer! I was also diagnosed with Bells Palsy back in June. and alsmost 7 months later it's almost back to normal - except when I get over tired. In July I also shaved all my hair off for charity, which was kind of liberating!

So what next? In honesty I don't know. There are a lot of things happening in the early part of the year that will certainly mean changes to come. I haven't really set myself any real resolutions, but there are things that I'd like to do.

Spend time with my family.
Express my faith in all I do.
Eat food with friends.
Go Back to China - (trip planned for the summer).
Make art.
Sew.
Play my sax and flute more often.
Get fitter.

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