Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bits and Bobs

Apologies for disappearing for so long; I've been working lots, and when I haven't I've been beavering away on a fairly large scale embroidery. My last day off wasn't wasted, either; Hannah and I met up for an impromptu craft date, and further plotted our zine, Stitch Witches.

Stitch Witches Collective on Facebook is now pushing two hundred young member "witches" who make and/or appreciate textile art and craft. We've even got a summer stitchalong going (which my hopefully soon to be revealed current embroidery is for). Here are some of the contributions so far.

By Chel Panda

By Katie Rylander-Cowden
By Mel Reeve
We are aiming to bring the first issue of the print zine out by the end of the summer, but in the meantime we've opened up the Stitch Witches Tumblr by adding a "Submit" button so that fellow Stitch Witches can get involved with the content, and we plan to have more of a magazine feel to the site, with regular articles, relevant reblogs and original Stitch Witches artwork. Feel free to sign up to our Facebook or follow (or submit to!) our Tumblr.

In other news, it looks like I'm going to be in at least one more exhibition this summer/autumn, and I'm waiting to hear back on a couple more, so fingers crossed!

I leave you with my most recently completed piece of stitchery, which I have been wearing all day (my love for narwhals knows no bounds!)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Revisiting the Constellation Quilt

The Constellation Quilt has been languishing unloved and uncared for for the past few months, in favour of "quick fix" projects over this time consuming (and daunting!) endeavour. It's not just that though; the quilt just wasn't "hanging together" for me; I wasn't happy with the aesthetic, or with the disjointed narrative of the piece; it all seemed a bit "bitty".

Now that my summer holidays are looming, I'm about to find myself with the time to really take the quilt to task. I toyed with the idea of converting it into a giant fortune teller or cootie catcher structure (and I may still have to make one up in fabric, though on a smaller scale), but it was the concept of the quilt as a giant linear comic strip that most appealed to me.

And so I have written a snippet of text to add into a reworking of the quilt, with much more of a cohesive narrative. I don't think it's quite "done" yet, it needs a decisive ending, and it will be accompanied by a few choice embroidered and appliqued illustrations, but the final quilt will be mostly text; the words will speak for themselves.
I'm excited to make a proper start once my current bee-themed embroidery is out of the way. My hope is that I'll have the quilt ready for exhibition in the Words Over Waltham Forest festival in October. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Hell hath no fury like a woman subjugated

I stitched up this piece for a little feminist exhibition I'm hoping to have as part of a wider event (more information to follow if all goes well!)

I put a feminist twist on the famous William Congreve quote (which is, of course, always misattributed to Shakespeare), so I suppose it's literary stitchery too!

The real credit for this piece has to go to the original needlewoman (I'm assuming it was a needlewoman, not a man, and that's incredibly presumptive of me) who cross stitched this ornate floral and fruit, Grecian inspired design. It's an even more incredible feat when you consider that it was rendered on plain cotton rather than cross stitch aida; all those neat, tiny stitches! And without the aid of a drawn-on design, too! I'm in awe of my predecessors, sometimes.

I felt the rather chintzy "surroundings" of the phrase lent a nicely ironic air. A satisfying little stitch to produce while I'm working on bigger things.

Hysterical Woman

The charming little coffee shop where I work tonight hosted the first of its supper clubs for the Appetite Festival (a month-long festival of food in Waltham Forest for the month of June). To coincide with this, Walthamstow Dad has created a coffee-flavoured art installation, and, thanks to a kindly customer who dropped me in it/suggested Arts and Crusts exhibited my work, I have a little window installation of my embroideries.

Carol (one half of Arts and Crusts) set the embroideries off beautifully by hand-drawing a lace design based on one of my handkerchiefs.

Work old and new is featured; pieces from The Cure for Love, my Melancholy Flowers, a pop feminist piece (which will, fingers crossed, feature in another exhibition soon), two handkerchiefs from my current project Treasures For Your Troubles, and a satirical piece on the perils of hero worshipping Sylvia Plath (as Woody Allen said, Plath was an "interesting poetess whose tragic suicide was misinterpreted as romantic by the college girl mentality.")

When Carol was putting the finishing touches to the display, she asked me if I had a name for the little exhibition. As I drew a blank, she took a lead from the pop feminist embroidery featured, and dubbed the exhibition Hysterical Woman; so the display now reads Hysterical Woman Kate Elisabeth Rolison (!)

I'm chuffed with the beautiful way in which Carol has presented my work. It seems fitting to have a little exhibition at Arts and Crusts; after all, it is an arts and crafts cafĂ©, and I'm always found stitching away in between serving customers!

I'm afraid to say (according to the Arts and Crusts Twitter feed) all the spaces for the supper clubs are now sold out; I'm certainly very pleased to have made it to one. The tabbouleh, baklava, and Arabic mint tea went down particularly well (though wasn't eaten/drunk all at once!) It was a little like a dinner party but with new faces; a wonderful way to meet your neighbours and socialise, all while admiring the art on the walls (and ceiling!) and sampling Middle Eastern deliciousness. Bring on next year!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Pop to The Shop

It was about time to stock up on hankies, doilies, and antimacassars for my embroideries, and so I made a little trip down to Cheshire Street just off Brick Lane today, to my very favourite shop in all the world; the eponymous The Shop.

The Shop is crammed from floor to ceiling with vintage textiles and haberdashery, from silk scarves to lace and crochet. It's part Aladdin's Cave and part granny's attic, and entirely a wonderland for a textiles addict like me!

I could spend hours rifling through the old tailor's draws filled with embroidered linens; it's incredible that so much delicate, intricate needlework is stockpiled in such a tiny space, and sold for tuppence! The prices are so reasonable I always come away with a stack of linens for future projects.

If I get around to making up some of my vintage dress patterns this summer, I shall have to return for some gorgeous 50s or 60s fabric (of which there is plenty!)

Not only is The Shop stacked with vintage textiles, it also boasts a considerable selection of vintage clothing, at equally reasonable prices. Particularly gorgeous is the choice of lingerie and night wear; today I fell in love with a beautiful hand embroidered peach 1920s pyjama set (and demonstrated tremendous self-restraint in not buying it, considering how gorgeous it was!)

The Shop opens Monday to Sunday, and I implore you to get down there if you're as much of a textiles nerd as me, if only for a feast for your eyes.

Here's my haul from today:

It should keep me busy for the next month or so!