Sunday, 19 March 2017

Kids Craft: Floral Wreath

I've now started teaching some of the children's craft clubs on saturdays and at half term at Walford Mill Crafts. There's definitely been some trial and error on my part with regard to learning the limits of what children can do creatively (e.g. I learnt the hard way that most of them cannot tie knots) and what they're willing to do (e.g. how long their attention span lasts)! But I feel that I'm making good progress now and my confidence with the teaching part is on the up. Next big task: remembering all their names!!!

This weekend we made floral wreaths. The children have to be able to finish their project within an hour and a half so the class has to be fairly simple... but not so simple that it's boring. I decided to cut the wreath / doughnut shapes out of paper plates and let the kids decorate them using coloured paper, templates I had created and pens, pencils, stickers, pom poms and buttons. Here's the example that I made:
I tried to use different colours, textures and scales to inspire them. Here's a few of the versions made by the kids:

I was really pleased with their results; they look very colourful and as springy as five newborn lambs leaping across a dewy meadow. A definite success and I'm now excited about teaching the next class (Easter Bunnies)!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Story of a Little Bird

With the new year in full swing I am now trying to focus more on refining my 'brand'; my style and the direction I would like to take my work in. I usually refer to myself as a 'Textile Artist' because I like that this is an ambiguous title which is difficult to define. My work to date often blurs boundaries between illustration, textiles, fine art, craft, costume and fashion, so it's kind of easier to sum that up by calling it 'Textile Art'.
The first piece I created for this 'polishing' is what I'm calling the 'Little Bird' embroidery (imaginative, I know):
This is only 3" in diameter, so he truly is little; a fun and quick little piece to start the new year with. The bird itself was inspired by a carved wooden mantelpiece I saw at a museum in North Wales recently:
Little Bird is in the middle there; I changed him slightly from the original to make him mine and not just a copy. I also really like the plant and clock and have plans to do something with those ideas at some point too! Here's my original drawing and Little Bird from another angle:

And here's his backside (ooh-er), which I think is just as interesting as the front:
Although not as neat! I take inspiration for my work from all over the place, and the colour pallet I chose for this work came from a scene in my favourite telly show 'Pushing Daisies':

I already had the embroidery hoop as I picked it up second hand, and I then picked up on that shade of green in the TV show and ran with this colour pallet. I don't normally like green very much, but this shows how lots of different shades can work together, along with neutrals and that crazy pop of neon orangey red making it super special. So now I like green, and definitely want to use this pallet again sometime.
Hopefully that gives you a little insight into how my brain works and where I get [some of] my ideas from! Little Bird has made himself a nest in my new Etsy shop which will be just for arty crafty things: Sarah Appleton Textile Artist.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Blue Monday

Like everyone else, I rarely have time to work on projects that are all for myself these days, but over the holidays I made time for a quick project I'd been planning for a while. I had a plain faux suede turquoise shift dress (apologies for the following terrible two photos):
From meh...
That I wanted to embellish and make more exciting, like so: yeh!
With just a little bit of embroidery around the neckline and pockets I think it looks much more interesting. Here's some better photos with detail:

The yellowy greeny thread is your regular DMC / Anchor type but the blue thread is a vintage 1960s Swedish silk that I picked up from Linladen at the Festival of Quilts last August. This is a really good quality thread that I'll be saving for the most special projects!
I chose the pocket pattern from Constance Howard's book 'Inspiration for Embroidery' and the herringbone stitch is one that I've been using in various projects for a while now.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Space Age Reindeer Galactic Future Creature

As Christmas is officially over, it seems like a good time to belatedly tell you all about the various crafty thingys I made for the festive period! First I started off with simpleish embroidered fabric decorations:
[And a few paper ones...]

These were inspired by classic retro shapes and designs and for the more complex embroideries I took inspiration from Constance Howard's book 'Inspiration for Embroidery'. Most of the fabric, paper and ribbon was salvaged / upcycled.
Next I made cards in a similar retro theme:
Photo by LunarApple
These featured an Intergalactic Space Reindeer with antennae so that he doesn't miss out on all his important Christmas telly [e.g. James Bond]. I also made cards with Christmas trees on but these seem to have eluded all photography. However, I did manage to knock up a quick reindeer gift bag too:

 Here's a bonus picture of my marvellous cat looking splendid under our tree:
That's it! Until next time!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Volunteering at Walford Mill Crafts: Eight

This week I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that this might be my last 'Volunteering at Walford Mill' post because I won't be a volunteer any more. The good news is that that's because I'm going to be a proper paid member of the team really soon! Yippee! This is great news for me since I've spent the last three years working on my degree in order to get a foot in the creative world's door; and following graduation I didn't have much luck with job applications which made me feel very lost indeed. I knew I didn't want to work in London, or for some big fatcat corporation, so finding a small, local gallery focussed on craft and education was perfect for me. Education is really important to me; as a mature student who's enrolled on many a part-time short course over the last ten years I am a huge advocate of learning. It's all part of growing and 'bettering' oneself after all! In my new Mill job I'll be helping with the education / workshop side of things, working in the gallery shop and probably various other bits of bobs that pop up. As you can probably tell, I'm very excited and pleased.

Anyway that's quite enough of that! This week at the Mill I switched up our display cases at the doctor's surgery to try and make them look more Christmassy and fresh:
From this... this
And this... this
 Think I'll keep working on my display skills! On Thursday we had our late night Christmas shopping opening, when we gave away free goody bags designed and printed by lovely Jennifer Vincent who is a goody in herself:

 And also had complimentary mulled wine, mince pies and stollen bites, of which I had far too many. I wore my favourite doggy print dress and we all had a jolly good laugh at how fabulously I camouflaged with the Heidi Warr ceramics:

 That's me in the foreground wearing my greyhound frock... could you guess that I am a big fan of her work?!

In other news I learnt how to finish off the jewellery I've been creating with Debby this week. This involves coating the jewels with liquid resin and carefully watching them like a mama bird watches her little eggys to make sure no harm comes to them, plus popping any pesky bubbles that may arise. Pop! Here's some pictures of them drying:

In real life they look even more spectacular and precious, and I was very pleased with them. The purple earrings (above) were definitely among my favourites on this day, although unfortunately it's hard to get a really good picture of the finished results!

That's it for this week, off I pop. Pop!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Volunteering at Walford Mill Crafts: Chapter 7

Not much to report this week; most of the day was spent doing officey type things; sending emails and looking after the social media of the Mill, which is one of the jobs I am assigned to do quite a bit. I also helped out in the gallery shop and with the Creative Academy (kid's craft). This week they were creating hand drawn bauble pictures like this one:
Baubs by Jeannie
By cutting templates and drawing around them and filling in the space:
And then rubbing out the pencil line to leave a shape with pattern but no outline. Phew! This was an exercise in neatness and patience for everyone involved!
That;s it really! Until next time!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Volunteering at Walford Mill Crafts: Chapter 6

Christmas is now all set up at the Mill and looking fabulous! Here's a few pictures:

Looking pretty splendid indeed! Most of the hard work and graft was down to Krishula, Christine and Mel, although I wrapped most of the presents under the tree, and helped with decorating the smaller christmas tree and shop displays that can be seen in the last two pictures! I haven't ever really been involved in creating retail displays to this standard before, so I'm learning a lot as I go along and the staff have been very encouraging and helpful, which is lovely. I've been working in the gallery shop a more the past couple of weeks and have come to terms with the till and general day to day happenings now. I think!
This week I was helping Debby with jewellery creating again; using her beautiful hand painted papers to make unique pieces which will be finished with resin. Here are a few that I was working on this week:

In the foreground and left you can see a few that have been finished with the resin; I'm really pleased with how they turned out! The blue-green triangley one in the front there is my favourite one of all because the textures and colours work really well within the shape.
After that it was time for Creative Academy (aka kids' craft)! This week the teacher was Debra Zebra and we were making mixed media Supermoon pieces. Here's Debra's version:
And here's a few made by the kids:

I think they all look great and they all put their own unique style into the work; with some more abstract and unruly and others more meticulous and neat. But all of them turned out equally spooky and atmospheric which was the aim of the game, hurrah!