Wednesday, 24 May 2017

175 years experience, an 80year old sewing machine and a 21st century one

Here are some of the quilt blocks containing family sayings that we built into the ‘Remembered Hug’ project that ran at the National Centre for Crafts and Design last weekend.  It was the closing weekend for the show ‘What have I got to do to make it okay?’ and the opening weekend for ‘Made in the Middle’ and very unusually I had work in both shows.

The idea was to work with residents of Ashfield Lodge Care Home to collect family sayings and catchphrases that we would then digitally embroider out.  This is a photo of Harry and Margaret watching the Pfaff 4.5 in action stitching out Harry’s phrase “Hells bells and buckets of blood”.  As some patients living with dementia find ‘fiddling with stuff’ calming we also embellished the blocks with ribbons, buttons and buckles.
Members of the general public lent a hand adding to our collection of catchphrases and stitching on buttons.  Indeed one lady spent hours on my Grandmother’s 1938 hand powered Singer joining scraps into blocks and the piecing blocks.  We used that machine to construct the first lap blanket with another two being finished off by the lovely team at Ashfield

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Young ProspectUS

I worked on a lovely project organized by Somerset Art Works at Taunton Deane Pupil Referral Unit last week.  These are pupils who are not in main stream education for a variety of reasons. The plan was to give a basic introduction to sewing machines and how their in-built stitches can be used to build up decorative surfaces. 
The emphasis of the workshop was how simple stitch techniques could be used to build up more complex surfaces that could then be turned, if the student wanted it, into a finished product.  After a safe practice demonstration students started using the machines.  The lovely guys at Pfaff had lent me a couple of machines and I bought mine as well and we worked all of the machines hard.  The plan was for students to just stay with me for a half day but one student really got into it and stayed all day making an embroidered purse and then a bespoke make up bag.  This was seen as a great success as she often struggles to stay in school for a long period.

I also bought with me a micro tag gun was not really used as much as I expected.  It’s a very quick way to apply sequins and whilst there was much discussion about then they weren’t really used on the final pieces.  They were however used to make felt ‘camouflage’ fabric with a student with an interest in the military.  This was then further embellished with camouflage sequins that I had bought some time ago but had never found the right project to use them on….until last week!

A big thanks to the teams at SAW, Taunton Deane and VSM UK ltd for their help in making this happen

This is the project blog.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

X marks the spot

Following the re-wire of 'All the things you are not yet (Cloth of Gold)' I thought it might be useful to know where the new speakers are.  The Parkside Gallery at BCU is a noisy space with a high atrium so it can be tricky to hear the quilt unless you are listening in the right place… X marks the spot…or rather spots.
The irony is that the speakers are actually even more inconspicuous than the original ones.  Don’t be scared to touch the quilt…that’s the whole point!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

STAR conference

I am very excited to have been asked to speak at the first Smart Textiles and Robotics (STAR) workshop at Kings College London, on Friday 10th February.   The aim of the day is “to create an ongoing forum for discussion, networking and identification of consortiums for collaboration to bring about further advances in the area of smart textiles and robotics.”  The day runs from 9.30-4 and tickets are free but you do need to book them to secure your place.  They have some great speakers lined up who are experts in the fields of informatics, soft robots and e-textiles and you can find out more here

As part of this event I am running a textile workshop aimed at hackers, crafters and tinkerers as well as those that want to start investigating smart textiles the afternoon before on Thursday 9th February.  You do need to be a student at KCL to attend and you can book your free space here
If you aren’t a student there is might be worth contacting me directly in case we have spare places that I can offer you.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Made in the Middle

I am just finishing off the testing for the second generation of my piece ‘All the things you are not yet’ which will go on display as part of Made in the Middle next week.  The show organised by Craftspace, opens its 18 month tour at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry 2nd December 2016 - 19th February 2017.
This is a juried exhibition of the best makers in the Midlands and it is a great honour to be selected not only as an exhibitor but to be one of the featured artists in the celebrations of the show’s thirty year history.
‘All the things you are not yet’ is one of my ‘singing quilts’ that have evolved out my collaboration with Dr Matthew Howard at the Centre for Robotics Research at Kings College London.  It features embroidered speakers that play sound files when the quilt is touched.  The circuits making up the speakers are digitally embroidered using conductive threads made especially for me by Benton and Johnson, part of Toye, Kenning and Spencer who hold the Royal Warrant for gold embroidery to the Queen.  The piece is a contraction of 21st Century computing and both cutting edge and historic embroidery processes.
The quilt has a digital print from a mobile phone photograph of a computer screen taken by a young woman.  The image on the screen was the two pre-implantation embryos that were about to be planted in her womb.  The bundles of cells will go on to become her two sons, Rufus and Rafe.  The sound file that is played through the embroidered speakers when the quilt is touched is those boys, now two years old, singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle little star’.
One of the embrodiered speakers on 'All the things you are not yet (Cloth of Gold)'