Monday, 31 March 2014

Monday Musings: Lego Mug!

Okay so my 13 month old is obsessed with Lego at the moment so this Lego mug made me smile! You can buy it here if you want liven up your tea breaks...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Paperfolk Meets... Liz Toohey Wiese

Weaving is a craft that I know very little about but I think it can often be mistaken as being traditional and slightly old fashioned when in reality its a very experimental and organic craft. Liz Toohey- Wiese is an artist who uses weaving to great affect- earthy and homely yet bold and modern. Check out her Etsy shop to get a hold of some beautiful wall hangings.
Liz was kind enough to give us an insight into her studio and art practice...

How did you get into fibre arts?

I started weaving during a particularly long Christmas vacation at my family's house in 2012, needing the distraction of a winter craft. I made myself a loom from a cardboard box and taught myself initially through YouTube videos. Gradually I found some useful books on the topic, made friends with weavers, and slowly upgraded my cardboard loom to one made from copper pipes (though a cardboard loom still works quite well for many projects!). I began sharing my knowledge with others keen to learn how to make tapestries, and lead a half-dozen beginner weaving classes in Vancouver, BC. I have since moved to the community of Halifax, Nova Scotia where the fibre arts are much more prevalent. I am now undertaking my Masters of Fine Arts at NSCAD University, and have been given the opportunity to study weaving formally. While still making wall hangings, I am also making blankets, and learning how to use a Jacquard loom.

What inspires you in your artworks?

I love the woven work of Sheila Hicks and Gunta Stolz. "The Tapestry Handbook" by Carol K. Russell was a great resource to me as I learned to weave. I have a small collection of rugs, the two nicest ones are from Turkey that my partner bought for me. I love having handmade textiles around the house, and their presence is maybe the best motivation to keep creating woven objects. I am a painter as well as a weaver, and often the paintings I am currently working on inspire my colour palettes in my weavings.

Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?

I often begin with one type of fibre I find interesting, maybe some thick angora wool or sparkling thread I found at a thrift store, and I am curious how it will look woven into a field. I often have only a basic idea to begin a piece with, this weaving will have a mountain shape in it, this one will have stripes, this one a circle. I work on a small table top loom, drink good coffee, and listen to a radio show or a documentary while working. My wall hangings take anywhere from a day to a few weeks to complete.

How do you keep yourself organised?

In my studio I pin everything important onto my wall. This includes ideas for future projects, forms to fill out, letters to send. I have a sketchbook for ideas, mostly I use that for long term projects. All my yarns stay in baskets organized by colour. There are definitely lists of notes and drawings scattered on my desk, I am not the most organized person and things do sometimes get lost...

Do you ever have creative blocks? How do you get through them?

Right now I have the luxury to treat my art practice like a full time job, I aim to spend at least 40 hours a week in studio and sometimes more. This time last year I was working full time during the day and weaving until 1 or 2 in the morning most nights, I am trying to take advantage of being in school again and going to my studio as much as possible. Some days I go to the studio and clean, or take care of my houseplants in the window, or catch up on e-mails, and don't work on any art projects. But sometimes in that busyness a new idea will come to me, some problem will be solved, and in that case I am in the right spot to go right back into a weaving, a drawing, or a painting.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Monday Musings: Veggie Embroidery

Words cannot describe how happy this  made me when I came across it on Green Accordian's website. I think these may have sold out but there's plenty of other goodies to get your hands on.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Paperfolk Meets... Jody Rice

Meet Jody Rice...

Jody is the very talented lady behind Satsuma Street; a gorgeous shop filled with contemporary cross-stitch patterns. It was the beautiful colour palettes that initially attracted me to the shop and after finding out a little more I wanted to share some behind the scenes info with all of you. Jody was kind enough to answer some questions for us...

How did you get into needlecraft?
I started doing needlecrafts as a little kid, with my grandmother.  When I would go to visit her, she always had some kind of craft project going, and she encouraged me to try everything.  Then I got serious about sewing in college, when I majored in costume design.  I worked as a seamstress for many years, and costuming requires that you learn a little bit of everything to do with textiles and fibre arts.  Now when I want to learn a new craft, I usually just pick it up on my own and read as much as I can about it.
What inspires you in your artworks?
I'm very influenced by my favorite artists from the 1950's and 60's, like Mary Blair, Alexander Girard, and Vera Neumann.  So I spend a lot of time immersing myself in their work. I collect vintage craft books and magazines, and love browsing through those and marveling at how crazy and fearless some of that craft design was.  And color is such a big part of my work, so I collect images from magazines and online that have interesting color combinations I might want to use.   
Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?

Every pattern design starts with a lot of thumbnail sketches, where I work out my ideas for the general composition and scale of the piece.  I start choosing a palette pretty early, as color is so important to my style and often inspires a lot of ideas.  If it's a city design, there's also a lot of research at that stage, where I gather photos of the landmarks I plan to include.  Then I do a pretty detailed sketch of the design at full scale, and I often do that on graph paper since the final image will have to work well in a graph format.  Next I translate that sketch into a cross stitch software, where I make the initial chart for stitching and choose the embroidery floss colors that best match my palette.  Then I stitch the pattern sample, and as I do that I constantly reconsider my color choices and often have to pull out large sections and restitch them with a new color.  Once I'm completely happy with the sample, I go back and edit the chart to reflect the changes before I finally release the pattern and put it in my shop for sale.  Depending on the complexity of the design, the whole process can take 3 to 4 weeks.

How do you keep yourself organised?

I'm naturally a very organized person, so I document everything I do and keep to a very strict filing system on my computer.  I hate having a lot of random bits of paper so I tend to scan things and keep them on my computer, where it's easier to find them.  Keeping myself on schedule is a bit harder for me… I tend to get wrapped up in what I'm doing and suddenly a whole day is gone without my noticing!  So lately I'm trying to set timers for myself, I'll allow myself 2 hours to get something done, set a timer on my phone, and then when the timer goes off I have to stop working and evaluate whether I should keep going, or put that work aside and do something else on my list.  It's also a good way to prevent myself from pouring too much time into an idea that may not be working. 

Do you ever have creative blocks?

Oh man, all the time!  The best part about working for myself is that when I'm feeling totally uninspired, I can just take the day off!  I'm a big fan of taking long walks, that usually gets my brain going again and I often come up with my best ideas that way.  But I also believe in doing something creative every day, no matter what it is.  Creativity is like a muscle, you have to keep it limber and warmed up by doing little things all the time, then when you really need to rely on it, it's ready.  So even if it's just doodling, or having a side project that's totally unrelated to the work for my shop, I'm doing something creative every day.  That's the only way to keep the occasional creative block from becoming a big deal.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Crafty Exploits: Modern Day Mermaid Embroidery

So this is my new embroidery that I've been working on for the past wee while. I'm quite pleased with the texture of the ships since I was worried they would be a bit flat. I stitched the sails in sections using split stitch so that it would give them a more 3-D quality. Think i'll give myself a break tonight then start the next one tomorrow. I've got a sketchbook full of ideas for my embroideries but the time that I take to stitch can't keep up with the drawings!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Paperfolk Meets... Claire Heffer

Say hello to Claire...

Claire is the talented artist behind Claire Heffer Design. I came across Claire's work through blogging and i'm so glad I did! I'm not usually attracted to artworks which are reworkings of existing pop cultural marketing such as magazines and album covers. However, Claire has some work like this in her shop and for me it works really well because she has stripped back the original work to a basic outline along with the occasional pop of colour which gives it a completely different feel from the original.  If you check out her website you can view her diverse body of work and also link to her shop and blog.  

Claire was kind enough to answer some questions for us...

1. Why did you choose drawing over other mediums?

I chose drawing as my favourite medium as an accident really. I was spending a lot of time writing and every now and then I would get stuck and to release the creative juices I would doodle. The doodles became more and more intricate and I loved that the result was instant (opposed to writing which was a longer and arduous process). I enjoyed the way that you could create things that would appear from nothing and just be interesting to look at without a backstory or too much to think about.

2. What inspires you in your work?

The subjects I enjoy the most fall into two categories. I love nature, natural shapes and the beauty of something, which at first seems simple and can be so intricate at the same time. I also love faces. I enjoy simplifying them to their basic shapes and looking at the beauty of a line of a cheek or the fascinating nature of the human eye. My favourite artist happens to be Francis Bacon which is unusual because he has nothing in common with my work (except that he also likes faces). I get so much creativity from seeing how much emotion he can portray in a brush stroke. I'd love to paint more, that's something for the future.

3. Can you give us an insight into your creation of a product from start to finish?

In terms of process my line drawings are so much fun to produce because the outcome is always unplanned. I pick the picture I want to make, say a crow or an owl and I look at pictures to find the best kind of pose or the best type of owl for example. Then I decide where in the picture I want to start. I usually start from the top left, like one does when we write, but I can start from anywhere and that will create a change in the finished piece.

4. How do you keep yourself organised?

Keeping organised is particularly hard because I am not a full time artist. The breaks in between creative work are hard but sometimes useful because the less time you have sometimes the harder you work. I usually get the 'boring' things out of the way in the morning. Things like accounts, emails, bills and such because they are the sort of things that when you put off they are so easy to dismiss. Then I do the work I've been paid to do and then its time to have fun and be creative anything from doodling to playing about on Photoshop and seeing what you can make with things you've already created.

5. Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get through them?

Creative blocks should never be something to be afraid of. They are signs that you're ready to move onto something new. These are the times I get to research things and read, Sometimes reading a totally unrelated book on something will give you an idea for a new project. It doesn't take much to give you a new creative spark if you are open to learning new things.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Monday Musing: Knitted Chair

This doesn't need much explanation except that it's awesome! Not sure where it is as I found the image online but there seems to be no info on it. I love everyday objects being magnified and out of their normal environment, makes me very happy.