Artists · Embroidery · Felting · Mixed Media · Workshops & Courses

Nets & Not Knots

Annette Emms

Two talented visiting textile artists have been to the Hannemade Studio recently. Places were snapped up quickly for a chance to meet them and be inspired by their work.

Both apply paint, fabric and stitch to create rich texture but in very different ways. Annette Emms tutored an embellished books workshop where we would begin creating our own unique soft book cover and add pages to work into later. Peeking in Annette’s sketchbooks, it was such a privilege to see how her ideas and charming storybook characters develop.

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Annette gave us tips on applique, needlefelting, transferring designs from drawings to fabric, creating a spine and ways of colouring our characters. We listened intently, inspired and itching to get started.

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We began by working into blanket felt. I’d brought a favourite scarf, that I felted by accident last winter when I was too lazy to hand wash it. Oops! I won’t do that again. However, I can feel less guilty now I’m giving it a new purpose.

We applied layers to the background and I had great fun trying out an embellisher machine for the first time. Guess what’s on my wishful Christmas list?

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I’d decided that half the scarf length with the edges turned in to create internal pockets would give a nice sized landscape format. We weren’t concerned with areas that didn’t sit quite right. At this stage it’s just a background and much will be covered over later. These books are designed to be highly textured and tactile. Annette told us that it was pretty impossible to add too much. That suited me just fine as a more is more kind of girl!

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Next we could begin embellishing with applique and my favourte part, the stitches. The slow quiet nature of hand stitching allows thinking time and I began to imagine scenes and characters for my book.

I particularly loved this little patch of cotton velvet that came in a pack from 21st Century Yarns. Annette had recommended them for their space-dyed fabric and threads and I’d ordered a little colour themed pack to add to the bits and bobs I’ve dyed myself in recent weeks.

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The sun came out for the second day and we could move between indoors and out, stitching, chatting and eating cake. Perfect!

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Anne’s blog post has some more images of the lovely work begun that weekend.

Here’s a few of Annette’s own gorgeous work she brought to show us. Do have a look on her website gallery for more.

Emily Notman

As if I hadn’t a brain already bursting with inspiration after Annette’s visit, the following weekend, along came the lovely Emily Notman, full of infectious enthusiasm. I was intrigued to see her work close up as it is highly textured with dense areas of stitching, yet somehow still delicate.

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We wondered how she made her loopy knot stitch and she generously shared the technique. From then on it was known as the ‘Not knot’!

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Even more curious is that her delicate backgrounds begin life with dye, emulsion, bleach, ink and not so subtle tools like these!

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Over the weekend we learned new techniques while creating pieces that could be finished later at home. First we coloured fabrics as background strips for a scene and it was fascinating to see how they changed as they dripped and dried. These were nothing like the colours I started out with!

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Once dry, my fabrics were feeling quite seascapey, so I went with the theme. I don’t think there’ll be anything delicate about mine though!

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Next we had a go at making fabric vessels. I loved how this one turned out with the net and various surfaces taking up the paint differently.

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Most of us pretty much finished our vessels. I made holes in mine as I want to use it as a lantern with a (battery) tealight. I think they all look great. Anne has posted more images on her blog too.

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We began a second vessel using a slightly different technique and machine stitch. This one will be painted back at home. Then there was time to have a go at free machining on dissolveable fabric.

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So lots learned and lots to work on in the coming weeks as the evenings get darker. Both tutors were incredibly generous sharing their tips and knowledge. I’ve found that the best artists generally are.  Of course what we’ve learned should be used responsibly in developing our own style and not in any attempt to recreate what the artist does. It’s so important to support the makers we admire who’ve spent many hours perfecting their techniques. Commisioning a piece of work or booking a workshop is a great way to do that.  Also appreciating that a fair price should take into consideration, not only the time and materials spent but the years of learning and research that have gone before.

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