Transported Art is a strategic, community-focused programme which aims to get more people in Boston Borough and South Holland enjoying and participating in arts activities. It is funded by the Creative People and Places fund from Arts Council England.
Since its launch in May 2013 there have been an amazing assortment of artists working within this funded programme to get people to engage in art activities. There has been music, dance, museums, mosaics stained glass, photography, knitting, choirs and so much more. I was selected to be one to the artists involved in delivering workshops as part of the consultancy event and last month in the two pop up shops in Boston and Holbeach.
The plan was to travel around the two areas with some hand crank singer sewing machines so everyone could have a go from the very young to the very young at heart! I decided to use woad to dye fabric to make the bags and corsages from. This is a traditional plant dye grown in northern climates which gives a blue colour and has been used for thousands of years. Woad was grown in Boston and South Holland until the 1930's. Throughout the programme so many people came up and told me their woad memories. Memories of Grandparents working in the woad fields, making woad balls, sitting on the horse used to pull the grinding stones as it was led away at the end of the day and memories of the devastation of a compulsory purchase order of farm land used to grow woad by the local council.
I went to music festivals, bird reserves, markets, school fetes and into already established groups.
The machines behaved themselves, the youngest was from1921, the oldest from 1913! Just like with the woad the sewing machines evoked strong memories in people. One man told me he had used a hand crank sewing machine during WW2 to mend uniforms. This got me thinking that all of my sewing machines had lived through the war, they have seen different sewing styles, and just how many people have turned the wooden crank to initiate sewing. Many people spoke of wedding dresses being make by hand crank or treadle sewing machines and lots of memories of playing with Grandma's button tin.
Throughout my project over 300 people made bags or corsages. I was thrilled when two young girls came up to me who had made bags a few weeks before when I was on Boston market. They had enjoyed using the machines so much that they had bought one from a carboot sale and had already made bags and cushions using tutorials from the Internet.
The machines were transported by car.
And sometimes by trolley.
The machines are now back in the studio for new needles and maybe a tiny bit of oil before their next adventure.
I have finally done my unpacking from Birmingham and thought I'd share a few images. It was fantastic to meet so many people and have all my workshops full. It always amazes me how universal the language of stitch is no matter what the spoken language.
I was in the fashion show this year and made two outfits. The first was a representation of the local landscape. It was dyed with daffodils (the skirt), red cabbage and weld (the tunic)
The second outfit (and my favourite) was this woad dress. It was made from a burda pattern which had to be tweaked to fit my quirky body.
This was an image from Stitch for Texture which was a machine quilting workshop. We were lucky enough to have new Brother Sewing machines to work with. I forgot to take any images of completed samples though.
I taught two Design for Stitch using an iPad workshops, this was one of the designs from Sundays workshop. This is being taught again at my studio in Spalding on October 19th and there is one place left.
Finally two mixed media book making workshops. This are only an hour long yet a lot is packed in. I'm teaching this at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London in October. See you there!
These are two of the photos that were missing from my last blog post. Despite all my good intentions I have found it hard to maintain blogging. DS2 has been very ill and we have been on a series of tests to try and find out what is wrong.
This was Zoe below making her cushion. I have no idea why blogger did not let me show these images.
Zoe, her sister Veronica and mum Ann outside the studio with their cushions.
At the start of May something exciting happened in Boston and South Holland. Can you guess where I was?
A few weeks ago I had three very talented ladies in the studio who all made a cushion out of a shirt. Two of them had only bad memories of using a sewing machine at school whilst their mum had using a sewing machine before for dress making.As Zoe had a "bucket list" and on that was making a cushion I was determine that she should go home with something she was proud of.
We discussed techniques and Ann decided to make a nine patch cushion front whilst Zoe and Veronica made raw edge appliqué cushions. The shirt front became the back of the cushion so we did not have to worry about fastenings.
Zoe drew out her own flower and then managed to sew around the edge accurately using both a hand and electric machine. Veronica decided to put a bird sitting on a branch onto her cushion front.
These were the completed cushions below. You can't see the tiny bird legs that Veronica stitched under her bird but she had excellent control of her sewing machine.
I was so pleased to show that sewing is not a scary thing to do but too many people seem to have very negative experiences that come from school. The best part of the day was when everyone said that they had to confidence to go and make another one at home.
I have been a little bit neglectful of this blog recently. I must admit that I have been keeping Fenland Textile Studios page on facebook more up to date. If you want to follow me this way you can find me by clicking here
Things have been very busy and I took time off to take May for a long walk and to collect my thoughts. I live in the flat Fens and near to The Haven River. This river flows out into the North Sea and you can follow it all the way out until the land gives way to sea and marsh. I feature sky a lot in my work and walks like this let me study the sky. About an hour into the walk though we picked up a little dog. No owner, no collar just a little face looking up at us. He followed us for another 30 minutes until I turned round and then stayed with us until the car some ninety minutes later. I ended up putting him into the back of the car and driving to my local vet. I called this morning and the dog was microchipped. He had been missing for four weeks and was waiting for his owners to collect him. A good deed done!
On Monday I used a woad vat that had been simmering for a few days. I have some commissions to do and needed to dye some fabrics, especially white on white patterns for some workshop kits. For the past two weeks I have had an extremely good work experience student with me so we have made up kits for Festival of Quilts and the Autumn Knit and Stitch shows. I now need to put them in a safe place!
It is not very clear but the drips are falling onto some rag paper which I think I will use in card making or book making.
Last weekend I was at Olympia in London for The Spring Knit and Stitch Show. It was lovely to meet lots of new people in my workshops and around the show. The book below was made by a little girl who did it all by herself, we only helped with the iron bit. A definite start of the future!