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Have you been part of a gift exchange in your craft group?  Perhaps you have signed up for a Christmas swap over the internet?  Perhaps you exchange small birthday gifts with your friends at you local Stitch and Bitch group.

Over the years I have been involved in all these scenarios and have often thought I would like something just a little different that wasn’t too expensive as part of my gift to my friend.

I found this little basket at the recent Dubbo CraftAlive – the labels appealed to me as most people who know me realise I am a little twisted! Perhaps these would make a good gift for one of your friends!

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At each CraftAlive show, I conduct a series of hands on workshops as well as demonstrations alongside those presented by the various stallholders.

Over the past couple of years I have been delighted to have had the opportunity to share the fun of working with the Siena Adorn Needlefelting machine and encouraging show visitors to try their hand at making  postcards using this great little machine.

 

Del and her first postcard

There have been many “postcard” students over the past couple of years who have discovered how quick and easy these cards are to make and how much pleasure they can bring to the recipients.

In preparation for this year’s shows, I thought I would make up some other items using the Siena Adorn to make needle felt…..and I have incorporated the use of a warm water washaway also available from the Siena Adorn Creative Products range.

This is a sneak peek at just one of the items that will be on show at Dubbo CraftAlive in a couple of weeks time!

Needle felted tiny treasure box

Needle felted from merino, silk, kid mohair and silk throwsters waste on Siena Warm Water Washaway.  Embellished with hand dyed emu feathers, assorted beads and ribbon.

If you have been following this project, you will be aware that knitted contributions in white and cream have been flowing into Shan’s studio over the past 12 months in preparation for assemblage into an installation piece celebrating the Milkweed pod.

Its finally gone together for the first time and pictures of the assembled pieces and some detail shots are available here: Milkweed Art Installation

What an amazing international collaboration all down to power of the online art and craft community and their blogs!

My submission for this project has been sent to the US and Shan has posted pictures on her blog along with many more of the pieces she has received from contributors all over the world.

Take a look here.

Milkweed is a plant I am not familiar with – it seems to be a uniquely American species with a great deal of attraction to artists of all persuasions.  I found this photography site has some beautiful close up pictures of the pods.

Over the past few days my post box has been filled with stuff from the UK – it seems the postal problems they were having over there have now eased and I am in receipt of cards from two swap partners.

This is card number #7 in the Stichin’ Fingers Autumn/Thanksgiving exchange and it comes from Jane – she has cut and fused then hand stitched layers of autumn leaf shapes over an autumn fabric base:

Leafy autumn colours from Jane in UK

Thanks, Jane!

My swap partner in the Stitchin Fingers ATC swap was Lorna who is also in England – her lovely ATC arrived in a week from the posted date!  Lorna’s card has layers of sheers in varying colours some of which appear to have been melted.  These have been FME’d into place with lovely sparkly thread and then crusted over with some seed beads.  Sandwiched in amongst all the fabric is a copper foil leaf.  So much detail!

Copper Leaf ATC from Lorna

These swaps are so inspiring…..there is so much to learn from each piece that arrives.

This morning the mail box contained another card from the group exchanging fabric postcards based on the Thanksgiving and Autumn theme.  Now that six have arrived, I thought I might share with you the beautiful work I have received from all over the world.

This is such a great way to see different techniques being used – its inspiring and motivating!  Its especially nice to receive something so wonderful in the mail.

My thanks again to Barbara Lockwood in California who initiated this exchange on Stitchin Fingers – this is Barbara’s card:

Autumn Leaves from Barbara

Then there was Dakota who managed to keep us all informed whilst Barbara was away and to provide repeat copies of the mailing list to those whose email programmes swallowed the originals without leaving a trace! Dakota’s embroidered and beaded card:

Embroidered and beaded card from Dakota

Even though similar techniques have been used to create Dakota’s and Gina’s cards, this card from Gina shows how different fabrics can create a truly individual piece.  There are some vintage cotton fabrics here!

Gina's stitched and beaded card

Painting and stencilling my own fabric has been something I have not tried all that often, so it was delightful to have the chance to see close up this painted card from Allyson in South Africa.  The colour subtleties are such that the camera does them no justice….it really has the most beautiful shimmer.  The appliqued leaf has also rendered quite differently in the photo…it has a gold shimmer to it in natural light.

Allyson's hand painted card

Marja’s card was today’s mailbox delight – this is a needlefelted piece that includes some stitching detail.  I had not considered using pieces created using my Babylock embellisher – perhaps this will be the prompt I need to get it out and start playing!

Marja's needlefelted card

The last card in this batch is an embroidered piece from Leslie in the UK.  Having seen some of the other cards Leslie has sent, I am so impressed at the amount of work that has gone into each one…I find this has a Jacobean feel about it….love it, Leslie!  Thank you.

Leslie's embroidered card

Thank you all so much for these wonderful pieces – this has been a great opportunity to share in some great talent.  I can’t wait to see what the final three will look like!

Anyone who has been to one of my classes or demonstrations over the years will have no doubt heard one of my favorite teaching “lines” –

“There’s no such thing as a mistake – they are creatIve interpretations!”

Often the time available at a hands on workshop is very limited.  Students don’t come to these workshops to practice reverse sewing.  It is my privilege, as the tutor, to “reverses sew” if it actually necessary. Otherwise, these slips are not given the chance to say something to the student and to the rest of the class.  Rather than cover them up – Let’s take a look at what they can tell us.

I like to take what a student would call a mistake and show that it can be the start of something new and exciting….that creating your own piece is about pushing your boundaries and the limits of the technique in order to put your personal stamp on it.

Let’s face it, if someone didn’t “make mistakes” we would all be producing the same pieces over and over with nothing new, exciting and challenging appearing within our art form to motivate us. We would be having many many conversations about breach of copyright and the world would have become a stale and sterile environment.  There would be no progress.

Copyright, and breaches thereof, is a whole new topic for consideration for another time.  My friend Judy B over at Virtual Quilter has a great collection of references regarding copyright which should be of interest to anyone involved in designing, producing and marketing their own work.

I particularly like this reference on Judy’s list from Marvin Bartel, Emeritus Professor in Art –

Percy’s Principles of Art and Composition

I think my  treatment of “creative interpretations” fit quite nicely with Professor Bartel’s principles!

Thanks, Judy, for the poke in the ribs to put this down in writing !

Artist Trading Cards are great fun to make – especially if you like to work small.  This is my second exchange with the Stitchin Fingers group and this card is winging its way to Lorna in England as we speak! (Well, as I type, perhaps?)

Autumn ATC

I made two again… couldn’t help myself!  I have also played with the Magic Foil again using it to represent the leaves.  I have had the Signature thread used to satin stitch the edges for years…it hadn’t suited any other application before this but worked perfectly with these cards.

There have been times I have thought I should show some restraint when it comes to buying threads just for the sake of it…. but if I had  been careful and restrained, I wouldn’t have had the right thread to edge these ATC’s.

Don’t forget to pop over to the Textile Artists Trading Cards blog and check out all the other cards sent around the world for this exchange!

In between all these shows, traveling and office sitting, I have managed to make and send off nine postcards to stitchers taking part in the Thanksgiving swap on Stitching Fingers organised by Barbara Lockwood in California.

Not being in the US and having a Thanksgiving tradition, I opted for creating cards that reflected the season in the northern hemisphere – autumn.  It seemed rather incongruous to be stitching autumn leaves cut from Lutradur in 35 degree heat!

Autumn Swaps

Lined up for their pictures in the spring sunshine

Each card featured a base “Bali” style fabric over which was stitched a red Lutradur leaf.  Laid over that was a layer of “needle lace”.

The needle lace was created from knitting yarns and decorative threads laid between two sheets of wash away embroidery stabiliser.  These were then free motion stitched over using several different variagated threads.  the whole piece was then tossed in the sink and washed until all the stabiliser had dissolved. Once the piece had dried, it was lightly pressed and sliced into postcard sized sections.

The gold Lutradur leaf was then free motion embroidered onto the surface of the card and all the layers held together with a satin stitched edging.

Autumn#4

Whilst in Adelaide at the Craft and Quilt show, I obtained a product called “Magic Foil” and I thought it might add a little special touch to these cards.  It is applied using a special glue which is dabbed or painted over the areas where the foil is required and, when the glue has dried clear, the foil sheet is rubbed over the fabric to apply.

Each of the cards was treated to a sprinkle of copper highlights.  Given appropriate drying times, these foil embellishments are apparently washable and permanent.

I had just about finished my photography when I was distracted by the phone… and it seemed my cards needed to be supervised in my absence…

Helping Hand

Smudge ensuring that cards don't escape!

Apologies to any of the ladies who find stray cat fur on their card, but Smudge couldn’t resist the temptation, it seems.

On my return from Adelaide there was another card from the Stitchin Fingers Birthday Swap waiting for me.  This one has come from Allyson in South Africa. Allyson has stitched tulle over fabrics and threads and then added beads and sparkles by hand on the top.  The postal service managed to injure a couple but they have mainly survived – including  getting wet somewhere in its journey. This card had a tough trip!

Thanks Allyson – I love it!

Allyson's Card

Birthday card from Allyson in South Africa

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