Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Shauna Richardson - the exhibition

I overheard last week on the radio a feature about art and the Olympics. There was a mention of a series of installations planned in the East Midlands and among them was to be three crochet lions. That stopped me in my tracks and I vowed that once the dust of last week had settled I would investigate.
The artist involved is Shauna Richardson and she has very kindly agreed to submit herself to a chaincreative interview in the near future. However, before that I'll give you a little sneak preview of her work and an open invitation to her latest exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. "Taking inspiration from Victorian taxidermy and travelling menageries in order to create life-size animal sculptures - crochet pieces using directional stitches to highlight anatomical features." Brown Bear is a powerful presence (at nearly 2 metres high, that's powerful) and still manages to retain the almost animal quality of his pelt and at the same time representing the movement of muscle and bone.

The exhibition is from the 2-19 September 2009 and is part of the Threadneedle Prize for painting and sculpture, so best wishes and good luck go to Shauna.
For the competition for 2012 run by the Arts Council, Shauna has designed three 30 ft tall lions. 'If successful her work would be visible for miles around from its as-yet unspecified East Midlands location with the three lions, reminiscent of Richard the Lionheart's heraldic crest, housed inside a purpose built glass structure.
Shauna, 41, who first learned to crochet at school before going on to study fine art at De Montfort University, said the inspiration for her enormous artwork came after months of research.
She said: "I was researching symbolism that would represent the area, the nation and the Olympics.
"The medium itself will reflect the textile industry of Leicestershire.
"This is a unique opportunity to create something extraordinary here in the East Midlands and if selected, I aim to leave a lasting legacy."' (Leicester Mercury)
Chaincreative is very honoured to be featuring a UK artist of such quality taking a domestic skill and using it in such a public forum.

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Solomon's Knot

On my recent trip to Belgium I went to the Antwerp Museum of Fashion, MOMU for a fascinating exhibition on the paper dress. It doesn't sound desperately relevant to a crochet blog but you would be surprised!! Displayed were 19th centuryJapanese Samurai underwear (yes, even they need knickers!!!) made from knotted paper. As you can imagine it was the knotted stitch they used that caught my attention.

The Solomon's knot is as much macrame as crochet but students are still intrigued as to how to make the stitch. Created by lengthening a chain stitch and then crocheting into the back of the chain, this is a simple stitch and a lovely way to create an airy and open-work piece. But don't take my crass description as gospel. Nexstitch offers a very clear, visual tutorial of this and many other stitches.

It has been popular for use in quite utilitarian items (such as underwear) and bags and this little pouch from the 1920's is a lovely example.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

New workshops go live

You may have noticed a few things going on in the next-door sidebar. Creative workshops with Bee!! This has really flowed from all the work I've been doing over the last few years on a group and individual basis and I thought it would be fun to extend it. Workshops will be available in London and the South East at either a location that I can arrange or in your own choice of suitable premises!! Craft is really having a wonderful moment and it would be so good to jump aboard if you haven't already. Give it a go!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

More of a good thing

You know I'm a huge fan of Japanese crochet and knit books and I know many of you are too!! This fires up my research antennae and I'm always on the look-out for new suppliers and sources for our obsession.

Yesterday, while browsing the lovely French crochet blogs that I have listed on the right side of the blog, I came across these lovely bags. I particularly loved the zing of citrus colours that these were made up with. The patterns were, of course, Japanese and that got me thinking that I needed to feed the addiction and see if I could track down some more supplies.

There are certainly plenty of shops on Etsy who have lovely selections. All you have to do is pop Japanese craft books in the Search window and away you go. I wanted to see what else was out there and Bingo! up came Select Yarn and how pleased I was. As well as patterns Norie (the founder) also stocks Japanese yarns and many are the selections for the patterns. I love the way you can 'look' in the books to see the patterns. It all helps with the choice.

At the moment, I'm enjoying crocheting a vintage 30's sweater but as soon as that's finished I'm going Japanese!!!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A lot has happened

Last week was so buzzy with creative stuff that I'm not quite prepared to not go steaming off with a bag packed full of patterns and crochet hooks instead of boring old shopping!
It all kicked off by Tower Bridge on Sunday with Claire Montgomerie at Kioskiosk. It wasn't the best weather that Doctor London could have ordered but we tied down the table and stopped a few crochet hooks from blowing away on the breeze!! It began to warm up pretty soon with some lovely familiar faces from our classes who started to crochet up a storm that quickly brought out the sunshine.
This began to tempt a few of the curious to try their turn with hook and yarn and by early afternoon we'd managed to inspire quite a number novices and others who had fun showing us how to knit Romania style.
This guy was certainly loving the attention his skill with the needles created! Hmmm.Next step was over to west London for a lovely day of sewing (I'll have some pics soon to post on Sewing Bee). I'm absolutely loving these workshops and really look forward to developing them
through Make & Bake. I'll be featuring contact pages for all the different workshops on offer and would love to see any of you there!!
The week finished with the Felt Workshop held here in Kent.

I tried to bring in some crochet by using the ever reliable felting yarn of Cascade 220. There are so many fab shades but we were going to use a neat little pattern from knotsewcute for a pear doorstop. After that, things got a bit messy in a fun kind of way. Out came the yarn rovings and a bottle of warm water and dish wash liquid! Wet felting is such a magical thing. One minute you have some very sheepy looking wool and then next minute it's fabric!

We certainly had a very amusing time with it, despite some slight mishaps as you can see above, and everyone was able to tuck some nicely felted fabric away to take home.

The big success of the day was the needle-felting as we were able to satisfy our inner child by making some cute little critters.

I'd supplied some lovely goodie bags of needles and holders from Blooming Felt and foam pads so the team was able to create to their heart's content.

Workshops are continuing with a beaded crochet course in London and more sewing tuition. It's such a pleasure to settle into a day of really productive teaching and helping people get to grips with their creativity. If you're keen to brush up your skills then do contact me through the blog.