Cossacks for Christmas

img_0188

I can’t imagine that many of you  are interested in my Christmas decorations, but just in case you are, here we go.  This year they are minimalist to say the least.  I have had a lot going on and putting up trimmings seemed way down the list of priorities.  But I did get round to making and putting up these gentlemen.  They are dancing cossacks.  I would like to tell you that they are my design, but they came from a book called Homemade Christmas, (which is very cheap on Amazon):

z

It doesn’t seem to have an author, but it does have a number of surprisingly nice looking things to make.  The author, whoever it is, as no author is credited, made their cossacks out of old book covers, but I thought it would be a good way of using up gelli-printed papers that I had done myself:

 

img_0190

I rather like the way that the printed paper for his face makes him look like he is rather keen on the vodka, or doesn’t use a good enough moisturiser in all that cold weather.

I also used some painted paper:

img_0191

This one has jewelled brads or paper fasteners on his joints.  Finding paper fasteners, which are those split pin things with the round heads that you push through papers and then open out, turned out to be one of the hardest parts of the project.  I had to go to the internet to find them.  Clearly the paperless office is becoming a reality.

After I had made a couple of cossacks, it occurred to me that this might be a really good use for some notecards the Medieval Historian gave me a couple of years ago.

9780141044668

So I had quite good fun fussy cutting bodies to get a good cover image on the chest:

img_0186

I also liked picking the most un-Christmas-y titles such as this:

img_0189

Nothing like a nice Ballardian dystopia to set you up the festive season.  We also have Lady Chatterley’s Lover as a nod to my home town.

Then I remembered that I had bought some Marimekko notecards as I love the graphic designs and clear colours:

9781452137384

Both of these worked brilliantly which makes me thing that you could do it with any postcard:

img_0192

This one is decorated with washi tape.  This one is fussy cut:

img_0187

In the book they are strung to work as jumping jacks, but I like them just as posable figures.

In the end I made twenty-five of them and they dance around the room suspended from the picture rail.  So quite a lot of cutting, punching, sticking and stringing, but I think that they make quite a smart decoration, even for people, mentioning no names, Medieval Historian, who claim not to like Christmas.

 

 

What I did at the weekend

IMG_0779

This isn’t what I did last weekend, but the weekend before, a very blustery weekend in January spent in Porthleven in Cornwall with my very excellent friends, Alison, Ceri and Becky.  Alison’s family has a house right on the sea wall, the white house first to the left of the stone building with the tower.  It is unusual because it has sea views on both sides because it is built on a feature jutting out into the harbour:

IMG_0781

These weekends are fantastic, because Alison usually phones up and says the house is free on a particular date, come if you can.  It generally works out that we have a wander round the little town, which has yet to become St Ivesified and still looks like it could conceivably be a working harbour – although Rick Stein has just opened a place there.  These are some pictures I took of it because I felt I had to take the standard inspiration ones!

IMG_0777

I really loved those pastel float things on the boat here.  And no-one can resist lobster pots with a splash of turquoise:

IMG_0778

We walked further out and saw this:

IMG_0797

Sadly, no wrestling to report on, but across the bay you can just about see the remains of the tin mines:

IMG_0786

There were also some great flower forms to sketch:

IMG_0796

IMG_0791

And this one looks a lot like the verdigogh zentangle which I have never found easy to do:

IMG_0782imgres-1There was also this lovely colour scheme:

 

 

 

IMG_0785

 

which I have used before in my Collars project:

IMG_2737 2

IMG_0783

 

Plus, owing to infatuation at an impressionable age, I can never pass by a stone wall without thinking of Kaffe Fassett:

 

IMG_0798

images-4

The informal deal on these weekends seems to have worked out to be that they do the cooking, which is wonderful, and I provide a workshop on the Saturday afternoon.  As no-one had done monoprinting with a Gelli plate, that’s what we decided to do.  I took two big bags of paint, stamps, rollers, paper, fabric and stencils and gave them a tiny bit of input and they were off:

IMG_0801

I took pretty cheap acrylic paint so that no-one would feel inhibited about splashing it about, and this was a bit of a false economy as the Gelli plates seem to work better with thicker paint with more pigment.  But we got some great results and had a lovely time trying out techniques, particularly with the stencils:

 

IMG_0802

I had never used the Gelli plates on fabric before and was eager to see what happened.  We used yards of waste curtain lining, which was a kind of cotton sateen, from my mother’s friend’s son, Graham.  I like using this fabric, and have used lots of his samples in my recent applique, because otherwise it would go into landfill.  So it is a form of recycling.  It is also something from nothing, which appeals, and I think that having a lot of materials – yards of fabric and plenty of cheap paint somehow gives people permission to experiment and try things out.  The worst that can happen is that it really does end up in landfill.

The printing on fabric went really well, and I will put some pictures of what I made in a later post.  I printed enough to make a reasonably large piece, although the stitching will largely be machine done as the paint has stiffened the fabric even with some textile medium in it.

IMG_0803

I shall end with some lunatic surfers who were kite surfing in crashing waves:

IMG_0788

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gelli-printed notebooks

IMG_0548

As part of the Thinking Futures day on 5 November 2014, I made participants a little notebook to write things down from the academic talks in the morning.  I made very simple pamphlet books with stitched covers.

I made the covers using a gelli plate, which is a way of monoprinting.  I really love the gelli plate.  It’s a clear sheet of jelly, about a centimetre thick, and it can be used over and over again.  It’s very easy to use.  I brayer on some fluid acrylic and then pull the print.  You get the customary veined effect if you use the paint fairly generously:

IMG_0553

Sometimes I just use paint rollered onto the plate:

IMG_0547

Or use them to stencil onto:

IMG_0559

Or stamp and use embossing powder:

IMG_0542IMG_0545

Or you can great effects with plastic stencils used as a mask:

IMG_0551IMG_0558IMG_0554

The last one uses sequin waste as a mask.

If you take a print after lifting off the stencil you can get really nice embossed effects:

IMG_0555

IMG_0560

IMG_0544

Seriously easy, and although the plates aren’t cheap, it is very straightforward to get excellent results.  My next step is to try it out on fabric.