February, I’m in love

 

I may be loved up and happy but not with February, I am looking forward to racing through the next month towards spring.

 

The first few months of the year are never my favourite mostly due to the colder weather and short days. Although the days are slowly getting longer and there are signs of spring with colourful flowers popping up to say hello, No doubt a cold snap will try it’s best to kill them off though.

 

I have been keeping busy with the more craft related projects recently. I desperately want to continue drawing and churning out imagery for my story but have developed quite the literal neck ache. Giving the studio a spring clean and setting up a proper area with an easel of sorts will help and support a more effective posture ready for completion of the rag doll fairytale story.

 

For now though I have gone off on quite a tangent with an idea I have had in my head since the start of my rag doll project. I have painstakingly painted, designed, hand and machine sewn a ‘real life’ version of one of the characters from the story. I describe it in this way because I did not realise how much work the outfit would take to create. Sewing tiny clothes is far harder than I thought!

 

 

I am pleased with the outcome though and think I did a good job of sourcing bits of fabric scraps from my storage to remain complimentary to the original illustration.

 

Wings can be made at a later date along with more characters and creatures in this style. I will need to draw more of the story before this idea can be explored further.

 

My sister’s birthday has been, celebrated and gone but I brought this book from a charity shop before Christmas with the intention of making it into a clutch.

 

clutch1

 

I don’t usually enjoy doing crafts on my own, I think I will but it may be because a lot of the exemplars I need to create are craft related so I prefer to draw in any spare time I get. I find ‘Crafting’ is usually always more interesting when done with someone else or in a workshop setting.

 

I discovered many online tutorials on how to make one so I took inspiration from a few and developed my own, somewhat messy, version.

 

A few paper cuts later I had paper mached and super glued my way to something I was thankful to have finished. I hope my sister will like it even though there is pretty much only room for a lipstick and phone, but what else do you actually need in your bag!? #firstworldproblems

 

 

My partner in creative ‘crime’ has been colouring my art nouveau updated images beautifully, I am so excited to see them all completed and perhaps will draw more.

 

 

We are thinking of created enough to exhibit. When, will be decided once we discover the right location to host the exhibition.

 

March is just around the corner which means lots of exciting projects happening. I am really looking forward to Derby’s international women’s day festival which I am always happy to be involved in, so watch this space.

 

 

 

 

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New Year

I won the bronze award for my entry into eco creates exhibition Time and tide waits for no man with my entry ‘tide and tide waits for no one’, this kicked off a great start to what has already been a busy creative year for me.

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‘This is a metaphorical Illustrative textile piece. I chose to use a mix of embroidery, machine sewing and appliqué to ‘colour in’ with a small amount of fabric painting added for good measure. Pictured is a female dressed in her wellies, rain coat and mittens, she represents human kind, and struggles to hold onto a clock ‘umbrella’ with ocean waves crashing down upon the top. The umbrella is decorated to look like a clock which depicts time and that it is running out. A gold, slightly wonky, umbrella handle that she is clinging to signifies those of us who are trying to prevent the inevitable. Admittedly a future that won’t necessarily happen for hundreds of years yet. After all though shouldn’t we begin to realise that eventually mother nature (the tide) will do as she wishes. As the theme of the exhibition suggests ‘Time and tide’, really wont, wait for no man or indeed woman’.

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My aim for this year is to have a clear out of unsold art work I have stored for years now cluttering the corner of my studio. I can’t keep hoarding them any more so I am having a 60% reduction off the original price which will run until the end of February, I am hoping at least this way, my work can go to new home where they will be out on display and seen.

Follow this link https://en-gb.facebook.com/ElizabethBladesArtist/ to my facebook page to grab a bargain and own some hand printed art that is worth so much more than what you will be paying for it.

This January saw the start of my new venture, life drawing evening classes. The classes are in such a beautiful space, with chic and inspiring surroundings at the Smallprint Co http://www.smallprintcompany.co.uk/

I am keen to see if this will grow in terms of attendance numbers but for now at least I will wait and see what happens.

I found time over the festive period to work on my art nouveau collaboration project, here is a sneak peak at some of the drawings awaiting colour.

My ragdoll panel imagery is slow in progress but still coming along nicely. I will have to stop myself from posting too many of these so I don’t give the whole story away. It is still early days yet but I am rediscovering my love for just drawing in pencil, atmosphere and tone is so fun to create and perfect for setting the mood.

I have begun to experiment with a new medium for an exciting job opportunity I gained just before the end of last year. Mosaic will be a technique I am determined to master.

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I will be running a series of mosaic workshops in schools throughout the first few months of the year so I have created this exemplar because I teach better when I have visual aids. The mosaic’s the children will produce will be large mural size intended to adorn the school walls.

I have many more exciting projects planned over the coming months and I am looking forward to documenting it here in my blog.

Handmade December

This is the first winter I have properly settled into a place I now call home and I am ready to celebrate the end of this year and took toward the next.

I have been busy making my own decorations. Bunting and garlands are quick and easy when skipping the sewing machine and reaching for the glue gun.

I am especially pleased with the garland crafted from last years Christmas cards. This did actually take ages to make though and I started it a few months back, left it, and kept doing little bits of it right up until this picture.

At least I have these to reuse every year though right!? This is what I keep telling myself, I must remember to wrap them around a spool once the festive period is out the way and not toss them into a bag to be stuffed into the attic.

My skills with paper mache decorations are never as good as what I think up in my mind. A little gingerbread house I did a few years ago is still standing strong though.

gingerbread-house

The poor excuse of a twig tree needs lots of work, on reflection, wire should have been used from the start but time was limited and it appears to hold these tree ornaments okay. For now.

tree

A festive fabric printing workshop I ran last month resulted in the perfect reason to create my own Christmas day dinner table runner and place matt’s for exemplars.

table-runner

One of my favourite new Christmas ornament’s is this mini empowerment doll gifted to me by fellow artist Rita Kappia  https://twitter.com/ritathedolllady

mini-spoon

One of my last commissions of the year was to illustrate and design the Instruction kit for this doll.

It was such a fun doll to draw too!

Amongst all the excitement and relaxation this holiday will no doubtingly bring I will continue to draft imagery for my rag doll Fairytale. I will endeavour to make 2017 the year that this book comes to life.

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I am feeling proud that I have successfully kept a monthly blog over the course of 2016. It has helped me develop my writing skills and as a working artist in documenting my progress. I hope to continue this process throughout the on coming year.

I am pleased to announce lots of new projects are planned for 2017, so watch this space.

Merry Christmas!

Jazz Age inspiration & Art Nouveau updated

During November I celebrate my birthday and past years I have never really enjoyed myself, for many different reasons which are not of importance right now. This year I and my partner really needed a break and so a planned short trip to London had been arranged.

There are always many exhibitions I want to see in London and sadly miss, especially if the timing is not right and I do not have any free time for a journey to the capital.

This trip really would be a quick visit though so we did not have much time to see a whole lot. I decided on the fashion and textile museum’s1920’s Jazz Age fashion & photographs exhibit. This seemed an ideal theme for my recent interest and obsession with this era’s style.

jazz-age

The museum is fairly easy to find from the London Bridge tube stop. Interestingly though we stumbled upon a building on our way which is painted in the exact same colours as the museum which confused us somewhat.

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The museum inside is quite small so dedicates its whole space to each display. It is Lovely and spacious to walk round and for exploring the delights presented. These 1920’s delights did not disappoint either. I took a few photo’s of dresses with fabrics and designs that appeal to my style the most. In fact the gold looking velvet garment looks very similar to an outfit I already own.

A gallery gift shop is always a must for me to, more often than not, purchase postcards which I add to my growing collection.

This time, because in a birthday treat buying mood a small pack of Fashionary mini sketchbooks found their way onto my person.

These sketchbooks are pretty helpful for the budding fashion designer and would make a great gift for a student I imagine. Each page has a template with a very handy textile dictionary and measurement end pages.

fashionista-book

I can highly recommend a stop in their cafe too, I follow a gluten free diet so had been happy to discover a few cake treats I could actually eat.

A stroll through China town, for dim sum and baked goods followed by the Lion king (a musical I had wanted to see for years) marked the perfect evening and rounded off the days activities nicely.

A sketchbook touring exhibition opportunity (www.sketchopen.co.uk) has fired my passion to get creating and produce a completed sketchbook/journal.

I am, sadly, not the type of artist to keep sketchbooks other than during my college student days. Most of my work is drawn on loose paper and filed into folders.

The mini fashionary sketchbook is an ideal size for me to realistically complete one to a standard I will, hopefully, be content with when submitting to meet the deadline (28th feb 2017)

So onto another daily drawing challenge I go. Follow my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elizabethblades/ to keep updated on my #18daysoffashionillustration.

Inspired by inktober I have thought up 18 prompts/themes with suggested mediums which I will endeavour to keep too.

challenge

I have begun a drawing project, on a topic which I have wanted to explore through my art for a while and have not found time due to a full year of planning and teaching workshops.

I am making time now using Christmas as a perfect excuse to create some beautiful gifts. I have always adored art nouveau and the strong style which artists such as Mucha adopted as his technique.

The general white washing, to put it bluntly now, in everything from Hollywood films to children’s illustrated books is something that is far from representative of today’s society. I find this trend boring and think changes are desperately needed, especially considering the political year the west has had.

Notably when looking through past art nouveau designs they are always depicting females who are European in appearance and largely fair haired.

If you have read any of my previous blog posts you will already know I have a very mixed heritage including white and brown nationalities. I don’t relate to a typical blond and or blue eyed female, so why should I only draw them. I am also wondering why do we tend to draw face’s that are not too different from our reflection? At least that is what I had been doing. Only really having reference from life model’s, magazine’s and other publications which are most of the time prominently European looking faces. I think this is very limiting and is another way for us to not further progress as a society.

I am also an artist who is fascinated with faces, a variety of beautiful shapes and structures. Beginning with a design for my partners mum, who is a Kenyan Goan, My composition incorporates a lions head, Lupita Nyong’o (a Kenyan actress) and vine leaves which are typically seen in art nouveau pieces.

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I still don’t have as much free time on this project as desired so I have joined up with my very talented, and if I am honest more skilled colourist, partner who lives and works as an artist too.

He and I will work together I will design and do the line work, he will paint and add the colours.

I have a few unfinished illustrations that will develop over time, pictured are snippets from my previously mentioned loose papered ‘sketchbooks’.

art-nouveau

I am feeling very inspired by imagery and patterns from this style of art So I am integrating art nouveau arrangements with the feminist symbol.

I am teaming up with International Women’s Day derby festival committee to lend my creative hand to an exhibition they are creating for the festival day in March 2017.

These symbols I have designed will, hopefully, be coloured in an array of methods and names will be written across the fists.

The IWD derby team have been researching and discovering women from derby’s Herstory archive to collate a time line and I am volunteering to help transform the findings into an exhibition.

Rag Doll Project

Just before 2015 drew to a close the Lichfield city festival did a call out for textile artists to submit CVs for consideration for their rag doll trail concept. I had been shortlisted to present my proposal at the end of January 2016.

Luckily my idea had been the only no sew method making it inclusive for all (including those struggling with dexterity). I had a bold concept that utilized recycled materials that would work well along side the home made dolls (sewn) that would also be on the trail.

The concept appealed to me because the theme would be recycled fabric which is something I endeavour to promote throughout my work. After the festival the dolls would be donated to refugee charities, a beautiful way to end the project. I loved that so many of these toys were hand made, by children, for children who have very little.

I live close to a recycle and play centre in Derby which provided all the fabric needed to create the dolls. I prepared for 6 or so workshops which would run during April and May. After a month’s prep I had bags of fabric cut into strips, ready to be made doll shaped!

The concept was that members of the community would make the dolls, which would then become the rag doll trail. To encourage young children to part with their newly made toys I created a ‘how to’ zine 1 so they could make their own at home (or whenever they wanted!).

The project was fun, exciting, rewarding and a big reminder why I do what I do and that I love my job. Despite the stress I can get myself into, every project I work on I am learning what does and does not work which makes me continue to improve as an artist and tutor. 2

I met many lovely people during my time in Lichfield and the surrounding area, and it is looking likely that I will be working on another project at next years festival so watch this space!

The following is the rag-doll project journey in pictures:

Every trip to Lichfield began with bags and trolleys stuffed with resources.3

Cannock chase museum, my first ‘drop in’ workshop. A Large doll made by women seeking refuge from abuse at a local centre, and a few of the many dolls created at the Cannock chase drop in session.

Following a drop in session at the Lichfield Garrick theatre, these large dolls posed in front of a very showbiz backdrop.6

Possibly my favourite location to work in was a beautifully decked out shop in Wolverhampton. A sea themed doll and beautifully designed smaller ones were created.

I had the most fun though running a workshop for a very welcoming breast cancer support group at Burntwood library. I adored the garden queen doll and small dolls that they lovingly made.

My last workshop on the last weekend of the festival. Set up in front of the hauntingly beautiful Cathedral.

Finally a chance to take a look at the rag doll trail… and I spotted one of my favourites, a mermaid!

Aubrey’s Daughter

I love my dad’s name, Aubrey. It’s unusual, I have not come across someone with this name yet.

It has become my online shop name — along with my partner, Brendan, also known as Charlotte’s son. http://www.eco-create.co.uk/shops/aubreys-daughter-charlottes-son/

The shop is filled with up-cycled and handmade clothing. DSCN2637

So far I am offering simple designs, very loose fitting and mostly suitable for small to medium size. I will be developing more up-cycled clothing when I have some free time over the Summer months. Teaching work will ease up around this time too, which means less lesson-planning and exemplar making to stress over. Yay! I love all the aspects of my work, but some rest is always nice.

Brendan’s beautiful mini top hats and fascinators will also be available to buy. They are crafted from cardboard tubing then decorated with paper mache or sewn with fabrics.

I have been playing around with a zip neck dress concept. I discovered the idea a few years ago in a book that provided annoyingly little in the way of instruction. I do read pictures more easily than words, though, so I figured it out by analysing the illustration! My finished piece is actually quite different, but I am pleased and looking forward to creating more.

This style of dress will be lovely and cooling, perfect for the warmer weather, and I have collected some unused shawls which will work as a great base. I will be crafting them this month coming, and they will be available to buy soon after.

As well as my designs, I offer one to one classes for simple machine sewing techniques, creating your own clothing and/or mending and up-cycling items from your wardrobe.

In addition to my sewing skills I am an artist with a background in printmaking, painting and drawing and I am pleased to offer tuition in these subjects.

I can tailor sessions to meet the needs of the learner and have worked with a variety of ages from child to adult, including people with special needs.

If you are interested and live in the Derby (UK) area then please get in touch for more details.

‘I would highly recommend using Liz’s services to anyone. I was made to feel very welcome in her home and found her to be professional, well prepared, approachable and a fabulous teacher. She was passionate about what she does and inspiring. I look forward to seeing her again in the future for further learning.’ Simone (Student, one to one machine sewing tuition)

Marching On

This month has been all about celebrating women and the power they hold. Since my childhood a huge inspiration of mine has been a character known as Buffy the vampire slayer. The whole show sum’s up feminism perfectly, for me anyway.

The concept demonstrates hidden strength, sometimes a strength that may not be realised.This show helped me through many difficult times growing up and still does during adulthood. The characters have become like old friends who I revisit whenever I re-watch it.

The time has come again when I aim to fire episode after episode into my eyes, not for seeking comfort. But to act as a distraction whilst I make exemplars (teacher word for example). Strips of fabric, rag dolls, zines, sewing and lesson planning are just some of the prep work that need to be done for the next few months…Buffy marathon it is then.

This is one of the reason’s why I love being an artist though guilty pleasure ‘TV watching’ can be easily done when creating. (This mostly only works when it is a show previously seen and concentration is not mandatory).

My big 30th birthday gift was a 2 day corset course. A dream of mine is learning to work with more delicate fabric’s and difficult patterns. Why Corsetry? because I would love to eventually create couture clothing.

I discovered that once understood, corsets are a lot easier to make than what I previously expected. My dyslexic brain had been daunted by consuming so much information in just those 2 days. During the course I met many other students who were more experienced in dress making but I am proud to say that I managed to produce a finished corset by the end of the 2nd day. corset 6

I think I may have made a few errors which may or may not be obvious, but I am keen to get started on making more to perfect this new skill. Future idea’s of embroidered and screen printed/fabric painted corset designs will have to wait… for now.

The 8th march was international women’s day. IWD Face

I had been commissioned back in November by women’s day derby festival committee, to run a bunting workshop. Themed around the suffragette colours and images of female empowerment, I designed stencils ready to demonstrate a simple stencil printing technique. IWD derby

I was very impressed with the prints that were produced, they were all inspiring. Here are a few of my favourites. IWD bunting favs.jpg

After an additional workshop to print the last of the bunting squares last month, the time had come to sew it all together. I did not realise how long it would take to sew it all. I have learnt from my mistakes though, having had approx 20 meters of bunting in the biggest tangle…never again (#firstworldproblems)

The results of the finished bunting hung up at the festival were amazing.IWD fest  I felt very proud to have facilitated decoration that is both beautiful and empowering. Although march is drawing to a close it is important to note that is has been women’s history month. A time for recognising and remembering inspirational women throughout #HERstory.

I have created a zine detailing 3 female artists who inspire me and my work. I strongly feel it is very important to recognise women who contribute to the art world and incorporating this into education is a necessity. As is teaching art as part of the curriculum, but that subject is for another blog post.  Pictured is the exemplar for two #HERstory zine workshop’s I had run earlier this month.12718394_1012336132180185_2807574299606816858_n