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.

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:

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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

2016 so far

At the very beginning of the year I took part in a group exhibition, Fairy tales, myths and legends. Organised and curated by Eco-create. They are a fantastic online marketplace who source eco-friendly handmade gifts from UK artisans.
My entry ‘How does your garden grow’ won a Gold award that is a beautifully made up-cycled trophy which sits proudly above the fire place.

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As you can see from the picture I was amazed, surprised and so very happy to receive this accolade at the Exhibition preview.
Eco-create also interviewed me to find out more about my work and what I do http://www.eco-create.co.uk/find/meet-our-gold-award-winner-elizabeth-blades/
2016 brings the start of a new self-employed venture. My partner, Brendan McDowell and I are now running a day time art class aimed at home schooled children. This is following on from a successful after school art class we started just before Christmas.
I also managed to squeeze in time to work on my own art inspired by our cat Penny. She went missing for, possibly, the worst 24 hours of our lives. (Yes we are both incredibly dramatic and our imaginations ran wild as to what could of happened to her)
When she did return, I sourced inspiration from the adventure I dreamed she may have had. Going back to my roots of Illustration and for the joy of drawing intricate and detailed pictures I produced a series of images.

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I am still undecided on the title of this story, perhaps it will be called ‘the queen of lost things’.
Another exciting venture I will be working on this year is a rag-doll project.

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More details on this coming soon, so watch this space!