Catching up, Craft fairs & Colours (oh my!)

At last I have time to write this long overdue catch-up post! The last month or so has been a whirlwind of non-stop activity/work for me, but in a good way. In June I re-entered the world of local craft fairs after a break of more than 2 years. I was somewhat swamped with preparation – stock was easy, but signage, packaging & presentation are a whole different kettle of fish from selling online. With a lot of work, though, I managed to get everything straight and had a really good day (including many conversations about stamp collections!).

Following on from the first craft fair, I had a busy week of collaging to replace sold stock, talks about a commission for a local independent restaurant (I’m designing & hand-binding their new drinks menu!), contact from a UK magazine about a couple of spots coming up over the next few months (more on that to follow later), plus top-up preparation for a local Vintage & Arts Market yesterday. Here I am in situ:

craft market 050714

It’s a lovely courtyard venue and we were very lucky with the weather (a fine, dry day, after very wet evening & morning preceding). Had lots of interesting conversations with customers & stallholders alike, and various possibilities have arisen from the day, so definitely another worthwhile (ad)venture. As you can see from the photo above, my display so far is largely of the make-do-and-mend variety, using display materials I already had on hand (spot the toast rack, camping plate & dishes!). It’s a work in progress, though – I’ve learned something useful and new from each fair I’ve attended so far – and having now made the decision to continue with local fairs as well as selling online, I will be continuing to work on signage, as well as swapping in a few more purpose-built props for future events (although I’m pretty sure the plate & dishes will stay!).

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Are you based anywhere near Derby/shire?  You can keep track of my upcoming events here!

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As it’s such a long time since I last posted, here is a little gallery for you of my new range of notebooks:

(Find the above notebooks & more in the TangleStore!)

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I’ve been creating ‘imaginary landscapes’ and discovering that however hard I try, there are always certain colour combinations that I’m drawn back to. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how different colours speak to us in different ways? Interesting how not only do we simply have different taste in what appeals to us, but how we can each perceive exactly the same colours from a different perspective, and draw a different inference entirely. In fact the ‘palette’ a particular artist uses is entirely a part of what makes their work recognisable.  I used to think I was somehow ‘failing’ by not catering to every possible colour preference one of my customers might have; but I’m now pretty well convinced that actually it’s more important to work with the colours that inspire you. Push yourself sometimes, of course, and try out something different just to see what happens; but mostly, I say go with the flow. 🙂

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Don’t forget to stop by the TangleStore to see what’s new!  The above is just a sampling, and although it’s a while since my last post here, there are new additions to the store regularly.   You can also follow me on Twitter – @TangleCrafts – for daily updates & other snippets that catch my eye from day to day.  And in case you missed it, be sure to check out my previous post for a special July discount coupon!

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Postal Patchwork Prisms

This post is really more of a ‘show-and-tell’ for one of the notebooks I included in my last post’s mini gallery.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I decided it justified having a little more of a showcase:

Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (large)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)
Rainbow Postal Patchwork Pinwheel (mini)

The pattern began as an expansion of the pinwheel motif on the mini notebook shown right, but when expanded it takes on all new qualities.  The pinwheels combine to produce new illusions – diamond shaped colour-blocks, and an overall prismatic effect.  I realise quilters (etc) are probably quite familiar with how this process works, but it’s a lot of fun to see in action, especially when you don’t know in advance what the overall effect will be.  I love the way the colours play/bounce off each other; would be interesting to experiment with multi-tones of a single colour family, too…

I found more poetry

craft of weavingFrom ‘The Craft of Weaving’ by Irene Waller (c) 1976

we are astoundingly blind
and really do not look at
and see properly
the world around us
which is the source of
everything

The next step on from finding poetry within fiction was to start flicking through  my ‘archive’ of vintage  weaving books.  I felt sure there must be poetry in descriptions of this wonderfully repetetive and meditative craft.  I wasn’t wrong, but what I found still surprised me, erring towards the philosophical and the abstract, rather than a simple appreciation of craft and colour.

Anyone who has read Telaic Fantasy 1 will already know about my dichotomous feelings towards Irene Waller – on the one hand so creative, on the other, with such a frightfully upper-class, scarily no-nonsense attitude (can’t you just see the attitude oozing out, even just in that cover photo above?).  If there was one author I didn’t expect to find poetry in, it was Irene Waller, yet there it was, all the same.

I also wanted to share another idea I found in the above book.  It’s possibly not entirely original (although you must remember it was written several decades before the likes of Keri Smith’s fantastic ‘How to be an Explorer of the World’), but I really like it:

A marvellous way to break down any inhibitions you may have about colour is to have several large glass jars on your shelving and to drop into them fragments of anything, colourwise, which you find pleasing – beads, glass, paper, yarns, fabrics.  Have a jar for blues, another for greens and so on.

This is just supposed to be an exercise in developing a greater understanding of colour, but I think a jar crammed with miscellaneously textured colour would make a fantastic ornament, or if not ornament exactly, source of inspiration, in my workroom.  I don’t think I could put yarns inside, though, as I would just have to fish them out again, when inspiration struck.  Could get messy.

I really need to overcome my resistance and look out Irene Waller’s other books…

Colours and crafts

Colours are a hugely personal experience, and while in design terms there are rules and reasoning why some combinations work and others don’t, it’s still true that two people can experience the same colours in entirely different ways.  I found the poem below on a website called Plant Dyed Wool which runs courses on dyeing wools with natural dyes, as well as weaving and felting the results.

I’ve tried dyeing my own embroidery threads before and loved the results, but found it too time consuming to keep up (if I wanted to do any stitching/designing, too).  There’s somehing very appealing about natural dyeing, though, and I’m going to get around to trying it out one day.  I love tapestry weaving (my header above is an extract from one of my small pieces) but have just in the last couple of days started hankering to go back to basics with some ‘pure’, solid, traditional weaving on an old-fashioned peg loom – nothing fancy, just simple, cleansing ‘zen’ weaving, for its own sake.

[I find that I go through phases of stitching then switching back to weaving, then back to stitching again.  They’re very different crafts, but have the reassuring familiarity of working with threads, fibres, wools etc.  There’s a project coming that will combine weaving, needlework, music, and possibly some fiction, too, once I’ve completed this exploration of bargello.  There’ll be a break for a while from the appearance of new designs, but I am looking forward to putting my time and energies into it, and I think the results will be worth it.]

It was on the search for a peg loom that I stumbled across the Plant Dyed Wool site.  Theirs are the only peg looms I have found with character (click here to see what I mean), made out of gorgeous grained, knotted natural wood, rather than wood with the life planed out of it.  Anyway, to return to the point, it was on this site that I discovered the poem below, written by Skye, the daughter of the dyeing-weaving-felting lady, Jane Meredith.  I love the vivid colours that streaks through it, and found it very evocative.

Blue fingers planted this garden

Where there is gold in the petals and leaves

Where green breathes

Then turns blue

Blue softly turns pink

As it dies by the river

And wool white as a swan

Is dipped

Kingfisher red