Friday, 6 July 2012

She was a sewing machine...

I have actually stuck to my word and haven't left another five week gap between posts!I really wanted to show you this latest piece in a separate post as I'm quite pleased with how she turned out and she took a long time to complete.As much as tales of the past make my soul sing,imagined tales of the future captivate me equally.I've always had quite a soft spot for science fiction and the idea of androids in particular.So an image of a pretty stitched robot lady flitted around my mind for a fair time before I thought I'd see if make it work as a textile piece.

Her gold hair was a real labour of love and took around twelve hours to complete.Her dress is made from a vintage tablecloth that I dyed and some vintage lace doilies and buttons adorn the piece too.I also used paint and coloured pencils and the piece is completely hand stitched which is apt as the title is 'She was a sewing machine..'

I hope that people can see many different possible ideas in the piece as that was my intention.So I would like to leave it up to you to draw what you want from the piece but one thing I would add is that I have been pondering more and more over the perceived 'value' of traditional craft skills such as embroidery in our present time.I know a lot of my lovely blog readers (like myself)have a fondness for all things old and cherished because their flaws tell tales and they also carry remnants of past attitudes.My family have always fondly teased me for my 'granny like' tendencies and I have always taken it as a great compliment because I always felt out of sync in my generation(I was a child of the eighties)As I grew up I did meet other vintage lovers(my husband included)and obviously through the internet have discovered there are a lot of us!

I feel saddened that so many traditional crafts have been undervalued and lost throughout my lifetime but have real hope that in the future it will all come full circle and technology ironically will be the saviour of handmade.I feel like now is quite an exciting time to be an independent maker as we are using technology to allow us practice the traditions of the past instead of allowing progress to replace our past.Imagine if Etsy existed in the eighties..I'm not sure I can.

I'd love to hear your opinions or just to hear how you all are? 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Embroidery catch up

This is going to be one of those catch up posts so I hope you don't mind if it is slightly disjointed.I've been doing a lot of drawing and stitching as of late as I'm trying to build up my illustration portfolio again and also I'm planning to start offering postcards for sale and fingers crossed eventually prints.I've been considering this for quite a long time now as the embroidered artworks are extremely labour intensive and from a 'business' point of view it makes much more sense to be able offer reproductions which will be less expensive.Well that's the theory.So I have posted some of these pictures on facebook and flickr but thought I'd like to elaborate more on them.

This first one is The Parsley Girl and any early followers of my blog might remember that I illustrated this tale previously but in paint.Click here for original post It may seem a bit odd to use the same fairytale again but since discovering embroidery I feel like I have a whole new way of working and I can't help wanting to illustrate stories I have always loved.I'd love hear how you feel about returning to previous themes and reworking them?I remember being told at university to forge forward always and not go back but I can't help returning to my favourite fairytales and my strange obsession with drawing hair...might just go with it for the time being!

This was my first piece that I have mounted on stretchers instead of a hoop and it was quite refreshing to not be constrained by the circular shape.I embroidered her hair freestyle and sneaked in some parsley and had great fun choosing fabrics for the birds and her dress.I'm tempted to  make myself a dress using the purple repro feedsack's so pretty!I've included the original sketch below as personally I love seeing people's sketches(I'm quite nosey really)

I also stitched a Summer Wandering piece as a gift for someone special who requested a hair and eye colour.This was lovely to do and I really liked the piece in these colours.

A little brooch..

I have got one more piece to show you but I think I'll do another post about that(dare I say later in the week!yikes,a five week gap and two in one week!)I also wanted to say a big hello to my new followers...nice to meet you and hope enjoy your little visits.
Take care

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Potter Post

I have a confession,as well as being a lazy blogger;I am a very big Harry Potter fan.I devoured the books and love the films (which is unusual as I normally struggle watching film's adapted from beloved books)so was super excited to visit the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros London studio tour last weekend.I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't read too much about it so was blown away with everything we saw.We walked through Hogwarts Great Hall,saw the Gryffindor common room,Dumbledore's office,walked through Diagon Alley!I could go on but I've picked out some of the finer details which interested me,so hopefully might interest you too.

This pile of Daily Prophet's was in an amazing cabinet full of graphics and paper goods created to feature in the films.I was stood gazing at that cabinet a very long time!the detail was exquisite and there was so much to look at.It was lovely to see props used in the film at such close range such as the copy of 'The Tales of the Beedle the Bard' which Dumbledore bequeathed to Hermione and the handwritten letter penned by Lily Potter.

I adored the graphics and illustrations on the Quibbler covers which I feel really represents the 'look' of the contemporary wizarding world featured in the films.I always feel there is a strong vintage style running through the later films which seems so fresh and attractive and so perfectly believable for Rowling's created world.I guess it is this added positive dimension created by the film makers which stops me from dwelling on which details are removed or altered from the books.

I had to show you Fleur Delacour's costume as it's so beautiful especially the hat. Can you imagine wearing such a graceful school uniform?!I never even noticed her shoes in the film but fell in love with them too. 

Also from the The Goblet of Fire film was this amazing chocolate phoenix cake..I don't need to say anything.

Also this stunning 'ice' sculpture was dazzling and was surrounded by glasses and bottles for the Yule Tide Ball.

Although I loved strolling through Diagon Alley(as you do)the light was not great for taking photos so I'm afraid I haven't got many to show you.Here are the window displays of Flourish and Blotts(the bookshop)and Scribbulus(a kind of stationers)

The gigantic pendulum... 

And finally we sat in the Weasley's blue magic car but stayed on the ground unlike Harry and Ron!I'd really recommend visiting the  tour if you're a Harry Potter fan but I have to say my four year old came with us and it was definitely a bit too old for him.I'd say children over seven or eight would get more out of it.He did love the potions lab as the cauldrons were stirring themselves and Molly Weasley's kitchen was amusing too.

I have been drawing and stitching lately but I have to admit I'm finding it difficult to photograph anything lately as we have had some changes in our circumstances over the past couple of months which means I will have to wait until September when my son starts school to regain some proper work time for myself.I have quite a few pictures ready to edit so will get on with that soon so you can see what I've been up to.
Take care and hope you are enjoying the good weather!
PS.I can't fathom my blogger settings so I can't seem to reply on each comment or vice versa on other blogs.Sorry about that,
Cassandra xx

Friday, 6 April 2012

Baking,stitching and a belated thank you

Hello,hope you are well and enjoying the start of the Easter Weekend.This is a bit of a catch up post so might be a little bit disjointed but I've always loved a bit of chaos.Last weekend we did some baking and I thought I'd have a go at painting the icing on the biscuits with food colouring.It was quite fun actually but I kept it very simple and only used shades of purple.I've always wanted to try it since discovering the creations of Natasha of Nevie-Pie Cakes - her work is truly stunning and she has a fantastic blog too.

Well leaving sweet delights aside,I thought I'd show you some hand dyed embroidery threads I purchased from The Rainbow Girl on Etsy.It took me a ridiculously lengthy time to choose which colours because Sarah's threads are so sumptuous looking but I chose the below colours and they arrived super quick.They're even nicer in real life and the colours graduate so delicately.Sarah also sells hand dyed fabric and other textile materials..all very tempting!

I had started this mermaid embroidery before I received the threads so I had already worked out the colours I was using but I did use some of the hand dyed floss on the waves and it really is gorgeous to use.My current piece that I have started(I'll show you next time)is my chance to use these beautiful colours properly.

In the past I have drawn many mermaids using different materials so embroidering my own illustration of a sea loving maiden was very attractive.I tried to keep it all very delicate looking and ethereal as she looks a little bit sad(I have a habit of drawing sad looking women)I had fun embroidering her hair freestyle using straight,satin and split stitch but it took quite a while.

I added one line of text 'a mermaid's song is a lonely one..' as I always felt sad when reading tales of sirens and mermaids who lured sailors with their songs.It would be a very lonely existence if you enchanted souls with your song..and it led to their demise.

One other layer to this piece is the intentional absence of a tail.I like the idea of viewing a piece in several different ways and if the word 'mermaid' wasn't included,how would you view it?

So that piece is now available to purchase in my Etsy shop.
I also have a very belated thank you to bestow on Helen Limbrick
I was very fortunate to win this beautiful hand knitted beret as part of a giveaway Helen held (a while ago now)I've shown you the picture that Helen had on her blog as quite frankly she is a lot more photogenic than myself and we both have heavy fringes so you get the idea what it looks like on us both!)The beret was knitted by Helen from her own pattern and it really is stunning!It is so soft and luxurious and is definitely in a vintage style which is just up my street.Helen is also so generous that not only did she giveaway the beret,she also has the pattern on her blog so you knitters out there can whip up one of your own.

Helen doesn't just knit,she is a multi talented girl who has a Folksy shop and a Etsy shop where she sells beautiful handcrafted gifts.She also has fantastic blog which she regularly updates(I should take note of that)and I would have made the below screenshot of her blog clickable but I'm still struggling with managing click here to visit this lovely blog. 

So well done if you managed to read all this post and reach the end.Hope you have a great Easter!
Take care xxx

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Feeling comfortable as a blogger...

If you have visited here before you might be thinking this post looks slightly odd...not very girly and no sign of fabric lurking.Well,you would be correct and this is my very first proper post as me(Cassandra - not Gracie)I mentioned here at the end of last year that I had started this venture with a clear plan but it happily took it's own path so I've had to re-adjust and embrace this.I hope I won't bore you with all the details but it makes sense to me to do this post even if only to spur myself on(that is selfish blogging isn't it!)So this is me..this photo is rare..I love taking photos but I am completely and utterly unphotogenic.

I am a London girl originally from Irish parentage and now reside in the heart of England with my Northern husband and our delightful four year son.As a child I was a frilly dress wearing tomboy who devoured storybooks and doodled continuously.Later on I gained an art degree and further studies in children's book illustration however it wasn't until I gave up my full time job to stay at home and look after our son,that I rediscovered sewing and in turn hand embroidery which I realised was the perfect drawing medium for me.To tie all my imaginings together I created the character of Gracie who is,I guess, my 'bloomer wearing' alter ego who only lives to create and doesn't have to worry about cleaning the oven or the rising cost of groceries.However lately I have found I wanted to blog more and more about my real life not just Gracie's imagined one.So I'm going to mix it up and hopefully you will enjoy my little ramblings as a 'semi normal' working from home mum and little snippets of Gracie in her cottage.So I thought I would start with a little post about my son's party last month.

He has been talking about having a cowboy party since his third birthday with no possible alternative being considered so we saddled up and gave it a go.I discovered unsurprisingly that western theme parties are all the rage in the States but finding supplies here in the UK was more difficult.So we had to make a lot ourselves which made me nervous because making things that are not feminine is a bit of a challenge for me.I have to say we were so busy on the day that we struggled to get many photos so I will have to tell you about a lot of our makes.I cheated with the cake and bought a plain one and took a photo of my son so I could turn it into a silhouette and cut it out of black icing and stuck it on.I have great admiration for cake decorators..that icing was stretching all over the place when I lifted it up.I made gingham cake bunting too but afraid you cannot see that in the picture.   

We made a cardboard western town out of fridge boxes complete with  jail and schoolhouse that the children could play in.We made a beanbag toss game,a panning for gold game(in which the children weighed out their gold in a really old rusty set of scales which I purchased around fifteen years ago-I knew they would come in handy one day)We played 'pin the moustache'on a picture of my son and it really was great fun.I made cotton loot bags with each child's name on and my husband made each child a wooden hobby horse to take home with them.I'll have to take a photo of my son's so you can see it..he's very lucky to have such a clever daddy.

The table's were easy to decorate with red and white gingham tablecloths and I covered some plain cups with cow print contact film.Little white lanterns and sunflowers also sat on the tables.

 The whole party was an awful lot of hard work but definitely worth it and I was very surprised that my son hasn't had a cowboy overload and want's a cowboy theme in his bedroom now!That can be another post I think.I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my life - next time I want to show you what I've been making so hope you come back then,
Take care
Cassandra xx

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Belated Happy New Year

I'm back in blogland and all giddy with excitement about what this year will bring.Before I flit forward though,I noticed quite a few of the talented stitchy ladies I admire,shared their year in stitches so I was inspired to give it a go too.So above is a selection of my makes of 2011 and actually it was quite a good exercise to look back and reflect on my stitching journey.I always worry that I haven't got a recognisable style so it was interesting to see several makes shoulder to shoulder and I guess the conclusion I drew was that I am definitely a 'pastel' not 'bold' lass.However I do like to inject one or two strong shades amongst the pale(such as the little redhead's tresses)

I also have definite soft spot for reproduction feedsack cottons which always seem to have such beautiful colour combinations.I had my eye on some Sara Morgan fabric for a while now and was delighted that M is for Make reduced it in they're New Year Sale so hastily purchased my favourites(at the bottom of the pile in photo)and also when I was in a fabric frenzy I purchased some Klona cotton from Backstitch. So looking forward to using my new stash or gazing at it some more(please tell me that I am not the only one who does that)

On the subject of receiving beautiful deliveries, I wanted to show you some wonderful artwork that entered the cottage before Christmas. Firstly I won Little Black Heart's giveaway on my birthday which was such an extra delight especially as I got to choose any aceo from Sal's shop!As you can see I chose a Zombie Geisha which is even more perfect in real life than on screen with her swingy hair and trailing cherry blossom.Sal's illustrations are so witty and original that you can't help but want everything in her warned!If that wasn't enough,part of my prize was four Christmas cards(which I greedily kept instead of using)To see more,there is also a Little Black Heart facebook page and blog.Thank you Sal for my lovely goodies.

If all that visual gorgeousness wasn't enough, I thought I would show you some Coramantic pieces I purchased before Christmas.I've spoken before about how much I love Yvonne's work and love the colour palette she uses and the expression she can create with line.Both pieces are beautiful as always and can't wait to frame them up.Yvonne also has a facebook page and blog.

They're wonderful aren't they.I have been drawing and stitching but thought I would save my new makes for another post so I hope you all had a lovely new year and looking forward to what it brings,
Take Care