I walked into my garden this morning and looked at these beautiful poppies. Sadly they are a little bit past their best but I still admire them every day. These poppies were taken out of my Grandmothers garden when she moved out of her home to live in a care home several years ago. My Grandparents had lived in that house all of their married lives and it was the only home that I had ever visited them in.
I can remember all of the fun times we had in that house. It was filled with love and laughter. I love these poppies and the memories they bring.
This afternoon I called into a local shopping centre, the Metrocentre in Gateshead. I do not particularly enjoy shopping and therefore visiting such places is a rare occurrence which is only compensated with a shoe purchase. However getting back to my visit … I came across a spectacular poppy art installation in the middle of the mall, this was a really pleasant surprise (it was actually installed last August which shows you how often I visit shopping centres). This poppy installation is a commemorative piece of art that really struck a chord with me this afternoon and I would like to share these thoughts with you.
My grandfather fought in WW2 and he rarely spoke about his experiences until the last few years of his life. He was a brave man and will always be my hero but most importantly he was a loving grandfather whose words of wisdom will remain with me forever. Some of these do include, pull your shoulders back, stand tall and be proud – I can always here this when I begin to slouch or loose my confidence another one is bulls**t baffles brains – my sons love this one.
My grandmother was a creative person who always supported my decisions and I dearly miss her. She was an inspiration to me with her kind words, patience and she had the ability to make anything out of nothing – she could feed a family of four out of her and grandads dinner rations and still have enough for the two of them; she could entertain all of the grandchildren for hours with a comb and a piece of tissue paper and she could make the best dress up outfits from random things lying around the house.
Remembrance – these poppies have brought fond memories flooding back and got me to thinking about the creative textiles that I have produced using poppies as my inspiration. I would like to share four of these with you today.
Poppy 1 – My Stenciled Poppy:
Using a stencil is a brilliant way of adding colour quickly to a background fabric. You can use commercial stencils and fabric paint if you wish however I have made this stencil out of firm card and cut the design using a craft knife. I have used a textured unbleached cotton fabric for the background and stenciled by using a small sponge and applying acrylic paint. These paints are thick enough to transfer the image without smudging under the stencil, it is not necessary to use fabric paint if you are not going to launder your textiles and as this is decorative the acrylic paints work brilliantly. I have further embellished the poppy by embroidering long straight stitches using a rayon thread, this adds some detail and shine onto the petals and leaves. I have attached small black beads for the flower centre and stamens. I love the texture of the fabric in this poppy.
Poppy 2 – Appliquéd Poppy
This poppy has been appliquéd onto a cotton calico fabric which has been hand dyed to produce different shades of black and grey. The poppy petals and leaved have been appliquéd onto the black cotton, I have used red hand painted silk habotai for the petals and green hand dyed cotton muslin for the leaves. To appliqué the petals and leaves I used the following technique: the desired shape is drawn or traced onto the paper of the bondaweb. This is ironed onto the reverse of the fabric and the shape is cut out. The fabric shape is then laid onto the backing fabric, glue side down, and ironed into place. The fabric is stiffened slightly with the use of bondaweb. When applying sheer fabrics it is important to protect the iron with a sheet of baking parchment. The outline and detail have been free machined onto the leaves and petals. Black beads have been attached to the flower centre. This is such a simple technique that can be used on many different projects.
Poppy 3 – Free Machine Embroidered Poppies
This is actually a small piece of work that has been free machine embroidered onto silk and again I have attached a few small beads for the flower centres. I would like to further develop this site to include step by step tutorials so watch this space!!!
Poppy 4 – Poppy Play Time
This is my favourite poppy because it is the most creative and was a lot more fun to create.
I started out by sponging some acrylic paints onto a piece of cotton calico – no particular pattern was used and I roughly sponged a darker green where the stem and leaves were going to be and sponged some red paint where the petals would be. I then had a bit of a ‘play’ with different fabrics, these included organza, net and hand painted lightweight interfacing. I created the different leaf and petal shapes by using a soldering iron to melt away the edges of the fabric producing a texture around the edges. These were sewn onto the background fabric using simple embroidery stitches. Again i have used black beads and french knots in the flower centre.
Any textile work should be fun and you should not be afraid of experimenting. As a child you have no fear of doing something wrong and therefore play and explore to create art. As an adult you should remember how to play with materials to create textile art – within art there are no mistakes. There is a saying that I strongly believe and use it with my students:
‘Creativity is about allowing yourself to make mistakes, Art is about knowing which ones to keep.’