Sunday, 31 August 2008

Learning How to Take Photos

For a long time I have wanted to learn how to use my camera properly, normally I put it into automatic, point and click!  The pictures turn out sort of ok, and I console myself by saying you are not a photographer so you don't need to take good photos!  Unfortunately this answer never really convinced me and the niggling feeling still remained, there are lots of settings and dials on my camera that I don't know what they do - I have read the manual, put the dials in to right place and taken a shot to prove what it did, but that is as good as it got.................. I never really grasped how to put it all together.

But today I turned a corner.  'Arty' (real name Helen) who had attended Margaret's Bag workshop had kindly said that she would spend the day with us and teach us a few basics.  So Deb, Margaret, Sharne and I (the School House Four) arrived at North Fambridge armed with camera, instruction book and awaited illumination.  Arty patiently explained 'white balance' and 'bracketing' both of these functions were to be used together!  We were also introduced to a small white tent that you put your objects in and photograph - all a bit strange but it certainly cut down the shadows (needless to say, Sharne and I had to dash out a buy one - because of course this will make us take much better photos! nothing at all to do with skill or patience!)

We were then given a lesson in Adobe Photoshop and layers.......... she made it all sound very easy whilst she was talking us through it.  detail of bag

These are two of my pictures which I took under Arty's supervision, I have also edited them using Paint Shop, and must say I am quite pleased with the results.

detail of book cover



Thanks Arty.

Arty then showed me how to take a close up using the aperture settings on the camera, this make the main subject matter in focus and smudges the background matter.  This is the photo that she took - fairly appropriate as the piece of work which I have just finished was based on elderberries - photo of this to come as Arty took a 'proper' shot of this piece of work for me to use!

eldberry detail

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Octopus Play Day

I woke up to sunshine - today was going to be a good day, we could eat outside, so out came the under used deck chairs, cob webs removed and I was ready for the girls to arrive.

In came six sewing machines accompanied by Gill (the ring leader), Liz, Noella, Sue and Lynda and Linda, we were meant to be getting straight down to business, but Noella had made some wonderful beaded brooch people that we all wanted to know how to make (forgot to take a photo of these, so hopefully she will forward me one or two so that I can show you what I am talking about).

Today was going to be a busy day as we had planned to make a Stitch to Paint - Ploughed FieldPloughed Field Hanging. The girls had already dyed their fabrics so it was straight into ripping it apart to sew it back together again. First of all they carefully constructed the sky, very beautiful shades of blue, with a sliver of yellow for the sun, they were not happy when I said that these were then to be dyed black. Due to the time constraints I decided to use the All in One dyes, and these worked really well, three minutes in the microwave and we had black skies that were ready for bleaching!

Lynda with the bleachLiz - this will be done!

Lunch time arrived and Mark's head appeared over the fence (Long suffering Marklong suffering next door neighbour) he wanted to know what we Gill managed to avoid all other photos!were up to - think he could smell the food and it was just an excuse! so he bravely joined seven nattering women for lunch - that shows he was either very hungry or perhaps my cooking isn't that bad!

Lunch done and it was time to get on with the job in hand and get the hangings all stitched together and the lines of design transferred on to the fabric ready for painting. The day seemed to be going far too quick, probably too much talking and laughing. By 4pm most of the stitching was done, but had run out of time to do the painting, so rather than rushing it we decided that we would reconvene to complete our mater pieces Tuesday week.

Noella, was that the good side?!Marking work ready to stitchSue - thought this was meant to be fun!!!! Linda concentrating Lynda going for it! This is as far as we got......

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Belstead House - 15th to 17th August 2008

Summer School with the Embroiders Guild, Sharne and I were lucky enough to get a place on Gwen Headley's workshop, neither of us had a clue what we were going to be doing, thought it might be something to do with linking objects together but how this was going to be done remained a puzzle! So we packed to cover every eventuality, all the essentials, beads, threads, odd bits of memorabilia, papers, etc and of course the tooth brush......

Belstead is a wonderful place, I can imagine Miss Elizabeth Bennett having lived in a house similar to this. There is a lovely atmosphere about the place, there is calmness and serenity, it is a beautiful old building with rambling roses creeping around the arched gates, you are removed from real life, no need to worry about cooking or work or cleaning you just get on doing what you do best and in my case that is most definitely sewing.

What did Gwen have in store for us? Well, it could not have been more perfect for me, cutting up perfectly good pieces of material and sewing them back together to create a rhythmic organic background. This was achieved by slicing stitched pieces at an angle and sliding them up or down the cut edge until a pleasing line was found and then topstitching them back in place.

Pockets were then made to place our special memories in, objects were caught down with weaving, holes were cut to hang beads and stones in, the options we were given were many and varied.

I returned home happy, bursting with ideas to do, a perfectly perfect weekend.

Belstead House back garden Elizabeth's Gate? My piece based on New Zealand