Sewing paper mandalas

I have always sewn things. I can remember living with my biological Dad before my parents divorced. I used to go and knock on my parents bedroom door and ask for a needle to be threaded before they were up. My parents divorced when I was 5yrs old. About that time my mum made me my own sewing basket. It’s only recently I can’t find my felt pin cushion that she made.

So I have always liked sewing. Sometimes I forget. Making tea bag quilts reminded me. I am saving tea bags to make a bigger quilt and my hands get bored of drawing mandalas so I decided to sew through one on paper.

I worked on the back- the stitches didn’t photograph well – so I dipped the paper in a tea vat that was lying around

Sitting in front of the TV I sewed some more – this time I crumpled up the paper until it felt more like fabric – it was easier to sew circles at the at the beginning in the middle of the paper.

After sewing on the teabags these seemed a bit dull – I enjoyed the sewing but the end product wasn’t doing anything for me.

I decided to see what would happen if I tore it.

The thread did fab things and the paper was so soft …..

I decided to play with the other piece too – I had sewn the second mandala with black thread.

I like the way the ripping and the thread disrupt the drawn lines of the mandala and the way you can see through it.

I attached the blue piece to another mandala. I went to bed thinking about the words I could weave through it.

This is what I wrote this morning. I was thinking it would be more poetic about being stuck drawing mandalas ( lol)

‘Sitting still art making my back seizes up drawing mandalas my safety net protecting my stomach from stress watching the tv Round and round in ever increasing circles trapped in the patterns sewing and drawing until my hands ache trapped in my endeavour my art evolves through making experimenting – what happens if I do this how does that material react if I do this which ink is water soluble try fountain pens they are better for the environment what happens if I crush that paper, sew with black rather white stamp that paint through a new stencil

sew that tea bag on to this fabric carve that stamp change that pattern dip that paper use that floor wipe that colour run panel use that as a substrate collect that bumpf stitch that teabag read that book go to that conference hear that seminar write some words drink that cider think about that concept’

Has

Teabag quilt

I have been working on teabags for the past few months. I am getting very tired of the tea leaves and soggy bags hanging around my kitchen drying.

I have been making small quilts A4 and 9 teabag sized efforts as part of my #teaandhome project. This looks at what ‘home’ in Edinburgh means to me after living here for 5 years. Drinking redbush tea is a big part of that. Jon drinks builders tea. The juxtaposition of the circles and rectangles has been interesting to play with in terms of teabag strings , mini journals and now quilts.

I had been playing with my hand carved stamps and layering the teabags with mandalas, text, hand written and printed. I was thinking of sizes in-terms of mounting them. However it struck me at 4.30am the other day that they might make a nice larger piece.

So I laid them out on the table. This configuration was too long and thin.

This felt a bit abstract and the fill in bags looked a bit out of place. So I printed sections of mandalas on the blanker bags and then added circular bags to the design.

All the layering and sewing has made some of the joints a bit fragile so I am wondering how to proceed.

Idea one- is to quilt it with padding and a back.

Idea two – to use an iron Vilene (interfacing) on the back

It is for a seminar that Jon and I are presenting in September and it would be good if people can touch it – without making holes in it.

I am leaning towards the Vilene and maybe a trim around the edge

I will keep you posted

I seem to have forgotten to post pics of my hand carved rubber stamps – here is the set I used on the quilt

Tea and home

Tea is an important drink for me. I have been using it in my art . Last year I had a spate of dipping paper in tea to add layers. So using bags as a substrate seemed an easy step. I have been making collaborative tea bag chains with my friend Fran in California.

Where we sewed old dried bags together and then decorated them sending them back and forth to each other adding layers.

I am laid up at the moment with a sore knee and needed a project that would be a bit fiddly and keep me sitting still ….. I decided to have a go at repeating the zine fold mini journal – but by sewing old teabags together.

I used my hand carved rubber stamps of doors to decorate this one – keeping within my current theme of ‘home’

Preparing the tea bags is a bit time consuming. Fran in California can let them dry out side full of tea leaves. In Scotland I have to empty the leaves whilst damp, which means they can rip a bit , let them dry, and then remove the last dregs of leaves. (Jon is being very patient.)

When the bags are dry I sew 4 together using blanket stitch.

I found that I need 8 – 4 for each side of the mini journal and to give the opening of the ‘zine fold’ and strength to the design

I am having fun messing around adding my normal layers

These above are doodled on and then stencilled White acrylic

Below – I doodled with a water soluble purple pen and spritzed

The I added the white acrylic and spritzed orange ink through a stencil

The next stage is a layer of gel medium so that the seams and any ripped bags are reinforced.

Then I add a white rectangle of white acrylic to each bag/ page – I tried stamping on the teabag itself but my inks were lost on my mad backgrounds.

I decided to write a poem about my relationship with tea and Jon, I don’t know why it always tastes better when he makes it.

Tea and home

He brings me one in the dark

6am

Sometimes I am not ready

For the perfect cup

The correct heat

The right strength and amount of milk

It sits cooling as I check my social media

At other times I sip the almost scalding liquid

As it hits the right spot

Sigh -(exhale make the right noise)

‘That’s the best cup I have ever tasted’

It feels like home.

I thought I would add the poem to a tea based mini journal.

I hand carved a few tea cup rubber stamps to use as decoration.

I have given up trying to be too neat and tidy. Carving so small with my tiny v blade seems to create simple almost naive shapes that I quite like.

Simple colour/ emotion exercise (art journalling for self care)

I did a simple exercise today with a group today – it was surprisingly successful . There were some very powerful emotions evoked

so I thought I would share. There are no pictures I am afraid because it was so personal

Materials and kit

I provided packs of single coloured papers- filled with magazine pages, printed paper and coloured papers. Glue stick , scissors , words. Free publicity postcards

I invited the group to choose a colour and decoupage / cover a post card with different bits of paper as they wished, they could have scissors or rip the paper . It was attached with a glue stick.

As they worked I asked them to be mindful and think about what emotions were coming up for them.

I also provided of words used to describe emotions and a pack of words that describe emotions cut out from a novel.

After 20 mins , they had talk to the person sitting next to them about the process and then say something to the group.

Here are the words if any one wants to reproduce the exercise. (Taken from a hand written poster design on the wall where I was facilitating )

Emotions

joyful excited sexy playful creative aware daring fascinating stimulating amused extravagant delightful

Powerful proud respected appreciated hopeful important faithful confident intelligent worthwhile valuable satisfied cheerful

Peaceful content thoughtful intimate loving trusting nurturing

Pensive relaxed responsive serene sentimental thankful

Sad guilty ashamed lonely bored sleepy bashful stupid miserable inadequate inferior apathetic

Mad angry hostile hurt jealous selfish frustrated rage hateful critical furious irritated skeptical

Scared rejected confused helpless submissive insecure anxious bewildered discouraged insignificant weak foolish embarrassed

Home

In 2013 Jon and I were both writing about what ‘home’ meant to us after we moved up from Oxfordshire to Edinburgh after 25 years in the same house.

We merged our writing and added some photos because Jon had been asked to write an article

We are now going to deliver a paper at a conference …… I decided it would be interesting to look at what ‘Home’ meant now in 2018.

I have been enjoying making zine fold mini art journals and thought it would be fun to make a ‘Home now’ series

I am very influenced by the Georgian architecture of Edinburgh’s New town where we have a lower ground and basement flat.

This is the view out of my kitchen window – through white pained windows, the railings onto the street opposite

As you know I draw mandalas all the time so I decided to use these as a basis for my ideas. They have become a part of my daily practice on Edinburgh. At the moment I am still using water soluble ink and sprays to release the inks afterwards

The other day I made a series of notes to print out and use as text about what ‘home’ means at this present time.

‘Feeling torn watching the common wealth games – wanting Scotland to win

Diagonal crossing at junctions as a pedestrian

Walking up Dundas st to George st

Looking at the world from my lower ground and basement

The weather

Edinburgh airport

The grey sofa

The sound of a bus

Variety of independent coffee shops

Smell of coffee’

I have also been playing with layering handwriting, asemic writing

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asemic_writing

And street maps

http://www.old-map.com/Edinburgh.htm

I also made a couple of carved rubber stamps of Georgian doors ( they are not fine enough to be used on their own but are ok as another layer)

I had fun cutting out the doors so that they opened and then I made a whole street

My latest few are a bit more abstract and reflect the light and the frames of the windows/ railings l. I used a geometric stencil and white paint

A few more designs with Maps and text

I need to get cutting and folding these ……

Visiting emotional triggers

2 years ago my son was in a road accident in South Korea – this week my daughter was poorly with asthma and flu and had to go to hospital. I am doing an initial counselling course and found it very difficult to do an empathy exercise with another student.

My irritable bowel has also been playing up, so all my emotional stuff is roiling around my stomach. I wanted to see if I could work through all the rubbish visually to see if that helped

I started off having flash backs after Face book reminded me that I was in Korea 2 years ago. My son was not really in any critical danger but he did fracture his skull in 3 places. So I went to Korea. It was a difficult time as you can imagine.

I came up with this image as a starting point after searching for flash backs in google images

https://www.writermag.com/2015/11/19/dos-donts-flashback/

Thinking about PTSD – which I don’t have, but being a visual animal and sensitive to being over stimulated – I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what images came up for PTSD

I love this one but it didn’t resonate with me at the time.

https://becomingsoldiers.wordpress.com/

Here are some more I found interesting

https://themindsjournal.com/

https://agileleanlife.com/emotional-flashbacks/

I decided to start messing about digitally with a couple of these to see what I came up with – this is how I usually work. I liked the scribble and the spiral

Unfortunately when I worked in my journal I didn’t do a step by step, but after a series of layers this is what I came up with.

You can’t really see the resemblance to the original images. I started off with a spiral clock doodle and then added layers of pattern, text , and a big loose scribble. I tried adding a lady in the middle but it didn’t seem to convey what I was feeling. however I liked the phrase ‘in the eye of a storm’ so an eye seemed more appropriate.

After lunch I doodled while waiting in a cafe, for a friend. Typically I forgot paper, but I had a pen. A few companies produce nice weight paper advertising leaflets which were on display at the cafe, so I decided to appropriate a diary to work on.

It helped to situate the doodle in a time frame of Feb/ March to anchor my thoughts. I like the look of asemic writing – what I use is technically not that – I write on top of my words a couple of times to hide the meaning from the reader – so I write out all my feelings but you can’t read it.

Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content,” or “without the smallest unit of meaning.” With the non-specificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret’ (Wikipedia)

Making ‘zine’ formats

I can’t remember if I have written about these before. I like working in a ‘zine’ format because of the 3d element. My friend @dar63 on Instagram started making some recently and I loved her lush layers and jewelled colours do I asked her if she fancied doing some collaborations. We have worked together in the past.

You can tell which pages are mine because of the black ink doodles 😂😂

I have been experimenting with using water soluble pens and spraying my mandalas so I used some of these as a base layer.

I added designs to the front and the back and added gesso to surface to seal it and add texture

I added a variety of things to the surface

Strips of typed text, large text, more gesso, stitching, white pen , spray ink and magazine images.

I like drawing of the inside of the zine. So that when they are standing up you get an interesting juxtaposition of the two sides

The bottom design in the above pic includes a zine designed by a friend Fran that is based with me in Edinburgh.

I hand stitched the edges in this case