Sunday, 28 November 2010

Alison Dupernex - textile artist/craftperson

 Alison Dupernex is currently showing at the Innov8 Craft Fair in Pershore.  She gave a talk to the local artis's group WANA yesterday.

Alison gave a lively talk about the origin, development and techniques for knitting her silk and cashmere cardigans and scarves.

She described herself as Painting with yarn, and said that she was
passionate about colours...they absolutely bounce off each other.... your life gets richer because of what you discover...touching and feeling the fabric nourishes your soul...makes you feel fantastic.

Many artists have influenced her in the twenty five years she has been a professional knitter.  She designs in January and February, closing the workroom door and experimenting.  During the rest of the year she doesnt have time to develop ideas, but she does alter her colour choices all the time as she goes along.  She always makes her colour choices in daylight.  She finds that black and white, which she only started using recently, give space to other colours and allow them to breath.  Sometimes she uses colours which you are unlikely to notice in a composition but if they werent there you would notice that they werent there...somehow they make the garment zing.

Alison trained as an English teacher. In the eighties she had fifteen knitters working for her, and sold in stores around the world such as Liberty's.  Knitting and knitted garments then became unfashionable, and it was only a chance discovery of some Italian silk yarn that transformed her work into its current fluid, flexible form.  Garments are square cut but draping, gaining their shape from the people who wear them.  The light airy stripes of knitted silk are interspersed with slightly felted cashmere to give an intricate and sumptuous texture.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

all I want....

The Wednesday Group, my pals from the machine embroidery City & Guild's course at Malvern, are making a postcard sized work each month,  This month the topic is 'Christmas'.

It is a lovely frosty day outside, and a good day to start a new project.

I haven't sewn anything much for ages and so I wanted an easy project to start with.  I began with needing to find a long extension lead, as the whole electrical circuit in the room I sew in have stopped working.  We suspect that mice have chewed through a cable but we haven't yet figured out where.

I decided to take the 'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth' song as my inspiration.  I considered which materials to use for each layer, but decided to try felt as I had sufficient and its lack of fraying was attractive.

I got together materials, then tried to thread my sewing machine.  After a few goes I triumphantly got the needle threaded, only to realise that I had threaded the bobbin thread through the eye of the needle.  Hey Ho...

I wrote the postcard to Santa saying what I wanted.  I had decided not to make any 'cutesy' spelling errors but spelled 'Dear' wrong without meaning to.  I had put out a note from a then six year old friend of mine to get the feeling of the writing, and it obviously worked.

I stitched ribbon to red felt for the wrapping, organised so that undoing the bow allowed access to the inside of the present.

The inside is lined with violet/blue velvet.  Sewn onto the velvet are two incisors, complete with root.  I made them out of white and flesh coloured ribbon.  I would have liked to make teeth that were more beautifully crafted, especially after seeing Annie's exquisite apples with pips last week, but couldn't manage that.  I think they do, at least, look like teeth enough for the story to work.  I had hoped they would seem like jewels set in a box.

So, not great, and I had to relearn things like changing machine feet and tensions and threads...but at least it is done.

long time no stitch

I've been preoccupied with trying to set up and run a gluten-free bakery business.  I haven't done anything else except learn about food hygiene, legislation, packaging, and baking baking baking as I test recipes for quality, keeping and transportation.

I have decided it is time I got back to a more balance life and managed to make it to the monthly 'Wednesday Group', the people I originally went to machine embroidery classes with at Malvern.  They, sorry, we, are making a postcard sized piece each month, and this month I am going to join in.  The topic is Christmas, and I have planned my piece.  Today I will make it.  I'll post the process and pics as they emerge.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

begin again

After months of not doing any embroidery I finally managed to make it to the Wednesday Group meeting - the original gang I met at my first City & Guilds class two years ago. They have been making a small postcard sized work each month, with next one being Christmas. The themes each time have been simple, but they are still producing very different work in response to the title - I look forward especially to February's, which in a fit of lack of inspiration became 'the letter F'.

So, got to clear the workspace and begin again. I'll check the earlier blogs and make sure I finished posting about the work I did for the C&G level 3 and the exhibition. I decided my life had become lopsided and I needed to do something other than cook.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010



Lots of colour and laughter – but also lost children, picked- pockets, swindled customers and tummy aches and hangovers.

My carnival piece looks at the traditional fortune-teller. You see the woman with a long skirt and bandana looking at the hand of the client, who is holding a crystal ball. She is seated at a crimson clothed table inside a tent. Attached to her ear is a phone wire that leads to the other side of the picture. Here there are two men is striped shirts and grey trousers, sitting at a bank of computers. They are using the data coming through from the crystal ball, which is a fingerprint reader, to access information about banking, health risks etc to enable the fortune teller to give accurate information about current events and so seem to be able to tell the future.

This piece is made from fabric and found objects. 80cm x 47cm

Friday, 5 February 2010

Gollum’s Pocket Part 2

Many other jobs need doing but Gollum’s Pocket tops the list for amusement. I painted an old crepe bandage with silk paints and stitched the vari-coloured strip onto a coffee bag. I wanted the outside to look weedy and as if it had been in and out of slimy ponds. Because Gollum kept his ‘Precious’ the inside needed to be bright and shiny and something that would keep the contents tidy even if they were bits of fish. I didn’t make a closure because Gollum, after all, did loose The Ring from his pocket, so it is now empty. I wondered about fitting a small LED light, preferably solar powered, inside but that seems a bit too hard and have given upon that notion.

I sewed a few beads to represent water droplets and small water creatures onto the bag, and then stitched the fish skeleton on the outside. I made a head and tail from some scraps of shiny cloth and sewed on a glassy bead for an eye. I used a shoelace to make a strap so Gollum could sling the pocket over his shoulder or tie it around his waste. He has a newish looking shoelace, but I suppose he would regularly need to change the lace as the old ones wore out and he came across discarded shoelaces on the edges of ponds.

This was a silly project and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Gollum’s Pocket

I have decided to make a piece for a collaborative project with Charnwood Arts' Big Knitting Group, Every Pocket Tells A Story. This will be an exhibition at Loughborough's Charnwood Museum, which will explore the history and the future of the pocket. (

I thought about my pocket...all the things I would carry if I had pockets like Mary Poppins’ magic bag. A standard exercise on creative writing courses is to think about what the characters carry with them in their pockets or bags, as it is supposed to help you understand them and what they would do in different circumstances. I always carry a compass attached to my bag; very handy when popping up out of a tube station on a gloomy day so that I don’t stride confidently off in the wrong direction.

I decided to make Gollum’s pocket, the sad, slimy forlorn creature from the Lord of the Rings. The outside will be dull grey and green muddy colours, but the inside will be bright and shiny and full of treasures. The pockets have to be no bigger than A6, and not have anything but writing inside which tells their story. I’ll attach the treasures so that they are spilling out and visible.

The most obvious treasures are the gold ring and a fish head attached to a skeleton. I have some shiny gold sweet wrappers, so a ring is easy. The fish is a bit more of a challenge. I was wondering about making the skeleton from toothpicks, or laminating a drawing, but Rod suggested fraying cloth. This seemed like the best idea. Whilst making this I also noticed that curtain hooks have a certain fish skeleton look about them so maybe another time I’ll use them.

I used a bit of artist’s canvas and cut out a fish shape. I then frayed the two sides, and pasted glue to the whole thing. I used some PVA diluted with water which I had left over from another project months ago. Anyone know why PVA and water left in an airtight jar smells completely disgusting? I decided to use it anyways – I don’t suppose the aroma will last, but if a slight stench assailed the nostrils when approaching the pocket that would be very appropriate if a bit surprising.

I’ll make the head and tail from some shiny silver trousers I bought a couple of decades ago which for some reason I don’t wear anymore. A bead for the eye and that should made a great half eaten fish.