“Aww, Go On!”

People often comment on how slow January can be but quite frankly I blinked and missed it this year! So here’s a little catch up on arty things a foot in my life at the moment. Remember my last post about the Textile Challenge for Canine Partners? Well, not content with creating one piece for this worthy cause I was compelled to do another. This time I left the paints in their pots and worked solely with the fabrics provided in all their mismatched pattern and colour glory, and used hand stitch as my method of unifying them. The result is a reproduction of an expression I see up close (Weimaraners are renowned for their inability to recognise the concept of personal space) countless times a day and the title was a toss up between “And me!” and “Aww, Go On!”, both of which would represent the sentiment behind this face equally well.

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“Aww, Go On!” by Nicky Barfoot.

The result is possibly my favourite piece of textile work to date and I felt a little reluctant to hand it over this morning when I dropped it and “Clown’s Crown” off to the lovely lady who has organised the challenge.

Both of these pieces will be for sale at the exhibition of work created for the Textile Challenge running from 18th to 21st February. Already it has raised enough money to buy a puppy and hopefully with sale proceeds from the exhibition more canine partners can be purchased and trained to provide independence and companionship to people living with disabilities.

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Textile Challenge Exhibition

So, one exhibition deadline met and two more to plan for in February, whilst also participating on a fantastic drawing course that I have started with Este Macleod called Creative Leap where we are being set a challenge for each day of February linked to the letters of the alphabet. No doubt I shall be showing you some outputs from that over the next few weeks or so. But for now I need to get back to making a fishy collage. Until next time folks ……..

Canine Partners Textile Art Challenge

At the back end of last year I found out about a textile challenge that was being put together to raise funds for Canine Partners, a charity which trains and provides (free of charge) assistance dogs to people living with disabilities in the UK.  These amazing dogs help their human partner with everyday tasks such as opening and closing doors, taking the washing out of the machine, picking things up from the floor, pressing switches and fetching help when needed.

Dogs and textiles for a good cause, well it would have been rude not to don’t you think? So the challenge is to buy a pack of 25 fabric squares from the Textile Challenge facebook page and create a piece of textile art or an object using at least part of every piece.

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My original pack of fabrics. 

Sounded easy until I had a good look at the fabrics supplied and realised just what a variety of weights, colours, materials and patterns there were (I should have realised by the word “challenge” in the title, huh?). So two days of standing at the ironing board rearranging, I came up with this.

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Trying to respond to the fabrics and coming up with this, mmm………

As you can see a few of the squares had foliage of some sort as a pattern so I thought I should use these in the final design and had some kind of stitchy flowering thing in mind. And then purely by chance I read an interview with the fabulous Grayson Perry who urged me to respect my muses and my techniques (my interpretation of his advice, not his words as such) and “what were you thinking?” came to mind. At the same time I decided that I couldn’t cope with all of those colours, textures and patterns (way too busy for me) and a bit of unifying was required so the paints came out.

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Now I’m getting excited but let’s move those leaves

So the leaves were replaced with, yes you guessed it, a dog! A free machine embroidered sketch of my usual Weimie muse followed by more paint and a few words hand embroidered on the top and this is the final piece.

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“Clown’s Crown” machine and hand embroidery on painted fabrics

All of the entries to the challenge will be exhibited at the Angel Inn in Midhurst (South Downs National Park) from 18 February for four days. The work will be for sale to raise further funds for the charity. Do check out the Textile Challenge facebook page to see what other people are making and there is still a bit of time left if you fancy having some textile fun yourself for a good cause.

Weimaraner’s noses are longer than you think!

It took a few weeks for my bloodied fingers to heal after my initial adventures into textile taxidermy with my Jack Russell head.  However, once the skin had calloused over it was time to start again, this time with Sas my Weimaraner, as model.  The first challenge was to source appropriate colours.  She is sort of pinky, greeny, silvery, purpley, grey, a colour not stocked by many yarn and fabric stores.  After some disastrous attempts at beetroot dyeing (the water went a lovely colour and the kitchen got good and steamy but not a lot stayed in the fabrics) I remembered a Rowan Kidsilk Haze sweater that I made a few years back and rarely wear.  While way too fluffy for Weimaraner hair (they are actually quite silky and greasy) it was at least a reasonable colour match so would have to do.

"Lengthening the nose and ears turns a Staffy into a Weimaraner"

Lengthening the nose and ears turns a Staffy into a Weimaraner

 

Bemused that my first attempts ended up looking like a Staffy I took a tape measure to a wriggling model to find out that Weimaraner noses are much longer than I thought.  Luckily I have no shortage of felted knitwear and was able to create a nose extension and Sas began to appear before me, particularly after I found a couple of buttons which colour matched the trademark Weimaraner spooky eyes.

"Textile Weimaraner Head by Nicky Barfoot"

Textile Weimaraner Head by Nicky Barfoot

The end result is a pleasing caricature of Sas.  While way too fluffy (but that could also be a statement of her character as she has often been labelled “blonde”), I think I have captured her permanently surprised (the Husband calls it gormless) expression rather well.  However, there is no doubt that this is Sas version 1.  Once I have found a merino/silk blend yarn in the appropriate colour and have worked out how to do the complicated folds and pleats that make up a Weimaraner ear, Sas version 2 will be born.

"Weimaraner and textile scuplture"

The model views the sculpture

The model was a bit non plussed when she saw the finished likeness but she also didn’t think it was a toy.  Hopefully that means I won’t find Sas Version 1 disembowelled on the lounge floor at some later date.