Friday, 28 November 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Ruth Singer

Thing were so deadline-crazy here last week that I didn't have a chance to put together a Crafty Ladies post... so, better late than never, let me introduce you to Crafty Lady Ruth Singer.

Ruth has some mad textile skillz! She puts these to good use creating beautiful, highly textured textile artworks and teaching dressmaking and other workshops in her studio. 

She's the author of three sewing books: Sew It Up (a manual of practical and decorative dressmaking techniques), Sew Eco (which focuses on sustainable sewing, and stitching with upcycled and vintage materials) and Fabric Manipulation (which includes 150 different techniques for pleating, stitching, gathering, etc).

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Hello! I'm Ruth Singer, a textile artist, author, tutor, historian, collector, cat owner, foraging addict and nature lover. I exhibit art textiles in galleries, work on creative projects with museums, write books about sewing and textiles and run a sewing school in Leicester.

Leicester is right in the centre of England, which is very handy for travelling all over the country delivering talks and creative textile workshops, as well as junk-shop forays and museum visiting.


Recently I’ve been making…

I've just received a big grant from the Arts Council for a solo exhibition at The National Centre for Craft & Design in Lincolnshire, so I am starting to work on pieces for that. I have a whole room to fill, which is exciting and terrifying in equal measure! The exhibition is called Narrative Threads and explores how we respond to and interact with textiles in our daily lives, looking at physical and emotional engagement with cloth, exploring tactility, memory and personal stories.  I'm also collecting personal textile memories, which you can contribute here.

I'm also collaborating with Bethany Walker to create a new body of work called Interlace, in which we combine concrete and delicate textile, for exhibitions in 2015. I am working on new colour combinations at the moment which is really good fun.


I’ve been working on…

Alongside my more creative work and teaching, I also work freelance to support designer makers in Leicestershire. I'm putting together some networking events and I'm also project co-ordinator for Ornamentum, a group of eight local makers who are creating collaborations for exhibitions and working on professional development programmes. I'm also teaching a social media workshop for designer makers this month too, so I have a good excuse to be spending lots of time on Pinterest!


I’ve been blogging about…

I'm only part way through a huge series of Postcards from Chateau Dumas, a wonderful venue in the South of France where I taught at week-long creative textiles course in September. Not only do I want to share what the lovely students made, but also the stunning surroundings, the buildings, the ambience of France. It was truly magical!

One of the Chateau Dumas posts to come is about the wonderful antique French linens I bought in the brocante. I blog about textile history quite a bit and enjoy sharing my knowledge and collections. It gives me an excuse to buy more too! I also write textile history posts called Pinning the Past for Mr X Stitch


I’ve been reading…

My reading at the moment is mostly research for my exhibition, so I am reading a lot of embroidery books, particularly old ones such as Constance Howard's book of embroidery stitches, textile history books like Quilts 1700-2010. I also tend to have Jenny Dean's Wild Colour open. Away from textiles, I always have a Richard Mabey book nearby and my favourite tree guide in my foraging bag.

 

While I sew, I’ve been watching…

When I'm working in my own studio at home I always listen to Radio 4 or 4 Extra.There's not much I don't enjoy but my favourites to work along to are classic or low-key crime dramas such as Paul Temple or anything Agatha Christie. I also like nature programmes and comedies, as well as the Archers.


In the teaching studio, I like tend to choose Classic FM as it is pretty relaxing and creates a calm atmosphere though sometimes when the music is very boisterous, the sewing machines start running faster and the students get a bit frantic!
 

Ruth’s 3 Top Tips for Creativity

1. Innovate, explore and find your own style. To succeed in the contemporary craft world you have to stand out from the crowd. Follow your heart, explore your own deep-seated passions and don't seek inspiration from other makers.

2. Collaborate with people whose work you love. It is fantastically enjoyable and creatively invigorating.

3. Explore the world around you. Walk in the woods, prowl city streets, investigate local museums, read the books in your library, take part in community projects. Make your work express something about you and how you engage with the world.

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Visit Ruth's shop to see her range of sewing patterns and her upcoming workshops. You can read more about her work and current projects on her blog, and you'll find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas Scraps

Remember that lovely Christmas fabric I blogged about earlier this month?

Well, I've made a start on my project! Yay! I can't blog about it yet as it's going to be a gift (shhhh...), so here are some pics of the scraps I had left over after cutting out all the pieces.


I'd been planning on breaking out my much-neglected sewing machine for this project as it's going to involve lots of stitching, but I've changed my mind and decided to hand stitch it instead - partly because I'm not super confident with a machine as I'm so out of practice. (Note to self: practise using your sewing machine in 2015!)


I find working on a new, fun project can be a bit addictive - all I want to do is work on it, and I end up staying up waaaay past my bedtime because I think "I'll just get this bit finished..." and then look up and realise it's 1am. Oops.

But apart from some bad "it is definitely a good idea for me to stay up sewing this instead of going to bed, who needs sleep??" decision making, things are going well! It is an absolute pleasure to be working on a relaxing personal project after weeks of focusing on work deadlines.

Plus, I'm loving being able to sit and sew with festive fabric while binge-watching made-for-TV Christmas movies, which I adore and cannot get enough of at this time of year :)

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving! xxx

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Just A Card

I don't know about you guys, but when I go to craft fairs and just buy a couple of small things like cards I sometimes feel a bit cheap, and terribly unsupportive of the designer/maker community. All these talented people trying to make a living selling their amazing wares and I ooh over their work and then just buy a £2 greetings card.

This is nonsense, of course! As a designer/maker myself I know very well how the small purchases people make from my shop are just as important to my business as the big ones, that every single purchase is a wonderful, much-valued gesture that says "I appreciate your work, I am supporting you"... and that those small sales add up to help pay for all the big important stuff like rent and bills and food.

The fact that small purchases can make a big difference is the idea behind the new JUST A CARD campaign.

 http://www.justacard.org/

As campaign founder Sarah Hamilton puts it...

"If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.”

When I read this quote by shop keepers who’d recently closed their gallery I thought - enough is enough - we need to fight back! As an artist and designer, who also makes cards, I know just how valuable each and every sale is, not only to independent shops and galleries which make our High Streets unique, but to their artists and designer suppliers. Regrettably it’s too late for that gallery, but others need our valuable support, and this is why we started our campaign JUST A CARD - to encourage people to appreciate just how invaluable every single purchase is.

http://www.justacard.org/

I love the idea of this campaign. It's a great reminder that you don't have to suddenly start spending all your money on handmade stuff or swap your supermarket shop for local/organic everything to make mindful spending choices. Just remember that whatever small purchases you can make from designer/makers and from the independent shops on your local high street are important, and valued.

I'm lucky to have a local sewing shop that I can pop into in haberdashery emergencies, and a fantastic local art supplies shop too, and several arts groups in my local area organise awesome pop up shops and markets for artists and designer/makers.... but without customers, these things will vanish!

Buying a reel of thread or a tube of paint or just a card might not be much, but it's something... and it's something that I will be trying to do a bit more of from now on. 

Visit the JUST A CARD website for more info, to grab a button to share on your blog or to download flyers and posters.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How To: Embroidered Felt Snowflake Baubles

Wanna see the second Christmas project I designed for Tesco Living?

http://www.tescoliving.com/smart-living/how-to/2014/november/how-to-make-embroidered-felt-snowflake-baubles

I stitched a set of felt snowflake baubles. Each bauble is embroidered with a white snowflake, then embellished with sparkly seed beads and a silver sequin.

The embroidery is very simple to do , so it's perfect for beginners. You'll have a batch of baubles stitched up in no time!

http://www.tescoliving.com/smart-living/how-to/2014/november/how-to-make-embroidered-felt-snowflake-baubles

To make your own embroidered felt snowflake baubles, click here for the step by step tutorial.

P.S. Click here for the Christmas candle ornament tutorial

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