Scrappy and resolute

Although I was recently "commissioned" to stitch up a small paragraph for Year Two's display in the school at which I am TAing, I have found it hard to get on with Milk Thistle whilst I'm engaged in this short burst of full time work.
 
That's not to say I'm not enjoying the job! It is both more challenging and more rewarding than I was anticipating. Kids are also an endless source of amusement.
 
Alongside working I am beginning to put some plans in place for creative projects (some of which are even paid! I know!)
 
I feel as if I am at a turning point in my creative practice, and in many ways, in my life. I suppose everything is in transition right now, but I am rather enjoying going with the flow.
 
I think once Milk Thistle is completed and (hopefully) exhibited alongside my two other embroidered books, I will be exploring other avenues. I particularly want to return to working collaboratively and creating participatory experiences, and - gasp - to using other mediums in addition to embroidery.
 
I suppose my recent diaristic scribbles and collages are a reflection of this; I've decided that I'm going to spend some of my ill-gotten funds from TAing on art classes, and get back to drawing, partially because it's a skill that scares me a little. I've come to believe that I'm not very good at it, mostly because I've been out of practice. So I'm going to dive back in.
 
This desire/fear is reflected in the double page spread below; some of my drawings from the workshop run by Jake Spicer of Draw Brighton and Bobby Baker with Daily Life Limited are featured, as is the phrase What would you do if you weren't afraid? which I found whilst flicking through a free magazine on the train. A question we would all do well to answer and act on from time to time, I think.
 
These are accompanied by surplus photobooth snapshots (which I had to take for my new job), which complement a silly self portrait I did at the Experts by Experience workshop.
 


Foxes also feature heavily on the two pages below; but of course, they are one of my very favourite creatures, up there with mallards and the majestic narwhal.

Lots of potions, too... hopefully soon I shall be making some more...

Also on the page below is a synopsis of the glorious Our Lady of Nettles by Sylvia Linsteadt, a favourite and visionary writer. Scattered around the two pages are remnants of  the envelope in which the story wended its way to me.

 
I'm off now to check on some cookies I'm baking for the Eid party at school tomorrow; until next time,
 
Kate Elisabeth x
 

Helenium: tears

The sixth and latest page of Milk Thistle is one of my favourites, possibly because it is about crying, which one could argue is my very favourite theme (see here, here, and also here).

I stitched some stanzas of Keats's Ode on Melancholy on to a handkerchief (aptly), and based the illustration to accompany the lines on this illustration from a book that I snagged from my Mum's work:



But more on that later.

The reason why tears feature prominently on this page is because it is based around a Kensitas Flowers card featuring Helenium, a flower which, in Greek mythology, grew where Helen wept.

Consequently, the text I have written and stitched for the page reads

Nobody brought me a bedside bouquet,

but everywhere I wept, flowers sprung,

until I watered a meadow




To accompany the Kensitas Flower, I stitched the following line from Keats's On Melancholy on to my handkerchief:

But when the melancholy fit shall fall

Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,

That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,

And hides the green hill in an April shroud

as I felt they were appropriate. The eye illustration that accompanies the text is the "weeping cloud" of the poem.























There are only two more pages to go now, and then I can (finally) stitch the whole thing together. It's been a long commitment but I think it will pay off.

Weeping Gold


Tonight I am putting the finishing touches to my goldwork weeping eye (mounting it so it's ready for assessment). I envision this as part of a duo; its sister goldwork will be a kid leather trophy which proclaims "You didn't cry", an idea I've employed once or twice before!


For the most part I'm happy with it, and I've really taken to goldwork; I suppose I wouldn't be planning the next one otherwise! I must be a magpie...



Golden Tears



I apologise if I've just got this naff-ly catchy little number stuck in your head; it's been in mine all day. That's because I've made a start on my goldwork module at the Royal School of Needlework. I've chosen quite a striking image for my design; an art-nouveau inspired eye with a single tear drop. One of my tutors today also thought it had quite a Sixties vibe.





I've started couching down some Japanese thread on to the upper eyelid in a brick pattern; it's very satisfying getting a smooth curve with no gaps. Hopefully I'll have that all finished by the end of the day tomorrow.

I'm really happy with the colour of silk I've used for the background fabric; in fact, it seems a very happy colour, despite the mournful subject matter! That must be why I'm enjoying the stitching so much.

You Didn't Cry


Do you remember my Treasures For Your Troubles project from May last year? Well the ideas that inspired it have been bubbling away in my mind, and I've created a lino cut version of this embroidery, to remind everyone (myself included) to reward ourselves for the little things. It's also a bit of a self-deprecating in-joke, like a lot of my art.

I hadn't given lino a go since I was twelve, when I famously managed to cut away the parts that were meant to be printed rather the reverse. So you could say my expectations were fairly low, but I'm still pleasantly surprised by the results!

If anyone is interested, there will be six lino prints on calico going up in my Etsy shop, which I'm planning on opening next Saturday (drum roll!) Who knows, perhaps by then I'll have cut and printed the next design!

Rolling with the homies




Trophy Tears

When I was growing up, if I was being particularly whiney, my mum would occasionally say "I'm playing the world's smallest violin for you".

For this latest instalment of Treasures For Your Troubles, I wanted to create the world's smallest trophy, awarded for achieving precisely the opposite; for navigating the treacherous waters of life without breaking down into floods of tears (or is that mixing the water metaphors a little too much?)

For the embroidery's background, I dyed an antique linen handkerchief with onion skin, similarly to The Onion Cutters' Club.






This idea was actually suggested to me by Pip, who thought I should get the phrase engraved on to a real trophy (maybe one day, Pip). It's also a bit of a self-deprecating in-joke with myself; some days I really do feel it's a grand achievement that I've gotten through the day without bursting into tears. And now I have the world's smallest trophy and dozens of gold stars as reward!

Quite some time ago, appliquéd some felt tear drops on to spangly sparkly gold lurex material. It's a happy coincidence that this piece ties in with the colour scheme of Treasures For Your Troubles. If the project was ever exhibited, I would like to display the tears alongside the more recent works. I'm enjoying the way the naivety of these two pieces work together.


No rest for the wicked; I've got a number of summer exhibitions to submit to and/or create work for. First up, a bee crying (what else) honey over some melancholyflowers. My name is Kate Elisabeth Rolison, and I make art about crying!


The Onion Cutters' Club

As promised, here are the first two pieces from my new project, The Onion Cutters' Club. As you may guess, this project is all about weeping; sad (or funny) stories of crying. The title is a reference to The Onion Cellar, a chapter from The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (a play based on the chapter, also named The Onion Cellar, was written by Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls.)

The first embroidery is a title piece for this project; an illustration of a pair of bloodshot eyes crying over an onion accompanied by the project's title.








The first (true) story I have illustrated is a very sad, yet also rather humorous one.







The text reads "I was wandering, distraught, melancholy and alone, through the city at night. A HUGE moth ambled across the street... when a bus flattened it. I burst into tears."