Thursday, 13 May 2010


Back in 1988 my father commissioned a picture, which I have always loved. It's a sea battle - the action between the "Java and Constitution" one of the famous battles from the War of 1812. Constitution won - she's in Boston harbour to this day. (painted by D MacLeod, of St Ives, Cornwall)

I can spend hours staring at the picture (my photo does not do it justice, it isn't a light shining on it in the middle that's the cannon fire!) - the sea has so much movement and there are different nuances depending on the time of day or the light around it. I have always preferred pictures that are almost a photograph, I can't deal with distortions or "fuzziness". That doesn't mean I can't appreciate a skill or talent - it's just not what I want to look at on my wall. Oh and yes that is Tigger you can see under the picture - he's a phone - if you look around the rest of the lounge you may see one or two more

Back in the early '90's I joined a renenactment group and decided that my "character" would be a 17th Century embroideress, so I enrolled at the local college to do the City and Guilds in Embroidery. Well so I thought; I had to do "Art and Design" as the full title tells you (I somehow missed that when I enrolled!) After nearly walking out there and then because I am not artistic (I was told at the age of 14 that I MUST drop art as I was useless at it and I took that to heart as you do at that age!) the lecturer persuaded me that it was worth persevering for a few weeks and I have to say that she was FANTASTIC in her encouragement and enthusiasm, (her name was Gail Jones, she was a weaver and ultimately a miliner with her mother, but where she is now I have no idea!) so continue I did and even completed the course and came out with the full qualification, a knowledge of how to produce design boards and how to turn a design or small picture into a textile that I actually like! (How else could I have made the flags last year?!) In case you're interested here's one of my pieces:

The reason I am rambling about all this is, on the course I met a lady called Helen Melvin who is incredibly artistic. We became good friends, amongst the various finished pieces we had to produce for the course Helen made a felted picture - a Waterfall (I'm not sure if it was her first picture, but I'm pretty sure it was her first Waterfall), I fell in love with it and used to sit and gaze at it on the wall at her house, but could never afford to buy it (I didn't really think she wanted to sell, but eventually a member of her family managed to prise it off her wall!) When I knew I was moving away I asked Helen to create another Waterfall - for me, my very own commission! Personally I think they are a speciality, she produced Waterfall 3 which has now moved over to France. (Helen talks about the picture on her blog here ) It's not reached my wall yet, it has pride of place on the settee in the lounge where I can admire it anytime I want to, I'm trying to work out where the best place is to get the full benefit!

Thanks Helen - I love it!


FeltersJourney said...

Hi Debbie :o) What wonderfull pieces of art you have (lucky thing - Im jealous) Your own piece is gorgeous! It looks very 3D... is it embroidered? And Im also a massive fan of Helens Waterfalls... she captures the movement & spirit of the water so beautifully.
p.s. high school teachers can have a lot to answer for cant they?!

Debbie said...

Thanks for the compliments - yes it is embroidered and very squidgy 3D - we had to do manipulative techniques and quilting/smocking/pleasting, so it's a combination of alsorts. The background and column are tea dyed cotton muslin, the tops are cotton - silk painted (the shiny bit is gutta). It always reminded me of a tele advert for soft mints with the white squidgy man lolloping along!
I sometimes think it would be fun to do another piece in the same manner, to see what I can produce now!

Florcita said...

that is one fantastic waterfall!
I love that painting too... looks very real.
I trust you are recovered from the dentist :)