Mixed Media Crochet Art

Argh, I can't believe I forgot to take my camera to the crochet workshops I ran at Laldie Haans... And the work produced was so good too! Thinking back to when I first started trying to learn to crochet, the things I made were terrible - huge clumps of nothingness that ended up in the bin (they were such a mess that it wasn't worth keeping them even to look back on to document my progress). It wasn't just me that was surprised with how quickly the students took to crocheting in the round - the students themselves were shocked at how much they managed to get done in three hours. One selkie was completely finished and the rest were well on their way to completion. In the afternoon, I had a lefty looking to learn the basics of crochet. It was a learning curve for both of us; I'd heard that crocheting with the left hand is challenging and couldn't be learned by simply flipping a technique, but I assumed it would be as simple as just holding the hook in your left hand and yarn in the right, and moving your hand the same way you would as a righty. Now that I've experienced the difficulty of trying to crochet using your non-dominate hand, I'm determined to sit down and "figure out" exactly how to crochet left-handed so I can enhance the content of future workshops.

So what else have I been up to recently, other than the workshops? Well, I've just finished a mixed-media painting:

I did the freeform poppy quite a while ago, but didn't really know what I wanted to do with it besides incorporate it in a painting of some sort. Recently, the Weeping Window installation has been opened, and being just along the street from me, it's a poignant source of daily inspiration. Made from a number of the ceramic poppies that formed the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London, the Weeping Window has been erected to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. Having such an influential and emotive piece of art on Orkney (and my doorstep) was just the inspiration I'd been seeking, so I cracked out the paints and this is what I came up with.

The canvas is 4" square so there wasn't a lot of room to work with. However, "detail" was not something I wanted to aim for in the application of the paint. The poppy was constructed using a variety of crochet stitches (bullion, surface, increase and decrease to name a few); the intention is to hide the detail of the crochet in an overall image, where you need to stand close to the piece to see what's going on. I didn't want the crochet to look "stuck on" either - it was important to make both the paint and the crochet look like a single image, and not two separate features that jar against one another. It meant applying the paint as thick as possible, even straight onto the canvas from the tube in some places, and then manipulating it in place.

I'm quite happy with the overall effect of the paint and crochet. I have a couple of other freeform pieces ready to be painted onto larger canvas - playing about with placement and scale is an ongoing experiment, and finding new ways to use crochet in art is something I'm excited to be trying.