Introducing... Maureen Livesey

Well where do I start, at the beginning I hear you say. I was born in Huddersfield West Yorkshire amongst, in those days, the numerous textile mills. My father owned a commission mending room employing four menders, they would sit and weave their needles in and out of the fabric, replacing the broken warps and wefts in the pieces. I would sit chatting to them and eating their sweets whilst my father would unload the van of pieces and then loading it with the mended pieces ready to return to the mill for the finishing process.

It was about the time that I went to junior school that my mother bought a Singer hand sewing machine. I was fascinated by the needle moving up and down and stitching the fabrics together. I went to the local market and bought a six penny bag of fabric scraps and made clothes for my dolls. As I got older I would make clothes for myself.

I always loved drawing, copying birds from an encyclopaedia, my aunt taught me how to use oil paints, but I preferred watercolour. When I left school I wanted to go to study art, but was told I had to get a proper job. I went to college in Bradford where I took a Merchants Special Course in Textiles, where I studied textile processes from start to finish. I enjoyed Microscopy and the sciences within the industry and found work for a company spinning woollen yarns in their quality control laboratory. After I married I worked for Bondina, testing non woven fabrics, ( Bondina was taken over by Fraudenburg who still provide us with non woven fabrics like interlinings and bondaweb, among many others.

My love of textiles didn't wain and after marriage and three children, for whom I made cloths and fancy dress items. When I retired and the family had flown the nest, I did a City and Guilds course in Art for Design and Embroidery at Huddersfield College, followed by an Access Diploma in Art and Design, and a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

I am inspired mostly by natural items, especially water, the seascapes and beaches of North Norfolk, the rugged sea shores of the Scottish western isles. Seed pods in the hedgerows and gardens. Majestic trees with their twisted and arching branches. Architecture - the old buildings in wonderful places like Italy and the wonderful old cathedrals and churches .

I love the experimental side of textile art, the what ifs, and I wonder what would happen if. My house is full of different mediums, paints, dyes, fabrics and threads. I do tend to prefer free machine embroidery, working into soluble fabric for the finer work or dying fabric ,painting it with a fine layer of plaster and then free machine embroidery into it and then to finish with walnut ink. I just love to get messy, and loose a few hours sat painting and sewing.

PARTERRE , a 17th Century Garden, dyed calico with layered organza machine free embroidered then the organza was cut back to the calico and picked out with French knots.

RUNNING WATER, Coloured wet felt with hand dyed silk, refelted in the shibori method, then hand embroidered and beaded.

A Doodle. This piece was drawn on paper, cut into tiles and scanned onto the computer. Each tile was then printed onto calico, either hand or free machine embroidered, each piece was mounted onto card and fixed to a calico base.

SKY, SEA AND SANDS. A piece of calico used as a base with appropriate coloured fabrics sewn on with hand and machine embroidery, and embellished with beads.

HARDRAW FORCE STRATA. This is a dry felted process done with the embellishing machine, the base fabric is a part of an old cardigan with coloured Marino wool felted on to it. The cracks in the rock are sewn with black machine thread by hand. The small green threads are twisted to represent plants growing from the rocks.

CASKET. The decoration on the surface is inspired by The Life Of An Oak Tree. The main structure is thick card covered with pelmet vilene , the blue is painted bondaweb adhered to the pelmet vilene and secured by wavy lines of machine stitch. Walnut ink has been used to colour the tree made from pelmet vilene, then bondaweb used to apply it to the casket again it is machine sewn to secure it to the casket. Guilded fabric has been cut into oak leaf shapes then machine sewn in place. The small acorns are a kind of 3D button hole stitch. There are three trays inside which now contain my MetalicThreads.

ST PAULS CATHEDRAL. Inspired by Wrens plan ( permission granted by British Museum ). 40 x 20 inches. Base fabric is dyed calico and watered down plaster, the design was fed into the computer and enlarged onto 8 sheets of a4 paper, these were taped together and the design transferred to Stitch and Tear, placed onto the back of the calico and machine sewn using white machine thread. Walnut ink has been painted onto the stitch and tear at the back of the design, the walnut ink has transferred through the white thread onto the front of the piece.

The brief was an ENGLISH COUNTRY GARDEN. I was inspired by a Vidio that I had seen on the web, with tiny flowers and beads on a miniature dress. The base is an old lamp base made into a manikin with calico. The dress is made from green lining fabric and tuelle, the flowers are embroidered with white silk ribbon and coloured with alcohol ink pens.

PIECE HALL STEPS. Photograph I took of the steps, was placed onto the computer and manipulate then printed onto fabric, wadding is placed between the top layer and bottom layer of fabric then quilted with free machine stitch.

The same method was used for this tree as the St Pauls piece. A picture was manipulated on the computer, enlarged and transferred to stitch and tear. The image was placed onto the back of calico , free machine embroidered from the back. Acrylic paint was used on the front to achieve the various shades of black and greys.

Thank you, Maureen.

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