About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Drawing course: week 3.

Onward! Yesterday we learned about creating volume using tonal range. First we practiced drawing our left hand again, but this time looking for volume not for line.


Six tones to include: highlight, light, reflected light, shadow, core shadow and cast shadow. I only got a few of those in the quick sketch below of a plastic orange fruit, viewed from above.


I am beginning to "get" using charcoal. I still find it really messy, but the depth of black and range of tones is amazing, and it is really fast. I had used my graphite stick for last week's exercise, and it was not nearly as effective. We learned about using fixative spray today. The archival art spray smelling like sniffing glue - eewhew, so I bought some unscented hairspray instead. Not archival, but this is for my sketchbook. Posterity will have to deal with it ;-)

Below is a charcoal sketch at home in the evening yesterday, of an apple. I think that I managed to incorporate all 6 tonal values. Lots more work needed indeed. Used charcoal pencil, which is easier on the hands but too small for a big work. Sprayed with the hairspray when done.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Drawing course - blind contour drawing

Second class. Blind contour drawing of a silhouette of our hands. Timed at 1 minute for top two drawings, 2 minutes for bottom drawings. I improved from top left to bottom right.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Barbara Frietsche Star quilt completed




Today I finished hand stitching the binding on the quilt I have been making destined for the Vancouver Hospice.
I made half square triangle blocks from a number of scrap fabrics. I started with 5" squares and combined a colourful print with either oyster white Kona cotton or a light based print to make the squares which finished at 3 3/8" when the top was pieced.
I chose the pattern Barbara Frietsche Star, that I found in the book "Q is for Quilt" by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, on page 31 under Historic Stars. This is a favourite book. 
I find star quilts so cheerful and appealing. This quilt I free motion quilted fast and simply with curves along the triangle edges. The backing is a neutral small brown print. I will machine wash and dry it before I deliver it in early October.




Sunday, September 20, 2015

Creating fabric with writing on it

Fabric with writing on it is very popular now. I have had a go at creating my own. I took text in the public domain, in this case David Copperfield. I copied it into Word, removed all the punctuation and paragraph breaks, and chose an italic font.
I bought Avery Printable Fabric for Ink Jet at Staples, and printed two sheets. The first time, I chose
T-shirt transfer as the mode, and the result is a mirror image - duh. But I will still use it. The second time I just printed and it came out just fine.
The fabric was too stark white for my taste, so I tea dyed it overnight. The fabric took up the tea colour quite intensely. I removed the damp fabric from the plastic base and ironed it dry. It has quite a crisp hand, so I will use it in a craft project rather than in a quilt.
Very successful I think! The next time I am going to pdf a sheet of my own handwriting, and make fabric from that.



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Beading, mending , knitting, folding origami butterflies . . .

My creative activities have been all over the map this past week. These are just a few of the items that I have been working on in my studio.

I added a beaded border to my cross stitched leaf. The beading glove with double stick tape is illustrated in the book Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns by Natalie Chanin.

My lovely cozy knitted slippers are wearing out on the bottom, so I added polyester fleece soles, which should extend the wear and be warm as well. Summer is over and I need slippers again.




I finished knitting a pair of socks that I began last year. Summer is just not knitting time for me, but now that cool evenings have returned, I am finishing up some pairs of socks. I think that I may use these as part of my "Tree / Forest" wearable art costume planned for October.

Folded fabric origami butterflies / moths . I used silk fabric, stiffened with spray starch per the instructions in the book shown below. These will also be incorporated in some fashion into my wearable art costume. It will be interesting!!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Drawing course at North Island College begins

Today was the first day of Fine Arts 110, the foundation drawing course for first year students at North Island College in Courtenay. The instructor is Elizabeth Russell.

It looks to be very interesting. We will be working on large pieces of paper, 23 by 35 inches and using a sketchbook of 12 by 14 or bigger. This will be quite a change for me, as I usually work quite small. So will be the use of compressed charcoal for drawing. We tried out the charcoal today - quite a revelation! It is very messy, but fast and dramatic.

The textbook is Drawing Essentials: A Guide to Drawing from Observation by Deborah Rockman. An anecdotal comment from a student in the class indicated the book to cost $170.00 at the college bookstore. I just bought what Amazon told me was the last new copy for $84.00 Canadian with guaranteed delivery this Friday, which is the day that I was going to buy it from the college bookstore. A quick check of Alibris showed used copies all over $100 US, so I think that I made a shrewd move.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Creating leaves

Leaves are a subject for my art to which I keep returning.


Images from a notebook and from a carved lino block.
Stamped patterns on Aida cloth from my original carved lino blocks.

A piece of cross stitch with #8 perle cotton.
Painting small canvases with gold acrylic prior to mounting cross stitch pieces.
Making all sorts of leaves for appliqué on my "I Am a Tree" wearable art costume.

Appliquéing the small stamped leaves to the sleeves of the cotton jersey top.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another end of summer / beginning of fall image: apples

The watercolour painting group met for the first time back in the Arts Centre after the Summer Gallery closed its last show this past week.
I plucked three apples from an apple tree growing by the back ditch and painted those.


Wearable art piece under construction

When I create a wearable art piece, it is an iterative process. Even though I make sketches and do notes, it is the inspiration that comes to me in the night or while riding my bike that moves me forward.


These two sketches helped me to think about my project, but I am not strictly using them to create my piece, in fact I am going off in different directions.
I know that I want the piece that I am making for this year's Denman Island Creative Thread Conspiracy Wearable Art Fashion Show to be about leaves. I seem to have have leaves as my central artistic motif these days, in my fabric art (Garden Fantasy Triptych) and my paper based art.

Heat setting the leaf images stamped on my green leggings.

A different shade of green and a different leaf image on the jersey top.

The leggings are cute and very comfortable.



Monday, September 7, 2015

Half square triangle quilt

I make the half square triangles squares into scrappy star blocks. Rather pretty in a random way! Here it is being pin basted prior to machine quilting.


Fabric stamping with deColourant Plus

I bought several bottles of deColourant Plus about a year ago, thinking that it was fabric paint. Which, upon use, is what it actually is. I cannot see that there is much removal of the original fabric colour, although maybe that shows up with subsequent washing. I have heard that this product works really well on hand dyed fabric, so I will try that tomorrow.

Spreading out the deColourant Plus on a palette with a brayer.

My hand carved leaf stamp.

Experimenting on some silk fabric.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Self drafted leggings

I am sewing clothes for myself these days, after a long hiatus from dressmaking, inspired by a need to have comfortable clothes that fit me, now that my 60's are taking away my waistline. I want to make clothes that I will actually wear, and that is usually leggings and tops made from knit fabrics.

I bought lots of knit fabrics from Fabricland during sales, so that I can experiment. I am finding there is so much variation in knit fabrics - what a learning curve. The patterns that I have all seem to call for 4-way stretch fabrics, while the stretch knits that I have in my stash are mostly 2-way stretch. I will have to learn to be more careful when buying knit fabrics.

However, I decided yesterday and today that I wanted to dive into sewing leggings even though the fabric that I had to work with was a stable black ponte and definitely 2-way stretch. I have a Burda 7382 leggings pattern, and when I began to work with it, I realized that it went up to size 16 and according to my measurements, I needed size 18. I made it anyway, adding to the rise front and back, and reducing the crotch seam from 5/8" to 1/4", otherwise sewing the pattern. It worked quite well, and in fact is a little loose in the calves, so a guarded success, especially as I was compromising with the fabric not being as stretchy as required.

Then I decided to be really brave, and having read about self drafted leggings on the blogosphere and Pinterest, I searched and found http://www.onelittleminuteblog.com/2013/01/drafting-and-sewing-leggings-stretch-yourself .  What a revelation, what a success!



The drafting process was easy peasy, and the pair of leggings, made from the same less than ideal ponte knit, fit like a dream, although not quite high enough in the back when I sit down, due to my generous behind.



I immediately made another pair from the self drafted pattern, this time in dark grey velour, also 2-way stretch. These ones have a really nice high waist that I find so comfortable, half way up my chest. So cozy. I am going to find some 4-way knit and I bet those will be totally awesome.


Collaborative quilt show at the Denman Island Summer Gallery

The last art show of the summer at the Denman Summer Gallery was stunning. A show of collaborative quilts by talented artists Stacey Armstrong and Barb Mortell.