Museum of British Folklore

Folklore is a vibrant element of ‘Britishness’ and a living cultural heritage; these beliefs, customs and expressions link the past to the present and help us understand our specific communities and cultures, as well as our shared humanity. Far from being static or an ageing genre, it remains relevant by adapting to new circumstances, with the ‘Folk’ (people), and the ‘lore’ (stories) continually informing and influencing each other.

Programming Continuous Rotation Servos with Arduino

Programming Continuous Rotation Servos with Arduino

Having completed the stitched elements of my latest piece of work I’ve now moved on to constructing the mechanics that will support this embroidered pieces. This has involved learning how to programme continuous rotation servos with Arduino.

I’ve dabbled with Arduino in the past for fun so have a very basic grasp of the programming language required. However, my aim is to power four continuous rotation servo motors from the Arduino sweeping through 120 degrees in either direction at random which a little more complicated than anything I’ve done in the past.

A normal servo motor would be able to sweep through 180 degrees, or parts thereof, and whilst I might be able to increase it’s sweep using a system of gears it will always, at some point have to move back again. The continuous rotation servos allow me to programme them in such a way that they could move clockwise or ant-clockwise completely at random.

//positioning a continuous rotation servo
//using a delay to poistion the motor
#include <Servo.h>
Servo myServo;
void setup() { 
  myServo.writeMicroseconds(1500);  // Stop 

void loop() { 
myServo.write(1526); //C-Clockwise
myServo.write(1500); //Stop

Unlike a standard servo the continuous rotation servos can’t be positioned to 120 degrees and so I have had to use a delay as a timer to position the motors each time they are activated. The code above is an a example of how I have been positioning the motors at 120 degree intervals.

It’s not as straight forward as positioning a standard servo but with some patience and lots of trial and error I’ve just about worked out the appropriate delay to continually position the motors at 120 degree intervals now. This is then combined with the ‘random’ function and a series of ‘if/else’ queries in the Arduino.

I think I’ve nearly cracked it as you can see at the end of the video above!

Cross Stitched Panels Complete

hand embroidered x-stitch panel completed
cross stitched panels created using DMC floss thread

Work in Progress: Cross Stitched Panels Complete

So after several months work, and somewhere in the region of 400 hours of stitching, I’ve finally completed all twelve panels for my latest piece of work. The panels have been sewn together, in four groups of three, to create triangular structures as pictured above.

All that’s left now is for me to complete the housing for these structures. That will be another task to keep me busy but hopefully only for a couple of weeks rather than the months I have spent working with cross stitch up until now.

Lonely Sculpture (aka Tinder Finger)

Lonely Sculpture (2014) is a sculpture by artist Tully Arnot. It’s a relatively simple idea but it’s a fantastic and humorous comment on current trends with regards to new technology, apps and online dating. A smart phone loaded with the Tinder app is placed beneath a mechanical silicone finger which repeatedly taps on the phone ‘interacting’ with other users of the app.

Kathy Halper’s Social Media Inspired Embroidery

Kathy Halper - Contemporary Hand Embroidery

Kathy Halper’s Social Media Inspired Embroidery

Kathy Halper is a textile artist based in the United States. She finds source material for embroidered artworks through the internet, more specifically though social media networks like Facebook.

The content for Kathy’s embroidered drawings is sourced from status updates and photographs post online by teenagers. By embroidering these updates she gives these statuses and photographs a permanence that contrasts with the fleeting nature of online content which is constantly being updated, surpassed, rewritten.

Embroidred Emoticons by Kathy HalperContemporary Subversive Embroidery by Kathy HalperFacebook Status Embroideries by Kathy Halper
Click to view larger

Having been creating embroidered artworks created from content sourced online for the last year or so I was instantly drawn to Kathy’s work (not to mention the reference to a unicorn in the image pictured above).

I like the simplicity of the embroidered drawings which are reduced to line drawings in many instances. In contrast I have been using cross stitch to create my own internet inspired artworks which creates an aesthetic more akin to a low resolution photograph than a drawing.

Similarly though, recreating this online material using a labour intensive physical process such as embroidery questions our experience of time and suggests that we might pause for thought and reflect on our actions before sharing our private thoughts and desires with the great big wide world.

Check out more of Kathy Halper’s work at:

My First Tapestry

Tapestry Workshop at the Fleming Collection, London

My First Tapestry

I attended a tapestry weaving workshop at the Fleming Collection in London earlier this month. It was a one day introductory workshop led by Master Weaver Caron Penney of Weftfaced.

The workshop coincided with the Fleming Collection’s exhibition, “From Fleece to Fibre“, which includes the Large Tree Group Tapestry created at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. It made for the perfect setting for the workshop; wondrous and inspiring.

Having exhibited alongside artists such as Erin Riley on a number of occasions of the last year or two, and having been looking to the unicorn tapestries as a part of my research, I’ve been keen to try tapestry for myself.

Weftfaced tapestry workshop with Caron Penney London

This was only a taster workshop so the warp was already created for us. This gave us an opportunity to get stuck straight in with the yarns to create our weft. Though technical it’s a ‘relatively’ straight forward process although perfecting it will clearly take time; you can see from the image above that my tapestry gets a little narrower towards the top due to the pressure I was exerting when pulling the yarn through the warp. There are also a number of considerations to bear in mind when building up different colours to ensure that the stitches support one another.

Images can be created by counting the numbers of stitches used in a similar way to the way in which cross stitched images can be constructed. This makes me think that there could be a genuine use for tapestry within my practice, particularly with regard to the internet inspired body of work I have been working on for the last twelve months or so.

If you’re interested in tapestry then the Weavers’ Bazaar website is a great source of both materials, tools and tutorials. There is also another introductory workshop at the Fleming Collection at the end of January 2015; check out their website for more information.

Mother Christmas Paper Cut Shadow Puppet Film

Mother Christmas Paper Cut shadow Puppet Film

I’ve been working with illustrator and puppeteer Layla Holzer this month to create another festive short film for the Pack of Wolves. ‘Mother Christmas’ is an original fairy tale written by Layla which is presented here as a shadow puppet film using handmade paper cut puppets.

Merry Christmas!!