Memphis Sphinx Treadle

Delighted to announce that I have been successful with my applications for funding for the development of my Memphis Sphinx Treadle Sewing Machine project that I began to explore earlier in the year. Huge thanks to Arts Council England and Coventry City Council for their support and to the individual officers who listened and encouraged me to apply. The project’s timeline is from late October through to March 2015 and I am currently engaging various creative partners who will assist me in the projects development and will announce these fantastic people soon. I will be posting on here my discoveries about linking up the treadle sewing machine with interactive technology and creating a new live craft performance piece but in the meantime I would be very grateful if readers to this blog could share the following information with as many people as possible: *** I am working with a 1919 Singer Treadle Sewing Machine – called a Memphis Sphinx due to the decal designs on the machine of a Sphinx. I am looking for stories remembered from people’s families/childhood/work etc of using a treadle machine – and as I have already found with my own family, the machines were used for a lot of things as well as domestic sewing eg: my uncle would use the treadle area beneath as goal mouth practice! I’m interested in hearing the description of noise it made, the rhythm and feel too – in fact anything connected with the treadle machine. I can be contacted mail@juliaoconnell.co.uk – thank you for your time. *** Finally I would like to thank Dom and Ash from...

Talks & workshop & a drop-in too at the War Memorial park, Coventry!

***** Artist Talk Julia O’Connell is an artist from Coventry whose work is based around textile processes, memory and story. She has recently been appointed artist in residence at the War Memorial Park Coventry and she will be giving a talk about her work on Friday 29th August at 11.00am ‐ 12.30pm in the Visitor’s Centre at the park. The talk is FREE, please contact the reception on 024 76786280 to book a place. For more information about Julia’s work please view her website: www.juliaoconnell.co.uk Park and Stitch Julia will be having a ‘stitch-in’ on Friday 26th September. This is a free event where you can pop along to have an informal chat about craft and making, and also stitch along with Julia at the same time! Please bring any ongoing sewing or craft projects (including knit or crochet) and set aside time for yourself to spend with other makers, sharing skills and stories. If you would like to attend but are a new maker, Julia will have some work to share and do! It would be lovely to see you. This is a free activity for adults and takes place at The Visitor Centre in The Education Room – 10.00am until 12.00pm. Textile Workshop As part of Julia’s residency she will be creating memory quilts about stories from the park. On Thursday 30th October, Julia will be holding a patchwork workshop. The workshop is suitable for ages 10 and upward and is an ideal opportunity for everyone to learn a new skill, have fun and be together. Workshop takes place at The Visitor Centre in The Education Room...

Nearly there

This vid I know is awful but I’m trying to show you all that I did it…I linked up the FSR to the treadle and now can treadle and once the coding gets to a certain number it then triggers an action that means a bit of memory text or imagery will be projected onto a screen…the big thing is that its doing what I envisaged from the start and to ‘reveal’ a memory you have to really labour to get it…ie: by physically working the treadle lots with your feet. I have not shown the projected text bit yet or imagery as I’d like to show that end bit on Friday at the Random Strings symposium but will post soon after with a longer explanation. SO EXCITED RIGHT...

Treadling

Today I’ve focused on trying to get the treadle on my machine working properly…I was worried about any broken parts after the machine has been left for some time but as I inspected each area I soon realised just how amazingly robust these are. I suppose with the action of physical motion being the only way to create a line of sewing the machine had to be pretty durable. I have used a ton of WD40 on anything that looked like it needed it and I carefully waxed polished the wooden table area as the wood has been badly damaged by sun and water…its not perfect but its like I’ve fed it to nurture it back to health a little. I dug around and under the machine I located the bobbin case and there was still a bobbin of white/rusty cotton inside the bobbin holder. Its poignant to know that I am handling something that my Nannar had previously set up…I think she would be amazed to see me marvel in something that was a practical and much need necessity for her and her large family. I found a couple of You Tube Vids of other people making a treadle run and that was a great insight for me as I was originally trying to get the machine wheel to turn clockwise but actually you set it off anti-clockwise and then treadle…I have no instruction booklet so I love that there are people the same as me thinking it would be good to record their experience in case another person needs to know. I started to stitch without cotton...

Slowly

So I kind of hit a bit of a wall last week…it was the ‘ideas are running away with me’ wall and although I had tried to tweak and play with my Arduino board and the Isadora software Ash had been showing me I seemed to have stumbled on a glitch and couldn’t resolve it…I also realised that I couldn’t resolve it as I did not know enough about each elements to be able to use the help section as I wasn’t sure which way to look first. HOWEVER good always comes from bad as I spent my time linking to Mark Coniglio’s You Tube tutorials and watched a few set-ups and scenarios. He’s the designer of Isadora – the software I’m using. I also got myself familiar with the actual layout and tools of the ‘scenes’ (the areas that I set up my codes and rules etc on). BUT Today was a much better day! Before Ash came over I managed to link the band back on to the treadle wheel of my sewing machine and although its crusty and rusty I think I have almost got it working as I saw the needle rising up and down…the needle is still threaded from either my Nannar or Aunt’s last piece of work! Also, over the last few weeks I posted a photo of the machine on Facebook and wrote a bit about it…gradually over a few days, members of my family began to add comments and reflect on the machine…I DID NOT EXPECT THIS – it has been wonderful to read what this machine meant to them as...

Lovely Isadora & Arduino

I’ve had another coding session as part of my residency with Ludic Rooms. There is a symposium about the work and the collaboration with artists on March 7th at Warwick Arts Centre. I need to work on realising in some form some of the bits and pieces I have been playing with to demonstrate at the symposium. So today I looked at the arduino board and literally got to grips with where the wires go and their functions. Its basic electronics but for a stitcher just realising you need battery, earth and then another wire (with/for the info) is HUGE!!! I’ve also been connecting my arduino to some software called Isadora via my MacBook, this basically helps you create code for an action to be performed ie: if I hold an FSR (force sensitive resistor – a round pad with wires) and squeeze it with a certain pressure – if I squeeze hard enough til 10, then at 10 I can make a word pop up on a monitor/projector etc… for my practice I use a lot of text and this is such an exciting step forward. Ashley from Ludic Rooms was incredibly patient as he could see I was running away with lots of ideas and wanting to get to the bit at the end where I could literally see my found text in lights! Couple of things I have learnt so far….I am now NOT afraid of wires and where they go…coding takes time and there’s a lot to remember…small steps/small stitches and I will get...