Autumn at the Cabin featured artist Patricia Fernandes

Featuring around 300 pieces this years Oldham Open is one of our most popular to date. This years entries range from intricate hand crafted wooden jewellery to paintings, sculpture and large scale models. The remarkable array of mediums, techniques and styles used demonstrates the talents and skills of local artists and craftspeople from the Borough of Oldham.

To celebrate the opening of the Oldham Open we will be featuring a number of our exhibiting artists as guest bloggers, telling us a little about themselves and their work.

The next fantastic artist to feature as a guest blogger is…

Name: Patricia Ann Fernandes

Please give a brief introduction about yourself and your work
My name is Patricia Ann Fernandes and live with my husband and our beloved cat, Benson, who is a rescued chocolate colourpoint Persian.  I have lived in Royton/Shaw nearly all my married life.

My interest in all craft orientated objects stems from my childhood, dabbling in a wide variety of things from making jewellery to knitting.   I also teach an embroidery called Hardanger, which is a Norwegian type of embroidery but not done with bobbins.

I am riddled with arthritis and have scoliosis.  This has led to my back becoming deformed.  I have to rest a lot and my hobbies keep me alert and extremely happy.

My fingers are now gnarled out of shape with the disease and I keep doing the things I love to try to keep them supple and moveable.

Can you tell me about the work you submitted? What was the inspiration for the piece? Is this your usual style? What techniques and materials have you used and why?
Autumn at the Cabin – which is a textile wall hanging.  I have won a Judge’s Merit at the Great Show Ground, the annual patchwork exhibition at Harrogate.  This piece derives its name from the pattern of squares both on the black background and also on the brown/tan fore piece.  They are joined in such a way to make the piece look interesting and to bring the viewer into the piece itself, thereby promoting a dialogue between viewers.  On the black background (the block is called Block Cabin), it is finished with a technique call “vermicelli”.  This is done by means of dropping the feed dogs on a sewing machine and putting a darning foot on an “swirling” the piece a controlled fashion.  The flowers have been made with a folding technique and sewing into the seam of the blocks when sewn together.  The stamen of the flower has been embroidered finished off with a bead.  Many of the different parts of the top piece are finished off in the same manner but either using a different pattern to vermicelli, or the same only much more smaller.  The pieces are joined together with wadding in between, just as one would do if making a quilt.  Both the top and bottom sections have been finished with glass beads hand sewn after the binding has been made and attached.  This piece took almost eight months from conception to completion, with no breaks except to sleep!!!

The fabrics are from a group of fabrics called batiks, which originally came from islands such as Bali and Indonesia.  They are 100% cotton, which is by far and  wide the best medium to use.  It versatile, can be strong and long lasting and long wearing, (if making a bed quilt for example).  I wanted to have a slight deviation from making quilts an wanted to explore the world of embellishment, which is limited if one is sleeping under a quilt.  I was extremely pleased with the outcome and now hangs with pride of place in my hall.

The second piece is Goldwork embroidery, which although called goldwork, the metal threads can be a number of colours and there are many metal threads within this range, the threads are so delightful and tactile to work with and these alone can be an inspiration to produce even a small sampler.  The background fabric is silk which is stretched over a plain muslin cloth to a frame and pinned for the duration of the work time.  The pattern of the bird is traced onto tracing paper and then sewn through the silk and muslin so that when the tracing paper is removed, an outline of the bird in this case, can be used as a template. The metal thread has a hole running through it and it is into this that an extremely fine and long needle is used to sew the metal to the silk.  The thread used to do this is a very fine nylon thread to which a beeswax is constantly run over to ensure smooth sewing and also to preserve the thread so as not to rot it against the metal.  The bird itself took countless number of skeins of metal threads as its body is padded with carpet underlay onto which a small amount of wadding is covered to ensure a smooth top.  This is stitched over so it stays secure whilst sewing.  The metal threads are cut into small pieces using special scissors to cut precisely the size wanted so as not to leave a black line on the metal thread.  This does take time and this particular piece too me 18 months to make.  Although time consuming, it is indeed a labour of love, each thread laid inspires one to lay the next and the ……… ad finitum.

Are there any other creative mediums you would love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would love to pursue the medium of paint, watercolours in particular.  I am not an artist in the sense I can draw however, so I think I would have to have many lessons!

What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?
Being creative means to me being able to put ones thoughts onto whatever medium one chooses to use and being happy that one has done the best of ones abilities.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?
At the moment I am making patchwork runners for my three piece suite out of small bits of fabric that have been left over from other projects.  I have to have these on my furniture as both my husband and myself share the seats with our long haired cat!  I am also knitting, just as a fun bit.  I have many quilts made that are in the cupboard unloved and I would just love to be able to share them (or sell if interested).

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you couldn’t make your work without?
My most important tool is my sewing machine without which I could not make a quilt, wallhanging or indeed anything.  This tool has countless uses, not just sewing a straight line, but embroidery, free motion darning, which is used to make beautiful patterns to sew together the quilt.

When you’re not busy creating what do you like doing in your spare time? Any other hobbies or interests?
When relaxing I like to read, knit or cuddle my adorable cat (and watch a bit of telly) or keep my brain ticking over by solving crossword puzzles.

Which other artists do you admire or inspire your work? (famous or not!)
I am inspired by my peers, better or less better than myself, for each and every one of us has something to give.  A tip given, advice or even teaching. When teaching Hardanger (a Norwegian type of lace done with a needle and thread instead of using bobbins), I am inspired when a pupil falls in love with it.  I had one student many years ago, an older lady who learned very fast but still came for advice if she made a mistake.  This lady unfortunately broke her leg and of course could not use a sewing machine.  She told me, “Thank goodness for Hardanger for I could sit and sew and it saved my sanity”.  That to me is an inspiration.  I am also inspired by winning rosettes at a prestigious show in Harrogate, Yorkshire, which accept entries from all over the world. Wow, I have to carry on!

What would people be surprised to find out about you?
The thing most people would indeed be surprised by and is a little spooky is that the infamous Myra Hindley one half of the Moors Murders, used to take myself and her sister Maureen to the park.  Thank goodness I am still here!!

Many artists feel they could work on their pieces for ever more. How do you know when a work is finished?
I just have a feeling that a piece is finished, I scrutinise it to make sure I haven’t made any glaring mistakes and then stop.  I hate overkill.

And lastly, do you have any inspiring tips or words to share with everyone?
I would say to anyone who maybe looking at the exhibition thinks I would love to be able to do this or I love that piece and I won’t be able to do it – have a go.  Sit down and think what you are interested in, can I find a beginners class or, if you can sew, think what you fancy doing and read some books, there are many out there to help beginners and experienced artists alike.  You never know unless you try.  We all have a talent, it’s up to us to find from within ourselves what that talent is. Utilise your thoughts and convert them through your chosen medium.  You will succeed in the end.

The Oldham Open is on until 18 November, be sure to visit to see Patricia’s work and all of the other submitting artists and makers.