Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Autumn completed and summer started!

I know it's not seasonal but that's just the way it is! Actually I finished this quilt a couple of weeks ago but kept forgetting to photograph it in daylight.
The raw edge appliquéd leaves are all printed using Thermofax screens and then machine quilted into place. They are not bonded as I wanted them to create a slight shadow on the surface of the quilt.
It took me quite a time to achieve the effect I wanted but I think I got there in the end!
I have now begun work on my final piece of this seasonal quartet which is inspired by photographs of wisteria taken at Wightwick Manor last July.
I really like these trailing pale purple blooms and I am enjoying experimenting with different ways to translate them into fabric. I think there may be more than one piece of work that comes from this summery starting point.

I am quite happy with how this is looking. The background is a white rectangle of fabric with a curved strip of green fabric inserted into it. The 'blossoms' are cut from a hand dyed fabric and bonded into place.
This time I cut a rectangle of black fabric and gave it the same treatment but changing the curve slightly and the positioning of the 'blossoms'. I am considering six of these black and white backgrounds which reflect the mock Tudor facade of this Victorian manor house.

A friend was recently asked if she could finish a quilt for someone whose sight was failing and she brought it along to a meeting last week. The quilt top is almost complete so we set about removing the many hundreds of papers which were fascinating in their own right. Old letters, some hand written, some typed, programmes from theatrical productions, accounts, magazine pages etc. These papers were carefully collected as they tell such an interesting story about the maker.
The reverse of this quilt top looks as good as the front. It was an interesting design of units made from two pairs of octagons using two different fabrics with small squares linking them together.
I think I might be sorting out some suitable papers and cutting them up in readiness for a new ongoing project.....
I wonder how many of us have paper pieced projects tucked away somewhere!
Thanks for reading.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring quilt finished

You almost feel guilty spending time in the house when the sun is shining, as it has done here for the last few days, but I found time to finish Catkins and Pussy Willows last week.
I was pleased with the way the staggered binding worked using a mixture of some of the fabrics used in the panels.
As you can see in this detail, there is quite a lot of hand quilting and stitch embellishment to highlight the texture of the plants. It was quite a challenge to leave some background areas un-quilted but I like the contrast of the surfaces.
Now I must complete the autumn quilt, which seems rather untimely but it has been pinned on my design wall for several months and I have finally decided what is needed to finish it. I know that if I leave a piece of work it is usually because I'm not happy with it and I have to wait for that 'eureka' moment which usually happens at 3 in the morning!
Apologies for the quality of the photograph, but hopefully you can see how this is developing. When I am totally happy with the arrangement of the leaves then they will be machine appliquéd in place.
We took advantage of the sunshine on Sunday and went for a stroll around the grounds of nearby Witley Court, a 19th century mansion which was devastated by fire over seventy five years ago. The extensive grounds are gradually being restored to their former glory with the added attractions of an adventure playground (for the grandchildren) and a tea room (for us!).

This amazing stone fountain of Andromeda and Perseus is still being restored and is famous for shooting jets of water 100 foot into the air whilst sounding like an express train!
Many areas of the building have restricted access because of the danger of falling masonry but it still offers many little gems such as this beautiful stone carving.
I'm looking forward to visiting again in a couple of months when the rhododendrons are in flower.
Hope you managed to enjoy some spring sunshine too.

Thank you for reading,


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Blues, browns and rust

Last weekend I spent a lovely three days teaching a group of students at a Nottingham based Area Day for The Quilters' Guild. They opted to take my Sand, Sea, Stitch workshop and appeared to thoroughly enjoy dyeing lots of different fabrics in an indigo vat and large pots of potassium permanganate.
Here a partially dipped fabric changes from the vivid magenta colour of the potassium permanganate solution to a spicy brown. Cotton fabrics will fade to a soft, warm brown once they are washed and dried where as dipped silk remains a beautiful espresso brown.
You will be relieved to know that neither of these pans are used in food preparation!
This is the result of a fabric which had first been dipped in potassium permanganate and then tightly  wrapped around a pole before being partially immersed in the indigo vat.
This is a concertina folded fabric which had been wrapped tightly with a thick thread to create this lovely resist.
Hilary liked the idea of dunking her little sketchbook first into the potassium permanganate and then into the indigo. I really like the resulting framed pages.
Everyone enjoyed the dyeing process so much that Liz was the only person to actually produce a stitched piece with her fabrics and what a great result.
There were also some lovely rusted fabrics produced with the aid of vinegar and tea. Its always fun to see what rusty items appear for this activity. This chunky chain worked very well.
As did this key.
I'm sure there will be some exciting pieces of work produced with the bags full of fabric that were dyed on the course. I think my samples are still sitting in the garage waiting to be rinsed!
There hasn't been much time for stitching this week so far but I will hopefully do some catching up tomorrow and will post what I have been up to soon.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Catkins and pussy willows progress

It's been a busy week with progress made on several pieces of work for summer deadlines. Having spent quite a while considering different possibilities for my printed and drawn catkins and pussy willows I eventually decided on this layout.

I discharged one or two pussy willow branches using my Thermofax screen and then roughly cut them out. At present they are pinned to the pieced background and the intention is to apply them, raw edged, by hand.

I have machine quilted some of the background but would like to quilt most of the detail by hand. We shall see!
I have also produced another large breakdown printed cloth using my house numbers.

This section of the cloth is regularly printed with repeat images using two different screens.

Then I randomly printed the remaining cloth using the same screens. I have completed one quilt using a similar printed cloth that I have blogged about previously but this is under wraps at present. It's now back to the drawing board as I need to develop this new cloth in a slightly different way but still using these numbers which refer to the house numbers of the houses I have lived in.
It has been a beautiful day here in Worcestershire so we had to take advantage of the sunshine. We visited our local National Trust house, Hanbury Hall and of course, took lots of photographs. There are many very old trees in the parkland and many of them have been felled which provided wonderful photographic opportunities.

I think these look like landscapes!

What a wonderful horizon!

A quarry maybe?
I hope you have managed to enjoy some late winter sunshine today.
Thank you for reading, speak soon.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Catkins and pussy willows

It's amazing how much fun can be had with a piece of corrugated cardboard and a credit card ( and not spend any money!). It turns out that the cut edge of corrugated card can be manipulated to produce an excellent representation of a catkin and if it is curled, a fluffy pussy willow.

The same marks on soda soaked fabric with thickened dye works just as well.

I have coloured the background by scraping thickened dye over the printed catkins and added a few extra marks with the edge of the card.
I now have a collection of printed fabrics with similar images so I think cutting them up is he next stage.  I will let you know what I decide.
The gelli plate printed papers have now been cut up and there are lots of lovely books being constructed by my students.

These are a few of Barbara's signatures. I love the colour scheme here.

Jill used stencils that she had prepared to mask areas as she printed.

Jo chose a circular format for her book to complement her theme based on the solar system.

Linda created this lovely paper using her round gelli plate. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.
Last weekend I spent an indulgent weekend in London with my school friend Ann. We visited The Barbican to see the Pop Art Design exhibition; what a bold, experimental period that was. I hadn't visited The Barbican before and thought the gallery space was excellent as was lunch in the Foodhall - to be recommended! We later went to the Gielgud theatre to see a fantastic production of Strangers on a Train and the following day breakfasted at Delaunays in the Aldwych - delicious! Back on the 5:2 diet this week!!

Thank you for visiting,

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Making progress

It's been a busy week but I have made progress with my quilts for the summer exhibitions. It was also the first workshop of my six month course, Inspired by Art at The Bramble Patch. Once again, it is a great group of students who are enthusiastic about exploring lots of different ways to develop original designs which will lead to new and exciting textile pieces. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos but I will put that right next month!
Here is an update on the quilting of 'Six Houses'.

The top section is quilted with a diagonal grid which contrasts quite nicely with the vertical quilting in the lower section.

The house numbers are going through many different arrangements until I decide finally how I will attach them to the background.
I have also made progress with another piece. I started with a set of house templates and a selection of fabrics and cut out a town!

This is how it is looking now.

I am continuing with my theme of house numbers so the next stage is to experiment with the addition of numbers, or should I say more numbers, to these houses.
On a short muddy walk alongside the canal last weekend I photographed some wonderful grasses which sparkled in the sunshine. I love wintery days like this when the sky is blue and sun is very low. Today we were caught in a thunderstorm with hailstones, such a contrast!

What wonderful inspiration for linear designs!

Thank you for reading,


Thursday, 16 January 2014

New term

It was good to get back to teaching my regular courses this week and catching up with my students. We started the term by experimenting with homemade gelli plates using lots of different items to create textural marks before printing off onto paper.
The recipe for the gelli plate was one that Ineke Berlyn used in her course last term. It is simple to make and uses 6 sachets of gelatine (powdered not veggie or sheets) dissolved in 340 mls of cold water and 340 mls of glycerine which is available from chemists. Stir to dissolve the gelatine crystals and then heat in microwave for a few minutes. Pour into a flat container lined with cling film and leave to set. If the gelli plate is kept in a cold place it will keep for several weeks. I first made one before Christmas and left it in the garage and it is still working fine. If it should break up then place it in a jug and reheat it then pour it back into a container to set.
My first gelli plate is a rectangular shape and the second one is round which I really rather like. Here are some images of the round prints using commercial stencils for the patterning.

Annette also used a round gelli plate for her colourful prints.

Ann used mahonia leaves on her gelli plate plus other interesting textures.

Sue printed directly from her gelli plate which had some interesting textures without adding anything else.

All of these pages have been printed on both sides as the next stage is to cut them up to make books as Sheila has done here.

It will be interesting to see how these pages develop over the next few weeks. I think there should be some lovely little books produced.

I have completed my Winter wallhanging. This has been fun to quilt and I am very happy with the combination of indigo and rusted fabric. I seem to have a backlog of quilts waiting to be quilted so back to the sewing machine over the next few days.

Thanks for visiting, speak to you soon,