Tuesday, 30 August 2011

More days out!
When I last posted I was about to teach a dyeing workshop at Littleheath Barn. It was a great day and everyone went home with bags and trays full of dyed fabrics. The problem with days like this is I rarely get to see the final results when the fabrics are washed and pressed and the fabulous colours and patterns are revealed. Hopefully there were some good results!
I had another day out on Friday with an old school friend. We went to Harvington Hall, a moated medieval and Elizabethan manor house south east of Kidderminster. It is well known for its original Elizabethan wall paintings and an amazing collection of priest-holes which were built in the 16th century when it was high treason for a Catholic priest to be in England. These priest-holes were amazingly well hidden although very small and how anyone could have existed in them for any length of time was difficult to believe but obviously a better choice than dying!
This tree was in the grounds near to the moat. I understand that it is a medlar, a fruit not often eaten these days but was popular years ago. According to my research it is better after bletting, in other words decaying and fermenting! 
To complete my week of travels, we went to the sea on Sunday. When you live in the middle of England, a trip to the seaside is always special. We went to the South Devon towns of Seaton, Beer and Sidmouth where we enjoyed a walk over the cliffs along the coastal path and, of course, a walk along the beach.
This is Seaton from the coastal path. Autumn is coming, the blackberries are ripening in the hedgerows.
The pretty town of Beer was at the other end of the coastal path. It was lovely sitting on the beach watching the boats sailing in and out of the bay. One or two people were swimming in the sea - we preferred to sit and watch!
What a great British seaside scene and what a lovely way to finish an enjoyable week of being out and about.
Well it's back to work today and a week at home catching up with my emails and preparing for a visit to Belfast at the weekend where I will be giving a talk and a teaching a workshop. I haven't been to Northern Ireland before so I'm looking forward to my trip.
As I like a challenge I have decided to quilt my summer Cut and Come Again quilt this week - I will keep you posted on my progress!
Speak to you soon

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A fun week so far
The last few days have been most enjoyable spending time with friends at home and away.
I decided to screen print some fabric for the back of my Liquorice Allsorts quilt on Sunday. It was such a lovely day that I set up a table in the garden. I had to work quickly as the sun was so hot that the screen ink was drying very quickly on my screens.
I'm amazed at how luscious the garden looks here when in fact it is more of a dust bowl as we desperately need some rain.
This is the finished fabric waiting to go on to the back of the quilt. I'm thinking that I might hand quilt this piece but not fully decided yet. I haven't hand quilted a quilt for a very long time so it could be an enjoyable winter project for those evenings in front of the TV! I don't have many of those so the project could take more than one winter!
On Monday the Midlands CQ group met up in Pershore to see Janet Bevan's exhibition and then went on to Croome Park which I blogged about earlier in the year. 
This time I went into the house which was wonderful. There is no furniture but the Robert Adam designed interior made up for that.
This is one of the many beautiful octagonal shaped ceiling decorations in the main gallery. The guide explained that at the centre of the gallery these shapes were quite indented but towards each end they flattened out so that they gave the illusion of a longer room. The floorboards also differed in width, being wider in the centre of the gallery and narrower towards the edges. How clever!
I loved this daisy/sunflower with its drooping petals that we found on a fire surround.
One of my passions is maps and this is one showing the original plans for the park which was designed by 'Capability' Brown.
Yesterday some friends came for a fun day which involved a vat of indigo dye.

 A few patches of blue grass brighten up the otherwise brown area which is supposed to be lawn!
Ruth had prepared this amazing 'sputnik' which she dyed in the vat. We will have to wait for a few weeks to see how it turns out when she reveals the resulting fabric in class.
Anne had pieced together a lot of different types of fabrics and fibres to produce this random composition. It will be interesting to see how it looks when it has been rinsed.
Today it was my friend's birthday so we had lunch out at Compton Verney and visited the Stanley Spencer exhibition which is on there until the 2nd October. I was fascinated by his interwar paintings of typical English gardens at that time, and how he incorporated man made boundaries of all kinds into his compositions. An interesting comment on the social history of that period.
Tomorrow I'm teaching a dyeing workshop at Ineke Berlyn's studio, my new home for many of my regular workshops and courses. It should be fun but I think I need sleep now!
Speak to you soon.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Quilts at Minerva
We had a lovely day out last week visiting the Summer quilt exhibition at Minerva. Although Llanidloes is only 80 miles away from where I live it takes more than two hours to get there as the roads are winding and at this time of the year there are many tractors, combine harvesters and hay trucks travelling slowly along the narrow roads. But it was definitely a worthwhile trip as we all agreed that the quilts were fabulous.
The highlight of the exhibition for me were the quilts made by the textile group Zero3. Here are a few for you to enjoy.
This beautiful, peaceful quilt by Karen Farmer was called Pathways. Many of the sections within the piece were hand painted or screen printed using leaves that she had collected to inspire the imagery.
Audrey Critchley's quilt, Wisley revisited 2, developed from many layers of techniques including dyeing, screen printing and discharging using images of flowers drawn during visits to Wisley.
Sarah Welsby uses the technique of paper lamination in very exciting ways and this piece, Church Street, Kingston, incorporates laminated images of shops enhanced by beautiful machine quilting.
Photographs of boats inspired Cindy Kearney to design these exciting pieces, Storm and Dusk. Cindy uses soy wax as a resist before painting with bleach. I love the effects she achieves.
Karen Mallik screen printed discharge paste onto dyed fabrics to create this bold imagery.
Esther Silverton used the Log Cabin block in an interesting way to showcase the intricately pieced centre sections inspired by her photographs of a swimming pool. this was one of two quilts entitled Ripples.

There were two other exhibitions displayed at Minerva which provided an interesting contrast to the work above. DeAnne Hartwell-Jones had some of her antique Welsh quilt on show alongside her own quilts inspired by her collection. There was also a fascinating exhibition of miniature quilts made by the award winning quilter, Dorian Walton. These quilts are amazing. I have no idea how anyone can stitch such perfect stitches to such a small scale!
Tulips from Amsterdam measures 17.5 x 21.5cm and was just one of the many on show.
There was lots of inspirational work at the exhibition and when you feel that your head will burst with all of the ideas buzzing around, you look down and see patterns like this in the pavement! 
Hope you have enjoyed exhibition taster. It is open until 3 September so there is still time for a great day out.
Speak to you soon

Friday, 19 August 2011

More Festival quilts
As promised here are a few more quilts that caught my eye at Festival. Unfortunately I didn't always make a note of the number so I can't acknowledge the makers. Many apologies for this but if anyone can tell me who made these quilts I would love to know.
I was drawn to the indigo dyed fabrics that were used to make this quilt.
This was a powerful piece made, I think, by Turid Tonnessen and titled Consumed.
This was a winner of the Quilters' Guild Challenge entitled Festival. Herme de Ruiter made this colourful quilt inspired by a Chinese festival.
I really liked this use of the humble hexagon. The 'black' hexagons are actually open spaces.
This quilt 'Colour Comes to the back of Beyond' was awarded  a second in the Group category. The approaching women carrying quilts and cakes made for an unusual quilt which attracted a lot of attention.
This is a detail from a beautiful quilt where each block featured a different machine stitched motif embellished with a hand embroidered section.
Another detail of a quilt which incorporated all kinds of materials including paper patterns, wrappers and a variety of fabrics.
I liked the composition of this quilt made by Karin Huettemann, especially the graded colours. 'Do you really want it black?' apparently started life as an almost black fabric which was then discharged and painted with dye.
I rather liked this unusual repeating block in Helen Howes' quilt 'Enchanted Forest'.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at some of my favourites from the show.
Until the next time,

Monday, 15 August 2011

A few favourites from Festival
I can't believe that Festival of Quilts is over for another year. It was so good to see so many students and friends again and catch up on their news and, of course, see the amazing range of quilts that are on display. It is always interesting comparing favourites with friends after the show because they always have images of quilts that I didn't see even if I did try and take a different route to the loo each time!
Here are a few of the quilts that caught my eye.
This was one of the most photographed quilts from the show. It was the winner of the pictorial category and made by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga who also made the quilt that was voted Best in Show although I must admit I preferred this piece. It had amazing detail and was beautifully made and you could almost feel the heat from that sun!
I liked the slightly abstract quality that Doris Alcock brought to this landscape quilt. There is so much to look at and the colours work well for me.
As you can see from the notice alongside Hilary Beattie's quilt she received a well deserved Highly Commended for this beautifully designed piece. I like the unexpected detail that appears on a closer look.
Ineke Berlyn's eye catching four piece wallhanging was inspired by the four seasons. Ineke designed this to hang in her new home.
On a much smaller scale was Jenny Rolfe's miniature quilt. I really like her colour scheme and the stitch detail.
Maggie Barber stitches exquisitely and all of the colour on this wallhanging is created by stitch as hopefully you can see from this not particularly good detailed image below.
I have more images of the quilts that appealed to me and will share them with you later in the week. Tomorrow I'm going to visit the summer exhibition at the Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes - just in case I haven't seen enough quilts this week!
Speak to you soon

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Ready for Festival
My badge is finished, the cake is made and I'm ready for four days at Festival of Quilts helping out on Linda and Laura Kemshall's stand (E38). You may be wondering about the importance of the cake but I can assure you that by the end of the day, a piece of fruit cake is very welcome!
The badge took much longer than I had anticipated as the first stitching of my name disappeared into the indigo dyed wadding so after several more false starts - oversewing, beading etc. I decided that French knots gave the best result. I found the buckle in a button box belonging to an aunty and it was just the right colour and shape to support the rest of the badge. I look forward to seeing how many others took up the challenge.
As I'm way behind with my Journal Quilts I decided today to do a little work on my design to use the paper laminated fabrics I made a while ago. This is the first of the four quilts to have lettering and as my paper laminated fabrics reminded me of skyscrapers, that is the direction I took.
I experimented with newsprint to start with just using the puzzle pages as the square imagery represented the laminated fabrics quite well.
I then printed a page in my sketchbook using some compressed sponge and a piece of Speedy Cut printing material each cut into squares. I was pleased with the lettering, even the reversed 'e'!
This is the layered quilt ready for quilting and I will return to my sketchbook pages to experiment with my ideas for doing this next week. The paper laminated sections are trapped between a sheer fabric on top, a layer of felt beneath it and a cotton backing.
If you are visiting Festival of Quilts then look out for my entry, 355. Here is a not particularly good photo of it completed just before being packed up and delivered to the NEC.
Looking forward to seeing some of you over the next few days!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

What a lovely surprise to find a field full of sunflowers in the Worcestershire countryside. One enterprising lady had planted hundreds of these back in March and this weekend invited passers by to 'pick your own'. Of course this was also a great photo opportunity.
They were all shapes and sizes.
The sunflower centres are a mass of different textures that are continually changing as they grow.
The seed heads are a wonderful example of Fibonacci's principal.

The bees were also enjoying them.
Naturally I returned with a bunch of sunflowers to brighten up my living room on this rather dull summer Sunday.
There doesn't seem to have been much stitching going on here this week. I think it is a reaction to completing my entry for Festival of Quilts! Although I did manage a little hand quilting and a few beads on a small piece to be displayed on Linda and Laura Kemshall's stand (E38) at Festival. Do come along and say hello.

Laura set DMTV viewers a challenge last week to make a name badge to wear at the show so maybe that should be my challenge for this evening. I will let you know how I get on and you will be able to examine it in detail later in the week.
All for now