Monday, 31 December 2012

Last deadline for 2012

I completed my last Journal Quilt for this year's Contemporary Quilt Group challenge last night. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this year I have used the monthly themes from the online Sketchbook Challenge group and of course, these then had to fit in with the CQ group challenge of four red, four yellow and four blue A4 quilts.
The theme for September was Pattern so I challenged myself to use a piece of fabric previously printed with various screens. I based my machine and hand quilting on the circular based patterns on the fabric.
I found October's theme an interesting one, 'Cabinets of Curiosities'. This time I turned to some of my favourite jugs and vases and although they are not all blue in real life, I used their shapes and patterning to inspire this quilt. I appliquéd  them to pieced Attic Window blocks made from various indigo dyed fabrics from my stash. It feels so good delving into the drawers of fabrics and using some of my dyed and printed pieces.
Spice of life was the theme for November so this time I used my cupboard of spices to inspire the colours for this quilt. I produced a background of different blue fabrics and then bonded my pots and spices on to it. I still have a much treasured collection of Manchester indigo fabrics that I bought from June Morris many years ago and these provided just the right contrast between the background and the various mounds of spices.
To complete the collection of quilts I went with a seasonal approach to the theme of Gifts. A group of silk covered gift boxes stacked on top of one another, tied with metallic braid ( a great stitch, no. 157 on my Bernina Aurora!) on a star studded background.
Well that's it for 2012. There certainly has been a lot of work in progress and a lot completed, thank goodness! There will be new challenges for 2013 with more exhibitions to work towards, new workshops and courses to plan plus all of the other things that I want to do such as make clothes from the many lengths of cloth I either buy or dye and print myself, knit using some of the bags of wool I have accumulated over the last few years and always challenge myself to try something new.
Thank you for visiting my blog this year and may I wish you all a happy, healthy and creative 2013.
All for now

Friday, 28 December 2012

Fun and laughter!

I apologise now for the Christmas images but we had a great day with lots of fun and laughter. Fourteen for dinner meant moving around the furniture and importing a very large piece of MDF to place on the dining room table so that everyone could sit around it.
It also gave enough space for all of the food ( which we are still eating!!)
My son and son  in  law decided that Christmas jumpers were the order of the day so as you can see this was taken on board!
It was lovely to have my three grandchildren joining in the fun and Isla, who is only 7 months old,  enjoyed cuddles from her two cousins and was not phased by the occasion.
And, of course, I didn't want to miss out on a little dressing up!
So, a belated Merry Christmas to you all and may I wish you all a happy, healthy and creative 2013.

Monday, 3 December 2012

December already!

Well I have made a start on Christmas today. The Christmas cake is almost cooked and the Christmas puddings are steaming away so all I now need to do is the Christmas shopping and buy a tree! It's easy really isn't it? So why do so many people start preparing in September? Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the festive season but I don't want it to go on for months.
Since last I blogged I have made a return trip to Italy, this time for a retreat and I spent a whole week dyeing, printing and stitching. Wonderful! It was such a luxury and I enjoyed every minute of it.
One of the ideas I had wanted to experiment with was the sweeping gestural marks that we had made on Dorothy Caldwell's Human Marks workshop back in September.
I started by brushing dye on to dry soda soaked fabric - acid yellow, golden yellow, scarlet and magenta followed by royal blue.
When the dye was dry and batched I brushed soy wax over the surface using similar sweeping strokes.
This was followed by rubbing thickened royal blue dye over the entire surface making sure that it penetrated any crackles in the wax.
This is the resulting fabric which is now pinned on my design wall waiting for the next step, which at the moment is an unknown!
Each day, when it wasn't raining, we would go for an after lunch walk through the olive groves that surround the Masseria. Apart from taking photographs of the amazing olive trees that are hundreds of years old I also collected pieces of rusted metal with the intention of doing some experimental dyeing with them.
I soaked some white cotton fabric in vinegar (it happened to be red wine vinegar as that was all we had available!) and placed the found rusty cans, tools, wires etc on top of it, tucking the fabric over and around it. The whole lot then went into a plastic bag, weighted down and placed beneath a radiator for 36 hours and the results were fabulous.

Again, I have no plans at present for these fabrics but I know at some point they will be just what I need for a special project.
I returned home to vast quantities of rain and floods. Fortunately we weren't affected by the floods but the River Severn in Worcester was making full use of the flood plain!
This is the racecourse which was completely underwater. You can just see the fence in the foreground which is about a metre high.
At least the swans were happy!
Speak to you soon and happy Christmas preparations.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Flour resist results and more

A few weeks ago I posted about my experiments with flour resists and today I actually found time to photograph the resulting fabrics showing various degrees of crackle.
Needless to say I was thrilled with the results! The flour paste was applied to two fabrics that were soda soaked and when dry, scrunched tightly to break down the flour paste and then painted (or rather rubbed) with thickened dye paint. Bottom left was rubbed with normal consistency thickened dye and the fabric bottom right was rubbed with thinned down thickened dye.
The other two fabrics were not soda ashed. Top left was rubbed with watered down screen ink and the remaining fabric was rubbed with India ink. These were obviously not ironed to set the ink but left for several days for the ink to set into the fabric before washing out the flour paste.
My favourite was the screen ink mainly because I achieved an interesting variety of marks but actually I think they were all successful.
I now need to experiment with texturing the flour paste as it is applied to the fabric as I think that will give good results. I will keep you posted.
I have been out and about teaching and last week I was at the Husqvarna Studio in Nottingham where I taught my Pleat, Tuck and Fray workshop. There were some fabulous results as everyone began to slash, bloom and roll!

These techniques are a great way to experiment with colour and create some exciting and sometimes unexpected results.
There are lots of works in progress dotted around my workroom at present - an advent calendar for Isla,  the latest journal quilts, new designs for the next Orientation exhibition at The Bramble Patch over Easter next year and piecing together fabrics for Living in the Middle, an exhibition of work based on architecture of the Midlands by the Midlands contemporary quilt group. This will open at the Weavers Gallery at the end of April. It's good to be busy!
Hope you are finding time to be creative as well.
All for now

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mark making in Italy

It was a bit of a shock returning home to autumn after five days in Italy where the temperature was in the 30's.  Of course I wasn't sitting in the sun, I was having a wonderful time taking a workshop with Dorothy Caldwell at the Masseria Della Zingara in Puglia.
Even though it was so hot outside it was beautifully cool in the studio where we spent our days ( and evenings) working on our 'Human Marks'.
As well as using all manner of things to make our marks we also collected....
waxed fabrics and papers......
and made several books from our fabrics and papers.
Of course we managed to find time to visit the local town of Alberobello which is famous for it's Trulli.  Traditionally this is a dry stone hut with a conical roof used for storage.
Definitely a photo opportunity!
We all had a great time with Dorothy who was a very generous teacher and I certainly came away refreshed and inspired.
Speak to you again soon.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Playing with flour

I know I have a bit of a reputation for baking brownies and such but last week I spent two days at Committed to Cloth experimenting with flour on silk screens! I have always wanted to try working with flour resists so it seemed an appropriate technique to use with my broken window design  that I previously used with soy wax.
I made a flour and water mix with the consistency similar to that of a pancake batter and using a squeegee, spread it over some cotton fabric.
Using the same mixture and method I applied some to the flat side of a silk screen and left it to dry.
Then, using a wooden skewer I drew into the hardened resist, carefully scraping away at the flour.
Now the fun began! Printing with this screen gave me some wonderful effects as you can see here.
One window....
multiple windows!
On another piece of fabric I then experimented by overlapping the windows and gradually changing the colour of the thickened dye.
I then returned to my fabric with the multiple windows and using a small section cut from an old credit card I scraped two different colours onto the fabric to suggest brickwork.
I haven't decided how to proceed with these fabrics, I think they probably need to stay pinned up on the design wall for a while.
The fabrics that I prepared with the flour paste were scrunched up to crack the dry paste and then sponged with dye on the soda soaked pieces and India Ink and watered down screen ink on the untreated pieces. They are still waiting to be washed but hopefully I have achieved a good crackle effect. I will keep you posted.
I really like the effect I have achieved here and will certainly experiment more with the technique.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pojagi preparations

Those of you who read Six and Friends and follow my blog will know that the Orientation exhibition is now open at Forge Mill Needle Museum, Redditch and that one of my pieces is based on the Korean technique of Pojagi, traditionally used to make wrapping cloths. My piece, The Teahouse, was inspired by a building I had seen at the V & A designed by Terunobu Fujimore. It is displayed suspended in front of a blind covered window so as the light changes throughout the day it casts different shadows across it.
On Friday 21 September I am teaching a workshop on this technique at Forge Mill and I have been busy dyeing a collection of fabrics for the students to use. I have used cotton organdie which has a lovely crisp finish and works beautifully for this technique.
I love the washing line looking like this!
There are a couple of places still available so if you are free and would like to spend a day learning a new technique then please contact Forge Mill
Today the Midlands Contemporary quilt Group, Stitching in the Middle met up at Bromsgrove Rugby Club. We are working towards an exhibition based on Midlands architecture. There are some exciting ideas starting to come together. It is always interesting to see what inspires other people.
I'm working with an idea that I have used for one of my Journal quilts which was inspired by a broken window in a disused building that I photographed when walking along a newly opened stretch of the canal in Droitwich.
This is the finished Journal quilt. I drew the window onto dyed fabric with soy wax and a tjanting then overdyed it.
I now intend to develop this idea to make a larger piece for the exhibition which will open next year at The Weavers Gallery, Ledbury in late spring.
We had a special treat at lunchtime as it was Hilary Beattie's 'big' birthday yesterday so she brought along a delicious chocolate cake for us to share. Happy Birthday Hilary!
Dixter came too!
Thank you for reading and speak to you soon.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Another deadline met

I finished stitching my final piece for the Orientation exhibition at 23.10 last night! So well within the deadline..........
Catherine and I delivered all of the work to Forge Mill Needle Museum, Redditch this morning, and left it with Jo-Ann who will be setting up the exhibition over the next two days.
As we opened out the quilts and unwrapped the packages and laid them out we could tell that she was already on the case and knew exactly where she would display the work to show it off to full advantage.
I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibition on Saturday and we hope that as many of you as possible will come and join us between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday 7th September.
See you there!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Open Studio at The Bramble Patch

No sooner is Festival over for another year than we are packing our crates again in readiness for two days Open Studio at  The Bramble Patch.
Catherine Nicholls and I will be spending the next two days working on our latest quilts and demonstrating a whole range of techniques. We have rolls of quilts ready to display around the workshop plus lots of samples for you to see. If you would like to dye some fabric there will be an indigo vat for dunking some into, so if you are coming to see what we are up to and would like to join in, please bring along some fabric, a pair of rubber gloves and a plastic bag to carry home the wet fabric and have some fun!
Festival of Quilts seemed to fly by this year and it was great to see so many friends. Teaching and demonstrating on the Mettler Thread stand was a new venture and lots of fun.
Here you can see me demonstrating free motion quilting with a range of Mettler threads to a group of lovely ladies on one of my Spools of Colour workshops.
We were so busy that there was little time for looking around the show but I did manage to take in a few galleries and quilts first thing in the morning. I was particularly in awe of the fabulous gallery of work by Anne Worringer. Her use of indigo dye and discharge with a variety of Shibori techniques was wonderful. I think I will be adding her book to my wish list so that I can enjoy it at my leisure.
I know there are a lot of blogger posts with quilts from around the exhibition but here are a few of my favourites - I apologise if there is no name of the maker to accompany them all!
I certainly know the maker of this lovely book based on lichen research as it was made by one of my students Veronica Coad and I am delighted that she won a much deserved third prize in Quilt Creations. Well done Veronica!
Having worked with maps this year with Ineke Berlyn, I particularly liked this piece by Mike Wallace (I think!). Lovely textured fabrics and use of stitch.
Apologies for the quality of this image but this was one of my favourite quilts made by Vivien Little and as you can see by the certificates, I was not the only one who appreciated this clever design and well executed quilt.
Every time I walked past this quilt I would stop and admire it so I felt I must include it here. Maybe it was the crazy pieced background with the bold applique that appealed to me. It was made by Yvonne Kervinen from Sweden.
I'm afraid I can't recall who made this quilt but I thought the quilting was gorgeous and loved the beads used to connect the sections together.
There were many more quilts that caught my eye but I hope you enjoyed this small collection.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Time for Festival

I can't believe that it is set up day at Festival of Quilts tomorrow(today!). Where did that year ago?
Catherine arrived from Vancouver on Sunday and we have been busy preparing kits for our workshops that we will be teaching each day on the Mettler stand, C39.
I am always amazed at how much time it takes to prepare these kits as we have dyed fabrics, screen printed images on to each one and cut wadding and backing fabrics to size. Then of course there are the handouts to write.
Fortunately, our good friend Sue came along to help with the pressing and packing of the kits.
It has been a lovely day here today so we took a little time off for a tasty lunch!
The sewing machines are packed up and the crates are full of kits and samples for the workshops together with fabrics and threads for new projects we will be demonstrating. There are also rolls of quilts ready to be displayed on the stand. If you are visiting the show, do drop by C39 and say hello.
Hopefully see you soon!