Thursday, 29 July 2010

More indigo

I wasn't able to join the others at the Indigo retreat but they kindly dyed my fabric for me. I am so pleased with the results.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

One more kick at the indigo can

Here are my indigo pieces hanging on the line after washing. Note that the extremely dark piece is an indigo sashiko tablecloth from China - not my work unfortunately. The pink ones are overdyed fuschia pieces that were put in the indigo bath. They look better in person!

The saga of the Graffiti quilt

The theme for the Guild challenge at the Festival of Quilts this year is 'Summer in the City'.  I have long wanted to create a quilt about graffiti so this seemed to be the moment.  Funnily enough, it seems to be a popular theme as I keep bumping into other graffiti quilts.  I did my homework buying books off Amazon (cheap second hand ones - amazing art around the world!), watching videos on YouTube - very good, sourcing textile spray paint and the special nozzles to give you different effects, taking photos locally - brilliant lottery-sponsored bridge walls, practising - you name it.

First I constructed my wall using a variety of commercial, hand dyed and hand painted fabrics.  I knew I didn't want to sew the bricks in place so I used Heat-n-Bond Ultra which is a heavy duty, no-sew fusible.  I quilted only the grout areas and then bound the quilt. 

My tag is made up of a font I got off the internet (amazing fonts available there!).  The original plan was to spray paint the whole tag.  First step: spray the whole background with a layer of white which will provide a good base for the colours to come on top.  I used Fablon for the stencil - it stuck beautifully although I had to be careful with such a large hyper-sticky, floppy piece of plastic!  Problem #1 - one small can of white paint doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

So I added several more layers and ran out of the textile spray paint.  Still not enough cover.

At this point I decided to try my son's old model aircraft spray tool, so thinned some Jacquard white acrylic paint - I couldn't get the tool to work so assumed wrongly as I found out later) that it was broken.  Panic is starting to creep in (I have to have this quilt up in London by the end of July) so I decided to use the thinned paint and just paint a layer on.  Bad decision!  One of the fabrics had loose dye which seeped up into the white paint.  I can confirm that white plus terra cotta equals pink!

A call for help on the Complexcloth message board brought a suggestion from Bob Adams - no less!!!  But thinking about the problem I realised that the solvent based sprays hadn't been a problem so off to the diy store.  A tin of matte spray acrylic paint off the shelf (and having to call an assistant to verify I was of an age that if I wanted to get a high on sniffing it then it was my own problem!) and the problem was solved - a nice white background.  You can see how nicely the bricks pop forward.

Now to tackle the colourful bit.  The nozzles proved useless - fine, ultra skinny, extra fine, needle - all the same and none of them sprayed in a fine line with just a small soft edge.  So I decided to hand paint all the coloured letters.  I left the Fablon on to protect the rest of the quilt.  Here it is not quite finished.

At this point I decided to lift the stencil to get on with the rest of the graffiti.  Disaster!  The glue from the Fablon stuck to the quilt top AND the white paint had seeped under the edge of the Fablon and made a horrible mess.  Whether it was the thinned paint or the spray - who knows?  I guess the Fablon had been on far too long and I had been leaning on it while I painted the letters - it has also been quite warm here.  Fortunately we have something here in the UK called 'Sticky Stuff Remover' which is an orange oil product and this lifted and removed the glue.  It hasn't left a residue or caused a problem with any more painting.  But I had to work out how to deal with the horrible mess around the white background.  Time is now very short and I considered spraying the edge but that would entail masking the whole of the coloured letter area.  I decided to hand paint over the mess and create another outline - a bit bumpy rather than the smooth curves of the original design.  It needed two coats and no thinning to balance the spray/hand painted areas.

The next job was painting a couple of the sayings.  The 'God save (y)our queen' is a personal memory from a railway bridge in my childhood in South Africa.  Not completely put off by the first experience with Fablon I did the Che Guevaras with spray paint and can vouch that it's fine as long as you remove it straight away (and the paint is dry!).

Yesterday was a good day - no major problems.  The rest of the hand painting went smoothly and the Ban the Bomb was another Fablon sprayed stencil.  The last thing was the sprayed scribbled tag that you see so often where youngsters have 'vandalized' walls and other graffiti art.   This is where I discovered the model spray tool wasn't broken but the paint disappeared into the fabric - the colour was wrong and it has finished up a bit messy - but I reckon that's OK as that's how it is in real life.  Here is the finished quilt.

I'm pleased with the end result and I hope it brings a few smiles to the viewers.  I can't believe the difficulties that I had face - would I do it again? Yes.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Seeing Red, revisited

Well, here it is, the new, improved Seeing Red #1. I was unhappy with this piece because there was some script right in the middle that looked awkward to me. I was advised by a couple of you to simply add more script elsewhere, which I did, even though the piece had already been quilted. Much better. I hand-stitched the 12" x 12" piece to a large square of hand-dyed purple cotton, and in turn I stretched that over a 16" square stretched canvas, then stapled it into place. VoilĂ ! The hand-printed cotton was from a workshop taken with Rayna Gillman.

Pam Chasen, Michele Meredith and I will be in Ottawa for a five-day workshop next week. We will be stretching ourselves by taking what appears to be a course in collage on wood. Much of the appeal of these experiences is about making a time and a place to be creative, with like-minded people. To be continued....

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Houston catalogue arrived this morning

I can't believe that a year ago so many of us were planning a trip to Houston.  Look where we are today!  Thanks for the friendship and the fun we have had so far.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Blues

I have posted a bit of a write up on our indigo retreat on my blog: but here are a few other pictures of our work.

Heather                      Pam


The fabric hanging on the clothes lines looked wonderful

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Framing option

Visiting the gift shop of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont last week, I noticed some art quilts by Judith Reilly for sale. I was impressed with the method of framing, and asked to take some photos, which I have included here. The art quilts were bound with traditional 1/4 inch binding, then mounted on something like a thin foam core to lift them off the background matte. A complementary matte was added for an outer edge, and it too was lifted off the surface, perhaps by means of a thin foam core. The whole was then framed under glass. Each piece was for sale at about $800 or $900 US.

Witches of Ogden 2

Here are photos of some of the pieces I produced at our recent indigo dyeing retreat. I didn't take the time to do the complex stitching that some others did. Their results were truly amazing. But for my purposes I am quite pleased with what I was able to produce with soy wax, wrapping and folding.

We all found that the rayon/silk scarves absorbed the dye better than the cotton. My scarf was a very high-contrast zebra-stripe pattern, created by pole-wrapping and then scrunching. Knowing I would never wear it, I dipped it briefly, unwrapped, into a tired vat of indigo, so that the white bits became light blue.

Here are the textures I was able to achieve with the soy wax. Clockwise from the top,
simply painting on the wax and then putting it in the freezer to harden, then crumpling;
pastry blender;
apple sectioner / biscuit cutter / tenderizing mallet;
tjanting and bristle brush;
grate from coffee machine;
wooden stamping block.

Folding the cloth in different ways and then sandwiching it between glass plates, held together with elastics, made a very effective resist. These pieces had very little dye on them after the first dyeing, so I re-folded them and repeated the dipping. They could still benefit from edge-dyeing, perhaps with a red dye, or perhaps stamping.

These pieces were accordian-folded, with the folds held in place with either bulldog clips, string or elastics, placed at intervals down the length of the folds. The metal from the bulldog clips added some rust to the piece, upper left.

I produced a couple of other pieces that I will keep "under wraps", in the hope I can fashion something into a Reflections submission.

I plan to attend a local indigo demo on Sunday, and I hope to be able to get a few juicy tidbits from the instructors there that may add to our experience.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Witches of Ogden

Just a few quick and dirty photos of our recent indigo dyeing get-together at Dianne's lovely cottage on Lake Memphramagog, in the Eastern Townships. Good food, thoughtful conversation, and creative excitement all made for a memorable experience. The final photo was taken at the lavender farm, about 15 km from Dianne's place. Helena and I made a visit there on Wednesday morning before lunch.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Dyeing and discharging

With several of you having an awful lot of fun down at Dianne's cottage with the indigo vat and soy waxing I pass on this link to Gloria Hansen's blog about her recent dyeing and discharging workshops.  The results are fabulous.  You must scroll down to the end as there is so much.

I'm wondering if some of those pieces you are creating might somehow be 'reflections' and appear in the next challenge pieces....   Anyway, it would be lovely to see some images when you all come down to earth please.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Challenge accepted

Since 2004 , the first year I went to Houston, I was completely captivated by the reflections seen from the hotel windows. Reflections of windows of office buildings over more reflections of the hotel in the windows of the building opposite the hotel ! Every year I took more pictures and each year I went home and made a great effort to capture the exciting effect but each year I failed and finally gave up last year. Now with this challenge I feel that fate has played a hand and I must rise to the occasion and make a commitment- I will do Houston reflections for this next challenge. Heaven help me!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tree Reflections

I seem to have lots of tree reflections.  Elusive, and how on earth to put into fabric!
Below is a lake on a golf course near where we have a November retreat.  It's a wonderful retreat - we stay at a lovely inn, in their off-season, eat lots of good food and work!  All day and into the evening.  If you are well organized for a project it's a great place to get some work accomplished.  Not good for contemplating or artsy stuff, but simply to churn out things - a nice break sometimes.  A friend and I go walking in the morning before breakfast, and this time we caught the hoar frost before the sun was really warm.

This picture was taken on the canal, cycling back to the base in Gouarec.  It was a lovely 5 Km ride.

Monday, 5 July 2010


My first thoughts on reflections. A small selection of photos that I like. No idea where the first one was taken, but the middle two are from Houston, and the last was taken at La Ronde amusement park last Friday. I feel that strip piecing may be used again.

Back from Summer School

Each year the Contemporary Quilt group of the Quilters' Guild here in the UK hosts a Summer School over a weekend.  We have three invited tutors and spaces for up to 16 students in each class.  The tutors this year were Cas Holmes (mixed media), Edwina Mackinnon (indigo and permanganate of potash dyeing) and Linda Miller (thread embroidery).  We were housed in a property which was built by a textile baron some time ago which over looks the Ribble Valley up in Lancashire (home of the textile industry based around Manchester).  It is run by the local authority as a residential educational centre - the setting is fabulous and the food to die for.

We all had a really special time and the work that was produced was outstanding.  I can't put the other people's work up so you will have to suffer mine.  Linda first had us making little practice pieces to get the idea and the technique of working in a hoop before starting on our main pieces.  We worked on heavy weight calico (I also put stitch and tear behind mine for extra stability) which is held drum-taut in a hoop.  There are plenty of variations and possibilities of mixing or matching threads top and bottom and for playing around with thicker threads and working from the back, etc.  By changing the direction of your stitching the light will bounce off differently creating more interest.  Here's my little practice piece - it's about 2" square.

Now here is as far as I got on my main piece which is taken from a photo of an icon in St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt.  As some of you will know I have had a love of icons for a long time and have ideas buzzing around in my head for a big piece one day (but not in this technique!).  This piece is about 5" square (we were working in 8" hoops).  I am thrilled so far and will frame it in one of those deep, highly carved, gilded frames when it is finished.


Saturday, 3 July 2010

REFLECTIONS - Zanzibar Islands

Love the next theme, Patricia.
I have these pieces, just fused, from a workshop done about 3 maybe even 4 years ago with Sally Scott, one of our top SA Textile Artists, which have been lying around waiting to be completed. It was a case of great idea but now how am I going to put them all together and make it work.
Guess what. They are going to be re-sized, maybe not all used, and somehow I want two layers happening here..... a really transparent organza, maybe, which will be printed on with words/ image ..... not so sure. If I cannot get it right it may have to be a two sided piece. Lots of thought and trial bits.
Reflections on the wonderful times spent on the Islands of Zanzibar.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pressure? No Pressure...

I so enjoyed seeing everyone's pieces for Seeing Red, but it was a little intimidating to view all of those great entries when mine was still on the cutting table.

The piece I have made for Seeing Red is a companion piece to my entry in the Ottawa challenge. It is mounted on stretcher bars and ready for a floating frame. I used the same technique of freeform strip piecing from the Jean Wells book, "Intuitive Color and Design". The approach is somewhat similar to the technique taught by Rayna Gillman and used by Linda for her Red Barns of Canada. The colour scheme is actually a bit like Hilary's Red Jacket. The quilting design shows the influence of Nancy Halpern, whose retrospective show at the Vermont Quilt Festival was so fascinating.

This is actually the second piece I made. I had another ready for the June 30 unveiling, but I wasn't really happy with it. It was made from a piece of cloth I had stamped and stencilled at a Rayna Gillman workshop, and then inserted some red hand-dyed strips into it. I didn't like the way that the handwritten word was so central to the image.
One of the best parts of this experience was brainstorming all the possibilities, so I now have many other ideas tucked away for the future.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Reflections in water was also my first thought when I decided on the title but the more I gave it thought and looked up the variations on the word in the dictionary there are so many things one can reflect upon - as you say the past or the present or even the future, mirrors, bending light which is also reflection, etc ! Here's to lots of creativity ahead. My thought processes tend to be more pragmatic than anything else (left brain continually arguing with my right brain) so perhaps this time I will try something different.

Reflecting on Reflections

My first thought was to challenge myself to make a piece with water reflections - something that has been nagging me for years.  I have often looked at water to try and capture the essence of the way images are broken up by the ripples in water.  That was the instant reaction.  Then I though about reflecting on the past - and what about reflections in a mirror?  Light reflecting off sparkly surfaces?

Although I said about having to wait until the end of September - the intervening months are crammed full with grandchildren, the Festival of Quilts (The UK's Houston), not to mention being involved in organising two exhibitions - one at Hever (Breakthrough quilts) and the other down in Exeter (2010 Journal Quilts).  This weekend is our Summer School and I'm doing a class with Linda Miller   
who does lovely thread paintings.  Dianne, you will remember the 'Girl in Lupin field' I started in her class years ago from a card bought in the Art Museum in Quebec City - I think.

 And then there is the quilt I am supposed to enter in the Festival....   Perhaps my reflections quilt should be all about reflecting on whether I need certifying!  Only joking - where would I be without quilting?



What a wonderful set of work has appeared. I really enjoyed all of them!! It's so interesting seeing how a group of different people in different countries interpret the same theme.

Can't wait to start the new piece - tempted to use all the fascinating photographs I've collected over the years of reflections in building windows as my starting place - but there's still plenty of time to decide (and change my mind). I'll have to reflect on it a bit longer.
I absolutely loved all of the wonderful "Seeing Red" quilts as they are all so very, very different and it is so exciting when the day actually arrives and you can see what everyone has produced and how different they all are and when one is "in the moment" when different ideas come to the fore and one is inspired by one subject with so many different interpretations. I really loved them all and can't get over how one subject can create so much variety.

Why did I not think of the Football World Cup - right here on our doorstep too!

Frustration mounted yesterday afternoon when our server went down so did not enjoy as much excitement as you all did when each and every quilt popped up onto the screen and had to wait until this morning to actually see everything that everyone had done. So apologies for not putting the new subject up yesterday as promised!

I guess you are all wanting to know what the next subject is - well here goes !


I have no idea what I am going to do but it has lots of connotations and I trust you will enjoy creating.

My apologies now but I am going this route for my comments as I have just devoured all that are up at the moment and thought I would take the easy route to chat. My RED doesn't have so much feeling! I love all the different mediums and techniques that are being used ..... such an inspiration and it is amazing how many of us ( and in the bigger picture ) are creating our own fabric whether thru photo manipulation and paints and dyes etc. A Touch of Red : it is amazing how well black & white and a tough of another colour works so well. Red Barns in Canada - Although I have only seen pictures of Barns I immediately recognised them , love the interpretation. Red, Red, Rose - clever use of the 'red' in the rose to get the right effect ..... quite dramatic. Seeing red Snickers - I think we all sympathize with you as we have all been thru the mutiplying of pets. Love the piece. Black & White & Red all over - again, the black & white & another but very effective. I like the use of the words as it draws you in to the detail. The Soccer World Cup - well what can I say with a son madly in love with the sport, flags on all our cars and those blasted vuvuzela's being blown continuously ..... clever use of the stamps & Zebo. Sunsets & Baobabs - having spent 2 years in Tanzania this really brought back wonderful memories - lovely. Seeing Red- clever photo manipulations and then the embroidery of the coat and so Caitlyn. Spontaneous Combution - clever collage of fabrics etc and the quilting finishes off. My brain is in overdrive ....... well done all.