Monday, 30 August 2010

Connections at last

I have finally finished my Connections piece.  It has changed a lot in the last couple of days!!

This piece is about my connection with Australia, place of my birth, sometimes not the best place for me to be, but somewhere I am continually drawn back to.

Originally it was to be an entirely paper (fronted) quilt. I stuck pages from an old book together, painted them, sprayed them, splattered them, then put design of gum leaves and blossoms on them.  I have to tell you all this because its not possible to make this out anymore!!

Then I put some reproduction stamps on, in a grid pattern to represent the changes that began with white settlement of this land.  The stamps have aboriginals, kangaroos and wallabies on them.

Next I layered up the quilt with wool wadding, and cloth backing, and stitched the gum leaf and blossom design - and that's when it started to go pear shaped.  The stitching cut through the paper, except where the stamps were.  In what's becoming obvious as a major character flaw, instead of stopping when things werent going right, I kept going!!  LOL!!

So then I got the check fabric, another grid reference, layered it up, quilted it with a gum leaf and blossom overall design, and then in green the block design that had torn the paper, and next I picked up each of the torn elements and lightly glued them in place on the new background.  An enormously tedious task!!

Tulle over the top - too many grid references? - and then restitch the block design in red, trim, deliberately but only slightly off centre, it looks right, but then when you look closely its not -  a reflection of connection - and then bound and finally here!!

OK, I'm going to make my reflections piece a dozen times over or until I'm happy with it, because I now have 2 little quilts I'm not best pleased with!


Sunday, 29 August 2010

Back from the UK Festival of Quilts

The Festival attracted record numbers of visitors and quilts from a record number of countries which is gratifying in these times.  Some absolutely fabulous quilts entered, wonderful exhibitions by international and local quilt artists and groups, plenty of excuses to spend money and I attended 10 lectures - all good.

My class with Elizabeth Barton was very good and although two days was very short it did preclude having to schlep a lot of materials and equipment along to work on something that was forced and would probably never be finished.  It was all about composition and in the two days we worked in paper and pencil on line, shape, value and finally colour.  We had to bring along a lot of images of fine art and quilts that we liked and also images that we would like to work with.  We traced, copied, chopped up and rearranged looking at possibilities and getting some understanding of the exercises.  On the last day when talking about colour we were asked to name the dominant colour that we would be working with.  I said that my photograph of a typical Dorset countryside scene of fence, golden wheat and blue sky had trapped me into being only able to see the colours in the picture - they were so powerful and typical/traditional - blue, yellow, green.  She immediately asked me what I had felt when I took the photo - why had I taken it? why had I brought it along and what did I feel looking at that photo now?  It was all about the emotional response and trying to get that across.  I have read before about things having to come from the heart and then they 'sing'.  Well, that put a completely different view on my interpretation of the piece - watch this space!

Other than that here is a picture of Rayna adding her mark to the cloth we had out for visitors to the CQ Coffee Morning to get involved with (even the NEC staff serving refreshments were drawn in to play!).  I actually met Rayna by accident on the first evening while I was running around trying to find Susan Shie.  We kept bumping into each other from then on and she always had a smile on her face.  I hope you had a good time, Rayna.  Her classroom wasn't ideal and she was a real trooper to soldier on.

Here's the finished cloth.  It was one of several activities and demos arranged at the Coffee Morning.

This is a picture of our Contemporary Quilt booth which we shared with another of the specialist groups of the Quilters' Guild - the Quilt Study group.  We had a small retrospective display of the four years our journal quilt project has been running showing how the format has changed each year and that the little quilts cover every technique, style, material, theme possible - and are very achievable.

And here is the wall of our Breakthrough quilts - sorry this is not the best picture but there are 42 quilts spread along a very long wall with a pillar in the way.  This faces onto the cafe area so can be appreciated by everyone while they sat and had their refreshment.  The quilts are from the last major challenge that CQ organised and which are featured in our first book/catalogue.  The next challenge is a new suitcase collection (Childhood Memories), then a fun challenge for the next year's CQ stand at Festival (still to be announced) followed by our major 10th Birthday Challenge for 2012.

Since coming home I have had to finish another quilt for Makower to take to a Quilt Market in Germany - and this is a long weekend here in the UK so my plan to post it in time on Monday was suddenly shot to pieces and had to catch the post yesterday lunch time.  Now I have to get quilts and files ready for Hever - a much loved quilt show in the grounds of Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn.  I'm off to hand over the things at Denbies Vineyard on Tuesday - does that bring back memories Rosie and Dianne?  There's an exhibition of journal quilts in Exeter at the end of the month and I have that second quilt and the pattern to write for Makower to finish - and there's that small matter of a quilt on Reflections to start...


Saturday, 28 August 2010


After a few weeks when I've had no inspiration and no real desire to do any textiles, I suddenly had a really good day! I've finished the four journal quilts I needed to do for the British Contemporary group, then (very) quickly made my 'Reflections' piece. Guess I'd decided what to do some time ago, without being really aware of it, so when I sat down it all came together very easily. Rather simplistic - but I like it (at the moment). Oh - and it's nothing like I originally envisaged.

Meanwhile - here's a few photos from our wonderful Newfoundland holiday! And Dianne - we looked for lupins, but only found a few. However, Mick now has a good system for identifying wild flowers - they're all either 'lupins' or 'not lupins'.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Seeing Red FINALLY

Hi everyone, sorry to be away so long and I can see that you have all been busy and creative... I've just been busy!!

Here is my Seeing Red piece, I am not happy with it, and I would like to re-make it, but as I'm so late it will have to do till I finish the Connections piece and get on with the new theme... which is???

Anyway, Seeing Red, the Mars Connection.  Advances in technology have meant that we can now 'see' the red planet, Mars, with more and more clarity, its getting closer and closer.  I've tried to show this with increasing larger planets, and a magnifying glass... will we ever find martians?  I mucked up the shadowing on the magnifying glass and instead of stopping and pulling it out, I kept going - only lead to an even bigger mistake!!



Friday, 13 August 2010

It's a madhouse here

Having survived a visit from the two grandchildren (only joking - it was absolutely fantastic) I am now in the throws of getting ready for our Festival Of Quilts - The UK's mini Houston.

While down here Caitlyn attended a dyeing class with my friend Tig at the local craft centre - and she managed 4 T-shirts in a morning. (Apologies for the missing tooth!)

 She loves using her hands and is great little sewer.  The project is a pre-cut felt handbag with plenty of embellishments.  I love the concentration!

So now it is full steam ahead with getting organised for hanging two exhibitions at the Festival - a retrospective of the four years that Contemporary Quilt has been running a journal quilt project and the 42 quilts from our group's Breakthrough challenge.  Contemporary Quilt is the arty specialist subgroup of the UK Quilters' Guild.  We have nearly 500 members - including our own Linda!

I am taking a two day class on composition with Elizabeth Barton and have promised to meet up with Rayna and say hello on your behalf.

I'm away from Monday till the following Sunday (22nd August) - yippee!


Catching up from SA , part 2

I had a problem adding more pictures to my first post for some reason so here is part 2. I belong to a similar group , but smaller, in SA and we produce a piece every 2 months but it will be for a year and again I am trying to keep the challenges within a theme so I can hang these together as one. I am using a pack of Heide's fabric and the sizes of each are approx 29" x 7". Our first challenge (the gold) was 'Revolution/s' and the second 'a traditional block, cut into'. I stretched the theme in the second challenge to be a painted 9-patch.

Techniques have been paint, embossing powders, hot spots and foil, glue and glitter powders and the quilting varies from small to large stippling, changing the thread colour and I have included some pearl shapes. These will not hang together as the continuous 9-patch at the top of the purple will have to be continued to flow. The next theme is 'symbols' and this one will go between these two.

The carving is a piece I found in amongst some braai (barbecue) wood that had been purchased ages ago, probably not even by us as we use charcoal, however, it was discovered approx a year after my gardener, Phillip, and passed away which was a big loss to me. Who by.... who knows but it is absolutely beautiful and I finally decided I wanted to give Phillip, as he has an uncanny likeness to him, a place to 'live'. I finished this mosaic piece on Tuesday and Phillip now sits proudly on his perch attached to the wall of the house looking over my garden.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Catching Up!

I, too, am "catching up"! I have made a piece for the Connections challenge, titled "Knitted. Together." Even though I wasn't a member of this group when it was due, I thought it would be fun to participate retroactively.

Some of the ideas I considered for Connections included neurons and a map of the London underground. In the end, I thought about how knitting stitches are connections, and about how knitting has connected at least four generations of women in my family. My grandmother taught me to knit, and I know my mother was accomplished in knitting, embroidery and dressmaking. I have stored away baby sweaters that she knit for my sister and me. Now I have taught my daughter to knit. So there has been a transmission of skill that connects us, as well as many expressions of love, in the form of scarves, slippers, sweaters, ponchos, and goofy hats.

The photos of the four women were all taken at roughly the same age, late teens or early twenties. I included transfers of knitting instructions, photos of baby sweaters from patterns, buttons and a corded yarn edging. The background of the piece was a monoprint. I knit up a square of roughly 14" with string and big needles. It was pinned to a cardboard, dabbed with paint, and used to print on hand-dyed cotton. I actually made four of these prints, and it's a good thing too, because much experimentation followed.

I tried to use some of the techniques from my collage workshop, which worked so well with wood and paint. The clear contact paper doesn't lend itself to fabric, though the matte version might have some possibilities. The rice paper also could be helpful for future projects. In the end, it was TAP that worked best, either printed onto a light grey cotton, or directly onto the monoprint base. Ink-jet printed organza was another option, but it yields a more faded, indistinct image. I added tints of colour to the sweater transfers with acrylic paint, mixed with lots of matte medium to make it transparent.

So now it's onto "Reflections." Hmmm….

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Catching Up!

Things have been a little topsy turvy over the past couple of weeks but I have managed to sneak time to check out what you have all been up to. Hilary, your graffiti quilt is a great success and the collage workshop results are lovely. I did a 'mark making' art class with a local teacher (on paper) over a six month period which was eye opening but I still find it difficult to pull it all together. I re-lived all the fun and excitement the Indigo girls had as I did a similar workshop last year in May. I have included a picture of one of my bigger pieces which had marbles and macadamia nuts ( we were working under the trees) tied into the cloth and then wrapped and tied around a large, approx 12" diameter, ridged pvc pipe.
I'm back from holiday, and finally have had time to sort and wash my indigo samples. Some are OK but some are too pale for unknown reasons. Could be too few dippings, or it could have been the different batches we made. Wish I had kept better records.

This first set is of the soya wax samples. Made with various kitchen implements, plus brush and tjiane, they are all too pale. Despite a hot wash, they still feel stiff as though there is wax still in the fabric.
This set shows some examples of straight gathering stitch. Top left shows more widely spaced, wavering lines of stitching, whilst the two on the right were stitched on drawn straight lines. Middle left fabric was folded in half, then stitched in squares, before being gathered tightly. The two pieces at the bottom were pole wrapped; the one on the right was then redipped after it had been removed from the pole.
Top left shows the results of the milk 'pullers', plus cling film. Top right was rolled round a rope, then the ends of the rope tied together. Done twice, from two opposite corners, it was one of the last pieces I did, and is one of the palest. The bottom piece is a mystery; can't remember what I did. In fact, I'm not even sure it's mine - does anyone else recognise it?
These four pieces were all shibori pieces. The left two pieces used a running stitch about 1/4 inch down from a fold, The ones on the left used a straight running stitch, plus knotting on the lower sample.
These six pieces are my favourites. Various shibori techniques, though some did not justify the effort of removing the stitching afterwards. Shame a couple of them are so pale.
And finally... a mixed bag of techniques. Top left shows the 'rolling round a rope' technique; top right was concentina folded, then gathered with a running stitch. Middle sample was just scrumpled into a metal pencil holder (see detail below). As large areas were still white after the first session, I re-scrumpled it and repeated the dipping about three times.

General conclusions - a fantastic three days at Dianne's. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. I think I love shibori effects, but now want to try them with Procion dyes where the results might be more predictable. Pole wrapping also intrigues me, and I'm about to try it for over-dyeing some fabrics.

A few holiday photos will follow when I've sorted them out; and Heather - I love your collages. A different medium, but still so you! Hilary - your graffiti quilt was worth all the hard work. Do tell me all about the FOQ later this month; I'm so disappointed to be missing it again.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Collage workshop

Thought I would post these pictures of the pieces I made at a 5-day workshop in Ottawa last week, on collage and assemblage, taught by Christina Lovisa. It was great fun for Michele Meredith and me to muck about with spackle, gesso, paint and glaze. Some image transfer techniques would apply to our work with fibre. These pieces were done on scraps of plywood and masonite, and measure 12" - 18" wide, and 16" - 21" high. I was able to use bits of lace, ribbon and buttons. Two of them feature family photos. It was exciting to work in another medium, and I hope some of what I learned will transfer to my work with cloth.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

That Highgate wall

Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful wall, Heather. This garden wall is rather special as you can see and is the kind of improvisational art that is right up my street.  I think the person who created this had a lot of fun.  Hilary