Monday, 28 February 2011


I've always loved the structure of  the nautilus and this seemed to be the ideal opportunity to use it for a quilt. These are not 'my' colours and this is not a technique I've used before, but the design seemed to ask for them!  The fabric for each shell was created from fabric scraps overlaid with organza. These were then layered and stitched from the reverse. Each 'chamber' was cut away with a soldering iron. Bearing in mind that underneath the top layer was a layer of organza which loves the soldering iron this was a laborious process not to be repeated. Photographed on a dull, rainy Manchester day the glow from the organza is somewhat lost!

Lights are flashing

Silly little thing, but you know that if anyone is online to our site the button showing you where you are flashes - well so does the button for how ever many other people are online as well!  Heather and I were online at the same time and both our buttons were flashing - we could light up the world!  I'm easily pleased.


Structure is in the Air

Here is an excerpt from a SAQA Call for Entry, received today:

Title: Structures in Cloth
Open to all USA SAQA members
Exhibition Dates: June 9, 2011 - January 21, 2012
Exhibition Venues: The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in Denver, Colorado and the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, Colorado, with the possibility of a third venue in northern Colorado.
Architecture surrounds us in both our natural and human created world. It is not simply the end product of creation and construction but the very structure which our life, society, world, and universe are made of. In this show we envision explorations of both the micro and macro architectures that surround us.

We've all been thinking through this "construct" in the last few weeks, haven't we? It will be interesting to see the kinds of submissions they receive.

Forest Poem

Michele Meredith is a member of our group Text'Art which includes Heather, Helena, Colleen, Linda F, Pamela and Dianne.  She has been following our progress with our challenges, and challenged herself to come up with a 12" structures piece.  She is a fibre and landscape artist and this work is called Forest Poem and is part of a series on "rediscovering the earth" to do with learning from forest ecosystems.  Techniques used are black and white / colour image transfers overlaid with rice paper script.  Once again, to see it in person is so much better!

Ocean Structure

After receiving the Dharma Trading newsletter where a product called Paverpol was featured I decided to use it for my structure piece. This product was featured to make figurines but I was sure it could be used to shape any object.

In anticipation of my upcoming Mexican vacation the ocean was on my mind. The fish is thread painted, the coral is shaped using the Paverpol and the shells are from my stash of things I couldn't possibly throw away.

Habitat 67

It took me a long while to decide what structure I would use for this challenge. Eventually I decided it had to be something Canadian as we now know we will be leaving Montreal later this year. I started thinking about the geodesic dome that was part of the World Fair here in 1967, and went hunting through my many photographs of it. Then I happened upon a photo of Habitat 67, built at the same time, and knew I had found my subject. I visited Montreal as a school girl in 1973 and the only two things I can remember clearly from that visit are the dome and Habitat 67; when I arrived to join my husband in 2008 they were also the first two things I noticed in the wonderful view we have from our apartment!

I challenged myself to use some of the snow dyed fabrics that I have been accumulating this winter, and am very pleased with the result. I went for minimal quilting on the building as I was worried that the stitches would detract from the simple lines of the building, and the sky couldn't be blue as that is such a hard colour to get from snow dyeing, so I used blue thread to quilt it quite densely instead. Incidentally, the building was designed to be low cost housing; it is now one of the most sort-after places to live in Montreal.

Madrone - aka Tree Structure

This quilt is inspired by the bark of the Madrone tree, featured in the book "Bark" by Cedric Pollet, a fabulous gift from my friend Deborah Kemball. When I received the book, I immediately knew that a quilt would result, and "structure" was the perfect theme. Who knew that tree bark could be so beautiful? Using my own hand dyed textured fabrics, I reverse appliqued the different layers, then machine quilted the piece.

Spool Structure

The idea for "Spool Structure" was borrowed ( with permission) from Julie Poirier who designed a "Fractured Quilt" for the Beaconsfield Quilters Guild to do for our annual quilt show in May. This is one sixth of the whole.

My DNA and Me

One of the first ideas that jumped into my head was DNA.  After seeing the helix posted I wasn't sure I could still use the idea.  However, on scrolling through other pictures on the web, I realized that the technical "pictures" were columns, usually black, with white lines.  On top of that, our guild challenge this year is portraits.  So here is mine.  I lightly drew the outline, free motion quilted it and used a sharpie to do the black bars.  Perhaps I should call it face lift - artistically edited wrinkles!

Structure African Style

I was inspired by the designs of the woven raffia Kuba cloths and Shoowa Cut Pile Embroidery of Central Congo in Africa. These cloths have a very distinctive design structure which are varied to a degree but retain an overall symmetry. What also appealed to me was the way in which the design changed in different parts of the cloth, but still retained its design integrity. Although the only colours they use are black and natural raffia I felt inspired to use these definite African colours. I designed my own piece based on this style which was then appliqued and quilted.

A couple of weeks ago we held a wonderful morning workshop working with clay with our Centurion Art Quilt Group. We moulded, painted, gilded and baked our clay and generally had fun, so I decided to incorporate what we had learned and made (moulded) the triangles, painted and gilded them and then added the African beadwork (which I did myself) to enhance the design.

Structures: "Irony"

I cut squares of copper foil and burned them on an open flame to get an interesting, mottled effect. I hand-stitched the squares and some large washers to black cotton, backed with felt, and mounted the piece on a pre-stretched canvas. I chose the title because it is a bit of a play on words: an "ironic" take on traditional patchwork. And to please the traditionalists, the "points" are all rather sharp.

The Western Wall

The Western Wall Jerusalem:

The Western Wall, the most holy structure accessible to Jewish people, is the remaining wall of the second temple built in 19 BCE by Herod the Great. The wall is not only a great tourist attraction but is also visited day and night by throngs of people of both sexes, of all ages, and from all countries, to pray and to kiss the sacred stones.  
The photo that I used as inspiration for this piece was taken when I was at the wall two months ago.  I painted a white piece of silk with silk paint which I then sprinkled with coarse salt when it was still very wet.   I burned a few holes into some tulle which I then doubled and placed on top of the silk.  When dry, I attached the two layers of tulle and the silk to a very fine cotton, then batting then a back.   I enlarged my photo onto regular paper which I then gently glued to the back.  From the back, I outlined the stones in stitch.  I further machine stitched into the piece from the front side. I added some finishing touches with shiva sticks and pastels.
Was sad that my piece had to be 12 " square as I got very carried away with all the techniques and the almost meditative, repetitive nature of this piece - the subject of which has a very deep place in my heart.
Looking forward to seeing the others!



Humans leave their mark everywhere

I have started to fulfil an idea about how we as humans leave traces wherever we go.  In this piece I have taken the simple fingerprint, unique in each person, and turned it into an imaginary topographical map - human structure laid over land structure - humans leaving their mark on the landscape.

The fingerprint lines are simple satin stitch as are the buildings, the forests appliqued, the road is twin needle work (I was most tickled with this) and the river free motion.  The roads and river were painted with Tsuneko pens.


PS  When I took the photo I had forgotten the bridges to cross the river - they are now there.  H

Moses Mabhida Stadium - Structure

This is the south end of the majestic Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban built for the Soccer World Cup. The middle strip in the background is where the sky car runs up to the top and from the third or fourth rung up from this side you can do a jump/swing across the stadium.

Painted background, fused stadium enhanced with pencil, Shiva stick, paint and stitching.

I have put an image of the bronze statue of the man himself on the back,  Moses Mabhida.

This has turned out to be the challenge that gave me the most stress even though I immediately new what I wanted to do and how it was going to be done. As mentioned the other day I have procrastinated daily over it.  Now it is finished I am quite pleased.   I will change the quilting of the sky, I think, and do irregular straight lines as I think it will echo the steps at the bottom.  (I have changed the quilting and replaced the picture......better)


The "Structures" theme automatically hit home with me. My professional degrees are in Physical Therapy and Exercise Physiology, so what better structure than a backbone! I injured my back my first year at university while doing gymnastics and suffered with pain for 25 years. Then, 12 years ago, I had a surgery that restored me to a pain free life! I love being active, exercising and I train to run 1/2 marathons.
Freezer paper was used for screen printing. I used Tsukineko inks, Seta color dyes and Dyna Flow paints on plain white cotton fabric then followed up with an overall dye using a screen to create texture. The silhouettes are of my children on one of our holidays.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Countdown in progress

It's been awfully quiet for a long time -  here's little hint of my structures piece...

 I am off to Exeter this afternoon as my sewing machine 'told' me very politely I need to see my dealer for a service!  This involves a 75 mile drive there and then another to fetch it when it is ready - 300 miles in all.  Thank goodness this doesn't happen very often and that I have my old Bernina 1630 as a back-up.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Elisa D'Arrigo

Thanks to Terry Jarrard-Dimond Studio 24-7: Elisa D'Arrigo: Accretion I've discovered the work of Elisa D'Arrigo . I couldn't agree more when Terry says, "For me, it's strength comes from the obvious clarity of vision and perfect combination of simplicity and complexity. Simplicity in that it utilizes hand processes and complex in its structure and concept. I hope you enjoy this artist's work."

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Decided on this a while ago as I am terrible at sudden decisions or ideas so here  it goes ...........the next theme is   "FRESH".   I can hear you all going what!  In my Collins Dictionary ( which is old) there are approx 20 lines of definition and the world is your oyster.   I am intrigued to see where every one goes.  Do I know where I am going ..... no!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Just for fun

I have been passed this link to an animated quilt video - from Canada!


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Drum roll please....

And the next decider is...

Phil Fisher!

Phil, you have two weeks to think about your theme, as it doesn't have to be posted until March 1.

Bonne chance!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

New Studio

I may have mentioned that I was moving my studio to an upstairs space, taking over my two daughters' bedrooms and doubling the space. I am very happy with the new room, and wanted to share the results with you. The overall measurement is about 25' x 12', and the room overlooks the lake, so there's lots of natural light, with a southeast exposure. I plotted it all out on graph paper with an Ikea catalog at hand. A couple of bedrooms and bathrooms and a hall were also involved in the reno, which took about 5 weeks.

The layout of the room was determined by the position of the plumbing in the bathroom, i.e. the placing of the sink was more economical when it backed onto the bathroom plumbing. The two Ikea counters are topped with stainless steel, so I have my paints stored there. Under the sink is room for dyeing materials and stamping "stuff", housed in blue recycling boxes. Over the sink is a shelf for glues, sprays, etc.

The ironing board is about 22" wide, and is supported by two little cabinets, allowing for storage underneath. Behind the ironing board is a design wall covered with batting.

The shelving for fabric storage and the Horn sewing table and cutting table came from my old studio. I was able to add a big Ikea bookcase and a table for a laptop, printer/scanner, music, etc.

I needed more storage because I am working with paper and collage materials as well as the fabric. I was really tripping over myself in my former space. The little nooks and crannies turned out to be important to store a portfolio, foam core boards, a travelling case for the sewing machine, rolls of batting and muslin, etc. There's lots of cork on the walls for posting inspiration and notes. I'm also pleased with the pegboard for hanging tools, like scissors, rulers, hammer, etc. There is good "daylight" fluorescent lighting, as well as task lighting, and laminate flooring.

Now that things are settling down here, I look forward to many happy hours spent in my new space. Having taken these photos, it's now time to make a mess!

My graffitit quilt goes walk-about

I was invited yesterday to have my graffiti quilt added to a blog about urban art amongst textile artists.  Wow, what an honour.  Here's the blog link:

I love the title!  It also lead me down many more paths and links to other wonderful work being done - we really are a formidable army of stitchers.



Here's a hint of where I'm heading....

It's foul day - lashings of wind and rain and a trip to the Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower called off - yippee, I can sew!


More Journal Quilts - I'm on a roll!

A strange thing has been happening in that not just ideas but almost a compulsion has been driving me over the last few days.  I have several projects on the go and none of them is nearing a deadline (which by my standards is ususally less than a week to go) but for once it was stuff I really wanted to do - not needed to for reasons of deadlines or commercial commitment - but almost needed to for my own satisfaction.  It's quite exciting and even rewarding because I have been able to finish a couple of pieces and I'm pleased with the way they have gone.  This was probably because they were small and quickly achievable - and fun - and I learnt from them.  Oh dear, this is getting deep - so here endeth the lesson!

Following on from the first Ben Nicholson JQ which was monochromatic and dealt with shape (and depth) the next piece is black and white and deals with line and shape.  I had to get to grips with things not being exactly square and trying to balance the piece.  My 'straight' lines are a bit wobbly sadly.

Ben Nicholson painting
Journal Quilt

The third piece introduces colour - but flat colour.  I thought long and hard about how to quilt it.  Whether to treat each area/colour separately and to quilt each differently - or in a different direction, but in the end chose to use invisible thread and just stitch vertical lines and try to let the composition come through strongest.  I almost feel the quilting is a distraction and I don't know how to over come that.  I am still tempted to try it out again and to quilt the areas separately...

Ben Nicholson painting

Journal quilt

And finally, just because the idea came into my head and I had taken a very good workshop with Karina Thomson at Summer School two years ago which gave me the technique to achieve it - my extra piece - Crop Circles.  I have been fascinated for a while by the ingenuity of these people and the complex designs they create.  Mine is quite simple but it came out just as I wished.  To achieve the faux chenille I took a wire concrete brush to it and was very brutal.  The stitching in the circles looks just like the flattened crop.

Crop Circles
The final Ben Nicholson will use non flat colour - and maybe paint.  Watch this space.

Oh, and by the way, my structures piece is now fairly formed in my head which is a relief!



It's not often that an idea in my head materializes onto fabric exactly the way it should be.  But it did!!! I am so excited.  Just need to put the binding on and away we go!  And, to top it off, it will satisfy the requirements for the Guild challenge for the May show.

Just had to share that.

Friday, 4 February 2011


I am sure most of you will have gathered where I am going with my piece.  This picture was taken from a yacht off  Durban which gives you the impression that the stadium is virtually on the beach whereas there is quite an expanse of land in between.  This was taken 18 months ago before the completion of the stadium.

I spent yesterday wandering around the stadium taking pics from various angles etc . Magnificent day ... not a cloud in sight. This is the sky car track which takes you to the top of the arch and gives you a magnificent view up and down the coast on a clear day. However, I think I have settled on a view from the opposite side which gives wonderful sweeping lines.  I am probably  going to fuse, paint and stitch . Time to crack on while the creative juices are flowing.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Well, I've spent the last day and a half working on my piece for the Structures challenge. It involves lots of careful tracing and bonding. I was congratulating myself on remembering to trace the pieces from the wrong side so as to not reverse the picture, and was very pleased with my progress so I decided to go for more mass produced pieces to speed up the process. Some two hours later I have just discovered that I forgot to turn the tracing paper over!! Urgh!! Time to stop and cook some dinner.

Meanwhile I'm still snow dyeing, and have challenged myself to use only snow dyed fabrics for my piece.

Linda F


When I saw Heather's picture of a cone, I remembered I had coloured this one in to see the series.

Structures - Plan A and a half ....

...... because, having finally made a sample (This group is already transforming the way I work!!!!) not everything has gone quite as intended, but there is no time to work on a Plan B.

So what went wrong? The plan was to layer my fabric using coloured scraps held in place with an organza, finishing with a synthetic fabric that I could cut away with my soldering iron, revealing the colour beneath. Inevitably and unfortunately the synthetic fabric adhered to the organza when touched with the soldering iron - I should have seen that one coming :-)

Journal Quilt

The format for the 2011Contemporary Quilt Journal Quilts is a 10" square.  The first 4 months have to contain something linked to a circle/s.  It is not prescribed exactly how so as to encourage thinking out of the box and to make the sky the limit.  My piece is a homage to Ben Nicholson and is a recycled Damask table napkin with white on white quilting trying to recreate the 3D effect of his painting.  I plan to base all four months on his paintings.  Interesting the way the photo has come out - it looks as if the quilting is raised when it is actually flattened - a trick of lighting.

Ben Nicholson painting
Journal Quilt

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

snow dyeing

I tried snow dyeing last year, with very mediocre results.  This year, in the Jan 2011 issue of AQS there is a good article by Lisa White Weber and so I followed the directions when mixing the dye and soda ash.  Basically she uses a heavy concentration of dye mixed with urea and the soda ash concentration is also stronger than I would normally use.

There is some suggestion that you can do this using crushed ice.  Basically you put your fabric (which has been soaked in a soda ash solution) on top of a webbing which is attached to the top of a tray (I like kitty litter trays).  This keeps the fabric out of the resulting liquid.  Snow is put on top of the fabric to a depth of about 6" and then dye is squirted on to the snow.   The snow then slowly melts into the tray, and the dye slowly leaches through the fabric.

When I did it the first time this year, the markings are lovely rounded ones.  But at the retreat we left the trays outside overnight, which froze everything, but I think the dye had already started to hit the fabric.  Consequently the markings are sharper.  I'm not sure how many words the Inuit have for snow, but I have a feeling that if we did exactly the same process in dry snow, wet snow, freezing cold, warmer weather etc etc we would have different results.

What is fun about the whole process is that the results are so unpredictable.