Friday, 31 August 2012


Along the Fields
This summer has been a difficult one for our family losing our 13 year old Portuguese Water Dog Maggie, during the visit of my 3 grandchildren so needless to say I have not been at my most jubilant. There was a piece that I had made in hounour of all the wonderful lessons learned from Maggie in our family and ended up gluing a picture of her to it instead. This is one of the pieces that I have recently finished while getting ready for the Hudson Studio Tour in September with Heather. I have been trying out a phototransfer technique onto cloth with gel medium using photocopies of my image first and a second image slightly offset to create that vibrating feel. Maybe that Van Gogh exhibition is still bouncing around in my head. I have added some additional colour as we have had the most beautiful summer and all the asters are blooming early. I especially like walking along the fields in the fall  to relax and take photographs. This is mounted on a 12X12 canvas that has been painted with acrylic.


I have to be honest - even after the celebrations we've had in the UK this summer I couldn't really get into this challenge. Perhaps it's a personality thing, I'm much more of your quiet inward glow kind of person than a cheering and whooping type. So I decided to use two images of 2012 - our Union Flag and the ubiquitous bunting and play with an insertion technique and some quilting:

mea culpa

I am not ready.  And am in the Arctic at the moment.  As usual Jubilation was left a little late but I did manage to assemble it and was waiting until I got home from the cottage to quilt it and finish it up - I gave myself 5 days - was that not enough!

Well, I managed to do a little damage to my ankle during our Text'Art retreat - slipped on a slippery rock.  More than just a sprain and so a round of appointments ensued.  As well as other delayed activities such as buying boots and wet gear for the trip.  So I ran out of time.  I will do it first thing when I get home and will post then.  And will hopefully get to enjoy yours when I am back in civilization!

A tribute to Rayna and Kaffe!

Jubilation!  Kaffe Fassett's knitting patterns, interiors, quilts, books and for the last many years his absolutely gorgeous fabrics as well as using Rayna Gillman's technique after admiring her style for many years, and then doing workshops with her and building a warm relationship with her were an obvious combination when it came to making something in this challenge. 
Other than the black and white fabrics and the solid yellow hand dyed fabric, all fabrics in this piece are designed by Kaffe.  The technique used in this block is Rayna's 'therapy sewing' - free form strip quilt piecing.
Had huge fun making this - quite addictive and difficult to stop.  Certainly a technique I love using fabrics I adore.


I really thought I would move on from this idea and interpret a topic more personally jubilant but for some reason the little ju-jubes stuck with me. The binding fabric was included in a mail order by mistake, I think it works perfectly.

Jubilation - First Day of Spring

It is the official First Day of Spring tomorrow the 1st September in South Africa.  Since moving up to the Highveld 4 years ago I have actually experienced actual seasons and after our harsh winter cold (remember our houses are not built to accommodate the cold - just the heat) it has been miraculous to experience spring with lovely warm, and even sometimes hot, spring days.  The fresh green leaves are sprouting on the trees, my roses are budding and sprouting as you look at them each day and altogether everything is looking green and new.  Although we are still waiting for our first rain of the season that will come soon I am sure and we will be well into our lovely hot and sunny days.

Olympic Jubilations

I originally choose this theme after seeing the Union Jack bunting (banners) all over England ready for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee earlier this year, though I was actually planning to use a wonderful leaf pattern from a plant in my garden - a heuchera called Cherry Jubilee.  Then we had the Olympics, and, as in Canada for the Vancouver Olympics, there was a sudden outpouring of national pride.  Not only that, but for the first time I could remember we weren't then disappointed by not living up to our hopes.  We did better than expected, and all of Britain basked in the reflected glory of our sportsmen and women.  I felt I had to celebrate with them, hence the patriotism of my piece.  I even bound it in gold - it somehow seemed appropriate.

Cherries Jubilee

I had a wonderful time using my ice dyed fabrics for the cherries and flat dyed fabric for the background. I seem to have food on the brain these days, but this was the first image that sprang to mind with the theme of Jubilation.

Birthday Jubilation

Since I couldn't figure out how to express jubilation as part of my current obsession with Cityscapes, I went for an abstract treatment of celebratory colour and shape. For those of you clever enough to find a candle flaming away in there, yes, I did celebrate a Big Birthday this summer. There may even be the requisite number of "candles" scattered about.

Jubilation - New Orleans Style

New Orleans is known culturally for its jazz and in particular for its distinctive jazz funerals. Historically, the jazz funeral could sometimes  include a parade.  A brass band would play somber dirges and hymns as family and friends marched to the cemetery. The tone would remain somber until the coffin had been placed in the ground. The brass band would play a couple more hymns, though these were played with a swing beat, to alert mourners that the mood was about to change, then would launch into wilder music with tambourines and drums. Songs such as "When the Saints Go Marching In" would be played. The music and dancing were both a cathartic release for mourners and a celebration of a life well lived. In this state of jubilation, the group would then march back to the location of their reception. Those who follow the band and family members to enjoy the music are called "the second line", and any parasol twirling that occurs in that ensemble is called a "second lining" that compliments the family's handkerchief waving and umbrella twirling. 
I drew this on white fabric with a pencil, then stitched over my lines with black thread. I colored it with Inktense colored pencils and made it permanent by using a textile medium. I wanted to give this piece dimension, so I cut it out and fused it onto black felt, then stitched it onto my quilted background.

JUBILATION - SKA in South Africa

Just when I thought we were having a fairly good year in South Africa with lots to celebrate we have had to deal with a most horrific tragedy, the Marikana Mine Massacre, the likes of which we did not think we would ever see again in this country.

Back to my jubilant moments..... the fascination of the skies started as a child as we had telescopes in the household and were forever looking at the moon, stars and satellites. Our holidays in the nature and game reserves away from all the distraction of electricity enabled us to witness magnificent views of the constellations.

Earlier this year South Africa was awarded the majority partnership alongside Australia to host the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).   The SKA in SA will be located mainly in the Northern Cape Province with the core of the telescope being located in the Karoo Regions, with outlying stations spread throughout SA, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar and Mauritius.

Hence my 'jubilation'!

Pieced background from a pack of dyed fabrics from a wonderful local source, Amafu (see pic below) ; painted applique sky and simply stitched.  The contrast on the dishes are pastels and pencil.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Next challenge - Hilary

OK,  I've pulled a name out of the hat - and it is Hilary!!  And as far as I am concerned - Hilary you are totally forgiven for not making the deadline this time.  I know how busy you have been, and I have a copy of the book 'CQ@10' to prove it!!  Well done on the gallery too, the quilts were beautifully displayed and the whole area looked interesting and professional.  Looking forward to what our next challenge is - but this time I'm hoping to get the work done well before the deadline (yes, I'm still finishing my piece!).

Still alive and kicking

Hi everyone,

I am slowly getting my life back.  This year has been exceptional in many ways.  From being able to participate in an Open Studios event, to helping publish a book for the Contemporary Quilt Group, and having suddenly to take back the reigns of organising the group's gallery and stand at the Festival of Quilts here in Birmingham, UK.  The group, which is a specialist group of the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles, has 650 members and is celebrating it's 10th birthday this year.  Hence having our own proper gallery for the first time ever. - that means solid white walls where the quilts hang like pieces of art.

Glimpse into the gallery

23 of the 60 pieces submitted by members were juried in.  The inspiration was a black and white photograph taken by Tony Howell of a Cornish tin mine (tin is the 10th anniversary symbol).  The exhibition was extremely well received by the visitors who were taken by how many variations could result from one image.  The group decided to publish a book to include the quilts from the exhibition (two pages for each quilt) and a gallery of photos of quilts and events that the group has been involved in for their first ten years - over 500 full colour photos.  A small team of graphic designers, editor and dog's body (me) got it published in three months - not bad for a bunch of amateurs.  I loved every minute of it but it meant I was out of it for the three months - I even went on a quilt retreat with the laptop to carry on ploughing through the photos and getting them prepared for publishing!

Cover of the book (back and front laid out)

It was certainly CQ's year at the Festival of Quilts with the group taking many of the top prizes - our own Linda B being one of them!  I wish you could have been there, Phil, as I hardly got to see any of the quilts or galleries at all - I could have done with seeing your photos...  From a personal point of view it was frustrating and disappointing to be so tied up in the running of the gallery and stand, but from the group's perspective we had a truly great year.

On top of this I had promised to make a quilt for Makower and I finished up having to slink off to my hotel room each night and sew until nearly midnight - a single bed size quilt full of triangles - madness - but I did manage to break the back of the quilt and posted it off in time to go to a trade show in Europe this week.

I am now packing my bags again - and you are all going to be green with envy:  a 5 day workshop with Jan Myers Newbury!!!!  Over at Claire Benn's new Potters Bar Studionear Dorking, UK.  let you all know how I get on when I get back next weekend.

This all leads neatly to asking your forgiveness because I am not going to make the deadline this time.  I promise to get my piece in asap and am prepared to do any forfeits you make me!

Meanwhile, Linda F, can you please choose who is next to choose a theme?  Left in the mix are:  Michele and myself.  If you could pull a name out of the hat please.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Dyeing Masterclass

 I've been to a dyeing masterclass at the Festival of Quilts, and had a wonderful three days dyeing fabrics an amazing variety of colours.  We used both high water and low water methods, and the only problem about doing such a course at the NEC was the lack of hot running water in the 'virtual' studio we were working in.  I ended up with an intimate acquaintance with the painter's cupboard.

One of the most interesting exercises we did was to do some some family dyeing - dyeing fabrics light, medium and dark shades in one colour, then overdyeing in a second colour.  You can see here the results (at the top) of dyeing Silko (a silk/cotton mix) first brown, and then acid lemon.  A friend had some cotton in the same dye bath, and her brown really was brown, not a burgundy colour as mine.

The second set was using cotton, and dyeing first in acid lemon, then in purple.  I'm not sure the photos do justice to the lovely shades that resulted.
Then I did an exercise I had wanted to do for some time.  I dyed 8 different fabrics in the same dye bath, in this case a red that was half scarlet and half magenta.  You can see how differently the fabrics accepted the dye!  The top 4 are all cottons, then a silk, then two silk/cotton mixes, then finally silk velvet.

Then we moved onto tray dyeing, long lengths of fabric (pre soaked in soda ash) finger pleated into trays then dye added using squeezee bottles.  I didn't use enough dye first time round, so on the left you see the results from tray1, with the two fabrics on the right then rolled around wooden skewers and overdyed in purple.  On the right is the results from tray 2, all of which were put back into a tray and over dyed with more, similar, coloured dyes.

Then we played with clamps and resists.  Here's most
of my results.  All of them have been overdyed a
second time, and some of them need overdying again.
In general I have to say I prefer the simple methods of
scrunching and twisting, to the more complicated
ones of folding and clamping with acrylic

My favourite two results are the turquoise and brown one (middle top row) which was simply scrunched, dyed in turquoise, then rinsed, rescrunched and overdyed in brown; and the middle one of the second row which was twisted and dyed in acid lemon, then rolled round a piece of string diagonally from one corner, then the string was pulled up and tied so that it looked like a doughnut, then overdyed in indigo.

My least favourites are the final two - maybe it's the orange I used!  The frustrating thing is that these two are the largest pieces I did - suggestions please.

Friday, 17 August 2012

A reluctant winner ...

... the quilt, that is, not the owner. After several stops and starts for different reasons this quilt has been three years in the making.But the quilt knew something that I didn't because it demanded to be finished and yesterday it came first in the Contemporary Quilt section at Festival of Quilts. I was so surprised that I asked Hilary to check when she got to the exhibition area, which bless her she did and a very excited phone call followed! I don't even have a picture of the finished quilt - this is 'Byland Pieces' after it has been blocked, and edges removed  on the PC! Dianne saw my post on Facebook and suggested I post a picture here:

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Text'art Retreat, Part 1

This week, the text'art group had an art retreat at Dianne's beautiful cottage on Lake Memphremagog. Text'art has seven members: six of them are participants in 12 by the Dozen, plus Lauma Cenne. We meet every month and have a fine old time mucking about with new techniques, or visiting local art shows.

One of the techniques we have been itching to try is inspired by Kerr Grabowki's DVD, "Adventures in Surface Design". At the left, you can see some of the results.

In the top photo, I drew directly onto the silkscreen with water-soluble crayons, Aqua Briques. I then pushed "extender" through the silkscreen to apply the pigment to the cotton underneath.  The original transfer is on the left, and the second transfer, the "ghost print", is on the right, when less pigment remains on the screen. So often the ghost print is more interesting.

The second photo shows what happened when I drew directly onto the cotton with the Aqua Briques. The result was made colourfast by applying a thin layer of extender through the silkscreen. This doesn't change the "hand" of the fabric.

The photos on the right illustrate another of our experiments, this time using gouache paint on paper. This exercise was suggested by Becky Koenig's book "Color Workshop".

The idea is that by desaturating colour, you can create a sense of distance. There are different ways of desaturating colour.

At the top, the red is made paler with white.
The second example shows how the red is made darker with black.

Then I tried to desaturate the red with dark gray,
medium gray, and light gray, always attempting to achieve a sense of distance, or "atmospheric colour", as it is sometimes called.

None of us are painters, but we can apply these lessons in colour to our work with cloth.
I hope that some of the other participants will share some of their experiments. Some of us tried silkscreening with fabric paint, using newspaper as a stencil. Another activity was using markers with permanent ink on cotton, and then creating a bleeding of the ink with a spritz of alcohol.

With great food and wine, swimming and boating, a birthday celebration and a demo of Photoshop, what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Here's my teaser - or rather, it was as I've changed my mind!!  This was in my mind from the beginning, and, surprisingly, has a relationship with Helena's teaser - but with the results so far from the Olympics I've going down a much more conventional route now!