August 29, 2017

The last few weeks have been extremely busy, in part due to 2 deadlines on the Bank Holiday weekend that has just passed. On Saturday I was due to deliver some work for a group exhibition to the Workers’ Gallery in Ynyshir, Porth. I only entered 1 newly created hanging quilt into the show but I was asked if I had anything else available that would fit the requirements. I managed to whip up a second hanging along the same theme, plus I took along a few framed embroideries that were in a similar colour and felt appropriate.

Called “Cut and Sew” each piece of work had to include textiles and/or wood or be related along that theme. I managed to do all 3 with a piece of driftwood to hang my textile art which is based around trees! I can’t wait to visit when the whole exhibition has been put up to see how other people have interpreted the theme.

The 2nd deadline was for another group exhibition, this time of work by twentyeleven, a sewing group that I am a member of who meet monthly near Brecon. Every 2 years we have an exhibition in the gorgeous Brecon Cathedral and Bank Holiday Monday was our day to organise, hang, and generally work hard to make the exhibition beautiful. We have 2 challenges that most of us took part in then our own areas for our individual work. As long as the majority of what we were doing was made from textiles then we were free to put up anything we liked.

I included a few framed collages that I made from mixed media and that include hand-stitching as well as my first Journal Quilt this year and a small quilt with a hidden seahorse in the quilting. In the group sections there is an intensively hand-stitched piece on the theme of Agincourt and my Round Robin challenge quilt.

We started to get visitors as we were finishing the hanging and it was lovely to be able to chat to people about our work.

This is a beautiful and varied exhibition that I hope will get plenty of attention from other people who love textiles and quilting. It’s only on until 8th September, though, so you don’t have long if you’d like to visit. It’s free to enter and you can also see the beautiful interior of Brecon Cathedral.

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Festival Favourites

August 20, 2017

So, I’ve already admitted that I didn’t see everything but, out of what I did see, what were my favourites?

I thought that this was a really skilled rendition of the Angel of the North and the quilting really added to the piece. I love the gusts of wind and the little houses that are only created by the stitched shapes. It’s a group quilt by Berkshire Modern Quilters.

I also thought that this group quilt was a fantastic idea – it’s a plan of one of their cells by HMP Bullingdon Boys.

Next is a quilt by Olena Pugachova that I find both detailed and restful. I’ve been working in similar colours recently so that might be part of why it attracts me.

I loved the detail and atmosphere of this rainforest by Helga Mayr in the EQA gallery.

Bex Raven’s ‘Long Walk in the Woods’ appealed to me and my mind is running away with long, skinny things that I could do.

This quilt, by Lia , was attracting a lot of attention – and not just for the subject matter. In the close up image you can see the fantastic texture in the letters.

There was so much more talent on display but I don’t like to make my blog posts too long so I’ll just leave you with these beautiful images.

Festival of Quilts 2017

August 16, 2017

I’m mid-recovery after a weekend of fabulous quilts, wonderful workshops, plenty of talking, and lots of walking at my yearly pilgrimage to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. It’s such a good show to go to if you’re interested in textiles in anyway as there is inspiration by the bucket-load and things to buy around every corner! This year I stayed for 2 nights so that I could take 2 workshops as well as do plenty of shopping and admiring. I still don’t think I got around everything, though!

 

The workshops I took were with Gilli Theokritoff and Dawn Cameron-Dick. On Saturday morning Gilli T showed us how to use the ‘quilt-as-you-go’ technique to make a twisted humbug bag. This was a fast and fun class in order to get the bag completed in 3 hours but it was so enjoyable and we all loved coming away with something that was actually finished. We were provided with all the materials so there was no pondering over colours and fiddling with little scraps for hours – we just got on and sewed as fast as we could! The bag is the perfect size for carrying my sewing kit, including a few bulky reels of cotton as that humbug shape gives it a lot of capacity. The end result is colourful and useful as well as teaching me some new skills along the way.

 

Twisted Humbug Bag Quilt As You Go

 

Sunday morning was a very informative workshop with Dawn Cameron-Dick where we learnt all about types of needles and thread, and how they can affect our sewing. There was a lot to talk about but Dawn is a good teacher and dropped in plenty of anecdotes to keep us laughing. After taking in as much as we could we got to try out some of the theory on a little landscape project. Dawn showed us her way of appliquéing pieces onto a background in order to create different edge effects. I came away with a small picture that I think I will quilt at home and turn into a small panel. I also have pages of notes to read over that will help me to improve my sewing and quilting skills.

 

Dawn Cameron-Dick workshop appliqued landscape

 

I’ve been very lucky with all the workshops that I’ve attended at the Festival of Quilts over the years. It’s been great to be exposed to teachers that I might not meet otherwise and I keep adding to my repertoire of skills.

I got the blues (of an indigo variety)

May 18, 2017

I’ve just spent a fantastic few days in beautiful West Wales, playing with lots of fabric and buckets of blue! The course was shibori techniques and indigo dyeing, which involved using lots of different ways of tying the fabric in order to create a resist. We used elastic bands, clamps, blocks of wood, marbles – all sorts of things that you might not associate with working with textiles.

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The venue was beautiful (a working farm) and we got to make as much mess as we wanted in an old barn with swifts nesting above us. Unfortunately the weather was only like this for 1 day and it poured with rain for the rest of the time.

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There was a little bit of maths and chemistry but we got to make jars of magical greeny-blue murk!

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Very soon the barn was covered in glorious pieces of indigo fabric that gleamed in the sunlight.

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And we created washing lines wherever we could.

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We also used some plants and rust to create interesting backgrounds to our indigo dyeing. The results are now drying and I will soon be able to show you the wonders that I have made.

Crafters’ Clearout

April 3, 2017

We had another fantastic Crafters’ Clearout on Sunday. I love these events as it’s such a great community and we have a lovely time swapping things and chatting with each other – just as much as we do selling materials on to other crafters!

The weather was beautiful over the weekend so we were a bit worried how many customers we would have, but thankfully the footfall was reasonable so we all did well enough. A cloudy day tends to be the best for things like this but we can’t book the weather!


Of course, I managed to spend just as much as I made but that’s pretty usual for me! Here are some of the things that I bought:

 

There are some beautiful ribbons and some gorgeous scraps of leather as well as the fat quarters and felt. I haven’t got plans for everything yet but a few of the items are allocated to specific projects. I also bought some books and a few quilting magazines.


Towards the end Elvie came to give me a hand and very much enjoyed the busy atmosphere.

Dyeing Day

March 28, 2017

A sewing group that I belong to recently organised a day of fabric dyeing (something always better when done in groups). We decided to create a batch of neutrals using dilution dyeing. It’s like a production line with a series of bags or tubs into which you add all the relevant ingredients. The dye starts off very concentrated then slowly diluted as it’s added to each bag. The result is a range of greys from almost black to very pale. I chose not to agitate the bags so that the fabric ended up mottled and patterned.

As well as the egyptian cotton that I cut into equal pieces I also threw in some random pieces of cotton fabrics such as sheeting and broderie anglaise. The results look really useful, particularly for stormy skies or walls in my stitched and fabric pictures.

After we’d completed the neutral dyeing it was time to do some playing. Most people continued with the dilution dyeing using a different colour or did exchange dyeing (1 pure colour at 1 end, a 2nd pure colour at the other end and a gradation of shades in between). Of course, I didn’t stay so safe. After doing some blue pieces of fabric I went a bit wild. I splodged, dribbed and splashed multiple colours into the pots and ended up with some rather interesting results.

I have no idea what I will do with these but I certainly had fun creating them!

Banner unveiled!

March 5, 2017

The banner that I’ve been working on with a group of participants in Pontypridd Museum has been hung and unveiled this weekend.

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It sits alongside some industrial banners and pieces made by local groups to celebrate specific occasions, hanging from the balcony of the ex-Welsh chapel. It’s funny how such a large piece can look so tiny when up so high!

Here’s zoomed image so that you can see a little more of the detail:

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The shape of the banner is based on a miner’s lamp and all the detail is in the area that the flame would be in. These images include Pontypridd old bridge, St Catherine’s church steeple and the two rivers that combine in Pontypridd. It reflects what the group thought of when they were discussing their memories of the town.

Thankfully the banner will be displayed lower down for a while during a 2 month stint at Rhondda Heritage Park so I’ll be able to get a better photograph of it but I’m so pleased that it’s permanent place is alongside other banners that belong to the town and the museum.

Journal Quilts – February

March 2, 2017

I just scraped in, getting the February Journal Quilt finished and posted online on the last day of the month! It’s not that they take me a long time to make, but just that they fall down the to-do list as higher priority items creep on. My main focus recently has been finishing a large banner that has been created in a commuity group and is due to be shown in a couple of local museums – more about that soon 🙂

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Anyway, here is the piece that I created for this month. If you remember, my theme is “Small Journeys” and it’s based on a collection of images that I’ve taken of paths, doors, gates, etc. When I’m walking my dogs I often walk past this Right of Way sign and it makes me laugh. It is so old and rusted that the top has broken and the sign now points down towards the ground. I thought it made on interesting image to experiment with. First of all I printed a copy of the image in black and white high contrast. I used this to show me where to stitch the black outlines of each section (using the stitching through method) then I coloured it in with Inktense pencils. I washed over each section of colouring with plain water to blend the colour and make it more intense.

I’m pretty happy with this month’s work although it doesn’t quite feel finished. It was an experiment, though, and some of the things I did were new to me. I was very pleased to try out this method of creating an image and I think it could look really amazing with some practice and altering of the way things are done.

Now I need to decide what image I’m going to work on for the next month…

Journal Quilts – January

February 4, 2017

I’m a member of the Contemporary Quilters sub-section of the Quilters’ Guild and each year they work on a series of small quilts to a theme – 1 per month. I’ve never taken part in the challenge before but this year I volunteered to give it a go. There’s always some requirements that you need to meet and this year the size is 11″ x 11″ with a self-defined theme.

I chose to look at pictures I’d taken of doors, gates, pathways etc. and gave the series the title of “Small Journeys”. I have never intentionally looked at this subject but I do seem to have collected images over the years, from a small track through a local copse to ornate gates and Tunisian doors.

For my first quilt I printed an image of a worn door from Tunisia onto pre-prepared fabric then used free-machine embroidery to highlight and enhance the features. As my printer can only create print outs up to nearly A4 I had to piece some fabrics around the outside to reach the requisite 11″. After sewing on some Greek key fabric down the sides I attached brown pieces at an angle on the bottom and top. I then used a subtly printed fabric to create a binding.

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Now, there are imperfections in this small quilt, but I’m not going to point them out as if they matter to you you’ll be able to see them already. I know we all have the habit of being too modest, even critical of our own work, so I will force the criticisms down and just say “here is something that I’ve done”!

Next, using Inktense pencils to colour a picture that I’ve already drawn out in stitch…

Flapper fashion, mental hospitals and Medieval objects!

January 14, 2017

Not realising how much was going on that could disrupt the trains, I took a trip to London last Sunday. Despite having a delay on the way there due to overrunning engineering works, having to be back at Paddington before the underground was closed due to strikes, AND 2 hour cancellations on the trip home, I had a fantastic time.

Two exhibitions that I really wanted to see were closing  and this was my last chance to see them. This first was The Jazz Age: Fashion &Photography at the Fashion and Textile Museum. I have always loved the clothes of the 20s and 30s and I was really pleased to see that it wasn’t just the glamorous flapper dresses but also the sportswear, and the pretty daywear that was represented.

As always there was great narration and explanation throughout the exhibition. It also helps that the clothes are hardly ever behind glass in this museum so you can properly see the material and the seam lines.

After this it was a quick dash across Central London to the Welcome Collection. I had never been here before and I expected that it would be a quiet, studious place. Boy was I wrong! It was buzzing! A fantastic cafe, a busy exhibition and a wonderful bookshop. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any photographs in the exhibition, which was a shame because they had some interesting textile pieces from old mental hospitals that I would have liked to have studied further. It’s hard to find books and exhibitions that display these items and I wish I’d seen these when I was doing my MA.

Finally I had time to nip into the V&A before getting back to Paddington before my 6pm deadline. In the summer I will be showing work in a group exhibition, part of which needs to be based on the battle of Agincourt. Not knowing much about Agincourt and the medieval period I headed straight for the Medieval artefacts section where I did lots of research and finally got inspired. I didn’t have much in mind before this but the synapses started firing on Sunday!