Saturday, 23 July 2011

Art in Action

I so enjoyed my day at Art in Action this year. The weather was kind all day and the range and skill of the exhibitors was outstanding. I'm including a few comments about those that particularly caught my eye:
* Jane Freer-Wyld, a tapestry weaver, who used manipulated digital images as the basis for her work. The tapestries are woven on an upright hand loom. Images of raindrops on leaves were woven to produce subtle, delightful work.
* Anne Selby, modern silk shibori, her densely pleated creations have fascinated me ever since I first saw them in Chelsea several years ago. Her palette is varied and her pieces range from uber subtle to vibrant. I confess to having bought a scarf this year and am proud to own such a fabulous piece- black purple and green - and feels like heaven.
* Margo Selby, bold, abstract textile designs woven cleverly to give stretch and shine. I can't afford her work but have now bought 2 packs of offcuts, one used in a quilt for Jan Showers and this one for me to experiment with over the winter!
* The best of the best for me was Maximo Laura from Peru, a weaver whose vibrant work shone out in the International Art tent.
His work was imaginative, vibrant and skilled. Amazing to see him working with a colour image of the piece pinned up and two curved lines pencilled onto the warp threads, no other marks. That in itself is amazing.
I have included a photo of part of one of his pieces so you can appreciate just how exiting his work is.

Friday, 22 July 2011


On Wednesday night Lutterworth Piecemakers hosted Phillipa Naylor. What a fabulous evening! She is an entertaining whirlwind, with an insightful run through her careers and a chance to hear about how she goes about creating her amazing award winning quilts.

She has so many talents and a huge appetite for getting things done, achieving so much already.
She showed us how she went about designing her"Star Sign" quilt, winning the IQA Pfaff Master Award for machine artistry. The complexity of its construction, the degree of planning were awe inspiring and then to see and touch the quilt itself, an honour.

She also brought her "Daisy Quilt" a whole-cloth piece with just about the most quilting I've ever seen on one item. Beautifully executed with lovely trapunto areas and piping which created such a strong 3D effect. The quilting itself was very beautiful, but us ordinary mortals then had to go through a show and tell session - very humbling after all those stunning quilts!

Monday, 18 July 2011

August JQ planning

The very act of deciding to do something simple seems to have released the creative juices! So... I've been doing some experiments which have taught me some useful lessons:
* Plan properly before rushing in
* Always measure accurately, doing it by eye is not good enough
* I quite like raw edges, but not sure yet how to get the effect I want ( some pieces just look badly cut out!)
* Surface decoration is more important than piecing to me (never thought I'd ever say that!)
* I have to start to think about what on earth I do with all this "stuff" I'm producing I can't just put it all in a cupboard, too much of it. Samples are ok, they can be cut down and put in the sketchbook, its the "finished" bits I'm worried about.
I quite like the idea that the background is itself pieced - 2 samples made:
This is woven from strips of fabric.
This has 2.5" squares applied to wadding that has adhesive on one side.
I think I prefer the woven version but perhaps with some bondaweb as well.
Then I tried a freezer paper stencil on both samples and sponged fabric dye onto the fabric. This works well and I'll definitely use that technique again.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Jelly Roll and more

I've enjoyed the stress free hand stitching that my jelly roll project has provided, one of these blocks shown above. However the strange thing is that in doing this my mind has been free to wander and I've had ideas for JQs and for larger pieces later! So.... I have tried some samples for the August JQ. Using Markal sticks and some appliqué with raw edges and experimenting with weaving together strips of fabric to create a background on which I can stitch, so perhaps the Jelly roll was a a needed break to kick start myself again!

More of the weaving experiment later, I'm trying to do the machine stitch work now saving the hand stitching for a couple of train journeys.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A break from all this creativity!

Now that all the work for Festival of Quilts is done I'm allowing myself a short break to just do some uncomplicated stitching!
I was given a Jelly Roll, now that is a peculiar name for the Americans to give to this collection of strips of fabric because in the jazz era it was slang for a lover or for sex! I am going to use it and some of the fabrics I have been printing to make a throw!.

No hassle, no real effort just stitching for the sheer pleasure of it!
It is going to be stitched by hand so that on the couple of trips I've planned I can stitch on the train! I'm sure I'll machine quilt it, but for now its the gentle arts for me!
The design is really simple partly because the fabrics are quite busy and I'd like them to be the feature.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

July JQ

I have now completed the July Journal Quilt. I have used a stencil and markal paints to create the shapes and then used hand quilting. I like the more homespun effect it gives.
Following the trip to RSN I tried using 2 different coloured threads when stitching the rays. The text is poor. I am still finding free-hand lettering quite hard but I'm going to keep practising until I'm happy with it. I think I'll try a different tack for August!

FoQ Quilts are finished!

I am so thrilled that my 2 entries are finished without having to burn the midnight oil! They are "in your face" colours as you might expect from reading these pages! "The rocks of Petra" has been the result of the many experiments you've seen over the last 6 months. Its been really interesting to do, had taught me new things and techniques and I know now that I'm really in to surface decoration, the fact that I've used 3 layers is no longer the issue for me. I'll need to investigate what constitutes 3 layers and look at what else I could put in the sandwich to create different effects.

Friday, 8 July 2011

CQ Summer School part 2

The amazing variety of ways in which one can prepare a silk screen was the most useful thing this week-end taught me and I now know that I need a small blank screen!
On the Sunday morning we created a Flour screen - I had imagined a thick paste but in reality we created a mix of equal quantities of white flour and water mixed really well which we then pulled across the outside of the screen in both directions before leaving it in the shade to dry.
Once dry we used wooded barbecue skewers to etch marks very carefully in the flour paste, a slow job, being very careful not to pierce the mesh!! The screen was then ready to be used. I used two shades of blue on my prepared fabric.
I'll add a background colour next time I'm at The Bramblepatch, and the fabric is destined for my next theme!
The other major effort on Sunday was to use a vilene screen with the image painted with acrylic paint masking taped to the front of the screen. The idea was to go round the colour wheel using all the colours to completely cover the fabric. One had to trust the method as it was really hard to see what the final result might be like! I realised that I had chosen the wrong image for the task, the more geometric freezer paper stencil design would have worked better and the leaf would have been just as good as a one colour set of screens. I know better next time.
I am please with the effect and will try it again.
It was a great week-end and Linda Maynard was an excellent tutor, able to handle the different starting points of her students and with exemplary explanations, she's a very good teacher.
My thanks to the CQ committee for putting together such a brilliant Summer School.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

CQ Summer School

I am just recovering from the exertions of Summer School at Belstead House near Ipswich. I was so lucky to get a place this year as it was subscribed twice over! I spent Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday with Linda Maynard screen printing. I knew of Linda's work in advance, from seeing her students' pieces at The Bramblepatch, Weedon, I had admired their pieces and wanted to be able to begin to emulate them.
We spent Friday evening preparing our fabric in a soda ash soak and getting them dried and with black paper and a sketch book, learning to make our own Notans
These were going to form the basis is a screen print later in the weekend. I found it hard to visualise the patterns I wanted, and was a slow starter. Eventually I got the hang of it.
On Saturday morning we were up bright and early, perfecting our designs before breakfast! Linda then showed us how we could create a mask on a blank screen with just masking tape! Just a roll of 2" wide, which she tore and cut. Cut out intricate shapes from it and applied them to the outside of the screen. Of course the trick was to be able to conceive of your design in the negative or one ended up printing a background!! This we then printed onto a length of soda soaked fabric.
Next we used the same screen, now clean and empty to block print plain colour onto onto more pre-soaked fabric.
We worked all day and well into the evening, enjoying the complete focus and lack of interruptions. It was lovely to spend time with like minded people. The food was plentiful with wonderful salads at lunch.
By the end of Saturday we had also created a vilene screen, with the image outlined in acrylic paint and some of the vilene cut away, a freezer paper stencil from one of the Notan designs and more fabric prepared for Sunday.