Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Planning my next big piece

While at Festival this year I treated myself to a long length of printed cotton from Ghana. The pieces created by Esther have always attracted me and I am the proud owner of 3 of her lengths of fabric already.
Her colour combinations are always exciting and the hinted at motifs just make you itch to get creating. This is a small section of the fabric which shows the colours and some of the patterning.

I started playing with the spiral motif, looking at different ways of creating a spiral and applying it to the fabric.
Together with this Ghanaian fabric I had bought a range of toning silks, these worked well as appliqued shapes but I thought I might be interesting to piece a background using these different fabrics.
This is an 18" square sample.
Its not going to waste as I'm using this to make a pair of cushions for my sister!
Close up, you can see the stitching detail that I am increasingly enjoying adding to my work.
I think this has potential. I'll try another 18" square and then see if I can create a potential entry for FoQ next year.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

"Through our Hands"

The work of ten textile artists from the UK and worldwide is exhibited at Leamington Spa Gallery and Museum now and until January 13th.
I visited on Friday for a lunchtime talk about the exhibition and to hear some of the artists talk about how they work. The initial talk was very disappointing - they had hugely underestimated the interest there would be in the event, which meant there wasn't enough space for the talk and the Gallery staff doing the talk was clearly not used to doing it and hadn't run through the speech often enough to feel at home with the content - sad - given the stunning quality of the work that Annabel Rainbow had selected and curated.
I was really struck by Bethan Ash's pieces, exciting and fluid and probably very complex to construct! I also admired Elizabeth Brimelow's piece "Drawing Day" which was such a painterly quilt full of interest and interesting construction. Dijanne Cervaal's "Travellers' Blankets" was heavily hand stitched and embroidered and I was very drawn to this given my passion for surface decoration at present. Sandra Meech's "Silent Voice ii" was a restrained and calming piece so full of imagery that spoke to me of the quiet of the forest. Linda and Laura Kelmshall's pieces were technically stunning but I found their subject matter less appealing than the others.
If yoy get a chance to visit, it will repay your efforts.

Friday, 19 October 2012


I have had the pleasure of working with Phillipa Laughton occassionally this year, watching as she has created a wonderful collection of handmade textiles with a focus on Tweed.
She currently has an exhibition on at The Attic at Lines of Pinner.


Not enough time......

If I'm to publish here more often, I need to "Do" less!!
My trip to the V & A for Nancy Crow's lecture was very thought provoking. I had bought her books and looked enviously at her programme of workshops and had heard of her forthright views. Listening to her in the flesh was even more informative.
I do enjoy learning a little of the processes that artists go through when conceiving of a piece of work and Nancy was generous in sharing some of that.
What struck me most strongly was the way in which the large fabric sheets she works on are treated just like great sheets of paper that most artists begin with. Repetition of process, refining the design, the mark making and asking what if creates a body of work, many pieces of which, will never see the light of day, but have served their purpose in pushing the boundaries.
Oh how envious were 90+% of her audience with the space at her disposal - to create in the back bedroom is a totally different order of creativity!
I hope I will now regard the pile of discarded fabric samples as just a necessary step along my rather narrow path!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Nancy Crow

Really thrilled that I have been given a chance to go and hear Nancy Crow at the V&A this week - I have loved her work so many years, bought her books and tried, badly, to follow her techniques for abstract quilts. Colour Improvisations, the exhibition Nancy has put together by inviting well known quilt artists to submit work, is showcasing at The Knitting and Stitching Show in London and Dublin. I'm going to try and get myself there if I can.


I have just returned from a Contemporary Quilt "Winter School" weekend - 2 days with Janice Gunner learning all about Shibori and dyeing with Indigo - a fabulous opportunity to really get stuck in to a new technique. The washing line is now full of the washed samples and now all I have to do is decide what I'm going to do with all the pieces!
We spent Friday evening learning about Shibori and beginning to tie our fabric ready for the morning.
Twisting the fabric over the needle gave an interesting effect.
Curved lines of Ori-Nui were easier to stitch than I imagined!
This is how my sample turned out, I like the fluidity of the shapes created.
We then looked at pole wrapping which I tried in white cotton and with natural coloured silk noil. By leaving a "frill of fabric outside the tube you get a non patterned egde to the dyed piece so I tried this.

It was really hard to push the silk noil down far enough on the pole to sit in the dye bath as the fabric has much more body than the cotton.
This is the pole dyed silk noil - it has a lovely texture and the silk takes up the dye really well.
Whilst I doubt that I will work with Indigo on my own at home, I realise that the techniques can be used with Procian dyes and the colour combinations could be really exciting!
I am sure that some of these samples will become Bookwraps!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Surface Decoration 2

So..... Having started to learn more about hand embroidery I have been looking at how I can use it in my quilts. Just experiments right now but exiting possibilities!
Here I have free machine quilted circles and then added straight stitches to suggest flowers. The texture I'm getting is really interesting and the hand stitching can be done while I watch TV, more sociable that the machine!
I have also just discovered Seeding - hypnotic or what!

Now I also discovered how to use up some sequin waste I had inherited - I think it will work very well on a piece I'm making now and I relly like the slightly other worldly quality it has!

Then I thought, what would it be like with beads in the holes!!!!
Isn't it wonderful what we can dream up when we are in the right frame of mind!

Surface Decoration

The more stitching I do, the more interested I become in the potential for decorating the surface. I'm at an intermediate stage where I'm not yet an embroiderer but definitely feel that simple quilting is not enough!
To that end I have enrolled on a Hand Embroidery course once a fortnight - a steep learning curve as my experience was at my mother's knee doing lazy daisy and stem stitch on a tray cloth!!!
This last session we looked at Fly, Feather and French Knots - it was a revelation! I'd no idea how versatile these stitches might be!
Fly Stitch
Feather Stitch
I really like that you layer stitches over each other, vary their sizes and I've spent 50+ years doing French Knots all wrong!