Thursday, 31 January 2013

More stitches.....

Little did I think when I started this course that sitting stitching hand embroidery stitches could be such a beguiling way to use up a day!
Yesterday we learned about Pulled Thread work - muslin and scrim at the ready we experimented with the thickness of thread, the number of threads pulled and patterns to be created. It became quite addictive and when we then looked at well know embroiderers' pieces we were amazed at what could be achieved by "just clumping threads together and creating holes!"
This is what I tried when using scrim:
Then I used the muslin and tried to create flowers.

I then experimented by fraying away the excess muslin, its looks quilte effective against a coloured background.
A lovely day, now I just need to think about how this technique might be used in the future! Do try it, oh so simple and very quick to grow!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Joining Journal Quilts again

After a year off, watching vicariously as other worked their ways through the 3 colours of the 2012 challenge, I'm really looking forward to working on the 2013 challenge. The size is 12 x 8" landscape. We have to declare a theme on which all 12 Journal Quilts will be clearly able to be linked.
It means planning more thoroughly than usual, not my strong point in fabric, and being able to sustain the creative activity on the one theme all year. It has been really interesting listening to others talk about what they have chosen and the rationale for their choices.  I am very drawn to ethnic artefacts and designs and have narrowed my choice down to working from either Native American designs or from motifs found in Central African cloth and artefacts. Both share strong colours and distinctive patterning.
South West American patterns above are very appealing and definitely my colours!
The Andinka images from Africa also appeal and I now have to make a choice!
I still have a couple of days to make the choice, so I think I'll make a couple of samples to see how I feel.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Quilt in the making....

I am finally working on the stunning collection of fabrics that I bought at Festival of Quilts in August! I have admired the work of the Ghana based producer- Esther- bought from The African Fabric shop  (
The rich colour and texture of the fabric was what drew me and with a few beautiful plain silks I had my palette.
Its a very abstract piece, using the spiral motifs that can be found within the fabric and which made me think of ammonites, the way they emerge from the rocks. Below are a couple of close-ups.
I am so enjoying working on this piece, its no hardship to spend hours on it and I'll miss it when I'm done! It goes on show at  Easter at The Bramble Patch, Weedon, Northants in the "Creative Explorations" exhibition where we will showcase the Quilt plus how we got there!
Markal Stick stencil with hand stitched herringbone.
Machine stitched circles following a spiral pattern.
I just have 4 weeks to get this finished!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tucked up out of the snow!

It snowed for most of Friday, fine snow, which accumulates slowly, wet snow, which sticks together! Before that we had the most amazing frosts so when we woke up the trees were stark white against the sky. If you don't have to go anywhere its a fabulous site to enjoy, but my heart went out to all those struggling to make their way home Friday night, no fun at all.
I really liked seeing my pots of bulbs with hats on Saturday morning!
Its Sunday now and its snowing again, not much but enough to persuade me to stay home in the warm today!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Just one stitch!

Harking back to the "Hemmed In" exhibition and my embroidery course this academic year I have been really struck by what it is possible to achieve using only one stitch in a piece of work. As an embroidery "outsider" I had never appreciated the possibilities repetative use of one stitch could create. My tutor, Alyssa, showed us work from a Guild challenge to only use on stutch and the results were quite amazing.
At "Hemmed In" there was a piece by Susannah Hope "Portrait" done in 1990 where the whole piece was stitched using long straight stitches. The face was unbelievably realistic but when looked at close to was litterally just a collection on these long stitches.
This really impressed me.
I'm not generally drawn to realistic depictions, but here I love the loose, free execution and the effect it creates. Back to class in just over a week with lots of inspiration to spur me on!

Friday, 4 January 2013

"Hemmed in" Exhibition in MK

The year started with a visit to MKG - the Milton Keynes Art Gallery for an exhibition of Embroidery from local embroiderers; invited embroiders' pieces;  work from the Embroiderers' Guild collection, and specially selected works. Displayed properly, in a Gallery really does give textiles a proper showcase. Its very encouraging to find Textiles in an Art Gallery setting.
I was totally blown away by "Indian Squares" by Jean Draper (1985) a stunning magenta and gold framed composition on silk, with sqaure blocks of papers, lace and  stitch , wispy long threads, beads and wonderful long straight hand stitches which framed the smaller squares. I would love to be able to live with such a piece!
I'd love to put a photo here, pictures for personal use were allowed but not for publication.
The MK Embroiderers' Guild members had set themselves a challenge to create an 8" square eveocation of Milton Keynes, this brought out a wide variety of techniques and aspects of life in the city.
Of the selected artists chosen by Jamie Chalmers (Mr X Stitch) I was very taken by 2 tiny pieces by Karen Grenfell "OMG" and "Jump" which were hand embrioidery on a hand painted canvas - very modern and fresh in graffiti style.
The exhibition finishes on Sunday, so still two more days to catch it if you are in the area.

A New Year

Finally the distractions of Christmas are over, I'm back to eating proper quantities again, the New Year has been celebrated and decorations are down - "normal" life begins again!
In so many ways I hope that 2013 will be better than last year - the weather - the economy - personal stuff - and making time for the things I really enjoy.
Lots of things to look forward to -
Having a had a year away from Journal Quilting with CQ I'm hoping the "rules" for 2013 will mean I can join again. I have really missed the discipline, but do prefer it when I can work on a theme that reflects the major pieces of work I'm doing. The debate on the CQ Yahool site on this have been very interesting.
So....  what am I hoping to achieve:
  • Work for an exhibition in September
  • A piece for Festival in August
  • Participating in "Full Circle" Challenge 2
  • The Bookwrap project
  • JQ's
More than enough I think. So time to get working!