Saturday, 24 January 2015

Challenge Quilt.

A year ago, three of us, decided to try a "Round Robin Quilt" the idea being that we'd each make a small starter piece measuring one hundred square inches and send it to person two who would then add the same amount again and pass it on for the final amount to be added before the quilt top was dispatched back to the originator.
With the news full of the wet weather and floods, I decided to create an abstraction called "Levels".

I dispatched this, along with a small selection of the fabrics used and awaited a package for me to work on next! It's not easy deciding how to add to someone else's work and it was definately good to have some of their fabrics. This made for a more homogeneous finished result.
Easter came and we each eagerly awaited the return of "our" quilt.
I confess that it then sat at the end of a long queue of work while I made pieces for Festival and for exhibition. It was June before I got round to making a start.
Foolishly I didn't think about photographing the piece until after I had made the first decision about how to treat the piece. I had already added a border with curved edges!

I decided that I would set the piece in a larger border of a more neutral muddy field colour and create a tiny pieced strip of the inner quilt's fabrics inset within the bottom and left hand borders.

I sandwiched the quilt and then set it aside for several months while I worried about how I would deal with the different areas and fought some personal demons. Come November, feeling more creative, I started to think about what was visible above the water levels in January. This became the rationale for the stitching I did by hand. The spare vegetation that poked it's head out of the muddy water was suggested by more spiky stitches. In the area of the two pieces of beige silk I decided to show the stark trees and the myriad of water birds that now called the area home.

I know how hard it is to make a round robin quilt have a homogeneous feel and am quite pleased with how well the whole reflects what was in my mind at the start.

Here is the finished piece. I'm glad I've finished it, relieved that I have managed to hold on the original concept and sufficiently pleased with the piece to want to keep it!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Lucky find....

I was lucky enough to have tickets for "Loves Labours Lost" at Stratford very recently. An excellent production, but it's not the production I'm writing about!
Scattered about the public spaces were a number of production costumes from previous years which were absolutely fascinating and I thought I'd share them with you. It's not often that one gets a closeup view of stage costumes. When I was a sixth former, a very long time ago, I was lucky to go on a tour of the costume and props department at Stratford,  and loved getting a close up view of the fabrics and how effects were created.

This is a costume for The Vicereine from the play "The Heresy of Love" staged in 2012. The fabric is a furnishing fabric which sits over a steel framed crinoline. The ruff is made from silver organza and is detatchable so that it can be cleaned while in production.

Really interesting to see how the ruff was constructed. This was designed by Katrina Lindsay

A design from Henry VI part 2 staged in 2007. The dress is made from Italian brocade and the shape was loosely based on one typical of the mid 15th Century. It was designed by Emma Williams. I was especially interested that the stitching holding the neck insert was large and visible close up, but would have been invisible when on the stage.

A costume from a 2013 production of "The Empress". Of special note was the fact that a piece of antique lace had been sourced, cut up and appliquéd to the satin of the dress. designed by Lez Brotherton.
In all the pieces I could get really close to I was stunned by the degree of attention to detail which shone out of each. I couldn't get a good photo of a male costume which had "slashed" sleeves and trousers. The synthetic fabric and been heat distressed to create the aperture through which the satin below could be seen.
What a lovely serendipitous find!


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Travelling Books 2015

So pleased that our Embroidery group has decided to take part in Travelling Books again this year. It's such a brilliant idea. We each set up a sketchbook and in January we each create a piece of embroidery and mount it along with some information about the inspiration for the piece. Tomorrow, we will then pass the book along to the next person in the group and in the book we collect, we'll add a piece of stitching ! We have two groups running, each with eight people in them. Such a lovely way to encourage regular stitching. I'll try and share each months experiment!
I've cheated a bit this month and I'm using a piece of stitching I made last year inspired by seaweed.
I started with these images, both paintings of seaweed.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword "

With recent events in France in mind I thought I would take another look at my first attempt at an Art or Contemporary quilt. Way back in 2006 I was lucky to spend two days working with Lonni Rossi learning to screen print with what was then a new toy, the Thermofax screen. My theme was "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword" I am now totally unhappy with the border, almost ashamed of it, but I still like what I did and I've hung it in the spare room behind the bed for a few weeks!

I realise that I rarely get out "old" quilts to look at them. I really should. Apart from being good to see them, it's great to be reminded that one has made progress!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Hand Stitching

 For someone who generally uses her sewing machine to construct and embellish her work I have spent a lot of time recently with hand stitches!
Out of necessity I was to make a sample for the Embroiderers' Guild meeting this month. Paisley was the theme. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the simple plying of my needle and it was a very gentle introduction to the year. I even took the idea from the sample and used in a a linen top which had seemed in need of a little livening up!

I also found this image on "Pinterest " which I need to ask my embroidery teacher how to do as I really like the way the stitches grow on each other!

Next, I want to start on the three lengths of fabric from the African Fabric Shop which are to be the mainstay of this year's work. Of this, more later.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Start as you mean to go on......

One reason my creativity may have been so sluggish is the state of my work room! I went up to start work this morning and realised the mess I had been content to tolerate, so rolled up my sleeves and set to. Fortuitously one of the WBCTGROUP emailed asking if any of us had any offcuts she could have for her degree course, so I had the added incentive of having a home for some of the bits!
As always in these cases you come across all sorts of things you had forgotten you had, some have now been added to project bags, some to the bin, but I ended the day lighter a few bags of fabric I'll never use and reminded of a couple of fabulous colour ways I could make work from.
I now have a lean and tidy workspace.

So, no excuse in the morning, a clean space to begin creating! Lovely feeling!

Monday, 5 January 2015

A New Year follows the old one......

It's that time of year when ones thoughts run through the previous year and look forward to the New Year. 2014 was not my most creative year. I realise that a number of things contributed to this and I want to try and ensure that they do not have an undue influence in 2015!
I learned that I'm no good at making to order - I find it difficult to create something if I'm not fully engaged. I realise that it's the fabric that sings to me and sets me going. 2014 was also the year when I began to understand how to create an abstraction. I have so enjoyed the challenge of CQ's Journal Quilts and set myself to try four different approaches to three images. Here they all are.

I'm looking forward to finding out what the parameters for the 2015 JQs are as I find the discipline of making a small piece each month very good for me.
What do I want to achieve this year?
1.  My main focus is going to be on three lengths of fabric bought from Magigie Relph and the African Fabric Shop. Two are from Ghana and were created by Esther and the third is from The Gambia. For a minimum of one of these I want to create the quilt to showcase the fabric and am thinking of entering it in the "Two Person Quilts" at Festival of Quilts, the second person being the creator of the fabric. It seems only right to give credit to the woman who sets my energies off on a creative journey
2.  I am taking part in a "Whisper " quilt project where I receive a photograph of a small quilt every six weeks and make another based on my response to the one I receive. This too is stretching my skills and the process of analysis I am going through is teaching me to really look at things.
3.  Journal Quilt project - if it chimes with what I want to do, ie more abstraction! (See earlier issue of not liking working to order if it doesn't fit with my priorities.

So...... Now I just need to clear up my work room, organise myself not to create piles of things that don't have a home and then settle down to a routine of creating!