Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Journal Quilts 2015

I have signed up for the CQ Journal Quilts (JQ's) again this year but with a very different purpose in mind this time. My sister has been doing a great deal of digging into our paternal family tree recently, finding that for a hundred or so years the family were based in the Cambridgeshire Fenland village of Wicken. In the summer we went to explore the village and actually found the old family home with remnants of the family Blacksmith business. A very grounding event and one which has kick started my interest in the fenland landscape.

The fens are a flat landscape where active management of the many dykes, drains and ditches are necessary. The soil is dark and rich, you can see for miles, the sky is vast and trees and buildings stand tall against the sky.

I have been exploring ways of creating tiny 12" x 6" landscapes for the first four of my JQs. This is a new departure for me, never having tried to depict anything realistically before. I feel quite uncomfortable doing this, out of my comfort zone! It has been a challenge, one I'm not yet happy with, and while I have now created the first four pieces, I'm hoping to have time later in the year to go back and try further whole landscape pieces to perfect them.
This first group are winter pieces, where it is skeletal trees which seem to dominate the landscape.

January's piece is just an attempt to depict the vast sky and empty landscape, snow dyed old family linen makes up the sky with cotton field, machine quilted and hand embroidered. I have used felt as my middle layer in all these pieces to keep the pieces flat and with minimum loft.

February is frosty and cold with the colour leached out of the landscape, and a poor attempt at the water of a dyke. I liked using scrim teased out to give the scudding cloud.

March sees the mist settle on the land forming a blanket through which the trees emerge. Machine embroidered trees on commercial cotton are then partially covered on hand painted scrim which is then stitched through to give the impression of the emerging trees. I'd like to do this again when I have the time, I'm sure I could make a better job of it if I tried more versions!

April depicts the sunset on gorgeous spring days but with the trees still bare and the ploughed fields still brown. I like the feel of this piece if you do not look too closely!

I am now working towards the next group of four which will concentrate on details in the landscape with the final four being attempts at abstractions of the landscape.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

"Textiles in Focus" Cottenham event

For three days this last week end Cottenham, near Cambridge has been host to an excellent textiles event. There were a comprehensive selection of traders, fabulous  hand dyed yarns, threads, and fabrics, beautiful silks and my favourite The African Fabric shop! This fool and her money were easily parted! 
I was particularly interested in the exhibition by an Anglian group called Diversity with a very varied membership producing an interesting variety of textile work.
These were the pieces that particularly caught my eye:

A tryptic " Copper Plate" by Mary Mcintosh. Sadly hung so that you could not photograph the three sections together! Fabulous print, discharge and appliqué.

"Breakdown Sample from Annette Morgan was a very eye catching abstract.

I absolutely loved this piece "The Centre" from Lori Jay Donaldson with wonderful handstich to embellish the mono print.

"In the Lands of the Palm- Shades of Blue" from Susan King combined indigo and rusted fabrics with interesting free machine quilting.

Unusually for me I was drawn to this pictorial piece. Interesting used of lace for the sea foam, I suspect that because I love the place the piece spoke to me. "Sea Mist at Whitby" from Jacqueline Glyde.

"Reflections 1" from Jenny Sandler had loads of movement and textural interest.

Finally just look at the detail packed into Kirsten Yeates' "Culture Mix" collar. I loved the folded fabric and stitch detail.

I bought a length of cloth from Maggie Relph, another of Esther's creations fro Ghana which this time is destined to become an over shirt! Beautiful colours. I also bought one of Maggie's baskets, my second! Elsewhere I bought a length of silk/cotton mix fabric which has lustre and handle and stunning shade of olive green and some hand dyed viariagated perle thread.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Traveling Books (again)

Having played with collections of Bullion Knots I thought I could create a prototype broach idea using them. This is what I've sent on in my Travelling Book this month.

The fabric background is a little heavy for this which made the broach effect more bulky than I would like and I suspect I could have put the gathering thread a bit closer to the edge of the card template which would help to give a cleaner edge.
Working on a smaller scale this would also work for a large statement button on a plain garment and a collection of them in different sizes might make an interesting wall hanging! Such serendipity! What next I wonder......

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Paste Grain Paper experiment

Sally Hutson, fellow CQ member led a workshop for the Weedon Bec Creative Textiles Group this month on creating Paste Grain Papers. I confess to never having heard of them before this. It is an ancient method of producing highly decorative papers for bookbinding, box covering etc. We were able to sample Potato, rice and gram flour pastes. Each producing slightly different granular textures on papers.
The pastes were coloured by the addition of acrylic paint.

This was then painted over the surface of the paper and, quickly, before the paint-paste mixture dried, a range of implements were "drawn"across the surface creating patterns with an element of 3D to them. We each had a range of different papers that we brought along and we managed to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day experimenting with the technique.

The effects were much greater when we were able to add a second or third paint layers by letting each one dry before adding a new layer.

We filled a large hall by lunchtime!
Here are a selection of the pieces the group produced.

I worked in a narrow colour range so that all my papers would work together, not because I had an end product in mind, more that I likes the idea of toning pieces!
Here is my collection:

With the piece on the bottom right I decided to screw it up to creates a much softer piece of paper. This worked because I had used a piece of vinyl wallpaper which was much stronger. This piece was then covered with Acrylic Wax, which was rubbed in. This gave me a piece with the texture of leather which I can now stitch into.

The one above was worked on a piece of Egyptian cotton! It's very stiff now it's dry so I need to experiment to see what stitching does to it!

I can see me using these as frontispieces for smaller sketch books for instance.
I really enjoyed the experiment and look forward to trying out stitching on the paste grained fabric, if that works, who knows where it might lead!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Bullion Knots etc.

Earlier I posted a photo from Pinterest of a piece of hand stitching using lots of bullion knots. I have really enjoyed a little bit of therapeutic stitchery! Just pile upon pile of knots and beads!

Take a stitch, wind the thread round the needle 10 to 15 times and gently pull the needle through

Pull the knots along the thread until they are lying flat on the fabric. Take the needle down into the fabric.

Begin another stitch.

Here are my first attempts at multiple stitches with beads, French Knots and long tail Fly Stitch.

Now I am going to produce one for my next Travelling Book!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A strong African connection.

Months ago now, I was lucky to find some gorgeous fabrics in The African Fabric Shop both at Festival and at The Big Textile Show in Leicester. For the last three years I have managed to create a quilt each year from Maggie Relph's collection. I have a strong affinity for artefacts African, on the back of a number of trips to Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. I love the quality of the light, the riot of colours, the slight atmosphere of danger and the amazing physical environment. Two out of the last three quilts have come from fabric created by Esther. I love her use of colour and pattern and the strong abstraction of her fabrics. I have two lengths of her fabric waiting for me to work on and a third length fron The Gambia created by Nene Jallow. 
These fabrics shine, they are art cloths and I really want to do them justice.
Here they are:



Nene Jallow

The latter two I'm proposing are created as whole cloth quilts. The fabric so stunning, I'm considering whether to enter for Festival as a two person quilt, with Esther and Nene as the second quilter.