Sunday 28 June 2009

Stitching, Sunflowers and Pimm's

Another tantilising glimpse of my FoQ entry! I've finished stitching and have decided it is too complex to include a mid layer of organza, so am now planning the top (painted ) layer by drawing on sheets of tracing paper over a photo of the completed top. I didn't get started until today with distractions of gardening and related activities - somehow 1/2 an hour always turns into 3 ! I only went out to water some plants,then while I was filling the watering can , noticed a couple of nice ceramic pots with dead plants, in down the side of the house- empty them out and replant them and it would save a trip to the garden centre. After that I hacked back some vegetation at the end of the garden so Ian could dig out some more turfs. With hazel hurdle in position (tho' not yet secured) it's beginning to take shape.
I don't know what made me think of it but I suddenly remembered some sunflower fabric and panels that Ian's cousin Heather in Canada had sent us for a wedding present. Perfect for garden tablecloth and cushions and smartens up the inherited plastic furniture no end. Still got to sew some matching napkins (or 'doilies' as they're known in this house) but I'm not a huge fan despite usually getting food down my front. Being the end of the month, we've run out of beer and rose wine for spritzers so was reduced to looking through the backs of cupboards. Found Ouzo for Ian (I'm not keen) and then hit gold - an unopened bottle of Pimm's I bought in Duty Free a few years ago, as an example of a typical British drink for a conference fuction in Hungary. Dispatched Ian to the corner shop for R Whites Lemonade and with mint or lemon balm from the garden and lemon and cucumber we feel we're at Wimbledon.Cheers!

Friday 19 June 2009

Seend, Seeding & Sandown

My computer is poorly - it keeps freezing all the time (problems with Vista I expect) so until I can do a back-up and re-load , I'm writing this on Ian's . Kind of him to let me on but with an ergonomic keyboard and a screen that I can only look at through the wrong part of my varifocals, it's a bit of a struggle. Enough moaning - what have we been up to? We spent last weekend in Seend , Wiltshire with F&T who we haven't seen since our wedding nearly 4 years ago. The excuse was the Open Gardens and we had a lovely relaxing time. Walking round the village , I couldn't resist the peeling paintwork on the old WI hall (above) but there were plenty more scenic views of the canal and surrounding farmland and of course the gardens.Inspired by the gardens and fortified by 2 cream teas, on our return home we got cracking, raking the soil where the lawn had been and laying down the membrane. Just weighting it down with stones when the heavens opened so it was G&T's in the bath rather than on the bench admiring our handiwork. Next task is laying down the 'service area' and path with slabs before pouring out the bags of gravel -still lots to do! I got the labels for my quilt entry for FoQ so with deadlines looming I took a couple of days leave to do some stitching ( detail above) - I decided it needed some hand as well as machine quilting so have been 'seeding' large areas with perle thread. I was running a bit low on House of Embroidery 'mystique' threads in the right colours so had the prefect excuse to go to the National Patchwork Championships at Sandown today!! (apart from meeting up with Brenda for lunch)
A relatively modest haule I think - 1o hanks of thread from 'Out of Africa' ( I was allowed to delve through all they had as well as the basket on display) and 6 metres (for backing) of different colourways of Makower 'Japanese Garden Raked Stripe' a bargain at £4 a metre from Fabrics Galore.
Some interesting quilts from Frieda Oxenham, and Sheena Norquay among others and an amusing take on Batik Beauties 'Delights of the Sea' by Susan Briscoe ( cat on a Fish and Chips counter!)
The Narrative threads exhibition by Corinne Gradis and Elodie Watanabe was intriguing - I was particularly taken by a series of pieces with the theme of blue baskets using African fabrics (there's more on their website) which reminded me a bit of Dorothy Caldwell.
Time to go and do some more seeding with my new thread.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Razzle-Dazzle Transformation

I had a therapeutic evening yesterday firing bits of plastic into sequins to transform a piece of dyed papers started in Amanda Hislop workshop a few weeks ago(below). Embellishment isn't usually my thing but stitching wasn't enough and I wanted to test out my new toy!

This microstitch gun was the the 'must-have' gadget of the CQ summer school. Having seen it in action on pieces by tutor Karina Thompson, I had to have one. I bought one of the larger basting guns back from the US many years ago but it kept jamming and I went back to using safety pins - my favourites are the bright coloured anodised ones.

This gadget is much better behaved - the tacks are only 4mm and much softer and look like stamens in the 'flowers' of the sequins. There's also a lot of movement as the sequins are not as tightly secured as they would be with stitch.

Transformation was the theme of the BQL challenge this month with these twisted strips. I used 2 different scale black and white/cream wavy lines fabrics set into another black and white print. I decided the title of this should be 'Dazzled Zebra'

And continuing the 'dazzle' theme ,had a lovely day on Sunday with quilting friend Diane who was visiting from the US and brought these gorgeous beaded brooches for Sue and me . Only trouble is choosing which one to keep!

QuiltWOW Article

I love a nice crumbly door with peeling paint and I know I'm not alone in this! After I'd blogged earlier in the year about my experiments in capturing the qualities of such doors in stitch and paint, Maggie Grey got in contact asking if I'd like to do an article for 'QuiltWOW'. This has just been published in the June issue. Below is the door that started it off- a phototransfer on gessoed old durham quilt with additional acrylic paint.
It was an interesting challenge writing up the techniques I use with acrylics, taking photos along the way - although I'm used to writing instructions for work, it was quite a different experience. Needless to say I produced far more samples than were needed ( which I made up as 12 inch square Journal Quilts) but this has had the benefit of me at last thinking of doing a much larger piece. I've been collecting photos and have lots of watercolour sketches but it's been a subject waiting for the right techniques to come along to give it justice. Maybe once I get my FoQ entry out of the way..... Combined Samples

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Slash Tint and Daub at CQ Summer School

Two years ago, at the Contemporary Quilt Summer School at Alston Hall, I'd taken lots of photos of some wonderful crumbling gateposts (peeling paint, rust and lichens in one hit!). So on returning there for this years summer school on a workshop with Jae Maries using the theme of 'Mood Swings', it seemed appropriate to go back to these images and manipulate them in Photoshop to provide some source material. Making mainly pictorial textiles of scenes I've experienced, I'm not that comfortable working with more abstract concepts ( some of the Take it Further Challenges last year I found difficult) but I came with an open mind. On the first evening, after brainstorming a mind map of various pairings of opposite moods, we used coloured papers to make a pair of opposites, having a lovely time cutting, tearing and glueing (and swapping colours with our neighbours)
I was relieved that Jae was mainly concerned with making a positive statement with colour rather than anything more philosphical. I took onboard her comments about not only thinking about local colour in my pairing of 'Natural and Artificial' - I love the work of Barbara Rae (including her use of fluorescent paint) but often end up with a only slightly enhanced naturalistic palette rather than the more dynamic one ones I admire.
On Saturday morning, Jae demonstrated various techniques using Sericol Pigment Inks (Aqua Texiscreen) including monoprint, foam roller, brush, palette knife on wet and dry fabrics. We then started building up a collection of fabrics using one of our colour schemes with only 3 colours and NO ironing of fabrics allowed ( she obviously knows how we all use that excuse to procrastinate).

It took a while to become accustomed to the consistency of the inks which were highly pigmented but transparent and slightly tacky and we were soon filling the washing line ( luckily in the heat they dried very quickly)

We had some individual time with Jae looking at the fabrics produced so far and how it fitted in with our aims. Some useful tips on putting fabrics into groups and isolating portions of them by folding. Most of us found that we had produced mostly patterned fabrics and needed some plainer ones to compliment them so back to more 'splash, tint and daub'
We then began tearing or 'rough cutting' strips and pieces, attaching them to a background with blind stitch and then starting to stitch into them . Interestingly, most of the fabrics I chose to use in this piece were dyed/painted old damask tablecloth - I wished I'd brought more to play with , they took the pigment so well and have a lovely sheen and feel to them , well suited to the subject.
Saturday Night
Our final painting of the day as part of the clearing up process was wetting fabric and wiping the spoons used to ladle out the inks. Some spectacular and unexpected results in the morning from this 'spoon dyeing' - I rather like this mad flower garden!
Sunday Morning
Next day most of us dived into more painting of fabric. I'd been impressed with the results that Liz had achieved with wetting calico, scrunching it up, then applying black ink with a sponge roller. The foam roller I'd brought with me was a bit too dainty - I borrowed a more substantial decorators one and achieved much more satisfying results trying this technique.

I love the way that the pigment picks out the crumpled texture (like bark or trees )and I used up all the calico I'd brought with me ( and left over paint that others had finished with). I also liked the pattern made by loose threads (inevitable with all that torn fabric)

Probably my favourite piece of fabric of the weekend was produced right at the end , using up the rest of the paint on the roller over a failed attempt at using a palette knife. Everyone who looks at it says its a castle ( including my husband who has already claimed it for his office when stitched)

It was a wonderful weekend with stimulating tuition, good home cooking(those cakes!) and lovely to catch up with friends real and virtual, old and new. Shame about having to travel back on a Sunday - they kept apologising for no sandwiches or food on the train and only 2 working toilets! At least in 'First Advance' we were fed complimentary snacks and drinks.