Thursday 26 September 2013

Red Knots and Loops

Debating what to do when I changed my ideas  for a challenge with the theme 'red', inspiration literally fell from above, with a piece of silk that Reiko Damon gave me on my trip to Japan several years ago falling from the top basket of my stash.  I cut off pieces for sampling, first of all  backing it with  other vintage kimono fabrics then settling for an African tie dye  where the marks show through the pale areas.  

Besides extending the original stitch marks of the shibori, I've been having great fun experimentsing with loops and knots  following suggestions in Helen Parrott's 'Mark-Making' book. I love the graphic quality, like quirky calligraphy,  and the shadows cast add to the effect. Now to decide how to use these on the 'real deal' which is already looking pretty sinister like some monstrous red cactus. 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Replacement Rings

"I hear you had an exciting time" News of my adventures in the Fens have travelled far and wide both in  Kew and various conservation agencies. I'm pleased to say I now have replacement rings.  Initially I was going to  have my mum's  wedding ring resized  but it would have involved major alterations as the  difference was 6 ring sizes. A bit of research online on gold prices made me realise it was worth more as a trade-in as it was 5g of 22ct gold.  This and her engagement ring and a few bits of other jewellery  I sent in part exchange to Charles Hart  towards the purchase of a vintage white and yellow gold eternity ring with 7 diamonds. My engagement ring  was from the 1930's so I was interested in a 'preloved' replacement. Not only did my mum's jewellery cover the cost but I received a cheque  for £50 with which I bought  2 silver rings for wearing as 2nd best when out in the field, gardening, painting etc  
I really  didn't like being ring-less. While all this was being sorted out, Ian fished out an old wedding ring of his to wear while I was waiting. A perfect fit and I love the marks on it which complement the shape of  the eternity ring. A  happy outcome. 

Text in Textiles

 An inspiring day at Thames Valley Textile Group last weekend,  with talk from Sara Impey ( who's  work I've long admired). Very entertaining  with wonderful sense of fun and ridiculous while addressing serious issues. Phrases that resonated I scribbled down : a liking for "density of text on the printed page"; "integrity of wholecloth" and tips such as not leaving big gaps between words  as get repetitive patterns forming.  I haven't done much with text apart from peeling poster JQ's but I fished out this piece of paper lamination -  and then put it back in the box as there are too many other projects on the go at the moment!
In the afternoon, the grand reveal  for 'Halfway Between' . In a moment of weakness I'd offered to help with curation and design of exhibition at Knit and Stitch  at Olympia next spring. With such varied work both 2d and 3d , it's going to be a challenge to make a cohesive display in a small space.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Thread Count

 Reading through  the section on threads and needles in  Helen Parrott's 'Mark-Making' and the article in the latest Quilter by Sheena Norquay on seed stitching, I've been having an audit of what I've got!
The hand threads I like to use best are cotton perle no 8 (or equivalent - House of Embroidery 'Mystique' is a favourite) . I untangled 2 large plastic boxes worth and divided into 4  boxes instead.
I've blogged before about the Gutterman silk buttonhole threads my mum bought in the 70's, a treasure which is a joy to use.

I have several  biscuit tins, it started with cotton quilting threads  and then I've recently discovered Wonderfil 12wt cotton , plain and variegated - a very well behaved thread with a tight twist and slight sheen . It reminded me a bit of  a thinner version of DMC cotton a broder which I also like to use. I have quite a few white and cream threads (including sashiko) which I mainly use to dye my own indigo threads.

My mum was a very keen embroiderer and hoarder. Threads I inherited  range from fine linen to thick 'Perlita' with Anchor soft embroidery and cotton perle 5  along the way. These I mainly use for zig-zagged couched edging to Journal Quilts

I sold/ gave away the goldwork and wool tapestry threads  but held onto the stranded cotton which I thought might come in handy one day. The requirements list for the Dorothy Caldwell workshop include  stranded cotton in black and white. At last, their day has come! Apart from  I don't have those colours......  Just like justifying fabric stashes,  it seems you never have exactly what you need , however large your collection.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Plunder from Hever

 On  Sunday we went to Hever Castle  so I could steward the CQ@10 exhibition. It's been a few years since I went  and the quilt show is now incorporated in a 'Country Life at the Castle' event. While it's nice to see displays on beekeeping and other crafts, the  area for quilts is much  smaller and no longer have the Hever Challenge open to all QGBI members not just those in Region 2. In my opinion , CQ display  aside, it was rather disappointing and much diminished from previous years.

 We did have an  another reason for visiting however. On a previous visit, on the  walk along the footpath from the station, we'd  discovered sloes and made some rather nice sloe gin- this time we came prepared with plastic boxes to gather them in!  It's a bumper year. Another issue for a needle - pricking them before they go in the freezer for a while.

 Bringing Ian along has other advantages - he buys me fabric. Talking to Jo Lovelock, she thought other quilters might want to take him home ( although quilt husbands tend to disapprove as it sets a precedent)

Thursday 12 September 2013

Mark - Making

Sometimes  good things and opportunities  all come together at the  same time to build (hopefully)   something more than the sum of the parts, a major step in my development.

Just received my copy of 'Mark-making in textile art' by Helen Parrott and it's an absorbing and stimulating read covering not just techniques but thoughtful insights into artists practice and taking things further. Helen was a tutor at CQ Summer School when I did a workshop with Jo Budd  and I could readily  have done her course,  enjoying conversations over dinner.  The section on needles has sent me scurrying to ebay for some curved needles to try and to my stash of colour catchers.

Ian and I are going to Hever quilt show on Sunday and to Knit and Stitch at Alexandra Palace in October after our return from Weymouth . One of the key exhibitions there will be by Dorothy Caldwell who's work I so admired at Festival of Quilts several years ago. I'm lucky enough to have a place on her workshop on 'Human Marks' at Masseria della Zingera in Puglia!! The week before I go there  I'm going up to Saltaire with Sue to see 'Cloth and Memory' which has been well reviewed  by several people who's views I value, then we're  doing a session on mark-making associated with the  Studio 21 exhibition 'Chinese Whispers'. Hope I don't peak too soon with all this excitement!

Thursday 5 September 2013

Offerings to the Gods

One of the orchid conservation projects I've been involved with for a long time is  that for Liparis loeselii (Fen Orchid)  and it used to be a real treat to get out of the lab  once a year and visit the sites in the Norfolk Broads. Haven't done so for several years so I  seized the opportunity  to join  the team  from Cambridge University Botanic Garden  who had a licence to collect a few plants to establish in an experimental fen.
Had a very  early start to get to Cambridge for 7.30 then meeting others from Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation near the site. The outboard motor on the punt wasn't working so we made our way down the creek the traditional way with forked branches to push away from the banks. Peaceful and brimming with wildlife, a magical experience. We then moored at a point when we could climb up the bank, enter the fen and  fan out across the site looking for  Fen orchids.  These are found at the base of the reeds and sedges on mats of moss, quite a challenge to find as the vegetation is taller than I am! So I was well chuffed  to spot a nice clump of orchids , including one with a seed pod for my work and a nice specimen to take back to Cambridge.

Then I realised I was no longer wearing my wedding and engagement rings. They must have  come off whenpatiently parting vegetation looking for plants. Gutted and cross with myself for wearing them out in the field - I take them off for  gardening after 2 scares.
As a result, I probably  wasn't concentrating as well as I should have been when getting aboard the punt, missing my footing and falling spectacularly into the water, rucksack and all. Luckily  I'd a spare pair of trousers and socks etc as I'd come prepared after  a previous outing  when the water in the fens had been so deep it came over my wellies. No top though so I had to borrow a sweatshirt, changing in the Ladies at a local pub ( they didn't bat an eyelid when I walked in drenched).
In discussions over a  beer,  the subject of bronze age archaeology came up, the spectacular  finds at Flag Fen. Where the land dissolves into water  is a mystical place where you could talk with the gods and votive offerings of great value were made.
So much as I'm sad at the loss of my rings, it feels a symbolic place  to have done so, taking precious plants in exchange.  Perhaps some time in the far future, they will be found and wondered on.

Monday 2 September 2013

Peeling Portals Preview

I've had 'Green Door II/ Peeling Portals' on the design wall for months, pending finishing other projects. With deadline of 14 September  fast approaching (TVCT 'Half way Between' submission date) it was time to review in earnest.  After several weeks of swapping doors around , printing off some new images on fabric , finally  ended up with an arrangement I was happy with , pretty much a tweaked version of what I started with! It's now sown together with strips of Heide Stolle Webber fabric, it just (just!) needs quilting before and after adding the laminated layer.