Sunday 29 June 2014

Hidden Treasure

I've been using  over-loved antique quilts as the basis of my own work for many years, giving them a new lease of life.  It started with  a rather tatty grey white Durham quilt that  I used to use as a door curtain and then became my canvas for  painting with acrylics : 'Bexhill Breakwaters' and 'Rich as Honesty' were 2 of these. Then having run out of large size pieces , I started buying 'cutter' quilts from ebay : a red and white strippy coverlet formed the basis of 4 quilts.
Planning on dying some of my finds in an indigo vat later this summer, I've been buying quite a few more recently.   I obtained this blue wavy medallion for a very reasonable price as the red areas of the quilts are  disintegrating. The quilting is fairly crude and the backing is perfect tight weave for painting on so as is my practice, I put it in the washing machine on a gentle wash.
When it came out of the machine the areas of disintegration were more marked and  several seams were giving way. Which is when I found that instead of wadding, old fabrics had been used,  a few fairly coarse cottons  but  principally  what looks  like a very fine wool paisley striped shawl  in pale greens and browns.  I will do a bit more careful unpicking but what a  find, my own  'Boro'!

Thursday 26 June 2014

Hidden Gem Prints

I'm a big fan of lino prints( including  artists such as Australian printmaker GW BOT ), liking the distinctive, varied marks made by the cuts depending on the degree of touch. I've even had a go myself .  So I'm happy to  bring the work of Fran Graham to your attention. I've known Fran and her husband Robin   for some years - they both worked at  Kew.  Fran is now working for the  Yorkshire Dales National Parks as an ecologist, and she's really brought that sense of place and knowledge of plants to her delightful prints. I've suggested they might look good on fabric ( well I would , wouldn't I!)

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Sandown Inspiration

On Friday I went to Sandown for the National Quilt Championships, partly to drop off my 'Unfini-SHED'  donations for Quilters Guild tombola and partly to buy some more fabric from Jo Lovelock!(below). It's very straightforward to get the train to Esher but as there are only 2 trains an hour, as I'd just missed one on my return (despite running up stairs and over the bridge), it gave me plenty of time to  observe the splendid peeling paint ( above)

I also bought some  fabric from  'Images of Egypt' - dyed linen for overdying in indigo and some discharged  cotton and looked at some quilts. There seem to be fewer and fewer competition quilts which is a shame  but there were several  displays by both individuals such as Greta Fitchett as well as groups that were well worth a look. Pieces in 'Elements of Nature' in the 'British Art Quilt Gallery' were particularly interesting. It looks like most of the artists are also involved with  Art Textiles :Made in Britain  - I look forward  to their show on 'Idendity' at FoQ.
Among that group, I was less aware of the work of  Louise Baldwin ( above) than the others but I loved the lively stitching in her small framed pieces.
These contrasted with the controlled machine stitching of  Pauline Barnes - it was great to see such a large diverse display of her work.

Inspired by my visit and catching up with various people I headed home to put some serious hours in on my 'Dilocation' quilt while Ian was at his parents. And  it paid off , entry completed and submitted ahead of deadline (just!) Just have to catch up with the housework now... 


Midsummer Stuffed Olives

A busy weekend with my head down quilting until all hours, apart from a couple of hours at Sandown National Patchwork Championships.  So I was delighted to be invited to a Midsummer gathering at Sue and Peters, a lovely evening of   numerous delicious Spanish inspired dishes and excellent company. To fit in with the theme of the evening I came dressed as a stuffed olive ( complete with accessories fashioned from painted silk cocoons). I don't even like olives....

Sunday 15 June 2014

Blues in the Mail

In response to the Dislocation theme for the next CQ challenge, I settled on  chopping up and rearranging this wonderful piece of hand dyed  cloth from Jo Lovelock ( looking forward to buying some more from her on Friday at Sandown quilt show)
Of course with quilt layered and a deadline looming, I found that  I didn't have quite the right blue threads for the job despite have a good collection - they were all on the red rather than green side of the spectrum.  However some quick online ordering from Barnyarns ('King Tut' and Madeira)  and Wonderfil brought some contenders winging their way through the post. Always difficult choosing colours from the screen but I think the heavier 12wt 'spagetti' and  fruitti' threads will do the trick ( they work fine in the machine with a 14 titanium needle and are nice for hand stitching too)
I'd intended to do some sample stitching today but a little fragile after a wine tasting session  yesterday at the Club at the Ivy ( very swish glass elevator) . So instead I took some photos with different orientations of the proposed indigo shibori layer that's going over the top and have left them around to marinade and mull over. I've also finally got round to ordering  indigo supplies from Kemtex - hope to be setting up my own vat in the garden in July, concentrating on dyeing pieces of vintage quilts.

Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting

In the post this week I received my copy of  'The Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting' by Linda Seward , which features in the quilting section my quilt 'Tideline - after the storm', one of my favourites  as it summons up a particular place and time. I'm in very good company, sharing the page with Annette Morgan and Pia Welch.
Linda did her usual meticulous research  with incredible attention to detail and besides being a lovely book to look at , with nearly 140 artists featured, the instructions for every art quilt technique you can think of (and more!) are clear and succinct. The deceptively simple illustrations  are by Tom Messenger  and the overall design of the book  by Jane Glennie (TVCT)
Looking at the spread on indigo dyeing, which I know something about  but which I wasn't involved in contributing to, I can see that  it gives you enough just information to give it a go and then follow up further in the extensive bibliography. I looked with interest at the section on rust dyeing, especially now I've heard I've got a place on CQ Winter School with Alice Fox! It even has useful sections on sewing machine tips and exercises.
Linda and her team  have done a really thorough job - I thoroughly recommend the book, and not just because I'm in it! I'm sure it will become the art quilt equivalent  of  what many consider the Q&P bible. Other reviews from Gillian Cooper, Margaret Cooter, and Sandy Snowden
Linda will be  the Festival Of Quilts  launching the book with a display of quilts from the book (including 'Tideline') on stand B30 and is giving a couple of lectures on the artists and the process of putting the book together.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Green: meadows, rocks and reeds

At work I currently  have a visitor  from Finland  with me for a week 'shadowing' my bryophyte conservation activities. So a good excuse to go yesterday to the Natural History Museum and today to Wakehurst Place. It's ages since I've been there,  the meadows just fantastic at the moment with hundreds of orchids in flower.  

 After some discussions with staff and a tour of  the Millennium  Seedbank,  we  had privileged entry into the Loder Valley Reserve, which has this amazing sculptural gate.

 We spent some time looking the very special habitats for 'cryptogams' (just look at the diverse shades of green!) before  heading off to  the 'Tolkeinesque'  Rock Walk.
These rocks and yews are huge, still as inspiring as when they formed the basis of a journal quilt in 2009.
Now I just need to remove  the mud from my  boots and trousers....