Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twelve by Twelve reveal

It's all going on over at our Twelve by Twelve Blog. Pop over to see the reveal of our twelfth joint challenge - appropriately the theme was itself Twelve.

This is my contribution, the inspiration being the co-ordinates embroidered down the side. Want to know what it's all about? The explanation is on my post on the group blog!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

African A4 quilts

I know I have encouraged you all do do little African A4 quilts for the Colours of Africa challenge to benefit the Chris Hani nursery in South Africa but I have to mention it again because (a) it's a great cause and (b) these are so fun and addictive to make.... I can't stop..... ( and there is no reason I should!) So go on, try just one yourself...

The one based on a Masai beaded collar is my favourite but I nicked the idea from my Mum (she who gets to the Bondaweb first wins!) so credit for the inspiration source goes to Marcia Conway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Open studio virtual tour

I shall be joining in with many others, no doubt, when I particpate in the Quilting Arts Open studio tour. Pictures and maybe ( if I learn the technology in time) a video of my studio space (aka the house save for the small bits my husband has managed to defend from the creeping textile spread). It is all in aid of Quilting Arts wanting publicity for this next issue of their Studios magazine - you can see the details here.

Personally I make a bee line for Blade Rubber Stamps shop the moment I see Studios is out, they being the only UK stockists I have yet come across. Which saying something as Blade is in London and I am several hundred miles away - fortunately the shop will reserve me a copy and when I am down for work I trot along and claim it as my own. Then I reverently put it away in my hotel room. Until, I am settled in a nice seat on the train home, feet up on the seat opposite (shoes off of course) with a nice cup of tea and a special nibble. I open that first page and start to drool and whimper aspirationally and plan how to break the news to Dennis that he has to live in a caravan because I need to knock all the walls in the house through to make my perfect studio.

It is basically addictive porn for people with a cupboard fetish. But you can read it in public. And soon it will turn into a kind of swingers party with everyone showing their bits off on the Internet. And still the Vice squad will not come knocking. Apart from that female officer with the nice lap quilt on the back of her squad car maybe.

It all happens on the 3rd October. A weekend at that. Oh, blissful blog reading to come.

The Surprise is Out!!

No, its not just the blog makeover (although I hope you like that). Its the fact that the new look blog now matches my NEW WEBSITE! - HelenConwayDesign. ( - well, what else?!)

I didn't want to just do a gallery of my work ( although there is one). I wanted to provide a resource about design for textiles that can grow with my growth as an artist. Pop over and have a look - you will find all kinds of goodies with more to come in future months.

* By Design - a new Journal about design. Occasional articles about design, book reviews and so on. Please subscribe to make sure you get all my new articles. This will not replace the inane nonsense on this blog but is an added extra. Articles will appear as and when I have time but will generally be lengthier and more detailed than the usual blog post. Three sample articles are there already as a taster of what to expect. It will give me opportunity to stretch my writing muscles!

* Photography - copyright free photos for you to use directly in your work or as a design inspiration. Galleries are divided into specific subject matter for easy choice.

* Bookstores - come shop with me....!

* Sketchbooks - I'll show you mine and you don't even have to show me yours.

* Galleries - my modest output. I was amazed how much there was!

The idea is that I will add to the site as time goes on. The photogallery should expand exponentially as we travel. If there is something you'd like on there, please shout up.

So go on, why are you still here? Go have a look!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Website giveaway

Hopefully you have seen my previous post about my new website HelenConwayDesign and have found the bookstores. And hopefully you like something that is already in there.

Because the giveaway works like this:

Eveyone who mentions my new site in their blog gets an entry to my draw.

And everyone who adds my site to their links list on their website gets an entry to the draw.

You can get as many entries as you make mentions- just leave me a comment with the link URL below ( or email me).

On the 10th October I will make a random draw and the winner will be able to choose a book of their choice from my bookstores. (Or if the lucky winner has them all, they can choose a book for me to add into my store and send to them).

Thursday, September 24, 2009


No pictures tonight because I am now about to go and sleep in the fourth different bed in as many nights. It is the lecture season and so I am on my travels ..only this year Dennis is acting as chauffeur and so is in training for our trip learning to pack his own bags and to remember which city he is in at any given time. (Both of which are quite a challenge, bless him. His many other talents lie elsewhere....)

Speaking of accommodation you will have noticed that, although I thought I would be lucky ever to get rid of it, the Christchurch apartment I was giving away went within minutes. It is a nice story. It was requested by a lurker on my blog, a fellow quilter and a farmer from New Zealand, whose occupation means that she and her husband never get to go away together - she said they had not had a holiday for many many years. But now her son and partner are able to help out with the farm and so she is coming to Christchurch for a break. It is her birthday on the day the accommodation is booked and her sister has just moved to Christchurch. How perfect is that? From her emails she seems very excited indeed and I am now looking forward to meeting her for coffee.

I still cannot explain how I did not check the accommodation out a little more to see if it was suitable for our particular needs given the nerdish detail with which I have researched the rest of the tour, but she is very happy with it, having the same information I do and so all I can think now is that it is one of those mysterious 'meant to be' situations in which I was an unwitting player.I did feel a bit bad at being such a Spoiled Princess but now I feel like a Fairy Godmother!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy shoes.

Like most people I have a predominent colour theme to my wardrobe. Work is black. Home is brown and autumn greens. I favour smart over casual.

So these are not at all like me. But I love them. Dennis hates them but everyone has a lapse of good judgement from time to time. They are as soft as butter ( but more protective), a little brighter than the photo shows, I can walk for miles in them and it is impossible not to be happy wearing them.

I was very amused to get a message from Janet who thought she had spotted me at Festival of Quilts sitting outside Weatherspoons but decided not to approach in case it was not me. Was it you, she asked? The woman she saw was wearing green shoes. I was indeed. I had my feet under the table as far as I recall, but maybe these shoes are a bit louder than I thought.

I just asked Dennis to describe them and explain why he hates them. He may have lapses of good judgement but he is not suicidal. He thought carefully,
"They cry out for attention."
He waited, and when I didn't throw anything he added,
"And they don't need to cry too loud."


I don't care. They are happy, happy shoes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hotel room givaway

Sorry - I got two very quick emails responding to this post so the offer appears to have been taken up, although if you are interested you can still email in case the first two people decide they cannot use it after all.
00.18 21 /9/09

Believe it or not this is not the surprise I so sulkily complained about you all ignoring in my last post. I use Google Reader and the next button facility so I still see the sidebars on everyone's blog and never realised others did not do the same.) But the title is true....

.. for reasons relating to me having a Spoiled Inner Princess which would take too long to relate, we have decided to change our accommodation in Christchurch. This means that I have a booking for 5 nights from 2nd December 2009 for a deluxe loft apartment in the Off The Square Hotel in the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand which is going unused. It is non-cancellable but the hotel has confirmed that I can transfer the booking, which with my special "book-early-but-you-can't-cancel" deal (sigh) is worth NZD 1183.60. I have even had allocated a quiet apartment to avoid any noise from Cathedral Square in which it is situated. (See the webcam on the square)

So, do you want it? Do you have friends who might want it? Neighbours? Brothers? Sisters? Parents? Lovers? Arch enemies you want to send far away?

First to email me with a request and who can use it, gets it. No cost, no catches.

I'd just like to see someone getting value from it, having paid for it then changed my mind and decided to stay elsewhere.

If whoever takes it wants to have coffee when we are both in Christchurch that would be lovely but it is in no way a condition of the transfer.

Contact me on with request or questions.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Forthcoming surprise

So, I go to all the trouble of putting a tantalising countdown clock on my blog and do any of you query what it is all about? Are any of you showing the slightest bit of curiosity never mind an overwhelming sense of Christmas-Eve-type excitement?


Well frankly, despite the fact that you do not deserve it I am still planning on giving you a surprise soon.

I think it is big and shiney and special.

If you don't agree I shall just go into the garden and eat worms. So there.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Sometimes it is a full time job managing me. I don't know if you are the slightest bit interested but, apart from the photo above, this is all I have to tell you about, so here is just one representative sequence of events from the last week alone.

1. In my diary is a little lecturing trip. Tuesday, Manchester for a client company, BPP. Wednesday, York for a different client. Thursday and Friday, Leeds for BPP. Quite neat and sensible, the travel being a progressive trip East and back along the same route. I book hotels. Dennis plans to travel with me, free that he is to gallivant at will.

2. Mum and Dad want to see us before we travel and I need to buy a waterproof jacket which is one of the things you can buy where they live in the Lake District. (You can't for example buy Mango Frappachinos). So we add on Saturday and Sunday in Penrith, traveling from Leeds. I tell Dennis the new plans.

3. BPP cancel the Thursday in Leeds. I unbook the hotel the night before. This leaves us yo-yoing across country witha gap in the diary. I ring my Chambers to tell them to look for work. I tell Dennis the new plans.

4. Another client, MBL ring. Can I fill in for a speaker who has let them down. Thursday in Leeds. Oh yes I can. I rebook the hotel. I ring Chambers to tell them not to look for work. I tell Dennis the new plans.

5. BPP ring again. They are now cancelling the course on the Friday. I unbook the hotel. I ring Chambers and tell them to look for work.

6. Then on the off chance I ring Judicial Bookings. Do they by any chance have work on Friday. They do. In Kendal. Also in the Lake District. I ring Mum in her B&B capacity and book a hotel. I ring Chambers. I tell Dennis......

How I found time to put the above quilt together for Magie Relph I do not know! It is a work in progress made with shweshwe fabric and wax prints - we are worried about the big plain block. It might come out, it might get embellished. Hopefully it will be a kit. Who knows what will happen to it and where I will be when I do it!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Colours of Africa Challenge

Some time ago I mentioned the Colours of Africa Challenge and asked if you could support the construction of a proper building for the Chris Hani Creche in South Africa. Finally I got around to doing my own A4 textile works. I decided to combine my photos from similar townships in South African with the need to get my pile of African scraps down. I may have to do a much larger quilt like this! The beads are from The African Fabric shop and come on a huge long stick. The ideas is that you pull them off the stick but I like them on it so I just broke a chunk off an couched it down.

The children in the townships have very little but they love to pose for hotos - all they want in return is to see the picture on the digital display.

The little boy on this quilt is known to us as Joe Slovo Boy as we never found out his name - he just came hurtling along the dirttrack in Joe Slovo squatter camp where her lived to see who the visitors were. Unlike the other children he was not interested in posing. This photo was taken a few seconds before he grabbed my camera and started taking his own photographs!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Marcia's Beautiful bonnet

Conceptual artist Christina Henri has a number of projects on the go all relating to the display of bonnets, each dedicated to a female convict sent from the UK to Australia. Each bonnet made is embroidered in a style of the makers choosing and with the name of a convict.

I made the base for this one but the embroidery is all the original design and handiwork of Marcia Conway. I think its beautiful!
You can find out more information about the project here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Esther Alexander

Last time I was in London I had a half day off and used it to trapse around hot hard streets linking various art galleries. I had a great time but in the last hour before I had to go and do a lecture I wanted to flop somewhere peaceful with a cold drink. A mango frappachino on a leather sofa on the Cafe Nero on Southampton Row was just the ticket. My weary sitting bones sank into the cushions, my shoes got kicked off. Cool floor tiles soothed my bunions, crushed ice soothed my throat. Ah, bliss.

Then I spotted them. People. Setting up amplifiers . Right near me.

I was not pleased. Is it not possible to get a drink these days without being subject to other people's choice of noise? And then she started to sing. And boy was she good.

Her name is Esther Alexander and she was Cafe Nero's artist of the month. You can hear three of her tracks from her latest album here for free and ( as I have just done) by the whole CD if you like her. And given that I average CD purchases of one very two years, this is a bit of a recommendation! The first free tcak was the one she started with in the store. I am rubbish at categorising music but I'd say if you like Dido, Katie Meluia and Norah Jones you might want to check her out.