Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two sleeps to go

A minor miracle has occurred in the Conway household. No. Two miracles.

Yesterday, with two whole days and some spare hours to go before departure, all bags were packed. With everything in them down to the toothbrushes. First miracle - no one fell out with anyone else for not knowing how to roll a pair of trousers. ('Roll I said, man, not scrunch.'). No-one threw a hissy fit because they could not decide what to take. ('But I don't know which skirt I want to wear on January 5th'). No-one waited until the cases were packed to present three pairs of shoes. ('Shoes go on the bottom of a case. Under the rolled-not-scrunched trousers. ... Because I said so.') Flight clothes were even chosen and set aside.

Second miracle. The bags were weighed. And even with some heavy gifts that are only going part way and even with the pile of my clothes family and friends thought was ridiculous, we are within weight allowance. Even after I added another pair of jeans.

Well, within weight for most flights anyway, but there was no hope of that for the two add on economy flights where we ran out of miles on our ticket, and we have a new plan to combat that awkwardness in the logistics without expending fabric money on excess baggage - we will fly a bag home with a freight company as we depart southern hemisphere warmness, go light for two flights then shop like mad in Shanghai for heavy Chinese teapots and the like as we go back up to 96kg allowance each.

Of course having been so super organised, we have spent all today taking the toothbrushes ( and camera leads and laptops and assorted doodah's) back out of the bags. But, there is a list on the desk for the writing of things removed and, as long as a certain someone in the household sticks to my system the third miracle of us leaving without any forgotten items may even occur.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Travelling bags

No, not for me for my quilts. Our Twelve by Twelve quilts are going to Australia for exhibition but not quite at the same time as me. I mean, I am going to Australia, but I don't plan to make an exhibition of myself. But I do like to travel in comfort so I thought my quilts should too. So now they have a little padded bag all of their own.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Colours of Africa Challenge

Three final little quilts for the Colours of Africa Challenge. I have to stop now because I am off travelling but you have plenty of time, the deadline being December 1st.

This first one is the first quit my Mum, Marcia Conway has ever made and it is all her design. These two are mine. (The second one is the truer colour - not sure what happened with the first photo!)

Four sleeps to go...

... or three if we measure from going to the local airport hotel not our first international flight. So we are into the packing stage. Or, at least the choosing what to take stage. This is my tentative art kit for three months in which I intend to keep a visual journal/ design inspiration book/ scrapbook/ call it what you will book as a diary/ resource book for future textile work. I imagine working in it quickly as we spend days out and more slowly in the evenings/ on planes etc. Is there anything you think I should add? Anything I should take out?

It contains:

2 A4 Moleskin sketchbooks. (My Best Quilting Buddy saved me the agony of choosing a sketchbook I would have put myself through by getting these for my birthday. They fit perfectly into Dennis' man bag. )

Plastic tube of paintbrushes*

Selection of Derwent Inktense (watersoluble) pencils in one pencil case

Set of Koh-I-Noor water colours. Smaller (very handbag sized) set of Windsor and Newton Watercolours my Mum bought me to travel with.
2 sets of Koh-I-Noor water based dyes for pages washes etc

I small container for water

3 small metallic crayons

Glue stick and small roll of sellotape

Plastic ruler

Craft Knife and corner of old cutting board 6" x 9"

Pencil case containing selection of sketching pencils, pencil sharpener, three metallic pens and putty eraser.

Second pencil case containing 4 sepia pens ( different width nibs) half a dozen black sketching pens a china marker and two charcoal pencils

I would like to take my tin of neocolour crayons but I fear they weigh too much.

* I actually have two of these because I bought one specially to travel and put all my brushes in it then lost it. I tried the three time-tested ways of finding it:

1. Ask Pam our cleaner to find it. This was the first time ever she has failed at that task.

2. Rip the house apart. Nada.

3. Buy a new set. Yup. Found the old one today - in the drawer where I keep it but in my defence it was wedged right at the back in the couple of inches which does not pull past the sides of the drawers so it was hidden.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Educating America

My Cliff Richard Post on Sunday threw up an interesting geographical anomaly. Everyone commenting in the world - except Americans - knew who Cliff was and why being seen at a concert might be a secret one would keep.

Now, I like my American readers very much and have no desire to alienated them. I also know that although Cliff did release. So I am not saying that this ignorance is akin to the time when George Bush asked Charlotte Church* in which state Wales was. But, I'd just like to point out that Cliff - Sir Cliff in fact - is the highest selling UK singles artist ever. That's more than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Elton John, Michale Jackson, Queen, ABBA, Paul McCartney and David Bowie, who rank in the top ten in that order. Bet you have heard of them haven't you?!

He holds the record with Elvis as the only act to make the UK singles charts in all of its decades in existence and is the only singer to have had a number 1 in five consecutive decades.

And seeing as competition was started in my comments list by a waitress in Perth who got to actually touch him, I shall confess further. I once appeared on BBC Radio 1 with him in a phone in when I was about 13 or so. In order to get on to talk to him you had to write in with the question you wanted to ask. I made an envelope collaged with photos of him and entwined his song titles into the text of my letter. Thinking about it, maybe there was a latent Twelve by Twelve artist there all along! And my question: the boring ( but suitable for a churchgoing teen) how did you get involved with Tearfund? That's the Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, the overseas development charity with which he has been very involved.

Why am I telling you all this? Mostly because I have been to London for the day - well, the afternoon to be precise -and, having over estimated the cross - London travel time am now loitering in the lounge with free internet and nothing better to do.

Finally, for those who are trying to get to know me via my posts (Hi Gerrie!)- no I no longer attend the church I blogged about on Sunday. I have no problem with those who do and retain a love of 'happy clappy' gospel music but these days prefer a personal spirituality which is more open to all faiths.

* No I am not posting to explain who she is - Google her. But the only time I saw her in concert was in Boston so maybe you do know....!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who was your first?

I believe that a decade and some before I was born these gentlemen were a popular beat-combo in the Hit Parade.

The Shadows spilt up two years before I was born, but Cliff has been going strong since then. In my teens my family attended a fairly fundamentalist Pentecostal church and I came of musical age (to the extent I ever did) in an environment where we were encouraged to bin certain albums because, if played backwards at a certain speed, they screeched out in a rather un-coordinated way, 'Worship the Devil'. Early in my teens I learned to ignore certain advice as being, well, mad. But of course there was no pressure, peer, parental or pastoral to bin the born again Cliff Richard. Indeed, I found out recently that my Mum was at the Billy Graham rally at Earls Court when he 'came out' as a born again Christian.
Fortunately I was a teen when Radio 1 would still play him and well before the singing of Congratulations at a rainy Wimbledon. (Which, I feel the need to point out, he only ever did once, by request, and that everyone there thought it was great.) I came in at Wired for Sound ( think roller skates and cassette walkmans) which was the first record I ever bought. With the assistance of my church youth leader, who traded second hand albums on a local market ( and from his car boot after youth club) and the further assistance of pious congregation members with hazy concepts of copyright law, I began to collect the back albums either in slightly battered original format or on bootleg cassette.

At the end of my first year at University, I went with said youth group to Spain where we met up with a church there and stood in various squares making music and bemusing locals. Oh and sunbathing which is what we really wanted to go for. There, I met Dennis who went to school with the English pastor of the church there. I did not feel instant attraction but he offered to help me complete my collection. This was a particularly important contact as he, had access to the hastily withdrawn Honky Tonk Angel track. We began to write and continued to do so even after I had a full collection.

I left University at Hull, went to Cambridge for an M.Phil and then letters continued. I moved to Chester for College of Law and he rang. He had bought tickets for Cliff in Belfast. If I sorted my flight out he would pay for the tickets. Only he didn't know what night I could go when he booked,as he could not wait to find out as they sell like half price Kaffe Fassett fabric at Festival and he had had to source them from Dublin to get them. So he had seats for two consecutive nights. I confess. The excitement got to me. There are incriminating photos of Cliff holding up red roses I threw onto the stage.

Sadly, despite the roses Cliff was not interested, but things did develop between Dennis and I and by the end of the year we were engaged. At our wedding our second hand album selling best man procured us a personal note from Cliff to read out with the telegraphs.
Since then we have seen him several times. At the stroke of the Millenium I was in the National Indoor Arena holding up my mobile phone so my Mum could hear him singing Millenium Prayer. I no longer collect his albums because of course Dennis does. Now I know that all over the world people will be rolling their eyes and shouting "Naff! Naff!" at the computer screen. But I tell you, If when I am 69 I can still belt out several consecutive full energy rock songs and get tens if thousands of people to come and see my art I shall be happy. And very surprised, because at the age of 39 I cannot belt out several consecutive full energy rock songs.

The photos of course originate from the Cliff and the Shadows concert at the MEN arena tonight (for blog entries like this I bought a good zoom). So come on, 'fess up. What was the first record you bought and would you be seen dead at a Cliff concert?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On how my quilting day got stolen

Last night, quite late, our phone rang. Dennis answered. I could not hear the whole conversation but I did hear my Little Sister's voice uttering the words, "Ben and Jerry's" and "Outside your house now." This translates to "I've just come off late shift at the hospital, can I raid your freezer." Which she of course could. I even made her tea and toast. I didn't really expect it would be well gone half past midnight when she decided to take the ice cream home but, hey, it's Friday and I can sleep in.

At half eight I was woken up by the phone. Little Sis. Ikea have particular pine set of drawers on sale this week, she wants two and the computer says there are only four left. Do I want to go and get them with her right now. Well, duh! No. But you know, she's my Little Sis and she tells me that now they created the new motorway junction just for Ikea it only takes twenty minutes to get there. So that's an hour tops to get there and back with the furniture. Go on then.

En route we establish that she had stayed up to three am to wait for her husband to come in off an extended night shift only he rang to say he was doing extra hours until 7am so she went to bed at 4am and was up in time to check the Net for Ikea produce and wake me up at half eight. We also agree that if we go and get the drawers we could even have a cup of tea before we go home.

We go in. And that basically was my error. We go and get the drawers. And as it turns out a bed side cabinet. Now, she says, there are the wardrobes. What wardrobes? Well they match the drawers. Lets go and see them. En route to tea I assume. Nu-huh. We go to the wardrobes and she whips out her shopping list. The one she didn't tell me about. But this being a range which is being phased out ( hence the sale on the drawers) key bits are unavailable and the room has to be redesigned. Then we have to pick the interior bits for the modular system. We are given two sheets of paper. One with the items we collect downstairs. One with the parts that are in the external warehouse which we either get direct or can get home delivery to get for us.

Tea time then. Nu-huh. There is a blanket box to match. Somewhere. And we have to go to Kitchens to the handles for the doors to the wardrobes. Except that, when we have walked round and round the eighth circle of Hell to find Kitchens, she doesn't like any of them and they don't have ones to match the drawers. She decides she'll get some elsewhere

At last tea time? Yes, she says. Oh! No - She forgot the shelves and the brackets. And the towel rack for the bathroom. and maybe some baskets. I point out that she told me we were coming to pick up two sets of drawers. She looked confused. We did get the drawers, they are on the trolley. But, I point out, she never mentioned the full house refurbishment. Her reply? "Well in my head I knew the full story but maybe it never came out of my mouth." Right then.

Finally at 12.30 we hit the tills. I can see a tea machine on the otherside.Everything is scanned and the price confirmed. Big frowns. Doesn't sound right. Ooops, she forgot to pick up the wardrobes from flat pack. Ok. No tea just yet then. We store our half order in the till and go back. I am told to get wardrobe frames from Aisle 27 position 9. Not there. She panics. Someone else must have bought them. Everything else will have to go back. I take the list off her. The frames are in the external warehouse. This is where the doors are. We stack those on the trolley. Now, aisle 39 position 5 for the internal pieces. Not there. Panic etc. Take the list off her. That would be aisle 35 position 9.

Eventually I get my sleep deprived sister back to the tills. Huge queues. And of course we have to wait in the queue with the builders who are buying 14 houses worth of furniture because that is where our first order is stored. Finally we pay. Then she announces we have to go to customer services because she's now had the bright idea that they might let her take some door handles off the display model of the drawers. At customer services we take ticket and queue. Or more accurately, she does and I sit on the trolley weeping quietly. She returns with a handful of handles they have taken from a returned item. Bingo.

Now to home delivery. Amazingly they will deliver today. But she decides to take the small items so while she books and pays for delivery I nip out to get an ordinary trolley for the small items. These have to go to the car and then I put my hands around her throat until she agrees to buy me fish and chips with my tea. Of course sitting down is fatal and any last vestiges of energy disspiate. I have a refil of tea and summon my strength. Right. Lets go. Ok she says but Mark will never forgive me if I go home from Ikea without frozen meatballs. Where is the Swedish food shop? By the tills. Where we were at 9.30 ish.

We go home and she drops me by an art shop and I buy a few bits and walk up to her house. Ikea are there so I just get in my car and go home and leave them to it. I get to - oh - 25 yards from my house and the mobile rings. I have the receipts in my bag because she passed them to me to hold for reasons I now forget if I ever knew at the time. She needs them because Ikea did not deliver everything. I go back to her house. She is panicking. What if the frames really are sold out? Everything will have to go back.

I ring Ikea for her. The very nice lady at home delivery remembers us. That would be because I was weeping and mumbling about food quite a lot. She asks if I have the order sheets for the items at the external warehouse. I do. Ah. Well if we have it, they don't have it and therefore they had no idea that they were supposed to collect anything from the warehouse. Little Sis was supposed to sort that bit while I went for the trolley. She will have to pay for another delivery or come and collect them herself. I start to beg. Don't make me go back to Ikea. Don't. Make. Me. Pleeeeease.

Brother in law is now up. Having had a full quota of sleep. Little Sis and I look at each other. His brand new car, of which he is so proud that you have to sit on plastic to drive it still, is bigger than Little Sister's. NO he says. No, you won't get wardrobe frames in there.
Watch us.
We dismantle the car. Turns out with a Fabia you can not only put the seats down you can actually pull whole segments of the car apart and place it in the house. The wardrobe doors go in therefore the frames will go in. Fortunately no passengers can get in so I am not forced to go to Ikea.

I come home. I get int the house, I flick the kettle on. The phone rings. It is Mum. "I gather you went to Ikea with your sister. I am so pleased you live close enough to have nice days out together."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Having moaned in my last post that my giveaway was unpopular I have just realised that maybe that is because it posted the day I wrote it as a draft rather than the day I wanted to publish it and so perhaps many people missed it due to my technological incompetance in seeking to publish my own website. Hmmm, feel the irony.

Anyway - in case it is all a mystery I repeat the orginal post here:

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).

I'm sending you some flowers in case I maligned you. Sorry about the wasp- it would not go away.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mass cutting box production

OK, I am back from studio touring with three things to say:

First: I have wasted, ahem, spent all weekend touring studios and I have saved some for tomorrow. And the good news is that, so far, with the possible exception of a very cute shed at the bottom of vintage rock chick's garden, I like mine the best.* All my envy has gone. Of course it will return when I see this month's magazine with the really dressed up studios. But until then I have decided that the stair climbing is chocolate offset and all I need is a bit more art on my one available wall. So will you all please go and put something fabulous and blue and cheap in your Etsy shops?

Secondly: On a real studio tour I would have come back with a pile of business cards. As it is I got Google Reader subscriptions out of it. Check out my three additions to Google Reader: I like that this is in both English and German - it gives me a chance to keep my German up to scratch. - creativity coaching : well I'm not going to be turning that down! - the funniest blog I have read. Ever, I think. You have to check this one out. (by Royal edict).

Thirdly it seems that you all love my cutting box. There has been suggestions that I sell it and people would scrimp to pay for it. Well, look, I appreciate the thought but to market it would involve patents and sourcing a factory in China that didn't actually employ child labour, which none of them do of course .(I have to add that because I am still waiting for the return of my Chinese visa and maybe they are reading. Hi Chinese Visa People - I promise to be good in Shanghai!) Then I'd have to market it and that would involve standing in one stall at shows instead of shopping at them all. Twice. Does that sound like fun to you?

No thought not. So here is how to get your own cutting box. You find a person with tools who knows how to use them. (Note: I am thinking more Black and Decker here, less Ann Summers). Dads, fathers in law, local odd job people, carpenters for hire. All are good. Print off the photos I had on my last post. Measure how high off the table you want yours and what size of mat you want on it/ rulers you want in it ( which is the same as saying how big is the table you are putting it one?). Then get them to copy it. Raw materials for mine cost abour £40 I think. Dad was free. In fact, he may have paid me for the excuse it gave him to go play in his garage with power tools.

Then, when my career implodes ( becuase I was imprisoned in Shanghai by the Police for being funny about them. Or attempting to be funny about them.) and I am reduced to sitting outside the Knit and Stitch show with a Starbucks cup and a mangy dog, please put a coin or two in my begging cup. Or I will take beads, and perle thread if you prefer.

I shall be going dark for the next week until after Knit and Stitch as I shall be working away. So that gives you plenty of time to enter my giveaway which at the moment seems suprisingly unpopular.

* I take it back. Lisa Walton has just joined the tour a day late. I want her place. Ah well, at least I get to visit it soon.

Virtual Open Studio Tour

Welcome to my 'studio' ! I am participating in the Studios Magazine Virtual Studios Tour. Come in and have a nosy around. If you were here in real life I would give you a pot of tea and some home-made cake but you might have to get that for yourself because this is a long post. If you are in a hurry, skip the words and just look at the pictures- that's fine! If you have any questions I'd be pleased to answer them. But please sign my visitors book by leaving a comment - just your name will do - so I know you've been here as I would like to return the compliment and visit your blogs too.

I put the term 'studio' in inverted commas because I utilise several areas of the house and whilst I do use the term 'studio' from time to time, really I am still dreaming of having a dedicated studio. But until then, this is where I am.....

We live in an unassuming 3 bed semi, bought in 1994, well before I was a quilter and which originally had a small dining area. The previous owners extended and built this single storey dining area which runs off the back of the house. We rather pretentiously call the old dining area the 'library' as it is where Dennis stores his books. Because it is our only dining area ( apart from the more usual trays on our knees) and because it is so visible ( you walk from the lounge via the library to get to the kitchen) I have had to try and come up with a way to create a studio (look no inverted commas - I must be in the zone now!) which (a) can function as a dining room as well when we need it and (b) maintains the look of the house

We bought Billy Bookcases from Ikea with doors for neatness. The books in the library are also on these. They were bought as a cheap temporary solution in 1994 and are still doing their job admirably. This one sits on the left as you go through the arch.

It contains:top (open) shelf - Box with green yarns in, box containing a WiP ( an ANC/ Nelson Mandela themed quilt) Files containing patterns, quilt pictures and articles culled from magazines. Pictures are glued onto black card, articles in plastic sleeves.

CD Rack Cd's. (obviously). This is my entire collection and consists of eighties and South African music in the main. I like music but I have other fabric, I mean, things to spend my money on.

Ikea Wicker baskets Scrim, foils, jute, leads for MP3, camera etc

Fourth shelf down on the left a mock leather box with boxes/ bags of beads in and on top thread boxes with embroidery threads wrapped around paper bobbins. To the right three Really Useful boxes, one for sheers, one for beads and buttons and one for felts, specialist embroidery fabrics etc.

Firth shelf down Box of brown/ neutral yarns and 2 leather boxes with bits of un-assemmbled Project Linus quilts in.

Sixth shelf down Blue yarn box, pink yarn box, box of trims and general doodah's

Bottom shelf - back issues of quilting magazines

The dining room table, covered with table protector functions as my work area. usually an embellisher sits at the far end but it has gone on holiday to my Best Quilting Buddy for a few months. The quilt that is there awaits the binding hand stitching down but I can't show you more yet because it is a gift. I sew on an Janome 6600 Memorycraft and always have the extension table up. The chair is my old office chair from the study (3rd bedroom) upstairs which gives me an ergonomic height the dining chairs do not.

The cutting box on the near end of the table was designed by me and built my my Dad. It has storage for rulers, markers, scissors etc around the edges and gives an ergonomic height for cutting. (I am five foot ten). It is only good for small pieces though because of its size, so if cutting strips from the whole width for example I still use the bigger mat and just stretch from time to time.

On the other side it has 2 Ikea storage boxes ( which are useless if you want the lids to stay on your boxes) which function as rubbish bins/ scrap storage. As I cut I toss the odd bits into one of these which I just slide part way out. There or on the floor. Whichever. If I am quilting ( as opposed to piecing) I can lift the box off onto the floor or down the other end of the table and I get a really fabulous table to stake all the weight of the quilt which is perhaps why I am not fazed by machine quilting King Sized quilts. (that and the extra throat space of the Janome).

In an attempt to create an L shaped layout I bought rolling plastic drawers and put them to the right side of me as I sew.Pin cushion, threads I am using, sharps tin for discarded pins and needles and cups of tea go on top. There is a cutting board on there are very occasionally I use it as a trimming/ pressing area with a mini iron for foundation piecing. It contains: Righthand drawers: Top - machine feet, quiting gloves, machine needles second embroidery samples for C&G Third In progress experimental samples for C&G ( But I don't like what I have done so they may have to go!) Fourth Play products from shows I have not tried yet - like shrink plastic, rubbing plates etc. left drawers: Top - bobbin boxes and seam unrippers Second whole mess of various metallic related products and I am slowly sampling for a C&G wall hanging idea Third Project Linus records (I am a regional co-ordinator although a very quiet one) Fourth - design books and WiPs for kits for The African Fabric Shop.

To my right, backing onto the part wall back into the library is the second IKEA cabinet. It contains: Top open shelf Quilts in the quilting process/ flimsys. Basket of 505 spray, starch and furniture polish ( to get traces of 505 spray off the machine casing).

CD rack. Roving to go with the embellisher which is not here!

Ikea baskets on both shelves _ threads stored in categories: King Tut, masterpiece, YLI Quilting, Superiors Rainbows, Embroidery, Metallic and a box of quilting related DVDs and one of extra roving.

Fifth shelf down has thread racks taken from one of those boxes with them inside. these are fairly useless as they only hold nice thin Gutterman threads without losing space or looking jumbled. Mostly on these are the threads I bought in the first year before I found my preferred brands and I am gradually using them up and will probably then reorganise

The little blue drawers i bought on holiday in Vilamoura, Portgugal years ago in a kitchen shop. they store packets of needles, saftey pins and grommets.

Some of the boxes in this cupboard are empty as I finish up WiPs ready for travelling ( and coming back with new ideas I hope). The bottom shelf has boxes for :fusibles. applique iron and sheet, odd tools and gizmos, interfacings and the magazazine racks store freezer paper A4 sheets, catalogues, show entry forms etc.

This being a dining room there are too many chairs for a studio. I have banished one carver to the Hall where it acts as coat and bag repository. The other is at the end of the table out of the way and the four normal chairs are lined up under this quilt. I wish there were not there but they are and at least I can use it as a bench to sit on from tine to time with a little handsewing and I can store stuff under the seats. All that is there at the moment is extension cords. My rolled Pelmet Vilene and fast 2 Fuse is in the corner tucked behind the china cabinet with my wedding china in ( my, my what a traditional girl I am)! I would move that in a flash If I had anywhere else to put the plates!

The good thing about this room is that I have room to work on big quilts with ease, it is a part of my house as quiting is a part of my life and that all I have to do for guests is roll the drawers and office chair out through the patio doors to the garage, lift the cutting box down and bring the chairs out. On sunny days I like having the patio doors open and it feels almost like quilting outside. I dislike the fact that my fabric is elsewhere ( bear with me _ Ill take you) and that I don't really have other inspiring pieces of art around me. I do have this basket from the African Fabric shop which at the moment contains the part worked lasy daisy stitch sample for my C&G course. The photo frames are of two of the five children we sponsor.

The A3 Pink Pig books I am using for C&G design and sample books sit on top of the china cabinet.

To iron I run an extension cord from under the quit covered chairs out to the library. the ironing board is kept in a cupboard in the hall. the blue rug on the floor is there to cover the iron shaped burn in the carpet where I dropped it. Oops! I also dislike fact that I don't have space for a permanent design board. I do have a large pair of large freestanding boards which clip together to provide board about 6 x 5 feet on a frame smilar to a flip chart easel stand, covered with wadding which I store in the garage and can set up in the libray but I use it sparingly because it impedes Denn's access to his books.If I want to do messy work like dyeing and fabric painting I have to go to the garage which you can see behind my chair. We had one of those de clutter days were you put every single item in the garage on the drive and sort into piles to keep and to chuck. Dennis went in for a cup of tea and when he came out I had created a 'wet studio' area furnished with the pasting table and ancient shelves and cabinets that are worse for wear. All my Procion dyes and fabric paints are here

As you can see it is an unholy mess so let's not loiter there. Come back into the house and I'll show you the fabric stash. We have to go upstairs to the second bedroom which is located right over where you just saw the ironing board. This is the major pain of my not-a-real-studio set up. On the positive side I have good storage but I hate that if I need a piece of fabric I have to go and hunt upstairs. I end up bringing boxes down and littering the quilted chairs/ the floor with them just so I have choice as I work. I use baskets to have a place to throw things in that need to go up or down as there is always something in the wrong room.

But, on the other hand I do have another room to use, Come in!

The window is on the right as you come in through the door which is just next to the mirror. The mirror is a sign of my total laziness. My Gran gave it to us years ago and it got put down there and there is stayed. There is a socket behind it and I sit on the floor cushion on the floor to do my hair because that is where the mirror is! This book case houses most of my textile related book collection. (Novels etc are either in my study or up in the loft). The sofa pulls out into a guest bed. The bear on top of the shelves is my first teddy bear from childhood called Edward Montgombeary ( previously known as Teddy Edward). The white table to the side of the sofa collapses and the idea was to store it out of view behind the sofa because its not exactly beautiful. (It is a plastic camping table ordered to be the height I needed for the purposes shown in the photo below) But I get lazy..... and besides it covers the not so beautiful yoga ball too! The wicker baskets were found in a shop in Northern Ireland. One contains batiks, the other fabric from The African Fabric Shop ( have you worked out yet hat I love that shop). The little girl next door likes to come and play in my house and to open drawers etc. She found this basket the other day and, with her hand poised on the top said, "What's in here?" "Open it and see," I told her. She did and her eyes rounded as she whispered reverently, "Treasure!". Treasure indeed!

The wall with the drawers on it to the left as you walk in and the doors facing you. the basket was bought from a Berber woman in Morocco and is none of my art things up and down baskets. The wicker casket has sketchbooks in. The top drawer has some fabrics, threads and trims collected together for a project I might take with me when we travel. Second drawer my Twelve by Twelve stuff and the rest is all workout cloths, yoga blocks etc. On top are more un-read textile related books.

And inside - the stash. The cupboard goes back on the left to the wall so there are lots and lost of boxes in there although you have to pull the visible ones out to get to the back ones. The boxes are too deep towards the back of the wardrobe. I have them labelled and a little cart on the divider wallas to where I put stuff. On the right side of the divider in the boxes are my finished quilts and then some out of season coat storage. There are another 2 shelves you can't see at the top of the cupboard. The rolling drawers have art stuff in and pull out to create....

my mobile design studio space!

Now, the burning question: does it always look like this? Well, I am the words most organised untidy person so no, not always. I tend to make the most of time to do things and I prioritise well. So I will work on stuff right until the moment I have stop and the tidying up can wait until later. I also create in a bit of a mess because I am so focused on what I am doing and the vision in my head that I don't see the scattered products around me. However, I do not like to live in a mess (even though I make them all the time)so it does get tidied up and it certainly helps that I have a very good cleaner who comes once a week, does not complain about stray needles and is great at finding missing things. But to give you an idea: this was my table before I tidied for these photos:

This is my current to-go-back-upstairs- pile sitting in the library.So, I hope you enjoyed that. I'd love to know what bits you like and what you didn't. Do you have any ideas for making my space more art orintetated? Now, I am off to scout around the net and see what other studios are up for viewing! Shall we go together? Here is the list of participating studios. Don't forget to leave me a comment before you go!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Brenda : ace web designer

Thank you all those who sent compliments on my new website HelenConwayDesign.

In fact, whilst the content and most of the design decisions are mine, the fact that it looks the way it does and does the things that it does is due to the assistance of Brenda Gael Smith. She valiently learned all about using the Squarespace service just for me but brought to that task a wealth of experience in designing textile artists' websites. Without her, my site would not look on the screen the way it did in my head. Despite the fact that we live about as far away from each other in the world as it is possible to get, the working partnership worked a treat thanks to email and the fact that Brenda (unlike me) can work out time zones.

Brenda is available to do you a site too and can be contacted here.

The sites which she has designed are all worth visiting for the owner's content as well as giving you an idea of the style of Brenda's work. These sites include:

My Place Quilts Sue Dennis Textile Artist

You can read a bit more about how setting up my site worked at my new BY DESIGN journal if you have not already been there.