Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday morning ritual

Alone at BocBoc, my neighbourhood cafe.

Tea, dooorstop toast, sometimes with eggs, today with jam, a selection of filofaxes or notebooks ( today, my Personal Aston Mushroom and Cherry Red Classic A5 filofaxes) a book to read and the ipad for surfing blogs and reading the weekend Philofaxy webfinds. Time to think and reflect and just hang out. What else could I need?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Filofax quilt record sheets

You may remember me showing you my studio filofax over on the blog I share with Diane Perin Hock. After that post I took Lisa Call's Working in a Series class. One of the early questions I had about working in a series was how You avoided simply making the same mediocre art and the same mistakes over and over again. I learned that self-critiquing was the answer to that. Taking that thought I combine it with some other desires I had : to set parameters for each piece, to have a record of what I was doing, particularly in terms of time and costs, and to subsequently track what happened to that piece be it sale, shows or the bin. So, I made some new template pages for my filofax.
Each project now gets its own little four page booklet. On page one I record its working title, which series it belongs in, estimated time before I start, dates it starts and finishes ( Ooops. I see that is incomplete on this example!) following Lisa's advice I set my goal, my parameters and my intentions.

On page two I set out the steps I need to take to finish the quilt with target dates so that it completes before any deadline. I also capture any ideas that occur to me as I work relating to this quilt or series like ideas for future pieces or things I could do differently.

Page three is a record of what days I work on the quilt, what I do and how long it takes me. This is useful for both costing a quilt if it is for sale or, in my case, more for teaching myself how long things really take compared with my estimate so that I can plan realistic goals.

I have not yet filled in a page four but when I do it will be an evaluation of a completed quilt and a record of what happened to it.

I keep this filofax to hand in the studio and it has become a pleasurable ritual at the end of each session to note down the times, not only in a page three but also on a diary page so I can see how many hours I spent in what type of activity each week and then each month. It is both motivating to get to my target and, again, helps me see clear how much time I have and therefore how many projects I can choose to commit to.

At the moment I also have an extra sheet detailing the projects I am finishing up before the Olympics. This is a target date because when it is on I shall be having a little holiday to watch it on TV and just afterwards is Festival of Quilts. After Festival I have a few days off as a mini-retreat in my own studio as I am always so full of ideas when I come home and this year I wanted to be able to get straight to work on them. So, the left had sheet above is my weekly diary record and the right is a sheet that divided up how many hours I thought I had to use in the studio between each project depending on when the project was due. As I do hours I deduct from the hours left to make sure I don't spend all my time on the project due last in time. As you can see by the red pen - its my Filofax and I will cheat if I want to!
So, you may by all means consider me an organising control freak ( because I probably am), but this system actually gives me a lot of pleasure as well as increasing my efficiency.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I am still working on...

... The horse.

now, anyone with an aounce of sense would make the background first then bond the horse on, but you know.. if there is a difficult way to do it...

The map is of Chester racecourse and  the writing, which only shows up more than texture from quite close  is all about the history of Chester Races, the city and of horseracing in general.

 I have learned so much from doing it. Did you know, for example, that the first recorded horse race in Chester was in 1759 with the consent of the then Mayor Henry Gee and that is where we get the term gee-gees for horses?

 I have some more writing then all the quilting to do. I don't think it is going to be ready for Monday which is when the building it is to hang in opens. But thats Ok because it is a suprise anyway so the deadline is entirley self inflicted!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My studio life

One of my favourite blogs is Lisa Call's and so I am pleased to follow her suggestion that I answer the same questions as she did in this post. She is going to collate all the responses on her blog on 28th June which should provide a fun blog/ studio tour. For some reason Blogsy is rejecting my attempts to post phots of the studio although it will do the ones below. Go figure. But there are plenty of photos here of the studio

Is your studio at home or a separate space?

It is a big loft conversion so has the advantage of being withing the house ( no going out in the rain) but I can be as messy as I like without affecting the calm of the living spaces.

How big is your studio? I think it is about 24 feet by 25 feet but some of that space at the very edges is limited by the sloping ceilings which come down to short knee walls. One quadrant is a full height rectangular dormer window with good head height thought and one quadrant is a full and rather luxurious bathroom.

Typically, how many hours a day do you work in the studio? How many days a week?

I aIm to do at least two a day during the week. Weekend days vary. My current aim is to try to do about sixty hours a month overall. By having the odd long studio day I can usually beat that but it does require me to prioritise. I try for daily but am happy to ditch the studio for days out or away or if I am just tired. I can make time up and its only a goal!! But I do find it useful and satisfying to set goals. My next post will show you a little more about my system for that.

Do you watch television while you work?

Do you listen to music while you work?

If I am up there before work I put BBC Radio 2 on for the Chris Evans show.I use an Itouch on a docking station. I want an expensive AirZepplin docking station which has A- Mazing sound. I have a £30 dock from Tescos. Later in the day I may stick the ipod on but I need to get some new music. I get tired of the same stuff. That said I like to play SouthAfrican gospel music whenmaking African quilts. They go better if I dance as I sew. I do also listen to Audio books via Audible and sometimes stuff on BBC Iplayer. Yesterday I replyed the five fifteen minute essay broadcasts by Albie Sachs, a former ANC activist who is now a member of the South African Consitutional Court. My current audio book is the Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry. I currently have a subscription to Love Film for the sole purpose of catching up on the three series of Grey's Anatomy I missed when It went to a sattelite channel and that also allows me to stream films as well as gorging on Patrick Dempsey.

So I have also watched some light chick flicks I can listen to more than watch. For that I use the ipad and move it around as I move around the studio.

Do you answer the telephone while you are in your studio?

Depends who it is. I always answer the intercom ring because that is my husband telling me dinner is ready. I always answer to my Mum Dad and sister. I never answer if the caller ID shows it is for my husband or an unknown number. I will always answer SKYPE because that's probably Diane Perin Hock from the Twelve by Twelve group who is always welcome to share studio time with me. We swivel the cameras to do show tell and critque. I would break a neck to get to the phone if I thought for one minute it would be..

How often do you take breaks?

I find about two hours at a go is my average natural limit without at least a ten minute tea break. but sometimes I fall down the well and its longer.

Do you have any over-use issues with your hands or any other body parts?

I have solved the back problems by building ( well, Ok, nagging the builder to build) a worksurface at a good eronomic height for my back. Being a tall person cutting on desks and dining room tables use do cripple my lower back. Now all I have to watch for is fatigue in my hands when I hand sew too much but most of my work is by machine for that reason. Arthtritis runs in the family and both my Granny and my Mum are now limited in how long they can knit and crochet for so I know to take care. last week I had a big trial at work and had to work unually late. Having taken notes of evidence by hand from 9.30 to 7.45 with only half an hour for lunch and a couple of ten minute breaks I found for days after My hand and wrist was crampy and sore. i clearly needed to see a doctor.

If so, how do you manage them or compensate?

Rest. On the sofa, with Greys Anatomy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am working on...

...The next in my new map related series, using yesterdays handdyes

To make this pattern
To go on this background

On which will be a map of this area

And writing about the history of this

What are you working on?


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dyes or inks?

Recently I have been playing with surface design by scraping and stamping onto cotton with screen printing inks. Inks, because that is what I had to hand when I decided to play one day and I liked the result. My 20/12 Metamorphosis and Vilakazi Street were both made that way. Last week I spent time with friends in a church hall playing with thickened procion dyes. The piece on the left is screen inks and on the right dyes. I deliberately put heavier stamping on the dyed one but otherwise in terms of colour brightness, nothing in it. The inked piece has a very slight stiffening to the hand of the fabric but nothing that troubles me or makes the slightest problem when handstitching. It is certainly not plasticised. Both media mix well and give the same transparancy. (I mix transparent extender into the inks, again straight from a jar, to further increase transparency if required.)

So which will I use in the future? Well, the screen ink process involves me pinning the fabric straight from the bolt onto my print surface, mixing the inks straight from a pot on a perspex sheet, scraping with a credit card and stamping ( I have been using stamps cut with an x- acto knife from a WH Smith eraser) and leaving it. It is dry in a couple of hours max and ready to use.

The dying involves making print paste and dye solutions and mixing them, then mixing the resulting paste colours. The fabric needs to be presoaked in soda ash. Both of those processes require the use of a mask. Then I pin scrape and stamp as with inks but then must wrap in plastic and cure for at least four hours, ideally overnight. Then there are several washings out by hand and by machine with synthropol and then it has to be either tumble dried or my preference is to drip dry overnight. Thats a lot more than two hours from jar to useage.

Screen inks for me then, at least for the fabrics which suit the background of my current series. I am currently using inks from Thermofax Screens. That said, the next 20/12 ( due for reveal on 12th July) will use the dyed fabric you can see above, but with a section scraped over with inks to give a colour closer to Metamorphosis.


Vilakazi Street

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Big box of pleasures

Today, at eight am exactly the postman called with with a box for me. Now this is photo heavy but I thought you'd want to know exactly what was in there. And why The card explains the why.

Excuse the casual photo compositions. I was a little happy snappy with the ipad. You understand I am sure.
So lets just concentrate on the what. A good book to read. Just because we like reading.


Then some gifts from fellow Twelve members that I would have got in November last year, had I not been a partypooper and failed to attend the meet up at Houston. But they forgave me and sent the gifts via California anyway. So they are a bit late. So what? I'd linger in California too.

First a little piece from Kristen La Flamme.


Then one from Deborah Boschert. You can see the programme from Houston peeking out from behind it.

There was also a beautiful soft handdyed silkscarf from Gerrie Congdon but I seem to have forgotten to photo that. Probably because it went straight around my neck.

Next out came a silk pen I bought myself but Diane assisted me to get shipped from Dharma trading which is near her. Or much nearer her than it is me anyway.

This is what Susan Shie uses for the handwriting on her quilts and I have been considering one for a while. I was galvanised into purchase by (a) liking the effect my handwriting had on my map quilts and (b) Susan being generous to send me a lovely permissive and supportive email when I asked her if she thought I was copying her. I am looking forward to playing with this sometime soon. Maybe when I am playing with the techniques from this DVD

Then, at the bottom, for she knows how to build up suspense, lay a box in a box...

And inside the box...

A caramel Finchley A5 filofax, now discontinued and sourced by my great friend from Florida, with not inconsiderable difficulty and frustration as a rather extravagent gift.

Oh. And the box, for customs purposes said 'art supplies'. True. She also sent me printing and collography materials!