Monday, August 05, 2013

Two special events at Festival of Quilts

I know I have been a slack blogger in recent months but I have to interupt my sloth to tell you about two very exciting things, both coming up later this week at Festival of Quilts.

First, there is the Buy a Plank Challenge. Anyone who went to the Uttoxeter show in April may recall the almost lifesized No I African Fabric Shop Shack I made in tribute to my good friend Magie Relph and of course Alexander McCall Smith, author of the referenced No 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels. It was fun to make and to get Magie's reaction, but what do you do with a 90 x 80 inch wallhanging?

Cut it up into pieces!

Yes, really! You can read all about it here. Basically after Festival the quilt will be cut into a limited edition set of planks ( each having a variety of fabrics) and the buyer will commit to turning their plank into another art work which is then guaranteed a place in a special exhibition at Uttoxeter next year. Hopefully many new art works will be made available for auction. Proceeds from planks and art works go to aid a clinic where one of Magie's fabric dyers volunteers. Buy your plank here before they sell out!!

Secondly, I am currently sitting in my lounge looking at a suitcase holding this exhibition

I have been extremely priveleged to have been asked to hang this gallery for curator Brenda Gael Smith as it has meant I have been able to touch and closely examine all forty quilts. I can honestly say it is a stunning collection. There is a varied interpretation of the theme, literally ranging from Life to Death and a whole range of techniques as varied as weaving,shibori,discharge, dye painting, raw edged applique and felting. Brenda's shows her skills as curator in her choice of entries and the way she has arranged the flow of the gallery. (Although she made an unusual lapse in judgment by choosing the weakest quilt -mine!-for the above graphic.)

I am confident this gallery will be one of the highlights of the show, so don't miss it!




Sunday, May 26, 2013

Two new quilts!

Today has been a productive day. First I finished the very delayed 20\12 quilt on the theme of Sweet for the Twelve by Twelve group. It was supposed to be revealed on 12/12/12. Ah well! You can read the story of it here

Leave my Land Alone
.I also finished the next in my Maps series, a smaller version of my Joe Slovo Township quilt, this time with some people in it. these people are my old style simpified African Women and I think I would like now to make a quilt with some more detailed realistic township women in.


Thursday, May 16, 2013


I fell out of the blogging tree again, didn't I? But I am back now, post my breakdown.

Not mental health breakdown you understand (although if you saw the cost of the online order for dyes and fabrics I just placed, you might think so!). No, the first thing I did in my brand new wet studio ( see the video over at Tea and Talk for Two) was start to learn how to do breakdown printing with the aid of the Committed to Cloth book.

I decided to aim for a result that would remind me of the African Batiks I love to buy from The African Fabric Shop and made some screens with made up symbols on them like this. If you have never done breakdown printing this is basically dye thickened with a product called Manutex and squeezed out of a ketchup bottle and left to dry for a long time. This screen was prepared after I learned that it really does have to be thick if it is not all to run and drip through.

The next stage is to pull thickened dye and/ or plain print paste through the screen with a squeegy. at first the dried dye on the screen acts as a resist and you get negative shapes. then as it re-hydrayes it starts to breakdown and leave part of the symbols on the fabric.

My first set of fabrics were pleasing in terms of marks but I was suprised how pale they ended up.

This one was a slightly different screen in that I cut symbols out of packing foam and pushed them into thickened dye.

I actually like the fragility of them but it was rather a suprise to have them end up so washed out. The solution was simple- a greater dye to print paste ratio.

This one was an early one which did come out marginally stronger. I like the frond like lines whch simply came from the creases that arose becuase I did not pin my fabric under very good tension. Therefore as I lifted the screen the wet fabric came with it and creased and I was too lazy to do anything about it. I may do that deliberately in the future.

So I made up more screens and was braver with the dyes. Talking of brave, Dennis even had a go. He hates 'mess' so this was a big moment for him! The lack of gloves is not a function of his bravery but everything to do with my stock of gloves being in my size not his!

He didn't stick around to do all the layers but this is how 'his fabric' turned out

And another with the same colours but in very different proportions and a different screen. The symbols are much less evident but I like the randomness of the colour spread.

I think this shot of them together on my print surface shows the contrast and colour better. I have a little plan for these...But that's for another post!

Finally, this was one from the first batch where I wrote english letters on the screen in turquoise and pulled the screen only with plain print paste to see how that worked. However, the overcomplication department of my brain decided it was necessary to do some Da Vinci like mirror writing. It is not!

I shall be doing more of this. It's plain fun!!


Saturday, April 06, 2013

Picking a horse

Today is Grand National Day. I have a colleague who is knowlegable about horse racing and I now know far more about it than I did a year ago. But not enough to stop me picking a horse by its name on the basis that this is the only race of the year I pay any attention to. Although many true fans probably wish I didnt because my horse has only ever once lasted past the second fence. Once it died.. The day BEFORE the race!! Still, you have to join in

My husband handed me the paper.

"Oh," I say " I should have Teatforthree" making reference to my Tea and Talk for Two blog with Diane and how she and he email each other too.

He peruses the list and shrugs,

" I'b better have On His Own then"

" Noooo! Thats sad, you can play with us... Three.. Get it?"

He grins. That man is such a pity junkie!!


Monday, April 01, 2013

Becoming an urban sketcher

Many of my quilting friends have been urging me to sketch. I understood their arguments: learn to observe, understand line and shadow and blah, blah. Sorry. I just simply could not summon the enthusiasm to draw a butternut squash. I tried but there was no love.

Then, I found this book. And the blog that goes with it. And the penny somehow dropped.

Sketching travels, buildings, people, illustrated travel journals. Now that does interest me, because those things interest me much more than a butternut squash does. Diane ( who was of the squash school of thinking and who paints them beautifully) came up with a perfect solution for me. Buy a squash, she told me, bring it to her kitchen half way across the world and sketch her eating it. Good plan. So I booked a flight to California ( Yes, really I did! Yipee!!) but that's not for a few months and I decided I really needed to try this sooner.

So, three weeks ago I collected together the art supplies that littered the house and gave myself a goal. I had two day trips to London and a fortnight in Bath. My intention was to be an urban sketcher for those sixteen days. Not to be a good one. Not to show anyone anything necessarily. Just to be one and see how it felt.

So I started on the train to London.

And it did feel good even though I was not accomplished. So I kept going.

The Urban Sketching book somehow showed me the startlingly obvious: that a sketch is a sketch. Not a polished work of perfection but a capturing of the essence of a moment. One sketchers tip was: don't spend too long on a sketch because otherwise it becomes a painting. I found that immensely freeing. I can sketch without my brain every going anywhere near all the myriad reasons I am resistant to trying to paint.

I have also brought this book with me to Bath and find it equally helpful and inspiring.

I have had his previous books An Illustrated Life and Creative License for some time and enjoyed reading it yet it did not spark the same desire to join in. I think the difference is two fold. First, if I am going to find time in a hectic life to overcome fear and produce art work then the subject matter has to matter to me. Secondly, there is an attractive element of community to the Urban Sketching movement.. Which is how I came to be sitting in an Abbey choir stall this afternoon surrounded by Japanese waterbrushes, handbound sketchbooks and Staedtler Markers discussing ink brands with enthusiasm... But thats a story for tomorrow.....


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There'll be days like this..

We are in Bath again and today was the day my husband got to use his Christmas voucher for a VIP up close and personal experience with a Marmoset at Longleat Safari Park. Up we got bright and early bundled up against the cold ( it might was well BE Christmas not Easter !) and out to the car. He opened the back passenger door put his coat on the seat, closed it and this happened.

Right. So no monkeys today then. I rang Autoglass and did my best impression of a helpless female away from home in a dilemma and they are to come and fix it tomorrow. In the meantime the instruction was to wrap the hatchback in cling film to protect it from any rain ( more likley snow and sleet) that might arrive. Fine. The local convenience store stocks cling film. D went to get that and then left me to wrap while he went to call the Marmosets and see whether they might be free to recieve us another day soon.

But Cling film sticks to itself. Not at first to a car boot. So there I am in the whipping wind with this film whapping about and refusing to stay still long enough for me to achieve one complete wrap after which it would self-adhere.




Ha. You didnt expect that did you? But, on the back seat was my Osterley which has inside it some fragments of washi tape and a few Paperchase stickers I ripped up and which served to hold it down long enough for me to mummify the car.

Ah well, I think this video probably says it all...


Monday, February 25, 2013

In progress, one wet studio area

The builder reckons the wet studio will be finished and ready for decoration on Wednesday. Hmmm. Would you put money on that?

Mind you, finished or not its probably tidier now than when it will be when I am dyeing and printing in there


Monday, February 04, 2013

Psst! Wanna see my design book?

The problem with having more than one blog is deciding where to put things. Over on Plan•Create•Succeed I just posted my Design Monthly video which might interest you if you want to see the design work I have( quite usually for me) been putting into my latest quilt.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Boy/ girl planners

My husband and I met up recently for lunch and had a little planning session.

Girl planner came out.

Man planner came out.

It makes my teeth hurt!

I waltzed him quick smart around to the stationers and showed him his choices : Leuchturm, Moleskine, mini Filofax, own brand knock off notebook. I could even live with a Silvine for goodness sake.

" But what would I write in it?"

All the stuff you put on crappy bits of crumpled paper!!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to make a Franklin Covey Like Page Finder (and why)

A few days ago noodling about the Webfinds on Philofaxy I came across the useful item that is the Frankin Covey Pouch Page Finder. Its a plastic pouch inside which you can slip an insert. ( If it was your blog please leave a link in the comments below as I forget who was writing about it now).

Hmm. How hard can it be to make something like that?

Not very. ( Although very hard to photograph! ) Here's how. You need two laminating pouches and a laminator.

1. Send a pouch through the laminator with nothing in it so you get a nice double strength plastic.

2. Cut out a piece the height you want and double the width. Dont forget that the rings mean you need it a little wider than the width of paper you want to put inside it.

3. Fold the cut out piece to form the pouch shape. It will be springy and not want to stay flat so send it through the laminator again in its folded state. The heat effectively presses it flat.

4. We now need to seal the bottom to form a pouch. To do this send another pouch through the laminator with the open edge of the pouch going through last. Insert the bottom end of your page finder into the open edge of the empty pouch just as it goes through the machine. You want to catch about a centimeter or so of the page finder between the empty pouch to seal it.

5. Trim, punch holes and cut tiny bits from between the inside edge and the holes as on a Filofax ruler and Voila! Pouch page finder.

If you want a tab you can either make the pouch longer and trim a tab from the plastic itself, or you can put the tab on your insert. I used a magnetic bookmark on mine. You can see mine still has blank paper stuck nt grey card in it. This does obscure the pages below but it occurs to me that you could print or write a list on an OHP transparency and stick it in the pagefinder to get a sort of overlay effect.

Having made it to prove I could, I now find myself considering how to use it. My initial thought before I am starting was that it was perfect for recurring tasks and goals.

But now it occurs to me that it would also be useful for planning ahead gym training sessions if you need to remember target heart rates for interval training or which weights exercises you are to do that session. Insert the training plan ahead of time and when you get to the gym, snap it out, lock the filofax in the locker and take the pouch in with you.

Or I know several people are on diets and have separate health filos. This could be a food diary in your daily planner. Ditto for people recording their daily spending and running a finance filofax.

Or it could have motivational quotes, a prayer list, a shopping list.. Anything really. What would you use it for?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Miss Malden dresses in style.

I am not someone who personifies inanimate objects. I do not name my filofaxes. Not least because I probably couldn't remember the list. ( Which reminds me of one mother I represented when her eighth child was being taken into care. I checked the child's name with her as it seemed there was a typo in my case papers because the name of this child was the same as her first. But no. She said that she "Had just forgotten that she had already used that name.")

But, there is an exception to every rule and I noticed that my newly acquired Crimson Malden was definately a Miss Malden and had to be set up accordingly. From the outside she is Miss Malden in the way that barristers are always called Miss by their clerks. She is neat and discrete and professional.

But, inside she is a Miss as in Driving Miss Daisy. She is vintage. Not vintage as in what used to be second hand. Vintage as in having old style grace and elegance. She is a lady still living in an antebellum manision in the Carolinas and wearing gloves to lunch. Don't ask me why. She just is. She belongs to an age gone by. And so, on the inside I dressed her accordingly with trimmed down postcards from glued o grey card.

I chose this domestic one because we often holiday in Bath.
Despite being a little less staid this one had to go in because my great friend lives near San Fran and even Miss Malden lets her hair down a little when with her girlfriends. Mint Julep anyone?

This next one makes me laugh because Blackpool these days is the last place a glamourous lady like this would go.