Thursday, 5 April 2018

Mini Hoop Swap

I seem to be coming out of the winter period of creative inactivity, which is just as well as the deadline is approaching for the latest mini hoop swap hosted by Ali.  I love taking part in these swaps, both for hoops and Artist Trading Cards, because of the challenge involved in making something very tiny, though there is always a period of fear when I wonder whether it's going to be a disaster.  After that it's just fun to play and I usually end up making more than one.

It's a secret swap and no-one knows who will be making their hoop but participants can give hints about things they like so I had a jumping-off point.  I started with some very tiny curved piecing...

Added some wavy lines in different coloured thread...

Made some sky...

Had a play with some little beads...

Then I was having so much fun, I did a bit more curved piecing and started on another piece with tiny  embroidered palm trees, a sequin sun, some whispy clouds and a funny little mutant whale.

There was a pause until the hoop I'd ordered arrived, and when it did, I looked at it and suddenly thought "Porthole!!"

Lentils make great rivets!

These little hoops (by Dandelyne) are only 5.5 cm across, with the space in the middle being even smaller of course, but making one seems to take just as much thought and effort as much bigger projects so you always desperately hope that your partner will like the result.

Anyway here are 'Porthole View 1'

and 'Porthole View 2'.

See what I mean about tiny!

I have an idea about which my partner might prefer, I won't let on which, but it will be winging its way to her.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Two little quilts

I realised that although I posted on instagram, I never showed you the finished result of my experiment with upholstery fabric sample scraps.

When I last wrote about them, I was dithering about how to quilt the two pieces I'd made.  I ended up with two very different approaches - one quilted simply in the ditch and one a combination of machine quilting with some full on hand embroidery in perle cotton.

So here is Little Brown Quilt:

and in complete contrast, its more extrovert sister :

 I do love Little Brown which is very 'me' and reflects my interest in printing and a particular image I wanted to convey.    I like the other one too, but in having fun and playing with the scraps I seem to have ended up with something which shows its influences in the beautiful work of Lucie Summers.  It's very hard to be original - I guess we have to make what we want to make and acknowledge our inspiration when we can!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Endeavourers - #1, Nature

Today is the first ever quarterly reveal for quilts made by The Endeavourers.  You can find all the quilts gathered together on our joint blog, together with WIP posts and thoughts about the theme, which, this quarter, is nature.

What a great theme to get started with!

"All the animals, plants, rocks, etc in the world and all the features, forces and processes that happen or exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants and growth..."   Cambridge Dictionary

I liked the idea of the drama of forces of nature, and I thought of the phrase "Nature, red in tooth and claw" which would have lent itself to something interesting but possibly rather gory!   But nature to me a source of happiness and interest, so I abandoned those lines of thought and I'd been mulling over various ideas when I looked out of my dining room window and saw a beautiful male blackbird sitting in a very healthy Cotoneaster bush, covered with red berries, which is in the garden below.   I live in the city, and I love that even among all the buildings and industry nature is all around!

So that, right there, was my inspiration and here is my blackbird sitting in its cotoneaster on a winter day, representing the natural world.

I decided to make the most of the wintery sky which is made using curved piecing, heavily quilted, and the blackbird and branches are raw-edge applique, which was then free-motion embroidered to add detail and fix it in place.  Apart from the winter sun which is pieced with gold silk, I used shot cottons from Oakshott which are ideal for works like this because the different warp and weft give subtle variations in colour rather than being solid, and this quality is perfect for anything from the natural world.  The centre of the blackbird's eye is a small black bead sewn on with white wool thread to make the eye sparkle.

I wanted my image to be stylized rather than hyper-realistic so I have not filled in the fine detail in the image but have left it so that you can mentally join the dots.  In the past I have done a fair bit of printing and I'm drawn to more graphic images.

There are no 'new-to-me' techniques in this quilt so it wasn't very adventurous, but my quilts have more often than not been abstract so it's been good to make something pictorial!

Please do visit The Endeavourers - you should be able to find all our works together by the end of today, and from each post be able to visit each participant's own blog for more detail.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what inspired everyone, and how they interpreted the theme.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Farewell to Four in Art

Back at the beginning of 2015 I was lucky to join the Four in Art quilt group.   There is nothing like commitment to the rest of a group and having a looming deadline as an incentive to do something creative and it is just a great environment for exchanging ideas and for friendly encouragement.  Best of all belonging to a group like this is a reason to really think about a subject, and how to express it in a quilty fashion, which is sheer luxury if you like lying in bed at night dreaming and planning.

As time went on I've worried that I haven't been adventurous enough and that my quilts didn't qualify as 'art' quilts, but a theme speaks to you in a particular way and you kind of have to roll with it.  All of the quilts I've made have things I don't like about them and almost all of them live in a drawer under my bed, but with each of them I've learned a lot (often about things that I would do differently given another opportunity!)  and it has been an opportunity to work out the things that I'm interested in.

I thought I'd put them up in series below.   They are a diverse bunch but I'm realising that some things are fairly constant; shot cotton (in particular Oakshott), silk, solids, and gold.

2015 Literature 

#1: The Moors

- inspired by the use of landscape in literature and the works of the Bronte sisters

#2: Haiku

Inspired by a work by the poet Basho, about a frog jumping into a pond.

#3: Mrs Midas

Inspired by the poem by Carol Ann Duffy.

#4: Birches

Inspired by the landscapes in Anna Karenina.

2016: Colour

At about this point we abandoned the previous 12x12 size restriction.  In the first year it was a really interesting constraint to work in, and meant having to think in a very particular way about how to approach the theme.  I found this a really satisfying challenge, but although some of the group more or less stuck to it, I think I would have eventually found it too difficult to keep up.

#1:  'Microscopic', Building blocks

I thought I'd start the Colour year with Black and White and treat the 'Microscopic' theme by drawing an analogy between quilt blocks and cells.

#2: 'Music', Rhapsody in Blue

Inspired by the piece of music, and the images it evokes of a city at night and a particular era.

#3: 'I've got the Blues'

A quilt which was supposed to represent the notes in the blues scale, in a way which was supposed to look like sparkles on water,  but which didn't work out....

#4: 'Purple Passion', Anemones

Rare figurative quilt.

2017:  Light

#1: 'Light in the Darkness' 

I was thinking about light in the darkness as a source of comfort, or in terms of astronomy, or as a symbol of knowledge and evidence-based thinking, and the light of reason in the 'post-truth' era.

#2: 'Stained Glass Shadows'

About the qualities of light as it comes through coloured glass and falls on a surface.

#3: 'Shimmer'

Inspired by light coming from facets of my glass living-room doorknob and the way they look as I go past.

#4: 'Illumination'

See my last post for a lengthy explanation...

One of the most fascinating and exciting things about belonging to the group was in seeing the different ways we all responded to a particular theme, and the very different styles and techniques we used.   If you keep an eye open for 'retrospectives' from the other members (Elizabeth has already done one here) you will see what I mean.   I've learned such a lot from this group.

Four in Art has now come to an end, but Janine, Nancy and I are moving forward with eleven other members and a new group - 'the Endeavourers'.  Our first theme is Nature, and our first ever reveal will be on 1 February.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Four in Art: Illumination (Number 4 in the 'Light' series)

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that for three years I've been a member of the quilt group 'Four in Art'.  We have been making a quilt every quarter to an annual theme and quarterly sub-theme.

Our annual theme for this year is 'Light', and this quarter's theme, chosen by Janine, is 'Illumination'.

I've absolutely loved this year's theme - so much to think about.  The particular nature of the subthemes this year also made it possible to return to some sources of inspiration and with each quarter I got more and more interested in the qualities of light and in light as a metaphor.  So my thought processes for the final quilt in this series turned towards these again and spun off something like this:

  • Illumination as in lighting, light, sources of light
  • Illumination as in illuminated manuscripts - where 'illuminated' comes from the Latin for 'lit up' or 'enlightened' and refers to gold or colourful decoration of important and precious texts ...
...which might be a source of
  • illumination as a metaphor for intellectual or spiritual enlightenment
...which all sent me on a train of thought back to
  •  the beauty and colour of cathedral windows...
  • a source of illumination which in turn made me think of motes of coloured light dancing on old stonework (a different quality of light to that in Stained Glass Shadows)
  • and back to the idea of colour and gilding in illuminated manuscripts

I wanted to incorporate all these inter-related elements.  So this quilt has all the things!

Patchwork cathedral windows represent the real thing, casting dancing coloured lights on old stonework.

The quilting, a combination of straight line and stippling, reflects rays of light on weathered stone.

But you could also imagine illuminated texts, with gilding and beautiful colours on paper or velum, and these texts are themselves a source of 'illumination'.

The gold represents beams of light (illumination in the physical sense), or gilding, and also contributes towards the idea of illumination in the metaphorical sense.

30" x 30"
Oakshott cottons and gold silk
Aurifil 50 and 28wt in two colours
Faced binding

Sadly, this will be our last Four in Art reveal!  Thank you fellow members for being a constant source of inspiration and enthusiasm, many thanks to Rachel, our current chairperson, for organising us, and, most especially, thank you Elizabeth for being the drive behind such a warm, supportive and thoughtful group.

Please check out the other Four-in Arters who also reveal their quilts today;

BettyElizabethJanine, Nancy, RachelSimone or on the group blog.

and stay tuned for The Endeavourers, as Janine, Nancy and I move forward with a new group next year.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Call for Members!

[EDITED TO ADD: We are delighted to have had such an enthusiastic response and we're sorry to say this group is now full.]

Would you be interested in joining a new Art Quilt group?

Sadly the Four in Art quilt group will close after the next reveal (1 November) as members move on to new things, but Janine who blogs at Rainbow Hare and I are starting anew.

Our group will be called 'The Endeavourers' (from 'Endeavour': try, attempt, venture, undertake, aspire, aim, seek) as this embodies the spirit with which we hope to approach our quilts.

We are looking for members who would really like the opportunity to take part in a quarterly challenge to make a quilt of any size according to a general theme chosen at the beginning of the quarter (we'll either select it randomly from suggestions, or take turns to suggest it).  You can work in any style suggested to you by the theme, but once in a while, we thought it would also be fun to throw a particular technique into the mix as an incentive to be adventurous.

We would like members to post about their progress and thoughts on their blogs (and any other social media), and on the shared group blog we will create, keeping the finished quilts for a shared 'reveal' on 1 February, 1 May, 1 August, and 1 November where we can also talk about our own inspiration for our quilts.

We will publish the first theme on 1 November 2017 and our first reveal date will be on 1 February 2018.  We would ask for a commitment to one year to start with so we can get off to a good start.

Our mission statement is:

- to share enthusiasm
- to share inspiration and ideas, and document our progress and process
- to challenge ourselves to move outside our comfort zones (for example by working with new colours, fabrics, materials or techniques
- to develop our own styles and practices
- to encourage each other in all of the above
- to boldly go where no quilter has gone before (not really)

Don't worry if you don't consider yourself to be an accomplished quilter or an artist.  If you share the aims in our Mission Statement and would like to join, please do contact us by commenting below!  We hope to have a group set up by 15 October in order to sort out all the final details by the end of the month.  You can see the quilts Janine and I have made for Four in Art by clicking here and here.

We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, 1 September 2017

A pattern! - Six Coffees and a Tea

Huge excitement for me because I have a pattern in a magazine!  It's a re-imagining of my little quilt that won the Umbrella Prints Trimmings contest last year, made a bit mid-century modern with Karen Lewis fabrics.  It's aimed at quilters with a basic understanding of foundation paper piecing and you can find it in issue 18 of Make Modern Magazine - you can download a copy here, or treat yourself to a subscription!  (NB: affiliate links)


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