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)

Saturday, 12 August 2017


A while back @dittanym destashed some curtain/upholstery fabric samples on facebook and I was lucky enough to get them.  The fantastic thing about free fabric is it allows you to try out things that you might not have otherwise had the chance to, because although I know I am very fortunate, fabric is very expensive on the whole, and the dread fear of wasting it is often quite off-putting.

Anyway, having this fabric was quite liberating and I thought I would chop and sew and see what happened.  It was also fun having the constraint of working with pieces of a fixed size - on average, they were about 8x12 inches.

I didn't measure anything, though halfway through the quilt it did occur to me that it would have been at least useful to work in multiples of a particular measurement in order to actually get blocks to fit together!  I did some cutting down to fit and didn't worry about the results, moving things around and discarding things that didn't work like the acid yellow pieces.

I've never tried Pojagi but will have to give it a go as I am getting increasingly interested in the effect of quilts against the light.  I discovered when making this quilt that nasty cheap polyester batting allows the light to shine through beautifully.

It's now awaiting some decisions on quilting - half of me wants to try out some really major perle stitching, but the other half doesn't want anything to get in the way of the shapes and the beautiful chambray colours of the fabric.

Bear with me because the following story is relevant.  A while back when one of my children was very small and learning about the Egyptians she got very keen on the idea of embalming.  This prompted her to suggest that she could embalm her goldfish.  When we pointed out that she was fond of the goldfish and perhaps we shouldn't hurry it off its mortal coil she said hopefully that perhaps she could get another goldfish that she didn't like as much!

Anyway, faced with dithering about how to quilt the project above I thought perhaps I could make another, sacrificial, quilt and have a go on that to test the effect.  So I made this one.

It's made using the neutrals from the same sample book.  I used to do a lot of etching and relief printing and I wanted to get that kind of effect which is a bit hard to capture in a photo.

It's only a tiny quilt but the problem is that like a sacrificial goldfish I've got to quite like this one too, and now I'm dithering about both of them.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Four in Art: Stained Glass Shadows

This quarter's theme for Four in Art was chosen by Elizabeth.  Our annual theme is Light, and the quarterly sub-theme is 'Stained Glass Shadows".  I found the shadows above in the National Portrait Gallery, but Elizabeth posted some very beautiful inspiration pictures on her blog here.

I don't have much to say about my contribution - there's not much to explain, except to say that I was fascinated by the way the shadows in Elizabeth's photos read as purple and made use of this colour in my quilt.  I thought for a long time about the challenge, but what I could not find a way to capture what I really liked - the quality of light which she neatly described as 'powdery' - in fabric.

In the end I decided just to try to reflect the saturated colour, and the way that the 'shadows' cast by stained glass lose the definition of the original and become blurred, with colours merging into one another.  I also like the sharp edges and gaps that you see when the 'shadows' fall on a shaped surface.

The beautiful colours of shot cotton are as close as I could get to the quality of the colour and light, and I tried to blur the lines of the shapes with heavy variegated Aurifil thread quilting.

I wouldn't say that this quilt uses any exciting or novel techniques but I have tried to express what I find beautiful in the light cast by stained glass and reflect my response to the theme.

The other Four in Art members can be found below - please do visit them to see how they were inspired by the theme.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Four in Art: Light - Light in the Darkness

As you may know, I belong to the quilt group Four in Art, and each quarter we reveal a quilt which we have made according to our annual theme (this year it's Light) and the current sub-theme.  The sub-theme for this quarter, which was chosen by Camilla, is "Light in the Darkness".

The thing that makes me most happy about belonging to this group, apart from the inspiration and encouragement from other members, is the sheer luxury and fun of thinking about the themes.  This theme was no different - there were so many ways to think about it.  

The first thing I thought about was light in the darkness of space - how we still receive it from stars which may be long dead, and how the colour of it carries information about their composition and temperature.

Light in the dark is a source of comfort and helps you to find your way - the 'light at the end of the tunnel', for example. It has an effect, both in practical terms or as a metaphor in a religious or spiritual context, on people who are imprisoned or lost.

The idea of light as something which adds clarity to our 'vision' is ingrained in our language when we talk about 'shedding light on a situation', so that we 'see the light', or 'see things in a different light'.   The opposition between dark and light is used for the difference between order and chaos, truth and falsehood, and between reason, or knowledge, and ignorance.

So there is a bit of all these things in this quilt. Seen from a distance the rays are just a comforting or guiding light in the dark, either in a physical or spiritual sense.  Closer up, they are pieced with a text print about astronomy and mathematics, so they could represent the light coming from the stars in our sky but also represent our attempts to shine a light on our experience using evidence-based thinking (which I don't believe is incompatible with religion).  Most of all I wanted it to be about the light of knowledge, truth and reason in the 'post-truth' era of 'alternative facts'.

You can find the other Four in Art members below, so please visit them to see how they have been inspired by this quarter's theme:


Light in the Darkness

22 x 22 inches
Black Oakshott cotton
Text print
Freemotion quilting in black thread
Hand quilting in two shades of perle cotton
Faced binding

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Four in Art: Light - "Shimmer"

This year's Four-in-Art challenge theme is Light, which is really exciting and full of inspiration.  The sub-theme for this quarter is 'Shimmer' and this was my choice.

I chose 'Shimmer' because it's such an evocative and beautiful word, and while it's not onomatopoeic there's something about the word that really does sound like what it represents - to me at least.  I was curious about this so I went off and read up a bit on phonosemantics which is about the idea that there's a relationship between sounds and meaning - that particular sounds convey a particular idea by themselves; there's a connection between them. There are various ideas about what the connection is - you can read more here.

 'Shimmer' means 'shine with a soft, slightly wavering light'.    (Shine, soft, slightly - lots of sh and s sounds in that definition.)  Some of the shimmery things I thought of are moonlight on water, or silk or sequins (more s sounds) on a moving body.  It's a much softer effect and quieter than 'Glitter' - and does it fit halfway between that and a 'Glimmer'?  I wonder.

Anyway, enough rambling.   This is "Shimmer".

The inspiration behind this quilt was the facets of the cut glass doorknobs in my living room which fascinate me every time I go past them.  What I wanted to capture is the effect of the light bouncing off the individual facets - how when you look at them they keep the integrity of their individual shapes, but that these shapes are still broken up by reflections from within the room and also by reflections bouncing between them.

For something to shimmer, for it to have that wavering quality, there needs to be some movement involved.   Like the doorknobs, my quilt is static, and the reflected light doesn't softly waver as it does on water - unless it's hanging up in the breeze... The shimmering happens when the person looking at it moves, so although you can see some of the effect in a photograph you'll have to take my word for the rest.

Actually, it was fairly breezy, and I need to take some pictures on a less overcast and windy day - we ran out between showers.  Here's my lovely assistant, stopping the quilt from blowing away between shots.

I'll write about the practical details of the quilt in a separate post.


36" x 32"
Gold silk dupion, gold metallic silk, Oakshott and Kona cotton
Aurifil 50wt

Please do visit the other four-in-arters and see how they interpreted the theme.


Instagram #fourinart


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A while back I saw a beautiful super mini quilt by @dianaeowen on Instagram and liked it so much that I commented that I wished there was some way I could persuade her to send it to me.  It was only meant as a joke, but she wrote back to say that she would send it to me in return for some hoop art!

So, I stalked her Instagram account a bit and made her this, which I hope she will think is an acceptable swap:

The picture is for someone who likes quilts, cats, dahlias and babies. Unfortunately, in this scene, the babies are being naughty in another room so she's had to abandon her plans for a sit down with a cuppa and a bit of piecing, and now the cat has stolen her chair.

I had a lot of fun thinking about the details, like the embroidered steam coming from the abandoned mug.

I was particularly pleased with the tiny reel of thread which is about a cm in size.

It's a lot of fun disappearing into an imaginary world to make pictures like this, even if I usually have to surface to make dinner.


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