Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006

Well I got 'Under the rainbow' quilted but not bound. I was really hoping to have it completely finished today but it wasn't playing ball. As you can probably guess I didn't manage to finish the car covers either. Still tomorrow is quite soon enough, if not so neat for the calendar.

I am on the artbiz mailing list and a few days ago it suggested taking an audit of teh year. Taking note of things like how many shows you entered and how many pieces you have made this year. I got ill right after this arrived so I haven't had time to do it yet. I think this will make the perfect task for first thing tomorrow morning. At the same time I can plan a list of things to do next year. Some are going to need some though to get worded right. For example I can enter a certain number of shows, but I can't be sure I will have quilts in that many shows. I would also like to set a target for magazine coverage, but again it is largely outside of my control, it has a lot to do with luck. Maybe I need to think about what I can produce that could be published. I do know that I beat my target of 20 show quilts this year, so I guess I need to set a similar goal for next year. I did find it helped encourage me to get things done in time for shows, and it made me start researching what shows there are in the world.

For those wondering I am at a party. I am standing by a large bonfire writing this on my phone. So you will have to excuse the spelling and formatting errors. It is a tradition here to set fire to things to see in the new year. Possibly the most important thing we burn is the book of hate. It is where people can write all the bad things that happened in the past year, so they can be got rid of. Hopefully all these bad things are gone and won't bother us again. There is a second book which is kept safe, the book of love. It has all the good things that have happened in it. These are to be kept so they can be read in future years, hopefully by remembering them we will encourage them. It also gives a positive outlook to the year, even if you can't think of anything good in your own life.

So now you know how dedicated I am to this blogging lark. Or perhaps it just shows how poor I am at partying? Hope you are all doing whatever you want to be right now, see you next year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blogging frustration

It isn't fair. Here I am working hard and being creative and I can't show you. I think we should all sulk together. I have nearly finished a quilt in the last two days but as it is a commission for a magazine and a fabric supplier I really have to let them see it first. I am very pleased with it though. I was handed a pile of fabric and told to design something simple and interesting with them. I got very lucky, they were perfect for a recently orphaned (I ran out of time for a competition) idea. A quick redraw and we were off. I will definitely be making another quilt to the same pattern, but with different colours, and another in a slightly different pattern but the same fabric range. It's turned out to be quite inspiring.

I have it almost finished on the frame just in need of some frog stitching. I decided to use a pantograph (it suits the quilt, what can I say) but I have managed to get this row in the wrong place. I didn't realize how hard it is to remove well formed stitches. I certainly have no concerns about my quilting coming out by accident now. So far I have spent an hour removing this row and I am only about a third of the way through. I guess this is the cue for me to get back to it. I really need to have it completely finished tomorrow, and the car cover as well. At least I am mostly enjoying the work, and that certainly wasn't the case when I was working for other people writing computer software.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lets hear it for good customers

I see lots about all the bad customers people have so today I feel I should put in a word for the good customers. I've deals with two of mine today, and felt better for it. That is saying a lot given how ill I still am with this cold.

My first one was to rearrange and appointment. We had got mixed up over the day, but as there is pretty good communication it isn't a problem. We will meet up tomorrow and have a fitting. Hopefully I will be able to get her excited about her outfit, and not stress her out. I'm looking forward to it.

My second customer was a fitting. An engine cozy and a slinky car cover. Friendly helpful, and he had even warmed the garage up. Lovely. Even better everything fit pretty well. I just need to make a couple of small adjustments and they will be perfect. I should get them finished tomorrow. For those waiting for pictures it will be a couple of weeks. I can't put up a picture until I can have the car wearing it, and I can't do that until the car has been revealed to the world. So patience folks, the pictures will come. Oh the best part of the fitting, was that the customer is happy. Happy enough to have an outdoor cover made too.

Now I have to give some though to how I present washing instructions on things like this. I think I might make a pouch to fit the slinky cover in and I can fix instructions to that. I don't know how well printed fabrics will stand up to life in a working pit though. How do you deal with washing instructions for custom projects? I could just print everything on a sheet of paper, but that is so easy to misplace, even if you know it is in a safe place. He is such a nice chap, I would like to make this as easy as I can. Maybe I can laminate some kind of care instructions?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

One Sock finished

Yay, I have one blue and grey stripy sock. It even fits :) I have just weighted it and the wool I have left. I think I could make three matching socks. It is tempting, it would confuse the washing machine I hope and they would all last a little longer. Or I could just make a pair from this ball and save the left over to combine with the next ball to make a different pair entirely. Tricky decision. Still probably not one I will need to make for a while. I am going to Bournemouth tomorrow, so I will have about 5 hours knitting time just in the car. I may get some in at the other end too.

I got some work done today. I need to get a very large piece of quilted black for an engine cozy. I have it on the frame and about half stitched. Once I get this finished I can start on the next art piece, which is going to be done completely on longarm. I am seeing a theme with my work these days.

I also have a new challenge quilt to think about. I have two books I am considering using, well maybe three. Starship Troopers, and Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein, or Callahans Lady by Spider Robinson. They all have good first and last lines, and they all given me great images to work from. Problem is drawing what I need. I can probably draw what I want for the last one, but it will be really tricky to make so small. Puppet Masters I might be able to draw and might fit OK. Starship troopers would fit best, but I don't think I have a hope of drawing it. I guess my brain will play with the options for a couple of days.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The days are getting longer again....

...and so are my socks. To stop me working for a day or two I had to find something else to do. I can't just do nothing. Knitting socks seems perfect. I will be spending a lot of time as a passenger in cars over the next few days so a project I can do in the car is a real bonus. Also being small I think I can finish a pair before I run out of traveling to do. I've nearly got one sock so far. I am making them with wacky wool again. It makes a pattern for you as you knit. Very effective and very simple. I love it.

I also got a fabric shipment today, including silks I will be using with a piece of fabric a friend brought back from Morocco. I've been thinking about to for quite a while and I finally have a plan. It will be very tactile and slinky. I am looking forward to it. Of course being silks and brocade I am not going to be able to leave it lying around, the cats would have a field day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Midwinters Eve

I am finally getting into the holiday mood. Just as well given tomorrow is midwinter. I've not got much done this evening, but I guess I get some time off. I am going to try really hard not to do any work tomorrow, I don't see me managing it but I'll try. Thanks for the suggestions about my Etsy shop. I've followed up on most of them now. Including putting a link in my side bar.

Tomorrow we will be doing our festive thing. We have a goose thawing and all the vegetables. This year for the first time I won't be doing all the cooking, which is exciting in it's own right. I've got a new quilt on the bed, well an old quilt but it is the first time we have used it. It is Ginko Typography, the quilt I made this time last year in preparation for the really cold winter we didn't have. It looks great on the bed.

Too holiday and distracted to write more now. Have a good day tomorrow folks.

Quilts for sale.

I've been meaning to do this for ages, and today I finally listed some of my quilts on Etsy. It is an online retail site for handcrafted items. I have no idea how well it will work for what I sell but more exposure os probably a good thing. If you are interested it is here. I like the idea that is sets up Paypal for me, and I hope that it will get to be known as the place to find real craft items. I am also working on setting up online galleries with various groups. It is surprising how much time each of these things takes, but if I want more people to see my work it should be time well spent. I think the Sacchi Gallery will be the last one I get around to doing. Whilst it is likely to be the most viewed of the online galleries I also feel it gives me the most scope for making a fool of myself. I think I want to have a good body of work to put up there from day one. I am working on that though.

I guess it is a mixed blessing selling work. I need to be replacing everything I sell with pieces at least as good if I am to have a good amount of work to show. On the other hand the money from the sales lets me buy more materials to make the new pieces I keep thinking up. Tricky this art business.

Yesterday I had another gallery day. We started at the Tate modern. I always leave there feeling faintly cheated. I guess my expectations are just higher than it can deliver. I don't really like much of the art there, but the few things I do like, I love. After the Tate we went on to the National. Which is always far more inspiring. I wanted to go and see the Monet bridge paintings. I am currently working on something inspired by these and refreshing my memory has me really keen to get started. I have a couple more mundane things to do first, so I guess tomorrow I will be quilting up a plain sheet of black fabric for an engine cover so I then won't need the longarm for anything else untill I finish my Monet inspired quilt.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I remembered to take pictures.

I went up to the Christmas Party at Patchwork Corner today and I remembered to take my camera. See I can learn. I also remembered to take my last Linus quilt with me. I am given quilt tops and backs, and I put them together for them. I got really lucky with this one. It has my last piece of 80/20 wadding in, which was the perfect size for this quilt. Given how few quilts I make this size I was impressed. When I am quilting the linus quilts I try to work quickly and make sure it will stay together. I expect these quilts to get a fair amount of abuse, especially the ones intended for young children. This one I left till last because I just couldn't see what to do with it. I don't really like quilting over animals, so a pantograph was right out. At the same time I needed a decent amount of quilting on it. I settled for a big meander in the borders and embellishing the center panel. I added rays and echo to the rainbow, and quilted all of the leaves. Further down where the animals are more dense I quilted the lions mane, and the outline of the elephant. Overall I am very pleased with it, the tension drifted at times and as the backing is plain calico it shows. Still the most important feature of a Linus quilt is that it is finished, and ready to go to someone who needs it.

I also took some pictures of my longarm sample. I made it quilting along with a DVD. The DVD is Advanced Artistic Freeform 2 by Linda Taylor. I love this DVD as it gives you a scheme to lay out a lot of different designs in a small space. It is easy for the quilt shop to display and give people a lot of ideas for things that can be done on their quilts. I enjoyed doing it and people seemed to like it. I don't know how much work it will get me quilting for others but it seems to have made people think more about how they want things quilted. That in itself is a good thing so I can't complain.

It was a really good day up at the shop. Doug's catering was stunning as usual, and the demos were interesting. Now the new workshop is finished the shop is much more spacious and it seems to encourage me to spend more money. Like I need encouragement. I also got to meet several new people. I love how friendly quilters are, how many places can you go to and talk to everyone you see and get on with them. It's pretty amazing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thank you

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of comments I have had for my nude. Thank you all for taking the time to leave me a message. You've really motivated me to get working on more quilts. Tonight I have been preparing patterns for three more quilts, two of which are nudes. One of them I am going to do in warmer colours. This nude says decadence to me, and that has to be warm colours, I thought it would be interesting to get working on this one to see how the colour effects the way people interpret the image. I think that some of the more negative interpretations of 'Nude with Rope 1' are influenced by the color. Blue is the colour of dead bodies I suppose. I hasten to add, this isn't how I see it or what I was thinking when I made it, I just accept that is a possible interpretation. If I am right I would expect green to be problematic as well, so at some point I will have to try it. I guess I will grow past this at some point but I do find peoples reaction to colour fascinating, so for now, I see colour in my future.

I will put up some more pictures of 'Nude with Rope 1' but it might have to wait until I am ready to quilt it. It is huge and I don't really have anywhere to display it. I will try and take some pictures before during and after quilting. I think I have now decided how it will be quilted, I just have to find the time to do it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yay another productive day.

I am feeling very smug tonight. I've got a corset ready to be tried on tomorrow. Christmas cards ready to print and send, and a new brochure prepared for my longarm quilting service. Not bad really. Oh yes and I sent off a mock up of a quilt design and had it approved by the person commissioning it. Fantastic. All the more amazing, given I think I am fighting off flu. I am determined I can't be ill right now, so I am trying really hard to look after myself. My friends seem to be having a really bad time of it with flu at the moment and I have far too much to do. So keep your fingers crossed for me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Doh! Failed to take pictures.

So I spend two days working on a longarm sampler to take up to my local quilt shop, then I forget to take a picture to show you guys. How daft can I be? Never mind I remembered on the way to the shop and I had my phone with me. The phone has a camera on it. Do you think I remembered when I was there? Nope. Brain like a sieve today I think. I will try and get a picture on Saturday when I will be going to the Christmas Party there. If you are in the are you might want to come along and grab some extra supplies for the holidays.

I've been stunned by the response to 'Nude with Rope 1'. The positive reception has really motivated me to get on with some more nudes. I've ordered the fabrics for the next one I need to make a pattern for and I have the fabrics for the next already sorted. Hopefully next week sometime I will be able to get on with 'Nude with Rope 2'. First I have a corset to finish and a car cover to work on.

I've also been looking into other shows where I might be able to exhibit my nudes. I am trying to work out if I can enter one to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. An artist friend of mine suggested it a while ago and I have been meaning to investigate. I don't even know if I understand the categories. I guess this is where a traditional art education would come in really handy. If you are interested the information is here. I am guessing that when they say glazed they are talking about whether the frame has glass? Do I need to frame my work for it to be considered though? I do intend the 'Nude with Rope 1' to end up in a frame but not in time for the summer exhibition. Once it is framed it will be really hard to ship. On the other hand maybe I should frame one of them to enter here and at other more traditional venues and just keep the other for shows that understand soft art. I don't know. I think I might have to try and find a way to contact the Royal Academy directly and see if they have any advice.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Read the entry form.

OK so as I child I was told to always read exam papers carefully because people, apparently, often fail because they don't do what they are asked. So why did I entirely fail to read the instructions for the AQS Paducah show.

I was planning on entering 'Nude with Rope 1', but I can't. It is too small to be large and too large to be small. In fact having read the instructions it seems I don't make quilts at all :( All of my quilts fall into gaps in the sizes so can't be entered. I might be able to find a bed quilt that I could enter but it wouldn't be my best work. I could add more background to the nude, but I don't want to. It's shape is a deliberate part of the design and I don't think I want to change that just to please a show. So I guess I now need to find an image that will work 60" to 110" wide and at least 40" long. Oh and of course finish it by Christmas. Yeah right.

Equally none of the 'small' wall quilts I was thinking of entering are the right size either. They have to be 40" to 60" by at least 40". Again not really a shape I want to work with but at the same time I really want to enter this show. I am very disappointed that all my quilts are wrong. Or perhaps I am just sad they only allow such a small range of sizes. To think people have complained at how big I work, my work is too small.

Oh and knowing it is my fault for not reading the forms really doesn't help.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nude with Rope 1

Well this has been a productive weekend. I've managed to finish the top of my next quilt. This one is called 'Nude with Rope 1'. Yes there will be at least a second, maybe more. I love this image. It is from a photograph taken by Alex Treacher, a friend of mine. He very kindly gave me permission to use some of his images, which has been invaluable as at them moment I don't have anyone to model for me. The image is about lifesize, so it has been a bit of a squeeze. I have a large board I can put on my ironing board to get a bigger pressing surface, but it is only half the size of this quilt.

I was especially pleased with being able to make the image in two parts. This meant that I didn't have to add any extra joins in the pieces. Even the biggest areas can be cut out of a 1m cut. All the fabrics in this quilt are Moda Marbles. I find this range works especially well for these quilts, so I went to the Moda site to see the whole range. There are 199 fabrics in it. It is amazing. Unfortunately there isn't anyone locally who stocks them all. I think one of my goals is to have enough spare cash to get a couple of meters of each fabric in the range. I would love to have that kind of palette on hand.

While I was making this quilt I found it very hard to see the image. For some reason the rope looked like a spine to me, hopefully now it is finished it won't have that effect on other people.

Just before I made it I showed the source image to a friend. She felt it was a bit too racy. What do you guys think, is it too provocative? I would like to be able to enter it in quilt shows, but I don't want to upset too many people. I know that the female form will always upset some people, 'Miss Baltimore' was considered very shocking by a significant number of people who saw it at Sandown last year, but I thought this was quite tasteful.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Yay pictures

Yay at last blogger and my net connection have let me put up some pictures. I am sure that shouldn't be this exciting but after this long it really is.

First up is '...and fly away'. This is my entry for the SAQA transformations competition. Having looked at the curators work, I don't think this will be to her taste, but at least I put one in. I was going to make two other quilts but the deadline was just too tight. The other ideas were mathematical transformations and a butterfly emerging. I think both may get made in the future.

The background of the quilt is quilted with the main fold lines of the origami crane. To give the impression of it just being one sheet I didn't want to have a binding, so the quilt is birthed. I think it has given me the result I was looking for. Having made the background I added the cranes. The first one is two layers of cloth fused then stitched with the fold lines. From there each step is shown. I chose to leave the worst one each time to try and improve the quality of the finished cranes. Overall I am pretty pleased with it. All the cranes are just single sheets of fabric well pressed into shape. I have noticed from moving the quilt that it needs a little more stitching to hold the cranes in place. I start with the minimum I think might work and increase if I have to. This helps to keep the look of the cranes only just being part of the quilt. It is the same principle I used for 'Golden Storm'.

For those of you who couldn't remember what the quilts going to Road 2 CA look like, here they are.

Hmm, busy day and blogger not playing

So I am still trying to upload pictures but I am still haveing problems. In fact it has taken nearly an hour to get the create post to work. I do know that my net connection is having problems, but is this me or blogger?

I've spent the day working hard. I have been very lucky to have had the help of The Road Warrior for the day. It means that I have drafted and completed toiles for a skirt and a jacket. I've also redrawn a corset pattern and have the pieces cut ready to sew tomorrow. I might do some arty sewing tomorrow as well. I need to get a new nude ready for Paducah and I think that might be a fun break from this more serious work.

I am also thinking about turning one of my life drawings into a quilt. We went to a gallery this weekend where we saw some very similar drawings for sale. If they are good enough for someone else to sell as drawings, why shouldn't I try it as a quilt? It is hard to know how well my drawing is doing and just maybe this is the way to do it. I even found the perfect fabric for it while I was working today. It is one of my hand dyes with some very pretty mottling effects. I think it would be perfect and it isn't really going to take long to test the theory.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Where to start?

Blogger hasn't liked me the last few days, it isn't letting me upload photos at the moment. I have finished the origami quilt, it is called "...And Fly Away". I will keep trying to put up the pictures, but I don't know when blogger is going to start working again.

I have also been doing more drawing. It was recommended that I do life drawing so I have been giving that a go. I haven't been thrilled with my results but I have finally got one that I am prepared to share. Of course I can't upload that either at the moment. Rest assured that you will get to see it sometime. I have also been reading a new book on drawing, and specifically shading. It has an interesting exercise in it, to check that you can draw accurately. You are given a drawing in little squares out of order and have to redraw them in the right order. I loved this, but I had nearly finished and couldn't see any kind of image. This was rather worrying so I asked the nearest friend if he could see what I was drawing. Yes he could, and it was funny. He did say there was a reason I couldn't see it. Great, so I carried on, two squares from the end I got it, the image was upside down. Even worse I KNOW I couldn't possibly draw that picture. Hmmm, I've been outwitted by a book. At least I think the book was written by a human so technically they outwitted me.

...and finally I have heard from Road 2 California. I think I mentioned that I had a rejection letter a few days ago, and I have been trying not to get my hopes up for the other two quilts. Well I needn't have worried, I have two acceptance letters. I am amazed. I never expected to get one in let alone two. So all of you who have been asking to see my work in person, if you are in California, this is your chance. I have to wait for the hard copy letter to get here to have all the details but at least I know I need to start looking into ways to get them there on time. The two quilts going are 'Wait' and 'Miss Baltimore'.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Regional day and Chrysler finds a new home

Yesterday was a regional meeting of the Quilters Guild. It was a winter themed sewing day with several demonstrations. A great chance to socialize with other quilters. It was great to get to talk to so many like minded people in one day. The meeting was help in Great Missenden, which wasn't was far away as I thought. Also Great Missenden is the home of Rainbow Silks. It is either a great shop full of wonderful things that will be great for your art, or a terrible shop that will have a bad effect on your bank balance. On the other hand, I think it is probably both. I strongly suspect I will be going back there in the not to distant future. This time I was fairly restrained, I didn't buy any rubber stamps or screen printing inks. I did however get some sort of yarn, and some more proto socks (sock wool). I also bought a small amount of friendly plastic to play with. I have been looking at it for a while but it was always far too expensive, Rainbow silks have it at what I considered to be a sensible price, so I got some to play with. I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but rest assured I will let you know when I do. I also managed to get some pretreated fabric for sun printing. I've been trying to get the chemicals to make my own for a while, so this was a real find. Now all I need is some sun.

In the afternoon, there was a speaker. Mary Mayne talking about her experience of having a book published. She went through the whole process, from the idea to the finished book. The talk was very entertaining, but also very informative. One of the things I really love about textile artists is how keen they are to share information. I don't have enough experience to know if this os common to all artists, but I do hope it is. It is so different to other industries I have dealt with and I think far more productive. After all we are far more likely to move forward when everyone is sharing information.

Chrysler has headed off to a new home. It will be heading to America, and I hope it's new owners will enjoy it. It was nice to have it back for a while, but I think selling it so soon after it returned was easier. I haven't had a chance to get used to it being around. It's funny how nerve wracking it is selling a piece even though the fact that someone wants to buy it should be reassuring I still worry that in some way it will disappoint. Is this something that all people feel when they sell their creations?

It's been a busy weekend but I think I have a lot of new inspirations and I hope I now have time to work on some designs I have had waiting. I think another nude is demanding me to make it, and I want to make some smaller pictorial pieces too, maybe some car related works. I also have a new book of pictures of the cosmos, there are so many images that inspire me I can't even see where to start, but as a reformed astrophysicist I guess at some point these will turn into quilts.

Oh one other thing, I don't think I will have time to make the challenge quilt. Well with the deadline having passed and me not having had time to start, it isn't looking good. I will hang on to the idea though, I love it and at some point I am sure it will come together.