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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

National Gallery - again

Ok I admit it, I really like the National Gallery. It seems that each time I go I see new things, even in the same paintings I have studied before. This time I had a really good look at insects painted on flowers. I think I will have to take along someone who knows about them and can tell me how they scale and colours compare to the real thing. They are just amazing.

I managed to get a postcard of one of the paintings I really like. I am sure they didn't have one before so I was thrilled to see it listed on the blurb with the picture this time. It is Orpheus by Roelandt Savery. I love all the animals and birds in it, the picture is just full of little details. The herons are a particular favorite of mine. I love the way he has painted their spotted necks. It is hanging with another of his paintings, darker but still full of fantastic animals. I get the feeling he really loved wildlife and enjoyed painting it.

I found a whole exhibition I had missed the last two visits, Cezanne in Britain. I do like seeing a large range of work by one artist at the same time. It is interesting to see how their work develops and changes. I was really taken by a simple drawing of a shed. My pet artist was with me and pointed out something very interesting about one of the paintings. It was a still life of apples, and not terribly exciting to me. However someone was sitting drawing it, using coloured pencils and taking great care over their drawing. The interesting thing is, the painting was going to be really hard to copy the way the student was doing it, but it would have been quite easy to do with marker pens! The paint had been applied in lines which did look very much line the result you get with marker pens. Who would have thought it. It's definitely got me thinking about what tools might make my life easier when I am trying to copy something.

I am still really enjoying going and looking at art. There is so much out there, so many techniques, styles and ideas. It gives me so many ideas and things to think about.

I am still trying with the drawing but I am finding it increasingly frustrating. I want to see some improvement. It occurred to me today that the things I do I enjoy the process as well as the result, drawing is different. I am looking for the result, but I haven't learned to enjoy the process. At least I hope I can learn to like it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanks Folks

Thank you everyone for your comments they are appreciated. It's interesting how different pieces appeal to different people. I have one friend who doesn't really like the Jabberwock, but them he doesn't like abstract, so it isn't really surprising. On the other hand he loves some of my less popular quilts. I guess with art each piece finds it's own friends, and that's cool. I hope it is a good sign that I am now happy for some people to not like some of what I do.

I've get a head full of the next challenge quilt now. I can't believe they picked a theme so perfect for my last quilt, but I will play along and make a new one. If it works it might lead on to me entering a wearable art competition, something I never thought I would do.

Now I am going to try and take a night off, any bets on me managing it. How do you stop your brain coming up with ideas anyway, and would you really want to?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jabberwock - finally

Well I thought I would at least get this posted before the next challenge, it was my last target, and I missed it. On the other hand I would have made it if the challenge hadn't come out early. This was a really difficult quilt to photograph and show the texture in it. It is really very scaly. It is also extremely three dimensional. Hopefully by taking pictures from many angles you can sort of see that. I thought the shadows in the first picture were really cool, and they do show how much the tail curves out from the wall.

You may remember I wanted to have the tail at an angle, as it now is. The solution was to put wooden slats in pockets at the top and bottom of the quilt. This holds the quilt firmly so it can support the wings and the tail at an angle. This is also a quilt the really needs a hanging sleeve to hang. The weight on it is very unbalanced so it needs to be supported along it's whole width.

The idea behind this is the view you have as the Jabberwock attacks. When it is up close all you can really see is scales, claws and teeth, but the human brain is very good filling in details you can't actually see, hence the wings and tail. I don;t normally do abstract at all so for me this was quite a stretch. I really enjoyed making it and I do love the finished quilt. It did bring up a lot of new problems for me to solve, cocktails sticks, balsa wood and invisible thread all played their part in making this work. I would love to hear what you think of it now it is done. I feel I missed the boat for the official challenge blog, so it will just be here.

It did occur to me I could enter this as the third challenge. After all it is an unusual shape, so it would fit. On the other hand that it cheating really and I do have something else I would like to have a go at. I do also have a lot of other work on right now, so no promises but I will see what I can do.

You can click on the photos to get a bigger image.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Inspiration, funerals and wings

It's been really odd recently, we just seem to get ourselves sorted when there is another death or funeral. Today was I hope the last for a while. It has lead me to some thoughts about quilting though. I want to do a black wholecloth quilt. I have a design for a 'death angel', and I think quilted wings on black would look fantastic. Oh and of course most people see black as a funeral colour. Now I just need to pull these ideas together and I am sure I will have a very special quilt. 'Just' that is one of those words isn't it. Like 'simply' they somehow imply it is both easy and impossible at the same time. Watch this space, I am sure this quilt will make it out.

I've also take advantage of spare moments to work on the Jabberwock wings. I have one finished I hope other will not be far behind. I would like to at least get it posted here before the next challenge comes out on Friday. Still I guess I can't beat myself up too much about how fate take up my time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Paper and wool

It has been one of those days for catching up on paperwork. Businesses really do produce a lot don't they even when you try to reduce it. Still I have discovered that knitting makes it a lot easier. I can do something creative while thinking about what I need to write, how to organize data and while waiting for the printer. Of course I am not a fast knitter so I only have a couple of inches of ribbing for the bottom of a one piece sweater but that is more than I would have otherwise managed, and I got the more tedious work done. I feel a weight has been lifted so I can get back to more creative work again.

On the subject of paper, I have been doing some drawing recently. I have been told by several people to try life drawing, so that is what I have been doing. I have found journeys on the tube to be very good for finding subjects to sketch. It also helps that I can only be sure I have until the next station so I tend to work faster and less carefully. Given one of my problems is hesitation I figure this is a good thing. I can even see what some of my sketches are. Even better some are recognizable to other people. I'm not sure I am quite ready to inflict them on the whole of the internet though. Maybe in a week or two.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Teaching or Learning

Today I was teaching a small group my technique for textured art quilts. It was a fun day and I think the students were pleased with their results. We didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but they all seemed happy to carry on at home, which is great. It was fascinating watching how the different fabric choices came together, as well as how each person placed the pieces. You could tell they had all started from the same drawing but they very clearly put their own mark on it. This is what I really look for, student's who take the idea and make it their own.

We also talked a bit about choosing pictures to use a source material and how to convert them into a pattern. Even the most nervous of them came up with a range of fantastic ideas to try. I hope I will get to see some of their future projects. I think this is what I really like about teaching. Seeing people moving on to do things they either hadn't considered or hadn't thought possible before. If nothing else it inspires me to try more things, and inspiration is always valuable.

If any of you put up pictures online, please let me know so I can have a look, and share the links here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Chrysler comes home

I just got a very odd package. It was all squidgy. I haven't ordered any fabric recently, well not that much anyway. Turns out to be my quilt returning. I had completely forgotten it was due back. Which could have been a bad thing if it had gone missing, but it didn't so all is well.

I had been rather dreading this moment, I've not had good luck with this group of shows. So with some trepidation I opened the package, the well sealed waterproof package! Inside the quilt was very carefully packed. Most of the folds were padded with bubble wrap and the whole quilt then wrapped in more bubble wrap. OK it wasn't perfect folding, but such a huge improvement. I have already rung Grosvenor and told them how pleased I was and how much of an improvement I think it is. I am still very sad that they didn't address any of my concerns directly when I wrote to them, but it does look like they have tried to make things better. I might even try entering another one of their shows next year.

After a very quick press (the first fold was vertical right sides together) Chrysler is up on the pole over my bed. It is a nice quilt, but I have come on a lot in the last year. I could do so much better now.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fabric Origami

I've been taking my first attempt at fabric origami today. It doesn't sound too tricky does it. There are lots of quilting techniques that involve folding fabric. Well I have very singed fingers my back aches and I haven't got very far. I think part of the problem is that I am being very picky about my folds but even so. To make the crease I have to get the iron pretty close to my fingers, and then coordinate moving my fingers and blasting the steam. I haven't quite got that maneuver sorted yet. I also realized that I have to avoid pressing the whole length of creases that intersect, as doing that wipes out the crease I put in before. It isn't something you have to think about with paper. On the other hand I think the design is going to work. I am laying things out as I go and I like what I see. It does look like I will need a lot more origami than I expected, but it should still be a two or three day project, and I can't complain at that.

I am still kicking one of the designs for the SAQA show. It still isn't quite right but I don't know why. So much it how I want it, but I just have a feeling that something isn't happy. At least I am sure I am happy with the background so I can get on with that as soon as this current quilt is done. From past experience I will figure out the problem just in time, but it will be close. Why is it that my brain works best under significant time pressure?

Finally if you are the person who bought my Priority Azheimers Quilt at Houston I would love to hear from you. I know this message might be a bit late, but I keep forgetting to do it. I am pretty sure it did sell as Ami said she had sold the same number of quilts as she said she was taking. I would just love to know where it ended up. I am quite interested in which way up it is too. I couldn't decide which was the top.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Covers covers everywhere.

I've spent a productive couple of hours measuring a rather large car for covers. It's nice working with cars, they don't often change shape between fittings, and they don't need to be able to move in their covers either. On the other hand the covers are very big. You thought I made big quilts, but no they are quite small and easy to handle. I expect the full length covers to take over 30m of fabric each. They are really huge. They are quite satisfying though, and it is really nice to see a car wearing one. It looks far better than an unfitted tarpaulin.

During the day I got one of my SAQA designs sorted out. I though it was simple but I just felt I should see it before I started so I drew it out half scale. I discovered that it is going to be pretty big, 53" square. I hope that is OK, I need to find the guidelines. I also found that very few quilt block are entirely asymmetric. I've had to design myself a new one to get all the features I want, and of course it is more complex than would be idea for a quick project. Typical.

However I did make a good discovery today. I like ink. A lot. I had some ink and brushes on my desk waiting for an art lesson, so when I needed to fill in large areas on the design with colour it seemed to obvious solution. Wow it's good. I love the way it feels on the brush, I love the way it moves, and it even smells nice. What more could I ask for? I am really looking forward to getting some advice and ideas on what I can do with it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Artistic revelation

I have a large lump of plastacine sitting next to my desk. The idea being I should try sculpting. It's not a bad idea actually, it is indeed easier than drawing for some things. I made models of all the parts of the jabberwock (yes it is deliberate that I leave off the y). Which made making a pattern really easy. I've been wanting to make some thing for a couple of days now but I couldn't think of anything to make so I haven't. Then tonight it struck me, I can think of things, lots of them. What I can't do is think of things I think I can make. What a lightbulb moment. Even more so when I realized that is why I don't draw things without being told to. I don't think I can, so I have an idea then drop it because I can't do it. Repeat until bored. I don't know how I am going to fix this, but I guess knowing what the problem is makes it a lot easier to fix.

Busy busy

I guess a lot of people believe the saying, 'If you want something done as a busy person'. It seems that the busier I get the more people who get in touch with things for me to do. I just wish they were all paying work, I'd be rich :) It took me two hours last night to try and jam everything into my diary this week, but I did it. Even better I have almost finished today's list, and I am sure I will get it all done. I might even get a couple of extra things done too.

I've finished the quilting on Che, I decided that I wouldn't quilt the red areas. I like the way it is raising up and enhancing the fuzziness (is that a word?) of his hair. It is currently being blocked before trimming. I still can;t upload my pictures on my own so it will be tomorrow before you all get to see it. Sorry. Given that time is limited I am thinking about a machine sewn binding. If I use a Ricky Tims style piped binding it might work rather well. With a fine black line to frame the piece. I'll have to wait overnight for the quilt to 'set' so I can let my brain work on it.

I think I have finally settled on a couple of designs for the SAQA show at the NEC next year. I've been thinking about it for a while but I couldn't get the ideas to firm up. As ever a close deadline has done the trick, and I think I should be able to complete two in time. I would love to do a third but it would be quite a slow project and I don't feel I can risk making it the first one I try. We shall see. I guess I will have to check how much I am allowed to tell you before I enter them as well.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Che Guevara top complete

Well while I wait for my thread to chill and rehydrate I thought I would show you the finished top. It is now on the frame and about half of the black is quilted, but the thread isn't playing ball. It is now breaking every inch. I have been through all the usual checks and found nothing obvious. I suspect that the house has been very dry for the last week though as we have just turned on the central heating, and the spool of black thread has been sitting on my sewing machine the whole time (I have been using it). Hopefully after a rest it will behave better and I can get the quilting finished. I've decided to do a stipple over the black, and possibly the red. I know it isn't very exciting but I needed something really dense and dull. I didn't want the quilting to talk on this quilt. If I hadn't needed it to be washable I might have gone for something less solid, maybe a series of diagonal lines? It does though so everything needs to be very secure and stipple will do that nicely.

On the other hand...

I did manage to get quite a lot done today, which always makes things better. The most important thing on my agenda was getting the class quilt quilted, and as you can see I did it! I thought about doing a nice safe pantograph, but well. It was just such a good canvas to play with. I wanted to keep the feeling of movement, so there are lots of spirals and flame patterns. I had a lot of fun with it. The borders I am not thrilled with. I used a stencil to mark the design of feathers and stars. It looks like a very cool stencil but I had some problems. Firstly I couldn't see a way to do it as a continuous line, by the last one I had worked out a way to do it in only two lines. I also found it very difficult to follow the feather design. I thought free hand feathers were tricky, but this was much harder. On the bright side I have learned something. I don't like pre-marking feathers. I can see that saving me a lot of time and stress in the future. There is no way I would choose to make a design that I had to mark to make it work. So I suspect any wholecloth designs I come up with will be largely feather free.

I am thinking of offering a discount on quilting services to my students, or at least those doing classes where the end product is suitable for longarm quilting. Do you think this would be a good idea? Would it be something you would appreciate if you were taking a class?

The other thing I have been working on is the road warriors house warming present. He asked if I could do a Che Guevara wall hanging for him. You may have seen my earlier post with the pattern for it. Today I finally got round to prewashing some black fabric for it. I don't know why but it always seems like a lot of hassle when I have to wash the fabric. Really, even though I do it by hand, it doesn't take much time or effort. Still after an hour of cutting out this is where I have got to. I am so thrilled with it. While I was cutting it I was getting very nervous. The hair looked far too rounded and the face too craggy, but suddenly when you can step back and really see it, it all comes together. Hopefully I can get the rest of it done tomorrow, and maybe hand sew the binding while I have some friends round. Keep your fingers crossed for me (unless you are trying to quilt/craft of course). Funny, for a design that wasn't really my bag when I started, I've got really quite attached to it.

What a difference a day makes, take 2

OK, did I not make myself clear. STOP DYING! Enough. Yes, I like wearing black, but no I don't like needing to go to funerals. It now looks like there will be a second next week. My partners Uncle has just died from cancer. He was one of the first people to see the potential of my work in interior design. He was kind enough and interested enough to put me in touch with an interior designer he knew. He was also one of the few people to understand my pricing, even though he had no previous experience of quilts or quilting. It meant a lot to have someone outside of the industry understand what I do. I guess this is even more reason to be making fiber postcards for various cancer charities. If you are interested in doing the same leave a comment and I will email you the details of the latest challenge.

I know it is winter, it is the season when things die, but honestly I've had enough for now. I've just found out that the biker I met at Sandown Quilt Show has died as well. His funeral is Thursday, I hope his family are OK, he was very much one of the good guys and I know he will be missed.

Folks, please look after yourselves, your friends and you family. I am sure we all have people we should have got in touch with, maybe now is the time to do it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What a difference a day makes

Well things seem to have improved a bit today. I got to have a lovely chat with a fellow quilter, who might be interested in me basting her quilts for her. I've got the borders on the class sample and most of the quilting done, and I had a couple of phone calls from friends. All in all a much better day. To round it off we had tickets for a concert, and it was good.

Now to open a can of worms. I have an art question. I recently saw Van Gogh's Chair for the first time in the flesh. I've seen it in books a few times and been utterly underwhelmed by it. I've learned that that doesn't mean much. Art doesn't translate into books at all well. I could never see the big deal about Rubens until I saw his work not only in the flesh but in context with other work of the same period. Wow, he is amazing. One the other hand, the chair leaves me cold and somewhat confused. I just don't see what the big deal is. It is wonky, with cartoon outlining and the pipe and tobacco on it look really flat, maybe unfinished, maybe an after thought. So can anyone explain what the deal is? Why is this a great piece of art? I've tried asking all the arty people I know but they seem to be as bemused as I am. Is it just luck of the draw? Once you are famous all your work is good by association maybe. In a similar thought I wonder what Rodin thinks of his sketches being on display in the Royal Academy. Some of them look like the very preliminary sketches I do when I am just trying to hold on to an idea. I think I would be mortified if they ever escaped into a gallery. If I ever get that famous, I must remember to burn all my sketch books.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Square in a Square class sample

Finally, I got the sample done. I don't believe how many things I got wrong today. I can't even claim it is difficult, it just isn't. Maybe that is part of the problem, if it had been harder I might have paid more attention and made less mistakes. It does still have an error in it but that one will stay. I guess it shows everyone can have an off day. Tomorrow I will recycle some of the wrong blocks into a border and then get it quilted. This class will be at Patchwork Corner on the 5th December. The idea is to give the people who bought the ruler some ideas what to do with it. This top will be the pattern we work to and is 36" square. Once I add the extra 9" borders I think it will be a great sofa throw. While I was taking a breather today I decided to catch up on some blogs I like. Coincidentally I found an article that explains why I am just keeping on working despite the other things going on and the silly number of mistakes I have been making. Have a read, she says it so much better than I could.

For those who have been asking, yes I am still trying to draw. A combination of doing lots of exercises and not having a way of uploading the pictures have stopped me showing you what I am up to. Once we get normal service resumed I will let you see what new work I have done. I have discovered that some things really send me into a flat spin. I can't see any common theme to them but boy do they stop me in my tracks. It's weird. I tend to agree with my teachers that a lot for the problems come down to confidence, but how can you be confident you can do something when every part of you tells you that you can't?

Finally having managed to get some more pictures onto a computer I thought I would share this picture. It was taken without even a tripod so I am really pleased with it. We were at Santa Pod last weekend for the Flame and Thunder show, and the moon came up early while I was waiting to photograph the bonfire being lit. They light their bonfire with a jet truck so it is a pretty good photo opportunity. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Argh, stress does effect thinking

As you may have gathered by the frequency of posts I've been having rather a lot of life recently. I think I am mostly coping fine, but every now and again I realize that I am not applying as much quality brainpower as I need to. This morning I have just fluffed a whole stack of blocks. Fortunately I did realize before I ruined all of them, and although what I have isn't what I need I should be able to reuse them. It's just frustrating when you have lots of work to do and a brain that really isn't playing ball. I would love to be able to just wait for life to calm down, but I have commitments I have to meet, and I am not sure life is planning on calming down.

So I guess it is time to remake these 8 blocks, which between them took over 1m of fabric. Alternatively I could go and get my package of fabric from the depot. Hmmm, maybe the break would help and new fabric makes everything better.

Hopefully later I will be able to show you what I have been working on, if the computers want to play. See what I mean too much life happening.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Challenge quilt two, Jabberwock

Sorry it is a bit late but it has been a rather full week. Including one computer giving up the ghost. Of course it is the computer I use to upload my pictures. Not a problem, we managed to get some pictures off the camera. Shame the lighting and focus was so far off. I will take some more pictures once we have the computer sorted but I thought I might as well let you see how far I got, as best I can.

The challenge this month was to make a piece based on the poem about the jabberwocky. It had to be abstract and include texture. Straight away I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to show the Jabberwock as it might appear to the person it was attacking. The rectangle is what you are really seeing, all the embellishments are supposed to be the details you noticed before it got so close. The base quilt is made of a solid panel quilted to be the belly scales and individual scale shapes lightly quilted to allow them to raise up, it gives a good scale texture but doesn't seem to photograph well. The binding is also made of individual scales which radiate out from the centers of the sides. The claws and teeth are three dimensional embellishments added after quilting. This allowed me to tuck the claws into the scales. The back isn't the neatest I've ever managed, but how much art is judged on it's back?

The tail is very curved, and sticks out a long way from the wall. It is stuffed with wadding I inherited. I would have liked to have been able to have it hang at an angle but when I tried it pulled the quilt out of shape and still hung straight down. I think this is something I will come back to, maybe I can come up with a way to avoid this. Perhaps by using a stretcher frame? The wings are the only part not quite finished. The ribs are stuffed but not fully sewn closed. I will do that and then hand sew the webs between the bones. I am going to use the belly fabric for the rest of the wings. The wings will then be sewn into place over the stitching for the binding, which is how the tail is held on. This method seems to be pretty secure and unobtrusive.

As ever comments would be welcome. I think in a normal week I would have had time to finish this quilt, but it would have been tight. The wings took a silly amount of time because they are so skinny to turn and stuff. Anyone know at what point an abstracted image becomes abstract?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Another crafter leaves us

Sonia Beatrice Shooter nee Tregaskis, painter, stitcher and engraver left us this morning at 1am. She will be greatly missed. Her supplies will live on and create new pieces of art.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Me and my bright ideas

So I have this great plan for my challenge quilt. It is really good honest, well I think it is. It sprang into my head ready to go, and it doesn't look too tricky. On the other hand I seem to have greatly underestimated the time needed to make it. The body of the quilt is only A3 and is complete, but the embellishments are taking forever. I think I put in nearly 8 hours yesterday on them and so far another 2 hours today. I think another 5 or 6 might do the trick, but this is supposed to be a fast quilt. Whups. I guess it has been a learning experience regardless. I now know one more thing that will take longer than I could ever have imagined. The quilt has also consumed a surprising amount of fabric, something else I will be aware of next time I try something like this.

Time Travel, and perfectly timed support

Ok, so what has blogger been up to? My last post seems to think I posted it Friday, and yet I already knew what I had done over the weekend. Kinda strange really, and of course I would claim it is currently Tuesday but I think blogger will say it is Wednesday.

Firstly, I would like to thank Nellie for her very kind email. Unfortunately it came through with an invalid return address so I will try and find the correct address tomorrow. I just wanted you to know it was appreciated now. Today has been one of the days my brain doesn't play ball on the drawing front. It had been going so well. I drew two recognizable trees with scribble and that was good. Then came an avocado. Crunch, just like hitting a wall. I can't see how I am supposed to be able to achieve that. I did call on my artists technical support line, and I now see what I am supposed to do, but not how to do it. Major crisis of confidence followed. Then coming home to such a supportive email was just what I needed. So I guess over the next couple of days I will be returning to the avocado. Sometimes it does seem like the world is helping me go in this direction, and that's a really great feeling.

It's been a pretty productive day on the quilting front too. My challenge quilt is now quilted. It just needs the embellishments adding and the binding putting on. I relished in time that I need to put the binding on first if I want to use the sewing machine, as once I have the embellishment's on there is on way I will be able to get it under the arm of the machine. It is going to be a very wacky piece, but I think I will rather like it. I hope I can enter it into the NEC next year in innovative small. We shall see.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Creative weekend.

I've been so busy I haven't had time to post, sorry folks. Being the last Friday of the month, meant the new fast fabric challenge was issued. This month the theme is Jabberwock, abstract and texture. For me this is a fantastic theme, right up my street. Interestingly the idea appeared almost fully formed, I've only made some very subtle changes to my initial concept. I've made the background and I have a lot of the details well underway. As before I don't feel I can show anything here until it is finished, but given the deadline is Friday you don't have too long to wait.

I also had my first drawing lesson on Friday. It was an interesting experience. My teacher thinks that my problem is confidence or a lack there of. Apparently I am very hesitant when I need to draw anything. I wondered at the time if it was just having someone watching, but it seems to be true even when I am working on my own. It's very odd, but hopefully by knowing there is a problem I can try to fix it. I also tend to work quite small with drawing, quite the opposite to my quilting, so I am trying to use charcoal for drawing. It forces me to not only draw larger but also make more confident strokes. I have to admit I don't really like it but it does seem to help so I will try to stick with it.

I seem to have spent the whole weekend alternating between trying to draw and preparing the challenge quilt. Another fun aspect of the challenge is that I am using the same fabrics as last month which has saved me making more mess, and in fact helped me tidy up.

To get the week off to a good start, our two person quilt entry at the NEC is in Popular Patchwork. I guess it will be on sale in the shops in about a week, as a subscriber I get mine early. It is a nice little piece, showing both of the quilts, but they are upside down. Fortunately they are just geometeric patterns so it doesn't really matter. I was also pleased to see the magazine photographer found them quite tricky to photograph. It does seem that my preferred designs and colours are about the worst things to reproduce. Black and white both hide your quilting and white never looks white once you take a picture. Still it is exciting to see another quilt in the magazine, and very nice to have it pointed out that ours was a true joint effort. We both worked on everything.

Che design.

A friend recently moved house, and I thought I would make him a wall quilt to make it feel more like home. I was planning on making a motorcycle. It helps he rides my ideal bike. Unfortunately it didn't want to play. It is very fussy and needs lots of detail. There isn't room to hang a really big wall quilt. So when he mentioned to someone else that Che would make a great quilt, I had my solution. This is the design I have produced from the iconic photograph. I was concerned that the design should be what my friends wants, as he is an artist and this is an important image to him. He pointed out that this is one image that however badly it is drawn it is still recognizable. Indeed it does seem to be. It is always hard to judge a pattern full size, this one is 26"x32", but now I have it on the screen I am pretty pleased with it. Now I just need to trace it onto freezer paper and get to work.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So about this drawing thing...

I've been thinking about this for a while and I think it probably will motivate me to keep working so here are a few pages from one of my sketch books. I am using several books and the web site to try and improve my skills. I am also lucky enough to have a couple of friends who can draw who can offer suggestions. I think this multi pronged approach is good for me. I get bored and frustrated very easily but this way I always have something else I could try. When something isn't working I can give up and do something else.

The first picture is the kind of sketch I usually use. It is enough to remind me of an idea of something simple I have seen. At the moment it I see something more complex I have to find a camera, and that is something I would like to reduce. I would live to be able to capture the essence of what I see with just a pencil and a piece of paper. This sketch will probably become a quilt at some point, but it hasn't entirely settled as an idea yet.

The second picture is the result of someone (or something) telling me to just draw what I have to hand. I always have plenty of spools of thread to hand so that is what I chose. It also didn't look too scary. I enjoyed actually looking at how the thread was wound onto it and I think that was the crucial feature of it. Piles of fabric had also been suggested as a good thing to draw, so while I was in bed with a cold I drew the dressing gown hung on the door. I see now how fabric does have very clear light and dark areas but I am not too sure about drawing the light places. I suppose I have to leave the light bits but draw the medium and dark?

Finally the face is from the drawing lessons at If you are interested bug me and I will dig out the proper URL. You have to join up (free) to access the lessons and you can only view them online unless you pay money, but I think they are pretty good. There are some I don't really get but I seem to be finding harder lessons easier than the easy ones so I guess I must be learning something. I am hoping that having put these up I will be encouraged to practice some more and draw better things so I can show you how it goes, so feel free to bug me if I don't put anything up for a while. I would also appreciate any feedback and tips from those out there who can draw or are in the process of learning.

Oh, and of course I got round to it today to avoid clearing up my desk. It is all a case of what you are not doing.

Linus quilt done.

I really love doing these Linus quilts. They do have their challenges, this on the back is almost bigger than the top :) and I have had to wait a while to know I was going to be able to make it work. But no matter how tricky they are, they are great to do. I can play and do fun work on them. I can use threads that I wouldn't normally and at the end of it I know it will end up with someone who needs it and will love it (probably to destruction). It's just a win win situation. On this one I tried a new to me pattern, I wanted to come up with a couple of quick all over patterns that are fairly dense. Something good for utility quilts. I think is has worked rather well. I guess all these things come with practice and as I have one more Linus quilt left to do I may try and work on another all over design. I think the quilting shows better on the front of this quilt, so I haven't bothered to put in a picture of the back. The backing could be described as loud. It is lime green with wavy patterns on it. It would have hidden a multitude of sins, so ofcourse my tension was perfect throughout the quilt. I bet the next thing I do where I need good tension turns out to be a nightmare. That just seems to be how these things work. Hmm now what to do next. Do I work on some designs? Prepare the patterns for my next nude? Quilt the other Linus quilt? Maybe tidying my desk would be a good start :) I don't think I will ever be a tidy worker.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Online Quilt contest.

If you haven't yet been to the AQS online quilt show there is still time. Although it may have got trickier to vote. You now must have Flash 8 (or higher) installed to see the quilts. On the other hand if you know the number you want to vote for I guess you could still manage.

I finished a quilt yesterday and dutifully delivered it, without taking a photograph. Doh! On the bright side I am pretty certain I will see it again so I will ask if I can take a picture then. It was a really interesting quilt to work on for me. It was so different to anything I would make. It was made with a range of delicate floral fabrics, in a sort of Irish chain pattern. In each of the of the spaces between the chain I put in a patterns of four loopy hearts interlocking. Delicate and pretty but not really girly. The chains were just a single line of squares which I stitched through the middle of to outline the spaces between. There were three borders, two quite narrow, which I just stitched in the ditch, and one wide. In the wide border I used the ruler to put in a trellis. The border is full of roses, so to me it clearly asked for a trellis. The best bit, it's owner loves it. Even better there are more to come. I am quite excited about the next one. It is the one that is talking to me most. It wants lots of swirly suns/flowers depending on how you see it. Next time I will remember to take a picture straight away so I can show you all as soon as the customer has seen it, assuming the customer will let me.

Today I am planning on doing a Linus quilt. I want to do something fun and easy, and these really fit the bill. Knowing that the end user will love pretty much whatever you do is very liberating. I also have a couple that will nicely use up big offcuts of wadding, it's a win all round.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Art Quilt Class - Patchwork Corner

The art quilt class is the Saturday 18th of November form 10am to 4pm. I am not certain of the price, but I would guess it will be in the region of 22 GBP. If you would like a place in the class you can book by telephone on 01442 25900. Hope that covers everything. If not I am sure you will let me know. Hope to see some of you there.

Research, thought planning and design

I wish I had more pictures for you but this weekend has been another planning and thinking session. I've been giving a lot of thought to the next class coming up, which will all be done using the Square in a square ruler. It looks to me that we will end up with quite a lot of blocks by the end of the day and I need to think of a way to make those into one finished item. This has meant trying to fit many different sizes of block together into a design. It is surprisingly difficult. I think if I was just doing it for myself I would make the blocks and then lay them out on the bed in a design. This would show up some areas where I need filler which I would then just cut on the fly. This probably wouldn't please other people as a solution though so I will have to some up with a fixed design. I am also a little concerned by my fabric choice. I really want to make the sample in the Ginko fantasy fabrics I have, in black red and gold. They look great but will it put people off?

The other design problem I have been kicking around is the Transformations challenge. It is very good timing, I have been looking at transformers recently and saying I wanted to make a quilt based on the idea. Now I get the perfect opportunity do you think I can come up with anything, of course I can't. I think the problem is I want the transformer design to move of do something, maybe even be three dimensional. The challenge requires something more two dimensional. I guess I will have to keep thinking. At least I have some fairly simple quilting to work on today so my brain can work on these problems while I do something else.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Class samples - Art quilts

As promised here are the samples for my Art quilts - Quilting by numbers. These designs will be what the students will make during the class. Hopefully they will be pretty much completed during the day. They were very interesting designs for me to work on. The rose is technically easier. It only needs three colours and most of the areas are quite large. However my lack of knowledge of flowers meant I had to really think how the petals would look. It was particularly obvious when I was quilting it. It took me far longer than the swan even though it has less stitching on it. Who would have thought it? On the other hand the swan was really easy. I know where the feathers are and so for me it was a lot easier even though it should be the trickier design. Just goes to show you can never really predict these things. Still they look great hanging in the shop, and hopefully they will encourage people to fill the class. Oh yes, the rose has indeed run. All the fabrics were pre-washed but still they ran. I used run remover and got it clean again. I pressed it to nearly dry and blocked it overnight. There was just enough moisture for it to run again! Red really is a menace.

The 'Nude Triptych' is now hanging in the workshop at Patchwork Corner. So if you are in the area (Hemel Hempstead) and want to have a look it will be there until the 18th of November.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Online contest or getting to know your friends.

Now please don't take this the wrong way, but I've realized that the outcome of the online quilt show is fairly unimportant. It would be great to win, but the prize won't be as good as what it has already given me. I have had so many emails from friends who have offered their support, I've had comments on this blog, and I can't begin to tell you how great that is. Not one person I've talked to about this has been anything but incredibly supportive, I am really overwhelmed by you all. As well people have sent me notes about what they are doing and what is happening in their lives, they probably wouldn't have done otherwise. I can't reach you all, so please give yourselves a hug or a pat on the back from me, whatever you feel comfortable with. You're great.

I have been working recently, even though I have been rather quiet. I am getting the samples finished for my class at Patchwork Corner next month. It is based on the technique I used for the red nude in the triptych. I am hoping to cover some design ideas and techniques for converting a photograph into a pattern for a quilt. It's tricky in a one day class but I will see what I can fit in. I've decided to stick to just two design options to make on the day, a rose and a swan. I was going to offer a third but the requirements list was getting too complicated. I am hoping by keeping it fairly simple everyone will get a mostly complete art quilt by the end of the day. In the next day or two I will have the pictures up. Also for those in the area who wanted to see the nudes again, they will be at Patchwork Corner as of next week publicizing the class. If you are interested in taking this class I believe there are still a couple of places left.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Innovative Imagery - Digital Rainbow

Well I am going to assume that silence means my quilt didn't make it into the C&T book on digital images on quilts. Bah Humbug. On the other hand this does mean I can photograph it in detail so you guys can try to guess what the pictures are. Yay. My biggest concern is did the entry pack arrive, and on time. It should have done according to the post office but when I tried to track it it never showed up as delivered. I think I might look into it, after all if it didn't even get there I would quite like my postage costs back. They can't compensate for it not making it into the competition but at least I wouldn't be out of pocket.

On the flip side I had another booking today for talking about my quilts, so I don't think I can really explain. Although it is amusing that as I child I said there was one thing I would never want as part of my job, public speaking. I hated it. Funny how talking about something you love make it OK. At the last regional day, one lady doing show and tell said how nervous she was and that she didn't think she could talk. She did and she was great, really animated and enthusiastic, at the end she commented on how surprised she was. You never know until you try.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Nude in Online Competition.

I've entered my blue nude into the AQS online quilt contest. I would have like to enter the whole triptych but they don't allow multiple parts or frames. Still at least I put something in. The contest is judged but online viewers, so if you feel like voting for me I would very much appreciate it. If you live in the US I think there are prizes for the people voting too. The quilts can be seen here, mine is entry number 1352. I think they are shuffling the quilts to make it more fair, which is something that had worried me when I first looked at entering. I found it really interesting looking at the range of styles represented in the competition. I suspect there is inspiration for most people there.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yay, back in the workroom

Finally I've managed to get something creative done. This is a sample for a class I am teaching next month. The class is based on the technique I used for the red nude in my triptych. I don't want to do that in the class, it needs too many shades and will take longer than one lesson to complete. I am hoping the rose will be quicker, especially as I have it in two sizes. Tomorrow I will get it onto a background fabric, layer it up and quilt it. I really enjoy quilting pictures now, especially on the longarm. It feels so good having done this today. I am really not happy when I am not making things. Having finished the rose I think the gold flecks in the darkest red make it read lighter than it is. I think I will leave it as something to talk about with the class, so if any of you are taking the class you will be able to pre-empt me. I am planning on making two other designs so there is a choice, but I don't think there will be room to display them all in the shop, guess those will be a surprise on the day. Now to bed and to think about how I will quilt it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Too much Tuesday

You know there really is just too much of some days. Tuesday was one of them. The day started very well. I met up with some other UK longarm quilters., great fun and very informative. I've bought some new to me pantographs, including meeses. It is a fun design and I will use it for project Linus quilts. It is also very much how I want to remember Fran, who's studio it came from. Leaving a little early even meant I got home before the rain.

The evening was pretty good too. A friend came round and told me more about art which is great fun, but then the late night phone call. Robin had been out at a nearby friends playing boardgames and was calling to say he had been delayed on the way home having witnessed a road traffic accident, key phrase being biker down. It had been raining on an off all evening so the roads were slick, not good weather for bikers. As a lot of our friends ride I wasn't surprised they had stop. Time passed, and nothing. Then after a couple of hours, another call, the accident was a fatality, there was a huge police investigation underway and they had to wait to have statements taken. It was gone 3am before Robin and the friends he had gone out with made it back here. Minus the car they had left in. The police wanted it to check that it hadn't been involved. When Robin had said they were witnesses, what he meant was there was a miracle, that saved the pillion from being run over by the car they were in. The bike lost control in front of them and the pillion rolled in front of the car. They have no idea how they missed him, except the car just wasn't in the wrong place. Understandably they were all shocked by the accident. They were first on scene and were the ones who checked the rider and his pillion. The pillion escaped with just broken bones, he was beyond lucky. Sweet tea all round, especially as they had all been standing outside for hours in the cold.

Please folks, take it easy out there. Death isn't far away, you aren't invunerable, and I really don't want to be dealing with any more tragedy right now. Look after yourselves, and where you can others.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October Gallery Visit

See I am sticking with this. This month I had the chance to drag along someone who studies art and having a mobile reference book is really handy when you know very little about the subject. We met at Green Park, as that is where our tube lines meet, and while I was waiting I heard that the Royal Acadamy is really close to there. So that became our first port of call. When we arrived there was a choice of two exhibitions, but whilst I have read both the names I couldn't think what either did. This is one of the problems with not recalling names. So handy expert says, "paintings or sculpture?". It had to be sculpture given that the classes that really appealed to me were all about three dimensional quilts, so the first artist of the day was Rodin. Wow what a good choice for knowing nothing. Turns out I really like his work. He sculpted so many women in so many great poses. I think he has pretty much got the set. My 'I wish I could take it home' piece for today is Ovid's Metamorphoses. Sadly even if you find a picture of it online I don't think you will get to see what I most liked about it. It is a plaster of two female nudes embracing. From the back of the piece (how do they know it is the back?) you can see a woman kneeling with her back to you. The shape of her back if fantastic, but for me what makes it so amazing are her feet, just poking out from beneath her bottom. It is an image I really want to make as a quilt, I am sure I won't do such a good job, but the pose is so beautiful I might get away with it.

After lunch we had time for a second gallery so went back to plan A, the Hayward Gallery. They are currently showing, How to Improve the World - 60 Years of British Art. Oh and Mondays is half price, if you feel like going. This was a huge contrast to the Rodin, I am finding it hard to get to grips with how diverse art is, especially when quilting isn't. I really don't understand how Bridget Riley's Movement in Squares is art yet very similar things in fabric aren't. It just doesn't make sense. Maybe I need to try and find a way to get the Arts Council interested in my work to help the cause. (Sounds impossible but that has never stopped me before). Most of the works here left me cold but as ever there were exceptions. They had two pieces on display by Barbara Hepworth, both of which I liked very much. I love the organic smoothness of her work, they seem very calm and soothing. I was pleased to see two BMW engines being used for something useful, covered in copper sulphate crystals by Roger Hiorns. When I first looked up the Hayward Gallery online I got a picture of Tim Head's State of the Art. I quite liked it online but in person it is really cool. I loved trying to spot things I had owned in the 1980's just fantastic. I would have happily had a poster of it had they had one for sale. Interestingly there was on that I don't think I would have liked only a couple of months ago. It is Tony Cragg's New Stones, Newton's Tones. It is broken pieces of plastic objects laid out on the floor in colour groups. It is very much like 'Digital Rainbow'. I don't think it would have leapt out at me in the same what had I not done something similar. It was also interesting to note he had had the same problem with blue, indigo, violet. He seems to have tried for all three and to me that section read much less distinctly that the other stripes. I think I made the right decision for me when I left out indigo.

All in all it was a very informative day. I didn't really expect to get much from going to galleries, but I accepted that people felt I should know more about art. I am finding it very inspiring, and in some cases it reassures me that what I am planning is going to work. I would really recommend anyone going along and having a look. I won't say you will like everything you see, in fact I am sure you won't, but I do think it will give you a new perspective on art, and possibly the world in general.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Quilters Guild Regional Day - Region 7

Yesterday I went to the Region Seven regional day. Unfortunately it clashed with the Region One day, which I would otherwise have gone along to. On the other hand the weather was great and the event was held in Roade, very close to Santa Pod where the guys were playing with the Camero. I even got lucky with the traffic, and arrived just before 9am ready to set up the bring and buy stall (now just a buy stall :) The traders were all in a small room off to the side of the main hall. It was cozy and being out of the way meant I could occasionally abandon my post to fetch refreshments and mingle.

Our first speaker Dawn Cameron Dick, brought along lots of real working quilts. You know the sort you put on the bed or curl up with on the sofa when you feel ill. It was lovely to hear and artist talking about their work being used and loved. Of course, me being hopeless with remembering names I didn't realize I had one of her books until she held up the quilt that was on the cover. Doh! The talk was very funny and it felt like we were being given a great deal of insight into her family. The stories of how people had been involved with the design phase of the quilts were especially interesting to me. One of the nicest parts of these days and the talks is that you get to touch the quilts. I do love shows, but my fingers really do give me information my eyes don't. For example the great softness of these well used quilts and how well integrated the invisible machine applique becomes. Definitely a speaker worth seeing if you get a chance.

This first talk was followed by lunch and spending frenzy. Thanks to everyone who bought things from my stand, we sold about half the stock and raised a good amount for guild funds. Yes I am being vague, I don't believe what my maths told me :) To get us back into the listening frame of mind we had a show and tell. As ever there was a fantastic range of work to see. I was very lucky to be in the queue just behind the lady with several very small and details pieces. As ever my memory is failing me on her name or that of the tutor where she had learned about adding texture through shrinking. I think it is something I will have to look up. It was a fantastic effect. Naoko brought along two pieces to show, a stained glass wallhanging in European colours, with a border that looked like it was catching the light, and a landscape from a class. The landscape was striking as it moved it changed so much. I am really looking forward to seeing it finished I think it will be a very special piece. Another special quilt was 'Sixty Five Roses', if you say it out loud it sounds rather Cystic Fibrosis, which is what the quilt is about. The top is 64 roses in shades of red pink and cream, the final rose will be on the back of the quilt and be made from white fabrics in different textures to represent the faulty gene which causes the problem. The quilt was made using Pat Deacons techniques which is why the maker had brought it along. I hope she will being it back finished.

Just before starting her talk Pat Deacon was called upon to draw the raffle and choose the recipient of the Margaret Bright Bursary. I couldn't believe it when my name came up. I didn't know what to do. Was I supposed to go and say something? I settled for standing up then sitting down again. It was a nice shock, but still a shock. I was very late applying as I felt it should go to someone Margaret had known. I guess now I really have to do her justice with it. It is 50GBP to be used for a course. We then have to bring the finished item along to the next regional day. I've been looking online today for a course worthy of this money, and I think I will go for something at Missenden Abbey. These are courses I would never consider without the bursary and I think they will really expand my knowledge. I will let everyone know which course I finally choose.

..... Sorry folks the review of Pat's talk will have to be added later visitors have just arrived.

Yes, our afternoon speaker was Pat Deacon, hers was the championship quilt at Sandown this year. Having taken a class with her I was looking forward to the talk, and I wasn't disappointed. She had brought along many of her quilts and talked a lot about how they came to be. I was especially interested in the 'View from the quilt' mini series. It is two quilts showing what a quilt sees when it is at a show. I loved her use of colour to show whether people likes the quilt or not, and having seen how simple a shape will still read as a human figure I think it is something I might try at some point.

The strangest part of the day was being invited to join the committee. Yup the guild is prepared to have someone like me helping to run it. I am very surprised, but thrilled. Now I suppose I have to work harder at getting more people to some to the regional days. So if this sounded like fun (and it really was) and you fancy coming along to see if you like it let me know and I will keep you posted about future events. The events are open to non members but it will cost you a little more to get in (I think it is two quid extra so twelve instead of ten). If you live locally I might even be able to give you a lift.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Challenge quilt - things I forgot.

The quilt is about 11"x15" I say about because I haven't trimmed it yet. I think it will be pretty close to that size though. The scraps I used for the leaves were cut several colours at a time. This meant that they scattered and mixed really nicely with very little intervention from me. The branches I put down first, and did position with a bit more care. I did make sure I had leaves covering the bottom of the trunks, but that only needed a little herding, not careful positioning. I don;t think it would have looked as natural if I had tried to position each piece. It would also have taken forever, the leaves are all significantly smaller that quarter inch square. The only thing holding the leaves in place is the quilting.

The first idea I had was to make the path and sky from mesh, some sort of netting. I was going to cut the wadding to the shape of the tree trunks then stitch black netting into the space for the path and white into the sky. Then piece the trunks exactly as I ended up doing it. After that I was thinking I would add the little bits of fabric and another layer of net. I decided against doing it this way because I wanted the sky to be definitely blue, I wanted the path to be solid, and I wasn't sure I would like the look of the net over the branches and leaves.

Fast Friday Fabric Challenge - 1 - revealed.

I have got as far as I am going to for the moment on the challenge quilt. The theme was fall colours and a three dimensional feel / element. It is a shame that I had already made 'Golden Storm'. That is really my interpretation of this theme. Still no point crying over it. I had to come up with another idea. I was thinking about dense forests in Autumn. The way the trees tower over you and the leaves everywhere. I decided I would make this on the longarm, including the piecing and that to add another level of depth I would allow the wadding to show in some areas. So I started by painting the wadding. Just in the sky and the path as the closely packed trees would cover the rest. The first picture shows the wadding just after I loaded it onto the frame. It was about this point I started to worry. I really do think about quilts for a long time before I start them normally so this is where the challenge really hit me. I did press on and put in the trees. If I were doing this again I think I would want a wider range of values for the tree trunks and I would make them narrower. As I got to the nearest trees I added extra wadding. Unfortunately it doesn't show in the picture but the outermost trunk on the right as you look at it, is very rounded. Once all the trunks were on I used the offcuts from 'Golden Storm' to make leaves, and scraps from the tree trunks for branches. The leaves on the trees are held on with quilting made to look like twigs and branches. The leaves on the ground have a more pebbly quilting, which does look pretty path like in real life. As you can tell the camera didn't do a great job of capturing the colour but I think it is close enough to give you the idea.

I haven't trimmed the quilt yet. When I first though of the idea I was going to add some cylindrical stuffed tree trunks in the foreground. I don't know if I will but I want to keep my options open right now. I figure that when I decide how I want to bind it I will make the final call on adding tree trunks. Also I might try some more quilting on the existing trunks to make them look less blocky, but I am not sure about that either.