Saturday, September 30, 2006

Challenge insight

I made the decision to limit the time I spent thinking about my quilt for the fast challenge. I didn't really expect it to make much difference to me, given that I usually work quite quickly once I have planned my design. Apparently the thinking phase is the main area of what I do, i am feeling very uncertain about this small quilt. I will keep going with it, I am interested in what I will manage to make of it, and I wonder if it will give me a new way to work for a different result. At the moment I don't think my final piece will be as good as what I have in my head, I guess my confidence comes in the planning, but still it should at least convey the feeling of what I am thinking of.

Given it is for a challenge I don't feel I can share my work here until I have put it onto the challenge site, so until then you will just have to make do with these reports. There are plans for these challenges to be a monthly event so you could still sign up for the next one if you wanted to join in.

Wadding takes forever to dry.

Well I have a plan. I figure these challenges are a really good time to try new techniques and ideas. Having spent yesterday kicking ideas around, I am now off and running. One of the new things I am trying is painting wadding. I want to use the wadding as a foundation and in some areas it may well be visible in the finished quilt, so I want it to be the right colours. It is also the first time of trying my Tsukineko inks that I bought at the NEC. I really like them. Being inks they are very fluid and spread really nicely on the wadding. Putting it onto dry wadding lets you put in quite a lot of detail, and on wet it blends beautifully. Also I bought the inks as sets, which come with 'Fantastix' they are sort of paint brushes, in the loosest sense. They are dense fibers unlike brushes and come in two shapes, brush and bullet. I quite like them, but being very frugal I wonder how much ink I waste when it is absorbed by the tool. Realistically the ink is fairly cheap and seems to go a long way to I shouldn't be worrying.

Oooooh, part of the work is dry, I had better go and prepare the fabrics so I can get on with the next phase.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fast challenge quilt

Well we have our challenges for this week. It is fall colours and a dimensional element. I've got lots of ideas already, but I don't think I have much appropriate fabric. I may have to get a shopping trip in before I can work on this. Still I like pressure right. The earliest I am likely to be able to get supplies is Tuesday, but I should have the design worked out by then.

I am feeling very pleased with myself today. I have finished my tax return. It is the first one I have had to do since I became self employed, so it was a but nerve wracking but I feel great now it is done. Even better, it looks like they owe me money. Yay. On the other hand I am quite looking forward to the time I have to give them money as that will be the point i have made a reasonable profit. Still right now I will look forward to a rebate, and get planning this quilt.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Woo Hoo, one of my quilts is going to Houston!

OK, it sounds great and it is true, but... The quilt that will be there is Unraveling, the quilt I made for Ami Simms Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts Auction. Ami Simms is taking a whole load of quilts along to sell at the show, and mine happens to be one of them. I am sure I shouldn't be so pleased, but I am. It is the next best thing to being there myself. I really hope it will sell and add to the very impressive amount Ami had already raised. If any of you go and manage to get a picture of it on the stand I would love to have a copy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Head work

I like to be able to show you folks what I am working on, but at the moment a lot of my creative work is going on in my head. I've been thinking about ways to make a trellis quilt with a rose on it. I want to use three dimensional roses so I have been thinking about ways to do that. Also I do like to speed piece so I have been trying to plan clever ways to put the lattice work together. I've been trying to work out whether to shade the vines of the roses, as I am shading the trellis to make it look more three dimensional. I guess the reason this is all done in my head is that I can't draw it to my satisfaction, but I can imagine things very well. I've also been thinking about various car designs. I think I've got a couple of quite abstract designs from cars, and they need me to work on them soon.

I am also taking a class at Quilt University at the moment. I keep an eye open for new classes there as I find them very inspiring. Although I have to admit to being one of those students who often doesn't learn what is being taught. I often find my inspiration in a sideline or a throw away comment. I don't do it on purpose, and I think for me it is a positive thing, I always seem to get something out of a class. The class I am taking at the moment is called 'Ladders and Crystals'. It is primarily a design class, and it is great. I love being able to look at the work other people are doing too. I was hoping it would help me come up with some simple designs, but as the tutor warned me, the designs are more complex than I predicted. On the other hand they are really fun and I will be making at least one of them.

It is dawning on me as I write that I am living the 'if you need something doing ask a busy person'. I have so many things to do already but this week I have signed up for a QuiltArt challenge. It is a speed challenge, on Friday we will be given a theme to work to and we have until the following Saturday to make something. I think it will be interesting to see what I come up with when I don't have time to really consider the design before I start.

For anyone else looking for Popular Patchwork magazine, it doesn't look like W.H.Smiths sell it anymore, but Borders do, as of course do many independent newsagents.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Digital Rainbow

Sorry for the interlude folks, I've been rushed off my feet the last few days. For someone who didn't think they would like this blogging lark, I've really missed it.
Since I last blogged I managed to post my entry for the Innovative images on fabric (or words to the effect). I did decide to go for very simple quilting in the end so people can play guess the object more easily, besides it stands well without intricate quilting. I had never thought about how people made this sort of quilt. The ones where sections are held together on tapes. I now have a new respect for them. It is surprisingly tricky to persuade them to hang well. If there is anyone reading that has done it I would love to know how. I tried to lay it out on my cutting board, using the grid to align everything but when I held it up it didn't hang at all well. I had to fiddle a lot with the tapes once it was on a hanging rod to get it mostly right. I am sure there must be a better way?

Also I was going to tell you more about the gallery. The short version includes, dogs are loyal, cats are up to no good. Just go look at the paintings, it is so true. People painted an amazing number of dead fish. It is OK to have the back end of an animal facing the viewer in a painting but not in a photograph (anyone know why?). Rubens was so amazing because he painted women, not men with udders. I had seen pictures of his paintings and thought they were good, but when you see them in the context of what other people were painting at the same time they are truly amazing. Oh and the old picture frames are just fantastic. I spent at least as much time looking at the frames as the pictures. I would have bought the big guide book if it had shown the frames too, but it didn't, not even on the shaped paintings. I will have to go back and sketch some of the frame designs.

I suppose I should now be thinking about next months gallery visit. Any suggestions? I am slightly tempted to go back to the National Gallery, as they didn't have the modern painters on display this time and they will have by now. Alternatively I could try somewhere else. It does need to be somewhere on the tube ideally, I think I should do the London galleries first as they are supposed to be pretty good and they are on my doorstep so to speak.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First monthly gallery trip

Yesterday I went on the first of my monthly gallery trips with Nat. I chose the National Gallery, for no reason except it was the first with a good web site that google found me. I suppose that is one liberating point of knowing nothing about art, I don't think I dislike anything.

The National Gallery is in a great location, in Trafalgar square. It was a warm sunny day and the square was really looking good. In the square there are four large plinths with sculptures. Three of the plinth have traditional dark sculptures on, but the fourth has a modern piece. I remember hearing all about the selection process on the news, and the outcry about the final choice. The modern sculpture is in pale marble and of a naked, pregnant disabled lady. It is by Marc Quinn, who took casts of her body and then passed the model onto Italian sculptors to make the marble. Having seen it I can see why people were concerned about it standing out, it does. I'm not sure I think that is a bad thing, maybe people would pay less attention to it if it was dark and fit in more. However I don't think the subject of shape of the sculpture is in anyway 'wrong' for the venue. I'm pleased I had the chance to form my own opinion about it.

The gallery itself is in a magnificent building. By the time you get to the first of the exhibits, the building has put you in the right frame of mind, with it's ornate ceilings and mosaic floors. We decided to start with the earliest paintings and work forward. I found it very interesting how the subject matter changes over time. I hadn't realized how many of the paintings in the 1200-1500 date period would be religious. It was also interesting how much brighter and more lively the pieces from monasteries seemed to be. In several of the paintings angels were shown with coloured or patterned wings. I've never come across that before, when did it become the norm to paint angels with white wings?

As we moved on towards more recent work we got to see two incomplete paintings by MICHELANGELO. These were fascinating. I must admit I haven't given a lot of thought to how paintings are put together. Where do you start with some of these huge and intricate paintings? I was surprised to see how complete some areas were when right next to them was nothing. I got the feeling that areas were painted in as they took his fancy, rather than in any proscribed order. Maybe this is my lack of understanding showing, but that is how it looked to me.

The next painting what really leapt out at me was The Ambassadors by
HOLBEIN the Younger, Hans. I've seen this many times in books, and I have always liked it, what I wasn't ready for was the size. It is one of the problems with only seeing art in books. You just don't get a good feel for scale. For me reading the measurements doesn't help, I don't remember size without seeing it. This painting is big, the figures are probably half to three quarter size. The detail is just amazing, I spent a long time looking a the globe. You can tell what things are, but it is very different to artists impression of a globe today.

When I was at school we only had school trips in the summer term just before the long summer holiday. Apparently that has changed. There were several groups of school children visiting the gallery. We stopped to listen to one of the talks they were having. The painting they were studying was The Supper at Emmaus by
CARAVAGGIO, Michelangelo Merisi da. Apparently the teacher had asked for paintings with food and drink in and this one has a wonderful fruit basket in it. I was fascinated by the way the staff member was leading the children through the painting. Taking about who might be in the picture and what was happening. There was a whole story that I don't think I would have guessed without some guidance.

Throughout the trip I became increasingly aware that I really like pictures of architecture, especially when they are very detailed. One artist who seems to constantly produce this kind of work is CLAUDE. I loved the fact that I could keep looking and finding new details. My favorite artist of the day does much the same things, in his pictures of Venice. CANALETTO. I was captivated by two paintings of the regatta. They are essentially the same view but painted a few years apart. There were many subtle changes. I liked the energy of all the people in the pictures, I could feel the excitement of the crowds. In the distance you can just see the end of one of the traditional tall bridges, and as you probably know I do like my bridges. Nat on the other hand preferred one of his other paintings. It was a similar canal scene, but much calmer and quieter.

I would love to carry on with this report, but it is getting late and I am tired. I'll post the rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One down, one to go.

Well I've just put my entry pack for Road to California in to the post. It will be on it's way first thing tomorrow. It's a bit scary, I've been and looked at last years winners and they are amazing. I can't see any of mine getting in. On the other hand if I don't try I won't ever get in. I also think I need to find somewhere inside, well lit with a plain background for me to photograph my quilts. I just can't trust the weather. Today I was just getting everything together to go out I caught the weather forecast. We were going to be hit by sudden strong gusts of wind. Great, just what I didn't need. The camera came out unscathed but I have plenty of bruises and scrapes from grabbing things that were being blown about. Still if I hadn't given it a go today I wouldn't know what I have to improve. I am hoping I can find a way to hang digital rainbow inside and light it for it's pictures. Really it is the lighting that is the hardest part.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Woo Hoo, what a start to the week.

This morning the post brought me the latest issue of Popular Patchwork Magazine (Autumn 2006). Nothing odd there, I subscribe so I expect it to turn up, but the cover tells me there is coverage of the 'Charmed I'm Sure' quilt challenge. This is the contest Penny entered, so maybe her quilt is in the magazine. I turned straight to the contents page to fine the article. I am not in the habit of squealing like a girl, but I made an exception, there was my red nude on the contents page. Wow! For the first time I noticed how much care they take over placing page numbers on the images they use. Funny how a personal involvement makes you pay attention isn't it. Anyway, composure regained and indeed Penny's quilt is in the item about the show. Page 13.

Now I had to find the article my quilt is advertising. It is the review of the Festival of quilts by Gillian Cooper. I am so thrilled with it. The picture of the 'Nudes Triptych' is really good, and they have mentioned the photographer who took the picture I used, Alex Treacher. I guess I will be getting a couple of spare copies this month, as my copy was pretty beat up by the time it arrived, and I think I will be looking back at this article a few times. So for those of you in the UK (does this magazine make it out of the country?) it's a neat little review of the show, and has the first installment of pictures of the challenge quilts. Also there is a very good article about making landscapes in contemporary quilts.

Responsible pet ownership

I am a little late posting an update because I am a responsible pet owner. So when my cat calls me over to inspect it's new toy and I find a newt, I have to take the newt to a place of safety. The cat's have only brought in common newts, but even so. I like newts and I would like to see them thrive. Having talked to the RSPCA the first time it happened we now take them to the local park and release them there.

Before the feline intervention I made pretty good progress. I've now got all the rows of 'Digital Rainbow' sewn. They do indeed look much better more random. I have to confess my rainbow has six colours not the seven in the normal list. The problem is blue, indigo, violet isn't actually a very big range and it is pretty much impossible to get three clearly different rows, especially with the dulling of the colours caused by the printing technique. So either I had three rather scrappy looking rows or two great ones. Two great it was, and it is obviously a rainbow.

I've now moved on to considering the quilting. I was going to quilt each row with the colour thread that it represents using the name of the colour repeating. The problem with that is it would hide some of the details of the pictures. Given people seem to have a lot of fun trying to work out what they are, I don't think that will work. So I may just stitch in the ditch between each of the blocks. It isn't terribly exciting, but does it need to be? I think the design will stand just as well with the very simple quilting. I'd be interested to hear what you guys think.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

'Wait' - Latest quilt from my longarm

I've spent the day slaving over the longarm. I know I should take things slowly, have breaks and all the good stuff, but once I started I could see it was going to work and I just had to finish it. You might have to click on the picture to be able to really see the quilting. The applique itself is quilted to enhances the contours of the body. On the three lighter colours I used a light thread, on the three darker, a dark thread. I like to use the thread to help blend the colours of the fabrics together. Now my machine is behaving itself I can use really quite thin cotton threads with it. So I get the subtle quilting I am looking for. On the applique the quilting lines are very close together and I don't want too much thread build up.

The black is quilted using masterpiece thread in black. This is my first serious ruler work. It was a bit nerve wracking learning on a real quilt, but I never seem to get a technique if I just practice it on test pieces. It isn't perfect, but I am happy with it and don't feel I need to take it out and try again, so I call that a win. The lines are about quarter of an inch apart, not something I think I wiil be doing in a hurry on a larger quilt.

I am however having problems with this wadding and the black fabric. I am finding the wadding migrates very badly. I am going to be spending several hours with tweezers making the quilt less fluffy. I am sure it isn't a needle problem. I've tried several of different sizes and brands, it doesn't make any difference. I think I just have to accept that the slightly loose weave on this black fabric and this rather tricky wadding don't mix.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Digital Rainbow

This is the first time I've been able to see the rainbow I am making from my photographs. I think it will work. As ever the camera picks up things that aren't obvious to the eye. In this case the fabric they are pinned to shows through a lot in the picture but very little in real life. I think this also makes the whole thing look a little grey, but that will go away when I sandwich it. Hopefully the white wadding will brighten it in the same way the check pattern dulls it. When I was laying this out I tried to sort the fabrics in each stripe. I'm not sure that adds anything to the design. The colours in each set are so similar it isn't clear that I have tried to sort it, so I think I am going to just shuffle them and see how that looks. I think a bit more chaos might add some zing.

My board only has space for me to lay out 17 patches in each colour. I think I am actually going to use 20 on the finished article. I have plenty of spares that I would like to put into the quilt. I am planning on making each colour a separate bound sub quilt then mounting them all on tapes so there is a space between the colours. I think black bindings and tapes will work well. After a glitch with the printer, I now have all the fabrics printed. Most of them have been set and are cut, so all being well I should be able to assemble this tomorrow.

In the process of making this I seem to have developed a game. People just seem to love trying to guess what all the pictures are. Given I took them in some very different places I think it will be hard for any one person to get all of them. Some are really obscure, except to those who work with the things I was photographing, and some even to the people who own them. It's great fun listening to peoples guesses. I even have a few I can't remember, they are really weird.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hever show - Region 2 quilts

These are a selection of quilts from the rest of the show at Hever. I have decided to ration myself to five pictures which has made it very difficult to choose what to show you. I think these are my favorites in no particular order.'Lime Leaf in Autumn' by Jane Coombes - This design is adapted with permission from a cross stitch pattern by Rose Swalwell and combines two of my favorite hobbies.
This quilt caught my eye from quite a distance away. I just love the blend of colours and the pixelated nature of the image. Sadly I couldn't get into a position to be able to fit the whole quilt in the frame. The brown border extends all the way around the quilt the same width. Please do click on the image to see the larger version.
'Winter Blues' by Eva Thomas - An inner landscape of the bitterly cold Scandinavian winter climate - overwhelmed by snow blizzards and ice for months on end. Thankfully the anticipation of a new spring (flower fabrics) lifts my spirits.
This quilt grabbed me on several levels at once. The snow on the branches made me think of the lack on quilting in the snow of 'Do Bears' the colours made me think of Sweden. I love Sweden so the heart seemed right, and I love winter too. Just fantastic. I love the way the snowflakes are made too.

'Warm Cuddle Up Under Quilt' by Juliet Eberle. There is no artists statement for this quilt.
I had to put in two pictures of this quilt as I don't think it is clear when you see the picture of the whole thing what makes it so good. The quilting is wild, and makes you want to look at it. I stared for ages following the lines about the quilt. Even so I didn't notice until I was preparing the photographs that the quilting goes over the binding. I wish I had seen it at the time and could have had a look at the back as well. Ho hum, maybe I will see it again somewhere else.

'Moonflower' by Heather Downie - Made from silk bought in Bangladesh. Design inspired by a Japanese quilt by Sumiko Maeda and based on the orange peel pattern. Machine pieced and quilted.
I am a complete sucker for quilts with a flow of value or colour. They get me every time. This one also has a really neat pattern, that I wasn't familiar with. To top it off it is made from truly luscious silks. How could I fail to love this one.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Challenge Quilts - Part 2

I meant to say this in the last post, but forgot. One of the nicest prizes you get a quilt shows is the chance to meet the other winning quilters. I've met so many really nice and friendly people while I have been waiting to collect awards. This show was no exception. I got to talk to the winner of the challenge, Heather Downie. She and her husband are really lovely, and I doubt I would have got to talk to them otherwise. People often ask what the prizes for these show are, and really this is the important one. The people.

Firstly, here is the quilt that won second place, 'Kicking Leaves' by Jenny Pudney. Again, sorry for fluffing the pictures.
Now back to the quilts that caught my eye. This is the one from Nikki Tinkler. I had been quite upset to find that my pictures or this quilt were all rather shaky, but fortunately I must have forgotten I had taken it's picture and took this much better one late in the day.
Judges Choice. 'Falling Falling' by Nikki Tinkler - Autumn leaves collected with my daughter were laminated and scattered over a strippy quilt. Hand embellished beads, Swarovski crystals, ribbons and yarns. Machine quilted and thoroughly enjoyed.This is my, I don't agree with the judges quilt. I really felt this one should have got something. So I guess I will have to start a "Ferret doesn't agree with the judges" award. On the other hand it wouldn't be any fun if we all agreed all the time now would it. Also I failed to get a good shot of this quilts number, so I can't be sure which one it is in the guide. If anyone can tell me I would really appreciate it. I think it is by either Ina Verschoof, or Neradah McCarthy.
This is the last one I am putting up from the challenge quilts, and my photo does nothing for it. All the leaves on the trees in the border are seed beads. They did indeed take forever to put on, as I got to meet the maker of this one. I love it. I have to admit to me it is very late Autumn, it has the frosts, and the chill of winter is really just around the corner. I think this is the one I would most like to have taken home with me.
Judges Choice. 'The Last Leaf' by Christine Reynolds - I thought about a cool, grey, misty Autunm morning when I designed this quilt. Machine stitched and quilted with hand beading.

Challenge quilts

Having made many attempts to add picture to the last post I think it is time to admit defeat. Here are the winners and a couple others that I liked from the challenge section of the Hever show. I've included the artist statements from the guide so you can see what the artists had to say about their work.This is the first place quilt. 'October' by Heather Downie - Design inspired by the Ghanaian fabrics which were used for most of the quilt top. Machine pieced and quilted.

Second place. 'Kicking Leaves' by Jenny Pudney - Natural fibre fabrics were machine appliqued to a cotton fabric/wading/fabric sandwich. The applied leaves had a wool/viscose wadding to increase shrinkage and the whole was dyed after stitching.

NOTE - the above picture isn't this quilt. Sorry I was tired and fluffed the picture sorting. The one above is another quilt I really liked, 'Furry Leaves' by Anne Moncrieff - Faux chenille machine sewn from cotton fabrics. hand embroidered and quilted over polyester wadding. I will be putting the right picture on the next entry.

Third place. 'Golden Storm' by Ferret - For me Autumn is all about leaves and wind . Daily you see the season change and feel the wind blowing away the summer.

These next couple are ones that caught my eye. There were 62 entries in the class, and to be honest I liked all of them. Sadly I can't put up pictures of every quilt.

This one really feels like Autumn as I see it. I especially liked the little metal spider in it's web. 'Autumn swirls and twirls' by Doreen Mclean - Glorious colours and textures with the wind lifting, swirling and twirling the tumbling leaves which flutter down to rest on the woodland carpet.

Seems like I can't put any more pictures on this post, so you will have to wait for the next exciting installment.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hever Castle quilt show

I thought I would give you a quick update of the quilt show. Unfortunately life has got in the way so I haven't been able to get to my computer, so this is another mobile phone report. On the bright side i can add pictures to this entry as well as the next.

Firstly if you are in the south of England and you haven't visited it I strongly suggest you do. The castle isn't huge or to my mind impressive but the grounds and ancilary buildings are amazing. The first thing that struck me was the number and size of trees there. The whole landscape was so inspiring i think it will lead to several quilts. I've been thinking about some traditional English landscapes for a while but living in London has made getting source photos tricky. It was interesting having a chance to play with some of the art and design techniques i have been learning about. The difference between portrait and landscape pictures is really interesting. I was especially interested in the change in the view through a walkway to the lake. Vertical image with the pillars framing is so strong, yet the same view horizontally with several pillars is so different.

I could ramble forever about the gardens but i suppose i should mention the quilts. The show is indeed held in a marquee in the grounds. It is a pretty large marquee, i think there were about seven traders there, 300 quilts and five demonstrators. Not bad for what I was thinking of as a little local show. There was a good turn out in the challenge class and a very high standard. I think the worst quilts in this show in general were much higher ststandard than in others i have been to. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for the judges. The non challenge quilts were not judged, the three winners were chosen by the visitors. Apparently the public were very good about writing comments for the quilts they chose. I hope they can find a way to pass this information on to the makers. Also there were only a couple of votes between the top few choices, so your vote really does matter.

When i get home i will upload some pictures. Right now I am running out of battery. I do have to say, they have great rosettes. I really like rosettes and this one is blue and purple with spiky bits, fantastic. Also everyone there was really friendly and welcoming. If you enter or visit just one show next year I think you could do a lot worse than pick this one. See you there.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sneaky peak

I don't know if I should really be sharing this, but hey what the heck. People keep warning me that there are others waiting to steal my ideas but really is it that bad out there? Realistically how can I protect my work anyway, given I plan on showing it.

This is my latest creation. It is just the top, I will get to the quilting next week. It really needs to be seen in the flesh, the dark colours are visible but they look different from different angles. Once I have tweaked the picture to bring out the darkest fabric it throws off the balance on the wiggly fabric. So you will all have to visit me, no way around it :) Alternatively I will have to send it to all your local shows so you can see it there. Oh yes, this piece is called 'Wait'.


For those who like to keep up to date with the drag racing. The Top Fuel car qualified second yesterday. Today is more qualifying and they have just run again, she launched well, then started slowing down. Half track the car became a fireball. The driver is fine, I think he is immune to fire he has been in so many without incident. The car on the other hand isn't looking too good. They are taking her apart right now and I should get an update later. Keep your fingers crossed that they can locate everything they need to run again tomorrow.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Half a nude and a pile of colour

Sorry I've been rather quiet today. I've been trying to get a move on with the two quilts I need to get done. I do appreciate all the kind comments you've left for me. Yes I will take lots of pictures and I will try and get the up here on the Sunday.

So back to the projects in hand. I am about half way through putting together the nude. I have a head, shoulders and arms down to the wrists. Because of the way she is sitting most of her body is hidden so really I only have her legs and hands left to do. Of course hands and feet have far more pieces than any other body parts so they take proportionally longer, but I may be able to get it together tomorrow.

My printing is coming on well too. I am significantly over half way through the image processing and printing. It's been nice working on the two projects together as it involves a lot of moving around so i am not a sore and achy as I would have been just doing the printing on it's own. If anyone else is thinking of trying this be warned, it gets through ink at an alarming rate. I know my printer is pretty ink hungry but even so. I put in a new cartridge this morning and the printer is complaining it has run out. I should get another three or four sheets after that, maybe more given I have been using a lot of red and I am now working on green. It does mean that this will be a very expensive project but I am enjoying it, and I think it will work quite well.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Golden Storm - Result

I've just had a call from the organizer of the Hever Castle quilt show. 'Golden Storm' has won third place. I can't believe it, especially as at one point I wasn't going to bother to make it. I guess there is a moral in this. It has done wonders for motivating me to get the current two show projects done. I can now say I will definitely be at the show on Sunday for the presentation. We decided a long time ago that if I show clashed with racing racing came first, execept if I won a prize. So everyone keep your fingers crossed, we don't want any emergencies at the track.

Computers know.

A computer can tell when you really need to get something done. The software I use to play with photographs has decided it isn't going to work properly today. Worse still the thing that provokes it is saving the files. So do I save more often because it is playing up, which in turn crashes it more? Or do I try and see how far I can get before it crashes and looses all my work. Hmm, I don't really like either option.

On the bright side I have all the images I need, they print well, and I like the effect. I did some test prints last night that I could cut up and play with and I thing I am going to end up with a very nice sized piece. If only I could actually get the fabric printed. I need to do at least 14 sheets and so far I have one. Maybe giving it a break will have helped.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Interesting exercise in looking

I've spent today looking for colour. Nothing really unusual there I suppose, it is what quilters do, and as expected it did involve a trip to the quilt shop. However I wasn't buying the colours I was photographing them. I have decided I want to make a quilt using only found colours. I will then print my own fabrics and off I go. I wanted to collect a rainbow which I was thinking would be pretty tricky. Green obviously is easy, it is everywhere even in a city. Purple and orange on the other hand are not what you call natural colours. Knowing you want to collect every colour really changes the way you see the world. I discovered that a lot of people paint their doors and garages bright green or dark purple blue, and that you can get purple wheelie bins. Workmen are quite happy for you to photograph their machines (I really should have got the green digger) and that one of the rose gardens near my house is all from cutting from the rose garden at Regents park. The thing that surprised me most though is how much colour there is. I would have said most things here are green, grey, or brick. It just isn't so. The whole place is alive even the really built up areas. I have managed to get a full set of colours (at least 12 of each) in one day. I am about to go around the house to get anything else I can find to add more variety, but I don't need to and I expected to have to photograph paints, and marker pens just to have enough. I wish I had tried this sooner, I know it has vastly improved my ability to see what is around me. Making the quilt somehow seems a lot less important now.

I did say I liked pressure

I've realized today that there are two shows I want to enter with deadlines of the 1st October. So I am going to have to get a wiggle on. The pieces I want to enter are both well planned so it might be possible. Though to complicate matters they are both in the US which means I have to get them posted by about the 23rd. I'll just have to see what I can do.

Before this revelation I did finish the rain quilting on Bridge 3. I think it looks much better but I haven't taken any pictures yet. Sorry

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bridge Three

While I was waiting for my paint to dry I worked on what I had planned for today. Bridge Three. I finally managed to get the freezer paper to stick eventually. I put the paper onto the ironing board first then the fabric on top and finally the teflon pressing sheet. It wasn't' the best bond I have ever managed but it held long enough. I am still hoping I might get them all quilted tonight but it isn't really likely.

Hmm, having uploaded the picture I have a problem with this top. The far tower just isn't straight. I think I will have to have a fiddle and see if I can improve it.

Postcard Prototype.

I've finished quilting the prototype for the fabric postcards. It is definitely a mad project. Not a bad thing though if it gets me motivated. I've taken lots of pictures to prove it really has been done on the longarm. It did look very funny. I started by painting the letter onto plain black fabric. The paint is something I found at the festival of quilts. It contains real aluminum and copper and claims it will tarnish in time. I am not sure from reading it if it only tarnishes if you put another product on it, my guess is it will but it will take a bit longer. Please remember that this is my first serious attempt at feathers, and at this scale a wobble of 1mm is very noticeable. For a lot of the quilting I was guiding the machine either from under the quilt with my left hand or with a fingernail against the hopping foot. I should mention I was running the machine pretty slowly and taking a lot of care. I had never noticed how much the machine wobbles as it moves, on this scale everything suddenly seemed lumpy and quite heavy. My machine is normally very free moving suddenly was hard to move and very slow. I think the feathers I drew on paper were better than the ones I ended up quilting. By the last bit it was seeming a lot easier and I think I was just getting the hang of it. So hopefully the next one will be better. I did think part way through that this isn't the best way to learn a new technique, aren't you supposed to start quite large and use a matching thread. Well if it works for me I won't complain. I am planning on making a couple more letter F quilts before I get done to the set for the challenge.

Now the question is, how small a quilt can be quilted on a longarm?

Fran Jones strikes again

I had a plan, for the whole day, everything I was going to do. So there I was having brunch, reading a book about illuminated letters when the phone rang. It took me a minute to understand who was calling. It was Fran's husband. I was thrilled to hear from him, thanks Mandy for telling him about my blog. He seems such a sweet guy.

While at the festival of quilts I was handed a flyer about 'Donne per donne' fiber art cards for women after breast cancer. I was interested, but I tend to work big. I couldn't see what I could do that small. I filed the flyer, but largely put it out of my mind. Then it hit me, Fran had told me that I should quilt everything on my longarm, no matter how small... You can see where this is going can't you. I've got to do some postcards, and they just have to be quilted on the longarm. So with these words ringing in my ears I hang up the phone and see the book. So now I have a mission, illuminated letters, postcard size, done on the longarm. Two hours later I think I have a way to do it. Well I have one design I can draw, so theoretically I can make it on the longarm right. So this is all Frans fault, but I suspect she would find the very funny, and of course now I've told you all about it, I have to do it don't I. Wish me luck, I know I like to do the impossible but even so...

Bridge two

I figured out what I was doing differently with my freezer paper and got it working again. I can't claim to understand what was going on though. 'Bridge One' was made by ironing the freezer paper pattern onto the front of the fabric then ironing fusible web to the other side. It worked great. This morning I was trying to put the freezer paper onto the fabric after the web, and it just won't stick. When I realized this it seemed too silly to be true so I tried it the other way again. Bingo it works fine, with the same piece of freezer paper that won't stick to the pre-fused fabric. Any ideas? I sure don't I just doesn't make any sense to me. Still I got one more bridge prepared today. I have another one ready to do tomorrow, then I think I will have a mass quilting session, not that these take long to quilt. They are only about A2, they fit on freezer paper without a join.

Thanks for all the suggestions for further art research, it really helps. I will be working my way through the suggestions as I find the time and money for books. Also it is a new month, and I said I would try and find a gallery a month to visit. I love in London and I think most big galleries are free to get in. So anyone want to suggest where I should be going for the first trip. I am thinking the Tate, partly because it is near the river and I want to try sketching again. I would like to go and see a range of work in one day. I think I remember more when there is contrast between styles.

Update - I think I have a winner The National Gallery, it looks really good with talks and all sorts. I think the best time to go is a Wednesday if anyone else is interested as there are rooms only open Wednesday afternoon.

I am also trying to improve my drawing. It has come on a lot from regularly tracing designs I have produced on the computer. I guess it is like longarm quilting, your hands learn the movements needed. The problem is I don't enjoy it at all. It really is hard work to me. Also at the end of it I don't get anything from it now. Maybe in some undefined period of time I will but I do like instant gratification instantly. I've noticed that a few bloggers are putting pictures of their sketched on their blogs. Doing that would kinda force me to draw every day, but I really don't think much of my work so I am not at all sure about showing it to the world.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Educational but unproductive.

So, apparently the world doesn't see this as a day for me to actually create anything. I seem to be fighting all my tools today and I have no idea why. I can't even persuade my freezer paper to stick to fabric. So instead I have been spending some time with my new (well new to me) art books. I had been thinking that I aught to learn more about art, but the nagging at the NEC meant I actually started doing something about it. So far I have discovered I really like Victor Vasarely, his word and his life story. Having seen how artistic technical drawing can be I think it will be something I will pursue.

Last night my book on Klee arrived. On the whole his work does nothing for me. I haven't tried reading much ot is yet, so maybe once I do it will be more interesting, but I am not convinced. I do think I could now recognize his work, and possibly work inspired by him, which is really what I wanted. One of his that I do like is Buhneprobe. It has the feel of hand dyed fabric and I like the detail he has added with lines. It is dated 1925, but to me looks like it would be far more recent. The detail is just fantastic, and has me thinking about doing a whole cloth piece where all the quilting is in straight lines. Using cross hatching to put in different shades. It is probably something I will need to do some testing of before I can make it work.

Today, Mondrian, Nature to Abstraction arrived. I've been really looking forward to this book. I saw a television program about Mondrian a while ago and was surprised at how much I liked his work. Coupled with the fact I have a new found interest in how abstraction comes about this book just sounded perfect. Again I haven't had chance to read all of it yet (though liking the pictures seems to encourage me to read more) I am finding this fascinating. I love the fact that I can see how a tree is reduced to it's essential tree-ness. It is written in such a way that I am starting to think I can do this too. Mondrian seems to be very good at capturing the feel of the subject although sometimes there is very little detail. What I really want to learn from this is how the compositions with colour alone work. I can pick colours and cut squares, but they don't have the same impact. If I can improve my designs in that area I will be thrilled. I hope that it would improve all my abstract designs if I had a better appreciation of how to select the colours and locations.

I have a few more books incoming and I will probably let you know how I get on with those too. If there are artists I have missed that I should know about please let me know. It is very hard trying to get a good grounding in a subject you know nothing about as you have no way to search for what you don't know.

Friday, September 01, 2006

NEC - Photos

A friend of mine (Natalia) with a love of maps decided to come along to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC to see 'Tread Lightly' It was her first quilt show, and I think it made an impression. She is studying art and kindly took some pictures for me. Being a non quilter helps I think, as she has captured more of the feel of the show than I ever do. I think I am too hung up on the technicalities of the quilts. Here are my favorites from her pictures. I've picked most of these because they show people interacting with the quilts, smiling and generally enjoying them, maybe laughing at them, but happy. It is great having someone lurking in the show to take these pictures.

I hope the pictures also give some impression of the scale of the show. The halls are huge, and this year things were well spaced out so you didn't have to wait to get to most of the quilts. There were about 1500 competition quilts hanging, which took up about half the exhibition space. This year they had also put down a very pale carpet. It looked great and somehow made everything seem more proper. It is a joy to see our work displayed in such a well thought out space.

I chose this particular picture of the nudes largely because it is a great photo of the boat above them. I loved this boat and was thrilled to be able to by a card with a picture of it on. It was made by Diana Brockway from Wales. She had one of the galleries at the show and her work is just fantastic. She is so good at depicting wood, both as object and as trees. I suspect it is her influence that has me photographing all kinds of wood. I feel a need to have a go at quilting something wooden.
This is the rose fully quilted. The rose is all sewn in pink and the background fill is green. Sadly it is so subtle that the camera isn't picking it up. On the other hand the camera can see stains coming through from the wadding. This is the second time I have had this problem, but this is a different wadding to last time. Is this just something that happens if you use white fabric in a quilt? If I am going to make any more pale quilts I guess this is something I will have to investigate and address. I suppose if I used a bleached cotton wadding that would probably be safer. If anyone has any suggestions, or experience of this I would love to hear from you. I can test every available product but I would rather not.

Listen to your mother.

When you mother told you to put things away as soon as you were done with them she was right. I've just spend the last hour looking for my quilt receipt and ticket for the Hever show. I had it yesterday, I copied the address off it to label my quilt. I then decided to leave it on my desk. There is no point putting it away on the file when I was just going to take it out again a week later now is there. Hmmm OK maybe there is a point, I would have been able to find it. After going through the bin for the second time and having taken everything off my desk except the bookcases (those who know my desk will appreciate what this task involved) I concluded I must have accidentally posted it to the US. Not really the sort of thing you want to have to confess to the organizers really. Fortunately that conclusion would have been wrong. I had taken a sewing machine off the desk yesterday to make more space to draw. Under the presser foot of that machine was my paperwork. Sensible, in a very dim sort of way. So whatever you've just left, go and put it away, you know it is the right thing to do. My paperwork is now in the quilt show folder where it should have been in the first place. I did discover that the guys have learned something about my filing system, they both told me to check the quilt show folder, as that must be where I had put it. Doh!

Two sides to everything

Having had a moan here yesterday it seems only fair that today I contradict myself. You should go out and interact with people you never know where it might lead. Today I had to pay for my storage unit, which I do by going in person to the office. I like getting to know the people looking after my belongings. Last month I remembered to take in my portfolio to show the staff, while I was buying the boxes for shipping quilts to the NEC. Today when I went in they started asking questions about exactly what I store, I don't think I have anything I shouldn't there but it is still a bit concerning. It turns out that the BBC are filming a documentary about what people store and they wanted interesting characters. They have now put me forward. How cool? It could turn out to be good publicity. I can't remember where I found the advice to tell everyone who will listen what you do, but it is very good advice. You just never know. I am quite sure that even if nothing comes of this the staff at the storage unit always have the idea of promoting my art in the back of their minds, which one day could pay off. So some of the people out there are great, and well worth going and talking to.