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.