Monday, April 28, 2008

Charity Raffle

I've finally had time to look through my pictures and select some to show you. This is a quilt that has been made to raise funds for a children's playground in Essex. Perhaps not the most glamorous of causes, but still important, and I love the fact that the community is working together to improve things for all the members. The quilt is a group quilt made by people who live in the area. very few are experienced patchworkers, but they have done an amazing job on this quilt.

The quilt is liberty prints and natural calico/muslin. It's isn't what I would consider to be my colours, but I fell in love with it instantly, and I really enjoyed quilting it. The large areas of plain fabric let me play with feathers, which I now love. The feathers carry on through the larger sashing.

The customer asked for fairly open quilting so the finished quilt is quite soft and drapy. I think I achieved that. I left the narrowest sashes unquilted to help with this. The patterned fabrics are all quilted with the same variegated thread, I was stunned that one thread could match so well with so many fabrics. It certainly helped speed up the process, just as well as this was a quilt on a tight schedule.

If you would like a chance to win this quilt use the contact link to send me an email. I will then give you details of how to get tickets. I completely forgot to ask when the draw will be, but I will find out and add an update. Don't forget you can click on any of the pictures for a larger version. If you do you will see that the quilt has flashes of many colours in it. The idea is that it will fit with as many interiors as possible, personally I think it should be very successful, in that goal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

One from the vaults

While I was working through my email I came across one that needed a picture of Heat. No problem, it was in the show so there is one on my blog... or not. Somehow I missed her out of the tour, so in compensation I thought I would put up some of the pictures I took while I was working on her. Whenever I am working on a pictorial quilt I take a large number of pictures. It helps me see the quilt properly. I find I tend to loose focus otherwise. It is also fun to see things growing and encourages me to keep working. Bear in mind these images are from my mobile (cell) phone. It isn't supposed to be a high spec camera and it did have a hard time with some of the colours.

As you can see from the photographs, this piece is built up in large layers, each cut away more than the last. I am often asked it this is how I make my art quilts, well, sometimes. I chose it for this one because I had large areas of a very pale colour, and it I had laid those directly on the black background it would have shown through. The simplest solution I have found is to use the layers to gradually tone down the black.

I don't know if it will be obvious when I post, but this has been the longest in progress post I have ever made. I started it Monday, and the computer died on me. Fortunately Blogger's auto save did its' thing so I came back to it, Wednesday, Thursday and now Friday. Tuesday I was out all day so I just had to fret about the possibility thew auto save hadn't worked. So now I just want it posted so I can go on and tell you the new news.

Best laid plans.

So much for a quiet day. Still plenty of people were having worse ones. Our thoughts are with the biker who had an accident on the North Circular yesterday evening, and everyone else having a hard time. As you will have noticed I didn't get to post yesterday and actually I didn't even have time to upload my pictures.

While I was at home last week I was working on a charity quilt, in aid of a childrens playround in Essex. Despite the quilt being very pale in colour I absolutely love it. It is quite traditional so I had an excuse to cover it with feathers. Well all the plain areas anyway. Look out for pictures.

My travels took me to two quilt groups this week, one in Brighton and one near Oxford. The Oxford group kindly gave me a bundle of quilt source material. Otherwise known as a bunch of flowers. I am taking their pictures daily to get as many different images as I can.

The ladies in Brighton were making my Square in a Square sampler. Well 16 of them were. The 17th is making her own design, it looks great, I can't wait to see it finished.

Now I am finally getting to the paperwork and email I wanted to do yesterday. So if you have been waiting for a reply to something you should have it by the end of today. I've been making good progress and will continue to do so once my errands are run.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm back, and the winner is....

It's been a busy week, as I will try and explain over the next few posts, but first the important business of giving away another little quilt. I haven't made it yet, but I know what it looks like. I just need some time to play. So there will be an interlude before it ships. All being well that is what I will be playing with today between catching up on email and paperwork.

The online guest book ended up with 27 comments. The winner is 17, Verna from Kingfisher Cove Creations. So if you would like to get in touch and give me your address I will get a quilt out to you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

So where have I been?

OK so it isn't her most flattering angle, but as you can see there aren't a lot of options. She is tucked right into a corner. For those of you not so crazy about aircraft, this is the Avro Vulcan at the RAF museum in Hendon. She is a huge bat of a plane, you find here in the museum by noticing how dark it has suddenly got, well she does rather blot out the lights when you get under her wings. Yet if you look for her from the wrong angle she is utterly invisible, being fairly short. I love going and sitting under her wings, she has the feeling of a mother bird protecting her young, and while you are there you can watch a video of four of them taking off.

For a while there has been a mission to put one of these birds back in the air. It's been hard and expensive work, but last October XH558 flew again. The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is now desperately trying to raise enough money to keep her in the air and make it through the airshow season this year. Once people are reminded what an amazing sight (and sound) she is they are pretty sure they will get the funding to keep going. If you would like to try and help keep this piece of our history flying please take a look at their web site. Now you may be wondering how this might be quilt related, well it is. Firstly I only found out she was having a funding crisis during my show. I am very pleased I did, I am so looking forward to seeing her fly this summer. I am also trying to design a quilt of her, so watch this space.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Gallery debrief

Well I think I am almost back in the real world now. I seem to have somewhat caught up on my sleep and my brain is starting to work again. I think now is a good time to consider how the show went.

I suppose I should start by saying I feel it was a success. People left inspired and educated, and I think for me that was the most important thing. Also a lot of the people I most wanted to see the show made it, despite the pretty appalling weather. As a bonus it looks like I have sold enough work to cover my costs. So the success factors were achieved for no monetary cost, which is even better. I also has an article printed in one of the local paper, which didn't produce any visitors but may have introduced some more members of the public to the idea of textiles as art, which was one of my main goals.

So having said all that what have I learned for next time? Possibly the most important thing is to get a contract laying out what the gallery provide and what the artist needs to do. Trying to deal with conflicting information, and problems is really tiring. Not what you need during a show. I did feel that in some respects the gallery could have asked more of the artist, I felt I should learn a certain amount about the venue as many people asked me questions. If you are manning a gallery people assume that you own it and at the very least have a lot of local knowledge. The other reason for the cotract, is to define what you should be expecting, what is a genuine problem and what to do about it.

I loved manning the show, but when I organise my next show I will try to have someone to help me at all times. When you are on your own it is very hard to even go to the loo let alone eat lunch or nip out for more milk. There is also the safety considerations. Most of the time I was fairly comfortable there on my own, but there were moments. Perhaps the most scary was when my phone suddenly ran out of battery. From there on in I couldn't have called for help if I needed too, although given how hard the gallery is too find I don't think help could have got there in a timely manner anyway. I also felt that visitors seemed more comfortable coming in if there was more than one person in the gallery to start with, and it was nice to be able to talk to guests while someone else made the tea.

Which brings me on to something I will definately do again. Offer refreshments. Over the 5 weeks we got through a whole jar of instant coffee, about 70 tea bags, 10 pints of mik, 32 packs of biscuits and a large tin of sweets. It does cost to do, but offering a hot drink instantly gives people permission to linger. They know you are not trying to hurry them out and many obviously relax as soon as you make the offer. It is also a very clear way of showing how welcome the visitors are, and frankly with the weather we had, they deserved (and sometimes needed) a hot drink. Of course from a more cynical marketing point of view you have longer totalk to them as they wait for the drink to be cool enough to consume.

I would also suggest you stock up on hand soap and toilet paper if you are offering drinks, the toilet proved very popular at my show. We decided that as well as making sure we had the basics we would try and get slightly nicer products. It's hard to judge what if any effect that had, but I still feel that a few pence spent making the whole experience more positive is worthwhile.

The next show I run myself will have at least 9 months planning time. Many publications want 6 months notice of events, and I need my own planning time before that. Really I think a full year would be better, but 9 months would be my minimum. That gives time to prepare press releases, mail lists, posters, flyers and invitations. I would also like to try and work out a better way of sending the press pictures. I can't find email addresses for everyone I would like to contact and even when I can they often have mail box limits. So this time I sent everthin in the post including a link to electonic content, but very few actually looked at it. Maybe I have to consider taking paid advertising in the magazines I think are most likely to hit my target audience, but that is very costly. One small advert would have been more than I spent on all the advertising I did this time. On the other hand maybe it would have brought in more people and in turn more work. Who knows, I may have to experiment to find out.

Another thing I need to work on is getting posters put up. A few local businesses did advertise my show for me and I am very grateful to them but to have an impact I would really like to get more up next time. I am especially keen to improve awareness of any special events I put on. I tried to get information to as many local quilt and sewing groups as possible and I kept the prices very low but I still had a poor turn out. If anyone has any suggestions for improving this area I would love to hear them.

Now I have to get on with the follow up work. I have leads for new venues, I need to go and have a look at them and see which are suitable. I also need to follow up potential sales and comissions, and just thank some of the people who made the show work. All in all it was a great experience and no where near as scary as I expected. I am very glad to have my weekends back but I am alredy missing being able to show people my work. I hope one day I can get a huge studio with enough space for a permanant attached gallery. Until then I will just have to try and fill my diary with exhibitions in rented spaces.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who would have thought it?

I have to post tonight and say how proud I am of my regular class who are working through my book. Several of them had very good reasons for not making the class tonight, yet every one of them made sure their quilts made it. I am thrilled that they all feel it is so important not to let the group down. So pat yourselves on the back, and I hope next week works out better.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Guest book winner

Well yesterday was my last day at the gallery. The quilts are now all home, and later today I will try and get my workroom sorted out then the rest of the house will follow. Right now it looks like some sort storage space. I've got mixed feelings about the show ending, but I will post a full report on that when I've caught up on my work.

I've just gone through and counted the entries in my guest book. There were 110 in total. I haven't had a chance to read them yet, but I am looking forward to it. I would also like to thank everyone who did take the time to leave their mark, just having proof that people were there can be very important when I am having a hard time with my work. The comments than are less important than the raw fact that people did come and look at my work and made the effort to leave a record.

So having counted the entries, I could ask the computer for a winning number. Running Linux I used this command
echo $(($RANDOM %110))

Which returned me the answer 52. The winner is probably in the UK (judging from her email address) and is called Stef. I have sent her an email, to tell her what I hope will be the good news. I am sorry I couldn't make all of you winners, I loved meeting you all and chatting about my work. I've had so many strange conversations, and it has been wonderful.

For those of you who didn't make this show, don't panic. I loved doing it and I will be arranging more. I have several leads I will be chasing up over the next week or so. My work will next be seen at a gallery in Scotland, so hopefully that will be better for some of those in the North of the UK. More details to follow.

The draw for the Virtual Show will be Monday 14th April.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Uncovering the New Age - Virtual Tour

OK, so finally here is your virtual tour of my show at the Dissenters Gallery. We've parked in Sainsburys, and walked across the bridge over the canal. There's no sign of the swans this morning, but there geese are out in force. You can tell right away the gallery is open, the sandwich board up. Just as well given this side of the cemetery, on Ladbrook Grove, has a very tall brick wall so there is little chance of seeing either the chapel or the gallery.

Now watch your step the stone stairs tend to be slippery, but on a nice sunny morning they should be OK. At night we put tea lights in glasses all the way down the stairs, it makes them look a lot more friendly.

As you come down the stairs you get a great view of the Dissenters end of the cemetery. Dissenters were all those not part of the Church of England, so there are very few religious monuments in this area. I find it a little odd, I expect to see crosses and angels. Still there are some lovely memorials here. Especially the newer ones made by artists rather than the more normal monumental masons.

It's a lovely day, I wish you could go and take a look around the cemetery, but you're here for the show, so lets head into the gallery.

The gallery is fitted in between the Dissenters Chapel and the stairs. You have to turn back on yourself at the foot of the stairs to see it. On the bright side, it has been erected very carefully so if in the future people decide it is detracting from the chapel it can easily be removed. Still it isn't the sort of place most people find by accident. Aren't you glad you have a guide.

Before we go in take a better look at the quilt in the window. It was a very hard decision to put the display boards in the window, as they block your view of the work inside. Then we realised how many reflections there are on the window (as you can see) and in fact during daylight hours you can't see in at all!

So rather than risk damaging one of my art quilts I decided to display Dusk and Dawn. This is the first quilt pattern I have produced that I have printed and sold for myself. You'll find it on the merchandise stand at the end of the tour. Other than being a beautiful reversible quilt, it also has a very funky machine sewn binding.

So here we are. Take a moment to have a first look around. If you were here I would now be able to make you a cup of tea or coffee, I suggest you see if someone there will do it for you now. It's a fairly long tour and the drink will make it a more authentic experience. Ideally the tea bringer will also provide you with either cake or nice biscuits. I think that cheap biscuits would be the wrong feel for an art gallery.

As you look around the main space you can see one of my helpers. Robin is reading up on the history of the cemetery. As the oldest cemetery in London it has a lot of history. Apparently the book is written in very flowery language which adds a great feel to it.

Unfortunately the curvature of the wall isn't really showing up very well. I knew as soon as I saw this wall I wanted to put one very large piece on it. This isn't the ideal solution as the curvature of the wall requires several short rods to hold the piece. Still as you can see I managed it. I would have liked to have put a Banksy inspired piece here, but it didn't work out, and the cows really did want to be there.

To the right of this picture you can see the print display, and the small quilt of Prague. We will see more of them later. Hopefully you now have some idea of the space.

The first piece we come to is Lilly. You may have seen this quilt at the Festival of Quilts last year. I've been very surprised by peoples reaction to this quilt. It seems to be very popular. Personally I am not a fan of it. I don't feel it worked as well in real life as it did in my head, but maybe it is unrealistic for me expect it to.

"Inspired by the many fractured images we see around us. Do we see more in the partial images?" This piece is for sale, it is approximately 1.7m x 1.7m.

Following the wall around past the kitchen we get to 'Decadence'. I'm sorry you're too late to buy this one, but you can still enjoy it now. It is approximately 32"x42". Yes I know I should use one set of units, but I have written them down as required by what ever show they first went too. At some point I will go through and fill in both versions, but until them I will quote them as they are written.

"I just know the wine and chocolates are hiding just out of shot here. This lady is having a great day. Another nude inspired by the photography of Alex Treacher"

If you click on any of the images you will get to see a larger version. In this case you will be able to see my swirls, and they are now named after this quilt.

You are really lucky to be seeing this one. It has now gone off to a new home so you are the last to see it. I've found it fascinating which quilts have called to people. One we will come to later I had predicted being popular, but so was 'Golden Storm'. Maybe it is because it is so real, people often expect the leaves to be leaves not fabric. Also if you visit it often you get to appreciate that they flex and curl as the humidity varies.

"This quilt was made for the theme 'Autumn Splendour' for display at Hever Castle. For me autumn is a time of dry leaves being blown about by the wind."

If you really want to own a quilt like this it is one of the workshops I offer. There is a link to my business site to the right.

Ah now this has to be one of my favourites. After all what else would an astrophysicist come up with then given the theme, monochromatic and based on a song with a color in the title. Are you singing yet? Blue Moon, is for sale and is 24"x24". Unfortunately I haven't got this one as a postcard yet, but if you wold like it as a card or a print, let me know and I will get in touch when they are ready.

This is one of the quilts that was lost by DHL last year. Strangely it was the one I was most upset about even though it was the smallest, simplest and theoretically least valuable. Isn't it funny what seems important when it comes down to it.

Not what I would call the greatest work of art, but essential. I've had people being amazed by how spacious the loo is. So if you need a break, go now and I will wait for you. Blame the tea.

OK ready to move on. I have to admit to have in bit of a joke when I put 'See Sound' right outside the toilet door. Though as it turns out it doesn't pick up the flush, which I thought it would. It does however quite like the hand drier.

This was made for the Festival of Quilts two years ago. I have noticed that men tend to come along with their wives to this show. They stride in, obviously proud to be supporting their partners, but a few hours later have obviously wilted. This quilt perked a lot of them up. They suddenly had something that they understood better than their partner. Yes that is very sexist, but I'm sorry, observation bears it out.
The other thing I wanted to achieve with it was to give quilts back a dimension. One of the things I love about fabric as a medium is it's tactile qualities. Of course at shows you can't touch, so they have lost a dimension. This quilt can interact with you if you will talk to it. When it hears sounds it flashes lights at you. Hence enjoying the hand drier.

Next to 'See Sound' is 'In Full Bloom. This is hung to take advantage of the longest sight line in the gallery. It really does need to be seen from a distance to appreciate it then seen from up close to find all it's details. The photograph doesn't entirely do it justice, but you should be able to see some of the quilting.

"Monet's paintings of his gardens inspired me to make this quilt. I could imagine his bridge in spring surrounded by blossom. His painting style also influences the pieces of fabric used. I decided to limit myself to square and rectangular pieces to mimic the strokes seen in impressionist paintings." This quilt is still for sale, it is 47"x44", and would just love to live in a long sunny room or hallway.

Here is another of the built in features. This is the original outer wall of the chapel. The door leads onto a hallway and then to the chapel itself. I keep the door shut because it is very cold the other side of the door. The window looks down onto the crypt stairs from which we get a very strong draft. I know that is good for the building but it doesn't help me stay warm while I am manning the gallery.

On the wall you can see various awards that the Friends of Kensal Green have received for their work restoring various parts of the cemetery. The box above the window contains two very ornate truncheons used by the original gatekeepers to deter grave robbers.

Now we have made it to the far end of the gallery lets take a moment to look at the rest of the room from this angle. Maybe it will help you get your bearings.

To the right are the quilts we have just looked at, and now we will start working down the left hand side. You can probably see how narrow this end of the gallery is, the white wall really does curve a lot, it looks great in person, and has the effect of hiding some areas from the door. I like the way you then have to go and actively look for some of the work.

Onwards, we still have quite a few more to look at, maybe another drink?

'Wait' "Another nude from an original photograph by Alex Treacher. I love the peace and calm of this image. She waits with her hands on her knees, but for that" I've been amazed by the number of different things people see in this image. It seems to be my most talkative piece and probably the most popular work in the show. I've certainly had enough people trying to buy it, but unfortunately only one could be successful, and after the show it will be off to a new home. This piece is about 14"x34".

I really am going to need to make some more pieces if I am going to keep selling them aren't I.

This is a new one, that I don't think you will have seen before. My first male, is only topless, but I would love to persuade him to pose nude with his cello.

Perttu Kivilaakso is a member of the band Apocalyptica, who play a mixture of classical and heavy metal music on four cellos. It's very unusual and I just love it. I've had a few plans for naked males with musical instruments, so seeing this at a concert, was just too good to be true.

When he isn't playing with the band he also plays with Finish orchestras.

These ladies you have probably seen before. They have traveled a lot and also have appeared here more than once.

"Nude Triptych, this piece is an exploration of the effects of colour and techniques on an image. It starts with the grey pixellated image made of quarter inch squares, progressing through the red image made of shards of fabric, giving a texture similar to an oil painting, culminating in the smooth lines of the blue image. The source photograph was provided by Alex Treacher."

I thought you might like to take a closer look at these three. Thanks to Sally they are now lit better than I have ever seen them before so it should be a good oportunity to see the details. Of course there is no guarentee that I am going to manage to photograph them.

The grey nude was probably the most time consuming quilt inthe gallery. It took me a month to complete because it was so tiring and frustrating to work on. I found that a lot of the time the quarther inch squares frayed away before I could place them. They are also so small that they sow up every little error with the cutting. Still it was eventually finished and a lot of people seem to really like her.

I am very pleased that the grey finally found some fans as in the past the red and blue have taken all the glory.

The red quilt and it's techniques gets a lot of attention. This is the simplest and quickest of my ways of making art quilts and so is the first one I teach people. It is very much like painting by numbers once you have the pattern you want to work with.

If you would like to learn the technique you will want to catch my workshop, 'Art quilt by Numbers'.

The blue nude is the techniques I most often use wuth nudes. I like the feel of it, to me it is the most fitting to the female form, as it emphasises the curves. It does relly far more on getting the smooth transitions of colour though. Thsi si a challenge I relish, searching quilt shops for potential naked lady fabrics. Whenever I can I use commercially available quilting fabrics, but I have to admit that the greys I use are often mand dyes. There simply aren't enough greys fabrics to do things like metal or buildings.

Another piece you have probably seen before. 'Nude with Rope' has only recently made it back from Californial. Al lot of people have been surprised by the size of thie one. She is 2.1mx 0.7m, yup at least life size.

"Sometimes seen as sinister, the rope here provides some modesty while enhancing the models form. The source photograph was provided by Alex Treacher"

Something else that surprises people, especially those who have seen it before, is how little there actually is. The human brain is truly amazing and will hapily fill in details of objects it knows well. I take the view that the less I put in the less chance there is of getting it wrong, and the brain is far beter at drawing than I am. It seems that once you've seen it your brain fills in the details and stores it's version of my work, not a true rendition of it.

This quilt looks great hanging above a sofa or a bed, and is for sale.

Finally we have 'Herd Mentality'. This quilt only came off teh frame the day before it needed to be hung, and hasn't been blocked. Fortunately I have a friend who will be lending me a floor to stretch it after the show. I am actually quite pleased this one hasn't sold yet. I am looking forward to entering it into lots of shows that aren't too keen on my nudes.

"Docile and calm individually, yet bold and intimidating en masse.'

Once I have it properly flat I will have to try and get it photographed. This won't be easy as it is huge, but I desperately want to make a print of it asn have it as a postcard. I also have plans for some smaller pieces from this image. So watch this space.

Here are the print's I've had made so far. They are a limited edition and are only of the quilts that have photographed well. I want them to look like you should be able to feel the tecture of the quilt in the print. So far only two have made the grade, but I am hoping the a few others will join them . Obviously these are a lot cheaper than the originals and in some case are smaller too. So how about the original for the house and a print for the caravan (or hunting lodge).

You might remember this little quilt. It is my 'sketch' of Prague. I am giving this away to someone who has written in my guest book. If you want a chance to win it I am afraid you will have to come to the gallery in person. I suppose though I aught to offer something to my online visitors, after all I want you to have as much of the gallery experience as possible. So if you leave a comment on this post I will make a little quilt and give that away to one of you at random, sound fair.

Finally here is the Guest book and merchandise. From the center top of the table going clockwise we have...
  • white A4 pieces of paper are the guides to the work. You've had most of that information in this post.
  • Nude with Rope postcards, 50p each
  • Longarm information leaflets
  • Pack of general postcards two pounds fifty per pack.
  • Guest Book
  • Nudes postcard pack, same price as teh general ones
  • My Portfolio
  • Free pencils
  • Press book
  • Chocolates, we have got through a whole large tin over the course of the show
  • Workshop leaflets
In the center of the table are my patterns for the quilt in the window. If having visited online you would like to buy anything I will hapily post it out to you and I will be sure to include your free pencil.

Hope you've enjoyed the show, have a safe journey home.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Well it's there

...and the handlers were keen to look at it. Shame they won't be judging it. It was exciting taking it on the tube. The Jubilee is really not ideal. It has lower trains, but we managed. Next, class samples for the trapunto and box classes.