Monday, August 31, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - The Longarm

The last thing I want to show you in my gallery is my longarm quilting machine. From talking to people who were at the show a lot of quilters haven't ever seen one in action. I would think that goes double for the non-quilters amongst my readers. Fortunately Tet managed to video me demonstrating while I wasn't looking. I don't like cameras much and video cameras are even worse.

It's not a very long video, but rest assured more are planned. I am hoping we might manage to video some of the quilting of the holiday quilt, given I am having to get used to being filmed I might as well make use of it. Hopefully Twisted Thread will soon be putting up some footage of me quilting that I will be able to share. It was taken by their professional photographer who was very good at putting me at ease.

Anyway enough about video, back to the longarm. I work on an APQS Discovery, mounted on a Hinterburg quilt frame. I would love to have the correct frame for the machine but my house isn't wide enough to fit one in. I used cotton threads on it for nearly all my quilts. I do sometimes branch out into metallic threads, but not often. My quilting is done free hand, which means I don't have a pattern I am following, I just draw with the machine. On a pieced quilt I can used the patterns within the top to help guide my placement, but with the wholecloth quilts that are quilted to look pieced I do mark the piecing lines before I quilt.

I do not have a computer on my machine, I can't just program it to do something. Really all the machine does is move the needle up and down. I can control the speed the needle moves, but everything else is down to how I move the machine, including the stitch length. Yes a lot of longarm quilters do have computers and stitch regulators, I choose not to. I like being able to shift a pattern slightly to make it work to best effect. Sometimes this means blending it into the piecing, other times I may make sure the fancy part of a design is somewhere it shows more, it depends on what the quilt needs.

On the test piece I was making (which is likely to actually get used) I was trying to create a crazy patchwork look. I thought this would give me a chance to make an interesting piece of quilting but allow me to change designs regularly and even take requests from visitors. I felt it worked really well as people did pop back from time to time to see what new patterns I had added.

I designed two new patterns while I was at the show. Both came about because I had people who asked me to quilt and I just didn't know what I was going to do, so I started and then had to make it work. One of them I think I will use on the holiday quilt now I've remembered it. It should work really well in the wide sashings I've added. Several viewers commented on how soothing it is to watch someone quilt. Maybe I should produce a video of just quilting happening for relaxation purposes :)

If you are interested in me quilting your quilts for you please get in touch. I will take quilts in my post and I am quite happy to discuss possible designs by email. You can also get a quote based on the size of your quilt directly from my web site, here.

Next to the longarm we had the merchandise table. I was going to say sales table but I think the free pencils and flying saucers were at least as popular as anything for sale. I'm sorry I can't supply flying saucers to you all over the Internet. I do send out pencils with any order where it doesn't add to the postage though. Apparently my pencils are very good for doing the crossword. I don't do them myself so I don't know what makes a pencil particularly good for that but I've been told it enough to believe it is true. As you can see in the photograph the book got a lot of attention, even though most of the time I was so busy with the machine I didn't notice it. I now have the postcard packs, books and patterns for sale on my site too. So you don't have to miss out on the souvenirs, they can be found here, along with the book behind the quilt 'Bad Rain'.

I hope you have enjoyed your tour. I've really appreciated hearing from so many of you. I would love to take these quilts to more shows, so if you know of one that might be interested please do get in touch. I have plans to try and get some of them into quilt competitions around the world and I am sure you will be able to follow their success or failure here.

We are still working on the rest of the videos so check back soon and hopefully I will be able to give you a more dynamic look at my quilts.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - The best for last?

Today we should make it around the last few quilts. It's been a long tour, and I am not really surprised to have heard from several people who were there that they are getting a better look at the quilts now. Seeing them in the flesh is great, but so is having time to really absorb what you are seeing without feeling you need to move on. Standing in front of 'Dragon' we can turn around to see into the second 'hidden' area of the gallery. When I was told about the gallery it was suggested that I play with the space and provide hidden areas. I really liked that idea and really played with it a lot. On the light side of the gallery (with 'Phoenix Rising') it just gave people a gentle tour, on the dark side where we are now it had a lot more effect. Many people were startled by one quilt only to back away from it and turn to find another startling piece. It worked far better than I could have hoped, and with the multitude of routes through the gallery I couldn't predict which area people would encounter first. The downside was that a significant number of viewers didn't realise all the work was by one person (well except for two of the book quilts). Should I have made a more obvious single space....nah! I would rather have the quilts play with the viewer then have it obviously one gallery. It was fun and I think the visitors enjoyed it too.

Now back to these quilts. I think we have to start tonight with 'Bad Rain'. The making of this quilt can be found on this blog. The quilt is a double page spread from a graphic novel called Cancertown. The cover describes the story as,
Vince Morley is a man with big problems and a brain tumour like a baby's fist, living with one foot in a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown. When the lost and dispossessed of London start tripping over the same cracks in reality he spends his life avoiding, Morley realises he must confront the residents of Cancertown - and risk finding his place among them.
The whole quilt was assembled directly on the longarm and quilted as it was put together. Fortunately the style of the original artwork made it quite simple to work on small areas that still made sense when seen out of context. Unfortunately the colouring has an amazing luminosity which is hard to achieve in fabric. Ombre to the rescue. Without a good selection of shaded fabrics there is no way I could have achieved this effect. I was especially pleased with the largest lamppost while I was making the quilt. As it is higher up on the quilt (I work from the top down on the frame) it was the first on I had to try and may look lit. I was surprised by how well it went. When I saw the pictures after the show I realised how much the whole quilt glows and shines in different areas. When you are up close you really can't see it, but in photographs it is very clear.

If you step right back against the leather quilts you can just see the small blue quilt in the fourth entrance to the gallery. This piece 'A Brief Moment of Clarity' is the author of Cancertown, Cy Dethan. Having known him rather a long time he gets roped into all kinds of dumb plans (other than helping man a stand at the Festival of Quilts). This picture came from one of those ideas. I talked him into modeling for a quilt which meant he had to have his photo taken. He like this about as much as I do and we decided to kill two birds with one stone. After I had got the pictures I wanted we took some for him to use for publicity photos. When I had a look at the pictures I had taken this one just demanded to be made into a quilt. I'm glad he agreed to it, as I think it is a really striking portrait, and it was great to be able to hang it with 'Bad Rain'. Annoyingly I forgot to get a picture of him with the tattoo showing on the other side of 'Bad Rain' to complete the set.

Moving into the alcove there are a set of three car quilts. The top one I started a couple of years ago and has been waiting patiently to be finished. I hadn't intended to ever show this one, it was just for me. K.I.T.T was my teenage pinup, well him and the Millennium Falcon. I still have the theme tune as my ring tone, and one day I will be able to justify owning a Pontiac Transam. Still for the moment this is the closest I am going to get to having my very own K.I.T.T.

The next two quilts were inspired by too much singing. Yes that is what I said. I got hooked on playing a game called Singstar, it's karaoke essentially. On one of them it the track, Go with the flow, by Queens of the stone age. The video for that track gave me the inspiration for these (and hopefully more) drag racing quilts. I loved how little detail they used to convey the story, and I was sure I could use the same idea with race cars. My goal was to present as little information as possible but still have the cars be instantly recognisable by race fans.

The middle quilt shows Andy Robinson's Studebaker Commander. I think this car is very distinctive and there weren't too many details I had to have to be sure people would recognise it. Cutting the flames was a horrible job, one which I know will come up again as it is a very popular paint job on drag cars. I am very grateful to Richard Stirling for allowing me to use his image for this quilt.

The bottom quilt I was less convinced people would be able to identify. It's much harder to tell rails (the name given to all these long skinny cars) apart than door cars. Still I was up for giving it a go and I had a good photograph I had taken a few years ago, just waiting for me to do something with it. These quilts are not processed by computer except to enlarge the original image. I think that picking out the key details requires a human to make the selections, which means there is a lot more of me in these than most of my quilts. When Tet came home and saw the pattern for the quilt it didn't take him long to identify not only the car but roughly when the picture was taken! Good enough. This is Dave 'Grumpy' Wilson in his blown top methanol dragster. When I get a chance there will be several more cars in this series.

Next to the cars is the last quilt in the show, 'Perttu'. This is a portrait of a Finnish cello player. He used to play with the Helsinki Philharmomic orchestra but gave that up when the band he plays with now, a heavy metal cello quartet, Apocalyptica took off. I would love to get a chance to do a nude of him with his cello, he has a fantastic body and the cello would be perfect to protect his modesty. I can't see it happening, but well, a girl can dream right?

I don't know if I will get a chance to post tomorrow, but if not on Monday I will finally get to the longarm. Who knows we might have worked out video editing by then too. I would love to be able to show you the longarm in action, and I know we have some quite nice footage of the quilts as well. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

The next part of the tour is the longarm.

Holiday quilt progress

As you can see the holiday quilt is progressing. Not quite as quickly as I would have liked, but still. I have 12 more blocks to make and put on then just the outer borders. I am really hoping I can finish the top and start quilting it on Monday. I like the idea of rounding off the FOQ with a new bed quilt and the way the temperature has been dropping here we will need it soon. I am really pleased with the black in the quilt. I was concerned it would change it to much and I wouldn't like it as much as the original but I didn't need to worry. Of course I like black :) The inner borders/sashing is slightly wider than the pattern called for. I am trying to make this into a king size quilt from a large twin, so I am adding where ever I can. I also fancy having a bit more space to play with the quilting. I haven't quite decided what the outer borders will look like, but I have a couple of ideas. So long as I can get the size I don't really mind.

Calling past speed quilt students

I've now got time to go back to some of the projects I was working on before the gallery came up. One of those is Speed Quilt. I am looking to publish the patterns for all the designs and I would love to include pictures of quilts that have been made in classes. If you would like yours to be one of the featured quilt please get in touch. Also if you know someone who has taken the class pleas do pass on this plea.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - Of Jokers and Dragons

I had thought today would be the last instalment in the tour, then I counted the number of quilts and images I have left, so we will take it in two trips. Yesterday we left by what I called the fifth entrance, between Eileen's book quilt and 'Where is the North Star?', we need to turn right to continue on around the gallery. The outer wall on this side has a quilt I posted about in the making (see May and June archives), 'Joker'. It was supposed to have one of several far more clever titles, but it's working name stuck, and I suspect will do forever now. I thought of it as almost a wholecloth as the quilting was always going to be a very large part of the design. Looking at it finished this seems an odd way of seeing it but I never said I made sense. I wanted a quilt that would make a good present for two friends without asking them any of the important questions like, what size bed do you have or what colours do you like in the bedroom? Well they aren't terribly subtle if you want to surprise someone. So we got thinking about how we saw them and what things they like. Stage magic and cards had to feature, we decided that very quickly, but white? No I couldn't make a mostly white quilt, I don't enjoy it and well they aren't white people. How do you get around it, you invert the colours. The ace of spades (the most decorative card in most decks) would work really well like that. I also wanted to incorporate a harlequin. It didn't really fit, but a joker did and seemed close enough. Asking for a scan of a nice joker seemed a much more subtle question and indeed I think I got away with it. They certainly seemed pretty pleased with the quilt and will soon have a new bedroom for it to live in. This is the only show this quilt will ever be seen in, it's job is to go and keep a bed warm.

As we come around the corner of the gallery we come to three quilts in a row I managed to keep very quiet before the show. I wanted to have some surprises, but this one really pained me. I was so excited when I first did them. You will see them in revers order but I don' t think that's a problem. I've done quite a lot of work with leather in the past, but I've never got around to quilting any. I think that is because I am very aware that you only get to stitch leather once. The holes don't heal. However, things change earlier in the year I went round a lot of London fabric shops with a couple of friends and I fell in love with a couple of small leather skins. One thing lead to another and they followed me home. my friends being quilter not only helped plan the idea but they nurtured it too. and before I knew it one of the skins was on my frame. Scary? Oh yes. Very.

The first quilt we are looking at is actually from an offcut I had. I made a few of these 'normal' shaped leather pieces, but to be honest they don't really talk to me. I love how the colour works on leather, and I really wasn't sure it would. The trickiest part was binding it. I knew it needed a binding, but I didn't want to use cloth, and a double fold of leather wasn't going to happen. I then realised there were corners (yes I know sometimes I am not so bright). If I over lapped the ends of the binding like you would on a traditional straight corner binding the corners would be huge. As leather doesn't fray I decided to just trim the ends flush. It's clean and tidy without getting bulky. Simple.

The next quilt 'Leather Star' was the second leather quilt I made. I was getting braver and felt I could chance marking some designs. I quickly discovered that if the marking shows on the leather and will come off, it comes off too soon but with some care I managed to get in the lines I needed. This is also the quilt were I tested colour. It worked, but was more subtle than I expected. By choosing to leave the edge of the skin un-trimmed I gave myself a lot of hand sewing to do finishing the backing, and the shape proved to be quite a challenge, but I think it was well worth it. I love the very natural look. It took a lot of trial and error to get the design to fit the irregular skin and I was concerned they may fight, they don't and I love this quilt. I am so fond of it that when we were looking for some quilting for the background of my book cover this is the quilt I chose. Yes I did find it amusing sending a picture of the secret quilt to over 100 people before the show, and being pretty confident they wouldn't guess what it was. Certainly no one commented on recognising it at the show.

The last of the leather quilts is 'Leather Feathers' (I know, you try naming quilts at 5am after a month of sleep deprivation). This was the first of the leather quilts I made. I find it quite strange that after years of struggling with this style of feather I chose it as my safe pattern for working on leather. It was partly because I didn't think spiky patterns really fitted the very soft leather. I wanted a soft design. The first stitch was very stressful but once I was underway all I wanted to do was work on leather. I do have a lot more plans in this direction, so watch this space. Ah one last thing, that a lot of people asked, yes these are real quilts, with 80/20 wadding in them. 'Leather Feathers' has two layers in it to fatten the feathers and because I was worried the thickness of leather would hide the puff of the wadding.

The last quilt in tonight's installment is 'Dragon'. There is more going on with this one than I think most people knew. The idea probably started with needing something to balance the 'Phoenix', something with a lot of presence that wanted and needed to be big. I also had a plan for something along the lines of a self portrait, as people keep suggesting I should do one. So the idea was born, to make a quilt of my dragon tattoo. Only two little problems. I wanted it to be very clearly the same dragon and it needed to be in a different pose. Fortunately I am still in touch with the artist who did my tattoo work, Glenn Wallbridge and he kindly agreed to draw me another dragon. Even better he came and traced the full size one for me too. This quilt then became a test piece for 'Bad Rain', which we will get to tomorrow. I wanted to keep the style of the original artist, not overwhelm it with me. I learned a lot from this quilt, which will actually have some more quilting added to it, as I can see where I haven't quite got all the shading he put in. It's OK now, but I know it can be better. This is another quilt that provoked interesting reactions. It regularly startled people who approached from entrance 5 behind it, but more interesting to me was what people saw in it, especially children. A lot of adults commented on how scary it was, some said it was threatening. Children though got it, it hasn't made up it's mind yet, she's just watching. Yes she has rather large claws and is in general quite big, but she is just looking and deciding what to next.

While we were still setting up one of the fabric traders came round and looked at the quilt I was binding, he asked if any of the fabrics were his, I wasn't sure. It was lovely later in the show to run into him again and send him to look at 'Dragon'. All her green fabric came from his stand at Sandown. In fact I thin k most of the staff got to come and see it too. I love the idea that traders can get to see where their fabrics and threads ended up. So often you sell something and it's gone. Much more fun to see it grow up. One lady who picked a lot of brown fabrics for me and posted them special delivery so I could finish my cows was very proud when it won at the FOQ last year. I really enjoy being able to share the buzz with others. Sometimes when I teach I will take my latest show project with me to work on in quiet moments. That quilt then becomes that groups special quilt too. It's so good to see them when they first see 'their' quilt finished, and I think the enjoy it too. Tomorrow the last of the quilts. I've also added a couple more links in Link Frenzy.

Not in the plan

Today I had a very simple plan. Drive to Kent, see the osteopath, drive home, sew. See nothing to it. Until I got to the traffic jam on the M25. They had closed one short section and it has caused chaos. I left home at 9am. I turned around 2 jusnctions before the roab closure and I still haven't made it home at 3pm!

Still all is not lost. There isn't much you can do when you are stuck in traffic and you are the driver, but you can think and plan. At the NEC I bought some rather nice fabrics, and didn't entirly have a plan for them. I do now. The Farbstoff cotton sateens I will make a very simple quilt. It will have very minimal piecing and a lot of space for quilting. If I've got the maths right I might have enough fabric to make two similar quilts which could be fun. The idea is to really show off the hand dyed fabric, but include the shaded colour packs and make a large bed quilt. I'm looking forward to getting home and measuring up.

I also bought a selection of Oakshott fabrics. I've been looking at these for some time but never bought any as I didn't realise they sold yardage. They do and I have enough to make something really fun. I think I have most of this quilt worked out too. It's a lot more complex which worries me a little. I have no idea how stable the Oakshott will be. I guess I will find out. I can't wait to get home and draw these up. So enough chat. I'll finish my drink and get on my way.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - Wholecloths and more

So we left the gallery through the second entrance next to the nudes, we will now turn right and walk around to the first entrance we saw in FOQ - Overview. The first quilt we come to, 'Flying Feathers' was also the hardest to photograph. White wholecloths seem to resist any attempt to get good pictures of them, still I think you can get a general idea from the photos. This quilt was made as an attempt to please show judges, and I hope it is my first and last white wholecloth. Although technically it is the second white wholecloth, the first never made it to completion. I had planned for this quilt to have shadow trapunto, I was going to fill the raised feathers with black wadding so they would show grey in the finished quilt. To work, this requires a fairly translucent top fabric. It turns out I really don't like quilting on that type of fabric. Strange I know but true, I hated it. I didn't like the feel of it, and I didn't like the look of the stitches. Plan B. I love working with cotton sateen but it was a lot harder to mark. Still quilting on it was a lot easier and the double wool wadding gave a good trapunto effect. However this quilt hadn't finished causing trouble. The machine played up, I ran out of the pink thread and then it's final trick was to break my cheek bone. While I was packing the quilt it managed to flick an empty beer bottle into the air, which landed on my face. If you find the photographs from last years Festival you will see I had a black eye.

Moving on we come to a pair black wholecloths. 'Guide Me' is another quilt that is the second generation quilt. It is the one where I started always matching my bobbin thread to the top thread. I got about half of the way through the quilt when I decided I couldn't live with the occasional spots of the top thread on the back so I started again. Of course being me I was on a very tight deadline and what happens when you are in a hurry? You make mistakes. I managed to quilt what should have been a blue area in green leaves. It took me about 12 minutes to quilt it, and over 12 hours to take it out. I don't recommend making mistakes on cotton sateen, it is a nightmare to unpick on. This quilt is one of my most traveled pieces, and won the traditional machine quilting award at the World Quilt Show last year.

Facing 'Guide Me' is one of my favourite quilts, 'Winter Star'. It is another wholecloth, this time on plain black cotton. It was made to hang in the Longarm Gallery at the Festival of Quilts 2007. The design had to be monochromatic with one colour. The main design is stitched in a range of grey threads. I marked the piecing lines, but all the fill in stitching is free hand, as are all my quilts. The colour is hard to spot, especially in a photograph, it is in the piping.

As we go into the gallery you can see 'Dawn and Dusk' pinned to the end of my quilting frame. This is the quilt from our first self published pattern of the same name. It is a reversible quilt which uses ombre (shaded) fabrics. If you would like to purchase the pattern for this quilt use the contact me button to the right to get in touch.

Moving on across the gallery we come to 'Herd Mentality' hanging over my longarm quilting machine, which we will come back to in another post. 'Herd Mentality' was inspired by a herd of cows I met. When I say cows I am not entirely accurate, but then neither was the farmer who asked if I minded cows, I don't. I do mind bullocks. Quite a lot actually especially when they are trying to mount me. Very flattering but really not my type. Once there was an electric fence between me and the 'cows' I grabbed a camera and took some pictures. It was sunset and with the fantastic sky they looked really impressive. The first time I showed this quilt was in my gallery at the Dissenters Gallery I was surprised at the effect it had on people. They played the sky game, where you look at the patterns in the clouds and see what you can find. It kept people entertained for ages. After the FOQ 2008 where it won the pictorial prize it went on to the Houston Quilt Festival. I was a little shocked when it won the visitors choice, but really surprised when I found people blogging about the pictures they in the sky. I guess the sky game is international. I did notice that people from different countries do see different things in it. What do you see?

Moving on across the gallery there is 'Where is the North Star?'. Do you remember I said I had some "seemed like a good idea" quilts? Well this is the quilt I was thinking of when I said it. I guess I should start by saying I am very pleased with how the quilt turned out, getting there wasn't so much fun. The whole quilt is foundation pieced. That part was simple and gives a good mottled effect to represent the night sky. However I had decided it would look more organic and natural if I offset all the blocks around small squares. Well yes it does, but.... To assemble this quilt I had to lay out all the blocks on my bed and position all the small squares. I then grabbed a few pieces and went downstairs to sew them together, a time consuming process given all the partial seams. Then back upstairs to pick up the next pieces, of course by then the cats were on the pieces, so I picked up a cat, removed the pieces of quilt from it's feet and put the next bit together. Just sewing the blocks together took all day, from getting up to going to bed. Finishing the top with it's borders wasn't a problem, and then it went on the longarm. This was only the second quilt I managed to persuade my machine to sew on. The quilting went very well. I made a star guide so I could put little stars in to the quilting and it was done a couple of days before it had to go to a show. Next came trimming up. I generally make my quilts a little bit larger than I want them and trim them to size, but as I said this was one of the first I had quilted on the longarm and I had foundation pieced the borders with very little spare. Three corners squared up perfectly, the fourth was another story. This was the moment Tet decided to explain the problem with quilt to me. The bottom corners of a quilt on a bed can be quite a trip hazard as they stick out, so he suggested I cut them off. Just a safety feature honestly. Well it solved the problem and I love the look of the quilt. I wish it didn't have white binding, which looks great but is a dust magnet, but I am very fond of this quilt. It is the quilt people most often request as a patter, but I'm sorry I won't be writing it. I like to produce patterns that work and people will achieve without going mad, this just isn't it.

Opposite we have our last quilt for tonight as we leave the gallery again. This is a students quilt, made by Eileen. I had hoped to be able to hang the cover quilt from my book but I ran out of long walls. So a quick hunt through the reserve quilts found me this one. I have to admit it isn't my colours, but I think Eileen did a great job for her first quilt. She was one of the first people to work through my book with the benefit of all the errors. She kept at it and produced this quite impressive bed quilt. I guess I really aught to let her have it back soon as it has been touring with me for several months. I really must thank all my students for their support, without them my book would not have happened. I also owe an apology to one of them If you have the book you will see a quilt on page 58. It is the odd one out in that it's owner isn't listed at the back of the book. I don't know how she escaped, but I am mortified she did. I know she was really looking forward to her piece in the book. Unfortunately I can't fix it now, but I would like to introduce her to you all here. Meet Vanessa, this is her story,
My name is Vanessa, and in an attempt to redefine myself, I stumbled across Patchwork Corner and went in for a look. £182 later, I came out and felt I had found my soul. Things have never been the same since. Six years on and Thursdays are still my favourite day of the week when I attend a class at the shop. There's always something new to learn.
I now know what the first correction is for the second edition, I just hope it isn't too long before I can do a second print run and get Vanessa back into the book. I am so sorry she missed out on this edition. I know every book goes out with an error but did it have to be this big? On with the show.

Link Frenzy

Thank you to everyone who has been sending in links to people talking about my quilts, it is much appreciated. I hadn't planned on sharing them until this one came in this morning,

I have to admit those are some great photos, especially the close ups of my quilting. Thank you so much for crediting me too. Then I got thinking, if I am going to publicise one why not all of them. Some give interesting alternative perspectives on the show. Bear in mind my perspective went something like, person - question - answer - person - question - answer. It was just so busy I don't think I had time to really take it all in. The first one on the list goes just to a blog as there are two posts that really seemed to capture the event for me.

If you come across any more that deserve a mention please do let me know. I like to see where my work wanders off to when I am not looking.

The holiday quilt is progressing well. I hope to have the center together later so I can show you it. Of course that does just tempt life to get in the way :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - Phoenix and nudes

Well that was nearly a unanimous decision, we will get to the Dragon too, but for tonight we will head towards "Phoenix Rising". This was the last of my pieces finished, or indeed started for the gallery. So what, one piece has to be right? Well this was the piece the whole gallery was designed for, and I only made it the week before the show. It felt right that this should be the last piece, it had to slot in and complete the show, yet for many people it will have been one of the first quilts they saw. As with many of my pictorial quilts this one was made directly on my quilting frame. I had to work the phoenix itself from the top down hoping that when I had the wings in place the body would fit. It did, although it is a little slimmer than it started. Each feather is individually cut from hand dyed cotton sateen from Fabric to dye for. I bought rather a lot of fabric to be sure I had the exact shadings I wanted. It worked very well. I had chosen to work entirely with cotton sateen for this quilt because I wanted it to glow, but I hadn't realised that the sateen would have an added bonus. It frays, not only that it does it in a way that really looks like feathers. Perfect.

As you can see this is a very heavily quilted piece. I really enjoyed working on it and it went surprisingly fast. I am now quite short of these thread colours. The background quilting looks very similar to my 'standard' background fill which I call 'decadent swirls' but if you look closely it isn't quite the same. On this quilt I wanted to suggest the air currents as the phoenix launches so I tried to spread out the curls into lines and eddies. You wouldn't spot it if you didn't look closely, but I know it is there and that pleases me.

Next to 'Phoenix Rising' is another early quilt. It is called 'Bicameral Pierrot'. It was named for having two clear sections and being in black and white. I love this quilt, and it has spent a lot of time on my studio wall. Unfortunately show judges really don't. I was so perplexed by this that I took a critiquing class just to get some more opinions on it. Sadly most of the people in that group couldn't see the problem either. The best guess was that this style has been done too many times. If that is the case, tough. I will be amazed if I don't make more bargello quilts, I like them however many have already been made in the past.

Turning to look behind us we can see a cluster of nudes (I wonder if there is an official collective noun for nudes?). Lets start with the best known of them, 'Nude with Rope'. This quilt has been to several show around the world, and I would love her to travel to more (she is one of my easier quilts to ship). She started appropriately enough at the Festival of Quilts 2007. Unfortunately she cause a stir by being hung next to a portrait of Jesus. It was one of the quirks of fate that really didn't go down well. Still she picked up a judges choice award, so it wasn't all bad. She then went to the Road to California and the World Quilt Show and was well received at both. I think this is the quilt that has sent most messages home, yes even more than the cows. For me the most interesting show was Sandown, where I used her as stand decoration while I was demonstrating a quilting frame. The number of people who remembered it from the FOQ was impressive in it's own right, but what really fascinated me was how they remembered her. Peoples brains had added a lot more detail to the quilt and it was such a strong memory they were struggling to believe their eyes. The human brain is a very impressive (and at time disturbing) piece of equipment. This is one of the few quilts I have made more than once. A purple version hangs over my bed, it was made for the Royal Acadamy Summer Exhibition, so is mounted on stretcher bars. It makes it very hard to transport, so I just have to have it on display at home.

This pair of quilts have been a long time in progress. The one on the right was made first, and was entirely unexpected. I came across a photograph on a friends blog and I just had to make a quilt of it. A few emails back and forth and I got permission from both the subject and the owner of the photograph, great. The really strange part is that I had been asking this friend to model for me for a while, but I don't think she believed me. I really loved the idea of having both mother and daughter, so I kept asking. After 'Mother' saw 'Daughter' she decided to go for it. She sent me several pictures and this one just lept out at me. It's a great picture and I felt it fit perfectly into pairing I was after. However by the time I got the image time was moving on and I only managed to finish the quilt just before the show. She knew it was done but didn't get to see it until her spies (friends) managed to get a picture and send it back to her. I hope she is pleased with it, and if you think you might like to model for me please do get in touch. I am always on the look out for more models. Those of you I already have pictures of, rest assured you are not forgotten and will become quilts as soon as time permits.

As this corner had a family feel I added this small portrait to the group. It is of a daughter for her mother. This time the subject knew and the mother in question didn't. Her whole family had kept it a secret from her for months. So long in fact they weren't sure I had actually done it. The mother, a friend of mine, kept trying to find out what I was making for her but I wanted her to find it hanging so the last thing I told her was that is was something she created. Yes I intended her to think I had made a copy of one of her quilts, but I think this was a better option.

Ahead of us now is another well known piece, my first and possibly my favourite nude, 'Nude Triptych'. This was the first piece I ever entered into the Festival of Quilts. Being me I didn't just enter I tried to get into the quilt of the year section. I didn't manage it but it did take second place in the pictorial category, which was very exciting. It was the first cash prize I won and I still have a photocopy of the cheque in my studio. The idea with this piece was to explore the effect of technique and colour on an image. The grey image is made from 1/4" squares. I wanted to get a pixalated feel to the image. It is one of my "seemed like a good idea at the time" quilts. 1/4" squares have a nasty habit of falling apart when you try to pick them up, and are very very light. If you breath near them they move, a lot. This one image took me a month to assemble simple because it required so much concentration and fiddling. I needed every piece to line up as perfectly as possible.

The red image was much simpler, and is the technique I teach in my 'Art Quilts by Numbers' class. I was looking for a texture like that of oil paintings. To achieve this I used triangular pieces of fabric. They tend to stick up a little at the points giving the textured finish I was looking for. I really love this technique and it has lead me in many other directions. The last part of the triptych is the blue image. This has been my technique of choice ever since for nudes, although writing this has me thinking that some of my other might look very good in the same style as the red nude. Anyway, the blue one presents the smoothest clearest image by using flat pieces of fabric. All are quilted with very fine cotton thread that matched the fabric it is on. This is also a common theme in my pictorial quilts, I try very hard to just blend the thread in, this isn't a place for the thread to steal the show.

The final quilt as we leave the gallery for the night is 'Heat'. Her biggest claim to fame, in my mind at least, is that she has my most three dimensional nipple. I was told this by a lady at my Dissenters Gallery show, and it does have to be said she is right. You do have to stand in exactly the right place then it just pops. I guess I just got the colouring right and the angle then completes the illusion. Sadly it doesn't seem to work in photographs so this one you will have to see in real life to get that effect. It is also one of my quilts with a good wholecloth on the back. I usually use a bobbin thread that matches the colour of the top thread, so if the backing contrasts you can get an amazing reverse side. Sorry I couldn't get a picture of it while it was fixed to the wall but I do show it in most of my talks, being small it's a good quilt to fly with.

Well that's it for tonight. Rather than go back past the archway tomorrow I suggest we walk around the outside of the gallery to go back in through entrance one. This will take us past all the wholecloth quilts, then we can work our way back to the other side of the gallery. I've included a plan of the gallery so you can see how it all fits together.

Finally you might like to take a look at these two links they give you a bit of background information on 'Mother' and 'Daughter'. Just how cool is she! If you haven't seen Quilters Home magazine you might want to check that out too, Mother featured in a makeover article in the last issue, she is such a good sport.

Holiday quilt

As you can see my holiday quilt is progressing. I am ready to make the blocks up now. As I want to make the quilt larger I will need to add fabric to the kit. I don't have any appropriate hand dyed fabrics but the very dark batik looks pretty good. Initially I thought about just adding borders but I think it will look more planned if I use the batik in the centers of the blocks too. It will make my version a bit darker and I suspect more extreme. I think those are assets, so time to cut the batik.

I spoke to a lot of ladies about the APQS machines at the show, don't forget to drop me an email and I will put you in touch with the UK rep.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - Through the arch

So it appears we will start our tour through the central door of the gallery, the archway. I am sure Jan will be very flattered you picked his door first. Before we go in lets take a look at the quilts to either side of the door. To the Left we have 'In Full Bloom'. I made this quilt for the Celebrate Spring show in Chicago. I think that was my first go at a juried show and this quilt made it in. I was thrilled. The quilt came from spending far too much time at the National Gallery (is that really possible) and falling in love with the impressionist paintings. I hope at some point I will make more quilts in this style.

If you look closely (you can click any of the images to see a bigger version) you can see the whole quilt is made up of 1" squares. This is how I felt I could best represent the sometimes blocky brush strokes. In the detail picture you can see that the quilting is designed to fit the texture of the item being represented, right down to every blossom having a flower in it.

To the other side of the archwayy is 'Radiance'. This is one of the very few quilts I have on display in my house. I don't have much wall space but this fits nicely on one chimney breast. I really aught to get it unpacked and re-hung. It was on display here last year where it was awarded 'Highly Commended'. It is a whole cloth on plain cotton stitched in four shades of purple.
When I was planning the gallery this space was designed as the neutral area. The fulcrum that supported the rest of the gallery. It gives you a great framed view of 'Herd Mentality' on the center of the back wall. This quilt seems to have a fan base all of it's own, and many of them have followed it around America and back home. This is a good point to thank all the ladies at the international quilt festival for getting this back to me so quickly after their last show. I would have been in trouble if it hadn't made it back.

As we go through the arch my sample book quilt is hanging on the right. I had always intended this to end up as the cover quilt, but I was advised against using it. I trust the people who I ask for advice, so it had to make do with just being in the book. One of the perks of having my own gallery was being able to handle the quilts when I needed to and to allow others to do the same. A pair of ladies bought the book on Thursday, went away and read it then came back with a question on Sunday. They were worried the seams would be overly bulky, after feeling this sample they were satisfied there isn't a problem. It was a great feeling. The quilt is inspired but the black and silver fabric. I had decided I would make a sample up in only three fabrics to show it could be done and then this fabric came up and I fell in love. It is a lovely fabric and I like it as the background to this quilt. I had intended to bind the quilt with plain black the same as the outer borders, but I ran out of fabric. So I was forced to use the black and silver again. What a lucky accident it looks much better than black would have done.

The quilt opposite is Tet's first quilt, and you can see him with it here. He was proofreading the book and decided the only way to do it properly was to make the quilt, and on his own. I was banished from my sewing room, my machine commandeered, and my stash raided. I can't complain he turned out a great quilt. It also has a much more exciting back than most of them, even though all of the book quilts are reversible.
If you are lucky enough to catch us at a talk you might be able to get him to sign his quilt in the book too.

Next to Tet's quilt is a very important little quilt. It is a portrait of one of my six cats, this one if called 'Skadi'. She is significant for two reasons. Firstly she was my first award winning quilt. Not only that she won a prize in the first show I entered and she was judged by an artist who makes a lot of stitched animals, and she gave me tips on how to improve my work. It's a very special award. She is also the quilt that started all my pictorial quilts. I made her as part of a Quilt University class with Marilyn Belford. She wasn't initially keen on me doing an animal, the class was for human portraits, but she let me take the class. The skills I learned there have allowed me to make all my other art quilts. I may have evolvesdmy own ways of doing things, but I don't think it would have happened if she hadn't let me do my own thing. This quilt is always one that draws people in, she does look amazingly furry, and it is hard to resist stroking her. The border also fascinates people. Yes it is a printed fabric. Yes I did buy a lot of it, it's fabulous.

Finally in this section we have 'See Sound' it's another one of my older quilts. It's come home this weekend as it was designed specifically to be hung at the Festival of Quilts. It was when I was walking around the Festival one year when it struck me that quilt were missing out at shows. Part of the appeal of a quilt is it's tactile quality, in shows it isn't able to share that. I knew I wanted to give a quilt a new dimension. It had to be something that didn't involve the quilt being touched, and I decided that sound would be a simple thing to use. After all quilters stand in front of quilts and talk. I also wanted to see if I could make a quilt that would talk to more of the men who come to the show. Of the UK shows the Festival is the one with the most men at it. I admire them coming to support their partners, but I've also noticed how wilted they look after a few hours. This quilt worked very well for that too. I saw several men walk around it and then start explaining the circuit to their wives, who then wilted. It was fantastic to watch. The quilt is actually double sided, the back have solder spots and the tracks of the board.

Well that's your lot for today, the new poll is do we turn left or right. Left will take us towards the Phoenix and right would be towards the Dragon. Let me know by voting in the poll to the right of this post. Continue the tour.