Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just a quicky

I'm still busy so here is a quick update on some of the exciting things that have been happening. One of the most exciting has been my first magazine cover. machine Quilting Unlimited has Prometheus on the cover of the latest issue, and a large article inside. It really is a huge thrill seeing your quilt on a cover.

The other magazine in the picture is Popular Patchwork, which has a fantastic writeup of Quiltfest complete with lots of pictures.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quarterjack workshop

I've done it again. I got so engrossed in the class I forgot to take pictures, I suppose that's a good thing as a tutor, but it's very frustrating when I want to write a blog. This is a group I spoke to last year at their Christmas  party at an amazing venue. The workshop was a bit of a shock to the system, as it involved a 6am start but it was a beautiful day and a good venue. The venue, Holt Village hall, is lovely. Very light and a good number of power points. The group also limit their numbers to 16, so everyone has lots of space to work.

The other thing that worried me was the range of students. Some were worried the class would be too hard and others that it would be too easy. I was concerned that one or other of the groups would be upset. As it turned out they were a lovely group, and at the end of the day all said they had learned something. The class was machine quilting 1, which is designed for beginners, but it seems I start from a different place to most people. I'm just very relieved that the students felt it went OK.

I haven't forgotten I need to finish the gallery tour, I've just not had a chance yet. As well as the teaching I've had a couple of articles to prepare for magazines, and as those had deadlines I figured I would have to do them first. Hopefully I will get the gallery finished tonight or tomorrow though, then I can share some other exciting news.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quiltfest Gallery - Part 4

 This is part 4 of the gallery tour, the other parts can be found here, one, two, three.

OK, you're back, lets carry on our trip around the show. Our first quilt today is another that I hadn't intended to show, but it filled a tricky space and I like it so, here it is. I think more than anything this one shows my age, it's K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. I was never much bothered by the people in the series but I fell for the car in a big way. In fact the ring tone on my phone has been the theme tune from the show since it has been possible to set them. Ah if only you could fit the whole of my talk into a 1981 Transam.

It seems this is the most eagerly expected quilt by my blog readers. Dragon 1 (yes the first dragon is technically Dragon 0). If you are a regular reader of my blog you will have seen me working on this one just before the show. I think it came off the frame 3 or 4 days before the show. If you missed those posts they start on the 8th of January, so start at the bottom of this page.

I was hoping that this quilt would look like it was drawn in water colour pencils. It is actually a wholecloth quilt with the design made entirely in thread. The starting image for this quilt was the preliminary sketch by Glenn Wallbridge,  for my first dragon tattoo. Bonus points to the readers who spotted that while I was working on it. It is stitched onto another piece of cotton sateen
 hand dyed by Heide Stoll-Weber. The image was scaled up to be the biggest I could fit on the cloth I had. I managed to use the whole piece with just enough to bind the quilt. I am very stingy when it comes to Heide's fabrics. Being hand dyed it does have variations in colour, but in this case they are all shades of the same grey. All the colour on the quilt comes from the threads used.

On the top of the quilt the threads are King Tut, Signature and Aurifil, and in the bobbin I use Masterpiece. I only use cotton threads in my work. Maybe it is old fashioned and snobby, but it's what I do and I can't see me changing any time soon. It does somewhat limit my colour options.

Rather than mark directly onto the quilt I prefer to do my marking on wash away stabiliser. Over the time I have been quilting ever marking tool I have used has let me down at least once despite my testing them all before I use them. The stabiliser keeps the markings that little bit further from the quilt. If I can avoid  marking altogether I do. In this case though I needed some help. This project was a huge challenge for me. I don't draw and my grasp of drawing and shading techniques is very basic. I had to learn and fast.

This is also a style of quilt I had mostly written off. I always match my bobbin thread colour to my top thread colour. This means all of my art quilts have a wholecloth art quilt on the reverse. It seemed to be a poor deal to make an art quilt as a wholecloth. I'd only get one quilt for my work not two. Who doesn't like something for free.

I learned a lot here, and having done this quilt I will do more in a similar style. I've got ideas for stretching the number of colours I can get in thread, and I can see other ways of laying down thread. I want to play with stabilisers and different waddings. This quilt has Warm and Natural in it, as that was the densest wadding I had to hand. I think more solid ones would be even better. I just need the time to play now.

Here is another older of my older quilts. I made it to try and get a quilt into an American show. The show had the theme 'Celebrate Spring', and I had been spending a lot of time at the National Gallery. Cherry blossom in an impressionist style seemed the obvious choice. This was another quilt that took me out side of my comfort zone and had me trying new things. I loaded the frame with a calico backing a layer of 80/20 wadding and another layer of calico. On the calico I marked where the bridge path and river needed to go, then I started colouring in.

All the colour comes from 1" squares of fabric. I laid a few pieces down then stitched them into place with a pattern appropriate to what they were representing. So the bushes are quilted with leaves and the path with pebbles. The wood on the bridge has a grain to it and every blossom has a flower quilted on it. Most of the picture was made from the top down, the tree though I had to add from the bottom up. I just couldn't get my head around working it the other way.

In Full Bloom did it's job. It was accepted into the Celebrate Spring show and was the first quilt I exhibited in the USA.

That's the end of the wall. Let take a look at the items hung elsewhere in the gallery. We've walked around a large plinth in the middle of the room, holding a dress on a display form.

In 2009 I was asked to take part in a new feature at the Festival of Quilts, a fashion show. There were teams from the UK and Russia and each member of each team was to make four items. Day wear, evening wear, accessory and fantasy. I wasn't that interested until I heard that last one. I'd been thinking for a while about making a suit of armour and this seemed like the perfect excuse. Unfortunately, because it is quite fragile and it was too bulky to store when we had to take the show down, I couldn't display it at Quiltfest. If you would like to see it, it is on this video.

So, by deduction, the dress isn't my fantasy category. It was actually my evening wear. I've enjoyed making Victorian style clothes for years so it seemed like an obvious starting point. I also thought it was something I could add quilting to without ending up with a shapeless garment. I had issues with big shapeless coats and tops, well to be honest they have an issue with me. They make me look way bigger than I am and that is quite big enough to start with. I suppose the alternative would be to not put much quilting on the garment, but that really isn't my way of doing things. If you ask me for quilted fashions, you had better believe they will be quilted.

The patterns for this outfit are all from Truly Victorian. The skirt and bodice are patterns I have used before but the train had just been in my wish list. Again the show gave me a good excuse to do something I'd been thinking about for years.

As I've said if I am going to make a quilted garment it has to be quilted. This gave me a problem, how could I make a proper three layer quilt that would be soft and light enough to craft the train from.  I came up with using organza. The train is three layers of organza. Silver top and bottom with black as the 'wadding'. It is two widths of organza wide, about 80" and approximately 120" long. I had to guess the length as the pattern for the train went missing just as I was ready to load the organza on the train. I thought I had loaded up more than I could possible need but actually another 20"-30" would have been good.

The quilting for the train was started at the hem and as with all my work is just freehand. The body of the train is quilted with feathers in various styles and colours. Starting with black at the hem and working up to lighter grey at the bustle. The bustled section is quilted with my curls, which really only add texture, you don't see the design at all.
 The train is hemmed with heavy black lace. This I bought a roll of as I knew I would need several meters. I am flattered by those who ask if I made it, but I really can't face that much lace making.

The back of the bodice is decorated with two lace panels. These were also purchased from Vena Cava Designs. This is a fantastic UK company that sells all sorts of corset supplies and fancy pieces like these laces.  I had actually gone to the site to buy more spiral bones for the bodice but when I  saw these motifs I had to have them.

The next problem I came up with was how do I get into this outfit in a hurry. At the time I was planning it we were expecting a change time of about 5 minutes. That doesn't give me long enough to get into a corset so the bodice had to do the job of the corset. However I wasn't prepared to have laces on show. I settled on making the bodice very tight and using lare hooks and eyes to close it. It does mean I need a dresser (although that was going to be essential for the fast change anyway) to haul the bodice shut. It works surprisingly well and is pretty comfortable too.

The larger panels of the skirt were quilted on oversize sections of fabric that had been roughly cut to shape. The lining is black cotton and the outer is a cotton sateen. The wadding is a Dream Orient. It is a fantastic clothing wading. It is a blend of cotton, silk and bamboo, it drapes really nicely. I did use some marking on wash away stabiliser to make sure the panels on each side are mirror images of each other.

The top of the skirt and the black areas of the bodice were yardage I quilted before cutting the panels. They are quilted with and all over leaf and vine pattern. The front panel of both the bodice and the skirt and bodice are the same three layers as the rest of the garment but with an added layer of silver organza over the top.

The bodice is then trimmed with the same lace as the train and has lace sleeves. Although the quilting was all done on my longarm the assembly was done on an hand cranked sewing machine in my motorhome. It was the biggest space I had to work in and it was easy to keep completely cat free. Cats and organza don't mix.

 The outfit was named Victorian Steampunk by Susan Briscoe.

 The last quilt for today is hanging right next to the dress. Being a double sided quilt it couldn't be hung against the wall. It's also very three dimensional so it doesn't hang well that way. Fortunately Susan had these hooks and chains in her car. She claims she thought they would come in handy for hanging quilts! Well I suppose she was right and the  metal bars on the gallery ceiling turned out to be well placed as well.

The quilt, well technically two joined quilts, does have a hanging gap at the top to insert a rod. The base of each side of the quilt is three layers stitched together. Both have a stiff interfacing as their backing. It can't be seen and it gives a stable base, both for the textile components and the electronics embedded within it.

The quilt reacts to sounds, so when you talk to it the lights flash. I made it to give quilts a way to interact with the audience when they cannot be touched. Being so tactile I do think quilts miss out when they aren't handled, but having seen how much damage people do to quilts I have to support the no touching rule.

The resistors are not only the correct values, they are also the same way round as they are on the board. Yes, very sad and pedantic. The back of the quilt shows the tracks of the board and the solder spots. It is the hardest 'soldering' I have ever done. Hand stitching this silver fabric was a bear.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quiltfest Gallery - Part 3

 If you haven't read parts 1 and 2 of the tour you might want to before starting on this section. They can be found by clicking on the links in the above sentence. We have just started working our way along the wall opposite the entrance.

The next quilt we come to is Leather Feathers. Yes it really is leather, and yes it really is a quilt. This quilt contains two layers of wadding. It was the first time I tried quilting leather and I was worried that one layer would be crushed flat by leather. Actually it isn't a problem with the really soft leathers I use. That being said, two waddings always make the quilting pop so perhaps it wasn't such a bad starting point. Quilting leather is on of the most nerve wracking things I've done. Knowing you can't unpick is really scary. It's a bit silly really given I don't actually have to unpick that much normally but that's just how it is for me.

 This quilt was one of the stars of the show. It will probably never stop surprising me the reaction this quilt gets. I guess it will always be stuck in my mind as a sample piece. I needed to try a few new ideas and this was where I did that. The quilt has a red batik backing, two layers of wool wadding and a cotton sateen top. The top fabric was a piece of Heide Stoll-Webber fabric that was waiting in my stash. I chose it because I wanted to explore the changing the shade of a fabric with thread. The mid grey seemed like a perfect starting point. Given how special the fabric is I made a design that would use every scrap of it. The fabric has no design on it. It is a hand dyed fabric with gentle variations of shade across it. A lot of people have thought the feathers were printed onto the fabric, but no, they are just the quilting.

I started at the top of the quilt by marking the depth of the top border and the diagonal lines through the corner. With the machine I have I couldn't sew the whole depth of the feather at once and rather than constantly roll the quilt back and forth each feather each was done in two parts.

Once I had the top of a few feathers done I could start strengthening the lines around them. From there I could start on the background filler. The filler to the outside edge of the feathers was stitched in black thread. This darkens the fabric and helps the feathers to stand out. The pattern is the curls I use instead of a stipple but on this quilt they are tiny, the large curls are sometimes as bit as half an inch across.

 The inner edge of the feathers was over sewn with cream thread instead of black. There are three or four lines of stitches all the way around the feathers. The cream thread was then used for the background stitching inside the feathers. The cream background stitching is micro pebbles. Yes it took a very long time. In the quilt there are four whole comes of thread, that will be around 12,000m of thread.

The next design idea I wanted to test was changing a quilts colour at a quilting pattern. I was specifically interested in the idea of a border transitioning at a smaller curled border. I was pleased with this sample and this is used this technique in the full sized wholecloth that this was a sample for, Prometheus. Prometeus was too big to fit in this gallery but hopefully will be out and about on the show circuit this year. It will be at the National Quilt Championships at Sandown and I have entered it for Paduch this year. I won't hear for another couple of weeks whether it has managed to get in.

 Greek Fossils has only just arrived home. It has been on tour with the World Quilt Show. This is one of my favourite competitions to enter. I love that it goes to several different venues, but the best part is how they handle shipping the quilts. It is one of the cheapest shows to enter as the quilts are gathered at a hub within your country then shipped at the shows expense to America. Unfortunately they have size restrictions that mean a lot of my quilts aren't eligible to go. However any I have that fit the requirements will be entered.

I hope that the close up pictures here will let you get a feel for the quilting on this piece. As with all my pictures you can click on them to see them larger.

While I was demonstrating the longarm in the gallery the most requested pattern was a design similar to the centre of this quilt. On an A4 piece that is quite tricky, but after a few failed attempts I managed something close enough to keep people happy. Obviously with the micro pebbling the took a lot longer than other samples, but that turned out to be a very good demonstration. People could not only see how long it takes but could also look over my shoulder and see how tricky it is to focus on a design this small. I didn't believe it the first time I heard a long arm quilter say she had to look through her hopping foot to see where she needed to stitch. For this pattern, that is exactly what you have to do, and after a while your eyes really don't like it.

 The last piece in this section of the gallery is another leather wholecloth. This is the second piece I made, and is called Leather Star. After I finished Leather Feathers I was so excited about quilting on leather I had to immediately make another. The second was a little less scary and I decided I was prepared to try a pattern where it would be clear if I made a mistake. I also wanted to know if I could use colour on leather. The problem is I can't stitch as densely on leather as I can on fabric. If the stitches get too close together the leather would fall apart. Not really what we are looking for.

However it turns out the colour of the thread shows up quite well even with less dense designs. To further reduce the stress on the leather this quilt only contains one layer of wadding. Combined with the more intricate design the quilting is still very well defined.

If you own a copy of my book Ferreting Around you might want to take a good look at the cover. Not the cover picture as such, the background image. The blue area. Do you recognise it? It's this quilt. We needed some sort of texture for that part of the cover and Tet wanted me to just quilt up a bit of something. I was already up to my eyeballs in quilts I needed to do for a show so I didn't take this suggestion very well. At the time most of my wholecloths were too flat to give a good texture and I was starting to think I was going to have to make another quilt, when we had a moment of inspiration. This quilt filled the space perfectly.

 The next section of wall is quite a change of pace. These quilts got some of the most interesting reactions, and taught me a lot about setting up an exhibition.

Bad Rain was very popular with children. They all seemed to like this style of art work. I find that quite unsurprising. However only a few thought it was scary, and if only from it's strangeness and size I would have expected a reasonable amount of scary.

Adults on the other hand tended not to like it on first look, but nearly all changed their mind after I explained it to them. Generally I like not having long explanations displayed with my work. I am quite happy for people to come up with their own story of the piece but for this one I think I will have to produce it a sign.

I suppose it's quite fitting really. This images comes from a book called Cancertown. It was written by a friend Cy Dethan and the artwork was originally produced by Stephen Downey. You can see all of us with the quilt here. The image is designed to be encountered within a story. It helps to tell the story but also expects you to come to it knowing certain things about the the world it is showing you. If you want to know more about Cancertown, follow the link and Cy will tell you all about it.

 Let me tell you something about trying to capture another artist work in a quilt. Given I don't draw myself working from other peoples art seems the simplest option. To a degree it is, but it turns out that in quilting I do put my own spin on the art work. That's fine until I really want to render exactly what the original artist had created.

I decided one of the things I needed to do was to only quilt the lines Stephen had drawn. If I added more quilting that would change it's character. That at least was easy technically if a little frustrating at times. I was very lucky his lines are fairly well spaced throughout the piece. The harder part came when I saw the finished book, with the colour image. The colouring had been done by computer which gives almost glowing shading of the colours. How on earth was I going to get fabric to do that without adding a lot of extra stitching? Ombre fabrics. I bought a huge box of yardage from Equilter.com and set to work. It was tricky at times as my fabric only shaded at set rates which I couldn't change but by picking and choosing I think the result is pretty close to the original.

Working so closely with someone else's art really makes you look at it and I think there are a lot of details that people reading the book will never see, let alone appreciate. The Bad Mouths (the characters that are all mouth filling the sky) all have slightly different features and characters. I love the ones with their arms folded, especially the largest one diagonally up from the huge blue one. 

The blue Bad Mouth was mostly hidden in the book because it falls directly in the spine of the book. It's a real shame, it had great texture. I think it came out particularly well as a quilt. The lumpy muscle is perfect and becomes really 3D when quilted.

 Bad Rain is another quilt that hasn't done many quilt shows. It's too big to ship easily (it HAS to be rolled) so the US shows are out and even UK shows are difficult if I can't hand deliver it. On the other hand it has made it out to a few comics events and it has been very well received. I wasn't sure how people would react to it when we came up with the idea but it seemed daft not to try displaying it, if nothing else it is a huge advertising banner. I didn't need to worry. As it turns out comics events might be a very good place to introduce younger people to quilting. I supposed it's just another form of art and the people at these events are already interested in graphic novels so why not. Now I just need to fit another dozen hours in the day to follow that idea up...

 The last quilt for this instalment is 'A Brief Moment of Clarity'. This is a portrait of Cy, the author of Cancertown. I hadn't meant to make this quilt at all, I was planning something completely different. However at the end of the photoshoot I thought this was the perfect image. It was actually one we had taken for him to use for publicity but what the heck, he gave his permission for me to turn it into a quilt.

I got most of the fabric in place and then realised I had a problem, his earrings. Never mind, they are only small I can leave them off right? Wrong. I've known him too long they had to be there. In the enlargement you can probably see that not only are they pieces of fabric, each one is made of two pieces. Yes that is really far too small to sew through but it can be done if you are mad enough. It did require a piece of washaway stabiliser to keep it steady and I may have even bonded it in place. I can't remember for sure but it is one of the tricks I try on difficult pieces. I don't use Bondaweb though, way too stiff. I generally use Misty Fuse if I have to bond anything.

I think I am calling that it for now. That's a lot of images and I am ready for bed. I will try and do another section tomorrow.

Part four is here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quiltfest Gallery - Part 2

If you haven't already read part one it can be found here.  I've just realised I forgot to tell you the title of the exhibition yesterday. The show was called "Here be Dragons". I chose it because I wanted to show my Dragon quilt and hopefully make some more. I did manage to make one new Dragon for the show. However it seems the title was more appropriate  to describe how people see getting to Wales. Yes they have a dragon on their flag, but really Llangollen is very easy to get to by road or rail. Mid Wales is harder to get to with smaller and more windy roads, North Wales is easy. To be fair until I went there I thought it was rather in the back of beyond but I know better now and I am hoping I might be able to have another show there at some point. I've just got to spread the word that it is really easy to access.

 Carrying on our tour around the gallery we come to this set of three figure quilts. The middle one is the newest of my nudes, but more on her in a moment. The first of the three quilt is called Mother. It's not been to that many shows but has probably been seen by more people than most of my other quilts. This one got a write up in Quilters Home magazine because it depicts a very well known quilter.  When Bonnie McCaffery first said how much she liked my quilts I was thrilled and when she said she would have been proud to have posed for one of them I saw an opportunity. It was a few years later when, desperate for another quilt for my gallery at the Festival of Quilts, that I finally persuaded her to model for me. When I got the photos by email (yes I have to check all that spam claiming to be nude photos for me) this one stood out. It was taken by her daughter and I think the expression is perfect, and her hair is looking great in it too. I love quilting hair and that had been part of the attraction of using her as a model.

I was aiming for this quilt (Mother) to look something like a statue. I wanted to use fabrics that gave an impression of stone.
 That narrowed my options quite a lot. Some colours it is very easy to get a nice run of shades, others, not. Guess what, grey/tan/brown would be one of the trickier ones when you need this many shades. This is why if I see a run of 6-9 shades I tend to buy it on the spot. They are rare and I use them for many of my quilts. I found the only way I could get the look I was after was to use batiks and fortunately between my stash and the local quilt shop I got the run I needed.

I made the quilt and then needed to rinse and block it, I had used washaway stabiliser to keep her hair under control. The batiks ran, a lot. It looked like coffee rinsing out of the quilt. Fortunately I keep run remover on hand and soon had the dye back out of the light areas. This is a hazard of working with unwashed fabrics which I do a lot but I can live with it. There are two reason I don't prewash, firstly time. I struggle to find the time to keep on top of washing my clothes. If I had to wash and iron all my fabric as well it would never get done. Secondly I find the fabric much easier to work with when it still has the dressing on it. As my art quilts aren't intended to be washed it seems like a fair solution. My bed quilts I wash in the machine with colour catchers. If they run I fix it. It's pretty rare though to have any problems with modern fabrics. The exception would be the very dark batiks. Do click on the pictures to see the enlargement. You will be able to see most of the stitches, almost as good as being there.

 Quiet Moment is the latest of my nudes the story of making this quilt is shown on the blog starting on the 6th August 2011. The easiest way to read it is to select the archive from the right hand side of the page and them the year and the month. There are a lot of posts showing many details of the process.

This is another quilt that was named by readers of the blog. Though this time instead of putting the top suggestions to the vote three of us chose the name. The model, Tet and I spent quite a while arguing to come up with the winning name.  It was harder because we needed the name in a hurry to get the quilt into the 2012 calendar.

This is another quilt where I had a lot of fun quilting the hair. I guess it is a texture thing, but then the curves in hair are great too. Whatever it is I do like quilting hair, human or animal.  One of the problems I had when making this quilt was finding the right shades of purple threads. Purple seems to be a really problematic colour. There are just so many different purples. The amount of blue or red in it can change massively. It seems that threads are mostly to the red side and guess what my fabrics are to the blue end. The other problem  with purples is they are really hard to photograph. Most of the pictures I took at the show made the purple of her body look the same colour as her blue shoes.  That is really frustrating as it makes fixing the colour on the computer very tricky. Fortunately I also got a few pictures where the colours came out pretty much right. One afternoon I got chatting to some of the visitors, and we compared all their pictures. The range of colours that this quilt looked was amazing. This is why I often tell people photographing my quilts that I have postcards of them. It really isn't just a money making scam. I know some really are tricky to photograph, but many have been professionally photographed with the correct colours and a good level of detail.

 Daughter is the partner quilt to Mother. In fact Daughter came first. The photograph I worked from was one that Bonnie was going to use to make a quilt. I just fell in love with it when I saw it on her blog. Bonnie and her daughter very kindly gave me permission to use the photograph for this quilt. When I heard I was going to have a gallery at the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago I thoguht it would be a great time to launch this quilt. That was a great plan until I found out how big the gallery space was. It meant that I had no walls small enough to hang this piece on it's own. That is the point at which I knew I had to make Mother.
 Stepping back we can see the whole of the wall between the gallery and the man hall. The main hall is only used by Quiltsfest on trading day,  and for access by staff on the other days. One day  the display of nudes nearly caused and accident. A workman had come in to help us out and on the way in saw fairly traditional quilts. On his way back out of the door he got somewhat distracted by the display on this wall. I would have felt guilty if he had actually failed to find the door, but I do like to surprise people. Quilting is so much more than most people think. We were also lucky enough to have a painter visit the gallery. To be fair he was literally visiting the gallery, not my show. He is having a show there soon and wanted to plan where he would hang his work. He was so positive about my work, it really made my day. When I thought about what he had said I was even more thrilled. The most important thing he said, which I didn't realise until after he left was when I said I can't paint, his reply was I can't cut and sew fabric. I'd never looked at it like that. The biggest boost to my confidence in a long time. I hope his show is a huge success.

 Nude with Rope, is another well known quilt. She has caused controversy and has a huge number of fans. It is the quilt of mine that seems to most divide opinion, and I like that. I like that people come up with their own stories for this quilt.

The quilt comes from another photograph by Alex Treacher. I choose it because I liked the shapes within it and the way the light catches different parts of it. As it required nine shades to render this image I really had to make it in blues where I find I get the best long runs of colour. In this case the whole quilt is made using Moda marbles, as is Quiet Moment. I love this range for it's subtle variations in shade. It is especially well suited to my style of pictorial quilts. As well has having gone to quilt shows around the world, and having been held in customs in almost as many places this quilt has been displayed on the Moda trade stand. Apparently the quilt was a bit of a shock to the sales staff, they weren't expecting it to be so big (just over 7 feet long). They were also very protective of it. This quilt got to stay in a hotel room overnight rather than a cold exhibition hall.

 As you can see we have made it almost to the far side of the gallery. Looking back you can just see the door we came in by to the right of Fractal Stars. In the middle of the room are two large tables. These were provided to the stewards had somewhere to sit and sew, although they were also useful for several of the visitors. You may have also noticed the chairs around the room, we thought it was a good idea for people to have a chance to sit and look at the quilts but it also provides a place to park your less quilt obsessed friends.

Carrying on down the wall that separates the gallery from the main hall, the last quit we come to is Herd Mentality. This quilt seems to be my most requested quilt and I couldn't possibly have an exhibition without displaying it.

It seems to have been the quilt that alerted most people to my existence, which always surprises me. I would have though either Nude with Rope or the Nude Triptych would have been the more prominent quilts. Certainly they have all been displayed, photographed and published about the same amount. I wonder if it was winning at the Festival of Quilts that really made a difference as that got them hung in a far more prominent position that any of the other quilts managed. Whatever it is they are clearly much loved.

Like most of my large art quilts they we assembled entirely on the longarm. I don't have any spaces at home big enough to layout something like this.  Unfortunately I didn't blog the process of this one. I was making it for a large curved wall in the Dissenters Gallery and I only showed one head on my blog before the show. The picture on that post does clearly show the pattern on one of the batiks which is very cool. While I was making this quilt I was running very low on cow coloured fabrics. I had a great idea, I would phone a trader I know fairly well and ask them to send more fabric that I needed in the right sort of colours. Some would be perfect some would be no good but it would solve my current and quite urgent problem. What I didn't forsee was getting someone who didn't know me on the other end of the phone. Apparently you don't often get customers calling and asking for 10-15m of cow colour fabric. The lady rose to the challenge and after several calls to double check posted me a large pack of fabrics. Many of which I did use, including one with a pattern that reminded us of sea anemones. We had discussed patterns that might or might not work. I had said no to anything with grids or lines on. I wasn't convinced by roses but the anemones sounded like they might work. They did. They look just like the fur on a cows forehead where it goes round and around.

 Due to their popularity I now offer a class where you can make your own cow head (does that sound wrong to anyone else or is it just me?). Your first chance to take this class will be in Sitges in Spain, March this year.

 Our last quilt in this section it Perttu. Perttu Kivilaakso is a Finnish cellist who used to play with the Helsinki Philharmonic orchestra but who is now part of a heavy metal cello (actually they are now 3 cellos and a drummer) quartet called Apocalyptica. I haven't done male nudes so far because they are hard to photograph so they don't look untidy. Sorry but women are just far neater. However if I could persuade the band to pose nude with their instruments, then I am sure I could make some very tasteful quilts.

Unlike most of the art quilts in this post Perttu himself is made from fabrics with small designs on them. He has flowers, butterflies and paw prints. I think you can just see the flowers on the lightest grey in the close up. I tend to buy grey fabric whenever I see it, and usually it will have a small print of some sort. I enjoy the challenge of using commercial fabrics for my quilt and to be honest I really don't have the time to custom dye everything I would need. I also like to think that if I can do it from found fabrics then so can other people. I would like people to leave my shows and talks inspired. The comment that most upsets me at events is people saying they might as well give up. It seems I have really failed if they can't see potential to try and make something themselves. Quilting is something anyone can do. Some will do it better than others. Not everyone will be able to do everything, but I really hope that people would feel there is something they could achieve.

Part 3 of the tour can be found here.