Now that the Christmas decorations have been put away, people have returned to work and school, and life begins to resume it’s normal routine, I have started to focus my mind on the year ahead. I would like to say that I make New Year resolutions, but they’re more like good intentions which generally fall by the wayside as the weeks progress. This year is no exception, and I won’t bore you with the full (and extensive) list, but it does include my intention to update this blog on a monthly basis – we’ll see how long that lasts! Another intention is to try not to spend so much dithering about what to do next and doing trivial ‘stuff’ to put off making tricky decisions. That requires a bit more of an effort on my part!
In the run up to Christmas, I was making a few gifts and small items for sale, that you can see below.
Now it’s time to get down to some more substantial work. To get us going this year, Margaret and I have set ourselves a challenge to create a sketch a day for a month. I’m not good at drawing so this is a scary activity for me, but so far all is going well. In addition, we’ve both joined an on-line group whose aim is to produce a monthly art piece, with parameters set by each person. My aim is to produce mixed-media pieces which will also use items from my scrap-bag. This may be a bit of a cop-out for me, as I love to use my scrap bag to produce pictures (as you can see above), but hey, as well as taking part in a challenge you also need to enjoy yourself (or what’s the point!). Perhaps I’ll surprise myself – watch this space!!
Well, it’s about time I updated our blog instead of me relying on my talented stitching partner. As Joan has shared some of her work on our ‘urban challenge’ I thought I would show you my latest endeavour.
and a close up
I had a change with this one and decided to use a piece of hand dyed blanket with hand stitching and appliqué. Fairly pleased.
On a different note, we spent a couple of days in Formby and Crosby and I really liked both places, especially the beaches.
These are our two cockerpoo puppies enjoying the surf. We had superb weather and enjoyed walking for miles along the beach at Formby.
We moved onto Crosby because we wanted to see the Antony Gormley statues.
I hadn’t realised there were 100 of them positioned along the coast and we thought they were awesome.
If you have been, thanks for reading and I’ll try to be posting again soon, no promises though.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, bye for now,
Well now I at last have my May version of our ‘urban’ challenge, even if it’s almost a month late! This is entitled “The old and the new”, and is inspired by the sweeping away of old fashioned terraced housing and disused buildings, to make way for high rise housing. Whilst the new housing may be more efficient than the older version, I find them impersonal and sterile, compared to the friendly neighbourly feel of the older type of housing.
Close up views:
Now all I need to do is to design and work my next urban challenge piece, and since it should be ready for the end of June, it looks as though it’s going to be late again!! I think I need to snap a few photos around town to get a bit more inspiration, and I’m hoping that not one but two pieces will spring from my brain, so that July’s piece will also materialise. (Springing into action isn’t really my brain’s best feature!).
I thought I’d also share my latest piece for the ‘Fifteen by Fifteen’ group. You may recall that we’re producing work in which follows a single theme to produce a series, and that my theme is seed heads.
This piece is based on Nigella seed heads (also known as Love-in-a-mist). For this one I tried to use flimsy threads and delicate stitching to create a misty feel (you may be able to see this is the close-up view). For a change, I actually have an idea for my next piece, and have started work on it, so maybe I won’t be rushing to finish near the deadline.
Here’s hoping that I’m a bit more productive in the next few weeks. (Joan)
Continuing with our challenge to produce a monthly urban landscape, I thought I’d share the one I completed for the month of April. The reason I’m not sharing May’s effort? – yes, you’ve guessed it, I haven’t done it yet! So this month I’ll be needing to make two urban pieces, because I’m enjoying this challenge, so I don’t want to give up on it.
I called this one “There were potbanks among the houses” – and it reflects the fact that in the not-too-distant past there were indeed streets of terraced houses with potteries at their ends. At one time, the landscape of this area was dominated by bottle ovens, and of course workers lived cheek-by-jowl with their places of work.
This piece was created by printing calico with a commercial stamp depicting little houses. The shape of the bottle oven was cut from dyed kitchen paper, and the whole piece then overlaid with transfer printed organza. I hand-stitched at random some of the house shapes, and again added little curtain and window details to some of the houses. I added a few impressions of cobbled streets with running stitch.
We’ve had a bit of excitement in our little world over the past few weeks, when we participated in a textile fair at a local gallery. After a bit of frenzied preparation, where we found pieces we’d forgotten or fell out of love with, and pieces that we’ve produced recently, we eventually felt that we had a nice mixture of work to show. We used some of it to stock a little stall, and other pieces were wall-hung as part of a larger exhibition. As well as receiving many lovely comments, we sold a few small pieces, and Margaret also sold one of her larger ones. All in all a real confidence booster.
My latest piece for the ‘Fifteen by Fifteen’ group has also been completed and was part of the reveal which as posted online yesterday. We are currently working a series of pieces based on a single theme, my theme being seed heads. This time I have based the piece on Nigella seed heads (also known as Love-in-a-Mist). see what you think:
I’ve added this one to my ‘Fifteen’ gallery page in the tabs above, and you can view the whole group’s pieces at https://fifteenquilts.com/
Now to get on with two months’ worth of our urban challenge.
Thought I’d catch up with some of the little things I’ve been doing lately (as my mojo has gone missing when it comes to more ‘considered’ pieces).
This first one is my March version of our ‘urban’ challenge (and yes, I know it’s almost the end of April, but the next one is underway – honest). I’m calling this one ‘The canal at dusk’, and again it is inspired by the old factory buildings and potteries in our area. There are many disused and in-loved workings along the canals, but somehow they keep drawing me back (just call me weird!).
The one I’m working on now (for the end of April) is a bit more abstract than this one, so watch this space.
I find that when I’m working out how to start a piece, I ‘twiddle’ with scrap fabrics, and this next picture is the result of my latest twiddling. I think that not having an idea or design to work to, and using up bits and pieces of fabric that aren’t precious, gives me a certain freedom and therefore I find twiddling a very relaxing pastime (and it stops me from feeling guilty that I’m not stitching).
Next I can share with you my latest piece for the Fifteen by Fifteen group. As you’ve probably guessed this one is called Poppy. You can see the full reveal at https://fifteenquilts.com/
Finally, I’d like to showcase this little bag, to give my friend Margaret a bit of recognition and thanks. She kindly gave me this because I liked it so much, and she thought it wasn’t very good. I don’t think she gives herself enough credit – what do you think?
See you soon (Joan)
You may remember that Joan and I went to a workshop at the end of last year, where we were dying fabrics with Jo Hill and challenged ourselves to produce a piece of work using some of these fabrics. I managed to make a small cushion from 2 pieces of my fabrics –
that’s one challenge done and dustred, onto the next…
Our challenge for this year is to produce a small ‘landscape’ every month. I produced this urban landscape for January
Just less than A4 and it is layered with different organzas and then some parts cut away. I’ve used machine and hand stitch. Both Joan and I have featured bottle kilns that were throughout Stoke-on-Trent when the ‘Potteries’ was thriving.
For February, something similar
I’ve used patterned, commerical and hand printed fabrics on this one, but prefer the January piece really. Intend to continue on the layering of fabrics but I need to remember just how many layers I have made. The ‘kiln’ second from the right only has the one layer left and so is a little flimsy.
I’ve made a start on the March piece, so I’m getting on track now.
To finish, this is a photo of our snowdrops in the back garden and I hope it helps to cheer up those of you who are as fed up of this weather as much as I am.
Bye for now,
I’ve settled on an urban theme for our latest challenge, and I’ve now completed two small pieces. We decided we’d complete one a month, and use a size no larger than 12″ in any direction.
This is my first piece, which was based on one of our local potteries (which some people may recognise from the TV program Pottery Throw down). It was meant to be much more abstract than this, but somehow I got sucked into getting the shapes of the buildings correct. I used assorted fabric pieces, including some rust-dyed pieces, cut to shape, then overlaid these with sheers, and finished it all off by adding hand stitched details. In the end although it isn’t what I was aiming for, I think it’s something I can probably build upon for one of my future pieces. Overall I’d say ‘satisfactory, could do better’!
My second piece is a little more along the lines of what I was aiming for. This time I decided to go for more of a landscape view, and I like it much better. I used the same rust-dyed fabric for the sky and cut a piece of card to the shape of the industrial skyline, which I used as a template for stencilling the darker colour. I pieced fabric scraps together for the ‘ground’, and drew the lines of my design with a fine black pen. Then I covered the whole thing with a transfer printed sheer fabric to give some colour variation, before hand-stitching over the drawn lines and filling in all of the details.
I have to confess that I’m having a bit of a love affair with coloured sheer fabric at the moment, and with layering these with other fabrics to give depth, colour and interest to pieces. I used this method in my latest piece for the FifteenxFifteen group, which is the first in a series of pieces which will be based on the theme of Seed Heads.
For this one I used several layers of sheers which were coloured with transfer inks, and incorporating positive and negative shapes using a paper resist in the shape of honesty seed heads. Of course I’ve added hand-stitching both for the details and for the quilting – this is my favourite way of working. The series will consist of five pieces, and I am hoping to use a different technique in each – so maybe I should try hard to use more machine stitching in one of the pieces. The only thing is that I so enjoy hand-stitching, and I consider it to be far superior to my machine stitching (which I don’t feel very confident with). I suppose I will never get better at machining unless I practise more, so I really should make an effort with one of the series, but I can’t guarantee that the pleasure of the needle in the hand won’t win out!
In my last post, I noted that Margaret and I challenged each other to produce something using two pieces of fabric we’d dyed at a recent workshop. I usually have trouble completing challenges (life gets in the way), but this time I finished, if slightly late, so I thought I may as well share it. It’s a bit on the abstract side – but then so am I.
Our next challenge is to interpret a landscape in a minimalist and quite abstract style. I had the idea of using an urban/industrial starting point for my landscape, rather than a ‘traditional’ countryside, which I’ve interpreted many times in the past.
I took some photos of a local pottery works which I’m very fond of, and that I’ve thought of using before but never got round to it……however……. now that I’ve done some preliminary sketches, I’m thinking that it may be too ‘flat’ for a landscape.
So now I may have to revert to a traditional landscape, such as this one that I took last autumn while out walking. Decisions, decisions!!
I’ve been busy this last few weeks, but mostly with Xmas gifts that I haven’t been able to share with you, on the off chance that my family and friends (who would receive them) should read this blog! There have been other things too – so quite a lot to catch up on.
Firstly I decided to enter a small quilt (only 7″ by 10″) into the SAQA Trunk show. SAQA is a quilting group that I joined a few months ago and have been in awe of the quilts produced by its members. SAQA is a quilting group based mainly in the USA, that I joined a few months ago and have been in awe of the quilts produced by its members. I felt as though I was there somewhat under false pretences, and not up to their standards, but I’ve plucked up courage to enter my piece and just see what happens next! I know that it’s arrived in the USA, and now I think it joins other touring entries to be exhibited in various venues across the USA. I think that this now gives me the confidence and courage to maybe enter other pieces into future SAQA shows.
Then of course, I needed to keep up with my other on-line group, Fifteen by Fifteen. The quilt was to be finished by the end of November, and the theme this time was ‘Motion’. I’ve included the picture in my 15×15 gallery, and I think it’s probably self-explanatory.
On the home front, I’ve finally finished the hexie-quilt that I’ve been working on for most of the year. This was always going to be a gift for my son, who’d asked for a quilt some time ago. I would like to show you a wonderful picture of the finished piece, but I was working on it almost up until Xmas, and consequently the light was not good enough to take a decent picture (winter can be very dismal and dark in this part of the world). Here are the best pictures I can muster – my son loves the quilt by the way!
I was also asked to make some ‘rustic’ Xmas decorations for a friend, and a small picture by a family member, so I’ve also been busy with both of those. The picture shows a selection of the type of felt decorations I made, and they do look effective when hanging on her tree – they’re very cheerful at least. the picture was one of my ‘scrappy’ creations – sourced from my copious bag of off-cuts and other interesting bits, that I love to work with.
So, as you see I haven’t been idle (just quiet). In the meantime Margaret and I also had a lovely dying day with Jo Hill, and produced a lovely stack of dyed fabrics to tinker with. We’ve challenged each other to produce something with at least two of the fabrics. Our original deadline was to have this ready for Xmas, but needless to say, I missed that – although I believe Margaret has finished hers. I asked for a ‘stay of execution’ until New Year, and I at least now have something underway – to be revealed at the next blog update!!!