Piecing the Blues

You’ve probably forgotten all about the strip piecing I started a while ago. Well, although the heap of little blocks was growing none of them had been joined together until a couple of days ago. Here’s the result so far draped over the ironing board. It’s surprising how it all comes together once you set your mind to it and stop prevaricating! Of course that’s also when you realise you have a long, long way to go yet! The blocks are only 4inches finished and I probably need as many again! I might be tempted to give in and resort to wide borders! One of the things I have really enjoyed about the piecing is how all the different dyeing and printing techniques have come to together. There are very few commercial fabrics involved and nearly all of those were printed by Laura and Jamie at fingerprint! I particularly like the monoprinted fabric designs for the pale areas of the quilt top. You may remember Laura demonstrated that technique in a DMTV video. It’s been a great way to use up even quite small scraps and leftovers but I suspect another dyeing/printing session will be called for to get this to double …

China Museum Visit

We made the most of the first sunny day after what seems like an eternity of foggy mornings, depressingly low cloud with occasional frost and snow, by taking time out for a trip to The China Museum in Coalbrookdale. The two remaining bottle kilns are wondrous structures – gave me goosebumps when we went inside. The photograph gives no sense of the huge scale of the building. Of course the emphasis in the museum rests on the collections of early porcelain but I spied a painter’s box. It’s a box with a difference because these colours are for painting china, not canvas so their true brilliance isn’t revealed until they are fired. It’s believed the box belonged to John Randall who painted this gorgeous plate in the late 1800s. I always like to have a mission when I visit an exhibition – today I searched for birds that featured in the decoration . Meanwhile, back in the studio, my rather more humble attempts continue to fill the pages of my printed sketchbook. I’ve been making use of simple paper masks used with oil pastels and wash. It’s a quick way to establish a silhouette and blank out some of the background pattern. …

Printed Sketchbook Painting and Drawing

I’m still enjoying working into the printed sketchbook Laura gave me a couple of weeks ago. It’s such fun to work with the colours and shapes already on the page! If you haven’t seen any of this book before it’s making several appearances on DMTV. On this page I’ve added the head of a Green Woodpecker. I used a water-soluble pen for the initial drawing and then added watercolour to both the bird and the three incomplete printed circles. My woodpecker is peeping out from behind  Laura’s monoprinted line. Looking at the image on the screen has made me think I need to extend that line across the left page! It’s always useful to look at a photograph of your work I find – helps to see the complete picture! I try to fit in something creative every day if I can. Art sessions with my granddaughter provide a perfect excuse to get colourful. I think I probably enjoyed her stencilled scraperboard activity even more than she did. This combination of shapes is very Klimt-like isn’t it? I hope Amelie will visit again soon so I can play some more! Thanks for dropping by today – I’ll be back again …

Stripy Strip Piecing

Laura’s been stocktaking her fabrics in preparation for the big move to the new studio. As I watched her count the neat piles I couldn’t resist sneaking a couple of the prints into my bag last week! The rusty orange fabric is a favourite of mine. It’s a print of a distressed surface Laura photographed on holiday in Portugal. Just look at that gorgeous little bit of turquoise and grey in the peeling layers! I called it rusty orange but there’s tremendous variation across the cloth with some really dark grainy areas. Prints like these don’t work in the same way as solid colours do but that’s part of the fun. Broken colour affects the way we see the shapes that the strips create. Instead of very defined shapes sometimes there’s blending rather than contrasting. I love the effect! You may be surprised to hear that the stripy blue fabric is a print from a photograph of an old tin roof! The corrugated metal reflected lovely bright highlights against deep dark shadows. Both of these fabrics can be found at Fingerprint and it only takes 2 fat quarters to make a cushion sized patchwork top. I think working with stripes in …

Painted an eye and bound a quilt

I’ve been sidetracked this week having discovered a new fascination. Pinterest has a lot to answer for doesn’t it? No better way to while away an hour (or several) finding things you never knew existed! I know this looks weird but it was inspired by Georgian jewellery and great fun to do. I had even more fun adding a border of beads to surround it. DMTV viewers will get to see the step by step painting and construction process in a few weeks when I’ll hopefully have more examples ready to share. In between these painterly distractions I’ve found time to finish the machine quilting on ‘Every thought a Question’ and added the binding. It still needs work before I can call it done but I’m getting there. The next quilt top is already waiting for my attention. It’s a self portrait destined for exhibition at the NEC either next summer or the following year. Laura and I are lucky to have exhibiting opportunities at Festival of Quilts lined up for 2017 and 2018. I’ve decided to just keep making work – I can decide what goes to which exhibit when I have a choice of quilts to consider. Thank …

New Year, new sketchbook

I’ve just finished taking down the Christmas decorations and last night we ate the last slices of Christmas cake so, it’s official, Christmas is over. Time to put the special tablecloth away for another year. Thanks to our friends and family it’s gradually getting more and more colourful but there’s still plenty to work on next time it appears. Should entertain us for years to come actually! We’ve had lots of visitors and fun over the last couple of weeks but it hasn’t been all lolling about eating, drinking and watching old films on TV – I have made time to be creative too. I think you have to or you might possibly go mad with sloth and inactivity! Some of the most enjoyable time has been working into one of Laura’s hand printed sketchbooks. She made three for the recent DMTV video and threw one in my direction with the challenge to fill it and make it my own. Of course I had to include a few of my favourite birds didn’t I? This rook is one of the pages that will be making an appearance on DMTV soon. This is definitely a work in progress but I’ll be …

Christmas Quilt deadline nearly met!

I had intended to give this little quilt to my mother for Christmas but, what with one thing and another, it wasn’t quite ready in time and she had to make do with a last minute purchase of perfume. Luckily she’s a very forgiving sort and I’m sure she’ll be happy with a present to celebrate the start of a brand new year instead. Here’s a picture of the whole thing. You may recognise the pieced design in the centre – I reused the paper templates from Laura’s Millefiori Patchwork video for DMTV. Waste not, want not as the saying goes! It was lovely to have some restful hand stitching in the run up to Christmas. I hemmed the patchwork to a square of dark blue/green fabric, added borders of a paler hand dye and applied hydrangea petals to the four corners before having fun free motion quilting it on my PowerQuilter. I used a single colour of Madeira rayon thread throughout to help meld the different elements together. There’s lots of quilting but happily the quilt still has some drape to it as you can see in the photo above. DMTV subscribers can see how I made  the piece …

Getting organised

You may not believe it but we found this cabinet in a skip this week. Hard to understand why someone would throw it out – obviously not a sewing type like me. I hate waste of any kind but especially of such a useful object.   After a couple of hours of deep cleaning it was ready to house some of my vast stash of threads. Amelie and I had great fun organising them, not by type but by colour. When I’m quilting or embroidering the colour is by far the most important consideration. It’s quite an interesting exercise. There were lots of questions about is this red grandma or is it pink or purple? When does the greeny blue become green and the turquoisy green become blue? If this child isn’t fully conversant with colour theory by the time she’s five it won’t be because of lack of trying! Other children of four might recognise red, blue and yellow – Amelie is already familiar with indigo, aubergine and rust! Good girl! I’ve decided to be grown up about it and just get on with quilting the face in the latest piece. I’m having to do most of this in the dark, winter …

Work in Progress and for Sale

I’ve been adding more photos to my website over the last few days. The new site and was looking a little sparse so it’s more than overdue! I still need to photograph lots of my quilts but the small works page is beginning to fill up nicely. I’ve taken the opportunity to include several of the small works that I have for sale. I’ve priced things to sell so if you fancy a browse please have a look and get in touch if there’s anything you fancy. DMTV viewers might recognise some of the projects from our videos………………. But there are also some pieces that haven’t been seen before. You can find them all by choosing ‘Portfolio’ and then ‘Small Works’ from the menu bar. Back in my workroom the portrait quilt is coming along. I’m just concentrating on filling the negative spaces between the butterflies and dragonflies at the moment. I’m putting off the difficult part of the quilting – the face, for as long as I can. I’ll get around to that when I’m feeling braver! It’s fun to bring in a bit of traditional feather type quilting and the shapes give me scope for some fabric painting …