30 August 2010


On the way back south from Birminham the train went through rain and then the clouds cleared, with the low ones moving fast. When you take photos through the train windows, there always seems to be a little bit of the interior reflected - or a streak or smudge on the window.

29 August 2010

Off the wall

You take a photo in passing because of the initial impression and then when you look at it closely, it turns out to be spookier than you thought...

28 August 2010

On the design wall today

In this case the design wall is the floor. I was looking for some black fabric to back the piece from the CQ summer school workshop, and shook out a folded piece of wool. Out flew the bits of pinkish fabric, which had been dyed with some very old black dye solution, as an experiment - well obviously it was an experiment that didn't work - the dye solution was just too old. I'd folded the big piece, machined across it a bit with flimsy thread, and torn it open, so that bits of the thread were left loose and ragged. Another piece got randomly zigzagged. You can just about see those in the photo.The "pink" fabric was intended for a piece with the working title Speech Marks. I'd just done a workshop with Dorothy Caldwell, so this was two years ago, and was exploring mark-making on little bits of fabric, like those in the photo. I'm still carrying around little bits of fabric, with a black backing/border, and doing "marks" when I have a moment ... now I have quite a collection of these "speech marks". I pulled out a few that looked good with the pink colour. The bit of batik fabric also seemed congenial for the piece, and had turned up during my CUTS earlier in the week and happened to be lying about. It's got this far in about 2 minutes, and started out as a complete accident. The challenge is to take it on to something that looks intentional. (There is definitely a concept behind it, so that's ok!)

There they lie - two unfinished projects, one a complete surprise, mellowing on the "design wall" and getting in my way as I step around them to get to the ironing board. I'm off to the weekend studio and will revisit them on return on Monday morning.

27 August 2010

Some progress on the japanese quilt

It would be nice to stop at this point, leave it as a lap quilt - fold over the border from the back, add a bit more quilting, and move on to another project.... On the other hand, I have a heap of japanese fabric that needs using, AND this is meant to be a double-bed size quilt. So, on we go, adding more borders...After a leisurely day doing little but sewing, it has two new borders - the red one, and squares of dragon fabric around the big dragon - and I've also sewn more wadding around the four sides, to the desired finished size.
On the other side, a plethora of piecing. It's quilt-as-you-go, virtually invisible on this side -
After another plain round - or two - "the ladies" will go down the sides and across the bottom -
One blue strip, or two...? Or, a paler fabric near the dragon squares ...?
Decisions, decisions! But that's the fun of it, making it grow, building on what's there.

I'm enjoying sitting on the floor to sew, but using the stop-go button rather than the foot pedal definitely feels a bit scary!

26 August 2010


Lots of irresistible grafitti around the artists' quarter of Hoxton...

Here's another -
and a proper mural, already attracting grafitti -

25 August 2010

Yesterday in the studio

A parcel was due to be delivered - this book, which I ordered from the US just over a week ago, after blogging about Hedi Kyle's blizzard book. I found out about the Festschrift from one of the websites encountered while researching the link to her work - and when it came I thumbed through from middle to end and beginning to middle. What an interesting mix of ideas it contains -
The little red book was a little black, cheap, convenient academic year diary that cried out for a cheerier cover. While clearing up the studio (CUTS) and waiting for the post, I found a bag of leather scraps and crudely glued a red chunk over the black plastic cover. It's hardly fine binding, but when it gets tatty I can simply re-cover it.

CUTS also turned up these strokable pieces from Karina Thompson's workshop at the CQ summer school last year - if time permits (or the mood strikes me), I'll add some fabric (wool?) round the edges and make them into cushion covers ... yet another project... -
Also seeing the light of day was "Searchlights", a small piece made for a regional day challenge, way back when. It's hand pieced over papers (one piece of paper cut up, carefully labelled to help with the putting back together) and is about 18" tall. I still like the idea but can quite understand that people might find it "enigmatic" or even "baffling". Maybe one day it will become a book cover? -
What to do with my headless Korean costumes - they use my first-ever microwave dyes, which Ann D showed me how to do - many subtle colours due to overdyeing. I also made some with tall collars that look (slightly) less odd. Perhaps they can be pincushions, or would that be too voodoo?
CUTS included much sorting through papers - like these leaflets left after a visit to Barcelona several years ago - I can recommend the maritime museum, Palau Musica, Miro Foundation, Pedralbes monastery with part of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, romanesque art at the Catalan art museum, the Picasso museum - lots to see. Also the science museum, way up Tibidabo hill, is excellent, as is the aquarium.
How easy it is to get sidetracked...

While the studio is being rejuvenated, I've set up a sewing machine and laid out the project in the front bedroom -
It's the japanese quilt, and in between bouts of CUTS for a change of pace I'll be working japanese style - pretty close to the floor, or maybe even on the floor.

24 August 2010

Iraqi wedding blankets

Superbly exuberant embroideries - my favourite gallery at FOQ -along with Quiltart's Slice of Life and Judy Hooworth, and the European art quilts, and ...
The chain stitch embroidery is worked by men.
The Marsh Arabs, who make these blankets, are Shi'a Muslims and representational motifs are not prohibited -

As the marshes are drained, the traditional lifestyle is threatened.

Visitors enjoyed the "floor show" -

What you find...

...when clearing up the studio - colour catchers and a 5(?) year old pattern for a skirt that I'm definitely never going to make -photos (from the office) of my son at age 5 and at 16 with his cousins -
tubs and bottles -
and more bottles -
beads bought in hope of jewelled splendour - hmm, at least four years ago -
many tiny clothespegs, and a grip glove for machine quilting -
and much more, all needing a decision - keep? bin? or - ??

I made the skirt pattern into a little book, and started writing down what I wasn't going to accomplish today. Writing stuff down means you don't have to remember it - also, it's more likely to get done eventually (at least that's my theory). As you can see, I managed to achieve one of the "impossible today, save it for later" items -
The thread boxes have been moved from under the ironing board to their special, handy place to the left of the sewing machine. All it needed was a shelf emptying and repositioning. The contents of the shelf have been sorted - and labelled! very important, the labels - and put back under the shelf -For the first time in a year, the floor under the ironing board is clear -
Next step - oh there are many next steps! - one possibility is to clear yet more floor.

23 August 2010

FOQ workshop, day 2

Now that we all had a mountain of paper and fabric to collage, Judy showed us two approaches - cutting up the materials beforehand and using the bits, or starting with one bit and building up, selecting other sections to cut and use -One secret of success is to lay them out on a nice big sheet of plain paper - and to keep your work area as clear as possible.

I found it was easy to get tooooo busy -
Less is more -
You may not be able to see, because of the darkness, that this piece (A4 size, laid on A3) has bright pink stitching -
Using the neons really was a challenge. Again, less is more -

This one needs a strip taking off the left side -A bit of stitched velvet became a boat -
Several of the pieces had an urban feel (is it due to the colour grey?) -
The stripey-looking areas are neon paper painted with sludgy colour -
The overall favourite from my day's output - enigmatic, wot? -
Judy distributed her leftover painted papers - I used mine immediately to make quite a large piece -
Next challenge for me is to work a bit smaller - using the prepared papers to make another half dozen of these collages. And to add stitch to these pieces, where it's needed - then put them away for a while and see if any withstand the test of time.