Saturday, 29 December 2012

AFTERMATH

..... And now it's all over. Everyone's gone home and we're left in a post-Christmas haze with a huge pile of discarded wrapping paper and enough food for a week. (Why do I always over-cater?)

Our three grandchildren with
stockings, reindeer food
and Father Christmas' glass of wine
on Christmas Eve
Fond relationships have been cemented and the family bonded, which is what makes it all worthwhile. We had a wonderful time - greatly enhanced by the grandchildren who kept everyone amused when there was any possibility of boredom. All those capable mucked in and helped with food preparation and clearing up. Thanks to all for everything.

Mother and daughter in the garden
checking that the reindeer had eaten
their food on Christmas morning....
....they had ....such relief!
As always after Christmas, the soup factory is now in business. It is warming and comforting and a great antidote to all that rain and dismal weather .... and it uses up the left-overs and so makes me feel virtuous ....

This afternoon, I will start some stitching - a small piece to break me in gently as I focus my mind ready for something bigger after New Year.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

HAPPY CHRISTMAS ALL

This is one of many stitch cards that didn't quite make it into full production as it took too long but I like the colours anyway so it comes with good wishes for Christmas.

Hope there's a great time had with family, friends or however you choose to celebrate or maybe you ignore the whole thing - but enjoy the holiday anyway.

We'll be 14 here altogether,  including 3 grandchildren under 3 - a noisy time will be had no doubt - but hopefully it will be happy - and after it's all over we will rest and sleep..... We'll need to!

Blogging is fun and it's great to be read so I'll be back in the New Year after the pleasure of family is over.

I look forward to having the time to stitch and complete rather than just imagining and designing in my mind as I do when I'm busy.....

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Sandra Meech - Connecting Design to Stitch



At last I've found time for a proper read of Sandra Meech's lovely book, Connecting Design to Stitch, bought at the Festival of Quilts. There are some great exercises to try when I have the time to do them justice.

Arctic Snow  - Sandra Meech
(Reproduced with permission)
Meanwhile, I've been taking inspiration from the close-ups of the quilting lines she's used in the examples of her work. I particularly like Arctic Snow on P 21 for its simplicity and the way the eye is focused on the small area of strong colour and the movement and shape of the machine stitch.

Machine stitch sample
in my planning journal
If you've read my blog before you may know that the group I stitch with, Great Western Embroiderers, have an exhibition focusing on the Cotswolds coming up in the New Year. At the moment, ready for this, I'm working on a textile version of a geological section, representing the folds, faults and strata of the oolitic limestone. (This is not an original thought, I know.)

I'm finding it difficult as everything seems to become very linear and strip-like (no surprise really ...) . Making the work lively and with unexpected details is hard. I also tend to over-work things.

For better or worse, these are the results so far, in the order I did them. On each one, I've used a silk or cotton ground and painted the fabric with silk paints. Either before or after painting, I've machine quilted them.

Limestone layers with machine quilting and handstitch
ex[eriment and 8" square for group project
On the bright yellow one, I hand stitched with running stitches as it seemed to free things up and make the work look more unplanned and natural. As well as being a try-out, this will be my contribution to the group compilation of 8" squares.

Although I like the effect I've produced on it, I'm not sure it's going to be practical on a big piece like I'm planning. It will take ages. My dead-line to finish it is the of the middle of February and I have thoughts for THREE large pieces!


I always seem to have ideas beyond my ability to complete them.

I may have to think again.

Hand painted on a cotton ground
with lots of machine stitch, much
of it using distorted in-built stitches























Image taken from: Sandra Meech 2012, Connecting Design to Stitch, Batsford P21 - reproduced with permission from Sandra.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

FROST, MIST AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Frost and fog like we have had this week are not that common here so have to be relished. The effects had me reaching for my camera and set me looking at past photos. I have lots as I love the sight of frost on grasses and reeds, branches and twigs, and cobwebs and photograph them whenever I can.

This was the view across fields from the bottom of my garden this morning. Every twig and frond was covered in ice crystals. I was fascinated by how the hoar frost had attached itself to the (not very effective) rabbit-proof chicken wire and the barbed wire along the fence.

The rime had also picked out cobwebs on trees, fences, this wooden gate and even my car wing mirror.
Later in the day - but when I didn't have my camera to hand - the sun broke through the mist, low in the sky, and a soft pink light was cast across the fields - quite lovely.



The winter before last, we had very heavy frosts and I took a drive around the neighbourhood with my camera. I'd no time to do that today so had to make do with these photographs.

I'd found a frozen pond surrounded by reeds and bull-rushes and a dried umbellifera all coated in hoar frost. It had taken many days of continuous temperatures below zero to give this build-up and to pick out every stem, seed head and twig.

I'm sure these images, like so many things, will find their way into my textile work, though right now I'm not sure how.




Saturday, 8 December 2012

Muchelney Pottery and floods on the Somerset Levels

Two days ago, I visited the Somerset Levels with a friend. We were trying to find our way to the Muchelney pottery in search of pots by John Leach, the latest member of the Leach potting dynasty.

This is a beautiful area, but troubled just now by flooding. We were amazed that the village of Muchelney itself remained cut off when we visited two weeks or more after the flooding and residents were still having to go in and out of the village by boat or by tractor.

It was a wonderful afternoon as we drove down, cold, calm and sunny. In the lowest-lying areas, field after field was flooded. Being near sunset, there were glorious colours in sky and water. I had my camera with me and took several photos. My friend, who knows how I often work, suggested the scene could make a lovely silk landscape piece. I think she may be right.

Despite the recent floods, the pottery, just outside the village itself, was accessible - just, and only from the South. The property had suffered flooding for the first time in living memory. The house was inundated, together with studios and wood store, but the shop somehow was not and was open and very happy to receive visitors.

The wood-fired stoneware pots are both useful and beautifully crafted. I have several pieces I've bought on previous visits and bought some more this time for Christmas presents.

The shapes are strong and satisfying and feel good and balanced in the hand. I love the rich brown figuring on the unglazed outside faces, caused by the flames lapping around the wares in the firing.

John Leach is shown throwing as on his website at: http://www.johnleachpottery.co.uk/ - well worth a visit if you like beautifully made - and useful - stoneware.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Textile Christmas Cards with Transfer Dyes


I just couldn't make the snow landscape idea for Christmas cards work satisfactorily. The design was disappointing and each card was taking too long to make. I have to get going on a rapid production line or it takes me months to make my cards.

Four of the cards in their mounts
and with a greeting
I've reverted to Plan B - always a good idea to have one of those....

Plan B is a design of random coloured bauble shapes in bright colours. The shapes were heat set onto polyester lining fabric in a fairly haphazard fashion using transfer dyes.

I cut out suitable shapes, both positive and negative from computer paper, and used them to mask areas as I coloured  the fabric, overlaying the colours and shapes.

Transfer dyes and masking shapes
on polyester lining fabric
I used powdered transfer dyes from Art Van Go which I mixed up ready in the little bottles shown and then painted pretty well neat onto A4 computer paper. The colours mix themselves as they are applied to the fabric so I didn't mix before painting.

To heat set the design onto the lining fabric I used an old domestic travel iron which gave the varied intensity of colour I wanted for these cards. With practice, you can judge how long to heat the fabric to get the effect you want. It's very important to use an old iron, not your prize new steam iron, as the sole plate can become stained by the transfer dyes.

The resulting cards are colourful, each one is unique and I'm quite pleased with them.


Now I just have to mount them into the card stock, add a greeting and my labels and the job will be done.