Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Birmingham bonus

We needed a quick trip to Birmingham today to get fabric for Laura's steamer. Seemed a pity not to make the most of the day by fitting in a couple of exhibitions we had been longing to see!

How enticing is that poster? An unmistakable Leonardo face - one of ten drawings on loan from the Queen's collection in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee year.

And here she is for real in the gallery. I'm sorry for the reflections and the quality of the photo. We didn't think they'd allow photography and only had a phone with us. All of the drawings are on paper and it seems completely incredible that they have survived so perfectly for over five hundred years.

My favourite drawings in the exhibition were these of skeletal feet. Rather gruesomely Leonardo dissected around 30 cadavers in just over a year to record these observations. We weren't told where the bodies came from!

By way of total contrast this Anthony Gormley figure stands against the elements in the square outside the gallery. It was a bleak, cold day today - no wonder he looks a bit hunched!

We also visited the Lost in Lace exhibition but light levels were quite low and our photographs were disappointing. If you are interested to see the kind of ambitious new approaches to work inspired by lace being produced by UK and international artists visit www.lostinlace.org.uk The monumental scale of the work impressed me most!

Thanks for reading this - I hope you'll be back soon.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Making time in a busy day

It's been a busy few days here since we reopened enrolment for our Online courses this week. Laura and I have got square eyes from sitting in front of our computers all day welcoming students and dealing with the admin! I have however managed a few stolen minutes in my studio in the evenings and thought you might like to see some of the things I'm working on.

This will be a cushion once I've made the backs! I've pieced some of Laura's fantastic printed fabrics and just draped them over the cushion pad to see the effect. Don't you just love the peeling paint? It looks so real!!

I've made a small start on the quilting for this bird panel. He was one of the pages from last year's Art House Sketchbook Project and Laura printed him on cotton fabric for me.

I love how the print has captured the textures of the watercolour wash so perfectly.

I've added some painted fusible feathers to make a border and provide me with shapes to quilt.

The second Iris quilt now has painted leaves and stems and I'm drawing onto the paint to add shadows so it looks as though the stems weave in and out as they sit in the vase.

With all this activity it's important not to forget the inner man! I made a double batch of loaves and rolls this week to sustain the workers!!

Hope you can squeeze a bit of creative time into you working day too - it's what keeps you happy and sane! Bye for now,

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I was lucky to be able to photograph a few beautiful moths this morning. The ones I see flying in the garden are usually brown and boring but these had lots of colour and pattern. They were sadly behind glass but as it was a dull day the reflections weren't too much of a problem. Some of the photos I took were of Victorian specimens and rather fragile but I'm sure I will be able to draw from the photographs now I can see the detail at such close quarters.

I've been altering a book about moths for a while now. It has lots of generic moth shapes because I've rather relied on print and stencil techniques but now I have real specimens to work from I'll be able to do more 'proper' drawing!

Enjoy your weekend! Linda

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

More Iris

The design wall in my studio is in danger of looking like a florist's shop window as the Iris quilts are beginning to take over.

You might remember seeing version 1 of the Iris quilts I'm making for 'Orientation', our exhibition at the Needle Museum next September. This is version 2 - definitely a work in progress right now but I'm at the fun bit where I start to draw into the applique with Derwent Inktense pencils to add shadows and depth.

I'm quite pleased with how the pencil drawing makes the flower look more real. The narrow pencil lines you can see in the image above will be painted in to form the stems and leaves. I'm going to use fabric paint in really dark blues and aubergines so it won't be naturalistic - I'm aiming for drama!

I've also been working with some of the digital prints Laura's making on her new machine. These are two of the cushions I've made this week. The crow is one of my acrylic paintings photographed and printed to cotton and the long cushion is a print of one of Laura's sketchbook pages. They are on a heavier weight of fabric than I normally use so they didn't need any quilting and were very quick to make. I'm hoping Laura will have time to print me something really special in the next few days. It's a quilt I am planning to exhibit in Leamington next autumn. There's nothing to show just yet but I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by - I appreciate it.  Linda

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Yet more printing

That's the trouble when you invite your sister over to play - she has so much fun screenprinting that you can't get a look in!

Of course you and your Mom are allowed to watch and if you're lucky you're even allowed to hold the fabric!

The poor longarm machine gets festooned with wet prints. What on earth is Maureen planning to do with all those lizards?

I know we all look very serious but that was just concentration - we had a great time!

So much so that next week we're going to play at monoprinting!

Talk to you again soon - Linda

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Monoprinted moths

People often ask us how we manage to find time to make all the videos for DMTV. Without wishing to sound rude, that question rather misses the point. The videos aren't extra to our work, we simply do what we like to do but unlike most sane people we attempt to do it in front of a couple of cameras! Our subscribers will get to see Laura's instructions for a favourite fabric monoprinting technique next week but I have the advantage of having had a sneaky preview already. Inspired, I couldn't resist trying my own hand at it today.

The effects are really exciting and I thought you might like to see some of them. The dark lines are the results of the monoprint. In these examples I worked onto a previous screenprint which I made a couple of years ago using the simple paper mask technique. It's about time I did something with them!!

The blue moths were created by masking hand dyed fabric with moth shapes cut from freezer paper and then discharging most of the background colour with discharge paste applied through a screen. How much more interesting the blank shapes look with the addition of monoprinted black detail!

You can see the original empty moth shape here in one of the screenprints and how the monoprint layer transforms it. Printing is so quick. Of course it's impossible to stop once you get in the mood so needless to say I have quite a few of these now. Watch this space - they will start to appear in my quilts very soon!

They should be dry by now - must go and iron them! Talk again soon - Linda

Monday, 2 January 2012

Time to smell the roses

Without light there is no colour but when the sun shines there is glorious colour even on a winter's day in January. Like lots of folk who've eaten too much, drunk too much and barely moved a muscle except to switch TV channels for a week it was time for a walk in the country today!

These persistent Acer leaves still cling to the branch.

Who says tree trunks are brown?

Or boring?

Or dull?

A poplar avenue is nature's cathedral.

And a laburnum arch is beautiful even without the flowers.

Without a whisper of wind a pool becomes a mirror.

And then there's cute! If this little fellow with his velvet head and orange feet could have been persuaded into my bag I'd have bought him home with me!!

It doesn't cost much to get out to see the world and recharge batteries!

Talk to you soon - Linda

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Mission Continues!

First of all may I wish everyone who takes the time to visit this blog a very Happy and Creative New Year. I hope you aim higher than you think you should and that you surprise yourself with what you can achieve. To misquote that song, 'It's a new dawn and a new day and I'm feeling good' but before I feel free enough to launch into challenges new I have to finish stuff that's been lurking in various piles in my workroom. There's no way I can focus when unfinished business stares at me from all sides!

Remember this little quilt top? I made it in a mad frenzy of excitement after we had Edwina Mackinnon demonstrate her 'Cut and Come Again' technique for DMTV. The piecing was really enjoyable but because we're always so busy the top then languished up a corner while other things took over. In my mission to purge the workroom I made the unusual decision to delegate! You may know that my sister Maureen offers a longarm machine quilting service. Having seen some of her recent commissions I knew she was just what I needed!

She added an 80/20 cotton and poly wadding with a cream coloured backing and quilted the sandwich with a lovely fluid design using a caramel coloured thread that really pulls the whole thing together. I'm so pleased with how my quilt looks on the coffee table in the conservatory!

And my collection of glass marbles in its lovely blue patterned dish looks right at home with the new quilt!

I love how Maureen's quilting has transformed the patchwork but I couldn't let her do my favourite bit - the binding. I may be easy to please but there's little I like more than the satisfaction of a neat binding and a perfect mitre! I'm going through more of the heaps to my see what else I can send her!

Hope you'll finish (and start) lots of new projects this year too even if you rely on a little outside help.

Thanks for dropping by to visit - Linda