Wednesday 24 October 2012

No time to lose

There are times when it's OK to start a new project with no deadline in mind and be happy pick it up to occupy a few moments here and there. Laura started to knit a little baby sweater when she was pregnant - what could be more relaxing than knitting with your feet up in front of the TV? Of course when baby decides to arrive 5 weeks early it can throw plans into disarray so when she showed me the half finished sweater a couple of days ago I could see there was no time to waste if this was going to be finished in time to still fit.

It's a very simple pattern from Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine spring/summer 2010. The picot edge is cute isn't it?

Laura was making the newborn size but Amelie is growing like a weed now - luckily it's stretchy so maybe she'll still squeeze into it for a couple of weeks.

After months of trying to track down supplies of our favourite compressed printing sponge and failing dismally we decide to bite the bullet and approach a company to produce it for us here in the UK. Packaging our own product meant we could include step by step instructions for use and some pattern templates to get people started if they were nervous of drawing. I've enjoyed sampling the designs on paper and on fabric. This pear print is a tryout in my sketchbook using a mix of red and gold acrylic paint.

I love the bubbly texture of the print - that's the main benefit of using sponge to make a print block. The voided shapes of the bubbles allow the underlying colour to remain visible and it marries the shape to the background in a pleasingly delicate and transparent way. Of course, being an acrylic paint it also means you can wash more transparent colour over the print later with no risk of the original print lifting. Much fun to be had with this technique!!

And if it's good on paper it's even better on fabric! Here's an Attic Window Quilt I made as a thr3fold challenge a few years ago. The sycamore leaf is printed to stand on its stalk within the window. I added a shadow with Inktense pencil to make it look more convincingly 3D. The print block was drawn from an actual leaf. We are drowning in autumn leaves at the moment but I rescued a few from the garden just before I took the picture. When they dry off a bit I shall preserve them by pressing them between the leaves of some absorbent paper.

See, I keep saying I hate this time of year and then I keep finding reasons to love it!
Talk to you again soon - Linda

Saturday 20 October 2012

Exhibition open

Yesterday I went over to Leamington Spa to see how our exhibition is looking and to take part in the opening session. The event was so popular it was standing room only in the gallery. This photo is less than perfect but it was a bit of a scramble at the time and I was trying to hold the camera over peoples' heads! The delicate piece suspended from the ceiling is by Eszter Bornemisza from Hungary.

I couldn't even get into the packed room and had to stand on a staircase outside! At least I could hear what was being said and I contented myself with poking my camera through the doorway to get this shot of Laura's quilt, 'Don't Go' behind the curator as she welcomed everyone to the exhibition.

The two striking pieces to the right of Laura's are by Elizabeth Barton from the USA.

Here's Annabel Rainbow chatting with a visitor while fellow artists Alicia Merrett and Sandra Meech are deep in conversation. You'll recognise the three quilts from Annabel's 'Life' series if you've seen our two most recent videos on DMTV. The gallery was quiet at this point because everyone else was in an adjoining room listening to Elizabeth Brimelow speak about her work.

It's a rather grand room isn't it? This is Royal Leamington Spa after all! You can't tell from this view through the doorway but we packed this room too and some people had travelled considerable distances to be there. Unless anyone knows different I think Penny wins the prize by flying in from Toulouse!

Laura was sad not to be there yesterday but exhibition openings are always about meeting and chatting rather than appreciating the art. When Amelie is old enough for the car journey we shall visit and take time to really look at the quilts. They are there until January 13th and well worth a visit!

Hope you're enjoying your weekend - talk to you soon, Linda

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Glorious autumn

I know I moaned about the approach of winter and how I don't like the dark days but today, when the sun is shining brightly, there are glorious compensations to be found in the garden!

Can you believe the colour of this dogwood? It lifts my spirit every time I see it.

And of course my favourite Forest Pansy is looking glorious although it's impossible to do it justice when it won't keep still long enough to be photographed on a windy day like today.

And just in case you haven't noticed yet that my favourite colour is red, here is the rather exotic looking bloom of the Ricinus Carmencita outside the conservatory window. This one is just for Graham who was curious to know what the plant was. I believe it has sinister properties - but I promise you we grow them because we like how they look!

It's a big week for us because the Through Our Hands exhibition opens in Leamington Spa on Thursday. I'll be one of the artists giving a short presentation on Friday afternoon and so I've been sorting out the bits and pieces I'll take along for the visitors to see. The theme of my quilts in the gallery is moths so this panel in paper, stitch and wax will suit.

I usually only wax the paper but this time I included some of the stitch and the buttons. It all helps integrate the different elements.

This is a detail of a panel that still needs a lot of stitching but I may try to do that on Friday. I shall find out a couple of small quilts to pass around the audience and as many examples of printed moths as I can find.

These are monoprints on top of screen prints. I haven't found a use for them yet but their time will come when the moment is right.

I wondered if I had overstepped the mark with all the baby photos lately but I have been castigated heartily for leaving Amelie out of the last blog post. To make up for the omission today I'll give you two! Here she is doing her Wee Willy Winkie impression. Looking quite chubby now don't you think?

And finally, just to prove that a girl's never too young for a few frills. Actually they should be a bit lower but I'm sure she'll fit them properly very soon!

Thanks for reading this and I hope to meet some of you at the exhibition on Friday. Bye for now, Linda

Sunday 7 October 2012

So much for Plan A

I didn't have a lot of free time this weekend but I thought I'd baste some batting and backing to a piece of black cloth I'd discharged some while ago so I'd be ready to start quilting.

I can't remember if I've shown you this before - it was made by cutting a mask from freezer paper and applying DeColourant paste to discharge the black back through sepia tones to almost bone white. My plan was to quilt heavily and then add painted details delineated by the quilting.

It should have only taken five minutes to baste but as I was searching through my fabrics for a suitable piece of backing I came across this hand dye and thought it would be rather nice pieced into the black.

Further down the pile I found this silver grey and thought it would provide a nice flash of light.

With the bit between my teeth, I excavated another crate - this is one where I keep unfinished bits and pieces. Low and behold, two appliqued crows on exactly the right colour fabric surfaced from the depths.

And just because I might need a bit of foreground interest to achieve the right proportions I rifled the crate where I keep my 5" squares! So, next time anyone asks me how I design my quilts I may have to confess that sometimes I make it up as I go along!

Thanks for reading this. I shall post a picture of the quilt top once all the components are together. It's going to look very different from my original plan! Talk to you soon - Linda

Thursday 4 October 2012

Autumn blues

I always feel this time of year is rather melancholy. It seems like the end of everything is fast approaching and that's rather sad. If I was an animal I suspect I'd be one of those that shuts down completely, waiting until spring to emerge from a hole in the ground blinking into the sunlight. Unfortunately there's always work to be done so, much as I'd love it, I'm not allowed to hibernate.

Of course nature has her compensations. The rosehips are at their glorious best in the garden right now, especially when seen against a blue, blue sky. I couldn't resist walking around with my camera this morning.

And after many years our grapevine has suddenly decided to grow like a triffid over the roof of my studio. It's covered in bunches of little grapes but I don't think we'll be going into wine production just yet.

The butterflies are making the most of the last few Buddleia flowers.

And after the exertions of the day, in my lethargic state, what better than to sit and knit mindlessly in front of the stove.

And who better to knit for than little Amelie!

I promise I'll do my best to be more energetic and creative soon!

Thanks for dropping by - Linda