Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sketchbook

So, the drawing is still nerve wracking and I sometimes need to revert to a bit of paper cutting, but some of the efforts from this term are below.

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The one above , done from this photo.  Horizon is all over the place, but I'm quite pleased with it otherwise.

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Sketchbook Alston Hall

Sketchbook boxes

Fantasy flower, drawing and cut paper

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Philippa Naylor workshop piece, quilting completed

Even although the sun was shining on Sunday, I stayed in to stitch.   Guilt did kick in… a bit….. but I feel I've done my bit of compulsory being outside when our sons were young.  I completed all of the stitching on the piece started at the workshop with Philippa Naylor.

Philippa Naylor workshop

I love the fact that all of the colour on this piece comes only from the threads used ( Bottomline, Superior Rainbows, Alcazar, Lunatic Fringe for the heavy couching in the central symbol).  The workshop has given me the confidence to try out much more elaborate machine quilting patterns, to use the decorative stitches on the machine for quilting, and to understand that it doesn't all have to be done in a single line - it is possible to stop and restart with new thread.  Details below,

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Just the binding to do now.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Modern glass

Alston Hall ( see previous post) has a very jolly commemorative stained glass window in the little chapel.  I first noticed it when I went for a walk on a very misty Sunday morning.

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From within, the colours glowed

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Then today, in the Morley College Gallery, there was an exhibition by the Guild of Glass Engravers ( on until 23rd October).   I've never been sure about glass engraving, as a lot of it seems very formulaic and a bit repetitive, however, the pieces on display were very inspiring.  Glass is very difficult to photograph well, but the galleries of each of the artists have excellent representations of their work.

Greg Sullivan

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William Saltmarsh

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Katharine Coleman

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and very movingly, Alison Kinnaird, " The Unknown"

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All that, after a lesson on two point perspective, and attendance at a talk last night by Barbara Chainey about her huge collection of pieces made by the Tentmakers of Cairo, was much food for thought.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Inspirational weekend - sculpture and stitching

I have been away to the Contemporary Quilt Group Winter School at Alston Hall.  What a treat.
On the way, I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see the work of Ai Weiwei , Ursula von Rydingsvard and James Turrell.  Wow, on all counts.  The works by Ai Weiwei are as thought provoking as ever, the scale of Ursula von Rydingsvard's work is astonishing and the Skyspace is a mesmerising experience.  The Yorkshire countryside was at its autumnal best, so the sculptures were seen in glorious light.  This park is on such a scale, it is worth planning a weekend around it.
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Iron tree, Ai Weiwei
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Ursula von Rydingsvard
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Skyspace
Nature provided its own shapes and colours
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Blue and orange
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Toadstool - thanks to my brother, now identified as a shaggy inkcap.
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Toadstool
Then on to meet over 30 textile-obsessed women, all there to learn.  Seventeen of us crammed in to  a rather small room, with voluminous quantities of equipment, to learn about machine trapunto with Philippa Naylor.  Philippa is a generous, encouraging and inspirational teacher, so if you ever get the opportunity to do a workshop with her, grab it immediately.  Her new book , Appliqué Mastery, is full of tips, as well as a full size pattern for her award-winning quilt.
The view from my bedroom was inspiration in itself, changing as the light of the day changed.
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The trapunto was a surprisingly straightforward technique, and I managed a whole weekend without breaking a single size 60 needle - Philippa's recommendation.  This needle made a huge difference to the quality and density of the machine quilting I could achieve on my machine.
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I have of course come away from  the weekend with another object to finish, so the "unfinished list" has just got longer.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Found and finished - fingerless

Found at the bottom of a bag of cloth and thread, some long abandoned knitting in the round.  

In the 1980s, I did lots of knitting, particularly the patterns of Patricia Roberts, as I was horrified at how much these cost to buy in the Covent Garden shop.  As this was before digital photography, I don't have any photos of my creations to hand, but favourites were Scrabble, spotted here, Cats and Dogs, spotted here and Grapes, spotted here.  

The finish it urge lasted through an episode of " The Honourable Woman" and these are now complete.

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( Note the emulsion paint manicure).  The yarns were a random dyed sock yarn in dark - mid blue and another space dyed yarn in grey, brown and blue. This was my own random pattern, hence the odd twist to the bottom half of these.  Long and warm.  I would really like to make a pair with this " Mind the Gap'  yarn, but the maker is not currently active.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Found and finished

I find that some textile pieces  just languish, momentum is lost, inspiration fades and the object lies reproachfully somewhere, often out of sight.  I'm therefore trying a "finish, donate or bin" approach to these objects.  In this spirit, I had a finish last night.

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This quilt made up from two different planned quilts, neither of which came out as I envisioned.  As it is so busy, I've used it to practice my machine quilting and a binding method applying the binding to the back, and then securing to the front with a three-stitch zigzag.   The wobbly edges are due to the hanging, I hope.  I had some pieces left over, so had made a pieced back.

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I'm not sure about this now, as it could be interpreted as having a religious element, which was not intended at all.

Learning from this one - watercolour pencils will not necessarily wash out, particularly red ones!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sorting, finding, finishing, viewing

Inspired by Margaret's posts about sorting out her studio, I am continuing the sort out in our own house.  First up, how many pencils, pens and felt tips can one family accumulate?

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A pleasant hour spent sharpening, scribbling, doodling and writing, has reduced this to more manageable and functional proportions.  Storage was in a set of little wooden drawers, that before scrubbing and sanding revealed this little bit of graffiti, hidden on the back of one of said drawers.

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What a pleasure that must have been to know that is was there, and that your parents didn't know.

Sharpenings have such great colours and shapes.

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A couple of pieces of embroidery are now postcards

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and a birthday present - can't be revealed yet.

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Two exhibition visits yesterday, to the wacky vegetables of Patrick Laroche, very colourful and good fun.  On view until 31 October.

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to the rather more esoteric offerings at the Threadneedle prize  for figurative art in the Mall Galleries ( on until 11 October).  There is a good review of the exhibition on the Making a Mark blog.

The shortlisted works were very impressive, but only a few of the other pieces caught my attention.  There were two stitched pieces by Tom Jean Webb, interesting, but I'm afraid the finish of the stitching put me off.  The little pen portrait by Pablo Garcia Martinez on a Post-it note was technically amazing to me. The piece I wanted to bring home was Pendennis Point through the rain by Jack Davis.  Painted on aluminium, this medium really worked for the light on the water and the contrasting rain.  The ?????? piece was  a painting , I think, depicting some masking tape stuck to a wooden board.  The artist Alastair John Gordon, paints trompe L'oeil paintings, so I had to believe hat this was a painting and not only some tape on a board.