Sunday, 24 September 2017

BLOG 364

Blog 364
September has been a month of contrasts for our family. It’s a case of 1 wedding, 2 funerals and an operation! I am not personally affected in that I am already married, I haven’t died and I have not had an operation but I am emotionally evolved with the people concerned. So there has been little progress with my projects and all I can do is show you the ‘story’ so far. I have decided that I am going to start with the long outer borders on the ‘alternative’ Welsh quilt.
I marked the felt in sections, to coincide with the sections of the pattern, using a chalk marker. This made it easier to position the pattern pieces when they were cut out from fused fabric.

            Marked sections

I simplified the pattern down to the bare essentials; there are so many layers that small detail gets lost in translation. Once the pattern elements have been stuck in place, the painted fusible is ironed over the top.

             Pattern and fusible

When the paper backing from the fusible is removed, another layer of colour has been added over the whole design.
              Overlaid fusible
The fusible layer allows for the addition of the final colourful layer. This is made up of small bits of colourful sheers, thus adding more depth to the piece of work.


                 Layered strip











Sunday, 17 September 2017

BLOG 363

Blog 363

We had an unplanned adventure yesterday. What started out as a pleasant ride along the coast to the island of Anglesey, ended with hours of waiting in a carpark to be ‘recovered’ by the RAC! We were at Llangefni to see a new exhibition ‘Birds of Wales’ and our automatic Land Rover, which hasn’t ever let us down before, just wouldn’t start for our return journey. Maddening! It was all to do with the electrics apparently and we had to make our way home in a courtesy car with gears which was a bit of a challenge. We are looking forward to being reunited with our LR eventually and probably expensively! That apart the exhibition, in the Kyffin Williams gallery at Oriel Ynys Mon, was well worth the bother and here are some of the exhibits to illustrate the variety of talent on display.


             Chainsaw art

                 Sparrows in oil


               Silk painting

             Wood carving


           Acrylic painting








                Stone carving






              Creative pebbles


             Willow weaving

Feather painting


Rog with a big bird!

The main reason I went to Llangefni was to see the work of Suzette Smart. I am very familiar with her embroideries as I sew alongside her every couple of weeks so I understand the complex processes that go into producing them. I am a great fan and think that her work is fascinating! Most of the work on display in the gallery is for sale so get along there if you are in the vicinity and enjoy this delightful and very varied exhibition. Here are some snippets of Suzette’s detailed machine embroideries.



              Framed pictures




              Blue tit


















Sunday, 10 September 2017

BLOG 362

BLOG 362
It has been a very difficult time for me this week with so much going on mentally and emotionally. As a result of such chaos, I do what I usually do in these circumstances and turn my full attention to my work where I find consolation and direction. Working with my hands has the effect of soothing my mind and organising my thoughts. It’s very therapeutic.
The alternative Welsh quilt was the first project ‘in hand’ and I tried the lay-out for one of the long outer borders. I’m so glad I did because I discovered straight away that I had drafted the pattern incorrectly and significant modifications and simplifications had to be made. I habitually launch straight into a piece of new work because I am so keen to get started, but these helpful practice runs are ironing out some major teething problems which can only be to my advantage. Here’s the layering sequence so far.
             Step 1
              Step 2
            Step 3
               Painted fusible
And then bizarrely I went right ‘off piste’ and decided to do some felting! And there is an obscure reason for this: I sent my husband to the dry cleaners with some feather cushion pads for cleaning and they offered to send them away at the cost of £21 each! (I cannot tell you how many new feather cushions I could have bought for this price but it would have been many!) Anyway he had the sense to refuse that service and in the end they were cleaned for £7 each. So, having paid out this money, I decided that I needed to make some decent cushion pads to cover them and I thought that a felted cushion would be a challenge, especially if it was wet felted instead of needle felted. Moy Mackay’s books are inspirational on this subject.  Here’s the felting sequence so far before I fine tune and embellish it. This turned out to be a very physical and satisfying project and I hope that the finished effect will be well worth it. Certainly the bingo wings had a good work-out!
               Layers 1 and 2
               Decorative sky
             Net and soap flakes

Sunday, 3 September 2017

BLOG 361

Blog 361
We have been to a wedding this week in Norwich. It took us 6 hours to get there and 7 to get back. We were travelling across the widest part of the country, along roads that were steady with traffic with not a motorway in sight, apart from those going N/S. Why o why has an east/west motorway never been constructed? Judging from the volume of traffic and the number of HGVs on the roads going to the ports, I would have said there is a huge need for one. Once there, we had time to look around this lovely city with its riverside walks and impressive cathedral. I chanced upon a little craft shop not far from the cathedral where I bought the small card below. The tiny houses (about 1” square) were knitted can you believe, with fabric windows and doors stuck on. Someone had infinite patience to go to all that trouble so the least I could do was buy it. I thought it was charming!

               Tiny knitted houses
After not winning any accolades at the Festival of Quilts, I am pleased to announce that The Arabesque has just won best Group quilt and Best Use of Colour at the Great Northern Quilt show in Harrogate. We are delighted and feel it is just reward for a very original and intricately decorated quilt. Well done gang!

              The Arabesque
I have had my soldering iron out this weekend and so I took the opportunity to add burn marks to this still life picture, made several months ago. Again it is only a play piece, to see where I can go with colour and mark making. It is amazing what a few hurried marks can do to bring a piece of work some definition.

                Still life

            Mark making
I have also made progress on the corner block of my alternative Welsh quilt. I love the coloured surface a lot! I added a strong sewn line in black cotton thread around the features using a normal foot on my sewing machine. I then changed to a free-motion foot to do more decorative stitch work. This was followed by mark making with a soldering iron. This is still a practice piece but by playing in this way I am making decisions about how I want to proceed with this project. There are many processes involved and all need tweaking before I feel I can proceed confidently.


                 Coloured surface


             Stitch definition

             Decorative detail

                 Practice corner square

Sunday, 27 August 2017

BLOG 360

BLOG 360
In haste as usual, I decided that the box lid was a priority this week as we will be attending the wedding next week! For the top section of the box, I cut a piece of paper to the size of the decorated panel I required and, after placing this onto the fabric, I added ¼” all round to the size (this would eventually be my cutting line). I used a water erasable pen and added some extra vertical lines to make sure that my decorative sewing lines were running parallel. I placed the marked fabric onto low loft wadding.
                 Added margin
                Vertical lines
 And this is where my little fabric book of stitches comes into its own. All I need to do is turn its pages and choose suitable stitches for the task. I used a variety of stitches and threads in the green/gold range to decorate in lines. I also subtly included their names, the place and the date.
                Book of stitches
                 Walking foot
              In progress
              Completed box
Another task I needed to do this week was to replace the cushions on the kitchen chairs. I managed to find an ideal patchwork furnishing fabric at the Festival of Quilts. And why did I have to replace the existing cushion covers? Because Pussy Willow insisted on destructively clawing the original cushions before she settled down to sleep on one or other of them at night. I have doused these new cushions with a lavender spray in the hope that the smell will deter her from using them. I have also provided her with alternative accommodation which she seems to love. Sorted!
            Cushion cover
                Alternative accommodation
This past week has been especially hard as I have also been suffering from severe toothache in one of my back molars. This tooth was full to over-flowing with amalgam and was probably well past its sell-by date. I had tolerated the discomfort for 2 weeks hoping it would settle down but it became really bad last Sunday. I saw a dentist on Monday who gave me anti-biotics and a 2 week wait for an extraction! I tolerated 3 more days of pain before going back and having it extracted. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be free of that intense and constant pain; I have never known pain like it! The tooth came out cleanly and easily and the dentist commented that the jaw had already given up on the tooth! I have lost several pounds (silver lining?!) and many hours of sleep!
Since feeling slightly better, I am now playing with ideas for my alternative Welsh quilt. I store my sheer fabrics in rolled bundles in a plastic box. Tidy, yes, but rather restricting for creativity as it is a bore to have to unpin, unroll, cut, reroll and re-pin! So I have cut large chunks of most of them and placed them in a plastic bag for ease of access. I did the same with the synthetics.
                Tidy storage
            Workable chunks
I am only playing with creative ideas at the moment, trying out individual portions of the quilt to see where this leads me. Susan Lenz has influenced my method and I have a Margaret Beale soldering iron and book. I may work in individual portions, or work the individual squares and long borders, or attempt the whole quilt in one piece. It is very early days with this project.
              Corner square (fused)
                 Border motif (sewn and soldered)