Sunday, 16 September 2018

BLOG 411

Blog 411
Another week has passed and much work has been done in the garden! We have lots of borders that need attention and there is nothing I like better than savagely cutting everything back, in the sure and certain knowledge that they will bear me no malice and come back as fresh as ever next spring! Such are the rewards of gardening. So if it is fine I am outside, if not I am in my studio enjoying colour and making steady progress. This sequence of pictures shows the steps towards the completion of the flowers and pot. .



At this stage I can peel my creation off the release paper in one piece and place it on my design wall for reviewing from a distance. I like what I see so far! The next stage is to make some decisions about the background so I started by trialling various large pieces of fabric to assess their effect. The first had the vague look of a paving slab; the second gave the effect of a shrub in the background. The next fabric, placed vertically, was overwhelming but looked better on the horizontal. Decisions decisions!

Background 1
           Background 2

           Background 3 vertical

               Background 3 horizontal

That said, on the wall of my studio there is another picture that I finished a couple of years ago; another vase, another bunch of flowers. On close inspection the background is composed of fused horizontal strips of fabric, like the strokes of a brush and I particularly like that painterly effect.
               Sunflowers in a vase 1

           Constructed background

And on the wall of my kitchen, there is yet another picture made ages ago of sunflowers in a vase; this time with the background made up of sewn directional squares. Seeing all three pictures together tells me that something creative is trying to get out and I am not quite sure what it is at this stage!
             Sunflowers in a vase 2

             Directional squares

Sunday, 9 September 2018

BLOG 410

Blog 410
And so the creative meandering continues. I kept cutting up fabrics that were already prepared and I tried to fit them into the picture. The fabrics I generally prefer to use are ones with movement and depth in them, and light and dark values, because they are easier to integrate. This colourful fabric below was a bit too solid for my liking. I tried to include it but found the yellow/green section didn’t flow the way I like it to. So it was a case of ‘now you see it’, ‘now you don’t’! And this is what this method is basically all about: squinting through half-closed eyes as you work and then stepping as far away as you can to assess it from a distance. If there is something you don’t like, don’t tolerate it, remove it!
            Colourful fabric

           Now you see it

            Now you don’t
I continued to create pink geranium-like flowers separately on the release paper (baking parchment performs the same function).


           More flowers

I decided to prepare more fabrics, ones that were specific to what I was trying to create. I used 18” wide Bondaweb and cut pieces of fabric to cover the surface. Occasionally I have to fill in awkward spaces but, as long as the fabrics overlap one another, my iron is safe!! I ironed from the RS first and then turned it over and really worked the whole surface of the release paper, remembering to concentrate well on the edges and corners. If I had any trouble taking the paper off the back of the fabric, I made a small cut with a pin and it is easy to lift off after that.
             Filling in spaces

            Press RS

                Press WS

             Score with a pin

Once the paper had been removed, the fabrics were still joined by the Bondaweb and all I needed to do was give a small tug to separate the individual pieces. From the WS you can see the edges that didn’t have any fusible on them and these needed to be removed before using a rotary cutter to cut the fabrics in rough lines and then into smaller squares and rectangles.
             Fusible on WS

              Remove the edges



         Progress 1

           Progress 2

Sunday, 2 September 2018

BLOG 409

BLOG 409
I am really happy to be able to say that I am a lot better this week and being the generous soul that I am, I have passed the cold on to my husband! He is getting better day by day and we will soon both be back to as normal as it gets around here! Feeling brighter meant that I was chomping at the bit to start a creative piece but then we had to go to Scotland to attend the funeral for one of our Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) friends. Emily was married to Bob and, like us, they got married out in Tarawa. She died of cancer last week and the funeral was a wonderful celebration of her life with the men wearing Hawaiian shirts and the women in bright dresses. Her granddaughters performed an island dance which she had taught them and it was a colourful and sensitive send-off. It’s the way to go!
Back home, I have started to dig out my ‘painterly’ fabrics, many of which are left over from earlier projects. They already have a fusible ironed onto the WS and they have been cut into lines or squares with a fluted or pinked rotary cutter to give an uneven edge. It made my mouth water to see them which is a good start!

I decided to ‘play’ first, just to allow myself to enjoy finding my way again with this method that I developed many years ago. This takes off any pressure to complete a proper finished piece! For inspiration, I chose one of my collection of greetings cards and isolated a terracotta tub festooned with flowers.

 I started with the colours for the terracotta pot and isolated them on a tray. I drew the pot roughly with pencil on a sheet of ‘release paper’ from Bondaweb. The ready-fused fabric pieces will only stick to this paper for as long as you are working and then you can peal it off in its entirety when it is complete.  My work station includes the palette, the drawn shape and an iron.
             Palette for the pot

             Working station

Then I get ‘painting’ by overlapping my fabric shapes, just enough so that they will stick together when touched with the toe of the iron. Here is the sequence and you will be able to see straight away that I have deviated from the original picture; everything is dependent on what fabrics you have available. This is the story so far.

           Step 1

            Step 2

          Step 3

              Step 4

              Step 5

             Step 6

               Step 7


Sunday, 26 August 2018

BLOG 408

BLOG 408
I am back again from holiday but I have been laid low with a throat infection and head cold (‘reet badly’ as we say up North!). I blame the 10 hour night flight and the recycled air in the cabin! It is nearly a week since we landed and I am still suffering!  Add jet lag to that and a suitcase that didn’t travel back with us and you more or less have the flavour of the last 7 days! And what does this girl do when she is below par, she turns to her fabric! The colourwash was on the wall waiting for my return and I just picked up where I left off. This is at the stage where it is mindless pinning and sewing and it was just what I needed for rest and recuperation therapy.


As I was working on it I wondered if placing the strips on the diagonal would make any difference so I tried the idea on my design wall. Thankfully I came to the conclusion that it didn’t, so that has saved a bit of time and effort!


The problem now is that I have so few dark Liberty fabrics so I am going to store the project away until I can buy some more!


Another ‘stored’ project is the half square triangles; again I need to get somewhere to buy ‘light’ tone-on-tones to go with the remaining ‘dark’ squares.

 It’s always good to have plenty of projects in progress and I can do both these present projects standing on my head. They are not challenging, just fabric-reducing exercises, nothing more, but my creative self yearns to be fed! I love to work with Batiks and Bali’s, in a painterly fashion, and I need to get something underway fairly promptly. The prelude to this is getting a feel of the fabrics through sorting and tidying. This is almost a meditative process and I try not to dribble too much on my fabrics. It reminds me of the feel of the fabrics and of the fabulous colours and soon they start to inspire me. You will just have to ‘Watch this space’ if you are interested, to see what I come up with and how I go about it. No pressure there then.



And, as usual, lots of scraps appeared during this process so I reckon there will be another colourful scrap quilt underway again before too long!


Sunday, 5 August 2018

BLOG 407

BLOG 407
I have continued with my task of cutting 3 ½” squares from my selection of Liberty fabrics to give a good palette of fabrics to choose from when I start to work on my design wall. My one thought as I look at the palette is that I may not have enough in the dark value range.  I will see how I progress before trying to rectify that potential problem (more expense!).
            Palette of fabrics
So the palette is sorted, the design wall is empty so what am I going to do on it? Well, many moons ago, when the ’colourwash’ revolution was at its height, I bought an innocuous little workbook by Shirley Liby on one of my visits to Paducah. There is no colour at all between the covers, just a variety of designs based on the tonal value (light through to dark) of the squares. A design from this book would be my starting point.


             Potential design

               Sample block

              2 blocks

          4 Blocks
I do enjoy playing in this way, squinting my eyes to get a blurred effect so I can check that the squares run smoothly from one to another. And this is the one time when my mobile phone comes in handy! I take pictures as I am working so I can assess whether I am achieving what I have set out to do. Sometimes you can be too close to your own work and pictures help to give distance (that, and using a mirror to look over your shoulder at the other end of the room!) These pictures reinforced what I feared, that I hadn’t got enough dark fabrics!

So the next step was to look at the colourwash bible written by Deidre Amsden. She was making fabulous patchwork quilts based on value long before the Americans took it over. I particularly liked 3 designs which Ithought were doable with my limited palette of fabrics.
     The colourwash bible!

            Design 1

           Design 2

            Design 3

I decided to concentrate on Design 1 and found that this worked better for me with my range of fabrics. Here’s the play sequence which I hope will illustrate what I mean when I say you can be too close to your own work. At the end my efforts I felt quite dispirited, assuming that I hadn’t achieved what I had set out do. It was only when I was going out of the studio and I looked back at the design wall that I saw that indeed I had created alternating value strips. I was pleased and will continue along this vein when I return from holidays.
            Sequence 1

             Sequence 2

              Sequence 3

             Sequence 4
Did someone mention holidays?! I am going to Las Vegas and San Diego with the family for a couple of weeks so there will be no blog postings whilst I am away. Happy hols to one and all!