Sunday, 31 March 2013

An Outing and a Bargain!

Yesterday  was a perfect Saturday for me. It started off with a trip over to The Bramble Patch to see the 'Orientation' exhibition  by the 'SiX and Friends' group. Because I follow various blogs attached to this group I was already somewhat familiar with imagery of the work, but nothing prepared me for them in 'real life'.
The works of Hilary Beattie, Ineke Berlyn, Laura and Linda Kemshall, Edwina Mackinnon, Catherine Nichols, Annabel Rainbow, Stephanie Redfern and the late Marie Roper were sumptuous, rich in detail and thought provoking. Stephanie Redfern's work was a particular revelation to me as it was very mixed media, I loved the way she combines varying textures of paper, drawing, textiles and stitch.
As we were only twenty miles away from Milton Keynes after the seeing the exhibition, we both had an Ikea moment. Now you either love or hate Ikea, John and I adore it. We don't usually visit on a bank holiday Saturday (it's crazy) but couldn't pass up the opportunity. Boy was it busy! We needed to stock up on basics like table napkins and batteries, it was more a visit to check out ideas than to buy anything major. The last thing you do before leaving Ikea (apart from paying ) is check out the bargain section. I picked up a heavy piece of fabric which caught my eye. It wasn't priced but a very busy assistant checked it out for me. £4.95 for 5 metres of fabric. It looked like it had been a display piece.

I now have a lovely double sided panel separating my dining room from the work room. It was great to burn the midnight oil last night sewing this whilst John set up the indoor Easter egg hunt for today. I'm not too tired today so I guess some energy is returning at last.
Happy Easter! 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Little Domesticity

Just in case it appears that I do nothing but craft (true most of the time) yesterday I had to get the house ready for the grandsons arrival tomorrow and the Easter celebrations. I was bed changing when I noticed that the pillowcases were looking a bit shabby. As I had the machine set up for quilting it was no big deal to run up eight new ones using one of my huge vintage sheets. All well and good but then I remembered that little logo on the french linen chair covers I made. So the morning was spent cross stitching initials on to each pillow case. It pleased me!

This old sheeting is so much better quality than my original pillow cases despite the fact that they were John Lewis 'finest'. It's a relative term.
I declare the sketch book season finally over after burning the midnight oil last night, making yet more pages, to fill my 'squares' book. I've spent the morning putting together the relevant pages for each book.

I've decided that the thing that appeals most about them to me is the sight of these fat books spilling out ideas and when I just catch  glimpses of the page edges it makes my heart race with all the possibilities inside.

Enough! Move on!  

Monday, 25 March 2013

Quilting at Last

Remember this!! Finally I'm facing it and attacking the quilting on Isla's bedcover. Not easy on a machine with such a narrow bed, but by doing it half an hour at a time is making the stress on my neck bearable. It really helps to have it set up semi permanently so I can dip in and out of stitching. The quilting will not bear up to close scrutiny but I'm not displeased with it.  I will wash the quilt when I have finished to slightly shrink the stitching to give that lovely ripple texture. As I have said many times before I am not a quilter, I don't have that meticulous nature to produce the kind of technical perfection that I admire so much, but it is made with love and I'm sure it will be enjoyed.
Lovely workroom day with my friend Paula, we have been investigating 'the square' via drawing, printing and filling sketchbooks. Today we moved onto fabrics. Total bliss laying up textiles and over printing to make a base into which we will each start stitching next week.

As you can see I'm going down the grid route, as I'm ever so slightly fixated on them at the moment.
I will have a break over Easter from crafting.The grandsons expectations of a treasure hunt to exceed last year's will take some thinking about. I had planned on them digging over the veg. patch to find their buried eggs but as it's under several inches of snow I think an indoor hunt will be on the cards this year!

Saturday, 23 March 2013


I started out for the Guild meeting at lunchtime today thinking about all the effort that a printing class takes to put on. Lots of kit , lots of samples - in fact a whole car full of stuff , thank goodness for John's help with all the carrying through the snow. I was convinced that I had done all this for nothing, surely nobody was going to turn out in this crazy weather. I forgot about enthusiasm! Twenty two people turned up and I realised it was surely worth it, lot's of samples produced, much good humour and the afternoon sped by. This was the follow on to the class that Biddy Bruce ran on 'making your own stamps'.  I ran today's class -' printing on fabrics' and we will do another follow on 'making and using stencils'.  
There was some lovely work produced this afternoon.

Just a very small sample of the work produced, what a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon with good friends who had braved blizzard conditions for a couple of hours crafting. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sad Day

If you have followed my blog for sometime you will have read about my other life in Ullapool.  I have often blogged about  my friendship with my son in law's father; the artist Dick Lindsay. Sadly Dick passed away
in the early hours on Wednesday aged 92 . We said our goodbyes at Christmas, I accepted that it would be the last time that I saw him. I will take a break from blogging for a few days and remember all the happy times we shared.

Monday, 11 March 2013

On a bit of a roll.

Play day Monday with my friend Paula. We are both exploring layers in our own individual ways. I seem to be making sketch book pages in my sleep at the moment, these are works in progress ready for another layer of print or stitch to be added tomorrow. I will  keep going on sketchbooks till I run out of inspiration and then see how they have inspired my next project whatever that may be.
I'm also getting ready for a printing day at the Guild this coming weekend. It's quite a feat of logistics to set up a printing workshop so I'm compiling lists, equipment and materials, determined that I won't forget anything. I hope that the weather is a bit kinder on the day, it feels like the arctic here today.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Need to Stitch

I'll start with something that has made me laugh. A blogging friend 'Living to work - Working to live' has signed up for Dionne's course and mentioned that I had recommended it on my blog. Much to my surprise I won a DVD for introducing a friend. The DVD is called 'demystifying devore' and the thing that made me laugh is the fact that a few weeks ago I destroyed at least a metre of expensive velvet trying to teach myself the process - see above - is this timely or what? Thank you Hilary.

After all the sketchbook work of the last two weeks I just had to do a little stitching, you've probably all seen these they are everywhere at the moment usually done in book print, they are just two circles stitched down the middle and pulled out to make a ball shape. The papers I had in mind had been waxed at sometime, I had an idea thinking about the wax. I re-dipped them in scented candle wax and not only do they have a lovely texture they hold their perfume as well. It's a pity I only had a frankincense and myrrh tea - light left over from Christmas to provide the perfume, the workroom smells like an hippy commune! 

I have made a really fat sketchbook during the on line course of the last two weeks and I'm really happy with it. So much so, I've just booked up for a longer course in June 'Drawing for Textiles' again with Dionne Swift. I've been crafting for over ten years and it is so difficult to bring anything new to my work but she has very cleverly led  me through some new ways of using familiar materials in a much more exciting way.
 Now I just need to work up enough will power to start quilting Isla's quilt. 

Monday, 4 March 2013


Today has been filled with gardening and making pages for a much larger sketchbook than the one I've been working on all last week. I have made several pages today and spent some time looking through my ever growing stash of previously painted papers. I've realised that I now have a way of collating them at last and making them relate to each other instead of the random heap that grows by the month.
I will add acrylic wax to today's papers to strengthen them and then draw and stitch into them to hopefully inform a new set of work.

I never need an excuse to make painted papers but there suddenly seems more relevance to them.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

A Good Week

A snippet of sketchbook pages to celebrate the end of an online course with Dionne Swift.I really feel that a small mental step has been made this week and that is surely what this crafting journey is about. I work really hard to improve my work but it only happens in very tiny increments, no flashing light bulb moments for me and I'm happy with that. I hope I will know when I'm good enough to make that leap from student to artist (and that I have enough life left to achieve it, ha ha). I 'm enjoying the journey anyway.

I'm about to start another sketchbook using the processes I've worked through this week but this one will be more experimental - less good taste colours - more about ideas and less about the book itself. I won't show any more work from this course it would not be fair to dilute it for anyone thinking of taking it. I thank Anita Bruce for pointing me in the direction of Dionne Swift.