This week has been busy with all sorts of non textile related things - perhaps the most interesting of which was the arrival of 4 ex battery hens. I've been preparing for their arrival for a few weeks, and here they are.............
They have been a fun distraction - but I have also been determined to get myself organised in the studio so I can resume dyeing fabric once again. Dyeing fabric with fibre reactive dyes (sometimes referred to as Procion MX Dyes) is pretty straightforward once all the right 'stuff' gathered together. If all the things that can be pre-mixed are made up at and at hand it is a quick process.
Late last week I began by gathering various containers ready to mix and keep the different solutions I generally use when dyeing. I raided the recycling bin for a nice big bucket with a lid, a large soft drink bottle, several small bottles with lids, a few jam jars and some yoghurt type pots and put them all into an old washing up bowl.
With all that ready I spent a very enjoyable day measuring and mixing the various chemicals so they are all ready when I need them. Before I carry on though, I need to say that I am not someone who dyes fabric by weighing and measuring precise amounts. I have tried to be exact, make notes, make samples, be disciplined; but after about ten minutes I have lost the plot and revert to mixing colours on the hoof with a bit of this and a few drops of that. I will never be able to exactly replicate a colour if I love it - or if I run out of fabric in that beautiful shade of crimson I dyed last week, but that's ok with me. I think I get more fun and a more exciting range of colours for my work by doing it this way. It is the way I like to do it - it isn't the only way, but I like to be a bit spontaneous and squirt colours together and try them out.
But before I get to the dyes, I also need some other chemicals and solutions to be prepared. These are the 'recipes' I generally use for most of my dyeing work:
Urea Water: (also known as chemical water)
Mix together 8 tablespoons of urea in 1.5 litres of warm water in a bottle and shake until dissolved. It seems to keep indefinitely.
Soda Ash Solution: (also known as pH+)
Mix together 1 cup of soda ash and 4.5 litres of warm water in a big bucket. I give it a good stir with a wooden spoon until it is all dissolved, then put the lid on. It keeps for ever in my experience.
Sodium Alginate thickener: (also known as Manutex or kelp / seawaeed thickener)
Sprinkle 6 to 10g of sodium alginate onto 100ml liquid. You can use plain water, urea water or liquid dye, depending on the result you want. I usually make mine up with urea water. Whisk it together and leave to stand for at least 15 minutes. I put it into a jar and store it in the fridge. It keeps for a month or too before it goes stinky.
Fibre Reactive Dyes: (also known as Procion MX)
I like to make up small batches of dye (100ml to 200ml at a time) so that I have some ready to use at a moment's notice. I keep it in small bottles with the lids firmly closed. I label each colour so I know exactly which is which - sometimes the colours can be deceptive!
I like to make up fairly concentrated dyes so I can dilute them if necessary. Some people believe the dyes 'go off' or lose their oomph once mixed, but I haven't found any issues with dyes I have made up and used even a month or so later. So long as there is no soda ash in the dye mixture they seem to last at least a few weeks - if not longer.
I use 1 heaped teaspoon of dye powder and 2 teaspoons of salt for every 50ml of warm liquid for my concentrated dyes. The liquid is either urea water or plain water. It needs a lot of stirring to get the dye powders fully mixed and sometimes not all the powder will go into solution. I find yellow to be particularly difficult. If that is the case I usually use just plain water and which is just off boiling point. I dissolve the salt in that first, then allow it to cool a little until it is hand hot. Then I add the yellow dye powder and stir and stir and stir. Eventually most of the dye powder goes into suspension, but often settles out once the dye stands. I just give it a huge shake before using and that usually does the trick. Any tips on dealing yellow are much appreciated!!!
1. Although not all the chemicals require you to wear gloves and/or a mask whilst you are handling them I find it is just easier to put them on whilst working with the various powders and not worry about forgetting to do so. That way you know you are covered!
2. Remember that any utensils or containers used with these chemicals should never be used for food use. Get yourself a collection of utensils and containers that you only use for dyeing - charity shops are great places to gather such stuff.
3. Label everything really clearly with the name of the contents and date - Manutex really stinks when it goes off!
With all that prepared I will be able to dye any fabric I want in just a few minutes - with no need to get everything out and mix it all up from scratch (although sometimes that is nice to do too, especially if a big batch of something is required!)
And finally.............starting work on a project at last!
I need some 'wood-like' fabric. In 4 pots I mixed up some of the alginate paste with dye concentrate and soda ash solution - each pot has a different colour dye. Once the soda ash goes in the clock starts ticking! Around 4 hours is the advised time you have to work with the dye, although I find the working time lasts much longer in the cool British climate!
4 big paintbrushes and some bold brush strokes later - this was the result.
I made 3 large pieces of fabric, rolled them in a huge sheet of plastic and left them to sit in a warm room overnight (called batching).
In the morning I unrolled them, rinsed them in the sink with tepid water to get rid of the excess dye and then put them into the washing machine on a hot wash. And this is how they turned out.
So, now I need to figure out what to do with them next!
But while all that was going on, look what else happened.......................................
Thanks for reading.
Due to moving house have had a long break from blogging - but I hadn't quite realised how long. It has been almost two months and even my sister is on my case. Last night she called and told me she was fed up with looking at my last post and could I get on with something please?
The problem is, I have been so busy with the house move that I haven't actually made anything for a long time. My fabrics and equipment were all packed up in boxes and I didn't have the time or place to create - until now!
With lots of help from my family I have finally got my new studio up and running. It has been exciting watching the shabby garage gradually being transformed into a studio and I am absolutely itching to get started on creating something new. I have a list as long as my arm of projects I need to get on with - but as yet, nothing concrete has been planned. I have lots of ideas that all need to come out of my head and onto paper and fabric.
So here is how my studio looks......................that pile of fabric on the table........... watch this space!
Most of the furniture has come from IKEA - and was reasonably priced and very practical. With a bit of lateral thinking several pieces of furniture have been combined to create a cutting and work table, a mobile ironing table, an office desk, sewing tables and storage.
The walls have been lined with floor insulation and are in the process of being covered with felt to make large design walls and a place for my work to be photographed.
The lighting (not quite finished, as one of my lights has been 'transferred' to another project in the house...) is also from IKEA - in the form of a dimmable LED light box. The unit I currently have over the sewing machines produces a clear bright white light with no shadows. I need to buy another to mount over the work table to complete that part of the project.
My pride and joy is the work table with the biggest cutting mat I have ever had. It is a single piece of colourless transparent 'stuff' (not sure what it is really) that will allow me to cut large pieces of fabric in one hit, without the need to jiggle smaller cutting mats about. I have put a grid underneath it to form guidelines. It wasn't the cheapest thing on my wishlist, but it fits the table top perfectly, and I love it.
The part of the project that is the least impressive in the photos, but probably the most important of all, was the transformation of the floor. Being an old garage it was rough, pitted and very uneven. After being partially screeded and painstakingly smoothed I chose a really hard wearing lino type product to cover it and it has transformed the crummy garage into a clean and tidy studio.
I have made it feel like 'home' by hanging two very special pieces of art on the only wall that isn't being used for storage or designing. The first is a painting by Sue Van Staden, a very dear friend whom I miss greatly. I just love it and I'm so glad I can look at it as I work. The second is a fabulous piece of textile art that I received just a few weeks ago from the 'Portrait Shuffle' that took place at this year's Festival of Quilts. ( laurakemshall.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/the-portrait-shuffle.html )
Thanks to the efforts of Annabelle Rainbow and Laura Kemshall (and, I am sure, a huge team of others) I now have a new friend and a portrait of someone very special to her. Thank you Fiona Bailey for your fabulous portrait!
Original artwork by Sue Van Staden and Fiona Bailey
So, I am ready to get to work. It is pouring with rain today, so I think I will have a busy day in the studio.
Thanks for reading.
I'm in the middle of a lot of things at present, which means small projects are all I can manage at the moment. I like to be busy, and have gradually got into the habit of having lots of things on the go at the same time.
Last weekend I taught my Reversible Sun Hat workshop at one of my favourite places, Midsomer Quilting. For the past few weeks I have been preparing for this new workshop, getting the patterns right, making samples and ensuring everything would go smoothly on the day. As the hats are small this worked well in my 'small projects' category. Teaching a new workshop for the first time is a mixture of excitement and nerves but I am delighted that all the hats all turned out fabulously and everyone had a thoroughly good day. By the end of the afternoon there were 4 completely finished hats and 6 that were almost done. As you can see below, there were lots of hats in lots of different sizes - some finished, and some still floppy and under construction. They all looked fantastic!
You can see more about the hat's workshop by clicking here.
This Saturday I am going to be teaching again, but this time at another of my favourite places, Pauline's Patchwork. I'm going to be teaching how to make a small art quilt that takes its inspiration from the traditional favourite 'Grandmother's Garden'. The two quilts below are my interpretations using tesselated hexagon shapes to create the garden. This week I have been busy preparing the samples, stamps, fabric paints etc. to make sure everyone has a great day. You can see more about this workshop by clicking here.
Another small project I have started to think about is the annual 12 x 12 challenge hosted by Midsomer Quilting. Each year in November/ December they challenge anyone who has a link with the shop to create a small 12 inch square quilt on a given theme. Here is a link that will take you to the 12 x 12 challenge web page where you can link to all the previous challenges:
Over 700 - yes you read it correctly, seven hundred quilts that have been entered into the various challenges. Many of these have been donated and sold to raise funds for Dorothy House and CLIC Sargent, two very worthwhile local charities. This year the theme is 'Where in the World?' I think this is a great choice as it is easy to think of all sorts of places or things associated with places that would be a great fit.
This week my mum and I started our quilts - another 'little' project. Here is a sneaky peep at part of my mum's quilt. She has chosen to do some needle felting as well as some quilting. I really enjoyed watching how she made it.
Mine started life as a doodle, which I turned into an idea for a little quilt along the lines of one of my Doodle Birds. Here is a glimpse.....
So - although you have only had a teaser so far, can you tell where in the world our quilts are from???
I hope you have enjoyed seeing what I've been up to these last few weeks - I'll post the completes 12 x 12 quilts once they are finished.
Thanks for reading.
I recently spent another fabulous day with the members of Walton Textiles, this time making beautiful rose gardens. We had a lot of laughs and everyone was tremendously productive, in fact by the end of the day everyone had pretty much finished their curved-pieced quilt top and covered it with sprays of flowers.
The nice thing about this workshop is that the pieced quilt top builds quickly. Once you get the hang of the technique of cutting and piecing the gentle curves (not difficult, just different!) you are off. In just an hour or so everyone had their quilt top done.
By lunch time everyone had a fabulous quilt top to work on.
After lunch we began adding the flowers. There are so many different options..... We discussed size, shape, colour and layout before everyone got back to work.
Amanda began quilting her fabulous quilt top towards the end of the afternoon.
I hope you agree, they are all fantastic. I know that at least one is destined to become a cushion, one a wall hanging, one a table runner and another is going to have a twisted log cabin border added. Ladies, I am looking forward to seeing them once they are finished!
To find out more about the 'Garden of Roses' workshop and download the accompanying brochure, please clickhere.
Thanks for reading.
Wherever you live in the world, I don't think it is possible to have missed the fact that there is a new force at the top in the USA. Whether you like President Donald Trump or not, he is the elected leader of what I think is somewhat laughably called the 'Free West'. Personally, I do not like how he behaves, how he treats others or what he stands for, but that is my personal opinion and I do not push it upon anyone else.
Just after the U.S. election results were announced a huge wave of anxiety washed over a large proportion of the American population and many others in rest of the world. I am one of those people; not an American citizen, but an outsider who is seriously troubled by the things President Trump is saying and doing on behalf of the American people and the impact that will have on everyone in the world, not just those within the borders of the USA.
Back in February, just after the U.S. elections, a group of quilt artists called The Artist's Circle created a call for entry to an exhibition to protest their concerns about the words and actions of their new President. You can read more about them here.
As I learned more about the new President's proposed January order to indefinitely ban Syrian refugees and temporarily ban all other refugees and travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries I decided to enter my quilt 'We Walk Together...' into the exhibition (it is the same quilt I entered into Quilt en Beaujolais last year which won a 1st prize ribbon). I find it impossible to understand how anyone could react this way. I have listened and tried to understand the arguments put forward in support of such a ban and can only conclude that it is inhumane and diametrically opposed to the way humans ought to treat each other.
By the end of May, (when President Trump's travel ban still had not been put fully into action due to legal challenges) I was informed that my quilt had been selected to for the exhibition. It was a day of mixed emotions. I was pleased that the quilt would be part of the exhibition and yet filled with sadness and a feeling of helplessness that this quilt should even exist. A superb catalogue of all the quilts selected to travel is available for purchase via Amazon, designed by Judy Coates Perez and Indigo Perez. Click here or on the cover below if you are interested in finding out more or purchasing a copy.
Back in June an article in Hand/Eye magazine ran which gives some more background to the exhibition. You can read more about it here.
You can also view all of the selected quilts by visiting the Threads of Resistance blog below:
Each quilt is accompanied by the artist statement and a voice message which explains a little more about the quilt. It is a fabulous way to see and understand the raw emotions felt my each artist. Be aware, however, that it is possible you may disagree with messages on the quilts or be shocked by the images and language portrayed. Part of the stated aim of this exhibition is to "shock us out of our comfort zone and into action....these quilts (are also giving) voice emotions and ideas that for too long have been deemed unacceptable if spoken by women. Here, as women and men united, we speak together.....(because of our love for our country) silence is no longer an option.
If any of it offends you then you have the absolute right to pass comment in a civilized way and look away.
My reason for this perhaps unusual comment above is that an unintended consequence of this and other protest exhibitions has arisen. The issue has been widely discussed in quilting circles on social media, but if you are not aware of all this then here is a quick summary.
A group of quilters in the USA who have been described as 'Socially Conservative' chose to form a secret social media group so they could air their feelings privately, possibly in ways that would probably alienate some of their other acquaintances if their unguarded sentiments were made public. I wish to stress there is nothing wrong with people expressing their opinions, and people are entitled to their personal views and preferences. Indeed, I have learned there are many such groups in existence from all political sides. Unfortunately this group of quilters, among other things, also chose to take physical action against other quilters just because they disagreed with their viewpoint. This is where I feel they crossed the line. Members of the secret group talked themselves into a downward spiral, and did some pretty despicable things. They sent complaints to an exhibition which had put out a call for quilts protesting against the Trump presidency (this one); they contacted the sponsors of a well known 'liberal' quilter to suggest that she should be dropped because of her opposition to Trump; they sent homophobic messages to gay artists; they contacted quilting trade shows, asking organisers to cancel classes run by quilters they thought were 'too liberal'; they also suggested to each other the idea of boycotting certain quilters, and reporting them to the American tax authorities so that they would be tied up in tax investigations. I even got an email telling me to keep my nose out of things that as a foreigner don't concern me 'or else'! (I did wonder with a smile what the 'or else' might be for the nanosecond before I hit the 'bin/trash' button) All their targets were chosen because of their support for things they considered to be liberal causes and those who publicly supported the 'Threads of Resistance' call were fair game.
So, if you disagree, that is fine by me, but lets not allow things to get personal. Let's listen to both sides of the argument and maintain a civilized debate.
The exhibition received over 500 entries, which is an extraordinary number for such an art call. Obviously not all could be accepted to travel to the multiple venues (click here for details) but every entry can be seen on the Threads of Resistance website by clicking here. I've looked at them all and they form an incredible body of work.
There are also a number of other exhibits protesting President Trump's administration's actions and policies. Here are links to those I know about.
The Threads of Resistance exhibition opens next week in New England - I am really looking forward to hearing the reaction and the reviews once it opens. My thanks go to all those who were bold enough to bring this exhibition to reality.
Thanks for reading
After the heat of last week there is no doubt that summer is here. Phew! it was a warm one, and whilst it was perhaps a little too warm for comfort, I do hope it isn't the only bit of summer we get.
To celebrate summer I have created a selection of hats to help the wearer keep cool and protect their skin from damaging UV rays. I always need a hat when the sun is hot as my head easily gets overheated and I also don't want to get any more sun damage to my skin. Having lived in South Africa and New Zealand I am very aware of the consequences that!
I thought it would be fun to design a hat that looked good, was pretty simple to make, could be reversed so that if you get fed up with one colour you can always switch to another - and last of all, still looked great even when it had been squished into a bag for a while.
I also wanted to make a hat that would fit almost every head - from tiny to 'grande'. This is what I came up with.
Using traditional patchwork and quilting techniques as inspiration I have made a selection of different hats. For those above I have used the foundation paper piecing technique to create 'Cat and Mouse' and added some cute little ears to the top of the hat. I also made a version of a 'Mariners Compass' and added some twisted soft cord to add to the nautical theme. For the larger hat I divided the hat into sections and made a 4 patch variation with a slightly heavier weight upholstery fabric.
The nice thing is that every hat is made from the same basic pattern. All that changes is the fabric and a slightly different patchwork technique - it is amazing how the 'same' hat can look so different.
For the blue 'Love Hearts' hat I used foundation paper piecing again and for the 'Cute as a Button' baby hat I used strips of fabric and the very simple stitch and flip technique. The baby hat also has additional ties to help keep it on its little owner's head. This and other similar embellishments are easy to add during construction.
This is my current favourite adult sized hat; 'Tulips' is a simple white hat embellished with little raw edge applique tulips and a lace band. It has a beautiful red/pink lining hiding inside.
But I think 'Woof' is my all time favourite. More raw edge applique makes this a simple hat to construct. I had some more of that soft cord left, so added it around the sides of the hat.
'Flying Geese' is made from - you guessed it - a strip of flying geese that were left over from another project. In fact, and orphan quilt blocks could be used up in this way with a little bit of jiggling. The lining fabric in of this hat is the same as the minty green outer - just in a different colour way.
And 'Out in the Garden' is a very simple hat indeed - no patchwork piecing at all, just a busy print on a medium weight open weave canvas type fabric. Perfect for someone who enjoys spending time in the garden. Another piece of lace makes it look a little bit more special.
Buttons, buckles, beads, pom poms, ribbon, ric-rac..... anything could be added to make a hat stand out from the crowd.
(I have a few more hats cut our and ready to stitch on my workbench which will be at the workshop too.... think Dinosaurs, Pirates and Caterpillars!)
If you would like to have a go at making yourself (or someone special) a hat similar to these I will be running a workshop at Midsomer Quilting on July 22nd. There are a few spaces left, and you can book yourself on the course by contacting De at Midsomer Quilting:
By phone: 01761 239333 or 01761 232509
By e-mail: email@example.com
By post: Midsomer Quilting, Norton Green Garden Centre, Chilcompton, Bath, BA3 4RR.
To see more about the workshop I have created a brochure which you can see on my website by clicking here or by clicking on the brochure cover below.
If you are visiting the shop De has all the hats on display - why not try one on for size?
I look forward to seeing you if you decide to join the fun!
Thanks for reading.
A few weeks ago a blog post from the members of 'Through Our Hands' dropped into my mailbox. In it they invited anyone and everyone worldwide to join them in creating a small piece of art (A5 in size) to be exhibited at the Festival of Quilts (UK) this summer. Not only is it a great opportunity to have your art hanging in this really exciting exhibition, but if you join in you will be helping them to raise money for the charity 'Save The Children' too. After the exhibition all the portraits will be 'shuffled' and you will receive someone else's portraits to keep. It really is win - win!
There is still plenty of time to enter, (your entry needs to be completed and with them by 31st July) so why not find out more about the Portrait Shuffle and see if you would like to join the fun too? Click here or on the leaflet below to go to the Through Our Hands website for full details.
After paying my entry fee, which covers a minimum donation of £5 to Save the Children, I received my entry pack through the post. In it was a small A5 canvas to work on and a discount voucher for Festival of Quilts tickets. That was a nice surprise!
All I had to do was think of whose portrait I wanted to put onto the canvas and which medium to use. The portrait can be worked in any media you like - photography, drawing, paint, collage, print, textiles........ whatever floats your boat. I chose to make a small quilted piece of fabric to mount onto the canvas. Over the past year or so I have used a lot of portrait style images in my work, so I thought about taking one of these images and creating something similar.
But then I thought why not make something new? I have a nice photograph of my nephew that I took a few weeks ago and decided to use that to get me started. Here he is! (Well, half of him.)
Using GIMP software I twiddled about with the filters, levels and threshold settings and arrived at the image on the right which I was able to draw onto a piece of fabric with Derwent Inktense Pensils.
I added the rainbow as the last time I saw him we were looking at rainbows together. All that was left to do then was to quilt it. I thought I'd leave the long tail threads on instead of cutting them off, and stretched them over the edge of the little canvas along with the fabric before stapling it all down.
I'm popping it in the post tomorrow and looking forward to seeing it alongside all the others at Festival of Quilts.
Why not have a go yourself - it was lots of fun to make - and for a very good cause too; savethechildren.org.uk
Find out more info from the organisers, the Through Our Hands team by clicking here.
Thanks for reading.
Autumn has arrived here in New Zealand, and it is beautiful. This is the tree just outside our house; I don't think I have ever seen such vibrantly coloured leaves.
Walking among the fallen leaves, I can't resist picking up handfuls and throwing them in the air then watching them tumble down like confetti.
Just for fun I decided to collect some of the most brightly coloured specimens and spend the day playing around with them. These are just a few pictures.
First I just spent time looking at them closely, arranging them in different ways.
I took photos and played around, creating layers using GIMP - the free version of Photoshop. It is so easy to experiment in ways that would be so difficult to do without such software.
Then I moved on to working in a sketchbook with acrylic paint, a fine black pen and a craft knife
And finally I stitched a few bundles of leaves together. Whilst they are soft and supple it wasn't too difficult. They are now under a heavy weight to try and keep them flat whilst they dry out. I have no idea what will happen to them!
I have no plans for any of this,but sometimes it is nice to do something for no good reason!
Thanks for reading.
I've been working on a new quilt for a while now, for the SAQA 'Made in Europe II' exhibition. I am hoping it will be selected to hang in their gallery at Festival of Quilts later this year. It isn't what you would call a 'pretty' quilt, but it is part of the ongoing work I have made this year in terms of its style and inspiration.
The quilt itself is of fairly simple construction, (much like the others) being made from irregularly sized rectangles pieced together, so nothing much to write home about there. The fun in this quilt has come from creating a particular effect on the fabric I used. I was aiming for a very specific visual texture, the look of iron metal that has been painted and then blistered by rust beneath the surface. The process of creating it was an interesting journey, so I thought I would share a little of the process I used to create it.
I decided to start with a large piece of commercially dyed black homespun fabric and then remove some of the colour from it. In the past I have used both formusol and discharge paste to remove colour from fabrics, but neither was readily available to me here, so I got out the bleach did some experimenting to find the best way to get the results I had in mind. As it turns out, it worked brilliantly - so much so, I may never bother with the smelly formusol ever again!
Interestingly enough, here in New Zealand bleach is comparatively expensive. I have no idea why! In the UK it is dirt cheap. I sought out the least expensive bleach I could find - it turned out to be the thin watery stuff - and tried various ways to thicken it so it would be more controllable.
I started with manutex - the sodium alginate seaweed based thickener I usually use with dye: Sadly it was no good. The bleach completely destroyed the viscosity.
Dharma Trading sell a thickener for bleach made by Jacquard (click here to go to their website), but I would have had to import it from the USA and I didn't want to wait for it to arrive, so my search continued.
I found out about fumed silica (click here to find out about this interesting stuff) which would apparently work very well (maybe that is what is in the Jacquard stuff??), but again I would have to order it.
So I decided to try plain old starch - cornflour in water. I mixed two big spoonfuls of cornflour into a little cold water to make a slurry then added another half a cup or so of water and and popped it into the microwave. A few seconds later I had a very thick, gooey transparent paste. I mixed in some thin bleach and gave it all a good stir. It stayed thick and allowed me to draw, dribble and stamp the bleachy paste onto the black fabric.
For a cheap and practical solution to my needs the cornflour paste was perfect!
Note: Interestingly, the left over bleachy paste did break down overnight and became thin and runny - so I recommend mixing the the bleach and paste as you need it rather than making a big batch.
There is some debate as to how much damage bleach does to fabric when used to remove colour (discharge) in this way. To be honest, I have used bleach to remove colour several times in the past, and never had any problems. The fabrics still seem to be in good condition and I see no problems on the horizon. Maybe in 20 or more years there will be - but so far so good. However, in the interest of being thorough I researched how to neutralise the bleach and stop any potential damage.
There are a number of methods various people recommend. The one NOT to do is to dip the discharged fabric into a mixture of vinegar and water. The (faulty) logic goes like this: bleach is alkaline, so neutralise it with an acid. Apparently it is not quite as straightforward as it seems (is anything???) Paula Birch has a very good explanation of the different methods on her website, which you can find here: www.pburch.net/dyeing/FAQ/neutralizingdischarge.shtml
I opted for the hydrogen peroxide as it was the cheapest and easiest to obtain, not to mention that it seems less noxious. Paula Birch recommends 3% peroxide, which translates to 10 vol if you are more used to that measurement.
(As a long term experiment I have kept 3 pieces of the discharged black fabric. One has not been neutralised at all, just rinsed in water, the second has been neutralised in the dreaded diluted vinegar and the third in peroxide. Time will tell if there is any difference!)
By this stage I was pretty happy with the effect. To me it is beginning to resemble a section of painted iron. I have since added some further fabric and begun the process of hand stitching various knots over the surface to give it even more texture.
The closing date for entries to the 'Made in Europe II' SAQA exhibition is 31st May - so I had better get on with it!
Thanks for reading.
I am a member of a fabulous group called Contemporary Quilters West - CQWest for short. It is a thriving group of very talented people all of whom love to make art with cloth and thread. Every other year the group has an exhibition of the newest work made by the members; the first was held at the West Barn in Bradford on Avon in 2014, and the second was in 2016 at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome. Both exhibitions were a tremendous success and a record of them is on the CQWest website here.
The next exhibition, Unfolding Stories 3, is in the planning stages and I am part of a group of members who have volunteered to organise it... and the first thing to arrange is a venue. This means visiting galleries and then applying to have an exhibition - something I have never done before. Fortunately, my good friend Liz Hewitt has, and she has given me lots of advice and assistance.
Many of the galleries I have approached have a formal application process which involves putting together a written proposal along with samples of work (usually photographs). Funny as it may sound, I have really enjoyed settling down and writing the applications. Fortunately, the group is large and there is no shortage of superb work to put forward, so that part of the job is easy. It is also easy to sing the praises of the group and make statements that might seem rather arrogant if I was writing about myself. It has been like pressing 'pause' and given me time to reflect on what the group does, why 'we' do it and how 'we' want the world outside of the group to see us.
Which brought me to the next part of the process - creating a visual portfolio of our work that could be easily sent to prospective venues. On the face of it this sounds easy; gather together some decent photos of our work and send them along.
Except a quick photo that someone took at an exhibition doesn't always show the work or the exhibition overall at its very best. What makes a nice memory or souvenir of the event for us on a personal level isn't the same as a photo which is trying to sell 'us' to a venue that can pick and choose who exhibits there. Dark or wonky photos with people, chairs pillars and the like obscuring the view aren't what is called for here. (Big lesson for me going forward in the photography department!) Sure, I can straighten them up, brighten them and crop them with some software, but there are limits to what that can do!
Also, even when you do have a nice, bright looking photo it needs to have been taken at a good enough resolution so the gallery can zoom in a little and see some detail. And that means large file sizes, which in turn means a big pain in the you-know-what when I want to send along a clean, simple and appealing application which is easy for the recipient to read and think 'Wow! This group is amazing - we must invite them!'
So it got me thinking - how can I combine lots of our photos (now straight and free from chairs, doors and people's bottoms) in one easy to view file or attachment that looks professional enough to convince a gallery to grant us an exhibition?
My first thought was a Powerpoint slideshow (probably showing my age here). When I was a teacher I used to use Powerpoint a lot and it is easy enough to upload heaps of photos and make a slick looking presentation. So far so good - but then the file size gets huge again and is no longer easy to attach in an email and if I start putting large files in drop boxes then people need to have an account with the drop box and it all gets complicated again. Another thing is the recipient needs to have the right software to view the slideshow, It is already too clunky.
Then I thought of YouTube. It is one of those things I probably see and use in some form or other most days - but I have never really thought about. When I search for something, up come the results then I click and play. Easy! It works on every device I have, and, as I have discovered, is free and simple to use and all you need is a link which I can put in a simple email.
So the next thing to do was learn how to make something I could upload to YouTube. And of course, I used a YouTube video to learn how to do it.... how appropriate!
Fortunately it isn't nearly as difficult as you might think - I chose to try this two step process:
Once you have some photos ready to use, open one of those pieces of software that comes on every windows PC, that you (and I) probably never paid any attention to .....Windows Live movie Maker.
Turns out all you do is drag and drop lots of photos into that big white box on the right, then fiddle about with them using the choices at the top of the screen, add some copyright free music if you wish, then save it all as a 'movie'.
Next, if you haven't already got one, open a free Google account (if you use Gmail you already have one) and then go to your YouTube account. I've used Gmail for years and never realised that it was quietly sitting there waiting for me to upload a video or two.
One way to find it is by clicking on those little squares at the top right of the screen once you are in your Gmail.
This will bring you to the YouTube Home screen.
To upload your 'movie' you click on that little upward pointing arrow at the top right of the screen and then follow the instructions.
All that is left to do then is click publish..... then sit back and enjoy your work.
Click the button below to watch the YouTube video of the last CQ West exhibition
I hope you enjoy watching, and if you have decide to add something to YouTube, please send me a link. I'd love to see what you create. I'm completely new to this!
Thanks for reading.