Here they are at last - a long time coming, but for me, a cause for celebration. The first 4 of the 8 'Wiltshire's White Horses'.
I have really enjoyed researching the horses, discovering their stories, walking to them and making the quilts.
The Westbury Horse; famous for being the first of the Wiltshire horses, taking its nocturnal walk to the spring to drink.
The Cherhill Horse; having its glass eye made from upturned bottles stolen over and over again.
The Devizes Horse; a new horse for a new Millennium. Overlooking the site of several mysterious crop circles and a mirror image of an older local horse, known as the 'Snobs' Horse' now lost.
Alton Barnes Horse: the story goes £20 was paid for the horse to be cut, but the man absconded with the money before doing the work. A second payment was required to get the job done.
The complete series will be on show at my first British solo exhibition next year at Midsomer Quilting, along with my Destination Series and Modition Series.
'Here and Far' 1st - 15th May 2015 - Midsomer Quilting, Chilcompton, BA3 4RR
So what are they?
Basically they are solid oil paint in a stick. They have a cardboard outer wrapping that keeps you from getting messy and heal themselves to create a dry skin on the exposed surface after a few hours, so they don't dry out. You can use them on all kinds of media - canvas, paper, wood, plastic, metal, fabric... I use them on fabric and they are dry to the touch in 24 hours or less. Left for a few days they dry completely and can be made permanent by pressing with a hot iron.
Colors can be spread or blended with a brush or knife and a colorless blender allows you to make them less opaque. They are also completely compatible with any oil paints, although I have never done that. The makers claim that they are non-toxic and hypo-allergenic, and I have no reason to disagree.
If you want to try them out and not spend a lot - start with a sample size pack. Most of my varied collection are of the skinny and regular sized sticks - and to be truthful I don't think they will ever run out - a little goes a long way! I have one jumbo stick - and unless you are a serious user of oilsticks - I am not sure why you would ever buy one of these!
So how do you use them?
Paintsticks on the White Horses
The collection is now on tour and can be seen at the following
venues over the next 6 months:
Open European Quilt Championships, Veldhoven, The Netherlands; 23-26 October 2014
Compton Verney Textile Fair, Warwickshire; 8 November 2014
West Country Quilt Show at UWE in Bristol; 13th to 15th November 2014
Quiltfest Llangollen Museum, Wales; 4 February - 4 March 2015
The Bramble Patch, Weeden, Northamptonshire; 28 March - 11 April 2015
Congratulations to all participants of the challenge and thanks to all those who made the challenge and book possible.
So this is how I used them on the White Horse quilts; very simply with a freezer paper stencil.
It isn't very sophisticated, but it gave me a perfect, clean edge to the grid reference numbers I wanted beneath the name of each horse. Using the pencils allowed me to carefully apply colour exactly where I wanted it.
I used the following colours; shiraz, poppy red, chestnut and saddle brown. I applied the color onto the dry fabric and then simply brushed over with a gel textile medium. I chose textile medium as I did not want any colour to bleed under the edges of the freezer paper stencil - otherwise water would have been fine. The pictures below show my process.
The great thing is that once dry, the ink stain on the fabric is permanent and it can be further worked on and the colours will not mix or blend.
Here are the first of my pages..... I decided to start with the horse at Cherhill. The best place to view this horse is from a small layby on the A4. If you park there you can get a great view of the horse and the Lansdowne Monument to its right. If you wish to walk up to the horse you can follow the muddy footpath and enjoy the spectacular views from the top.
I am sure you can see I am having a great time, exploring different ideas and trying out different techniques with paper, fabric and thread.
Next I am going to dye some fabrics and create a few small pieces to explore the ideas further. I will post the results in the next few days.
Thanks for looking!
The White Horses of Wiltshire
So autumn is here at last. Happily it took a long time to arrive, but the nights are starting to draw in and I thought about putting the heating on last night!
So, whilst I was sat in front of my sewing machine yesterday, busy quilting a mountain, (more on that in another post) I started to think in earnest about a series I have wanted to make for a long time. The White Horses of Wiltshire.
I started my research for this series in the spring, when I went in search of a few of the horses.
Being a mostly rural county of England with lots of beautiful countryside, Wiltshire is characterised by its high chalk downland and wide clay covered valleys. Salisbury Plain is famous as the location of the Stonehenge and to the north you can find Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks. Personally, I find these ancient monuments fascinating, but I am presently even more interested in some not-so ancient marks made on the earth that seem curiously overlooked - the 8 visible white horses scratched into the chalk hillsides.
As a child I remember looking out of the car windows, keeping an eye out for the sight of a white horse on a hillside. I remember being very puzzled by them - they made no sense to me, but they were huge and interesting, and sometimes we even stopped the car and walked the hills to sit on the horse's nose.
Many years on it is still fun, although the steepness of the slope and the slippery chalk is much more of a challenge than it used to be. I was sliding down the nose like crazy in this picture!
Over the next few days I intend to work in my sketchbook, developing my ideas for the series. If the weather is good I also hope to go and walk the hills to a few of them and take some nice photographs to use too.
There is a fantastic website with lots of great information about these hill figures;
http://www.wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/ , but apart from that there seems to be very little else. I must say I am rather puzzled. They are even poorly marked with regard to road signs - I think Wiltshire is missing a trick here, as I am sure I can't be the only person who thinks these horses are worth a visit!
So - over the next few days I will post some of my sketchbook pages and share the development of this series as it unfolds. Hopefully I will convince others of the beauty of these curious creatures!