Selected works from the SAQA exhibition 'Textile Posters' : currently featuring in Quilting Arts Magazine
I had a lovely surprise yesterday morning. As I ate my breakfast and browsed through my news feed I saw a post from fellow SAQA member Heather Pregger, http://www.heatherquiltz.com/ in which she mentioned that her quilt 'VOLCANO' features in the August/September edition of Quilting Arts magazine. Her fabulous quilt, along with 23 others is part of the SAQA exhibition Textile Posters and I am very proud to say that my quilt '3 Wise Words' is one of those quilts selected by the juror, Joseph Lupo, and also features in the magazine. Thanks for passing on the good news Heather!.
I am even more pleased that the message contained in the quilt is being spread just a little bit further.
The cover of the August/September edition of Quilting Arts features Cat Larrea's fabulous quilt named 'Shiprock' and you can see images of all 24 of the posters im the exhibit on the SAQA website by clicking here.
I wrote a blog post about the '3 Wise Words' quilt back in February 2017 when I found out it had been selected for the exhibition and you can read that post by clicking here.
The quilt features a BIG water tap and the words: 'refill, not landfill'. Back in early 2017 the whole issue of plastic waste, and in particular single use water bottles was beginning to be widely discussed and more recently we frequently see the most terrible photographs of mountains of plastic bottles washed up on beaches, floating around in the oceans and inside the stomach's of dead sea animals. It really is intolerable.
Here are a few more images from the sketchbook that I used in the planning of the quilt that I thought might be interesting to share. My sketchbooks are my way of making sense of ideas, seeing what might work and keeping things organised; I hope you enjoy the glimpse.
The sketchbook also serves as a nice place to store the left over bits and pieces from the quilt - stencils, lino print blocks, unused fabrics etc. Earlier this year I had a request to make another quilt for someone (on a different theme) and I was able to go back to that particular sketchbook and 'raid' it for leftovers - and was able to create and ship a brand new quilt within a week. I was amazed (and so was she!)
A very high quality catalogue to accompany the exhibition is still available on the SAQA website by clicking here.
Thanks for reading.
Whilst lino printing last week I had a lot of ink rolled out on the glass plate. Not wanting to let it go to waste I made a few monoprints onto fabric and paper as well. When creating this type of monoprint I often find there is just too much ink on the plate (no mater how frugal I am) and the first few prints turn out to be very dark and often very blurred, which is fine if that is what you want, but not for what I am looking for at the moment. So, when I want a well defined mono print I often make lino prints first, and then use the remaining ink on glass plate for the monoprints.
I am basing the prints on the same image of the child's face that I used for the lino block. The wonderful thing about the mono print is that is has a softer quality and captures the mood I want for the piece I will use these fabrics in.
I especially like the way each time a new print is made the child's face changes in subtle ways, but those eyes keep staring right back at you.
To make the prints I very gently lay a piece of plain fabric (in this case a piece of white Kona cotton) right side down onto the inked glass plate. Because there is not a lot of tacky ink left on the plate I find I have very little transference of ink onto the fabric unless I press onto the back. To hold the fabric in place I either use masking tape at the corners or I use my fingertips to press down in strategic areas where I don't mind the ink transferring. The key is to have a light touch and to be careful.
From then on I simply 'draw' onto the back of the fabric with a tool of some sort. Knitting needles, cocktail sticks, chop sticks and clay shaping tools are all the type of thing I find suitable. Wherever I draw the fabric is pressed into the thin layer of ink and leaves a line. Shading can be achieved by scribbling, cross hatching, making multiple dots or even by gently using a finger or more blunt tool to press and smooth the back of the fabric. It is something that is good to experiment with. The most important thing to remember is that as you are drawing from the back of the image it will be reversed when you finally lift it up from the glass (important if you choose to write words!).
The photos below (reading left to right) are from another piece of work I made a long time ago, but I think they show the process quite clearly. Hover over each photo to see a description of what is going on.
This week I have also dyed a lot of fabric to piece around these images for my first piece about child labour - this one will be about the chocolate industry. Until now I have had only a low awareness of how some of the worlds poorest children are being exploited for our 'guilty pleasure'. Particularly prevalent in the cocoa bean producing regions of Western Africa, where 70% of the world's cocoa is grown (especially in Côte d'Ivoire
and Ghana) children as young as 10 labour on cocoa bean plantations often lured there on false promises of wages or bicycles. Driven by extreme poverty they have little real choice in their lives but to seek work. I wrongly thought that this practice had been closed down long ago, but in fact it is thriving and involves all kinds of human trafficking, forced labour and human rights violations many of which fall under the category of slavery.
A quick google search will take you to many websites which show and explain the extent of the problem, demonstrating how all the big chocolate companies are involved in this terrible business. They claim to be trying hard to eradicate the problem, and although there is some effort of their part to make changes, so far their best efforts have not ended the problem and they have effectively kicked the can down the road each time they have been called to account.
One way to avoid inadvertently supporting this terrible practice is to pressure the big chocolate companies to pay more for their cocoa - and for the suppliers of the cocoa beans to pay their legitimate employees a decent living wage. Other ways are to buy chocolate from producers who source their cocoa from South America where the use of child labour has been almost completely stopped. A third option is to buy chocolate from people who run their manufacture from 'bean to bar' and can prove their ethical standing. Of course, this chocolate is more expensive, but I am happy to pay it to know I am not supporting the use of children to provide the raw material for my 'guilty pleasure'.
Thanks for reading.
Lino printing is one of my favourite methods of mark making on fabric - along with mono printing from glass sheets covered in ink. Although two quite different processes I have found the two generally go hand in hand. In this post I'll share the lino prints I am making and in my next post I will show you how the mono printing is going.
A few weeks ago I went on an excellent course at Ardington School of Crafts in Oxfordshire. It is a lovely place and is very well run by Simon and Yvonne Sonsino. The course was run by painter and printmaker Jessica Rose (www.jessicaroseartist.co.uk) and was one of the best I have been on in a long time. Jessica is lots of fun and very knowledgeable. She passed on all sorts of helpful information - the sort you just can't get from watching a YouTube video!
This is the print block I made on the day, reworked a little to clean it up (hence the pale coloured gouges you can see on the lino block above).
At the course I learned a clever technique that allowed me to make prints with the block on Japanese gampi paper and then add colour to a separate layer behind the paper. The effect is very delicate and as it uses different layers is a technique I would like to explore with fabric.
Mono print and ink wash layers: print on Japanese gampi paper, ink on watercolour paper
I love the way the bold black printed image on the left is really crisp - the black mount around it really enhances the print. In contrast, the white mount of the right subdues it considerably. (same print in both)
I also like the way the water based ink wash that is placed behind the print subtly shows through the beautifully thin and floaty gampi paper. (Carrying a wet fresh print on gampi paper across a crowded workshop requires a lot of planning and no sudden wafts of air!)
Now I have had time to experiment with this technique a little more I have made some samples that I want to use in a small new series that will join the others in my In Their Shoes series. The quilts I want to make are going to focus on the many forms of child labour, from children working within a family setting all the way to child slavery.
Up until now all my lino printing has been self taught. I have learned a lot by myself and really enjoy spending a few hours carving away at various different blocks. As a novice I generally prefer to carve the softer vinyl blocks that are available in most art shops and on line to the harder and sometimes more crumbly grey lino, often referred to as 'Battleship'. (The green block below is an example of one of the softer relief vinyls which is easier to cut, but can be a little stretchy, causing other issues as you carve.)
As I was going to the course I decided I really needed to make the most of having an expert to teach me, so I had a splurge and bought a selection of different types of lino block material and new set of carving tools.
In the past I have relied on the cheap and cheerful red plastic handled cutting tool with interchangeable blades. I must say, there is nothing terribly wrong with them and I have made some great print blocks using them. But my blades are all blunt and rather than spend another £10 on a new set of blades I decided to see what else was available. Turns out there are lots to choose from and a lot of money can be spent!
For a brief moment I did consider the beautifully made Pfeil carving tools but I just couldn't figure out which of the huge number of different shapes and sizes I should buy (too much choice is no choice at all as the saying goes). They were too expensive for me to just guess so I decided to look elsewhere. (Since then I have discovered this fantastic website and blog which might have helped my had I found it earlier: https://www.drawcutinkpress.com/pfeil-lino-cutting-tools-guide/ )
After much searching I ended up choosing this set of Japanese wood carving tools - and they have turned out to be fabulous to use. Of the 5 in the box I have found 4 to be just the sizes I need. (I'm not really sure what to do with the 5th one yet!). Compared to the small red handles tool these cut through even old tough lino with ease.
This is a close up of the block I carved at the course with my lovely new cutters. I used a piece of fresh grey lino - and was amazed at how easy it was to cut compared to using the little red handled cutter - I know it is an old chestnut, but it really was like cutting into butter. I needed no real effort at all to cut the lino and the lines I cut were very clean allowing me to get lots of detail and fiddly bits. In future I think I will be choosing grey lino blocks rather than the easy carve vinyl if these tools continue to perform as they did on first use. (But, if I do use one of those little red cutters again I think I will prefer to choose one of the softer types of lino substitutes and sacrifice the fine detail).
And this is a piece of white Kona cotton fabric that I printed using the block.
I plan to use this fabric and lots more in a new series of quilts I have in mind to make concerning child labour. In my next post I will share the mono prints that I plan to use along with this fabric.
Thanks for reading.
Tomorrow, 10th June, women and girls across the country are being invited to take part in a mass participation artwork to celebrate 100 years of votes for women. The processions are part of this year's ongoing celebrations to mark The Representation of the People Act, 1918 which secured the vote for some women. This particular project is from heritage organisation 14-18 NOW and public art specialists Artichoke, and will encourage women to march in four coordinated parades dressed in green, white or purple. The processions will be held in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. In the lead up to the processions, 100 female artists were commissioned to work with organisations and communities across the UK to create 100 centenary banners. My friend and fellow CQ West member, Judy Stephens made this square for the Cardiff Banner.
Another less traditional banner that appeals to me is a re-imagined version of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. It has been created in a colaboration between the Institute for Conflict Research and Northern Ireland based artist Rita Duffy from the Ards Peninsula in County Down and will be part of the Belfast procession.
Grographicaly closer to my home, Dorcas Caset has been leading workshops to create this banner. She worked with the group Somerset Art Works, Strode College in Street, Richard Huish College in Taunton and Bruton School for Girls. Two of the banners are below.
Dorcas writes:“Suffrage banners gave voice to the voiceless. They were objects of great pride and significance, employing motifs and devices which cleverly imbued their slogans with a sense of grandeur and importance. They were designed to be striking from afar and exquisite up close; full of vivid colours, opulent fabrics and metallic threads. The process of making them fostered a sense of collective, collaborative progress for the women who were fighting for equal rights. It’s hard to imagine how subversive and incendiary these embroidered banners were when they first appeared in public. Beneath their beautiful, meticulous surfaces, lies a story of strength, courage, and collaboration.
We wanted the finished banner to represent all our voices and ideas. Using neon, metallic and glow-in-the-dark thread we used traditional hand-embroidery techniques to echo the processes used by the suffragettes. Embroidery feels like a good metaphor for the suffrage movement; where small individual contributions achieved a huge shift in opinion. The phrase ‘Make More Noise’ comes from a speech by Emmeline Pankhurst and it sums up the sentiment of the suffrage processions; to make a spectacle, to make their voices heard. It still feels relevant today."
The census of 1911
In addition to highly visible acts of civil disobedience, such as window smashing and setting fire to postboxes, many women also carried out quieter forms of civil protest. In 1911, the Women’s Freedom League launched a campaign to encourage women to refuse to complete the 1911 census, and in April that year a meeting was held in Trafalgar Square instructing women not to participate. The protesters followed the slogan: “I don’t count so I won’t be counted”. Some spoiled their papers with slogans such as “No persons here, only women!”; they gave their occupations as ‘suffragette’, and listed their ‘disenfranchisement’ in a column headed ‘Infirmity’.
I am looking forward to the processions tomorrow - and to seeing the array of beautiful banners that will undoubtedly be on display. Come and join the celebration!
Thanks for reading.
I can't remember the last time I made a bed quilt; it has to be at least 5 years, probably longer. So, when I decided to make this one I came to it fresh - and enjoyed every minute of it!
It is a single bed size, so not too hard and made using the 'quilt-as-you-go' method, which meant that the intense free motion quilting I used on each of the panels was easy to handle on my small domestic Singer sewing machine.
The quilt is currently hanging at Midsomer Quilting in Somerset, UK, and will be there until May 19th when I will be teaching how to make these pretty free motion quilted blocks.
I designed 10 dolls and a very special horse for the workshop. The dolls are based on traditional painted wooden dolls from Russia, Japan and Scandinavia.
The idea for the first doll came from the annual Midsomer Quilting 12 x 12 challenge in 2017, entitled 'Where in the World?' After some thought I decided to make a Russian Matryoshka Doll, and if you went to the exhibition you might recognise her.
These Russian dolls are an unmistakable symbol of Russian character, culture and country, an emotional feeling summarised as 'Russian Soul'. As I was researched the history of these elaborately decorated dolls I discovered a lot about similar dolls from other countries, and I was surprised to discover that the tradition of carving these so called 'Matryoshka' dolls (often mistakenly referred to as 'Babushka' - dolls) is not quite as old as I thought.
The first nesting Russian doll set was carved 1890 and has been atributed to a man named Vasily Zvyozdochkinn who made a set using a design by Sergey Malyutin, a folk craft painter. Traditionally the hollow outermost doll in the set is a maternal woman in traditional dress, known as a sarafan. Inside her hollow interior are a succession of smaller and smaller hollow dolls which can be male or female and the smallest, innermost doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood.
Much of the artistry of these beautiful dolls is seen in their painting. Long dark winters are the perfect time for farmers and other artisans to spend time creating beautifully ornate masterpieces. Their decoration often follows a theme; fairy tale characters and regional traditional costume are popular.
The name Matryoshka, written in Cyrillic as матрёшка, translates literally as 'little matron', and is a diminutive form of the Russian first name 'Matryona' or 'Matriosha' (Матрёна). This name is very popular in rural parts and is associated with the matriarchs of a big Russian family, having its origins in the the word mother (mama). I was interested to discover that although in the west we frequently call them 'Babushka' or Grandmother dolls, this is actually incorrect - they are not grandmothers at all!
For people of Slavic origin Matryoshka is a symbol of motherhood and the fertility of nature, which why the traditional dolls take the form of a curvy, female shape, expressing the ancient symbol of motherhood. Some say that in ancient Russian tradition dolls were made without painted faces and did not represent living persons because it was believed that evil spirits could settle inside it. Others say that Matryoshka dolls were given to newborns to wish them a long and prosperous life - something that echoes with similar dolls in other cultures.
Photo credit: public domain: Doll carved by Zvezdochkin, painted by Malyutin - Sergiev Posad Museum of Toys, Russia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5051554
Ten years after the first Russian Matryoshka was created, the doll was presented to an international audience at the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) in Paris, where it won a bronze medal. The doll was a hit, quickly gaining popularity, and soon began production in multiple regions in Russia. By the 1930s, the dolls were being factory produced and shipped around the world.
Another more ancient nesting doll set, very likely to have influenced the creation of these Russian dolls, came from Japan. It is believed that the forerunner of the Matryoshka was brought from the Island of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Japanese wooden dolls representing Shichi-fuku-jin, the Seven Gods of Fortune are thought to have inspired Vasily Zvyozdochkinn. This ancient Japanese set of dolls has the largest outer doll taking the form of Fukuoka, a kindly, old, pot bellied Buddhist monk who symbolised happiness and longevity . Inside were 6 further dolls. Each of the dolls took the form of one of the 7 lucky gods from Japanese mythology.
Even older still are traditional Japanese Kokeshi dolls, originaing from north easern Japan. There are 11 traditional styles and are thought to have originated in the 1600's as souveniers for those visiting the spas in this part of Japan. Next are the 'lucky' Daruma dolls modelled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen tradition of Buddhism. These dolls, though typically red and depicting a bearded man (Dharma), vary in color and design depending on region and artist. Though considered a toy by some, Daruma has a design that is rich in symbolism and is regarded more as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese.
A modern twist on these Japanese dolls is the 'Creative Kokeshi Dolll'. are probably more popular in the west. They developed as an art form since the 2nd World War and retain the limbless kokeshi characteristic. However, they are more contemporary in their design with more shapely bodies, added features such as hair, as well as colourful exquisitely patterned kimono. Creative kokeshi are 'created' by artists, and have features and styles unique to their own particular artist or creator. The majority of creative kokeshi are made in Gunma prefecture.
These are the dolls that started my new series of doodles that resulted in the Doodle doll quilt. But of all the dolls in thie mini series, I think the Skandinavian inspired dolls are my favourite. Here are 3 of them.
At the workshop we will be making square panels similar to those above, created by 'drawing' the design onto plain white fabric just using black thread. Once the design is stitched we then fill it with free motion quilting stitch and finally use fabric paints to colour them. Depending on how fast you work it is possible to complete 3 of these panels during the day.
The panels can be used in lots of ways - to create a bed runner or a larger quilt, as a panel on a bag, as a wall hanging - or even stitched onto clothing.
Of course, you don't need to go to a workshop to create you own doodles. On paper or just draw an outline and start to fill it with repeated shapes. Once you have your design, set your sewing machine for free motion quilting and 'draw' your design with stitched thread. I paint my finished designs with fabric paint, but they also look very striking just left in black and white.
Why not have a go?
If you are interested in coming to the workshop you can contact De at Midsomer Quilting https:midsomerq.com/. You can also see more on my website by clicking the button below
Thanks for reading.
It seems like my quilting life has been dominated by one thing only for the last few months......exhibitions.
For the past 6 months or so I have been very occupied with planning and preparing for exhibitions of one kind or another. I think most of all I love making quilts, but I also need a purpose for the quilts I make. I don't actually hang many (if any) of my own quilts at home, so having them hang in various exhibitions means they at least have an audience.
Today and tomorrow I have a quilt from my 'Stitched Alchemy' series named 'Dragon's Blood' on display at la Biennale Internationale D'Art Textile (aka Beaujolais) . It is based on the metal we know as 'mercury' and is a very vivid red quilt. It is part of the SAQA Europe and ME exhibition 'Made in Europe'. This exhibition has been touring for the past year and will be returned to me very soon. I look forward to seeing it again.
Next week I will have 2 of my quilts hanging at the Chicago International Quilt Festival (April 12th to 14th). The first celebrates the great achievement made by a woman named Kate Sheppard will be hanging in the 'HERstory' gallery. It is a particularly special quilt for me as it is the last quilt I made whilst living in New Zealand, and Kate Shepard was the leader of the Women's Suffrage group who, back in 1893, were the first in the world to win the vote for women. It was a remarkable achievement.
The quilt also features in a beautiful book, named 'HERstory Quilts, A celebration of Strong Women' which was created by Susanne Miller Jones. Susanne had curated an amazing collection of art quilts by makers all over the world.
I am also thrilled that this exhibition will be travelling to New Zealand and hope my sister will be able to go and visit the exhibition on my behalf.
I really enjoyed making this quilt as it had special meaning to me on lots of levels. It has a fascinating historical story to tell,as well as being of the 'place' I was at the time. I used lots of special fabrics from my collection and many of my favourite techniques: fabric dyeing, trapunto, free motion writing, applique and portraiture.
To find out more about the remarkable achievement of Kate Sheppard and her fellow suffragists, follow this link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Sheppard
Susanne Miller Jones, the curator of this exhibition has also produced a fabulous book, entitled 'HERstory Quilts, a History of Strong Women' which contains all of the other amazing quilts from this collection and is available from Amazon by clicking here.
The second quilt which will hang in Chicago is the quilt I made for the SAQA 'Textile Posters' exhibition. This exhibition premiered in Huston last year, but is now on tour.
For my poster I decided to create a piece which concerns something about which I (and many others) feel strongly - plastic bottles. I hope the poster speaks for itself.
A week later I have another quilt which is making its debut at a very interesting and probably highly controversial exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose, California. I have some lovely friends who live not too far away, so I hope they might get to the exhibiton on my behalf. It runs from April 22nd to July 15th and is another SAQA exhibition entitled 'Guns: Loaded Conversations'. I have seen a preview of all the work which will be hanging in this exhibition and it is exceptional. It is both highly thought provoking and disturbing, especially given the ongoing problems of gun crime, both in the USA and seemingly a growing issue here in the UK.
I am sure some will think the quilt I made for this exhibition pushes the limits of what is acceptable, but it was important for me to show the horror and reality of what happens when children find and use guns.
Which brings me to two further exhibitions which I am involved in and are thankfully much closer to home.
The first is at Harbour House, The Promenade, Kingsbridge, TQ7 1JD, Devon - April 27th - May 3rd
and the second at the Bristol Guild Gallery, 68 Park Street Bristol BS1 5JY - April 28th - 19th May
Harbour House Centre for Arts and Yoga is a beautiful gallery situated in the quiet yet beautiful coastal market town of Kingsbridge, Devon. If you are in the area or are looking for a very enjoyable day trip or long weekend I can highly recommend it as a destination. There is lots to see and do.
My work will hang as part of an exhibition named 'Unfolding Stories 3', with the group 'Contemporary Quilters West' (CQ West for short). It is a fabulous group and the collection of work which is currently sitting in my lounge (waiting to be hung!) is superb. If you are interested in what is currently going on in the world of contemporary art quilting in the UK this is a good exhibition to visit.
I have chosen the following 3 quilts from my from my 'Stitched Alchemy' series to hang here, all based on the metal we know as 'copper'. I intend to be at the gallery every day and warmly invite you to visit if you can.
'Copper Venus' Quilts by Claire Passmore ©2018
Bristol Guild Gallery
At the same time (like busses, they never come alone!) I will also be participating in an exhibition with the group 'XIII makers' at theBristol Guild Gallery, 68 Park Street Bristol BS1 5JY. I find it a fascinating and beautiful venue. This exhibition opens on 28th April and runs through to 19th May (closed on May Day, 7th May).
More work from my 'Stitched Alchemy' series will be hanging there, this time based on the metal we know as 'iron'. The quilts tell the story of the 3 sister ships built for luxury travel, but which ended up having very different lives. The quilts are collectively called '3 Sisters' but individually are called 'Olympic' , 'Titanic' and 'Britannic'. I have had a lot of fun making some special items to go alongside the quilts hanging in this exhibition which will all be on display and for sale.
A triptych named '3 Sisters', based on the 3 sister ships, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic'
Claire Passmore ©2017
As you can see, I have an eclectic collection of work in these various exhibitions, but each has an important message or a story to tell. Looking back over the past year I often feel I haven't created much, but now I see it all together I can see where my time has been spent.
If you are able to visit any of these exhibitions I would love to hear what you think of them. Unfortunately I wont be able to attend many in person, but I am looking forward to meeting as many people as possible in Kingsbridge and Bristol. Unfolding Stories 3 will also be at Festival of Quilts this year (Gallery TG1) and at the West of England Quilt and Textile Show - so there are lots of chances to see the work hanging there too.
Thanks for reading.
Now I have settled into my new home in Plymouth I have finally found the time to start thinking about workshops again. I have been busy with so many other things for the past few months I have neglected this part of my quilting life - and I really miss it.
Thank you to the people who have been getting in touch with me about new bookings - it is always lovely to hear from you. Please do be aware that I do now live in Plymouth and therefore the distance that I travel to get to you is likely to be much more than in the past and that this might now require an overnight stay.
Doodling away in Honiton...............
I am happy to say that I ran a lovely workshop in Honiton last weekend, at Thimblestitch@Zoë's.
12 very lovely ladies came to my Doodle Birds workshop and we had a great day. More news on a new doodle workshop is below.
Spring Flowers in Avalon (well, I'm hoping spring will come soon!) ..................
Next weekend I am visiting the ladies at Avalon Embroiderer's Guild to run my colourful Flower Bowl workshop. It will be a nice change from looking out at a white snowscape! Apparently it almost never snows in Plymouth. Someone obviously forgot to tell the snow!!!! Below are some beautiful examples of the bowls made at previous workshops.
I also want to develop some new ideas for workshops that offer something a little different. I have had this idea in mind for quite a while, but not had the time to develop it. It all starts with creating this background............. does it look familiar?
Whilst on holiday recently I went to a very old 1920's Art Deco cinema and watched the film 'Loving VIncent'. If you haven't already seen it then you are really missing something very special. I had seen the trailers on the news and made a mental note to go and see it, but for whatever reason, I didn't get around to it when it was released. So, when I saw it listed whilst away on holiday I made the time to go.
You can watch the official trailer
And I am so glad I did. It finally kick started me into creating this small 16 inch quilt for a new workshop. It is currently a work in progress and I'll share how it looks so far it with you here.
You are going to have to like simple hand stitch for this one - my interpretation of Vincent van Gogh's 'Starry Night'.
So, what do you think? Will it work as a workshop? De at Midsomer Quilting has been lovely and encouraging me to get on and finish it. I plan to have it completed by May 19th when I will give it to De to put up in the shop to see what people think when they see it in the flesh.
And here is the other new workshop I will be teaching. It is called Doodle Dolls and is a new variation on my Doodle Birds workshop. I'm teaching it first at the all new Midsomer Quilting, May 19th. I am really excited to teach in their beautiful new workshop. Please contact De if you wish to book your place.
Speaking of which, now I live much further away I can't just nip up to MQ or Zoë's when I run out of wadding or that special piece of fabric. However, all is not lost - I received my first mail order fabric from De at Midsomer Quilting a few weeks ago. The new Midsomer Quilting online shop she is now running is perfect for people like me who can't easily get access to beautiful quilting fabrics and other supplies. My perfectly packed parcel arrived 2 days after I placed my order online - and inside the fabric was all wrapped up in beautiful tissue paper. Thanks to De and her online shopping team it was perfect.
I'm really looking forward to getting back to teaching and meeting lots of new people. Hope to see you soon.
Thanks for reading.
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I am really pleased that the quilt I have been working on for quite some time now is finally finished. Yesterday I stitched on the hanging sleeves and put on the label. It is now ready to submit to the exhibition I have made it for (more on that later).
There was a slight false finish though, which delayed me just a little longer! As I was pinning the quilt to the design wall ready to photohraph, despite my very best efforts to get the whole quilt square, it quickly became obvious that the right hand side of the quilt was 1/2 inch shorter than the left hand side. How this happened I just don't know. I must have measured it over 20 times, then blocked it before the final trim and facing. I guess it just goes to show that fabric continually moves and stretches.
So, I unpicked the facing, gave it another trim, reattached the facing, had a gin and tonic, and then resumed with the photography.
Here are a few close-up shots to show you some of the detail....
Whilst making the quilt I also worked on a number of different samples as I tried out different ideas. Two of these samples were good enough to have been made into small quilts in their own right to accompany this one. I have decided to mount these onto stretcher bars and place in white floater frames, as you can see below. I will be interested to hear what people think about this finishing treatment as it is not something I normally do with my work.
As I mentioned, I made this work to hang in the upcoming exhibition 'Unfolding Stories 3' which will showcase work by members of the Group Contemporary Quilters West. The exhibition promises to be fabulous and I hope my work will be selected to hang.
The exhibition will premiere at Harbour House Centre for Arts and Yoga in Kingsbridge, Devon. TQ7 1JD from April 27th to May 3rd. I aim be at the exhibition every day and it would be wonderful to see you there if you are down that way. Click on the image below to go to the CQ West website.
Thanks for reading.
One week on and this is the progress I have made. It took a lot of thinking about how I want the finished quilts to look. The last group of faces I made were mostly colourless, or very lightly coloured. For these quilts I decided I want to add a new dimension, and colour is going to be my focus.
Over this past week I have spent a lot of time trying different colour palettes; from realistic to complete fantasy. The image above is what I have decided to go for. It is interesting that in this photo they left eye does not work well, yet when I look at the quilt top it seems fine. I need to find out what is going on, and if necessary make some changes.
I have never really painted a large face with colour before, and I knew I would need to mix a lot of different tints and values so I could give contour and definition to the face . As you can see, the style I have chosen is not exactly 'realistic'.
This is what I did.
Like your art teacher probably used to tell you - start with primary colours.
The paints I used are Daler Rowney Graduate acrylic paints mixed with a little Berol fabric medium. Nothing fancy, but not the budget type of acrylic either. I started with Primary red, blue and yellow. I also used mixing white a bit later. (I didn't use the brown that is in the photo at all.)
I used these 3 colours to create a base colour from which I made all the other tints.
I began by mixing equal quantities of each colour, but ended up with a sludgy grey yuk. After some trial and error I ended up using 2 parts yellow, 1 part red and 2/3 part blue to yield a dark brownish yuk. I made a small jar of this to use as my base.
This is the yuk that turned out to be perfect when mixed with various amounts of white.
I made a (not terribly accurate) record of my mixing in my sketchbook, as you can see below.
Using just the dark yuk to start, by adding small amounts of white, red, yellow or blue as I worked I was able to paint each part of the face with different values and tints. I also took a photograph of my own face to use as a value reference which proved to be very helpful.
This is how my paint palette looked at the end of the day.
I had intended taking lots of photos as I worked, but unfortunately I got so engrossed with it all that this is the only photo I took before it was finished. You can see form this image I started by adding the lightest values around the eyes first.
And this is how both faces look now.
And now the project continues - next stage - how shall I quilt them?????
Thanks for reading.
Alongside my 'Stitched Alchemy' quilts I have another ongoing body of work, named 'In This Skin' (All my quilts are on my website gallery which can be viewed by clicking here.)
Until recently I didn't used to like working on different themes at the same time as I used to find it too confusing. Funny how things change... nowadays, I prefer to work this way, as I can take a break from one set of thoughts, leave the quilt to sit on the wall for a while and give myself time to mull things over whilst getting on with something different. It gives my mind time to work things through.
And that is exactly what is happening with my 'Goddess or Sex-Object quilt at the moment. It is almost finished, but at the moment is sitting on the wall whilst I contemplate one more idea before I think it will be complete. It involves some violet-red velvet....................
Which brings me to the other quilts I am working on; they are a development of the large faces I made in 2016. Those quilts focused on physical appearance and how there is a whole industry dedicated to persuading us that we are not beautiful enough. For the new quilts I want to explore how important physical appearance is in the way people view gender and the multitude of stereotypes that accompany that.
For my first two quilts I have decided to focus on people who identify with a gender that is different to that which they were assigned at birth.
This is the sketch that I began with. I am trying (not very successfully) to start each day with a drawing in my sketchbook. I want to improve my portrait drawing skills and thought it would be a good habit to get into. Unfortunately I am not very good at the discipline this requires.
This original face is of nobody in particular, but I think it is fair to say that it is what many people generally think a beautiful woman would look like.
Is it the long slender neck; the defined cheek bone; the pouting lips; the long lashes? If you look like this you are categorised as 'feminine' by society - an attribute solely based on appearance. I am thinking here about identity - not the sort that gets you a bank account, but how we feel about ourselves and how we 'fit' into society as a whole. It makes me wonder if you don't look like this are you less of a woman?
Like it or not, our 'looks' have a great impact on the way we inwardly perceive ourselves and the way others perceive us. Gorgeous, pretty, plain, ugly.....leads on to other assumptions: strong, confident, smart, sensible, ditsy, shy, dumb, geek, .......... the list is long. I know it has always been this way, but I think that since the growth in popularity of social media more and more we find ourselves tied into roles and identities that others have chosen on for us. And that is where things can start to go wrong. What if you don't like the identity that you find you have been put in? What if you believe you have been placed into the wrong one? Do you go with it and accept it? Do you put up with it and feel unhappy? Or do you rebel and make efforts to change it? That is what my first two quilts are about.
Developing the idea
Moving on from my original sketch I drew another one, but much bigger this time, about 1 metre by 1 metre in size. I wanted to explore how changing the neck, cheek shading, eyes and hair could change the perceived gender of the subject. After I made the first drawing on the left I flipped it over, made a copy with a few subtle changes in shading, a tiny change to the mouth, taking away most of the eyelashes, softening the hair lines and slightly thickening the neck. Apart from that it is virtually the same drawing. I was amazed to see how little it took for the perceived gender of the face to change.
To transfer these images onto fabric I put a large piece of white cotton fabric over the top of each drawing and used the sketch to guide my painting. The pictures below show my progress.
From here I need to begin to think about how I want to create more interest in the images. Obviously colour is one avenue I need to explore, as are some other mark making techniques on the cloth. I need to do some more thinking and sketchbook work to figure that out.
Thanks for reading.