Monday, 23 February 2015

Inaugural workshop at the Wooden House

The renovations to Laura's cricket pavilion are almost complete and it's looking gorgeous! The kitchen cupboards are fully stocked with new crockery, cutlery and glasses. The coffee machine and the kettle are in place. All the important stuff to ensure students are well catered for during this year's exciting classes are ready and waiting. We are so looking forward to welcoming the first students to the inaugural workshop next month. If you'd like to be among the first people to see how the 'Wooden House' is looking you can find details of the class and how to book here. Knowing Laura is going to be teaching all the tricks of using frottage has made me revisit many of my sketchbooks as this is one of my very, very favourite techniques. 

It's a fast and easy way to introduce pattern to sketchbook pages.

As well as a perfect way to create wonderful texture. This rubbing was made from a fish slice would you believe?

Rubbings resist washes of intense watercolour to make exciting pages.

This lovely rubbing was made from a metal grid in a local church but it's the choice of paper that makes it so special.

Laura invented this very effective method of creating linear rubbings that work equally successfully on paper and fabric. She'll let you into all the secrets during the class and you'll go home with the wherewithall to recreate the technique as many times as you like!

She'll have all of her rubbing blocks available for you to use on the day.

And she'll explain exactly how you can make your own rubbing plates from very simple materials in the future.

Looking through my sketchbooks, I'm excited to go back and develop some of the rubbings into fabric pieces. Maybe that'll be a follow up class at the Wooden House!

And I think even the paper I used to protect the table has some quick practice pieces that have potential!

If you'd like to join us do get in touch - we'd love to see you!

Very best wishes, Linda x

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Signs of spring

Longer days mean renewed energy and more progress with the quilt!

It's great to be out at the edges outlining all the gold text with black thread.

And adding detail to the appliquéd shapes.

I've also 'drawn' some shapes with stitch - these will be painted when all the quilting is complete. I like to mix it up - I've got feathers that are stencilled, outline stitched and appliquéd.

On a completely different note........

I can't remember if I mentioned the unusual present we were given for Christmas. This log is apparently impregnated with mushroom spawn. Except for the fact it has a handy carrying rope, it looks like any old log and I am not saying I was sceptical but this morning as I walked around the garden looking for signs of new life I spotted this.........

I don't think we'll be dining on gourmet mushrooms any time soon but there is the promise of things to come! It's only February and there will no doubt be plenty of winter yet but the garden is already alive with birdsong and squabbling blackbirds staking their claim to territory.

The usual suspects are flowering away like little cheery beacons!

And the camellias are already showing their colour.

This viburnum blooms for ages and is perfumed too. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm depressed all winter but these signs that spring is on its way really cheer me up!

Thanks for dropping by - I'm off to do more quilting! Linda x

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Quilt progress, more leaves and pink moon rising.

I've broken the rules today. I tell myself not to quilt for more than an hour or so without taking a break. Well, that's all very well if you've got all the time in the world but when deadlines are looming one does what one must.

For me today that meant 5 hours straight on the PowerQuilter. Not a sensible amount of time for someone with a dodgy back but I couldn't help myself. When you start to see how the quilting transforms baggy fabric you can't stop can you? Well you may be more disciplined but I just get carried away by the excitement of the moment. This quilt is 6 feet square but the machine copes beautifully as long as I support the weight of the quilt to prevent it pulling against the action of the needle. Even with the bulk of the quilt rolled up at the back, the big table means I have a lovely flat area to see exactly where I'm stitching.

I'm keeping the quilting stitches simple but changing the thread colour often. I'm hoping this will create the illusion of washes of colour which will modify the overall effect of the patchwork.

I'm using a combination of Cotona 50 and Aerofil threads by Madeira. I've moved from black in the centre to cream, then scarlet, olive green and finally back to black at the edges for a bit of 'weight'.

 Not something that is noticeable at a distance but it does add interest on closer inspection and it helps to blend the transition of colour between the patches.

 As you can see, I'm completely ignoring the seams of the piecing. There's still miles to go but it's satisfying to have got this far! I'll have another bash tomorrow and either break the back of the work or my own!

For a change of activity my altered book comes in handy. Here I've sprayed Brusho over Buddleia leaves. Because the paint has crept under the leaves the definition isn't perfect. In fact it's all a bit messy but I rather like the effect as a contrast to the more precise drawing in the book

And to finish on a dramatic note - here's the full moon just breaking the horizon and peeping through our beech trees. It was really quite pink - the photo doesn't do it justice but I'll keep trying.

Hope you all have a productive weekend! Thanks for reading - Linda x

Sunday, 1 February 2015

A new treasure, quilting begun and revisited inspiration.

It was bitterly cold this weekend but we wrapped up and made our usual trip to the market to wander around the few stalls who had decided to brave the weather. I always go with good intentions not to buy more useless stuff but I can rarely resist an old box no matter how distressed.

This one certainly fits that description. The leather is so parched he who gardens gave it a rub with moisturiser and then oil. Believe it or not this is the after picture - you should have seen it before! We had to pay out one whole pound for our treasure.

It has a metal frame and clasp and the expanding concertina construction intrigued me even though the dark blue silk is completely perished.

Inside, the dent in the lining gives its original purpose away - it would have held a pair of silver glove stretchers. Not sure what I'll do with it yet but I couldn't leave it on the stall. Not for the sake of £1.

Back home in the warmth of my workroom I made a start on the quilting of the full size version of 'To the Brim'. This is where the huge PowerQuilter table shows its worth. As long as the immediate area being stitched is kept perfectly flat, the rest of the quilt can be rolled out of the way or simply supported by the tables I've placed either side of the machine.

I've quilted the red sun in the centre with a continuous grid in the same way I treated the small quilt but this time I've used black thread instead of red. Around that I've written, ' to the brim, to the brim, to the brim.............. in a pale variegated Madeira Cotona 50 thread. Beyond this I'm just starting to stitch angular lines in red Cotona 50. This will hopefully add a bit of warmth and blend all the different colours of the patchwork. I am really looking forward to getting out to the edges of the quilt where all the stencilling, appliqué and printed text will give me lots of scope for the quilting.

When I reach this stage of a quilt I know pretty much what I'm doing and it frees my mind up to consider the next thing. A few years ago I made a small quilt featuring an image of the moon seen through the beech trees in my garden. I love them at this time of year when the branches are still bare. It's hard to show scale in a photo - these are actually immense. Probably 80 or 100 feet tall. Spectacular as they look in the winter sunshine, it's at night they become quite magical. If it's clear tonight I'll be out with my camera trying to capture the drama of the full moon as it rises behind them. Last time the trees were only a small part of the design but I have a fancy to make them centre stage. The great thing about a subject you love is that it can provide endless inspiration and it will be exciting to see what I can do with this again. I like to have plenty of thinking time before I actually make anything and, oh dear, I've just remembered I've already got a list, so please don't hold your breath!

Thanks for dropping by - Linda x

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Cake and culture courtesy of the National Trust

We had a lovely few hours out yesterday visiting a local National Trust property, Wightwick Manor

The house is a treasure trove of Arts and Crafts decorative arts and interior design.

Even the grand rooms are on a domestic scale and feel cosy - I could move right in here given half a chance!

It's all a bit Downton and knowing my luck I'd probably be one of the women in the kitchen rather than with the ladies in the drawing room.

The main reason we visit this house regularly is to enjoy the Pre Raphaelite paintings and drawings. I've not cropped this Dante Gabriel Rossetti so that you can see the original William Morris wallpaper that adorns most of the rooms.

Here's a detail of Edward Burne Jones' Love Among the Ruins. He made this oil copy after the original watercolour was severely damaged. After restoration by the artist the watercolour recently sold for 14.8 million pounds!

I'm sorry about the poor quality of the picture above - it was a very sunny day and the glare on the glass was unavoidable. This amazing watercolour by Phillip Webb was one of four designs he produced for William Morris. You can see much better images of all of them here.

Evelyn De Morgan's Flora was a bonus as although there are works by her and her husband in the permanent collection, this is only on temporary loan from the De Morgan Foundation.

I love this very well known photograph of Edward Burne Jones and William Morris with their incredibly photogenic, although somewhat sulky, womenfolk! 

And as every NT member knows, no visit is complete without cake in the tea-room!

Thanks for dropping by - talk to you again soon, Linda x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Some Day I'll Fly Away

Don't think I've mentioned it before but this piece has a name. I find it difficult to make a quilt unless I've already come up with a title. Not sure why that should be but I'm never happy with an anonymous piece. I've printed the name around the bottom of the quilt using Liquitex acrylic paints in just two colours - crimson and blue, applied with my favourite foam alphabet stamps.

Forgive the wobbly bottom - it's just the way it's pinned on the wall. As usual, there are loads of other quilt tops in archaeological layers underneath!

The words give some visual weight to frame the crow and they also interrupt the angular quilting which to be honest is getting quite monotonous now - I'm going to break it up with some seed stitch, worked by hand with Madeira Lana I think. It'll be a change of activity anyway and I like a bit of hand stitch for evenings in front of the fire.

I shouldn't complain about the time the quilting is taking - I could have a proper job couldn't I?

Back soon - Love Linda x

Monday, 19 January 2015

Quilt progress

The last couple of posts have been all about sketchbooks and painting so I thought I'd let you see there is quilting going on as well!

I've finished the small version of 'To The Brim'. I free motion quilted this on my Husqvarna quilting machine and embellished it with a few hand stitches using Madeira Lana thread.

Most of the patterns are inspired by the work of Paul Klee.

His painting 'Ad Marginem' includes stylised bird images and I've put a couple in too but it wouldn't be my work without a crow would it? I've just outline stitched this one so he's hard to spot unless you look really closely. Now I've got to tackle version 2 which is a much larger piece.

Before I do that though I thought I'd better finish this quilt first. It somehow got buried under piles of other stuff and was almost forgotten. Sorry about the photo - as you can tell it is extremely sunny in my workroom today. You can see how fantastic the Pfaff PowerQuilter is though can't you? Well maybe you can't since the quilt covers all that enormous table surface which supports the work as you quilt. This is the biggest piece I've done on it until now and I have to say it's a treat to stitch!

Yesterday I quilted the crow's head - it was important to get that right if I was going to be happy with the finished quilt. He looks quite benign I think. I love being in my workroom with the iPod on shuffle and the sewing machine whirring away - a few more enjoyable hours and this will be done!

Thanks for dropping by - talk soon, Linda x