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