Sunday, 16 February 2014

Swimming along nicely

 I feel a bit like a swan, I am gliding along and under the surface - the part you don't see is paddling furiously to keep up! Lots has been happening here since my last blog post some good, some not so good which has meant some things have had to be put on the back burner. I'm not making any promises to blog every week but will at least try and keep the blog up to date. 

Two really exciting things are happening this year. In May I am off to Canada to teach at the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival. I am really looking forward to this and have started to dye up all the woad fabric ready for  the workshops. I am teaching two woad workshop using the versatile half square triangle block. I am giving a lecture in natural dyeing and teaching some mixed media workshops combining magazine papers and fabrics for small wall hanginging. I am also teaching a natural dyeing workshop outside so the heavy snow and freezing temperatures will have improved by May. 




This year the talented Linda Seward is launching her new book. The Ultimate Guide to Art Quilt Techniques. I was happy to advise on the section about natural dyeing and will have a piece of my work in the book (how exciting is that) I believe that it is being launched in England at Festival of quilts in Birmingham in August 2014. From the limited pages that I have seen it is going to be a fantastic "how to" manual covering so many techniques. 



In a shameless plug there are just two paces left for a procion dyeing workshop I'm teaching next month at my studio (12th March) It is aimed at all levels and all dye and dye chemicals are provided. Anyone want to join me? Check out the website for more details.

Friday, 4 October 2013

A blue week.

A few weeks ago (where does the time go?) some lovely ladies spent a week at the studio working with woad. Woad is a plant whose leaves have been used to create a blue dye from Neolithic times.
We dipped.
And tied.
Unwrapped.
And hung things out to dry.
There was homework with fabrics and laces to rinse and wash .
The studio assistant was very bored as we were so busy.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Transported Art - Boston and South Holland

Transported Art is a strategic, community-focused programme which aims to get more people in Boston Borough and South Holland enjoying and participating in arts activities.  It is funded by the Creative People and Places fund from Arts Council England.

Since its launch in May 2013 there have been an amazing assortment of artists working within this funded programme to get people to engage in art activities. There has been music, dance, museums, mosaics stained glass, photography, knitting, choirs and so much more. I was selected to be one to the artists involved in delivering workshops as part of the consultancy event and last month in the two pop up shops in Boston and Holbeach. 

The plan was to travel around the two areas with some hand crank singer sewing machines so everyone could have a go from the very young to the very young at heart! I decided to use woad to dye fabric to make the bags and corsages from. This is a traditional plant dye grown in northern climates    which gives a blue colour and  has been used for thousands of years. Woad was grown in Boston and South Holland  until the 1930's. Throughout the programme so many people came up and told me their woad memories. Memories of Grandparents working in the woad fields, making woad balls, sitting on the horse used to pull the grinding stones as it was led away at the end of the day and memories of the devastation of a compulsory purchase order of farm land used to grow woad by the local council. 
 
I went to music festivals, bird reserves, markets, school fetes and into already established groups.
The machines behaved themselves, the youngest was from1921, the oldest from 1913! Just like with the woad  the sewing machines evoked strong memories in people. One man told me he had used a hand crank sewing machine during WW2 to mend uniforms. This got me thinking that all of my sewing machines had lived through the war, they have seen different sewing styles, and just how many people have turned the wooden crank to initiate sewing. Many people spoke of wedding dresses being make by hand crank or treadle sewing machines and lots of memories of playing with Grandma's button tin. 
Throughout my project over 300 people made bags or corsages. I was thrilled when two young girls came up to me who had made bags a few weeks before when I was on Boston market. They had enjoyed using the machines so much that they had bought one from a carboot sale and had already made bags and cushions using tutorials from the Internet. 
The machines were transported by car.
And sometimes by trolley. 

The machines are now back in the studio for new needles and maybe a tiny bit of oil before their next adventure.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Festival of Quilts 2013

I have finally done my unpacking from Birmingham and thought I'd share a few images. It was fantastic to meet so many people and have all my workshops full. It always amazes me how universal the language of stitch is no matter what the spoken language. 

I was in the fashion show this year and made two outfits. The first was a representation of the local landscape. It was dyed with daffodils (the skirt), red cabbage and weld (the tunic)
The second outfit (and my favourite) was this woad dress. It was made from a burda pattern which had to be tweaked to fit my quirky body.
This was an image from Stitch for Texture which was a machine quilting workshop. We were lucky enough to have new Brother Sewing machines to work with. I forgot to take any images of completed samples though. 
I taught two Design for Stitch using an iPad workshops, this was one of the designs from Sundays workshop. This is being taught again at my studio in Spalding on October 19th and there is one place left.
Finally two mixed media book making workshops. This are only an hour long yet a lot is packed in. I'm teaching this at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London in October. See you there!  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Words and pictures

 
These are two of the photos that were missing from my last blog post. Despite all my good intentions I have found it hard to maintain blogging. DS2 has been very ill and we have been on a series of tests to try and find out what is wrong. 

This was Zoe below making her cushion. I have no idea why blogger did not let me show these images.
Zoe, her sister Veronica and mum Ann outside the studio with their cushions.
At the start of May something exciting happened in Boston and South Holland. Can you guess where I was?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Making cushions

A few weeks ago I had three very talented ladies in the studio who all made a cushion out of a shirt. Two of them had only bad memories of using a sewing machine at school whilst their mum had using a sewing machine before for dress making.As Zoe had a "bucket list" and on that was making a cushion I was determine that she should go home with something she was proud of.

photo.JPG

We discussed techniques and Ann decided to make a nine patch cushion front whilst Zoe and Veronica made raw edge appliqué  cushions. The shirt front became the back of the cushion so we did not have to worry about fastenings. 
 photo.JPG                             photo.JPG
 Zoe drew out her own flower and then managed to sew around the edge accurately using both a hand and electric machine. Veronica decided to put a bird sitting on a branch onto her cushion front.
photo.JPG
 These were the completed cushions below. You can't see the tiny bird legs that Veronica stitched under her bird but she had excellent control of her sewing machine. 
photo.JPG

I was so pleased to show that sewing is not a scary thing to do but too many people seem to have very negative experiences that come from school. The best part of the day was when everyone said that they had to confidence to go and make another one at home.   

You can read all about Zoe's day here