Saturday, 7 June 2014

Ailsa Craig Workshops


Over the festival week all of the British tutors taught a wonderful range of workshops. As well as myself the wonderful Jennie Rayment, Paula Doyle and Gillian Travis taught and lectured.

I of course had to teach some woad workshops and the woad fabric successfully found its way over the ocean. These lovely and talented ladies (who were brave enough to stand before the camera) made up some large blocks (32" square) after considering the many design possibilities of half square triangles.
Maria made her block to measure 24" but still as effective. 
On the only rainy day of the week I taught a dyeing from the kitchen cupboard workshop. We did this in the picnic area which was under cover. Thankfully everyone was well bundled up against the cold. It was a bit like camping though as the closer you stood to the camping stoves the warmer you got. We did have a good time dyeing fabric and threads a range of colours. 
The results of a tulip petal bundle are below
The talented and brave ladies below signed up for a half day paper bird workshop.
This is a fun workshop and most people get to finish a wall hanging in a half day. You leave without a UFO!

Finally my favourite photo - a selfie take by Paula Doyle with Jennie in the middle and me on the left. 




Monday, 26 May 2014

Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival - part 1

This past week I have been honoured to be teaching at the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt festival in Ailsa Craig, Canada  which has featured stunning quilts and teachers from Great Britian. I was joined by Paula Doyle, Jennie Rayment and Gillian Travis alongside Quilters Guild of the British Isles trustees and presidents past and present (Tina and Vivien)
The organisation has been fantastic and we have been treated like royalty. The whole village support the quilt show and quilts are hung in all the shops. The day before the show opened they have quilt airing which is quilts hung outside houses. 
I taught a full week of workshops including one outside which despite being on the coldest and wettest  day went really well. 
I may have it written into my contracts back in the UK that limo transfer is preferred. This was the British girls by the limo before we headed out to Lake Huron and a talk by Jennie at a local Guild there. Visits to Quilt Shops are essential when in a different part of the world and the image below is The Marsh Quilt Store which is an amazing building. 

I will finish this post with an image of the "Man Cave" , this was just outside the quilt venue in the car park for ladies to leave their men with magazines and hot drinks. There were however lots of interested men walking around the show. The covered picnic area where I taught my dyeing workshop was just behind this. 


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!