Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Quilting Quest

In my current endevours at quilting, I am progressing - slowly . Having owned a rotary cutter for a number of years, I have only ever used it on paper. It was only at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last Summer that it dawned on me I should really be using it for fabric. Slow learner-that's me. So I invested in a replacement blade, and christened it this week by using it on fabric. Quite amazing how easy it is to cut curves. I was well impressed.

The sudden urge to embark on this cutting of unusual shapes in material was inspired by my earlier post about the Abstract Art project I have been doing with students. I like to work to music, and thought I would mirror what they had been doing with dry media,and give it a go, but I would use fabrics instead. So the music I chose was Roxette, Look Sharp, I also chose a yellow background fabric ( which is turban cotton) and cut up some scraps of coloured fabric into shapes, suggested by the music, using my rotary cutter freehand fashion. I held the bits down to the background fabric with 505 adhesive. Next decision was how to hold the rotary cut pieces of fabric down permanently onto the background. I decided to machine them with a fancy stitch. After much experimentation I decided on this pattern.

I also chose a varigated thread I had recently bought. This is one of the quilting patterns on my Bernina machine.

Here you can see the work in progress. Keeping to quilt traditions I put another layer of fabric over the top, a yellow glitzy synthetic. So have 3 layers if you include the stabilising fabric underneath which is calico.

Why am I always impressed by the wrong side of the work, when I have put all the effort into the other side? Hmmm.

Here is the finished piece, have taken the photo at an angle, hoping you can see a bit of the shimmer created by the glitzy synthetic on top. What do I do with it now.......have not got a clue! Enjoyed making it though.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Silver Jubilee

I wrote last time that I thought I had never made a quilt, then I remembered the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The country was gripped in red, white and blue patriotism, and I then recalled making a patchwork piece with some left over Laura Ashley pieces of fabric. I had a dig around last night and found it in the children's toy box.

As you can see a bit worse for wear..but it is 29 years old. I created the patchwork with hexagons using the old English Patchwork method of tacking the fabric onto card and then oversewing patches together by hand. You can also just see the Grandmothers garden design. I think I must have run out of patience and stitched it onto some bought fabric and then bound the edges to finish it, well secured by machine titching. I am pleased to say it is still well used in the toy box, being the size of a large cot for a baby.

So hope for me yet...........perhaps even as a proper quilter?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stitching Time

Half term holidays at last, which for me means a little me time for stitching. Managed to do quite a few bits yesterday. Put the final stitches to the ATC's for Dales swap "downunder", only hope they arrive in time. I have never made them before and they are small and fiddley, need more practice! I also realised that I have never posted anything by snail mail to Australia before.......amazing!

As I was babysitting last night, took some handstitching with me and actually achieved quite a lot. Before I went I managed to needlefelt ( on the embellisher machine) some merino wool fibres onto some calico I had dyed in bright yellow. I backed it with some plain calico. Does that now qualify for a quilt?? Please let me know. I get confused by the "laws" for quilts, so am not sure if I have ever made one?To unify the coulours and the fibres I stitched into it all - like a Kantha - but without the pictures.

This is how much stitching I have done so far, not bad for an evening. I love the way the stitching distorts the fabric , and creates more surface texture. The colours tend to shift in exciting ways too.

The process of the stitching is very theraputic, the repetative sequence of stitching, the only decisions to be made are which direction and which colour. So simple.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A day out but working.

Work took me into the depths of the Wiltshire countryside today. Right into the middle of the county. I took the cross country route, it may have been a little quicker to reach the destination via the motorway, but it is more miles and not nearly as beautiful. All this in the quest of Art, life is wonderful. After I had done the business for the Art exam at the destination .........I had a glorious journey home. Compared to my outing last night, the weather today was ...well ...see for yourself.

Of course it is inevitable that traffic lights would stop my journey at intervals on the way, however being forced to stop did give me the opportunity to snapsome pictures. The round building is the new public library and there is a wonderful stainless steel face in front of it ( follow the blue arrow). If I had tried to take a picture whilst driving past I think I would be breaking the law!!! One day I will stop and take a proper photo. I'm sure many of you locally will recognise where it is. Don't we have a lot of street furniture/junk on our pavements?

Next stop, due to pedestran lights, was in a small town just outside Swindon. You can see what a wonderful vehicle I had been following for miles and miles and miles!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

An Evening of Art

Went to a gathering of established and mature artists, this evening. Artists that is in the widest sense of the word..musicians, writers, animators, actors, visual artists ......... and more.... We had been invited to a show and tell showcase, I was asked to talk about a recent project I did with students and the local Art gallery. Fortunately the town in which I live has the most extensive and excellent collection of 20th Century modern Art in the UK outside London. Unfortunately we have nowhere to display it permanently.

Last autumn all the famous Abstract works were on display in the Art Gallery and I took a group of 20 gifted and telented 14 year old musicians to the Gallery to be inspired by the works of Art, the musicians then wrote original pieces of music which we recorded to play to their peers. Their peers are all the 240, 14 year old artists which we teach. We studied Abstract Art and they were asked to respond to the music their peers had written in their sketchbooks and on A3 paper using dry media. The aim or purpose was to be able to record their emotions, feelings and thoughts in an abstract visual way, but in response to the music. You need to remember that the majority of the students had not seen the original works of Art, only a selected few of the musicians had .

The finale to this adventure was, a group of the muscians played their music live in the Art Gallery to a captive audience, who were sat amongst the paintings, and on a big screen behind them a powerpont presentation ran of most of the artwork created by the 14 year olds. We certainly gave those famous artists a run for their money!! It was an awsome occasion that cold February evening, comments were very favourable from our "audience" to the 14 year old budding artists.

The powerpoint presentation about the project, I gave to the assembled artists tonight was well received judging by the complimentary comments and hopefully inspired many of the assembled artists into new ways of thinking in their own work...and just maybe ...may encourage them to work with adolescents with a little more enthusiasm.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Well Sally has thrown out a challenge, asking us to submit some line drawings of tarts. This could be really interesting, Gill and Sara have already sent theirs to Sally.

I do not want to be left out of the game......I want to play too...... so what do you think folks?

Which one shall I call treacle? Or maybe Jam? Then there is custard and apple too. Such a lot of choices, back to the drawing board! Or maybe that is not what Sally meant when she said tarts!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Busy with paper work -naturally

I'd love to be able to tell you I had been busy with creative paper work in the artistic sense, but it was not to be today. I have worked hard all weekend, but not had a chance to put a stitch into any fabric. I have not been able to see the wood for the trees! So frustrating. The only creative work has been filing the unwanted paperwork in the recycling bin, the most satisfying being getting the mountains of paper that I have to deal with, organised, the most upsetting is I have not finished yet. So I am promising myself to do some of the sorting out for at least an hour every night this week. Just wish it was not so much paper, the poor trees.

I have also promised myself to spend another hour every night being creative in the artistic sense. So here is my offering for tonight.

I'm sure you can recognise a rather beautiful Magnolia flower.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Saying no to sweets

Really trying to control the sweet tooth, so as a serious displacement activity have photographed

some of my favourite liquorice sweets and have played with a few filters in Paint shop Pro ......just for fun....... anyone can do this. I was then going to start playing with the layers in PSP as well, but thought I had better get back to marking the exam work thats sitting on my desk waiting for me.

Very psychodelic !

This one is probably my favourite I can see this made out of clay and glazed with some fantastic colours.......might try this with my students.

Tomorrow I hope to make some time to go back to my sewing machine and embroider the digitised images I created earlier. That's providing of course that I have managed to finish the exam marking! So back to work.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Holiday is looming

Thoughts are turning to holiday time again. Unusual for me, as holidays usually creep up on me when I am not looking. I think it must be all this wonderful spring and early summer weather we are experiencing that makes me want to go away on holiday. The countryside has really come alive and is a visual delight.

The wonderful part of being away from home is I seem to delight in everything I see, and try to capture the moments in photos or drawings.

One of the last holidays we had was in Trier on the Mosel, and I am really fascinated by the Romans and their culture. Did you know that Great Britain was ruled by the Romans from Trier. The Museum in Trier has some fantastic Roman mosaics, just as our local Museum in Cirencester does. As I live in an area surrounded by Roman remains and relics, I am learning new things all the time.

I also have a fascination for Cathedrals and Trier has a fine example.

I was amazed on my last trip how well a digital camera can photograph the inside of the cathedral. I had used a chemical film camera on previous visits and the lighting was so difficult it resulted in very dark photos. The digital camera has taken the photos with no effort at all.

This ceiling photo I find fantastic, how did they manage to decorate ceilings like that? Made me feel giddy just trying to photograph it.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happily Stitching

Have been stitching happily this afternoon whilst dearly beloved has been watching the footie on TV. Had meant to make a start last night, but fell asleep in front of the TV.

So having downloaded the image into my sewing machine, I did some test stitching first and then started playing. the test stitching above used felt as the base fabric. It can get a bit springy in the hoop, so needs constant tightening. If the felt gets too loose it can break a needle. Guess who has done that a few too many times.

Next I laid some pieces of fabric over the felt ( I held them in place with 505), then stitched into the pieces of fabric. Then I had a huge problem....... went to rethread the needle using the needle threader and the spring fell out of the machine, which meant I could not use the machine. Try as I may, I could not see where the spring had come from. Felt a bit of an idiot, and had to summon assistance from the football addict. Repaired in the half time break ( from football that is ) and I was back in action.

After taking it off the machine , I trimmed it a bit and am quite plleased with the result. Wanted to do some more, but I needed to finish the ATC's that I have been doing for Dale, here is a picture of one of them .....still not quite finished.....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Its working.

So pleased the "bit" to connect the serial cable from the USB laptop to the sewing machine works.

I am over the moon, so I have downloaded one of the pictures onto to the sewing machine. This is the outline drawing I did in response to Sally's very energetic drawings which I then digitised.

It has been quite frustrating waiting to get going on the embroidery.

So here it is on my sewing machine ready to stitch. The process was delayed again tonight, we are having a new cooker fitted in the kitchen, so was not sure what I was going to do for a meal tonight. Kitchen is in chaos. Microwaves and me do not go together at all and that was the sum total of the facilities in our kitchen tonight!

Daughter came to the rescue, and invited us to a BBQ as it was a lovely warm evening. Those of you residing in the UK will know the evening turned into an evening of heavy thunderstorms and rain. We did have the BBQ ( with umbrellas) and very tasty too. So tomorrow ( kitchen willing) may have time to do a bit of stitching at last.

A fresh challenge for you

Go over to Sally's blog to see what we are playing at, with our newest artistic adventure. I had posted the collaborative work back to Sally in Scotland and she has some great ideas for it.

In the meantime I am being kept busy with the digitising, my computer and my sewing machine. All play was interupted last night as we had the serious business of enjoying and celebrating yet another family birthday.

So tonight I hope to play ............... so if sucessful I will post to the blog with some pictures for you, before the end of the night. wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Another celebration

The "bit" I needed, for the computer to be able to connect to my sewing machine arrived safely today. Have been out celebrating another birthday tonight, so have not been able to test it. Hopefully will be able to play with it tomorrow night, when I get home from the paid work. So here's hoping it will work, then I can start stitching using Sally's faces.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Best Intentions

With the best of intentions last night, I set up my sewing machine and the laptop so they could talk to each other via the interface cable. So far so good, all set up. Went to plug the cable into the laptop...... big problem!!

This is a fairly new laptop, and I had not used it with the sewing machine before. This laptop does not have a serial port! As you can see from the photo, so no production last night...or tonight for that matter. A "plug" is on order that will connect to the USB port......only hope it works when it arrives.

Otherwise I will have to find an old - slow laptop with a serial port. Oh the wonders of technology. You either love it or hate it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Paperwork and Designing


Brilliant birthday party yesterday and very tasty cake.

However today .......back to reality and the paperwork. Loads of it.

As promised though I have also found a few minutes to work on my art. You may recall I was very enthusiatic about Sally's faces that she had drawn on the machine. I had photographed one of the faces in particular and then printed it in black and white.

I thought I would put it in my graphics tablet and take the essential lines , which are very energetic. In the end however I discarded the photo and drew freehand , trying to capture the essence of Sallys energetic drawing with the sewing machine.

You are probably wondering what I want to do with the drawing. Well if I import it into my sewing machine software I can start playing with it on the sewing machine. I have shown pictures previously on my blog of some finished pieces of stitchery. Here are examples of ones that you may recognise as I have posted the photos before..

I then have to manipulate the images in either Windows Paint! or in Paint shop Pro, so the designs are suitable for digitising and downloading to the sewing machine. Its great fun.

The part I love the best is playing with the threads/fabrics and distortions that are possible with the sewing machine. I would never be able to buy a commercial design and just stitch it. The fun with these machines is to make them really work to do what I want.

Here are the print outs, they look scary!

This is the one I did before, I made it into a cushion cover......... not with Sally's Face though. Now need to transfer it to the memory card of the sewing machine. Then I can at last start stiching and playing. Hope fully some time this week.