Monday, 17 October 2016

Travelling Sketchbook - Scrap Buster Reverse Applique

My latest page was inspired by a quilt I saw at the Festival of Quilts this year made by textile artist Louise Baldwin using a technique called reverse applique. Unlike traditional applique where a fabric shape is sewn on top of a base fabric, reverse applique involves cutting away a layer of fabric to reveal a shape appliqued underneath.

It's also a brilliant way of using up all your scraps of fabric.  As any textile artist, sewer, maker or crafter knows, it goes against the grain to throw away any offcuts of fabric from a project, however small.  This of course results in burgeoning shelves and bags full of scraps but you never know when these itty bitty scraps will come in handy as the last thing you want to do is cut into a virginal fat quarter just for a tiny scrap of fabric.  Thus reverse applique, in fact any kind of applique is the ideal scrap buster. 

Above is a picture of Louise Baldwin's quilt shown in detail. 

For my version I kept the shapes similarly abstract and by layering many scraps of fabric onto a calico base this allowed me to cut back and expose the many various coloured fabrics underneath. I then used a teasel brush to fray the raw edges even more.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Travelling Sketchbook - The Cobalt Blues

My inspiration for this month's pages was a workshop I went to probably getting on for about five years ago now, at Unit Twelve Gallery near Stafford, led by textile artist Emily Notman.  Unit Twelve is a great gallery and exhibition space run by artist Jennifer Collier and if you have never been it's well worth a visit, as not only are there great workshops and exhibitions but it's a chance to see the participating artists making work in their own studios there. In the workshop Emily got us to dye strips of various neutral coloured fabrics with ink. These were then hung up to dry then assembled and layered ready to add stitch and embelishments. 

I have done the same here dipping strips of fabric into Cobalt Blue acrylic ink which I diluted with a little water.  It was interesting to see how each of the fabrics took on a different hue depending on their content and texture. 

I then layered them all together on a backing of calico and then free machine embroidered them together adding some beads as a bit of embellishment.

My original sampler from the Emily Notman workshop hangs on my sewing den wall.  I had combined strips of pink dyed fabrics with lace, netting, threads and sequins.  It's actually not finished as I meant to work back into it with more stitch and embellishment.  Another PhD!  Please do visit  Unit Twelve Gallery if you get chance as it's not that far up the M6 from Brum and nearby Stafford is a lovely little market town with lots of little cafes plus of course Shire Hall Gallery which has a changing programme of exhibitions often textile based.  A grand day out!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

French Vintage

So I thought I would show you some of my purchases from a great stand I found at the Festival of Quilts called Simply Vintage.  They source most of their products from antique and flea markets in France so I was really excited to come across two original wooden stamp blocks, one of which by sheer coincidence is my initial J for Jacqueline.  When I got home I printed it into my sketchbook  using acrylic paint but I aim to print it onto plain white fabric to embroider.  

It's in reverse of course so it stamps the correct way.

This is the other one which prints like this...

...and also makes great rubbings using a graphite pencil. 

From the same stand I also bought this beautiful lino-cut print which had been printed onto French vintage linen which I intend to quilt and hand stitch to make a small picture I can frame.  

On the stand was a fantastic assortment of vintage French magazines which were selling like hotcakes. I chose a lovely one which I stupidly put down while looking at some other things and then found it in the hands of someone else.  Anyway I bought this one in the end which had the most amazing fashion illustrations. 

I love the exaggerated stylish fashion drawings which are just crying out to be replicated in stitch and put me in mind of the stitched drawing I did of a vintage pattern envelope dating back to the 70s and which is also the cover of this blog. 

I did spend a huge amount of time at just this one stand so had to drag myself away in order to make sure I had time to look round the rest of the show.  Plenty of grist to the mill then for future projects. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016

Last month I paid my usual welcome visit to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. I am always astonished at the array of quilts and textile artworks on display.  I have long admired the lifelike stitched figures of Rosie James.  Her series of canvases entitled Concealed are based on a quote by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, "Invisible threads are the strongest ties" and she explores how powerful stitch is and how it keeps the world going but the people that do it are mostly invisible.

A day is just not long enough to see everything at the Festival although by the end of it I am certainly glad to get back on the train home to give my aching feet a rest.  I snap away with my camera so I can study the works at my leisure when I get home but don't always have time to record the titles and artists so apologies if I don't credit each piece with the artist's name.  Here are some of my favourites:

Another great year of stitching. Here's to Festival of Quilts 2017!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Travelling Sketchbooks - A Poem for your Pocket

So this month I got my inspiration from a feature in my very favourite magazine Cloth, Paper, Scissors, an American publication I have subscribed to for a couple of years.  Why I love the magazine is because it is full of inspirational mixed-media projects such as felting, collage, journalling, paper-making, embroidery, painting, jewellery making, book art and really just about anything creative using cloth, paper and scissors.


Being an American publication of course, all the specialist branded products for the projects are  American but I don't find this a problem as most of them can be found in the UK anyway at all good art supply shops or on the internet such as Art Van Go  (who are always at The Festival of Quilts and which just happens to be on at the NEC this coming week - an ideal excuse then for a rummage and to stock up on textile related art supplies). Any product that can't be sourced you will find that there is usually a British alternative and you might also just need to get used to different terminology for things  such as for example wadding is known as batting but you soon get used to it. This project was about creating poetic ruffles using recycled fabrics so I used DH's cast-off shirts to create another shirt pocket and if you look inside the pocket there is a hidden poem I have embroidered.

Monday, 25 July 2016

30 July 1966 and All That

So it is 50 years ago this week that England won the World Cup.  On Saturday 30th July 1966 to be precise and I can just about remember it.  It was a very sunny afternoon and me, my mum, dad and big brother were all sat in our living room watching the final on our little black and white TV.  I can remember it being sunny because we had to draw the curtains to stop the sun from shining on the TV screen. I don't really remember the match as such and didn't realise at the time the enormity of it all as I was too young and not much into football at all. I think I just lay on the settee a bit bored with it all. My dad coming from Oldham supported Oldham Athletic and my brother a  big Baggies fan (West Bromwich Albion) were of course on the edge of their seats. My mum as I recall did not follow any football team but no doubt kept everyone supplied with refreshments.  And I do actually remember the winning goal just minutes before the final whistle because my dad and brother leapt into the air and cheered so loud they made me jump out of my skin and made me cry. I have been afraid of sudden loud noises ever since.    

Life was so very different back then for footballers and fans alike. In a BBC article Did the 1966 World Cup change England?   it's interesting to note that some club players travelled to games on the bus or Tube or took summer jobs during the close season. England captain Bobby Moore was at one stage, according to his wife Tina, paid just £8 a week by his club West Ham United. England players could walk down the street unchallenged and when the tournament had finished, some of the new world champions drove home from London with their wives in modest family cars.

England team the night before the final

How different the story is today. I don't know much about football and really not that interested these days even when England play. There! I have said it!  It's out there. Is that not considered very unpatriotic of me? Reason being is because I feel very strongly that footballers today are vastly overpaid.  According to football finance experts at Deloitte, the average wage for Premier League players rose to £1.6m during the 2012-13 season - the latest available data. That equates to £31,000 a week, which is more than the average UK worker earns in a year.  

I hate the whole overpaid footballer culture where celebrity status seems to have taken precedence over any real talent (players such as Wayne Rooney are paid obscene amounts of money as high £300,000 a week). And that does not include earnings (if you can call it that) from sponsorship deals and exclusive photoshoots by Hello Magazine of newly renovated mansions, the boozy celebrity ridden million pound wedding receptions, the latest bikini shots of the happy couple on their honeymoon usually with said footballer rubbing the newly married WAG's swollen belly because she is with child, swiftly followed by the  offspring from WAG's swollen belly now in the newly decorated nursery. And for what?   I know from what people tell me that England played appallingly against Iceland in the Euro this year but then they went and sacked the manager. Like I say I don't know much about football but would it not just have made more sense to sack the overpaid players.

Blythe Spartans Ladies team were never beaten

Actually women footballers had the right idea. Did you know that women's football has a longer history than most people would expect. There were a number of women’s clubs in the 1890s and one in north London was reported to have attracted a 10,000 gate to a game at Crouch End.  Womens' football became huge during World War I when men went to fight on the front so women took their places both on the football field as well as the factories. Preston was the stronghold of women’s football in its early days, the famous Dick Kerr’s Ladies being formed there in 1894 and earning a lot of money for charity. Their match with St Helen’s Ladies on Boxing Day 1920 had 53,000 inside Goodison Park and thousands locked outside the ground trying to get in.

Dick Kerr's Ladies

Lily Parr

Lily Parr who played for Dick Kerr's Ladies had a shot so hard she once broke the arm of a professional male goalkeeper. She also earned the distinction of being the first woman to be sent off in an official football match for fighting. At 6ft tall she scored more than 1,000 goals during her 31-year-playing career, according to the National Football Museum. Of those, 34 were in her first season when she was aged just 14. Alas though their glory was not allowed to continue. With the war now over, the munitions factories closed and women found themselves being quietly shunted back into domestic life, returned to their "right and proper place" in society and in 1921 the powers that be, the FA (all men no doubt) stepped in and called on clubs belonging to the associations "to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches" and that "the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged". The ban changed the course of the women's game forever.  It took till 1971 before the FA finally lifted the ban on women's football and 2011 saw the inaugural season of the Women's Super League.  As of September 2014, there were 2.6 million women and girls playing football in England and last year saw the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Dick Kerr's Ladies

Were it not for that ban in 1921 women would very probably have gone on to conquer the world (football wise at any rate) as they were true pioneers achieving phenomonal success and recognition. Let's play tribute then to Dick Kerr's Ladies, the women footballers of yesteryear and Sir Alf's glorious winning team of 66, the likes of which we will most probably never see again:

Gordon Banks
George Cohen
Jack Charlton 
Bobby Moore (c)
Ray Wilson
Nobby Stiles
Alan Ball
Bobby Charlton
Martin Peters
Geoff Hurst
Roger Hunt