Wednesday, 18 May 2016

British Stitch & Quilt Village 2016 @ Uttoxeter Racecourse

So last month I was at the British Stitch & Quilt Village held at Uttoxeter Racecourse. This is an ever expanding quilt show showcasing the work of many of the UK's top quilters and textile artists. It's also a chance to meet some of the artists, see demonstrations and with dozens of textile traders there, an ideal opportunity to see what's new in the textile world and stock up on fabrics. As always I took lots of photos and here are just a few of my favourites. 

It's hard to believe this cute little piglet is embroidered.

I love Gillian Travis' great Nordic jumpers of our time

Solihull Embroiderers showed a preview of work from their forthcoming Patterns in Nature exhibition due to take place at the Core Courtyard Gallery, in the newly re-designed Solihull Library Complex in October this year. 

 Kathy Mander's Lace Cap Hydrangea was created using potato printing on a variety of fabrics and hand embroidered with silk threads

One of Margaret Dale's A Trio of Butterflies 

Finally an amazing demonstration of a long arm quilter. This would certainly take the elbow grease out of quilting and I would have loved to have taken one home but unfortunately I would need quite a few more grand in the bank and also a bigger house as it would probably fill the entire space of my sewing den.  So, another great show this year with plenty of inspiration to go home with, not to mention a few more fat quarters to add to my burgeoning stash. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Travelling Sketchbooks - Fabric Collage

For my April pages I took inspiration from the fabric and mixed-media collage of textile artist Cas Holmes who uses found objects and items of ephemera in her work such as tickets, stamps, snippets of text from old book pages and scraps of vintage fabrics to which she adds paint and stitch to create layered atmospheric pieces. 

I layered scraps of light coloured fabric onto a paper support along with scraps of text from the pages of an old book, applied gesso, acrylic ink, stamped lettering and motifs, then added free-machine embroidery to bring the whole piece together. I thought about using the missing page I found (see my previous post) for my next piece.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Found! The Missing Page

Catching the train one morning I happened to bizarrely come across a single page of a book lying on the platform at Shirley station and immediately The Missing Page sprang to mind from Hancock's Half Hour. As a lifelong fan of the great Tony Hancock (he is a Brummie to boot, born in Southam Road, Hall Green no less!) I remember so well the episode when Hancock borrows a book from the library called Lady Don't Fall Backwards by Darcy Sarto.  When he gets to the end he is mortified to discover the last page is missing so attempts to track down the last person to borrow the book before him and the author himself  to find out the conclusion. Chaos ensues of course. 

I felt intrigued though by the thought that someone, somewhere possibly on their way to work in Birmingham or in the other direction towards Stratford-upon-Avon was missing a vital page from their book. Anyhow, never one to miss a creative opportunity I couldn't just leave the page there to get trampled on, so pocketed it with the intention of using the actual page in my sketchbook and journal work somehow. I would also love to know what book the page comes from too so if anybody knows then please let me know. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Put a Cork in It!

Well 112 bottles of wine later, here is the corkboard I made out of the recycled corks and let me tell you it was worth every drop.

However, I did have a few contributions from other thirsty friends.

So the easiest part was drinking the wine, the hardest part was cutting the corks in half with good old Mr Stanley Knife (good workout for the triceps) and I used an old box canvas as the base. 

Such a pity that these days most bottles of wine have screw tops which it has to be said are much less hassle to open. No more rumaging among the kitchen utensils for that elusive corkscrew but there is something quite ceremonious and thrilling about drilling down into the cork, then the welcome sound of the cork popping to announce the arrival of the most tastiest of beverages. Am loving my new corkboard so much it seems a pity to cover it up with notices, appointments, calendars and invitations.  It deserves to be displayed unhindered like an artwork which means I will just have to get on and make another one. Cheers to the next 112 bottles!    

Sunday, 3 April 2016

My £10 Stash of Fabrics

So this is the £10 'stuff sack' of fabrics I mentioned before which I got from the Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch Show. Some really fantastic oddments of soft furnishing fabrics which look like they came from a curtain making factory as some bits seemed to be cut off curtains. Anyway the money raised from the sale of the fabrics was being donated to an animal sanctuary.   

A great pity this Mulberry fabric was only a piece out of a sample book.

So you might well ask what am I going to do with it all?  

Well I have been looking on Pinterest for inspiration and came across these fantastic patchwork curtains. If all the bits were sewn together I definitely have anough to make a pair of curtains. 

And then I saw these patchwork covers which would be great for my old sofa but I have to say I feel a patchwork throw coming on so watch this space! 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch Show 2016

So there was lots to see at the Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch Show this year at the NEC.  My first visit to a show this year. I always go looking for inspiration and of course to add to my stash. Here are some of the best bits:

This quilt was part of an exhibition of 6 artists working to a chosen theme of  '6 Shades of Grey.' Artist Susan Chapman's piece is part of a series of works called Not Invisible  and asks the question do grey haired over 60s become invisible? The work celebrates women of a certain age who are certainly not invisible.

This stand caught my eye as it really has a message behind the work.  The village congregation of Laghmani lies about 60km north of Kabul within the Shomali-Plain of Afghanistan. The inhabitants of this region are peasants and many of the women living here are highly skilled embroiderers. There are around 200 embroiderers between 12 and 50 years old living in the village. Although embroidery has a long tradition in this area, the cultivation decreased after the 30-year war.  Now the women have picked up the tradition again and the younger generation are also learning the technique of hand embroidery.  To complete an 8cm square, between 4 and 8 hours are necessary depending on the quality and detail of the work. 

The Guldusi Project (gul means flower and dusi means embroidery) ensures that the women are paid for their work by collecting the completed embroideries which are then purchased by artists in Europe who then proceed to turn them into a patchwork, a piece of larger embroidery, clothing or ornament. The money generated ensures the women a wage to aid the upkeep of their families.  These are two beautifully stitched squares I bought which I will turn into a larger embroidery project of my own.

For this project the women were asked to embroider leaves which were then purchased by artists to make into their own artworks.

This piece called Springtime by Claire Louise Mather was part of the Embroiderers' Guild exhibition celebrating 300 years of the landscape gardener Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.

With Scandi so popular at the moment it made an appearance at the show in the shape of Linladan which means The Flax Barn in Swedish.  All the threads here are made of flax and were discovered hidden away in a factory which had closed down in the 1960s when it was at the heart of Sweden's textile industrial area. 

Also on display were the original costumes from the 2015 film Far from the Madding Crowd. The above costumes here were worn by Carey Mulligan as 'Bathsheba Everdene' and Michael Sheen as 'Mr Boldwood'. 

My favourite children's book of all time was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and as I love knitting too I was delighted to come across Yarnia, a knitted Narnia.

It took a team of five Canadian designers, thirty knitters and several months to create Yarnia, the land where it is always Winter but never Christmas. Here are Lucy and Mr Tumnus with the wicked Snow Queen.  Even the lamp-post was knitted.  

So finally the Snow Queen has been vanquished by Aslan the Lion (see his tail poking out of the  tent), the snow has all melted and it is summer once again. Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are crowned Kings and Queens of Yarnia.  

So after a long weary day I was just on my way out when I was side tracked by a stand where you could fill a plastic bag with as much fabric as you could possibly stuff into it for £10. It reminded me of the old salad bar technique where you cram as much salad into the pot as you can, finding nooks and crannies for the odd olive or cherry tomato then try and get the lid on somewhow.  The proviso here was the bag had to close at the top. I just about did it.  Now that's what I call a stash!  Another project waiting to happen but more about that later.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Travelling Sketchbooks - Splendiferous Blousy Hydrangeas

I love hydrangeas so thought I would include them in my Travelling Sketchbook.   I got this effect by using Markel Sticks through a stencil of hydrangea petals combined with free-machine embroidery  and the line from a poem.

Watercolour and sequins.

This page was a combination of strips of my own hand-printed fabric stitched together with ziz-zag and running stitch. 

And finally a page so called because whenever I attend a workshop I always come home so fired up with enthusiasm to try out the techniques I have just learnt, that I just have to get right on and make something there and then and this I like to call my 'Consolidate my Learning' phase. This was a piece I made immediately after a dry needle felting workshop with the very talented Michala Gyetvai and it's rather higgledy piggledy in design but consolidating your learning is more about practicing your new technique rather than making a considered piece of work. Time enough for that later on when the inspiration starts to flow.  

Michala 'paints with fibres' on hand-dyed old Witney blankets, like the off white to cream scratchy blankets I used to have on my bed when I was little and which my mum chucked out to be replaced by the new continental quilts.  No more hospital corners and tucking in of sheets and blankets for her. Now I spend my time searching for those old blankets in charity shops and on Ebay so I can hand-dye them, cut them up then needle felt designs and pictures on them.  Now that is what I call consolidating my learning!