Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tom and Vera's garden and some heritage from the North East of England

I've been thinking about this quilt for over a year and have finally made time to start and hopefully complete it sometime very soon.

It's based around my memories of my Grandparents garden in a village near Durham in the North East of England. We visited them every summer and I can remember snippets from the 1970's onwards. Pop (Tom) still worked at the 'pit', he was not working in the mine, but above mending tools and equipment.
He grew prize winning leeks and every meal was home cooked by my Nanny (Vera), she baked date and walnut loaf and coffee cake and I think we ate them out of house and home.
Pops greenhouse was a special place to go, there was a rabbit foot hanging on the hook (!!) to pollinate the tomato flowers. 'Tomato leaf' is my favourite smell for this memory I think, I have to give a leaf a squeeze if I pass one.

Other elements of the quilt are from their past lives and my knowledge of previous houses and some historical elements.

Living in a rather bleak village up on the moors, next too the methodist chapel, with Durham strippy quilts and the proddy rugs hanging on the line.

Hand quilted strippy Quilt
* Strippy quilts and proddy rugs were crafts that I great up with but did not appreciate until it was too late and the family pieces had been given away or dumped. Or so I thought  until found this treasure when my Great Aunt's Glady's (Vera's sister) house was cleared a couple of years ago, I hope that it was made by Minnie at the turn of the last century and graced their front room. I love it and it brings some of my North East history to Milton Keynes.

Back to my fantasy quilt…..

I was inspired by a technique from the fabric manipulation week of the C&G's course I was teaching at the time, very stuffed 3d squares…….lend themselves to represent coal with some black discharge printed fabric.
So I started playing around with coal+gardens+homes+sky and vintage linen and my thoughts that women back in the day who's husbands worked in the pit would have to work very hard to keep the house tidy and clear of soot. With coal fires there was more dust and soot around the house and every surface was scrubbed and an embroidered white doilie with crocheted edge was on every surface. Well it was in my family, I still have the doilies that my Nana (Minnie) made.

Move on one year and I need to make a quilt around a garden theme so here we are, now working with hand pieced hexagons and various textures and colour schemes I want to achieve through the quilt.

Nastursiums played a big part in my memory of that garden - they lend themselves to working with the hexagons, so that's handy with my planning.

I've not started the quilting yet, just have to get it all hand stitched in place before I plan that stage. I am liking the process so far though.

Monday, 30 June 2014

My dislocated alphabet is done and another one I was working on….

Hurray! I had two and a half days quilting it and a day of binding and finishing off the sample and now it is done and dusted. Only time will tell to see if the lovely Queen Bees of the quilting world like the look of it.

My good friend Hilary over at living to work had posted over the weekend about her struggle to photograph her submission, I thought 'oh yes, I have trouble too and my trusted technical photo guru is not in the country…..what will I do myself!?'

Then I remembered our new addition to the garden and it's rather useful  door facing into the garden and light. So inspired by Hilary's Heath Robinson set up I got to work…..

Nothing as glamorous as a damask tablecloth, the only light thing I could fine was an Ikea cream fitted sheet complete with elastic around the corners. Some garden string, a short garden stick and some pegs held the thing up well and a stick stopped the door from closing with the weight of the contraption.

But surprisingly it worked a treat! the colours just popped and needed no enhancing, so hurray for sheds and pegs and elasticated sheets, I shall have to remember that trick for the future. Of course many of the quilts I make would not fit on the shed door, so I'll have to find a bigger shed.

I enjoyed working round the negative shapes of the letters and the printing I had done.

Community Learning MK

And then there was this creation finished for the 20th of June. I was kind of working undercover, literally it is 2m wide and I could not move once sat at the machine. But the renaming of Adult Education in Milton Keynes was not public at the time and the quilt was there for the celebration.

Working with two colleagues - Jane who did the batik very neatly thank you and Vicky who designed the leaf printing and worked on the letters - thank you too!

I took charge of the dyeing and construction of the tree, but it was loosely based upon the new logo for the new organisation.
Here are various Milton Keynes dignitaries with the cake on the day, you can just see the tree on the icing.

The panels were arranged roughly in the right place and worked with the appliqué and patches of images. I then had to accurately place the tree trunk over the panels so that everything fitted in the gaps. The batik images represent the subject taught at CLMK, some are a bit obscure….we put many of them down to healthy eating with family learning!

I stitched further leaves into the machine embroidery and padded the trunk trapunto style, which worked well.

The quilt will hang in the reception of Community Learning MK, in West Bletchely.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

New playing in the studio

I'm working on my first submission for a contemporary quilt group challenge. I've had an idea for a while, but no space in my head or day to start doing anything about it.
But yesterday I found some fabric in my stash which is about the right size and I got out my Gelli plate to play with some ideas.
Today I cut a simple polystyrene block and set about printing my adventure.
So here are the beginnings of my project, lots more to do, but so far etc……

Comments please would be appreciated! :)

Monday, 24 March 2014

What on earth have I been up to…...

Actually, you may well ask. At the back end of last year I moved into my own studio space for the first time ever! I cannot tell you how exciting this is, it's opened up a whole new channel of opportunity and new people to mingle with. 

Never mind being able to make a creative mess and leave it all out until the next time I go in.
This is the gallery space from an exhibition I co-currated over the winter - 'The tree and me'. There is space to hire for events and workshops as well as hot-desking and a variety of studio space for creatives. Just what Milton Keynes needed.

This was the first project I completed, a tree for the staff room of the school where I made the Centenary quilt last summer.

So with all this space, I've been able to set myself some challenges and make new work.
A section of a dyed, appliqué and embroidered quilt.

A sample and work in progress for a larger mural (I hope!)

Also, as well as still teaching the C&G's Certificate I have been hatching a plan to make collaborative work which will be exhibited in the MK Project Space of the Gallery in October. 
The A5 creative challenge:

If you are local to MK or have visited it in the past perhaps you would like to have a go?
Here is the Facebook link to the Adult Education page

But you can message me on here if you would like to take part and need more details….

Saturday, 10 August 2013

New Skys and Horizons.....a lovely day out!

I've been trying to go to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK, for a few years. Unfortunately for mums of young children it falls slap bang in the middle of school holidays and has previously clashed with the much needed family camping break.
But this year for a number of reasons I was determined to go. 
(Children were dutifully looked after by grandparents - thanks B&E)
A textiles enthusiast from ACE was keen to go too, we agreed on a day and made a plan,
booked tickets, got on a train and went to the NEC - hurray!

I had been to the Ally Pally and the NEC for other crafty stitching events, but nothing prepared me for the scale of this one. As well as the multitude of retailers and demonstrators and textile artists to admire and be tempted by there were just hundreds of quilts to marvel at. Of all shapes and sizes, traditional and contemporary. 
I didn't take photo's of everything, just bits and pieces that I liked here and there. The catalogue was too huge to instantly work out who was who and what was what so I'm afraid some of the pics are rather abstract and uncredited. But I know what I liked.....

This free-motion quilting design:

This is detail from an Indian Vintage quilt. I love the layers and colour and detail, simply achieved by years of wear and tear. We spend time and money trying to achieve this effect now when all we need is a little planning and 100 years of life!

Earlier this year I had been hoofing around the internet looking for images of embroidery on rust dying I think.....or was it vintage inspired embroidery, I cannot remember. Anyway, I came across this little beauty and did some research. Part of an exhibition from Australia and New Zealand :( coming to the UK for the Festival of Quilts - hurray again, I had to see it. So here is it, dyed and stitched by Dijanne Cevaal. Inspired by the lost culture of the indigenous people who were thrown off their land by European Explorers in the name of progress and new beginnings.

Beneath the Southern Sky is a beautifully curated and arranged collection of quilts. 
Well worth having a look around the website if you have not seen it in the flesh or fabric as it where.

Another one that caught my eye by Helen Beaven in New Zealand, love the simple concept, techniques and layers of detail.

This one was just texture on texture, lovely colour and weaving details by June Buxton in Australia.

Debra De Lorenzo from New Zealand is representing the landscape of the Antarctic being damaged by Man's intrusion. She does it with a cleaver and lovely collection of shibori dyed fabrics. It's also just a lovely simple composition of techniques and pattern.

Moving away from the Sky's we found this little teaser. Felt circles shaded with oil pastels and suspended within black netting. It looks like very cleaver shadow quilting, but actually its very cleaver transparent quilting playing with real shadows from real lighting. Rather lovely we thought.

I've worked out that this is Nower Wood by Karen Farmer, I  like the hand dyed subtle colours and simple quilting.

Puzzled......I know I like it, but I don't remember where I saw it - sorry! Lovely detail and simple monochrome palate with a couple of accent colours and it concertina's at the floor. We thought it looked like fields but I have a feeling it didn't represent fields - perhaps I will find out in due course?

In the same contemporary exhibition there was this large spiral of texture and stitch.

Oh blimey, I could drive myself mad with trying to work out what is which from the catalogue, next time I will do a better job! This one was HUGE but did not photograph well in it's whole self. Something about the sky - day into night and night into day?

While flicking through the book I've just found this and now lost it again - puppets from a textile artist in Pontypredd Wales - let me google that!!
Nope, no luck. I did like the amazing painterly quality of this work. I will try and find out who stitched it and get back to you.

In complete contrast, this pretty floral quilt caught my eye. I then read that the flowers are hammered real flowers and the silhouettes are sun printed (remember my journey into sun-printing?)
Midsummer Melody - her website seems to be down at the moment, although I have found her on the dreaded Facebook. I love the quirkiness and composition, all very pretty.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The grand unveiling <.....trumpet fanfare please.....>

After a rather jam packed week of stitching and various school events I have managed to finish my quilt of the Century! Whoo hooo for me!!
I think I've had an out of body experience with it all. Setting such a huge challenge, arranging with a very patient Head of the school and All of the staff, fitting in with numerous special days and school trips, I have not had time to think about it too much.

I started this on the 22nd of May with Yr6's dyeing the yards of fabric and it had to be finished by  the 13th of July for the school Parade.
This is the final layout of panels, before stitching the long lengths and binding.

 Mr Webster wanted the children's memories of New Bradwell incorporated onto the quilt somewhere, so we decided that each class would have a panel of the squares to draw on. These 16 panels were then stitched together to make the final quilt.

Some of the detail was amazing and each year group have certainly had a full and inspiring year of activities!

F1 - these are 3-4 year olds: lots of gardens and butterflies a hot cross bun and some frogs.

A year 1 class: a visit to the church, a visit to a Safari Park and the lifecycle of butterflies.

A year 5 class: a visit to the RAF museum and the theatre and the O2 arena for the young voices concert.

So here I stand rather warm and exhausted with  the finished quilt. Overall the colours and details work well I think. There will always be bits I would have done differently given time to think and the benefit of hind site, but it's up and every child in the school took part in the project.

Detail of the 435 squares:

There were no great trauma's and every child took great pride in their work, what a pleasure this was to make this with them - honest! 

Thank you New Bradwell children and staff for letting me loose in your school.
Jane x
(Mrs Charles)