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)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Just tying up loose ends.......hardly!

So this is the final instalment of 'making the squares'.
Printing patterns caused my the most headaches I think, the little dharlings were more interested in painting the letter and around the letter rather that a bit of both. Given simple tools to print with, the prefered to daub the paint on. Some did well, like this one below. Others made a great pattern and then got carried away and painted all over it again. I think I was making it too much fun!
Also, perhaps if I had given them something hard to print with they wouldn't have been tempted to sponge the paint on - I will never know, not in this project anyway. Perhaps next time!

Year 2 was a quick but effective 'design a letter and then paint round it with dilute ink' technique. It gives a lovely light contrast to the other very colourful squares, but really effective results.

Foundation 2 - the 4-5 year olds - agh. They did well, the technique was simple, but the chats we had were priceless. This little lad drew a cupcake and a volcano next to his letter, who knows why? But I was not going to get in the way of his creativity.

Sp here they are, the Super Severn piles of squares. 5 weeks ago this was 5m of plain calico.

 And just because I like to pile things up and take their photo, here is the pile.....

Next stage - the children think of their memories from this year at school, this will be a challenge with all age groups I think!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

A speedy update

After the dyeing came a quick day of Shibori and indigo dyeing with Year 5's. As you can imagine, shibori even in it's simplest form with 60 children was a challenge. 'Make sure you have a knot at the end of your thread before you start stitching!!" was my mantra of the day. 'Keep the designs simple' and 'draw them in your art books so you remember which one is yours after it has been dyed and all look the same'. I didn't shut up all day. 

The children had done some research into indigo dyeing, so they knew more than me about it, I just knew it was magic!

After the stitching we went outside in small groups and gently put the samples in the dye bath. I say we, I was the one doing the work, they just watched and wooed with wonder.

Needless to say, with a day of dyeing in rubber gloves, I have no photo's of the work on that day.


The next stage was designing their letter and drawing it with fabric crayons. Looking good.

Then some could stitch round if they wished, some did some didn't. I find it depends upon not whether they are girls or boys, rather which was the wind is blowing and what lesson they might be missing as to whether they are keen to stitch.
Give them credit though, they are all keep to do their best and the work looked lovely.

 Year 4's, I was planning some sun printing, but didn't manage to book the sun for that day so had to think on my feet.

Some salt sprinkling came to mind and the salty squares were born.

Love this, they give a great contrast with the other techniques going on in the quilt, the children added African inspired letters which I will appliqué onto of their squares - appliqué? Was I planning to do that? No, but hey ho, for the good of the quilt, whats 60 appliqué letters to add to the pile of work.

Fun with Year 1's. I shall leave it at this photo, we had great fun. Dripping, swirling and STOP! I need to take a print of that one! Great fun.

A few of their squares drying, they add brightness to the quilt. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My biggest quilt yet! Stage one.....dyeing fabric with Yr6

A few short weeks ago I came up with a great idea to make a quilt with children at our local school to celebrate their Centenary. It would involved every child in the school, a combined rather large school of 420+ children ranging from 3-11years. The Head very kindly agreed that it would be a great idea and after a couple of meetings I came up with a plan. Did I mention that he wanted it in the school Summer carnival, which was only 6 weeks away from the start date? No pressure there then....
I shall keep my blog sketchy with details, I am still in the middle of it all, so actually don't have time to blog much anyway. I'm also planning to write an article for a magazine, so need to keep some surprises for that in the Autumn!

Anyway, lets start: Year 6's helped me clamp, bind and dye the fabrics. These fabrics would be used later by different year groups and also to frame and bind the quilt.

I love to ooh and aaah when fabric appears from the dye baths. I thought the children might not be as excited, but I was wrong. They oohed and aaahed with gusto at the colourful fabrics we had created.

Drying on the line, never had my garden looked so sunny and colourful!
I couldn't stop looking at them.

Their next task, using the letter of their first name, was to design a complex pattern which they then inked onto their squares of fabric.

And then they stitched around their letters. Only 45 in this year group, so progress was made quite quickly in the scheme of things.

 Really lovely work, even the most challenging of child took pride in their letter and did a good job.

These are pictures of lovely designs and very neat stitching. 

Yr 5's and indigo dyeing in the next posting!!
Jane x