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….