Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Beryl Cook

I have just seen on the 'net that Beryl Cook, the wonderful painter and observer of everyday life, has died today at the age of 81. I love her work and her great sense of humour. If you ever need cheering up open one of her books. It is so sad to hear of her passing. Rest well, Beryl.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Home from the North

Bob T Bear is right. I came home to 5 more cards from the MixedMediaATCs_UK group.

This lovely mermaid came from Anne and has some painstaking penwork in it and some lovely gold highlights.
Christine made this beautiful quilted card with beaded fish. I like the fact that it is padded.
Irene's card has a lot of work to it. The background has been painted and textured and machine-embroidered fabric has been added before the fish and shell embellishments. Irene wrapped the card in a lovely piece of dyed fabric which I will look forward to using in a future project.
This delicate mermaid is from Stephanie and has some beautiful embellishments. I think the little discs are made from slices of shell - I shall have to ask Stephanie.
This final card is called "Seahorse Dance" and comes from Wendy. It has some beautiful tiny shells along the bottom and is more sparkly than this photo shows.
All of these cards are even more lovely in real life than the photos show and everyone has obviously put a lot of thought and effort into making them. Thank you, ladies!
We had a really good weekend away in Northumberland. The tour took us to Beamish Open Air Museum, Alnwick Garden, Lindisfarne, Seahouses and York so it was a busy few days. Needless to say I took lots of photographs, lots! I've sorted about half so far and have the rest to do so I will be posting about it all shortly. It may take me a bit longer as I have just heard tonight that my friend Grace has been taken into hospital so tomorrow will be taken up with finding out what's wrong and hopefully visiting her if she is not in theatre. I have decided not to go to the hospital tonight as she is sedated and I won't be any use to her tomorrow if I am up all tonight, as she is not in the local hospital. Health service reorganisation!!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Glimpses, gifts and post

I've just noticed it's Thursday already and I haven't posted anything this week. I've had a really busy week but it's all been top secret until the people involved have received the fruits of my labours!

My dear friend Grace has been having another sort out and I've benefitted from her sewing box.

I love the look of the lurex packaging, it certainly looks of a certain era. I haven't managed to use it successfully yet but I'm delighted to have the eyelet punch, I've been thinking of buying one for a while. The yellow strips make a template for cutting patchwork pieces.
I thought I would tempt you with a glimpse of what I've been making this week. I can't show too much as it will spoil the surprise for Susan. It's on its way to america so I'll reveal all when it's been received.


You may remember that I belong to MixedMediaATCs_UK a Yahoo group and every month we have a lottery. I showed my card the other day and I found out yesterday that I am the lucky winner by a random draw this month so I will be getting everybody else's cards! Yay! The first one arrived today -how quick was that?!

Sue had sent me a beautiful stitched handmade paper envelope with her card. The gold and black are sprayed on. I think it's called cobweb spray.

The little fish are really sweet and I think the seaweed is real seaweed probably dyed.

I shouldn't really let Chelsea week pass by without heading up a link to the BBC website. Chelsea Flower Show is one of the great gardening events in the UK and I for one try not to miss any of the TV coverage. I've been a couple of times many years ago with my Mum but it's very expensive to get in and the crowds are heaving so I prefer to enjoy it via the telly.
It's coming up to a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK and, dare I say it, we are off on a little jaunt again! Well, it is DH's 60th this year so we're going a bit mad. Whatever you're doing this weekend have a lovely time and I hope the weather is kind to you. See you next week.


I've just found out that one of the things I have been busy with this week has reached its destination so I can show you it now.

This is a postcard with a chiffon scarf as the base embellished onto a cotton/fleece backing. IRL it's actually a bit more on the red side but this is the closest I can get. I embellished various organzas and lovely wool fibres from Holly in Florida together with angelina and added a multi-coloured yarn to outline the heart shape. (The heart was embellished separately and embellished onto the background. I hope it doesn't fall off!) Finally, I added beads and a couple of charms. I'm pleased to say that the recipient liked it! :o)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Spring evening and child art

Not that I've been in there lately, I've been too busy sewing, this was my studio this evening, bathed in the westering sun.

This lovely white lilac was also catching the sun tonight and smells gorgeous. I always used to cut some and take into my neighbour Gwen but sadly, not to be any longer. It's very strange not having Gwen next door anymore. She loved her garden and got very tetchy if any of the plants started to look a bit ragged. I'm planning to trim the shrubs in the border between us as I can "hear" her saying it's time they were tidied up!

I've had a busy day finishing the piece I am sending to Susan for her garden swap so I can't show you what I've been doing. I will however show you this piece:

I have been meaning to put this up for a while but kept forgetting. I painted this when I was 11 years old and it was painted with school paints on sugar paper, I think. It was based on a poem about a cockerel asking a hen to go for a walk. She declined as she was a good mother sitting on her eggs! I remember that we were exploring texture and I really enjoyed doing the painting. I wonder if this painting laid the foundation for my passions today? The teacher liked it anyway, it was selected for an exhibition of schoolchildren's art at the Beecroft Art Gallery which still exists. I regret now that I never went to see it on display. I should like to get it reframed but I wonder if it will disintegrate if taken out of its frame?

Stitchin Fingers

You may be interested (if you haven't come across it already) in a new "ning" network group which Sharon Boggon has started called Stitchin Fingers . The group is open to everyone interested in textiles. Since many textile practices inform each other all areas are welcome. There are already many familiar faces among the members and you can click on the button in my sidebar or on the link above to go to the main page. It looks like being a lively group with crazy quilters, weavers, needlefelters, embroiderers, knitters, you name it they're there! If you make ATCs, inchies or bedquilts, or do anything involving textiles this is the place to meet like minded people and share.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

A Little More Barnsdale

A view of the Japanese Garden
Modern Town Garden
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As I haven't any new art work that I can show you I thought I would post a few more pics of Barnsdale Gardens from Monday. The gardens were beautiful and, because the plants are not yet in their full growth, it was possible to see some things that would otherwise be covered by vegetation. (You can see my previous visit to Barnsdale here).

I think this sculpture may have been made from an old immersion tank.

This sculpture is one of several in this style in the gardens. In the background you can see ferns and gunneras which are only just beginning to get going this season.

These beautiful reflections are in a pond which is normally shrouded by Gunneras. The pond is also home to some lovely plump tadpoles.

I don't know what these plants are called but I liked the shadows that the spiky plants are throwing across the pads.

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I took a chance with this photograph as I couldn't see what I was taking - I just pointed the camera up into the flower and Voila!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Bits and Bobs and ATCs

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Monday saw us taking advantage of my DH's day off and heading down the A1 to Rutland Water, a large manmade reservoir about 20 miles from us. My friend had told me about the bluebell wood there at Barnsdale and we were not disappointed in the sight which awaited us when we get there. The wood has been thinned out and conifers removed to open up the woodland floor and allow the bluebells to flower once again. I find it amazing that it only takes the removal of the canopy to bring dormant life from the soil.
The bluebells were absolutely spectacular! I don't think that I have seen such an expanse of bluebells in a long time, and this in a wood that is completely open to public access. Years ago, many years ago, when I was a child, we used to go to Danbury Woods in Essex, and I have a very strong memory of walking through droves of bluebells and coming out with armfuls (not allowable now) of these gorgeous, delicate blooms for my Mum.

I have been conspicuous by my absence from my Yahoo groups lately so this month I thought I would try and pick up the threads (no pun intended!) with the lottery at MixedMediaATCs_UK. The ATC above is on the theme of Sea Life and is much more sparkly than my photo shows.
Earlier this year I blogged about the Cyberfyber Exhibition that Susan Lenz is staging in January next year. If you missed out on the chance to join in with the ATC and Postcard swap that Susan ran in January you now have another opportunity to become part of this event. Susan has made more ATCs and Postcards so click here and follow the links to join in.
What else can I tell you? I can't show you what I am working on at the moment as it will be part of a swap if I manage to complete it. Something I can show you, though you might wish I hadn't bothered, is this fetching photo of DH taken on Monday. He was lurking in a little shed-thing at Barnsdale Gardens - don't ask - I think it's supposed to be a sort of hide so you can watch the birds in the wooded area, or maybe it's for children.............

Saturday, 10 May 2008

More wallhanging

It's a bit of a coincidence, but I've been to a workshop today to learn about the techniques for making, embellishing and fabric painting a wallhanging. The workshop was run by a new Craft shop in my home town and I had a whale of a time. (Their website is still in its infancy so please look back later). I learned about foundation piecing, "stitch and flip", stitching "in the ditch", soluble stabilisers, making a twisted cord edging and loads beside. Some of these terms I had heard while blogging but didn't know what they meant - now I know! It's amazing how complicated something seems until you learn the terminology. All of a sudden you realise you don't have to be worried about tackling something, it's actually fairly straightworward.

26 August 2008 photo deleted as I had not obtained Tutor's permission for which I apologise.

Above you can see that we pieced the background onto a pre-drawn grid (which for ease we had traced onto "golden paper"*,a type of tissue paper). Apart from the first piece which was stitched on without a seam so that there could be a lightly frayed edge (have a look at the last photo), all the pieces were stitched on with a seam allowance, right sides together and then flipped up. While the pieces were assembled on top of the tissue the machining was done from the tissue side so that you could see where to sew. Unfortunately we were so busy that I didn't get to photograph each stage.

26 August 2008 photo deleted as I had not obtained Tutor's permission for which I apologise.
This is the front of the piece after the layers have all been stitched together. The quilt batting and backing fabrics were then cut about an inch larger all round to allow a margin for eror. I think that at this point an invisible thread was machined along each line of existing stitching, known as stitch in the ditch. This secures the layers together. (I think this is the right order. I was so busy I didn't get it written down at the time).

As this was to be a beach landscape we drew beach huts onto water soluble stabiliser and then machined these onto the beach section. After the main outline was machined the stabiliser was washed away with a cotton bud and water. Once dry the planking was machined on.

The next step was to paint the eaves and the beach hut itself with fabric paint, in this case, Setacolour Opaque. You can use acrylic paint if you don't have fabric paints but the effect will be a little harder as the acrylis dries to a coarser finish.
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As you can see the wallhanging has now been trimmed (but not exactly to the finished size in case of shrinkage during edging) and sewn together with a zigzag stitch. You can then go on to topstitch some of the layers with a decorative stitch, hand sewing can be added, yarns can be couched on and beads added.
Once the stitching has been added you need to square up the piece (a quilter's nonslip square is ideal for this) and cut with a rotary cutter. To finish off you can couch a twisted selection of yarns all round the edge with a zigzag stitch. You could also finish off with a traditional quilt binding. (Don't look too closely at mine-it needs a little tweaking to get the tasselly bits to hang in the centre. I will be adding a lovely purple button too).
You can see that I still have quite a lot to do to finish my wallhanging off but I am really happy with everything I learned today and I can see many more projects on the horizon. I am sure everyone has their own method for this type of thing and there is no right or wrong way of going on. If you go wrong just add some stitching or beading to cover the eccentricity!
PS Thank you everyone for all your lovely input and comments over the last few posts. I have really appreciated all the comments and interest and I'm glad Dilly enjoyed the wagon (dragon if you weren't sure VBG).

* I have googled "golden paper" but I can't find it so I may have misheard. Fine tissue will work just as well or you can work freehand without a template......scary!!! lol

Thursday, 8 May 2008


I must thank all of you for your very kind support over my doubts about the Irish wallhanging. I suppose I should have more faith in myself. You were all quite right, my friend did love the wallhanging and the fact that I had included memories of our time in Ireland. I didn't know it, but my American friend used to quilt herself! I suppose I might have expected that as it is such a great tradition in America. As she now lives in Texas, where she has no need of quilts, Pam no longer quilts but she still has all her books! I think my small effort has encouraged her to start thinking about art quilts.
Since we are having such glorious hot, sunny weather at the moment I thought I would have a go at sunprinting and rust dyeing. I don't have any specific paints for sunprinting so I have used my silk paints and I am really pleased with the results.

I did the green piece yesterday and used various leaves from the garden. I was really surprised that the fine grasses worked and can see that these would be really effective spread more widely on the cotton. (The pebbles were there to hold the leaves down but I probably didn't need them).
The blue/purple piece was done today and I used an assortment of items to make the marks. What I cannot understand is why the colour disappears where the fabric is masked. Surely you would expect the colour to be kept where it is covered and bleach where the sun strikes? No? Maybe someone can explain the science?
I love the little flower patterns and the dandelions have left a softened image. You can also see the stain left by the pollen. I don't know whether that will stay or not.
Now I have to think about what I will use the fabric for......or maybe it will just get ironed and go in my stash. I'm sure I'll do some more of this sunprinting but not for a day or two as I've got a busy weekend coming up. Not least of all an Art Festival involving my Art Club and a textile workshop on Saturday.
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We had a very enjoyable time with our friends on Tuesday. We had a lovely stroll round the Duchess's Spring Garden at Belvoir Castle which is a few miles from us. The gardens are in a continuous state of renovation but they are delightful to walk round on a sunny day.

All the while we were in the garden we could hear the chap above screeching across the valley. We later discovered him showing off in the formal garden below the castle.

These couple of swells were enjoying the sunshine.

Pam really enjoyed herself taking photographs of the beautiful flowers in the gardens.

The garden is in a damp hollow and there are lots of ferns growing.

We were a week or two too early for the rhododendrons but this beautiful specimen was gorgeous.

I was hoping to see bluebells and there were some but there were also these blue flowers which I am not familiar with. Are they related to the hyacinth?
I've been told about a local wood that is heaving with bluebells so I'm hoping we might sqeeze a visit in to our busy weekend. Piccies to come, I hope!

And finally! A wagon for Dilly! I think it looks upside down!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Irish Wallhanging

I bet you're thinking "Oh no! Not her again! Does she never shut up??!!" Hehehehe!
Anyway, I can't wait any longer! I've finished the wallhanging I told you about here and I think it's safe to show you as I doubt that our friends will be looking at my blog before we see them tomorrow.

The eventual arrangement of images and lace differs quite a bit from my original thoughts. I laid some of the images on background fabrics to frame them. (Don't look at the wonky lace!)
I decided that some hand stitching was needed and I used feather stitch and seeding stitch as you can see above. I also used lines of straight stitching to suggest waves on the top panel which you can see on the finished piece below.
Once I was sure I had finished the hand sewing I backed the wallhanging on a taupe coloured linen and machined a zigzag three times round the edge to hold it all together. I was going to hand couch a cord round the edge but I decided after machine stitching that this wasn't needed. The shamrock embellishments were painted with inks and ended up stitched on at the bottom (more wonkyness!). I've sewn two linen tabs on at the top and at the moment a cinnamon stick is providing the hanger.
I've really enjoyed making this wallhanging, although I did have a nasty moment yesterday when I dismantled the hook race (otherwise known as the bobbin casing) on my machine and couldn't get it back together again. The air was blue! I nearly rang Gina! Then I had dinner and tried again. This time I put the things in the right way round! Bingo! VBG. Mind you, I am now having the 'collywobbles' wondering if my friend will like it. I hope it's not too twee.
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Sunday, 4 May 2008

Thanks to Elis Cooke

Yesterday I met up with friends for our monthly play/workshop. We have a teacher/facilitator for these sessions but this winter and spring we have mostly been following our own ideas. Some time ago I had read about a technique on Elis Cooke's Into The Blystic blog and decided I would have a play using her ideas.


I worked in watercolour as suggested by Elis as this should not stick to the base paper as acrylic or inks would. For the first piece I used a sheet of Saunders Waterford watercolour paper and tore shapes from another sheet of Saunders paper. In addition I used tissue paper, paper doily, nappy liner, sinamay and make up remover pads. I thoroughly wetted the paper and then loosely painted on watercolour and sprinkled salt in some areas. I then left the paper to dry overnight. (This is the hardest part, no peeking!)

This morning I peeled off the various papersand was delighted with the result! (Excuse the colour change....the dried version is nearer the reality). Some of the effects on the main paper surface were achieved where some of the paint crept underneath the masking pieces.

You could if you wished seal the surface with a diluted acrylic medium so that you can work on top or use the lovely textures in collages.


This second attempt was done on Pittura Acrylis paper. I don't know whether that had any bearing but several of the papers stuck :( I used tissue, paper doily, bubble wrap, face pads, paper towel, tyvek and a hand made paper and salt again.

This morning some of the paper, particularly the dress pattern and the doillies, had stuck to the paper. I particularly like the marks made by the cleansing pads but I will probably tear this page up to use in other work. Don't forget too that you have all the painted papers etc which had been acting as a resist.

The marks under the tissue were made by me scratching with a paintbrush to try and move the paint around.

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