Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Ruth Issett Workshop Part 2 and a prize (for me)

Before I bore you some more with the fabrics from my weekend workshop I have to show you the beautiful notebook cover that I won in Penny's giveaway at Fibrefrolics.  Penny has been blogging for a year and her blog is both varied and attractive with some stunning photographs of her homeland, Scotland, and beautiful felted landscapes.


The felted notebook cover is in my favourite sea colours and has angelina fibres to give it an extra sparkle.  The edge is beautifully finished in a very neat and even blanket stitch.  I am thinking of stitching the little flower to the cover but maybe I should find another use for it as the cover speaks of the sea.

I washed all my dyed fabrics out yesterday and ironed them dry and I'll do no more than post them all below.  Can you match them up to the print versions?  


I like this section above.  The background was monoprinted with a brushstroked  print first and then mostly negative printed from the roller.



The piece above was simply printed with Lumiere irridescent  paints onto dark blue polyester.

These two pieces are just small test squares using Markal paintstiks brushed across the surface.  I have lots of Markal paintstiks so I really should do more of this.

Finally, guess who couldn't bring herself to throw the baby wipes away?

There must be about 40 or more all covered in fabric paint which have now dried out so I just have to find a use for them!  I am pleased to say that I resisted the urge to gather up everyone's baby wipes!  The ones I bought were eco-type wipes and had a cotton content so I'm hoping they will take stitch well once I've ironed them to set the paint.

One last thing, do you remember me telling you about my friend's daughter who has been designing for Makower?  Well, her fabric collection 'Farm Corner' is now available in the UK.  I googled Makower + farm corner and several sources came up.   I have a new baby to make for later in the year (not my own I hasten to add!)  so I feel a little plastic flexing coming on! lol 

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Ruth Issett Workshop

On Saturday my long awaited workshop with Ruth Issett arrived and I travelled down to Art & Stitch at Peterborough bright and early.  As ever Angela's lovely DH came to the station to pick me up so I didn't have the hassle of getting a bus to the studio. There were 9 of us for the workshop and that turned out to be a good number with enough space for everyone to work comfortably.

We had an extremely busy Saturday as you can see by the small selection of work above.  

Above are my early attempts at printing with various blocks and a roller.  If you are familiar with Ruth's work you will know that she often works in layers and this was a theme for the day.  We used fabric paints to print onto the fabric and these dried quickly enough for us to be able to work on top of the initial images.  We started with monoprints, making marks into a print plate (in this case a piece of plastic sheet) and then printing onto the fabric.  We then moved onto the print blocks and had a great time experimenting. Many of the blocks were Ruth's own made from all kinds of everyday materials including plastic drawer lining and string.  

As you can see Angela kept us well supplied with tea all weekend! :o)  I had great fun with printing from blocks and then making prints from the roller after it had 'inked up' the block.  We made our own blocks from funky foam (shapes in my case) and a rather unpromising block made a fantastic abstract pattern when the print was taken from the roller.

The rather scruffy print above was made using the negative print effect from the roller.   The following photos are the work of the other ladies at the workshop.

Saturday was rounded off with a little dyeing which became our homework for the evening, rinsing and drying.

Sunday morning I woke to snow!!  And it meant it, at least for a few hours.  Fortunately everyone, including Ruth who had an hours' drive to get to the studio, managed to make it for our second busy day.  The day was devoted to further experimenting with Markal sticks and with dyeing and with further experimenting with the techniques we had been learning over the course of the weekend.


The image above doesn't give a very true picture of what the fabric looks like but this is one of my pieces after the dyes had been painted on.  The white areas in this photo are not so prominent in real life but adding white paint to some of the prints did mean that they showed up well once the dye was added.


I am really pleased with this piece above and you can see how the white paint makes the lighter areas float over the background.  Of course, today it is not as bright as I have now washed all the excess dye out.

I had an amazing time with the workshop and Ruth was a very disciplined and supportive teacher. The workshop was full-on though and it's the first time I have ever tackled a 2 day workshop.  I thought I had coped well until yesterday afternoon when everything caught up with me and I pretty much deflated like a balloon and felt dreadful.  My DH had to take over cooking dinner which I struggled to eat and I retreated to bed for an early night.  Today I had a duvet morning with an enjoyable book and I am now feeling more like myself.  I've even managed to wash out all the dyed fabrics I brought home but I was too late to photograph them today so I'll save that for next time.  Tomorrow hopefully.

If you have been tempted to try a workshop with Ruth, she is sharing a 3 day workshop with Bobby Britnell this Spring and there is still time to book.  You can find the details here.  I have no affiliation by the way!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Apologies from Linda and Laura Kemshall

 Before I get on to my blog post I wanted to copy here part of an email that I received today from Linda and Laura Kemshall.  Apparently their free viewing day was a rip roaring success with one small difficulty that viewers in America and Australia may have experienced.  Here's the quote:
Thank you! Thank you to everyone who joined us for the free taster day this weekend. We hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of what DesignMatters TV has to offer.

The DMTV free watch for a day offer was very popular. We certainly had a lot of people visit the site on Saturday!........It seems though that we underestimated how enthusiastically some of our regular viewers are about what we offer here at DMTV - you told so many of your friends to watch that in the middle of our night there was a brief downtime as the poor site was over subscribed! Most of us Brits were fast asleep but we send our apologies to anyone in North America and Australia if you experienced a temporary problem.

Oops! I can't get rid of this blue background so I'll start my proper post again.


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Where do I begin? And Free 'Kemshall' videos this weekend!

I've fallen so far behind with my blogging that I don't know where to start!  I think I'll start with the last couple of pieces of dyeing that I was doing last week.  Having done the parfait dyeing and re-thought my Festival of Quilts piece I assembled a selection of fabrics and decided I could do with some more dark blue and maybe a greeny blue so a little more dyeing was called for.

This is fairly close to the colour in real life.  The dye powder said it was aquamarine and it's just a little more green than I expected but it's usable. 

The pattern in the piece above was achieved by flag-folding a strip of old sheeting into a triangle shape and then attaching pegs all the way round the edge.  I then used a wide paintbrush to apply aquamarine and the remainder of some navy dye.  The fabrics were left for about 3 hours before they were rinsed out and washed.  
I was really pleased with this beautifully patterned navy piece of dyeing which will be cut up for my quilt background.

As well as managing to get some dyeing done I was encouraged by Annabel (WestCountry Buddha) to tackle a handsewn book a la Laura Kemshall.

The first step is to select all sorts of papers from your existing stock of painted or textured papers, tissue, handmade paper, magazine pages, cellophane, watercolour paper, cartridge paper, anything that is laying around really.  You could if you wished use all new papers to make a book for your sketches or notes but it's fun to use up some of your so-called failed or experimental pieces. They can look so different in these notebooks.  It is best to keep the height of the pages equal but the width can be different.  You group the pages in groups of 3 or 4 and fold them in half.

The next step is to stitch the pages together. (Excuse the glare in the photo above caused by the metallic ribbon I used for the strengthening straps.) You can use either a running stitch or a linked stitch which gives you the herringbone effect and strengthens the spine by linking each signature (folded pages) to the next.   I don't feel I can show the details here as it would be unfair to Laura Kemshall but there should be plenty of resources on the web to show you how to make this stitched book. (I'll come back with a link later).  The tricky part is joining the first 2 or 3 pieces as you need to maintain a certain amount of tension in the thread so the book doesn't end up slack and sloppy.

This is my book opened out so you can see the variety of papers used.

Above I used some handmade paper, a piece of monoprinted paper and on the right watercolour paper that had been used as a dropcloth for painting feathers.

I still have to glue covers to the front and back of the book but I am quite pleased with my first attempt and can see how Laura finds them so addictive.  I definitely want to make one based on the size of a 7"x5" photograph so it will be small and chunky.  It's a great way to make use of all those papers that sit around after studio playtime.  If you click on this link you can see Laura's stitched book and, if you have some free time this weekend you can watch Laura's video for free at Design Matters TV along with about 30 other videos of their working practices and inspiration!!  It's free from 9.00 am Saturday to 9am Sunday morning (UK time)so treat yourselves to some 'me' time!

What else have I been up to?  I've been busy getting more osteopath treatment and my hip/bum is much improved so much so that DH and I were able to go on a coach trip to Hull to visit the submarium there.  
The Deep is housed in an iconic building on the River Humber, about a 2 hour drive from our home.  I had been wanting to go there for some time but timing the visit for half term week was maybe not quite the ideal time to go!  However, despite the masses of people who had had the same idea and the miles of walking (not to mention stairs climbing) we had a great time. 

If you go through the restaurant and up to the observation platform the structure of the building makes for some wonderful photographs (courtesy of my DH).

And there are some wonderful views of the Estuary. (My DH will be blogging about our visit in a day or two).

Looking down from the platform this beautiful and naturally coloured blockwork forms some resistance against the effects of the rising tides. 

Inside the submarium there were beautiful sea creatures and an ever changing view of gently circling fish, sharks, rays and even a swordfish!


All of these photographs were taken by my DH as I spent the time filming with my video camera.  If I can manage it I will try and upload a little film of the visit.  I've already watched it back and it's alive with the shouts and excitement of small people.  I was going to add a musical background instead of the shrieks and screams but, having listened to it, the children add to the atmosphere so they will stay.  Needless to say, after such a busy day I was completely wiped out yesterday.  I had to go into town to the osteopath and had a series of senior moments, including forgetting where I had left the car!  Brain fog wasn't in it! lol 

Finally, I have been making some progress on my crinkle quilt.  Well, it's not so much a quilt as a prospective bookcover.

I have stitched many lines across and round the piece but there is still a lot of stitching to do.  I don't think it's quite as crinkled as Nellie makes hers but I am quite happy with it so far.  So much so that I have started a second 'crinkle' with a piece of velvet backed on silk dupion.  It will give me something to stitch on Saturday evening if I've got any energy left after my workshop at Art and Stitch in Peterborough with Ruth Issett!  I can hardly wait!  Fingers crossed that my hip will behave as I've finished with the osteopath.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Parfait Dyeing


I’ve been having to find things to do that don’t involve too much stretching or bending at the moment so I’ve been dyeing some calico with thoughts of my FOQ entry in mind.  This turquoise colour should actually be a little more on the yellow side than my photo is showing.  I parfait dyed two lengths of calico in a container with turquoise and navy dyes and let them sit overnight.  I think I should have washed them out after a few hours instead of leaving them overnight so that the colour would have been a little less intense but my dyeing is always a hit and miss affair.  I always mean to make notes as I go along but forget in the heat of the moment.


Earlier last week I made what I hope will be a panel to go in the centre of the quilt.


The panel was made by layering various fabrics, machine stitching, leaving the edges raw and then I painted the piece with fabric paints.

My original plan was to stitch this panel on the background and add machine stitching, embroidery and found objects from my many walks on St Ives beach.   Now I’m thinking that this isn’t going to work on a purely blue background so I am going to do some sketchbook work with collage to see if it will be better to piece the background to include a beachy coloured foreground.  I think I was looking for a quick way of working but now I can see that I need to get back to basics and make a test piece.  If I get it right it can be my next journal quilt for the Contemporary Quilt group. 

I’m pleased to say my hip/bum/back is improving.  Another session with the osteopath has helped today so I have great hopes that next week’s session will be the last.  By then I shall just be back to the normal middle-aged aches and pains I usually have! LOL

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Toys Have Arrived

Do you remember me saying I'd sent for a piece of equipment for feltmaking that I thought would be useful for mark making and printing too?  Well, it's arrived.  I'm really excited by both the sprayer and the rolling pin as I think I will be able to get some interesting effects from them.  The sprayer comes to pieces so I should be able to wash it out well enough if I use it for dyes, which is what I have in mind..  If it works I shall buy 2 or 3 more so that I have one for reds, one for blues etc.  The olive oil soap will be grated and dissolved in warm water to soap the wool fibres for felting.  It leaves your hands feeling lovely and soft as well as giving a lovely lather with the felt.

Unfortunately, I haven't had chance to have a play with anything  yet as I've now got a strain at the base of my spine and I can't do much of anything.  What am I like?!  I've been struggling since Monday evening and I finally gave in today and went to an Osteopath who has suggested some treatment and helped me by easing the troublesome muscles.  The pain has subsided this evening but I'm not supposed to do much except potter about for the next few days and not do anything repetitive, so felt making is definitely out and I suppose printing is too :o(  Maybe I could just manage a little dyeing? lol

You've probably noticed that I've not been blogging since last week.  The main reason is I've got involved in tracing my family history on the internet.  How addictive is that?  I've spent way too long on the laptop but it's been very interesting so far.  Too early to say if there's any skeletons in the cupboard ;o) (Probably hasn't helped my back though).

Hopefully my back will continue to improve over the weekend and I can get back to my projects.  I'm getting behind on the Journal Quilts already and as for Festival of Quilts.......yikes!

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