Friday, 28 May 2010

Sunshine, Friendship, Inspiration and Cake!

This has been a bit of a hectic week but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet up with the very talented Jackie who makes the most beautiful pieces in velvet and tweed amongst other things.  Wendy and I travelled down to Ely as Jackie had come down from Lancashire for a few days and Ely was a good central point for us all.  It also had a textile exhibition on!  Well, how could we resist?  

First port of call was Babylon Gallery for an exhibition by stitch-links.

This is the first exhibition staged by stitch-links, (follow the link for their website and better images of their work) a newly formed group of established artists from London and East Anglia and it was a very exciting experience.  The exhibition space at Babylon is airy and interesting and the gallery has a friendly atmosphere.  Stitch-links had based their exhibition on the area round Docklands in London and the different interpretations gave the show a great diversity.  


The work varies through sculptural pieces to variations on quilts and this piece above is by Maria-Theresa Fernandes whose work I have seen at one of the big Shows last year.  Her work is felted and is rich with stitch.

I was particularly struck by the work of Sheila Cahn whose work is very close to my heart and who works in layers.  

This piece has beautiful sparkling blue organza which hints of reflections on water.  

My photo doesn't do this piece justice but it has a  wonderful flow of colour throughout and beautiful delicate slashings of sheer fabrics surrounded by hand stitching.  

The artists had provided boards with samples showing some of their processes and thought connections in preparing this exhibition and it was interesting to see some of their preparatory work.  In addition as the gallery is a charity it had set up a flower tree and a table so that you could make your flower and add it to the tree in exchange for a small donation.  The whole thing gave the gallery a lovely friendly and welcoming atmosphere and I will definitely keep an eye out for any future exhibitions.  This exhibition continues until June 13th so if you live near enough you still have time to visit.  Ely is well worth the trip.

I'm not sure whether this was an exhibit or not but the railings outside carried this adornment which made me think of Clootie trees that I have seen in Scotland.  I'm pleased to say that Wendy has blogged about our day out too and is showing different parts of the exhibition on her blog so do pop over and have a look if you'd like to see more.

Needless to say, after a journey and viewing the exhibition we were all well ready for a cup of tea and adjourned to the adjacent Peacocks Tearooms who have a national reputation.  We had a lovely lunch and were joined by Emma who had been delayed but finally made it in time for tea and cake,

Yum!  I can still taste that gorgeous chocolate cake!  Everything was served on lovely delicate china and the Tearoom has a big display of teacups.

The difference being that they will actually sell you a teacup if it takes your fancy!  The very pretty yellow cup in the middle at the top left in the company of Emma :o)

Isn't it funny how time flashes by when you are in good company and having a lovely chat?  All too soon it was time to leave to return to projects (Emma), a visit to the cathedral (Jackie) and home via a very tempting shop on Ely station (Wendy and I).  I have to admit to making a postcard each for the girls on a whim yesterday from the scraps from a quilt I'm working on,

and I brought home some lovely gifts and postcards to remind me of a stimulating exhibition

not to mention a piece of rusty something that caught my eye and I just had to pick up! (Can't take me anywhere! lol)

I always enjoy meeting the real people behind my favourite blogs and today was no exception.  Jackie and Emma are both lovely ladies and we had a really enjoyable day.  Wendy is always good company too and I bless blogging for bringing such gifts of friendship into my life.  I'm lucky to have a lovely husband too who not only likes me having these days out but cooks my tea for me when I get back.  I am spoilt!  But I like it! ;o)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Alicia Merrett Workshop and more blogging friends

The Quilt Museum in York currently has a great exhibition on until 3 July (well, 2 actually) and I arranged to go up and see it and to meet up with Sandra who blogs as The Dyer's Hand and a friend of hers, Penny, who I hadn't met before.  Luckily for me Sandra happened to mention that Alicia Merrett was running a workshop in the morning of our planned visit (today).  I contacted the Museum and was delighted to find that there were places available.  I could not believe that a two and a half hour workshop, including admission to the exhibition, was only going to cost me £10!!  If you live within travelling distance of the Quilt Museum it's worth checking out their website for workshops.  Even if you are not an actual quilter you can still acquire very useful skills for textile artwork.  

Our two and a half hours were packed with tuition from Alicia on the theme of ' Fine Line Magic'. Alicia's work includes quilts which look like beautiful aerial maps with suggestions of fields and demarcations. 

These fine curved lines that make up the walls, hedges, rivers etc in her work were the subject of our workshop.  The method for making these lines was surprisingly straightforward although my poor confused brain did struggle just a little as we were working fairly quickly. 

You'll have to excuse the rough edges but this is just a sample but you can see the general idea.  You can see that some of the lines are indeed very fine and narrow and with a little more finesse and thought there are many directions that I can take this technique.  I made a couple more samples and will be carrying on with these pieces to make a larger piece so I'll post about that when I get it done.  

Quite a few years ago, when I was painting regularly, I made a small watercolour painting based on a photograph in National Geographic of an aerial view of an island off the coast of Ireland.

I would love to turn this little painting into a textile piece and hopefully, with Alicia's helpful instructions, I may be able to realise that ambition........but not till I've finished my Festival of Quilts entry!   

After the workshop I met up with Sandra and Penny and had a lovely chat and catch up and then got treated to a demonstration by Alicia to reinforce the morning's workshop.  I also had the chance to look at the Breakthrough exhibition which was truly inspiring.  Similarly to the exhibition at Quiltfest in Wales of one half of the Breakthrough quilts (which had all been made by members of the Contemporary Quilt Group of the Quilters Guild) the quilts were accompanied by samples detailing how the quilts were made. This is such a valuable addition to an exhibition as the structure of a quilt is always fascinating.  Unfortunately the Quilt Museum doesn't allow photographs so I can't show you any details.  However you can see Sandra's Breakthrough quilt here and Tina Slipper's entry here. Cath Stonard had an amazing quilt titled Kisses on Concrete which really grabbed my imagination.  You need to see it close to to appreciate the texture in all the little 'kisses'.  Liz Drake's 'Chesil' caught my eye, as did Mags Ramsey's Bexhill Breakwaters (hope I've got that right). Mags has included a lot of detail on her blog of how she achieved her quilt.  There are so many beautiful quilts in this exhibition so do go and see it if you can.

Ok, enough blogging without pictures!  Look what I received in the post this week

This lovely mixed media postcard is from Emma who blogs as A Little Bit of Everything The postcard is on a paper base and includes fabric, woven ribbon, collage, printing, stamping and stitching.  Emma reaches the big Five-O in June and decided to offer to swap postcards with 50 bloggers.  She has been much quicker off the mark than me and I have to get busy and make my card for her now that I have received her card.  Every time I look at Emma's card I see something new.  It's a lovely card for my collection.  Thank you Emma. :o)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

One Bead At A Time

Good Morning!  I should be in the shower but I had to pop in here and tell you about the amazing generosity of Robin Atkins who set up the Bead Journal Project in 2007.  I discovered the BJP that same year but didn't officially join.  However, I worked alongside and it was a major factor in my picking up a needle and starting to sew and consequently starting my journey as a fibre artist.

Robin has decided to make the first book she wrote about beading available free on line and you can download it here.  This hard copy book was reprinted five times so this is a great opportunity to have your own copy and enjoy Robin's beautiful work.  If you go to Robin's blog and leave a comment you have the chance of winning one of the last four bound copies of the book but you have to comment before June 1st.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Unique Cottage Studios

Did you have a good day today?  We had a glorious summer's day here in Lincolnshire and I spent a very pleasant leisurely day at a local craft studios that were having a Sheep Day.  Unique Cottage Studios are in converted farm buildings on the outskirts of Spalding in Lincolnshire and the day was full of all things sheep.  There were demonstrations of felting, spinning, weaving and dyeing and you could try your hand at all these crafts.  In addition a stained glass studio was open for you to make your own sheep in stained glass.  

The day was well attended and the weaving/spinning/felting tent kept busy as did the girls from Expedition Quilt Art group who were demonstrating dyeing wool with acid dyes.  Unfortunately I was so busy talking to  Angela, Tina and Trudi that I forgot to take any photos!  I also didn't manage to photograph Wendy  who very kindly took me in her lovely air-conditioned car and who has blogged about the day too.

Obviously, the stars of the day were the sheep, some of whom suffered the indignity of being shorn.  I don't know which breed this handsome specimen is but she has a lovely face.  Some of the fleeces were brought straight across to the dyeing shed for display:

I couldn't help but laugh at the poor fleece above whose origins were unknown.

Memories of the original farmyard were still around in the shape of this gorgeous cockerel.  I absolutley love the cockerel's head!

So, can you guess what this is?  My DH had 6 or 7 goes and still couldn't get it.  It was the sun shining through a beautiful plum coloured dish onto the concrete below.  Amazing what you notice when you're sitting in the sun chatting.

The bonus of going to the Sheep Day is that I am hopefully going to have a go at stained glass and Wendy and I are going to start going to the monthly textile group that meets at the studios.  It consists of spinners, weavers, embroiderers, dyers and quilters, not to mention art quilters so there will be a great chance to exchange ideas and inspiration.  I can't wait!

Have a lovely Sunday whatever you are doing and whatever the weather in your part of the world.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sunshine and Foundation Garments!

At last we've had some sunshine and a bit of warmth!  Yesterday I was having a wander in our back garden and thought I would share with you the glory that is our Clematis Montana this year.

This plant is a bit of a thug but I have to forgive it when it gives this lovely display in the Spring.

I shall have to have a play in Photoshop.

Isn't it nice, too, to live near a blogging friend?  Wendy and I spent a very enjoyable few hours together today visiting The Hub to see its present exhibitions.  We first viewed 'Visual Thinking' staged by the Textile Study Group in collaboration with The Hub.  I can't bring you any photographs unfortunately as I forgot to obtain permission.  This exhibition was interesting and thought provoking but the exhibition we enjoyed most was 'Undercover' which traces the evolution of underwear.

'Undercover' was a fascinating and hugely enjoyable exhibition and the Gallery allowed us to take photographs for the blog.  The exhibition is ongoing until 4 July and is well worth a visit if you are within reach of Sleaford (Lincolnshire).  

These pink confections are by Miss Katie and their accompanying notes are below.

As is this waspish-waisted green corset.

These stunning robes are a Zandra Rhodes creation; you'd never guess!

These garments on the right above were inspired by a 20 metre length of pom pom trim found in an old curtain trimmings shop and the whole thing was designed around the pom poms.  The pom poms date from 1870 and the fabrics used were taffeta and cotton Nottingham lace.

The exhibition is beautifully staged and as it is a touring exhibition you may have chance to visit it near to you or at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  We marvelled at the materials that had been used in some for these garments and at how uncomfortable some of them must have been to wear.  Equally we laughed out loud at some of the things on display that we had been obliged to wear in our youth!  It's quite sobering to see things you have worn, in a historical exhibition! 

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Back from the brink!


Not really, but it sounds good! ;o)) lol

Now that we’re back I don’t know where to start so I’ll just burble on for a few minutes till inspiration strikes.  Talking of inspiration, I’ve had a terrible shock today!  The postman brought the Entry Form for the Festival of Quilts so decision time, otherwise known as ‘crunch time’ is here.  The Powers That Be want the form back immediately or by 28 of this month and it has to have the actual dimensions of my entry on it.  Bit tricky that, seeing as I haven’t yet made it and it is currently a pile of fabric on my work table.  Hmmm, serious thinking is required as to whether I am actually going to enter after all this year.  Anyone got a magic wand? I need the next 2 weeks to be 2 months long!

So, where have I been over the last 3 weeks?  I would like to say that I have been feverishly beavering away on many textile creations that I can’t wait to show you but that is far from the truth.  Here’s a clue


We’ve had a little holiday, well, a big one actually.  Hubby treated us to a Mediterranean cruise on the P & O ship Ventura. 


We had a musical send off,


and this wonderful family were having a great party wishing their Grandma a happy holiday!


We had to dress up a bit from time to time (doesn’t DH scrub up well?).  And we enjoyed some great entertainment in the large theatre.


All of these photos are my DH’s as I haven’t been able to load mine up yet.  DH took over 1000 photos and is slowly loading his on the computer so I am waiting to use the special card reader that we have to use.  We visited Gibraltar, Spain, Italy (including Elba which we loved) and France and had some beautiful warm sunshine as well as rubbish rain in Florence and Barcelona.  I’ll bring you some photos as soon as I get them sorted.

Today, DH and I have been to nearby Lincoln for a new experience.  Ever since I was small (even smaller than I am today!) I have always wanted to go to a ballet and have never managed it.  Until today.   We went to the Theatre Royal which is a fantastic Victorian theatre still in its original glory.

lincoln theatre royal 

(I think there may have been a few spectres in my photo!  Either that or dust in the air!)

lincoln programme

We had a wonderful couple of hours in the magical land of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and it was a joy!  It was wonderful to hear well known music and see it set to dance.

I was surprised that my DH agreed to come with me but he really enjoyed it too!  We made the day complete with lunch on the river before we went to the theatre.

lincoln barge


The swans were very busy and energetic in the Spring sunshine and there were some inspiring reflections on the water.

As I implied at the beginning of this long post I haven’t made much creative progress lately and have only managed to make a tentative start on my Festival of Quilts entry.  As well as catching up after the holiday my elderly friend who will be 99 years old next month was rushed into hospital on Sunday so we are back to hospital visiting which all takes time.  She is comfortable and they know what is wrong but we are not sure how much her life is going to be affected by her condition.  I think it may be a bit of a long haul to get her settled back home.  Fortunately my Mum is back in her own home and slowly getting back to her normal routine.  Long may that continue!

You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit quiet again for a few days.  Life is keeping me busy and I really would like to get my quilt made before I have to send the entry form off.  See you soon!