'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday 31 May 2009

Today would have been a lovely day to dye

especially as I have signed up for an on-line arashi course with Wil.

The sun has been shining, there hasn’t been much breeze – I could have pottered around with pipes, fabric, dye and buckets to my heart’s content.

So what did I do? I made IMG_6761some paper. Sorry, Wil.

To be fair, dyeing is something I can do indoors, while paper making makes such a soggy mess it really has to be done outside.



And I have been wanting to try this idea for embedding fabric in paper for a while.  I found the idea in one of my charity shop purchases -  ‘Working on Canvas’ by Margaret Rivers. Sorry it is such a blurry photo.

The paper is speckled because:

  1. I’m too mean – er – green to use linters, I used the contents of the shredder bin.
  2. part way through I added some so-old-they’re-tasteless chilli flakes to the pulp.

Perhaps I’ll dye tomorrow.

The last C&G image isn’t a sample but the paneIMG_6766l we had to make in Part 1. Of course, because I don’t like doing representational work – it is representational.  The background is layered sheers, nappy liners etc. on canvas. The shiny bit top right is much more reticent in real life!

The cat isn’t QC but her predecessor, Snibs, also fluffy but black. I was told the piece needed a focal point – so she’s it. It also gave me an opportunity to use one of my favourite canvas work stitches, velvet stitch. I don’t enjoy stitching it, I'm always terrified when it comes to cutting it, but I love the effect.

Saturday 30 May 2009

I completely forgot

when I was wittering on about the cat yesterday, to tell you about our Friday visit to the Discovery Centre.

The current exhibition is of paintings by Frank Bowling.  Yet another artist of whom, I have to confess, I had never heard.

So we tottered up the stairs and into the gallery – and our jaws dropped.

The first painting was this one. Unfortunately this image doesn’t do it justice, as you can’t see that the pieces are layered, painted canvas on painted canvas. With added texture.

Notice the size. That was one of the smaller paintings.

It is tempting to list all the paintings and try to give you links but there are lots of images here. Not all are in the show [obviously!]

My favourite is this one. Although I keep saying I prefer abstract to representational art, it’s the most representational of the lot – but very atmospheric.

Why did I like the work so much? Colour – and texture. The wonderful use of many layered colour – but equally importantly to me – the texture. I could look at the lumps and bumps for hours. Very inspirational for an embroiderer.IMG_6751

From the sublime to the mundane - a pulled work sample for C&G.

Inspired by this one in the V&A.

My version isn’t very pulled, if you know what I mean, but I did enjoy working it. [the shine is, I’m afraid, the double sided sticky tape holding it down.

Going through these samples makes me realise that although my memory of C&G is of doing a lot of machine embroidery – badly – we did do a lot of hand stuff too. Perhaps because the pressure of time meant that I used the machine for a lot of the assessed pieces.

Friday 29 May 2009

No one who knew her …

would ever describe Quality Control as ‘intelligent’. To compare her with a short plank would be unfair to the plank. [Not original, I'm afraid, I got it from a TV programme, but I intend to make it my own.]

However, she is normally a very clean cat.IMG_6744


Bear in mind when you look at this that she is a dark grey cat.



So why is she so mucky?


Barbecued cat, anyone?





To finish off the month I thought I would show you some of my counted thread embroidery samples from C&G – not that I have very many.


This is extreme Hardanger – the heart is about 14 cm square. The fabric and thread are hand-dyed – I found C&G samples an excellent way of making a small dent on the metres of fabric I have dyed over the years.

I always find Hardanger very scary – I’m sure I’m going to cut the wrong thread.

Thursday 28 May 2009

I think I should have stayed in bed.


First I took a lot of orange beads off this – all the ones I put on last night.

But – I did manage to find some more black beads for the black bit.

Then I decided to tackle one of Maggie Grey’s free lessons for people who have bought ‘Textile Translations’, a lesson I downloaded in February and have been meaning to do something with ever since.

So I looked for the printout in my sort-of-organised, rescued-from-somewhere I worked, in-tray.

Not there.

Looked everywhere else I could think of and couldn’t find it.

So I decided to print off the instructions again.

Found the website, found the free lessons, looked for the code word at the foot of page ??.

Wrong word.

Realised I’d picked up ‘From Image to Stitch’ rather than ‘Textile Translations’.

Found the right book, with some difficulty.

Printed off the lesson.

Went to look for my shrink plastic – which I thought was in the same in-tray. It wasn’t.

Searched for the shrink plastic.

Found the printout of the lesson I couldn’t find before, in a ring binder with other things I wanted to do. Must have been exceptionally organised that day …

Eventually found the shrink plastic next to the in-tray – from which I must have removed it while looking for the printout.

Had a cup ofIMG_6716 tea.

Stamped the shrink plastic. Discovered that the ink was taking for ever to dry. Lost patience and coloured the unstamped bits with a metallic pen – which smeared the black ink.

Began to shrink the shrink plastic. Realised I’d forgotten to colour the back and edges and that the holes I’d punched were too near the edge and were no longer holes.



Finished shrinking the plastic, looked at the results carefully – and put the in the bin.

Definitely my fault, not Maggie’s.

Had another cup of tea.

Worked on two quilts for ‘Art Quilts Around the World’. Success!

I don’t need two but I can’t decide which I prefer and both ideas seem to be working. One is now in the washing machine, so I’ll see how it comes out.

There will be a teaser posted on the Art Quilts blog when I've finished this so you will be able to see a couple of very unhelpful images over there soon.

I’ve decided to go on posting C&G images until the end of the month, although this is tIMG_6555he last of the quilting ones. 

This is a small tied quiltlet of transfer dyed polyester satin. It always reminds me of the quilted eiderdowns my aunt had.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

A Wednesday wander

We went to Lydiard Park in Swindon with Mr and Mrs Cheese and Ronaldo the wonder dog.


Ronaldo was taking a press call when we arrived chez Cheddar, but I can report that the fame has not gone to her head – although she had to take a refreshing  dip in the lake at Lydiard to recover. [Swimming is her second favourite sport after football.]

We looked round the house and the church – well worth aIMG_6694 visit. The Church seems to have avoided the attentions of both the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, and the Victorians, so it looks pretty much as it must have done for at least 200 years – box pews and lots of fascinating monuments.

Of course I managed to find some textiles [apart from those represented in stone or wood].



The Lord’s Prayer in crochet [?] -








a beautiful altar cloth -






and a stunning cover for the Book of Commemoration for those killed in WW1.





Today’s C&G sample is  another sun print on predyed cotton, with corded quilting. I was lazy and used twin needle machine stitching to make the channels.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

What to do with handmade books?

Lesley asked what I do with my handmade books.

Well …

I started my book making career because I had a lot of bright green paper and a lot of images I wanted to store. I was keeping the images in scrapbooks but I could never find what I was looking for, so I wanted to sort them by subject.

So I made little pamphlet stitch books to glue the images in. IMG_6640










And then I got interested in making books for their own sake, which led to books about making books.







The cover of this one was discharged with bleach.








I put stitch samples in some – these are from an on-line class with Sharon Boggon.
















Then they began to get a little more complicated. This one is for holiday mementoes












and this one is  complete in itself.








Some are waiting for their purpose to reveal itself – perhaps a history of Doc Martens?













These little books made from scraps are very useful for making notes and W and I always carry one.

I do give some away – in fact it can be difficult for visitors to leave the house without having one of these pressed into their hand.

Most end up holding printouts, tear sheets, notes, doodles, etc. Many do, as Lesley says, sit on the shelf to be enjoyed.

Bet she’s sorry she asked!IMG_6557


Most of my C&G samples were too big to go in a handmade book. this one was so big it had to be folded to go in a page protector, but I couldn’t bear to cut it down – which is why it has creases in it. It is sun-printing on previously hand-dyed fabric, using real leaves as masks. then it was quilted with embroidery stitches a la Nikki Tinkler.

P.S. The times are in, and Mr Cheese Minor completed the 10k run in just under an hour, while Mrs. CM took, to her disappointment, just over. I think they both did brilliantly – I couldn’t walk 10k, never mind run it.

Monday 25 May 2009

We’ve been up to London [again] …

but I don’t think Her Maj was at home.

We went because Mr and Mrs Cheese Minor were running this in aid of these.

We were on Babybel duty. Getting to St James ParIMG_6603k in time for the start meant getting up at silly o’clock, but it was worth it, although we are now as tired as if we’d done the run.

First we saw mum and dad off on the run.





Then we fed some ducks - and followed by having biscuits and a drink and doing some drawing – our new favourite thing.





Then it was time to try to find mum and dad in the ‘Meet and Greet’ area.IMG_6613

One of the advantages of running in aid of guide dogs is that you are meeted and greeted by some very friendly dogs – providing great photo opportunities. 



Then we went and had lunch – although some of us were more  interested in drawing than eating.

Gran had bought  some Early Learning crayons but coloured pencils were much preferred – although the crayons were fun to bang together.

And after all that we came home.



Today’s photo is the last appliqué sample, inspired by an article about Lucky Shie in ‘Quilting Arts’. Hand dye and hand stitch, inspired by the Swiss cheese plant in our conservatory.

Not sure what you’ll get tomorrow!

Sunday 24 May 2009

Another good reason to have a grand-daughter…

To begin at the beginning.IMG_6586

I’m sure you’ll agree that my slippers need replacing.  Grubby, holed, and a bit too big.

So I knitted myself another pair, using the same pattern, but a smaller size. And then I put them in the washing machine to felt them. Just as I did the previous pair.

IMG_6587 This is how they came out. [Like most Europeans I have a front loading washing machine, so I can’t monitor shrinkage as it happens.]

I’m sure they’ll fit Babybel one day.

If she takes after her dad – any day now.



So to cheer myself up I made some books. The covers were serendipitous – I thought it was plain black card until after I’d cut it and turned it over. Leaves from my Klimt period. And finally, a good use for that metallic thread that splits and splits and splits …

They were inspired by this example on Liisa’s blog.






The pages are made from paper smooshed with acrylic using a credit card – one of my favourite techniques, because it requires no skill.



Coincidentally, today's C&G image is also of gold leaves. These are slips – real leaves printed on black Vilene, free-motioned, cut out and applied to a hand-dyed background.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Playing with paint

and oil pastels. That’s what I did yesterday at the Contemporary Textile workshop. [‘CTW’ might be easier.]


We were asked to bring a design source. It may surprise you that mine was this.

The we used isolaters to select a section – we were encouraged to choose a very small detail as the aim was abstraction. And then drew it using oil pastels.


I’m amazed to realise that I can work out which bit I used for this!





Then we did another one.








And another one, changing the colours.







And then used isolators to select a bit of that and did another drawing.

The tutor told us she didn’t like landscapes.

It wasn’t deliberate – but all of these look like landscapes to me, if you turn them the right way …

[How can you not like landscapes? It’s like not liking blue.] [Now lots of you will tell me you don’t like blue. Or landscapes.]


Incidentally, scanning this one in grey scale shows one reason why it doesn’t work. Not enough contrast.







Next we took textured fabrics, painted them splodgily with acrylics mixed with emulsion for economy and splodginess – and had lunch while they dried.

After lunch we reproduced one of our designs in painted fabric and stitch.

image-12 Looks a bit abstract but if you look at it this way …

I think I prefer it as an abstract.

I found the whole session very good – more product oriented than process, which I preferred, and which we haven’t had so much in the previous sessions.


It was made clear to me that the piece needs a lot more stitch.


So I have spent today tidying – and making books. Sort of half tiles. Inside they are triangular concertinas, if you see what I mean.






Today’s photo is more shadow appliqué. That coppery sheer isn’t as bright as it appears, it is reflecting the flash.

[Yes, I did make a lot of samples – partly having a long summer holiday [the first after I retired] partly a moving of goalposts which meant I ended up making more samples because I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do.]