Friday, 28 September 2012

There and back again

 I've just spend a couple of days with my father on the Isle of Wight and then I visited an old school friend and stayed with my my sister in Basingstoke on the way home.  I took no photographs and only made this one sketch whilst waiting for the ferry in Southampton.  Despite one the worse drives round the M25 in the storm on Monday I made good time and the sun was shining by the time I got there.  If you arrive early and there is space,  they will let you take an earlier ferry, but I was surprised that the ferry was full so I had to wait over an hour for the one I'd booked. It is not a very inspiring spot and I have photographed there before, being a regular visitor. Sitting in the car I only had other vehicles or the terminus buildings to look at, but I managed these four little doodle patterns for the Sketchbook Challenge on pattern.

Before going away I made a visit to The Stockwood Discovery Centre in Stockwood Park in Luton, our second and rather attractive museum. Armed with my with my camera and sketchbook I was on a pattern quest, but I ended up uninspired however I will share these pictures with you.  
The museum houses the Mossman Collection mainly of old modes of transport - many of which I have dusted when I voluteered at the museum just before it re-opened.

Plenty of different types of wheels to choose from.

A painted 'gypsy caravan' called a Burton Living Wagon

A horse-drawn Hearse

A grand carriage door-handle.

I was also taken by these two examples of embroidery...

a baby's linen cap and a pair of lady's riding gloves,
both 17th century I think, (the gloves definitely are)

However none of these things have inspired any sketchbook work.

My latest piece of patchwork for my C&G is a couple of attic window blocks.

I have added a padlock and key drawn and painted onto hand-dyed cotton and ironed on with Bondaweb.  Further work will be done to this at a later date.

Meanwhile I am building up to actually making a finished quilt to be assessed.  My first step is to review the work I have done so far, and what I have really enjoyed and/or felt I want to explore more. This is the crunch time for me, as I have hit my blind spot (rather mixed metaphors there).  I could easily flap about thinking "What shall I do? what shall I do?" and part of me is, but I am determined to follow the course step by step and hope I am led to a design I can make - my head is full of too many ideas, and none of them fully formed or practical. The brief is to make a quilt that demonstrates skill at 'piecing' and apart for some very open themes I can go in any direction I choose.
In reviewing my work, I realised that I had been strongly attracted by working with patterns (coinciding with the Sketchbook Challenge this month) and I enjoyed creating what I call broken pattern - a formal design which disintegrates is some way.

My drawings are often quite tight and detailed so this is a departure and hopefully a stepping stone in my creative journey.

Below is another page in my journal inspired by Gustav Klimt - all those triangles are rather attractive...

Before I go I would like to share these with you.  Shortly after I arrived home yesterday, Mr T called me to the window to see this magnificent full double rainbow. I rushed to get my camera, but as it was starting to rain I had to quickly snap off some shots.   Today I downloaded them and I thought I would enhance the saturation levels to really show off the colours that seemed so vivid yesterday.  I love the difference in colour above and below the rainbow.

I had tried to zoom in on the colours and when I was playing with this on the computer, just there, on on the right I could swear....

if I didn't know better...
I have photographed a flying saucer!

I do hope you have a dry weekend - I may be off again, if my new friends call in!!!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Fun with patterns - Sketchbook Challenge and beyond.

Another week has flown by, but here in Bedfordshire it has been a mostly glorious week with my favourite weather - beautifully sunny, but not too hot. I have mainly been having sketch book fun this week, although I have done some work towards my  C&G.  My tutor,  Laura Kemshall,  has managed to give birth to her rather gorgeous daughter a month early, so I don't suppose she's hanging about waiting for my next submission!!!! Congratulations to her.

So here are some pages from my sketchbooks for a change.
This month's theme for Sketchbook Challenge is pattern - which is really open to almost any interpretation you care to give it. Here you can see two pages which have merged.  
I long to be able to throw together an abstract pattern and on the left, underneath the circles you can see an attempt I made some months ago.  It has been lurking and unloved - a page I quickly turned over, until I saw a little demo on the Sketchbook blog when I though it was time to do something about it.  On the righthand page you can see a print of a repeat pattern lino block I made after  watching a DMTV demo from Laura.  I also bought myself some glazing medium to use with acrylics which I used in this to modify my original page.   I can now linger a little longer on this double spread, without feeling it was letting the side down.

When I made the leaf block I tried it out on some newsprint which I then flooded with some orange and yellow washes.  Black acrylic acted as a resist and the back of the paper had some interesting patches so I tore up the print and used it here, some showing the back and some the front as a background below. The sunflower image was made from different stencil techniques, including gold Markal stick and some bottle top prints.

Here a completely different pattern.  I used to make pattern an art topic with my seven years olds when I taught.  I feel it is very empowering to young artists who maybe frustrated by their inability to draw.
A good old favourite was to fold a sheet of paper into rectangles and use these to create a repeat pattern. This could be a very tedious task, but I would encourage my class to use large shapes, rather than trying to draw a robot or princess in each square!  Here's my attempt - not as impressive as some of my classes' used to be - it may need rescuing one day with an abstract over painting!

Here's another page - inspired by a post on the Sketchbook challenge - more of an elaborate doodle, but fun.

I couldn't go without sharing some stitching with you.
Below is the Rising Star block I quilting with free motion machine stitching.  Practice is definitely the key to improving this skill and I found this wavy line quite soothing.

My Courthouse bock has some straight lines which have also improved.

And finally my rather wonky Rising Star block got the hand stitching treatment, to add to the rustic look.

I'll leave you with a few close-ups and hopefully I will by playing with a few more patterns during the week ahead - have a good one yourself,

Sunday, 9 September 2012

"All in a chutney"

This may be a bit of a sloppy post as we've been making chutney over the last four days.  Mr T does all the prep and I do the clearing up.  The fruits, spices and vinegar are left to soak for 24 hours and then it is simmered for hours and hours until it is thick and sticky.  It is easier than jam as there is no setting point, but you simmer it until 'dropping' consistency or when you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir it, like parting the red sea.  We both take it in turns to stir it and it is my job to do the bottling. But I must say Mr T does the hard graft - peeling all those onions!! Unfortunately our fruit trees let us down this year, no pears or plums, although we have got apples.  We love the pear and plum chutneys so much and our friends do to, that we went out and bought some.  We also had to supplement our home-grown shallots, as we are great pickled onion eaters too.  However we have lots of beetroot growing and they are next for the pickling process.

14 jars of chutney plus a couple of small ones, plus eight jars of pickled onions of various sizes.

 Meanwhile, although I have been doing some work on my C&G, I have been a bit fed up and realised how little of my own work I had done lately, so this week I have been working on some of my own projects.  Firstly this is page from my sketchbook showing some pencil drawings of different  seed heads.  I'm afraid it is not very clear, but no energy for better photography today.

I have reproduced the drawings with some free motion machining on some scrap strips of felt, as they are stable enough to stitch on without stretching.
Below is some pieced strips of my fabric with some tracings of the plants which I want to sew onto some cotton organza I dyed and layer up - not sure yet, don't hold your breath.

Here's another sketchbook page.

I also have decided to join The Sketchbook Challenge which offers a theme each month and the opportunity to post your contribution on their Flickr site.  I thought this would also give me a bit of a kick start.  There is no pressure, and the whole thing is up to you. This month's theme is ''Pattern'.  I have a Gustav Klimt  calendar in my kitchen which has some beautiful landscapes as well as his more decorative ladies.  I love looking at the patterns, but hand't really looked that closely, so I thought I would take a Klimt theme for a page in my journal.  I shall write over the pale section eventually.

Finally, last weekend I work on my next bit of piecing for C&G. This task was to stitch a Courthouse block using a template to stitch on. This was much easier than trying to piece together the triangles,
I just stitched this smaller sample without a template, hence the narrow strip, but included some prairie points.
Below is my course piece, I think the block using straight strips is called rail fence and is usually made with contrasting fabrics,mine is some of my hand printed fabric with organza prairie points.

It has been a glorious week weather wise, I do hope you have been able to make the most of it. 
Wishing you the best for the week to come,

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back to the Drawing board

Over the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the 'pieced' block as part of my G&G quilting course and hopefully I shall never have to make a quilt like this - I am totally pieced off, and full of admiration for those who achieve perfection in stitching blocks.

The sketchbook pages exploring the effect of different patterns was easy. However stitching this block took me hours with much cursing and use of a stitch un-picker.  However the finished result was not too bad with all of my points and corners nearly all lined up. This was made with purchased patchwork fabric and the yellow was home dyed.

 However things got worse when I tried to make a block using some hand dyed fabric to match my paper sample above.  I am not showing the back of this as the seams vary from a hair's breadth to well over the quarter of an inch you are supposed to use. Neither does it lie flat.  I suppose I may be able to quilt it with a nice thick layer of wadding.

I was much happier practising some free motion stitching.  I must say that Leah Day's blog is a great source of how-to's and patterns

I am probably finding this part of my course the least enjoyable - and I have some more piecing to do.  However I appreciate it is a skill that is useful to know.  I want to get this module over with, but I also want to do something more creative as I feel I have been coasting along for a couple of months now.
Meanwhile August has been and gone and as you can see calendar page soon gained some embellishments...

and here's September, ready to go...

A little story to end with
Yesterday I heard a commotion in our conservatory and found a wood pigeon behind the flower pots trying to escape through the closed window.  I confidently went to rescue it, firmly holding it round its middle, they are quite large and I could not pin down its wings, so I put it my other hand round its hindquarters hoping it wouldn't leave a warm deposit in my palm. With one movement I swooped round and held my arms up at the doorway, and it flew off - leaving all of its tail feathers in my hand!! It fluttered to the fence and then clattered into the trees.  I felt awful, but as the feathers had come away so easily I wondered if they were meant to do this ... and thanks to the wonders of Google, I found out that this is a defence mechanism that wood pigeons have. I have never heard of it before, and it was quite alarming, although more so for the pigeon I guess.

(One from my photo archives)

Have a good week, I guess it's back to school for some. So nice not to be involved any more!