Tuesday, 23 February 2010

At last - a Journal Quilt

I know it is almost the end of February and I should have two journal quilts done by now but this year I am determined not to let them dominate my life.  I am pleased to report that this morning I finished the first one! 

Sunrise over Mounts Bay

I have called it 'Sunrise over Mounts Bay' although I have only once got up early enough to see the sunrise.  This was when I took my sister to catch the 7.00am train and the photos I took were not good.  So I have only this one to act as inspiration.

Obviously I have relied more on my imagination.  But I have stuck to the idea of recycling things.  The base of this quilt is a piece of cotton monoprinted with acrylic paint left over from a journal quilt in 2007.  The acrylic paint and the tight weave of the cotton made hand stitching quite stiff but there is nothing like a new packet of needles to make it easier.  I used the colours in the monoprint to choose scraps of organza and net which technically are left overs from last year's journal quilts when I was experimenting with heat tools and a soldering iron.  I layered these and then did some machine quilting with rayon threads mostly just to anchor them but I also picked out the land in a strongly contrasting blue. Then I bonded a dupion silk sun onto the sky.

Detail of sea part way through hand stitching

After that I had a lovely time hand stitching the sea with a wide variety of Stef Francis threads.  I do enjoy hand stitching and trying to replicate the colours was great fun.  When I had finished I painted the 'land' with fabric paint.  Because part of this area was net the colour took in a mottled way which I thought was quite effective. I used a traditional binding because there were so many raw edges from the different layers.  I usually prefer to zig-zag in some form as this is a better edging for framing the quilts.  When I cut the quilt to its finished size I realised that this year they are really quite small, particularly after the A4 size of 2007 and the 12 inches square of 2008 but it does give them a nice miniature feel.

Now I plan to return to the other piece of recycled cotton which I have very heavily machine quilted.

Again, this has no well thought out design but I have photocopied one of the pieces of printed fabric and I plan to cut up the paper and see if this will work as a collage.  Traditional Cornish luggers had large red-brown sails so I am thinking of how I might represent this.

And I have also put coloured paint onto the old quilt that I covered with white emulsion.

At this stage I think it is needs some more variation in value so it is likely to be attacked with Markal paintsticks or water soluble coloured pencils at a later stage.  I do not see this as a journal quilt but if I can get a journal quilt from some of the bits that will be a bonus as it is definitely recycled.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Winter Sundays

I can't say that I am making much progress with my journal quilts but that is partly because whenever the sun comes out I feel I must get a bit of exercise and some Vitamin D.  Sunday afternoon saw me at Marazion along with a lot of local people and some visitors down for half-term.

As always some hardy souls decided to pretend it was summer and pitched their picnic tents on the beach.

Marazion is the village and beach opposite St Michael's Mount and a truly wonderful place to walk at any time of the year, but not when the tide is in as it was on Sunday afternoon.

I decided that for a change I would walk through the village.  Although we go there a lot, like most people we tend to stay at the 'beach' end and consequently miss a lot of interesting places.  I know there are walks you can do around the village but unfortunately I hadn't got a map with me.  Even so, walking in winter you see a lot of things you don't notice in summer.

Here is the road into the village from the west.  It is not sea in the distance but plastic covering the new crops.  These fields used to be daffodil fields but these days most of them are used for growing brassica of some sort.

In the main square I was reminded that it was Valentine's Day:  a table in the window of one of the hotels.

Marazion is an ancient town/village which received its charter in the Middle Ages.  It had two markets a week and for a long time no-one was sure whether Mousehole (which was sacked by the Spanish Armada in the Elizabethan age), Marazion or Penzance would win as the largest town overlooking Mounts Bay.  Penzance won but Marazion continued to attract dignitaries and visitors, not least because of St Michael's Mount.  Turner painted the Mount from Marazion, Queen Victoria and other monarchs visited and the town has had its share of wrecks.  There are a number of plaques around the village of which this is one of the more recent.

There are still a lot of picturesque old buildings. This one has been an art gallery for as long as I can remember.

And this is its next door neighbour.  

Ignore the wheelie bins outside these cottages and you can get a flavour of what the village was like a hundred years ago.  From the pitch of the roofs I think these buildings were probably thatched.

Although a by-pass was built at least twenty years ago, I couldn't get over the amount of traffic going through the centre.  As you can see, the pavements are extremely narrow and some of the streets are very steep.  At the eastern end of the village there are two toll houses as Marazion was originally on the turnpike road between Penzance and Helston.

Near this toll house is a studio in a building that must have been stables for the coach horses as it has one of those huge double gates into a yard.  I couldn't photograph the gates because there was nowhere to stand on the other side of the road but  I couldn't resist photographing the end window because of the interesting lines created by the things stacked inside.

Shortly after this, the view of the Mount reappeared.  I realised this is the place where all the postcards are taken as it is a beautiful view of the Mount and Mounts Bay looking across to Mousehole in the morning light. In the afternoon it was much more difficult but worth a try.

I turned back and walked back along a top road above the main road.  When I got back to the car park I was reminded how quiet things are at this time of year.  This is the lifeguards' hut:

and this the end wall of the ice cream kiosk, both very closed at this time of the year.

Once half-term is over everything will close down again until the Easter holidays but I am looking forward to going to Tregwainton Gardens www.nationaltrust.org.uk which opened at the weekend.  This is so we can see the camelias but if the ones in my garden are anything to go by, the cold winter means they are late so I am leaving my first visit until next week.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Holidays and recycled quilts

I feel I spent most of last week trying to organise holidays.  I had never 'bought' a holiday until last year and I am still learning how to do it.  It seems to me you can spend/waste an inordinate amount of time on-line considering possibilities only to find that British people all book in January which I was not in a position to do.  So now I am waiting to hear if I can be squeezed onto an art history study trip to Venice in mid-March.  I won't know until Tuesday but as it is a small company I then spent another couple of hours this morning trying to work out how to get to Gatwick.  This is one of the downsides of living at the end of the country: you have to leave the day before, spend a night in London and endure two six hour train journeys for most holidays and add in the additional cost.  On a brighter note on Friday evening I managed to book myself and a school friend in New Zealand on a six day tour of Normandy in July, all in the space of an hour, thanks to e-mail and on-line booking.  And if anyone can tell me whether we can get from Rouen to Bayeux by public transport for the day, let me know.  One day of this tour is to the Normandy beaches which is not really our scene but we would very much like to see the tapestry.

Finally over the weekend I have taken a couple of steps towards doing some quilting.  I now have two cans and their lids rusting in the garden.  I put them there this morning knowing that they will probably take months to disintegrate in this cold but my husband can add a few discarded tools, nails etc. as he passes.

And I have made a few decisions about journal quilts.  I am going to do them (I considered having a rest this year) but I am going to try and use recycled materials.  So I began by looking in the bin where I put leftovers and unsuccessful pieces of fabric.  Here are some pieces of monoprinted fabric left from a previous year's journal quilts.

And here are some stamped pieces that did not work very well.

I have also decided to go back to a theme I was working on a couple of years ago and extend it a bit.  Then it was 'old farm buildings' but now I realise that there is a bottomless pit of source images here that incorporate dereliction, rusting etc and tell an important story about the death of traditional  industries in this area including mining and fishing.  So my theme for the year is 'Any Old Iron'.  I find it useful to have a theme but I usually abandon it at some point so I shall try to do better this year.

And then this afternoon I actually started on a project I was going to do months ago.  I have dug out an old wall hanging from the suitcase of quilts under the bed.  I made it ten years ago, using blocks made in a workshop at Danetre Quilters which I used to belong to when we lived in Northamptonshire.  They were made from commercial fabrics but the rest is hand-dyed, some of my early efforts - you should have seen the back!

The piece is machine quilted but this was the first time I had tried to 'paint' with free machine quilting so it is not very even and the plain pieces were quilted using a home-made stencil so that quilting is not very dense.  It will be interesting to see what happens to it during its reincarnation.

I am following a workshop by Annette Morgan www.annettemorgan.co.uk that appeared in Quilting Arts www.quiltingarts.com in December 2008.  The first step is to paint the whole thing, front and back, with white emulsion paint.  Half of the quilt is heavily painted so that I will then be working on a new surface with just the quilting ridges from the old quilt, while the other half is painted quite lightly (easier said that done) so that some of the colour remains.

Now I have to wait for it to dry.  As the studio is only heated when I am working in there or the dryer is on, this may take several days especially in the middle of winter.  Perhaps this is a good thing as it will mean I can get on with the journal quilts.