Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Flower brooches

When I stay with my sister during the Festival of Quilts it has become a custom that on the Wednesday evening I lead a session for the village craft group.  This can be quite a challenge as it is a very mixed group: one quilter, a weaver (my sister), an upholsterer, a professional milliner, someone who only works in white, people who only hand sew.  You get the picture.  They have very different skills and interests but I have now learnt that what they like to do is make something that they can finish or nearly finish in the two hour session.  In the past I have variously gone too fast, assumed they all  know about rotary cutting and have not given tight enough instructions. This year I think I finally got it right.  We made flower brooches from tubes of fabric with buttons for centres.  There was an article in a recent issue of Quilting Arts www.quiltingarts.com which I used as the basis for the design but I simplified it.  The quilter rotary cut everyone's fabric and some people made them by hand while others used the sewing machine.

Here are some of the results.

And finally the two I made as samples: the plain blue one was made without any wadding and no sewing on the tube, the patterned one was made entirely by machine.

We agreed that those of us going to the Festival of Quilts next day would wear them but my sister and I never saw any of the other members of the group so we don't know if they did.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Festival of Quilts 1

Since I arrived home on Monday evening I have read a number of people's blogs about the Festival of Quilts.  It is very interesting to see what people choose to write about and photograph.  As someone who never takes my computer out of the house - I don't know why as the current one is a laptop - I can't do postings while I am away so I have decided to split my Festival of Quilts 'experience' into two or three postings over the next few days.

This year I had two days at the Show.  I usually try to have three as living at the end of the country this is my main opportunity to catch up with all my textile friends as well getting inspiration from the invited exhibitions and the competition quilts.  However, this year I only had two days as my sister in Shropshire, with whom I stay for most of the week, had a big party to celebrate her Ruby Wedding Anniversary so I sold my ticket for the third day to a friend.  I have to say I did feel a bit rushed at times because I also wanted to do more shopping than usual.

So what made the greatest impressions this year?  First, there was rust dyeing.  Having done a little of this I was very interested to see how you can exploit the results.  I was lucky to be able to talk to Lois Jarvis on Thursday and then to attend her lecture on Sunday.  She uses a method based on salt which is different from the vinegar based one a number of us in the UK have tried.  In her lecture she generously showed us how to do this with a very useful presentation of photos of four different methods.  Lois has a company called Rus-Tex Rust-Tex.com and Rust-Tex.blogspot.com.  In the Quilters' Cafe there was a display of quilts made for an international competition she organised to promote rust-dyeing. There was an amazing range of ideas including rust-dyeing used as a base cloth with printed and stamped designs, over (or under) dyed  fabric with Procion dyes, rust dyeing with discharging on black cloth and wonderful use of rust-dyed cloth with complementary blue indigo..  Some of the pieces were really strongly coloured which was most effective.  I then found that opposite Lois's stand there was another exhibition of rust dyeing by Prague Patchwork Meeting which is a large show held in April every year. www.praguepatchworkmeeting.com.  In addition to some wonderful rust dyed quilts this stand was selling small pieces of fabric at very reasonable prices so I bought a couple that I can add into a future piece.  I have learnt that you have to buy things like this on the first day because by Sunday they will all be sold so I was not surprised when Lois said on Sunday that she had sold virtually everything she had brought with her.

The second lecture I went to was by Jane Dunnewold.  She is something of a guru figure to me because some years ago I began studying with Committed to Cloth www.committedtocloth.com and Jane is the person Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan studied with.  Jane's speciality is transforming cloth through various colouring and patterning processes but she approaches her work in a reflective way that includes using language based exercises, poetry and a lot of analytical thought to come up with ideas for the processes.  This was the subject of her lecture on Sunday.

It was good to be reminded of the value of doing this, especially as I am trying to develop ideas for Contemporary Quilt's next suitcase challenge.  The title is 'Childhood Memories' and I feel I should be able to do something a bit different because of my New Zealand childhood.  Those of us who took part in the last Suitcase Collection were able to collect our quilts at the show.  They had been on the road for three years so most of us had rather forgotten what they were like!   The Challenge title was 'Figure it Out'.  My quilt is called Settlement and represents an Iron Age village called Chysauster which is a couple of miles from here.  I used a piece of fabric that I dyed at Committed to Cloth and then fused the shapes of the iron age houses on to it.  The red fabric and covered washers represent the remains of tin-mining that are also found in the area.

To return to Jane Dunnewold.  Following her lecture I went to see her display and actually met her!  It is always exciting to meet people you know by reputation and through their writings and blogs.  I also managed to catch up with Susan Denton who introduced me to art quilting about fifteen years ago and who this year had an invited exhibition.  Susan lives near me and some of her quilts are inspired by the archeology of this area but in a much more serious way than mine.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Journal Quilts - July and August

Before I left for the Festival of Quilts last week I determined to finish my July and August quilts.  It gave me a wonderful feeling knowing that I would not have to scramble to finish them this week.  The July one is inspired by my trip to Monet's garden at Giverney.

The base is a piece of space-dyed cheesecloth from several years ago (keeping up my aim of recycling using things I already have) onto which I put cut up pieces of the pole-painted silk I made last month.

They were left with raw edges and I then hand quilted them.  The waterlilies are two thicknesses of dupion silk bonded together and then attached to the quilt by hand.

I used more cheesecloth for the August quilt.  This was some of my rust dyeing and I found it did not like the sewing machine so I had to hand quilt it.  I combined it with a piece from the pole-painted cotton I had made at the same time as the silk.  I machine quilted the cotton in a variegated thread and was really pleased with the contrast between the two quilted fabrics.  At last I have made something that depicts the lines on sand when the tide is out.

The surf is a piece of lace, some of which I had dyed a while ago and then put back in the stash.

This quilt is similar to some I have done in the past including a larger one that I was never able to photograph because I could not get far enough away from it!  I am thinking of making a slightly larger version of this one as I think it worked well and I have more of both fabrics.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Open Air Art in Rouen: The Botanical Gardens

Our Normandy holiday included a free day.  As it was a Sunday and they seem to have as many weekend railway works as we do, this meant finding things to do in Rouen.  The weather was really hot and sunny so we decided to go to the botanical gardens.  They are a short bus ride from the centre over the Seine and through the previously industrial Left Bank which is often depicted in Impressionist paintings.  The botanical gardens were lovely, not very big but there were lots of shady areas for sitting out of the sun and part of the garden is a replica of Monet's garden at Giverney, complete with bridge.

There were several installations spread through the gardens as part of the Festival.  These included large plastic bubbles which were supposed to represent drops of rain:

Shigeko Hirakawa had placed tiddlywink shaped circles in a number of the trees.  These change colour in different light and atmospheric conditions.  Unfortunately the light was too bright for me to be able to photograph them.  Then there was an impressionist style garden based on a grid principle.

I really liked the geums in this area.

Opposite the gates of the Botanical Gardens is a gallery which belongs to FRAC.  This appears to be the equivalent of our Arts Council.  FRAC Haute Normandie had commissioned a photography exhibition for the festival on the theme of Manet's Dejeuner sur l'herbe.   The interpretations were very diverse.as some photographers chose to develop themes of nature, others the nude and others contrasts of light.  Some had done abstract images drawing on Monet's later works, including the waterlilies paintings which were done when he was suffering from cataracts.  These interpetations included a video of someone swimming down a river, the person appearing and reappearing against an 'background' of thick green river, and another which focussed on the effects of pixellation.  There were detailed studies of people lying on the grass and of fruit and food. The second part of the exhibition was totally different and more in the tradition of social comment.  Andrea Keen photographed  people picnicing in different locations including the Giverney carpark (I think), a woody glade in the Cevennes and on the banks of a man-made lake.  What we tend to forget today is that when Manet painted  Dejeuner sur l'herbe the railway from Paris to Dieppe was new and had opened up the possibilities of days out for people living in the city.  For the first time people of all classes could discover the great outdoors.  I found this exhibition extremely interesting not least for the way in which the artists had used Manet's work to inspire a wide range of interpretations using modern artistic technology.