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Saturday, September 30, 2006

I Was Just Passing...

the sewing machine, as I put away some bits and pieces that had come upstairs from the spare room (see, I do tidy up sometimes!), and I thought, hmm...well...and before I knew it, this little piece was finished. It's called 'Tropic', and it's back to the very small...all of 8" by 10"....but I think it's fun. See what you think.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Would Like It Known

that today I went all through Borders Bookshop, with a book token, and bought...nothing. This is unheard of. I was known, once, as 'The Woman Who Has A Book On Everything'. Probably still am... But the truth of the matter is, that I was in that same bookshop last week, and bought sundry things that really appealed to me, only to be given the book token as an anniversary present (27 years is a long time, isn't it...more than half my life...). So, the token shall sit in my handbag, awaiting The Right Moment. Which will probably be next month, when I've read my way through the stuff I bought last week!

The image is Flamesprite, one of the pieces I made earlier this week, lutradur, foil, Angelina fibres and stitch. Today has been a day off of sorts...the queue is much diminished, but still waits. The silk that I rusted wants to be tacked up for hand quilting (aaaargh...). And Nefertiti thinks it's time I tackled her quilting, too... so many opinionated works of art, so little time!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Forgotten Paths, the second of the pieces I made today, and the smaller of the two.


I had big plans to tidy up the music room today, but got up late, had coffee, talked to Sally, and then drifted up to the studio to see what I'd done to a piece I started yesterday. It was a rescue piece, made with lutradur, that I wasn't happy with, so was adding a lot of stitching to it. And of course, I ended up finishing it, and another one to boot!

In part, I'm working through the queue of quiltlets that are ready to go, so that I can address two issues that I have with my textile work; interestingly enough, neither applies to the paintings. I realise that I don't handle contrast well. I think that there's two reasons for this. One is that I want my work to be subtle; I want it to sing to you, not shout at you. The second, though, seems to have to do with meaning, with the keeping of secrets. This was not something I was conscious of until I blurted it out to Dijanne and Sandy one night in the gite (if you were wondering what we found to talk about...well, we would talk about the work, wouldn't we!). That has to do with my past, the murkier moments of it, anyway, or I think it does. As I have no more dark and murky secrets, it seems silly to continue the habit of guarding my words, and clearly my art, from expressing what's going on in my head. Though admittedly, it does get a bit complicated in there...

The other issue is one of size. Todays pieces were slightly bigger than the ones I've made over the past couple of days; one is 19" by 13", a Flying Dreams piece, the other is 14" by 16". I work small, usually, but I discovered at Festival of Quilts that size does matter; if your work is small, it is not well presented, and it struggles to be seen against its larger neighbours. And the jurors' comments in the Quilts 2006 catalogue seems to confirm that, suggesting that many quilts were dismissed for being of an inappropriately small size. And since getting a quilt into that particular show is a definite goal for me, maybe I'd better take the hint! Not that I intend all my work to be large. I attended Michael James' workshop on critique at Birmingham, taking along with me a very small piece, the tree piece that was on my blog earlier. His comment was that it was exactly the right size for what it was. Which, given he admits to being known as someone who is more likely to say 'work bigger', was very comforting. But I had intended that that piece be one of an 'edition' of prints, and we agreed that it would be better if there were more of them (as it were...).

Who was it said, to thine own self be true? I'm not planning to do anything other than exactly that with my work...but I am planning to take some risks from now on. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On A Roll...

two more pieces finished today. Yes, okay, they're small pieces, not much bigger than journal pages, but the queue of work waiting is diminishing, and I'm feeling pleased with myself. The first piece I worked on today, I didn't honestly hold out much hope for; it felt disjointed. Now that it's done, I suspect it is one of the best pieces I've made recently, so things can't be too bad! The second is shown in the picture. It, too, felt disjointed when I started to work on it, but I'm reasonably happy with the end result.

At lunchtime, I sat out in the sun, admiring the leaves as they begin to change colour, and rusting some more silk. It'll be interesting to see how it comes out. This is very much a new thing for me, though I do have some cotton that I rusted about five years or so ago...still unused...perhaps I should have added it to the silk today. I'm enjoying spending time on my own, and working with stitch, after all that wandering around. The cats seem happy to have me home too; they twine themselves round my legs whenever possible. This afternoon, Molly came up and interrupted the sewing by the simple expedient of sitting on my lap. And purring. There was method in her madness, however; when I gave up and said, okay, I'm done, she leapt from my lap and down both flights of stairs to the kitchen, where a queue of a distinctly feline variety was waiting. Dinner time it was... and now to think about my own!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Now if only Blogger would behave, and post photographs with the text that relates to them...this is Echo. For the story, look below. Posted by Picasa

I Got Rhythm...

and it's a wonderful thing. I worked on two pieces today, both made with lutradur. Both only require their edges finishing off, and then it's on with the next pieces in the 'queue'. The piece pictured above is called 'Echo', and is made from lutradur on top of a hand dyepainted piece of linen.

Of course, I'm not really meant to be doing this...I'm meant to be continuing to clear up the house in preparation for visitors in early October (ie next week!!). But this is so much fun, and I've not been able to do any textile work for perhaps the tidying up will wait til the weekend, and Robin can give me a hand... Well, a girl can dream...

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Collage....not my style of thing at all, usually. What do you think?

Preparing for Hibernation

Or at least, that's what I think I'm doing. I found myself buying a couple of books online yesterday, and a laundry press today....the latter to do transfer printing with a bit more speed and comfort than I do it at present. I think I'm of the view that I'll not be going out very often this autumn and winter, make up for all the gallivanting this summer. And perhaps the blog, too, will get back to normal, with fewer unexplained gaps...that's the theory, anyway!

As well as all this spending, I've got back to work. I started just looking at the lutradur I'd dyed before the gallivanting, pairing it up with backings, ready to quilt...hence the 'waiting pile' or 'queue' that's photographed; it's on the floor behind my trusty old Bernina. Then I started colouring a couple of bits of lutradur, and finally ended up working on a new piece, using techniques I haven't used with it before. But before all of that, I found myself making a collage. Me, a collage. I don't *do* collage... but today, I did. So I'm feeling smug, and productive, and I can now go and eat my supper... and purr a bit !!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pretty Parcel...

arrived in the mail while I was away in France. Unwrapped, it turned out to be a gift from my friend Annie Copeland. She had spotted my totem dolls, and thought that the doll she made would look good with sent it to me. Wasn't that kind? I've been buying all sorts of interesting yarns to use as doll hair, but none as effective as the seed pods Annie used on her doll. Her arms are a lot longer than they are in the picture, but otherwise, what you see is what there is...and she seems to be fitting in just fine!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Moving On

The thing about holidays, or breaks of any kind, is that they give you a breathings space to look at work from a fresh perspective. There are things, such as the Lutradur book, which will now take priority for me in terms of how I spend my time, but I found myself with time on my hands one morning in the gite, and a small altered book to work in. The patterns I made are simple and make me think of parts of labyrinths, a theme that I've used before. One particular type of labyrinth was known as a 'spirit trap'; it was thought that the bad spirits got confused in the labyrinth, and got stuck in it, while the people they were 'haunting' were able to leave. I'm not sure what happened to the people who went in after a spirit was trapped...presumably there must have been a buildup...but who knows? It'll be interesting to see how this theme merges or changes with the 'In More Than One Language' concept I was working with before I left for France.

The first thing I did today was to start clearing out the cloth studio. Sigh. What a mess. And what a lot of cloth. I'm not sure that it's the kind of thing I want to work with any more, but equally, I'm not sure what it is I *do* want to work with. Those of you who have known me for a while, will know that I gave away a lot of fabric before we moved here, and another lot when we unpacked. Since then, I've dye painted a bit, bought a good deal of threads and yarns, and have quite a bit of lutradur to work with. I think when you have cloth there, you feel you *ought* to work with it... but I did put some aside to overdye when I'm ready. And I would like to make some art cloth, and some of this stuff would be perfect. And work with more painted quilts, like the 'Where' piece that went to FOQ. Lots of ideas, lots of materials, and lots of time. If I only knew where to start... sometimes you can have too much of good things...

So, I'm going to start by finishing the tidy up, and writing a journal, and a timetable. As we have interest from a publisher, the book needs to be ready, in draft, by early Spring, and other things need to be fitted in around A Plan is a good thing to have, with due dates and the like. And there's another two book ideas floating journalling will be helpful. Like art work, there's no knowing when an idea will having something to write it down in *will* help. Maybe I need more than one journal...

And thank you to everyone who has commented on the photos issue so far, I hope that this conversation will continue over the next wee while. It's interesting to hear different points of view.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Flash, Flash, Click, Click, Flash

There is a new breed of quiltmaker. Or perhaps it is a new breed of quilt show visitor? Either way, this particular species carries a state of the art digital with him/her, or has a spouse/partner to carry/deploy it for them. They walk their way round the exhibit, flashing and clicking away, taking pictures not only of the quilts themselves, but the artists' statements that accompany them. Occasionally, they'll take a closer look at a piece. Then they take a close up. They whizz round the room in this way, and then pass onto the next one. The more serious minded bring tripods, and trip up other viewers as well as getting in the way.

When did we become wed to our cameras? Probably around the time we realised that catalogues can be expensive, and good quality digital cameras became less and less expensive. Personally, I don't take pictures at quilt shows. Partly, that's because I know that looking at a photo isn't really going to remind me of the piece. I'll look at it and wonder what I saw in the original, more likely as not, because so much is lost in the translation from cloth to image that takes place when you use a camera. And if I don't remember a piece without an image, then I suspect it wasn't worth remembering. Partly, it's because I want to concentrate on the works themselves, have a direct dialogue with them, possibly write down one or two notes (juggling camera AND notebook AND pen is...err...challenging...). And partly it's because I know too many curators. They remind me that the costs of putting up an exhibit is high, particularly if it's travelling abroad, that grant funding is difficult to find and that a catalogue may well be the only source of income possible to defray those expenses not covered by the venue. Ultimately, if catalogues remain unsold, then shows may well tour less, if at all, and we will miss out on the unique experience of being in the presence of a collection of good work. And that would be a pity.

What's your view? As an artist, as a quiltmaker, as a viewer? To photograph, or not to photograph? And how do you feel about the floods of uncredited photographs that appear on websites all over the world after a quilt show? Did anyone ask your permission? Do you think they should?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If Ever...

there was a format for a quilt show that was guaranteed to be successful, it has to be the Carrefour in Alsace. Take several scenic villages, strung along a single road, in an area which has a tradition of textile manufacturing. Run free shuttle buses between the venues. Bring in a wide variety of exhibitors, from the historic quilts to the traditional and on to the art quilt, and add a sprinkling of fashion. Mix in some serious quilt shopping opportunities in several languages. Make sure there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Provide polite, helpful staff. Now, that's a quilt show!

And, if ever there was a good way to visit a quilt show, I think we found it. Hire a gite on top of a mountain with plenty of room and wonderful views. Add three friends who met on the internet, and who get on just as well in 'real time'. Add a liberal sprinkling of other internet friends, to season...and plenty of good French wine. Oh, and a little judicious retail therapy!! Photos will follow, I promise (guess who forgot the camera again....). If you really can't wait, go look at Sandy's blog

I was lucky to be sharing the gite with Dijanne Cevaal and Sandy Marcoux, spending time with Thelma Smith, and to have met a variety of people, many from Alternativequiltlist, the online group I run, and whose names will doubtless pop up in the days to come... and yes, thank you, I had a wonderful time!

ps Some people bring home postcards of the area. Artist bring home postcards made by each this case, one of Dijanne's pomegranates, which I fell in love with at first sight...thanks, Dijanne....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Off Again...

to sunny Alsace, for the Carrefour de Patchwork. And a visit with my friends from far and wide. That should be fun. I've looked out the passport, bought the Euros, and a purse to put them in, packed the bag (except for the quilts...some lutradur pieces to show Dijanne) and all seems to be in order. The piece that's in the exhibit is already with my friend Elisabeth in France, which is one less thing to worry about. So, given that we'll have to be up at an unearthly hour to be in the airport at 5am (aaargh...), I think I'll go have a nap!!

I leave you with a doodle from my sketchbook. I'll be back on Sunday evening, but don't expect me to say much til the middle of the week, will know how tired I get!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Judge not...?

The picture is 'Hidden Depths', the piece that Thelma Smith and I collaborated on, that we showed at Birmingham this year. I've never received judges' feedback before, so I was intruigued to see what would be said about this particular piece. I was disappointed by the feedback, to be truthful, because I feel more confused now than I did before I started. One judge clearly loved the piece, and marked it highly. One judge gave it good marks, nothing startling. The last, though, gave it average marks...other than the surface design, which she said 'needed attention', the lowest mark available in the marking scheme.

I found this intruiguing, that one judge could judge a piece to be 'excellent', another, 'satisfactory' and a third, 'needing attention'...particularly as the surface design is a crucial part of the whole piece. Marking it down is fine by me; if it's bad art, I need to know. But a spread of marks across the whole marking scheme could mean either of two things. The first is simple; that the marking is purely subjective, according to each judge's likes and dislikes. The second is slightly more complex; that the marking is made according to each judge's understanding of the criteria.

I used to be heavily involved in recruitment and selection, particularly in assessment centres, where people are interviewed by more than one person, and a decision is reached by consensus. I found that these decisions were made more easily when the selectors had a common understanding of the criteria we were using to judge people. Assessing the use of embellishment and surface design is a very broad area. I wonder what guidelines, if any, the assessors were using in looking at my quilt. If you pass judgement on someone else's work, it's important to define the terms, in my opinion. It would be interesting to know if these terms are defined, or if it is each person's understanding of them that is brought to the judging of pieces. I suspect the latter, and feel that it is not a helpful system. In my experience, assessor training for an isolated event can be done very quickly and easily, through a short meeting. What a pity that doesn't seem to happen. For many people, this might be the only feedback that they ever get on their work. They will have paid for the privilege of entry and showing their quilt. It seems only reasonable that they get meaningful feedback in return, or, failing that, none at all. There are times when nothing is better than something....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What's Next?

Apart from a week's rest and the monthly Well meeting, you mean? Carrefour, that's what. I was invited to add a piece to the European Edition of 'Changing The World One Thread At A Time', curated by Thelma Smith. So I will be showing 'Eight Blue Dots And A Circle', yes, the postcard piece... which has turned out to be much stronger than the sum of the parts, true synergy. And, since the piece is travelling, I thought I would, too. I'm likely to be found lurking in the area of the Changing exhibit, translating a bit, talking to Thelma and Dijanne Cevaal, who also has a piece in the show, and generally Having A Good Time. That may include hand stitching the rust dyed piece I showed in the last blog... I'm not taking my sewing machine, that just feels like a piece of luggage too far, and the silk seems to invite hand stitching. Meanwhile, back to the week's rest...zzzzzzz....

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not bad, huh?

Oh, look what I've got here...

Apparently not...

What IS she up to...gardening, perhaps?

Making Mischief...

I have wonderful next door neighbours. Like me, they collect odd bits and pieces...and both have an eye for art. So when I mentioned rust dyeing, they said, oh, how interesting...and attended the 'unveiling' this morning of a piece of silk that had been wrapped round a gate they bought to use in their garden, but which had a lovely coat of rust... Mike, being a professional photographer, takes a good photo, as you'll see from the series above. Now all I have to do is Make Something With It! Should be quite straightforward... Now, I wonder if I can pinch the gate, what do you think?

Fair Exchange...

is no robbery, my granny used to say. When Karen Steihl Osborn , onr of my favourite quilt artists, wrote to say she liked the little secret journals that appeared on the blog a while ago, I thought I'd send her one. But when she offered to send a postcard in exchange, I was overwhelmed... And this is the postcard I chose. Isn't it beautiful? And I'm delighted to say, Karen liked her journals, too. Thus proving my granny right, yet again!!