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Saturday, June 30, 2007


I had a plan. I have all these lovely photos to share with you. I was going to do that this week. Instead, I've been struggling with a recalcitrant computer, trying to persuade it to switch on at all, so that I could work with the images. On Monday, I call a repair man. It Will Be Fixed. I Will Show You Those Images. So there!

Meanwhile, this is what I was playing with on the last day in Lyon, which we spent basking in a small park near the station. A piece of bark fell off a tree and landed in front of me, so I picked it up. I have a photo of it, surprise surprise, but for the moment, you don't get to see that... this is one of the drawings I made from it, instead. I love to draw. I can sit for hours making marks on paper, exploring what is hidden on that white surface, creating ideas and meaning for myself.

Sadly, the hair dyeing/cloth dyeing experiment will have to wait til the next time I have my hair coloured; just as soon as I took myself and my hair to the hairdresser, it all settled down. I'm pleased, I think... just a somewhat missed opportunity. Sigh. Maybe I'll try getting a life, instead...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Part Of The Attraction....

of participating in a big show, of course, is the shopping. We met some charming people, and amongst them, a company that makes designer fabric, and comes to the French shows to sell the offcuts, beautifully packaged and carefully selected. I have plans for this lot, and the others, just as soon as I get things back to normal.

Normal? I hear you wonder... well, okay, bad choice of word. But I am having a general clear out and clear up, clearing the decks, if you will, before starting on some new work. I also have to get a quilt ready to go out to the US, my contribution to the 'From The Heart' exhibition that will show at several of the Mancuso venues this year. And then down to some serious writing, to finish the lutradur book, and also to begin a new one, which I think will turn out to be the book I wished I could find when I was starting out as an art quilter...

And I want to paint, too. I had a series of ideas, breakthroughs, if you like, in France, about the direction I'd like my painting to move in. Now I get to clear the studio, and go buy some materials, ready to start. It's exciting, like a new start always is. I'm looking forward to a few weeks of focussed activity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vive La France!!!

Yes, that does mean that I had a Really Good Time in Lyon; many thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes. To be honest, it's difficult to have a bad time in France...good weather (apart from one storm which left us looking like drowned rats), wonderful food, friendly people who said nice things about my French, an interview with the local newspaper, a small part of which was published with photo...what more could a girl wish for? The classes went well, and photos will follow. I think they may even invite me back next year!

The photos are a couple of the booth; I put up a lot of small pieces to let people see and touch the lutradur in the piece. There was certainly a lot of interest; it got to the point where it was easier to explain in French rather than in English (how sad is that...). I met some really interesting people, drank some good wine, had great fun, and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit itself. The work shown was of really good quality, and an interesting mix of styles and approaches. A fairly high percentage of it was art quilting, whilst the traditional work that was shown was high quality, interesting work.

The only downside was my hair...lovely as it looks, I left a trail of devastation in my wake, towels, pillow cases, clothing, all turned an interesting pinkish red...I need to have words with my (otherwise lovely) hairdresser...sigh. But I might well dry my hair with some cotton, next time I wash it, it made some interesting marks... you have to use what comes into your path, don't you?

It's good to be home...cities are interesting, lovely places, but I missed the countryside, the quiet, the cats and of course, my lovely husband, who interrupted his fiftieth birthday to pick us up from the airport. Awww...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Well, My Bags Are Packed...

but I'm far from ready to go. And bags in the plural is a bit of an exaggeration. So far, I've got the cloth, the lutradur, the small pieces and the dyes etc in the case. Robin thinks there'll not be room for clothes...but he's wrong. Though I may have to go buy a cutting mat that will fit into my case... unless Sandy's is smaller than mine, of course, in which case it'll be her problem... I've still got the worksheets to laminate, the clothes to pack (I am taking some...) and various bits and bobs to sort out tomorrow, like collecting my happy pills from the pharmacy, and getting some Euros from the Post Office. It's always a good idea to be able to pay the bus or the taxi, after all...

I thought I'd give myself something to look forward to when I get home, and this piece of cloth is it. I love reds and oranges, and this piece of cloth wants to be a tiny wholecloth all by itself. I think. Maybe it'll change its mind before I get home. Who knows? Meanwhile, it's back to ticking things off the list, and an attempt to find the half cup of coffee I abandoned Somewhere In The House...sigh... at least I know where the laminator is...and the ironing board...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Keeping On...and On...and On...

I've been working away again today, finishing small pieces, like 'Celtish II', another version of Celtic inspired imagery and symbolism. I'm getting to like this . I just looked at Jill's blog, Meandering Muse, a new one to me, and found myself really excited by the work she's's great work, and it looks like FUN... I think I'll head off there any time I need a burst of enthusiasm...

Yesterday evening, I watched television as I ironed innumerable metres of handdye to take to Lyon with me. I'm really excited now, only a couple of days to go until we leave. The To-Do List is getting shorter and shorter, partly because I'm doing lots, but also because I'm scoring things off undone. I decided that there is no point in getting overtired; I want to have fun in Lyon, and for the students in my workshops to have fun too, so I need to conserve lots of energy to make that happen.

Oh, and by the way, I've added a new blog to my repertoire, too... Where Life Meets Art is a sort of continuation of this blog, but with the emphasis on the life, rather than the art. Yes, strange as it might seem, I do have a life outside of making art... there's the family, the cats and all the other odd things and people that make up my life. Besides, it's just the kind of diversion you need when you're up to your eyes in work...another blog....aaaaargh!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

In Case Anyone Was Wondering...

this is what I look like with my new hair colour, photo courtesy of my lovely next door neighbour and professsional photographer, Mike (thanks Mike. Robin always makes me look like Quasimodo...or worse...).

This is as close as I get to preening and primping in preparation for Lyon. In the last couple of days, I've been to dentist, therapist and hairdresser. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Well, physically, at least. There's still cloth to iron, suitcase to pack, lutradur to cut and small pieces to finish. And other small things to be done, like find enough needles for hand work... Believe it or not, in all this mayhem, I'm actually having fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Okay, Barbara...

I got over it. Thanks to everyone for the kind words, and to Barbara for the kind kick (only kidding, honest...). It was clearly a blip; I got over it today. I've been a busy bee, finishing off small pieces and even managing to assemble a couple, like this piece here, Celtish, which refers to some of the marks made by the Celts on stones and the like, despite not being in a palette that would immediately suggest it! It is made from dyed lutradur over cotton, and is slightly bigger than A4 size. I'm being domestic today, too, though it was pretty pointless hanging out the washing just before a very heavy shower... well, it was warm and pleasant outside, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The next couple of days aren't going to be quite as much fun. Dentist tomorrow, therapist on Thursday and the hairdresser, too. I may not be recognisable in France! So, if I'm quiet for the next couple of days, I either hate my tooth, hate myself or hate my hair. And all three are pretty unlikely, really. But wish me luck, anyway!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Now Is Not The Time...

to have a crisis of confidence, with only a week to go before my trip to France, but it would appear I'm having one anyway. Maybe it's just the overcast weather. Maybe it's the backache. Maybe it's the phase of the moon. Who knows? I just woke this morning thinking that it's all rubbish. So I did what anyone would. I got on with the work anyway. I want to take a selection of postcards and small works to decorate the booth I'm demonstrating I've been finishing off the bits and pieces that have been lying around. This particular piece was made by embellishing wool and other yarns onto a piece of curtain fabric, and a piece of lutradur added on top. Unusually for me, No Stitch Is Involved, unless you count the satin stitch round the edges (which I don't!).

Thank you to everyone who commented on dyeing to sell. Today, the handdyes look as bad as everything else does, but perhaps the sun will come out tomorrow, my mood will improve and all I'll have to worry about is how to get all the stuff I need to take with me to Lyon. The lutradur is being posted; I just have to worry about the rest of it. And it's always astonishing to me just how much 'stuff' you need in order to run a workshop, even if it is only for a couple of hours. Still, hopefully the participants will enjoy it, have fun and make wonderful things to take home...and it'll have been worth it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

To Sell...

or not to sell...that is the question. Well, it isn't really. How to sell is the real question of the day. I've been following Helen Suzanne's posts about selling her hand dyed fabric (which is very nice, I have to say) on ebay, and her comment on my blog. I had thought about selling hand dyed cloth on ebay, and have kept an eye on activity in the cloth section, but decided not to do it, probably for the same reasons as Helen.

My experience of selling handdyes is that it is hard work. And here, I'm talking about the UK, though dyers in the US may think the same! I seem to spend a lot of time explaining things to people. Now I don't mind that, except when it comes to justifying Why Hand Dyed Cloth Is So Expensive. The answer to that, of course, is that whilst dyeing is a joy and a pleasure, it's also time consuming, the dyes (in the UK) are expensive and there's a lot of washing and ironing (and therefore cost) involved. In its way, dyeing is as creative as the other branches of textile art. However, where traditional quilters are faced up with cheap imports from China as a reason for dropping their prices, dyers are faced up with screen printed handdyes (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!). Neither the imports nor the screenprinted cloth has the originality of a well made quilt or piece of fabric...but it's the price that seems to count. Which is why I have rarely ever offered complex cloth for sale; it's interesting, a joy to make and work with, but extremely expensive, and nobody wants it. Or do they?

This is beginning to sound like a whine, and it's not intended as such. But opportunities for selling handdyes aren't all that common. If you do talks and workshops, there's a side opportunity to sell cloth, too. I'll be taking both lutradur and handdyed cotton to sell at Lyon, and shows like it are ideal opportunities for selling. If you have a website, like Helen, you can sell from there. Or there's Etsy. And there's mail order, too, I guess...and that seems to be about it. Am I missing something? Don't think so... So I find myself wondering about Etsy, which I thought was a US focussed business, but which seems to be attracting increasing numbers of UK traders. A straw poll seemed to produce a number of UK artists doing well.

So, what do you think about Etsy? Is it worthwhile taking on, or should we stick to the tried and tested? And Ebay, too. In the US, it seems possible to sell art through Ebay; why is it so much more difficult in the UK? Or is that just my perception? Let's talk, folks...what's your view? And those of you who aren't making to sell, but who want to buy....what do you really think about hand dyed cloth?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Splish, Splash, Splosh...

and a pair of handdyed hands... oh well, I get carried away... I have a very small washing line, only room for half the cloth on there, so there are two shots of the cloth I made yesterday. The cloth, a cotton poplin, is turning out to be a good dye cloth. Which is just as well, given that I have over a hundred metres of the stuff... Bessie the Boiler is proving her worth, providing me with the water to do the dyeing, I'm eternally grateful to the people who gave her to me. Freecycle is a wonderful thing.

I took a couple of closeups of cloth I'm particularly pleased with, both in reds. I love working with dye, I haven't had an intensive dye day for a long time, and I'd forgotten just how good it is!

Today's batch of cloth has just had the soda ash added, and is working away happily in the sun. Tomorrow's has yet to be cut off the roll and run through the washing machine. I need to make up a fresh set of dyes (used them all up today...), and all will be ready for tomorrow. I might do some resist dyeing; one of my neighbours is coming to 'watch and learn'...that's what she thinks... shall get her involved by hook or by crook!
Meanwhile, lunch beckons, and a project for the lutradur rest for the wicked!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dyeing Today...

but not publishing, apparently. I've just wasted half an hour trying to persuade Blogger that it does want to publish today's post. So if you're reading another post headed Dyeing Today...or have already read it, then Blogger has relented and published the original. Actually, I'm dyeing, printing and writing all this week, though not all at the same time; my concentration isn't as good as all that these days! The cloth will come with me to Lyon, so if you're coming, you can get up close and personal with it; I actively encourage people to touch the fabric, stroke it, get to know it a bit. There's a nice mix of strong, vibrant colour and more restrained pastels appearing in this batch, I'm pleased. Who knows what we'll end up with by the end of the week!

I used to run around like a headless chicken when I dyed, but these days I'm calm. What's more, I get just as much done, if not more, and with much less angst. So, while waiting for the dyes to set, I'm writing this, playing with some images and thinking about the lutradur book. The image is one from Barcelona, a grafittoed (grafittied? grafittised?) tree. Amazing what a couple of filters can do to an image, as you can see in this case. I defy anyone not to be inspired in some way by these pictures; in fact, let's make it a challenge... Download one, or both, of the pictures, see what it inspires you to do, write about it in your blog with a link to this post, and lets see how many different ideas we can generate!

And now to see if Blogger will publish this time...sigh...

Dyeing Today....

and for most of the rest of the week. Writing, too, and printing on some of the cloth, but probably not all at the same time. My concentration definitely doesn't stretch to that any more. My camera/computer interface is sulking, so I can't show you the lovely brights and muted pastels that I'm making, but if you can go to Lyon, you'll be able to meet 'em up close and personal. Not to mention that the computer can't sulk forever...and hopefully, I'll have more cloth to show you later on in the week.

I'm trawling through the Barcelona photographs, playing with one I took of a tree, the bark is beautiful and it has been grafittied (grafittoed? grafittised?) to boot, though I didn't notice that til after I'd taken the shot. We sometimes think that inspiration will never come to us; but look at the shapes in this photograph, and the colours, and the difference between the two shots as a result of the filters I've applied in PSP (Paint Shop Pro, to the uninitiated...can't afford Photoshop...). Who could fail to be inspired by that?

In fact, call it a challenge if you like. Borrow one of the photos, or both, if you like, and use it as the basis for an idea. Pop it up on your blog, link it to this post and let me know when you've done so. Lets see how many different concepts come out of these two images....or rather, one image.
Have fun!!