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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One Thing...

leads to another; you know how it is... I recently rejoined the Quilters Guild of the United Kingdom which is currently engaged in a project called 'Little Gems'. Quilters are asked to make a journal-sized quilt (or two...or ten...), which will be offered in a tombola at Festival of Quilts this year. Since I'm at FOQ all week, I thought that the least I could do was offer a quilt...and may well make a couple, depending on how my time goes. So... I made a small quilt, and took a photograph of it (the first one you see here). And then I read the instructions, which said I had to finish the edges somehow. So, as the piece is made from lutradur, felt and pelmet vilene, non of which fray, I added a simple line of machine stitching, just to hold the piece together right the way round. That was the idea, anyway.

What actually happened was that the quilt said, you know, that bit over there could do with a bit more stitch... and that bit there... and what's more, don't I look much better the other way round, now that you've done that? I had to agree with all of this, of course...and discovered that I had, all unknowing, created another Flying Dreams quilt. The top image is the finished item, while the image below is the quilt before the additions. I'd love to hear which you prefer (but I'm not taking the stitching out again!!!).

I've just submitted it to the Guild for inclusion on the Little Gems Blog, where you can see the submissions so far, and find the instructions for making one of these wee beauties. You don't have to be a Guild member to take part, just have a desire to support the only dedicated quilt museum in Europe... so how about it?

Monday, March 30, 2009


really aren't my thing. I just got a polite email from Virginia Spiegel, reminding me that the deadline for Collage Mania is...well... Wednesday. That's okay, thought I, I have my pieces done, I just need to photograph them and all will be well with the world. Wrong. For some reason, I made them smaller than the required size, which meant that mounting them was the order of the day. By this time, of course, I was a tad overexcited. As luck would have it, I was given a load of mount board by my gallery, so cutting it to size and mounting the pieces was quite straightforward. And, as you can see, they photographed fairly well, too.

The first piece, Being Blue, is made from hand made paper, with a layer of voile over it, and has pieces added on both above and below the voile, and a machine stitched circle. The two pieces that follow, Grey Moon and Almost Four, are made from Evolon, and will feature in my book, 'Exquisite Evolon', when it appears in the summer; Grey Moon is embellished with pieces of silk, while Almost Four is an original print. Finally, Dizzy is collaged cloth, with some beads attached. All four pieces have been included in honour of my much loved friend, Lynn Bunis, of whom I have written before. She lost her fight with cancer last year, so it seems only fitting that two of the pieces I'm submitting feature cloth from her stash, as she was an American living in Scotland, and Collage Mania is a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society.

If you haven't come across Collage Mania before, check it out! The list of participants is here
This is a great opportunity to purchase some wonderful art from some very well known artists, at affordable prices, and in a very good cause. Run, don't walk!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


has caught up with me. I find myself clearing out the studio, rearranging things, combining things, and thinking about what to put in the new external storage I'm about to buy (probably the paper making and dyeing stuff). The house got a perfunctory hoover round, the dishwasher went on and I'm cooking various bits and pieces. Brought several finished paintings into the house (of which more in the week...); they have to be added to my list of work, and taken upstairs to be stored.

The image today is of a mixed media piece I finished last week, but had to wait for the paint to dry. It's a small mixed media on studio canvas, 12" by 10". As with most of my work, there's lots of texture, partly from the paint itself, and partly from the paper that was added to the canvas beforehand, some pieces of an old paper dressmaking pattern. You can see the textures quite clearly in the close up; try clicking on the image to enlarge it. I think the piece has a light, airy feel to it, just right for spring.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


To my surprise, I find myself playing with paint. I haven't painted in a while, or rather, not with oils, but I felt it was right to do so a few days ago, and only stopped because I ran out of white... I'm finally working in the palette that I found in France two years ago, whites, creams, pale colours. I took photographs of a damaged wall that fascinated me, the original inspiration for the cracks and scars series that I'm working in, and those were the colours in the photograph. The first of the images here shows a manipulated version of one of those photographs (I must have taken about twenty...); the other is a currently untitled collage using some of the colours in that palette. There are some larger works, that are still in progress (this one is a small square studio canvas, roughly 10" square).

Looking at them both, it might be difficult to see a connection, but for me, it is there. I don't know that I can explain it well... but it has meaning for me in this context, as well as in a broader sense. The paper is clearly torn from a magazine and reused; there is something about consuming consumables...or reconsuming consumables, that is important, but I'm not sure what it is, exactly. Doubtless, if I make more in this vein, I'll begin to understand it better. And you will have your own ideas on what this piece is 'about', and they will be just as valid as mine. That's the joy of art; there really is no limit, no right and no wrong. Just the piece, and the person, interacting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who'd Be An Editor?

Not me, for sure. Dijanne and I have decided to create a printed edition of the Lovely Lutradur book. We're self publishing again, of course, and so have to get the text ready for the printer. This involves a small matter of resizing the entire text, and the images, too, so that they print as well as possible. As you can imagine, this is slowwww work, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. Remind me I said that when I'm working my way through this for the rest of the week, and the weekend...not to mention redesigning the cover.

I checked the rusting Evolon this morning, and it's working beautifully, much faster than I anticipated. I think I'll leave it another day, or so, and then rinse it, and see what I've got. Not sure what I'll use it for, but I dare say I'll think of something...

And in the midst of all this, I'm still working on the creativity book, which I had intended to call 'Extending The Zone'...but when I got to the nearly finished point, I realised I wasn't really talking about the Zone much at all, but rather how to organise your work and yourself so that you can spend as much time as possible making art, instead of thinking about it. So I'm wondering about a new title... doubtless I'll think of something. Maybe tomorrow, I'll get out in the shed to work with some waxed and dyed evolon... hmm... though there is T'ai Chi class on Fridays, and a doctor's appointment, to boot. Maybe it needs saving until Saturday...

ps if you'd like to join the mailing list for the printed edition of Lovely Lutradur, please drop me an email and I'll add your name. It should be out in a couple of months' time, but I'll let you know before then, of course! Emails to please. Or if you can't wait, and want to have the CD version, check it out here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Evolon? What's Evolon?

It's at times like these that I really wish we had textured images, because trying to explain Evolon without offering you a piece to stroke is really rather difficult! The technical explanation of Evolon is that it is a microfibre cloth made from polyester and nylon fibres mixed together. To touch, it feels a bit like suede, or chamois leather, or even a very thin velvet. Because it is non woven, though, it doesn't fray, or discard little fluffy bits of yarn when you cut it (they make me sneeze, so I'm very grateful). As you can see, this lovely white cloth takes transfer dye beautifully, and it's lovely to stitch, either by hand or by machine; the top piece is machine stitched, the other has silk fabrics attached using the embellisher.

I met Evolon by chance; I had been talking to the lutradur agent in the UK, Mervyn Williams, and he showed me all sorts of interesting fabrics. The one I really loved was Evolon, and the poor man only had one sample at the time. Emphasis on the 'had'!! I enthused at length about it when I discovered how well it stitches and dyes, and the rest is history. I'm writing a book, Exquisite Evolon, which will be ready for Festival of Quilts this year (if it kills me...); I'm intending to show the many different ways that this versatile, strong and truly lovely fabric cn be used. Yes, I'm biased. Sorry, can't help it! If you are looking for some Evolon, try Mervyn's site Spunart; if you ask him nicely, he'll send you a sample, too, and you can have your own Evolon to fondle!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Stink...

of a remarkable combination of throat lozenge and vinegar. The throat lozenge, clearly, was taken internally; the vinegar, however, despite its healing history (Jack's head and brown paper, to name but one instance...), was not. I'm working on the Exquisite Evolon book this week, and decided to include a section on rust dyeing. Even as we speak, some incredibly rusty bits and pieces are smothered in evolon, lurking in a large seed tray, covered in bubble wrap, next to the central heating boiler. The cats are disgusted. They are, however, unlikely to mistake it for their litter tray...I hope...

I'm working hard, but getting nowhere, or at least it feels that way. And I've had a fluey type virus, which is continuing to lurk in my system (hence the stinky throat lozenge). Now, though, I'm off to do some evolon painting; my good friend Alison Lowe, who makes fab bags, has agreed to design one specially for the book, so I'm off to paint some evolon specifically for it. Clearly there are no images of the ongoing work to be shared (looking at bubblewrap in a seed tray is not my idea of fascinating... I'd rather watch paint dry, which is, of course, what I'm about to do next...). So I've put up an image of 'Blue Trees', which is an Evolon print I made a while ago, and is now resplendent in its frame.

By the way, I meant what I said in a previous post; I'm looking for artists to feature in the gallery section of Exquisite Evolon. If you have a piece of which you're particularly proud, and would like to see it published, this is your chance! Email me for more details. Oh, and a PS; there are still a couple of places available in the masterclass I'm running at FOQ this year, check out the site here for details!