I need your help!

Last year, when I made a small art quilt, to send to SAQA’s Spotlight Auction, I couldn’t decide which one to send so I asked for your help in deciding. Although there were differing opinions, the majority chose the one that I was leaning towards and it sold. This year I am having the same problem but with my 12″ x 12″ piece for the Benefit Auction. My head is spinning from trying out different backgrounds and foregrounds so, before I begin any stitching or fusing, I am going to ask if you would be kind enough to help me out again. The inspiration for the piece has come from a journal quilt that I did last year where I disintegrated the rose spiral. This was the 8″ x 8″ piece

Disintegrated-rose-journal-quilt

The backgrounds for the current piece are  silk noil for the first three in each group and a silk habotai for the fourth. The orange ‘rose’ is silk, the black ‘rose’ is cotton and the lime ‘rose is silk noil. All will be fused to the background and then quilted. If you have time I would really appreciate your opinion. I have given each one a letter and number to make it easier.

saqa-benefit-2015_layouts_2_labelled

saqa-benefit-2015_layouts_3_labelled

saqa-benefit-2015_possibles_labelled

Ot the alternative is to go with this one which is already finished but wasn’t intended for the auction!

Wheels-and-windows

I would like to be able to take it with me to Portland next week when I go to the conference rather than have to post it. leaving things to the last minute as usual.

If you find time to comment, thank you for your help. If you don’t then I won’t be offended.

Have a good week

Maggi

I haven’t dyed in a long time.

It does seem such a long time since I dyed anything so, a recent tidy up in the garage after felting, and a spell of warmer weather, inspired me to get back in there and start again.. Whether it was because I had had a break from doing anything or whether my mind was elsewhere, I’m not sure. What I do know is that the fabric that I dyed bore little relation to what I had envisioned when I started.

With the exception of one piece, all the fabric that I dyed was flag folded. Here is the fabric, having been washed out and now drying. Not one of my better moments!

flag-folds_drying

And this is the piece that wasn’t flag folded – even worse.

noil-straight-fold_drying

I’m not too worried about failures as there is always something that can be done, hopefully, to improve a piece of badly dyed fabric. This next photo is of the previous piece, flag folded and then overdyed. It’s already looking better.

noil_straight-fold_overdyed-flag-fold_complete

There will be further things to do with all the pieces but for now, this is what they looked like after they were dyed for the first time.

flag-fold_cotton_green

flag-fold_cotton_green-blue

flag-fold_silk-1

flag-fold_silk-2

Watch this space for what happens next. In the meantime I’m linking up with Nina Marie Sayre’s Off The Wall Friday

A miscellany

Sometimes I think that the hardest part of writing a blog post is coming up with a title. There is plenty of advice to be found about making your title have keywords that will be searchable if you want to increase the traffic to your site. Personally I don’t like to think of you, my faithful readers, as traffic so, as I can’t think of any other way to describe what is about to follow, I have just called it a miscellany, because that’s what it is.

I haven’t been completely unproductive since I last wrote on here but much of what I have been doing involves dye process so I’ll save that for another post.

I am still doing the felting class but each piece, although small, is time consuming so I haven’t had chance to do more than one piece. This is a base of lime green merino and grey Icelandic topped with a few Wensleydale curls and then covered with a piece of dyed silk organza. The organza was shaded from purple to turquoise and I like the way that has appeared after felting. There is also some lovely texture and you can just see the curls peeping through in places. Definitely one that will be stitched into.

felt_organza_curls

 

Detail

Detail

 

I actually managed to get up to date with my 2015 Journal Quilts just as we moved into April. February and March began with a background that was very similar and developed from there. For both I laid down a bead of thickened dye and then scraped it to give a sort of grassy appearance. February’s was done on silk and unfortunately the dye did create some grubby looking marks where I had been less than careful. I didn’t notice this until I had done the stitching over the dyed lines. Fortunately I had used white fabric as a backing so I just turned it over and continued to quilt the rest of it. Very minimalist and I’m not that keen.

maggi_birchenough_february-2015

March’s JQ was also one that serves a dual purpose for the monthly EMCT challenge which was gelli printing/trees. I did the stitching on the grass horizon again and then cut up into strips, and fused, a piece of the fabric that I had printed at our monthly meeting. I much prefer this one.

maggi_birchenough_march-2015

I realised after having completed first 3 month’s pieces that I didn’t want them just to sit around in a pile so I have made a book for them. I made it so that I could add the pieces each month rather than have to wait until the end of the year.

2015-jq-book

I then got out my 2014 Journal Quilts and thought, why not do a book for them as well? I made one using the same style but with 2 layers of pelmet vilene for the covers and I prefer the firmness of the greyboard I used in the previous one. Not to worry, they are now all together and I’m happy because I love having books around.

2014-jq-book

Whilst I was tidying up my workroom I came across a couple of pieces of wire weaving that I had done with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden a while back. It seemed a shame to just keep them in a drawer so I mounted them onto box canvases. I was going to paint them both black but the piece on the white box canvas is much more subdued and, against the black, it just looked dull. I need to find somewhere to hang them now.

wire-weaving_2

wire-weaving_1

Finally, I have been watching videos of pressure washers as I looked out onto my  patio which had really suffered from the winter weather. I wasn’t convinced that they do what they are supposed to, or at least as easily as they appear to but I couldn’t face hours of soapy water and a brush so I decided to bite the bullet and bought one on Friday. Yes they are as good as they appear to be. I only intended to try it out and do part of the paving but once started I couldn’t stop. Here’s a before and after photo of just one area!

patio-cleaning

That has to be enough for now, especially as I have to get over to Ashbourne as it is an open day at the Ark. If you are in the area, do try to drop in and say hello – the cakes are delicious. If you can’t make it then have a lovely day anyway.

Maggi

Still felting

I’m continuing to do plenty of felting in Fiona Duthie‘s class. There are lots of samples to make so doing anything with them, at the moment, isn’t possible. When the class finishes though, I shall have fun adding to the basic felting samples. The images below show, clockwise from the top left, beads and sequins trapped under silk chiffon, a further example of manipulating fabric onto a felt base, (this time I tried it with hand dyed cotton scrim and I really like the texture that it creates), a piece with a pocket and bridges, (these didn’t turn out to be as dimensional as in the class example but that was probably because I used a mix of merino and silk tops to create them so they weren’t sturdy enough to hold their shape well), and finally layered felt using painters tape as a resist.

felt-samples

One advantage of having a birthday while your friend is away on holiday is that you get to celebrate it again when she returns. Last week Linda took me out to lunch and also introduced me to a lovely wool shop called Yarn. I now have plenty of wool to keep me going for quite some time! I also had a a lovely birthday present from her which was designed to help me to prepare for my Portland trip; a passport holder, luggage label and pencil case. Thank you Linda, I will enjoy using them.

Birthday-gifts-from-Linda

And finally, because not much else has been going on here, I have decided to add an update to show how well the boys are getting on together still. It was raining outside and both of them preferred to watch from the window, with the warmth of the radiator underneath them.

watching-the-rain

Linking up with Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday

Thanks for visiting. Have a good weekend.

Maggi

Small is good

This post is all about small things and certainly reinforces the saying that small is beautiful. Last week I received a birthday present from my dear friend Jan. She knows what I like and always manages to send me something that is delightful. This year was no exception and when I opened the parcel I discovered a gorgeous pincushion made from felt and decorated with such lovely embroidery. I will certainly enjoy using it.

pincushion_janb

Jan also sent me an ATC with a box on the front which opened to reveal two metal hearts nestling in some wool roving. I have received ATCs before but never one which was three-dimensional. Such a lot of work had gone into this too. Thank you so much Jan for the lovely presents and also for the hand made card which accompanied them.

atc_janb

Another package arrived on Tuesday containing two more small beauties. I recently sent some of my hand dyed threads to my friend, another Jan, and agreed that I would accept one of her beautiful postcards in return. When I opened the envelope there were two postcards inside and I love them both. Jan actually used some fabric and threads that she had previously purchased from me and it was really nice to see them being used in such a creative way. Thank you Jan for this lovely swap. Jan creates wonderful postcards which you can also see on her special postcard blog here.

postcard_jan_2

postcard_jan_1

I’ve been working small too. I finally got round to sending off my contribution to the SAQA Spotlight Auction. This takes place at the Fiberlandia Conference at the end of April and I am really looking forward to seeing all the contributions in person this year. If you are a SAQA member there is still time to send in a contribution. The size is 6″ x 8″ and they will be displayed in mats with a 4.5″ x 6.5″ opening. My contribution is a small version of my Wheels and Windows series. The edge is deliberately not finished except for a row of stitching because of the mat that will be covering it.

Wheels-and-windows_#10

Finally I also got going on this year’s journal quilt challenge for the Contemporary Group. The size this year is 6″ x 12″ and we had to commit to portrait or landscape orientation. I decided to challenge myself and go with the landscape. I’ve also decided to combine this, whenever possible, with the monthly challenge for the East Midlands Contemporary Textiles group that I belong to. Each month we explore a different theme and technique and for February the technique was reverse appliqué and the theme was movement. I have used a piece of dyed fabric for the top and a failed printout of an image from which I made a small quilt a while back. I just machined some wave shapes and then cut them back to reveal the fabric underneath. This was then machine quilted by roughly echoing the wave shapes and then the piece was faced. I’m certainly finding it more of a challenge to work in this orientation. I am a little behind with this challenge already, although I do have a couple of pieces batching in the garage which, hopefully, will form the background for at least one more journal quilt.

2015_january_jq

That is really all I have done since last time as I’m still having problems with BT who don’t seem to be too anxious to contact me about my problem with my home hub. All it means is that everything takes twice as long to do while I wait for it to reconnect to the internet!

I hope that you have a good week and that it is filled with creative fun.

Maggi

More felting samples and an elephant

I had intended to publish this post earlier in the week but, unfortunately, I have had problems with my internet connection dropping out or not connecting at all. Very frustrating, especially as I watch BT’s adverts for their super duper broadband – where is mine I wonder? Anyway, I’m taking advantage of the fact that I seem to have solved the problem for now and getting this post written before it goes haywire again.

The felting has continued since last week, sometimes with varying degrees of success.

Nuno felting using silk gauze on merino on the left and silk habotai on merino on the right. The gauze creates a much more subtle effect,

fiona-duthie_felting_nuno_composite

Fabric manipulation. I used silk habotai on the first piece (on the left) but there wasn’t sufficient migration of the wool through the silk so it created some quite ugly lumpy folds. I have added a few French knots and seeding stitches in a few places to see whether this would improve the lumpiness in the photo on the right. I definitely prefer it this way and there is still more stitching and beading that can be added.

fiona-duthie_felting_manipulated-habotai_composite.

I tried this again using silk chiffon and preferred the lower relief that was created.

Fiona-duthie_felting_fabric-manipulation_chiffon

The last lesson in the first week was to add images and text using transfer paper. This was my least favourite technique so far. There was no way to really integrate the images and the bubbling up, which was supposed to happen, does not appeal to me at all. They just appear to have been plonked on. The image that was supposed to be on the silk in the bottom left corner actually fell off!

fiona-duthie_felting_transfer-papers

The final samples for this post were made using resists. The one on the  right used wool balls to create the dimensional lumps. This worked quite well although, next time I need to add a little more wool over the top of the balls as it is possible to see the ball underneath in places. The piece on the left, with the craters, was not felted well enough and the resist that I used distorted the circles when I removed it. This has left them looking more ragged than they should be. On the plus side I had some very useful feedback from Fiona on how to improve these pieces.

Fiona-duthie_felting_resists-under-wool_composite

I’ve had a busy week this week with visits to the vets, having  to cope with dieting one cat, feeding up the other and trying to remember which cat has which medication, plus an iPad workshop with Jan Bevan on Tuesday. The latter was useful and there were ideas about creating images in  various apps to use in art quilts but, I have to confess, I am still not a fan of iPads. Hopefully next week will be less busy and I can get on with being more creative. At least we have a catch up week with the felting class. I might even get around to making a start on my journal quilts for this year’s Contemporary Group Challenge.

Now to that elephant. I recently had a beautiful present from my dear friend Jan. It is a hand embroidered panel on a silk cushion cover. The elephant is there because she remembered how much I enjoyed my trip to South Africa many years ago. It is beautifully done and sits very nicely on my new sofa.

Elephant-cushion

This detail shot of the elephant shows just how much stitching is in the elephant and how she has shaded it so well. Thank you so much Jan, I really love it.

Elephant-cushion_detail

I am linking up with Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday again so I hope you will pop over to her blog and take a look at the others who have linked up

Have a lovely week and thank you for reading.

Maggi

Felting Samples

My felting class with Fiona Duthie has started and so I’ve been busy making samples. This is definitely a good upper-body workout class! It is going to be a picture heavy post so there won’t be much reading for you to do.

Merino base with silk top layer.

fiona-duthie_merino-and-silk-top1

Merino base with wisps of silk top.

fiona-duthie_merino-and-silk-top2

Merino base with yak clouds. I’ve never worked with yak before and hadn’t expected it to be so soft.

fiona-duthie_merino-and-yak

Shaded felting with Icelandic base and Merino top layer.

fiona-duthie_shading_merino-and-icelandic2

I also like the backs of the shaded pieces.

fiona-duthie_shading_back1

I am really enjoying the class and, although I have done quite a lot of wet felting before I am learning plenty of new things. I certainly would recommend the class as Fiona is a very good teacher.

I didn’t get anything done today as I had a visit from Linda who spent time stroking Casper and the felt samples, followed by lunch at Nourish. Lovely to catch up again but it was so cold down in Belper. I hope that it turns into a better weekend that you can enjoy, however you are spending it.

Linking up with Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday

Maggi

Fighting fit – I think!

No, my intentions to blog more frequently were not undermined by a lack of motivation but rather by a bad bout of flu. However, I think that I am finally fighting fit again and ready to keep this blog up to date. It’s a good job really, because I start Fiona Duthie’s felting class today and so, hopefully, will be up to posting about my progress over the next few weeks.

One thing that I have been able to make progress with is my Ulrika jacket. I finished the front, back and sleeves, started sewing it up and now only have to finish doing that, knit the pockets and the band. It might even still be cool enough to wear it by the time it is done!

Ulrika-in-progress

Just before the flu bug laid me low, we had some beautiful weather, cold but dry and very sunny. On one such day I decided to go for a walk, and was glad that I did, as I had forgotten just how lovely it is, only a ten minute walk from my front door as well. I did a very invigorating circular walk of about 6 miles and took a lot of photos which might come in handy for inspiration at some stage.

Bessalone-walk_2015-01-18_for-web

Another reason for not spending time blogging has been the fact that my sniffles had been restricting the time I could spend at the computer. I had enrolled in a 3 week class with the Pixeladies on using Photoshop so my limited time had to be prioritised for that. I wasn’t sure about taking the class as it was a basic one and I have used PS for years but, being self taught, I thought that going back to the basics might not be a bad idea. I certainly have no regrets as I learned a great deal and quite a bit was related to working with textiles as well. Deb and Kris are great teachers too. Cutting up fabric and trying out blocks with it was fun. I know that you can do it with Electric Quilt, which I also have. Unfortunately  I never use it because it won’t run on my Mac and, although I bought a cheap laptop so that I could run the programme, I hate Windows so things never really happened. I suppose I should think about trying to sell it at some stage.

This is a simple 9-patch made from some of my photos and monoprinted fabrics.

composite-9-block

We also manipulated photos so that we would be able to create a pattern for a quilt. This is not the type of  piece that I would probably think about making but it was nice to re-visit a photo of my old Blue,

2_just-blue2_cropped

For my ‘Final Exam’ I used a couple of flower photos to manipulate and after doing various steps decided to use the Wave filter and liked the results that it created. This was a macro image of barley …1_barley_1-2_original

… which became this. I have already printed this one out ready to stitch.

2_Barley-with-filter-and-poster-edge

I can’t for the life of me remember the name of this flower, spring flowering with feathery leaves, so if anyone recognises it please let me know. This was again a macro image …

1_purple-flower_original

… which translated to this.

2_purple-flower_wave-filter-and-poster-edge_6x8

Part II starts this coming Monday.

That’s all for now and, as a courier has just turned up with some of the supplies I ordered for the felting class, I really want to go and get my hands wet and soapy!  Enjoy your weekend

I’m linking up with Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday.

Maggi

Field Thistle continued

Following on from the previous post I continued stitching the field thistle piece. I added more stitching in the petal area to make it more dominant, leaving the base of the flower less defined. I did decide to go ahead with adding some colour but only  in places on the petals, using a darker colour in the lower petals and a lighter shade near the top where the light source was in the original photo. This is a close up of the area

Field-thistle_detail

I decided that I wasn’t going to overwork this piece so stopped at this point and faced it. So Field Thistle is finished, except for mounting it onto a box canvas. I’m still undecided whether to paint that black or to try and match the off white of the silk noil background. That decision will have to be made after the weekend I think.

Field-thistle_complete

I’m linking this past to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday

Have a creative weekend and if you are in the UK try to avoid getting blown away tonight! Or maybe the high winds are just for the East Midlands. I’m certainly battening down the hatches at the moment.

Maggi

Trying something different

I am determined that I will be a more regular blogger this year and have been pondering how to achieve this. Suddenly a light bulb moment when I realised that one of the reasons for lengthy periods between posts is that I tend to wait until I have something finished before I show it. So, this year I am going to be trying something different and I am going to post images along the way. Fingers crossed this will work.

In the spirit of trying something different I have been looking at ways that I can incorporate my photos without actually printing them directly to fabric. I also like the idea of doing some pieces that are more simple. As a try out I have used this photo of a field thistle that I took a couple of summers ago.

field-thistle-cut

I converted it to black and white,  inverted it and then increased the size to 12″ x 12″. My original idea was to print it out and then trace the design using Golden Threads Quilting PaperI then realised that I could, of course, print directly onto the quilting paper which is what I did. I then fixed it to a silk noil quilt sandwich.

Field-thistle_paper

Having done this, I stitched the basis design directly through the paper. Several hours later, after removing all the paper, I had learned that I shouldn’t have done quite so much stitching before removing the paper and that using a smaller stitch length would have also made it easier to remove. Not to worry, this was something different and it’s all part of the learning process. This is the result after that initial stitching.

Field-thistle-first-pass

I will be adding more stitching to it and am also trying to decide whether to introduce some of the purple into the top part of the flower. I may try that out using a photo of the piece before committing myself.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had been considering an invitation that I had received and, now that it is finalised, I can reveal what that was. Beth, who runs the And Then We Set It on Fire blog has invited me to become a resident artist on the blog for 2015. I have accepted (gratefully and excitedly) and my contribution will be a series of blog posts in July on creating silk screens with soy wax and glue. It’s a good job that I have started to take photos of my process as that is what I will have to show. I think perhaps I’d better find some way to permanently attach my camera to my body so that I remember to take the photos! If you are interested in surface design this is an excellent blog which provides enough ideas and inspiration to keep you going  well into the next decade.

Are you planning on trying something different this year? I would love to hear of anything you have in mind.

Maggi

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