Monday, 23 March 2015

Moving on to the next thing

I feel like I could make talisman pockets in my sleep now! All 100 are now complete and just awaiting their hidden messages. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their secret wishes - we'll be writing them out by hand and stitching the papers closed before popping a wish in each pocket. At present the talismans are pinned higgledy piggledy on my design wall but soon they'll be taken to Bilston Craft Gallery for the Through Our Hands exhibition where no doubt they'll be displayed with a little more care.


This is what 100 look like crammed together!


And here are some collagraphs, intaglio and lino prints in more detail.


The installation is called, 'This is Everything That We Are'. It's an apt title because we've used images and artwork featuring significant objects together with photos of family past and present to make the pockets. Finally we've added hand painted detail, drawing and text. While work for exhibition goes on in the background, we are always busy with other things too.


In April, Laura is offering two workshops about her methods for altering books. She knows I've always got several books on the go so she's asked to borrow a few for students to browse through during their coffee break. This one is all about nests and eggs. I've used pigment pen over a layer of gesso to make a scribbly tree. Many of the pages are yet to be altered so I'm hoping Laura might work into it as part of her demos!


The frontispiece has oil pastel with a wash of watercolour and another pigment pen drawing of the tree and nest. Our garden is full of busy birds with beaks full of mud and twigs at the moment so my theme is certainly current!


The original illustrations are too nice to lose completely so I've just allowed the twigs to cross over a corner of this page. If you'd be interested to take the class please contact Laura to see if there are any places left.


It has suddenly occurred to me that Easter is fast approaching. My mom has had a lovely little summer room added to the back of her house and she doesn't know it yet but this will be her Easter present! (I'll tell her it's better for her than chocolate). One of my watercolour paintings that Jamie printed a while ago has made up into a striking cushion. The colours are particularly gorgeous on the velvet fabric! Fingerprint aren't adding these to their website as there are only a few prints available but you might be lucky if you email to enquire. They have two sizes on velvet and cotton fabrics but only a very few of each so you'll have to be quick!

Now that the work for Bilston is as good as finished it's time to move on to the next challenge. Through Our Hands will be exhibiting at Festival of Quilts in August and we have plans for a collaborative quilt that I can't talk about right now. We know exactly what we want to achieve but thinking about something and actually doing anything about it are two distinctly different things. We're actually quite nervous about getting started but if it turns out anything as good as it looks in our imaginations it will be wonderful! What a shame you don't all do telepathy! Lots of research, photography and drawing are needed now. We won't be going anywhere near fabric till we've got all that right!


Have a great week! Love Linda x

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Talisman progress, fascinating book and Poldark's growing on me!

What did you think about episode 2? I enjoyed it much more than the first one although I'm not sure about some of the casting. George isn't repulsive enough is he? If you're a fan of the book and of the first TV series you'll probably feel like I do that he should be bull necked and more solidly built!

On a completely different subject, can I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent messages to be included in our Talisman project?


As you can see the numbers are growing. That's just over half of what's planned for the installation but I've run out of pins to show more. I think they'll look quite effective when displayed properly en masse.


Saturday's regular mooch round the antique shops turned up trumps this week. I was searching for books to alter but having started to read this £2 purchase I think it's too good to change.


There are wonderful little hints about padding the dressmaking form out to fit - we're going to need a lot of cotton wool!


This edition was written in 1942 when wartime shortages meant recycling was a necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. I remember my younger brother wearing something similar to this as a baby but I'm not so sure a romper suit made from an old shirt would go down so well today when designer labels are the norm even for little ones.


We've been making good use of the newly renovated pavilion this last couple of weeks. The white walls are great for photographing quilts.


And there's plenty of room for recording videos for DMTV too. Here's a smiley Laura getting ready for the video that'll go live on Thursday. It's a luxury to be able to leave everything spread out for the next recording session but we'll be tidying up before the first students arrive next week!

Thanks for dropping by. Love Linda x



Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Poldark, Talisman progress and impulse purchase

So ladies - what do we think? I watched the new series of Poldark on Sunday with mixed feelings. Cornwall looks amazing and I suspect it will be virtually impossible to find a hotel room there this summer. The new Ross has the looks the camera loves and he smoulders enough but I thought he was a bit lightweight compared to the original. Am I being harsh? Has distance lent enchantment? The first series was much slower paced but I preferred that. It gave the story and characters time to develop. The new version races along at a fierce pace, packing so much into each episode. I'm keeping an open mind though and will certainly be watching every week - maybe I'll be won over! Trouble is, when you have been a fan first time round you can't avoid making comparisons.

We're whizzing along with the Talisman installation for the Through our Hands exhibition in Bilston. I've had a fun session waxing images of family members as well as things that have personal significance to us both. These waxed papers will be folded and stitched or fastened with eyelets to make the pockets.


Here's my mom and dad in 1949 with my grandmother when she was just eighteen.


My grandmother was born in the late 1800s in Victorian London. It's hard to believe the changes she witnessed in her 96 years of life! We only have a few photographs of her but most show her wearing lace. I guess in those days you'd don your finest for a formal portrait. It's interesting because the other side of our family were actually lacemakers in Nottingham. They moved to Calais in France before finally emigrating to Australia in search of gold. Don't think they found any though as they ended up sheep farming!


Grandmother's sister, my great aunt, never married but spent many years in service as a ladies companion. Wasn't she a beauty? I have memories of her in later life when she retired and came to live with my grandmother. I think her privileged position in a grand household made her feel somewhat superior to the rest of the family. She was very prim and proper and always corseted into a most unnatural shape. Her posture was impressive but I suspect she couldn't actually bend with all that whalebone! As children we were in awe!


Although we are as busy as ever, it was sale time at the local auction house this week and we had our eyes on a few lots. Unfortunately the old dresser I fancied for my workroom fetched more than three times its estimate - I always pick the good stuff! Disappointed but not wishing to come home empty handed I couldn't resist this lovely C19th knife box. Perfect place to organise some of my pencils and so much nicer than plastic!

Bye for now - Linda x


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Inspired by DMTV

I've had lots of lovely emails about the Talisman project Laura and I are working on. We're so pleased to hear that people are intrigued by the idea behind the work. The world we live in is so difficult and depressing right now that we think everyone needs a little magic to keep them safe and happy. We are printing our own messages and placing one in each Talisman pocket but if you have a quote or phrase you'd like us to include do please get in touch. No one except Laura and I will ever get to read your message as we plan to print, fold and then seal the papers before secreting them - only you will know what you've wished for! We'd like the messages or quotes to be uplifting - let's create a positive force!

In my last post I promised to share pictures of Anita's serendipity paintings so here they are;


Looks like Anita had a lot of fun with this loosening up exercise! Mondrian meets Pollock!


If you're scared of a blank sheet of paper there's no better way to lose the white! Of course you could be forgiven for asking what next? Where can such an exercise lead you? Well, it's a great lesson in composition and in colour theory and Laura's been binding them into her hand made books but the designs could also be translated into fabric and thread using a variety of techniques. I've stolen a couple of the examples Laura demonstrated in the video for DMTV.


They're just small isolated areas of the large sheets of paper she painted.



These could become reverse appliqué pieces by cutting narrow channels through a layer of white fabric to reveal lovely hand dyed fabrics underneath. I'd finish all the stitching first and then spray with fabric paint before cutting back to the colourful layer below.  Having planned all that in my mind I'll probably take an easier route and have them digitally printed! After spending months making my last quilt I think I deserve a quick fix and a generous dollop of instant gratification!

Talk to you soon, Linda x

Friday, 6 March 2015

Serendipity painting, acrylic landscapes and Poldark

I can't be the only, 'woman of a certain age' who's looking forward to Sunday evening with equal measures of anticipation and dread. What am I talking about? Why the return of Poldark to our TV screens of course. Ok, so the new boy is very pretty to look at but will he have the brooding presence of Robin Ellis when he played Ross back in the day? The BBC have been showing old clips from more than 30 years ago and I've been all of a flutter but it's sobering to see him again in a cameo role in the new version as a grizzled and bewigged old man. There are a couple of clips of the new series on the BBC website if you're wondering what all the fuss is about! Just go to the  BBCwebsite and search Poldark in 'entertainment'.

I try to avoid reading fiction these days because I get so totally immersed in the story that I forget about real life. A few weeks ago though I was feeling a bit stressed and in need of relaxation so I decided to re read the Poldark saga novels. What you may not know if you're unfamiliar with the books is that there are 11 of them. I read one after another barely able to put each down before devouring the next! Sunday nights are either going to be all consuming or a big disappointment!

Back in the real world I have finished my latest quilt, 'To the Brim'. I never ever recommend any machine, tool or gadget unless I've put it through its paces and found it works for me but I can't tell you how much I love the Pfaff PowerQuilter! Although I've had the machine for a few months now, this is the biggest quilt that I have made on it so far and it's coped brilliantly! I would have thought twice about tackling such a big piece (180cm square) on a normal domestic machine but the huge table and long machine throat are simply fantastic.


Lots of people stopped and watched when Laura and I demonstrated the PoweQuilter at the NEC last year but the machine was new to us both back then. Now that I have much more experience with it I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. Just drop me an email if I can help.


Here's the piece complete and ready to be delivered to Bilston Craft Gallery.

I can't wait to start the next quilt which is destined for Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August but first I have to concentrate on finishing a collaborative installation Laura and I are working on for the same Through Our Hands exhibition at Bilston in a few weeks time. The work is called, 'This Is Everything That We Are' and involves many small talismanic pockets, each displayed with a secret thought held within. The pockets are constructed from paper, fabric and stitch, all very personal materials that we've created or modified in a number of ways. I have read that the magical and protective powers of a talisman are imparted to the object by the maker during the making process. We've used materials that have great personal meaning to us in these pieces and although they may seem insignificant when viewed individually, I hope they'll have great impact when displayed en masse.


This is just a small selection of the pockets so far. We plan to show around a hundred!


Who does that eye belong to - do you recognise yourself?

When we publish a DMTV video each week we never know in advance how it's going to be received. It's always a lovely surprise when viewers send us images of what they have made in response to our workshop demonstrations.


Thank you Anita for sharing your lovely landscape painted with acrylics! Laura loved what you did with her technique for serendipity paintings too - we'll show those next time.

Must stop chatting now and get on with stuff! Thanks for dropping by - Linda x

Monday, 23 February 2015

Inaugural workshop at the Wooden House

The renovations to Laura's cricket pavilion are almost complete and it's looking gorgeous! The kitchen cupboards are fully stocked with new crockery, cutlery and glasses. The coffee machine and the kettle are in place. All the important stuff to ensure students are well catered for during this year's exciting classes are ready and waiting. We are so looking forward to welcoming the first students to the inaugural workshop next month. If you'd like to be among the first people to see how the 'Wooden House' is looking you can find details of the class and how to book here. Knowing Laura is going to be teaching all the tricks of using frottage has made me revisit many of my sketchbooks as this is one of my very, very favourite techniques. 


It's a fast and easy way to introduce pattern to sketchbook pages.


As well as a perfect way to create wonderful texture. This rubbing was made from a fish slice would you believe?


Rubbings resist washes of intense watercolour to make exciting pages.


This lovely rubbing was made from a metal grid in a local church but it's the choice of paper that makes it so special.


Laura invented this very effective method of creating linear rubbings that work equally successfully on paper and fabric. She'll let you into all the secrets during the class and you'll go home with the wherewithall to recreate the technique as many times as you like!


She'll have all of her rubbing blocks available for you to use on the day.


And she'll explain exactly how you can make your own rubbing plates from very simple materials in the future.


Looking through my sketchbooks, I'm excited to go back and develop some of the rubbings into fabric pieces. Maybe that'll be a follow up class at the Wooden House!


And I think even the paper I used to protect the table has some quick practice pieces that have potential!

If you'd like to join us do get in touch - we'd love to see you!

Very best wishes, Linda x

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Signs of spring

Longer days mean renewed energy and more progress with the quilt!


It's great to be out at the edges outlining all the gold text with black thread.


And adding detail to the appliquéd shapes.


I've also 'drawn' some shapes with stitch - these will be painted when all the quilting is complete. I like to mix it up - I've got feathers that are stencilled, outline stitched and appliquéd.

On a completely different note........


I can't remember if I mentioned the unusual present we were given for Christmas. This log is apparently impregnated with mushroom spawn. Except for the fact it has a handy carrying rope, it looks like any old log and I am not saying I was sceptical but this morning as I walked around the garden looking for signs of new life I spotted this.........


I don't think we'll be dining on gourmet mushrooms any time soon but there is the promise of things to come! It's only February and there will no doubt be plenty of winter yet but the garden is already alive with birdsong and squabbling blackbirds staking their claim to territory.


The usual suspects are flowering away like little cheery beacons!


And the camellias are already showing their colour.


This viburnum blooms for ages and is perfumed too. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm depressed all winter but these signs that spring is on its way really cheer me up!

Thanks for dropping by - I'm off to do more quilting! Linda x