Sunday, 30 December 2012

more birds

I too have been busy since Christmas been and gone, have two more quilts pieced and one is almost ready to bind. We had no electricity at all yesterday and there was just enough light in the studio to do some handquilting. I found some hessian and dyed this in dark red and charcoal, it gives a gorgeous intense colour and a texture that teams up perfectly with the vintage linen.

This one is hanging on the wall, ready for wadding, backing and quilting. I've used the fabrics created for the first few pieces and have overpainted some in stripes, using masking tape as resist.  Also discharge printed some black and beige fabrics with the chinese signs. I think a difference in scale is called for with the printing, so back to the chinese calligraphy!
Wishing everyone a very happy and creative 2013 xx.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Life 6 begins - Still Life

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, if applicable, and are ready to start 2013 at a running pace!

Life 5 is coming on well and will be finished very soon.

I've added some bits this morning which has helped me resolve an area around the focal point.  It's a book on Tea History (yep, I have one or two!) and a pair of booties. It all looks a little flat at the moment because it's not stitched and painted.

I'm really hoping that my machine will make it through all the layers of cloth and all those coats of acrylic paint. Fingers crossed!

I've been doing a little preliminary sketching for Life 6 - Still Life.  It is going to be a still life of chinese pots on a table with a patchwork cloth, and of course a life model.  I'm trying to get the drawings of her etc to look serene and content.  I've spent a couple of hours on the shape of the body, and have been trying to work out hands.  I'm not quite there yet as you can see, but it's a start.

The shadows are interesting, as the light has two sources; from above and from the right. I will have to decide if this is confusing and whether or not I should change it.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

It's been a long time since I have written on here. It seems ages since that lovely sunny day at Redditch when the Orientaion exhibition opened. Time seems to have flown and we have all been busy ... and of course there have been the babies and the puppy - all exciting and wonderful things. Next year I must start work on new pieces for our exhibition at Minerva - but for now, I am stopping for a day or two and going to enjoy the festive season. So I would like to wish all of Six and Friends and all of our followers a very , very happy Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and joyous 2013 - Hilary B xx

Thursday, 20 December 2012

More Sushi underway

It's been a while since I last posted but I have made progress with more Sushi pieces for our next Orientation exhibition at The Bramble Patch in the spring. Earlier in the year I dyed and printed a collection of fabrics with this theme in mind and I am enjoying developing these in different ways.
This discharged fabric, which I painted and printed with formusol discharge paste, has since been cut up and one section over dyed with a black dye. I know this sounds a rather unusual think to do, especially as it started out as a black fabric, but of course black dye does tend to give a blue/grey look to the fabric. I love the effect on the discharged areas.
Once dyed I randomly sliced the fabric into strips and pieced the start of my 'sushi roll' with some other plain dyed fabric. This is now several metres long and waiting for extra machine and hand quilting to embellish it.
I have also experimented with some more of my painted sushi fabrics and here you can see a detail of 'Sushi Logs'.
 I am very happy with the added strips of wasabi green and hot pepper dyed fabrics as they provide a good contrast to the sushi blocks. I am considering quilting this with lots of circles, so watch this space!
It's time now for wrapping presents and decorating the Christmas cake so I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2013.
Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A week until Christmas!

I've finished working on Life 5 for the moment so that I can prepare for Christmas next week.  I've left it all a bit late this year and it's suddenly struck me that I need to get a wobble on.

Although not a festive photo, it's a nearly finished box I'm making to house a special Christmas present (1st granddaughter!)  I've got a couple of more things to add yet - a butterfly or two and some stars on prongs......probably!!

I'd like to wish everyone in sixandfriends, and everyone out there in blog land a wonderful Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Peaceful New Year! xx

Monday, 10 December 2012

Update on Life 5

 I thought it was probably time for a bit of an update on Life 5 - Shall I Be Mother?

The hair is almost done, just a bit more defining and twiddly bits. I really love how the paint bounces over the stitches and gives little hints of reflected light.

The cushion below has some shadow now, and I'll continue to build around this.

 The teapot is probably finished - maybe a spot more light on the tip of the spout and edges on the left hand side.

I think I'm going to put a pair of booties on the table in the space under her arm.
And a close up of the teapot. It's quite blurry when zoomed in on!

I took the quilt into Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum on Friday to talk about it's progress, so it's already had an outing.

Although I've been moaning about my lack of progress on it,  it is that time of year. Marzipaning the cake,  making pretty gift tags, putting together a photo album of 2012 for my mum (we've had an eventful year!) and having the odd lunch out with the family seem to have taken over just at the moment, but I must press on.

Can't wait to start Life 6 which also, strangely enough,  has an Oriental theme.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Slow but steady

Progress on the quilt is not moving along as quickly as I would like. It's a big piece to hand stitch so if it comes to the crunch I'll have to reduce it in size but I'm not resorting to that just yet! I've begun by stitching in fairly close parallel rows using sashiko thread in blue or red. I've also got white and so that might make an appearance in other areas. I'm not doing the stitching in a traditional way. I tried, but the larger stitches didn't suit my natural rhythm. I also can't get on with a big needle so I've switched back to something smaller and quilting with a stitch size that I do without thinking. Plan is to add some more decorative areas of quilted pattern in later, but for now I need to get this functional stitching in place to hold it all together. I keep carting it around with me in the vain hope that I'll have an opportunity to put a few rows it. My tacking is less that adequate and already some bits are hanging off!

In the comments section Leslie asked a few questions so to answer briefly: there's no wadding with this type of quilt. Unlike traditional Welsh quilts for instance, the area where these quilts came from didn't have sheep so wool wasn't readily available. In fact cotton was reserved only for the more wealthy families. Boro quilts were often made from fabrics woven from other fibres such as wisteria! To create warmth there were just several layers of fabric instead of the quilt sandwich with wadding/batting that we're used to.

My fabrics are all laid down raw edged. I believe that this is how a real boro would be made. The use of squares and rectangles is also traditional as it's more economical than using curved cuts.

Once I've got a bit more work down on this one it'll probably feature in a video for DMTV. Enough chat for now, Amelie's snoozing so I ought to be stitching!
Talk to you all again soon,

Thursday, 22 November 2012

All the Quilts I Ever Made

Ok, first things first, I should qualify the progress I've been making by confessing that very little of it would have happened without Grandma and Granddad doing stirling work to entertain Amelie. She will nap happily during the day... on a lap, she will sit contentedly in her long as there's a friendly face up close to sing, chat and smile back. Thank you Mom and Dad!

My Boro inspired quilt is coming along. I do enjoy a bit of research and so have been reading around the subject. I came across these videos which if you're also interested in the Boro tradition you might like. I would love to see a copy of the book that they flick through...

and here's the second part:

Here I am working on my version. Accompanied as you can see by my new studio assistant.

As I type Linda be may well still be weeping. I've robbed her of this stash of authentic Japanese shibori and sashiko fabrics, threads, needles and thimbles. She was given them by a dear friend who visited Japan. They were so treasured that they sat unused in her studio waiting for something special. Well you know the theory of 'use it or lose it'. They're mine now. 
I should explain the title of this post. It's also the title of the quilt. I like to have the title nailed early on. It sets the scene. Usually if I don't have the title before I start or very early on into a piece then it turns out to be a dud. Linda and I were talking as I laid the quilt out on the table. I was chopping up bits of fabric and laying them down and we were commenting on this bit being a leftover from a quilt in 2003, a sample fabric from 1998 (gosh that makes me feel old), bits of printing that went with a quilt from whenever, you get the picture. I said this quilt would be like all the quilts I'd ever made, et voila!

The nicest Boro quilts and garments are the ones with lots of mends. I'm interpreting the originals by including sections with lots of small patches or mends like this section. 
This photo shows the progress as of yesterday afternoon. That side is finished now and is tacked. Today I'll flip it over and will repeat the process on the other side. Then I'll start the stitching which I can't wait for. Working in this way at this scale is something new for me. When I've done this kind of free applique, I suppose you'd call it, before, then it's always been for much smaller pieces. I feel excited about this construction process and that it could work on a grand scale. I may have to draft in elves to help with the stitching if I go much bigger, but I like a challenge.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Progress - Annabel

Well, if Laura can get back into gear so shortly after having her lovely baby Amelie, then I, who am only a new granny, ought to be ashamed!! So I've decided it's time for an update too.

nb. On the left is one of the reasons why progress on Life 5 has been a bit slow (Evelyn Elizabeth Rainbow-Deventer born 13th October) Another reason is a poorly mum, and another reason is a poorly finger! (I bought myself one of those uber sharp Japanese carbon bladed kitchen knives, but it was wrapped in one of those plastic bubbles that I can never seem to open, and in my frustration I took a slice from my finger.  Good job I'm not a samurai - the world would be sans legs and arms by now!

I think I left you at this stage before any the stitching had begun.

It turned out that there was a lot more stitching to do on this that I originally thought - mostly because it's quite large.

I love large.

So here we are again but with the stitching completed and the beginnings of the zen garden put into the window space. I've tried to do little things with the stitching, like alter the sizes of my stitches as they recede into the background.

Below, the stitching on the tabletop is complete and I have begun to apply the first coat or two of paint....just to show where the light is coming from. If you look at this one immediately after the one above, you can easily see the effect of the paints and why I like to use them in my work.  They are ordinary acrylics - no mediums or gels - but many coats!

 Below: the roof top has begun to be painted too.  I'm going for a splash of light in the centre and am introducing some interest by using yellow ochre and quinacridone burnt orange for the lights, and burnt umber for the darks and maybe the shadows of the trees. I haven't finished of course, there's much to do!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Nothing for months...

...then twice in two days!

After another good night's sleep (only three get-ups), I feel filled with energy to crack on. Linda and were cruising the web and came across some fabulous antique garments from Japan. Amongst them were pieces described as Boro. This wasn't a term I was familiar with, but after some research it turns out that it refers to textiles that have been mended and repaired often over many generations. I loved the patching, colours and density of stitch, some functional, some decorative. These garments and cloths could be handed down through generations being worn and slept on by numerous family members. I read somewhere that babies would be born onto and wrapped in these ancestral 'quilts' and of course with my own baby that had a real resonance.

So, I have decided that I will make my own 'Boro' quilt that we will use, wash and when needed, mend with a new patch and more stitch. I remember when my sister and I were at home we always had a quilt on our beds, one we'd mope under when we were ill on the settee or haul out into the garden to sunbathe on. I reckon Amelie needs one of those too.

Traditional Boro textiles are indigo dyed and I will take my lead from that. I've done lots of indigo dyeing and I've dug out as many pieces as I can find. Most are cotton, but there are some silk ones too. Some are indigo over dyes so there are flashes of other gorgeous colours too. I love a bit of hot pink or red and so my quilt will have accents of those to complement the blues.

I do have some authentic Japanese fabric. You can see it in this photo - the bit with the waves. I've also got some deliciously beautiful lengths that have the look but aren't Japanese, but I'm not being a purist. Why would I? I'm not Japanese, never been to Japan, I'm just inspired by this tradition. To that end I'm including a Union Jack. I'm British and it's Jubilee year so it all seems to fall into place. Oh, and Amelie's middle name just happens to be Elizabeth.

The flag is an old one, very fine cotton lawn and complete with holes and a tear - just ready for the first boro patch.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Have you missed me?

Hi everyone! It is such a long time since I've blogged, well a long time since I did anything creative actually! This treasure is the reason why...

It's not that I've not had all the best intentions, but just not the energy. Turns out babies aren't like cats at all. Amelie's nearly 10 weeks old now and I feel like I'm just about getting a grip. Not to tempt fate you understand, but I'm now adjusted to the criminal levels of sleep deprivation and don't feel like so much of a zombie.

When she's awake I can't tear myself away, but nap times are all of a sudden become a frenzy of activity for me. I have to decide though whether to do washing, tidying or something a lot more interesting!

I feel like it's time to pick things back up and so this week I dug out these pieces from a pile and pinned them up on my wall. I started them for Orientation back in the summer, but with Amelie's early arrival they were never completed.

I'd fallen out of love with them, but after pinning them up and standing back I quite like them again. They're digital photos that I've tweaked into black and white and printed to cotton poplin.

They're two photos from a set of images of me folding an origami crane. There's a story about folding a 1000 cranes and then being granted eternal life, so just 999 to go then.

I started free motion quilting them using lots of different greys to maintain the correct tonal values in the shading. Now I look at them they're too black and white and so I'm going to introduce colour with the quilting in the background. I'll have to audition some options, but I'm thinking red as that's such a strong colour in Eastern cultures.

Hopefully Amelie will enjoy listening to the hum of my sewing machine!

Bye for now,

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Last Day at Forge Mill Needle Museum

Today is the last day of our Orientation exhibition at The Needle Museum in Redditch. Many thanks to Jo Gloger and all the rest of the museum staff for their work on our behalf. It's always a pleasure to exhibit in such a wonderful building! I'd also like to thank our 'Friends' for joining us and making this all possible. Injecting some new blood into SiX certainly invigorated the mix of styles and approaches to the theme.

Of course the biggest thank you goes to everyone who visited and enjoyed the work on show. I haven't seen the visitors' book yet but I'm told we've had some lovely comments.

Much of the work will now travel on to The Bramble Patch in Weedon, Northamptonshire to be exhibited there early next year. From there it will move on to Llanidloes, home of the Quilt Association for much of the summer. These are both much larger spaces and so new work will be added to the existing exhibit. We hope many of you will feel a second trip is worthwhile!

I've been wondering what to work on next and I've had a bit of a lightbulb moment. I've had an Edwardian folding screen in the loft for a very long time. In fact it's moved house several times and seen the inside of several different lofts! It's covered in a very dull brown fabric but I think it may be time for it to see the light of day again and be refurbished in glorious Oriental fashion. I am thinking there might be cranes and orchids and definitely some gold leaf laid over a deep red ground. Right now these are just a few random thoughts in my head but if you read the previous post you will have seen that Annabel is already working on her 'Shall I be Mother' quilt for our next venue. It's looking fabulous already and prompts me to stop prevaricating and just get on with it!

I am so pleased to know that our new friends are happy to stick with SiX - the best is yet to come!!

Bye for now, Linda

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Life 5 - zen garden

Just an update for the blog, as it's been a while! Although the exhibition at Redditch is up and running, I'm making two more Life quilts, based on an oriental theme, and this is where I'm up to with Life 5.

I've been investigating shoji blinds, and have begun to put them in place. They are room dividers and privacy screens.You can see a space between the blinds and this will be for a view through an open door - a bit like the photo on the left.

 My view was inspired by David Hockney's paintings of a zen garden in Kyoto (internet trawl bought up the photo below)

I'm not sure if I'll go with stones or put one of my wobbly topiary trees in the gravel instead.  I'm looking forward to doing the machining for the gravel patterns!! It's quite a big space to fill and is a bit like a quilt within a quilt.

I've been a bit slow with stuff lately, but hope to speed up soon and perhaps get it done before the end of October. (There, I've publicly set a date now - cripes)  Gardening jobs and related special occasions are at an end now so I have no excuse not to crack on! The other Life Quilt with an Oriental theme will be Still Life with lots of Chinese pots (I've been collecting them and now have enough I think) 
Right then, I'm off to eat cupcakes.  I'm supposed to be on a low fat diet but can't see good food go to waste especially if it's extraordinarily delicious.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Exhibition open

Catherine and I took a trip over to Redditch yesterday so that she could see the exhibition before flying home later this morning.
We were very pleased to see how wonderful the work looks in the gallery at Forge Mill. Here is a little taster to hopefully entice you along to our Meet the Artists ( some of them!) between 1pm and 3pm today.

Look forward to seeing some of you later - off to Manchester Airport now!


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dunking in Edwinas Vat

Here are some images of some cloth that Edwina most generously let me dunk in her indigo vat .... one was scrunched up around big waste pipe and the other was clamped over square plexiglass resists ... I love them! Edwina teaches this day fairly reguarly and I would definitely have a go. The big question now is: will I be able to resist adding other colours in to these cloths??

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My turn!

Having wondered what all the fuss was about I had to have a go with Catherine's recipe this afternoon.

My version has pecans, raisins and just in case they weren't chocolatey enough, dark chocolate chips. I hope I have some visitors over the next couple of days or I cannot be held responsible for what might happen to this mountain of brownies! I guess we are allowed to celebrate the fact that the exhibition work has been delivered.
Delightful Hilary came all the way to Leamington yesterday to give me a lift delivering quilts to Inneke's barn for the Orientation exhibition.

Now whilst Hilary was deep in a trough of indigo dye...................

........................ I was deep in a trough of those world famous brownies!

Thanks to everyone, and see you on Saturday!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

food for thought

With deadlines looming and about a million things that need to be done before an exhibition opens whats a girl to do. I know when the going gets tough the tough get going so we decided on shopping (did that yesterday!) and baking- you guessed it Hilary - brownies!

This recipe actually originates in Vancouver- it's from a wonderful place called The Lazy Gourmet and I have been making them for ages. I shared the recipe with Edwina and she made a few additions and adaptations to the recipe and here is the version we shared at the latest SiX and Friends meeting, enjoy!

The Lazy SiX and Friends gourmet brownies-
235 grams butter
235 grams white sugar
235 grams brown sugar
175 grams cocoa
3 large eggs
235 grams flour ( cake and pastry or plain)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
235 grams total all or mixture of chopped pecans, dried cranberries, chocolate chips or.....

*in a large bowl sift flour and baking powder and set aside.
* In a large saucepan melt the butter add white sugar, brown sugar and cocoa- blend well. Beat in one egg at a time add flour and blend well, add vanilla and nuts etc... mix in well.
* Pour into prepared 9" X 13" pan ( we lined the bottom with parchment) and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F., 180 C or gas mark 4.  Center will be firm but not hard.

We won't mention the calorie count but a little free motion quilting helps wear some of it off!

Edwina recommends Green and Black cocoa and I'm a fan of Fry's.

Brownies in the oven- back to stitching!


Thursday, 30 August 2012

There's nothing like a deadline!

Guess what - five days to go and still no finished pieces!
I'm happily stitching away and making good progress as you can see here.
I'm positive that all three pieces will be complete by Wednesday when Catherine and I deliver the work to Forge Mill, although it could be that there are a few late nights ( or early mornings!) before then.
Look forward to seeing lots of you at the exhibition on Saturday 8th September when all will be revealed!
Off to do more stitching now.
I was going to add an image of completed Oriental Pot 3 - but I have to confess I can't find it right now ... no doubt buried in a pile of images from Festival of Quilts! But I did find a couple of details, and here they are:

This one is called 'Black Orchid' and at the moment is my favourite ... but that may well change. Anyway - with the opening of the first exhibition rapidly approaching, we have been writing up artist statements and pricing up work we want to sell .... and I have to say, I much prefer making them! Hope to see lots of you at the Meet the artist session on September 8th - Hilary x