Wednesday, 28 November 2007

the macro button

One of the great things about blogging is it makes you work at your photography skills. In search of inspiration I spent a little time this morning in the back alley with my camera, which is only a point and shoot (one day I'll afford a digital SLR) but which has a macro button. The shot above is of a gatepost with peeling paint and a few cobwebs. The one below is two colours of peeling paint on an old garage door. All the other paintwork was, unfortunately, boringly pristine.

These I'm hoping will provide plenty of inspiration, either on their own or when I've played in Paint Shop Pro!

Still plenty of leaves around, and the colours seem particularly vivid against the browns and grays so prevalent just now.

Moss, dying leaves, cobwebs and a bit of brick wall make a fascinating abstract design.

The last of the blackberries...

A flowering currant leaf with wonderful patterning

and an old brick and dying mint-stems.
You don't need to live anywhere special to find inspiration - none of these was more than twenty yards from my front door!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Coping with ophidophobia

Ophidophobia is the fear of snakes and I caught it from my mother. Until recently I couldn't even look ata picture of a snake without shuddering and I doubt if I'll ever get to the stage where I could actually handle one. However I will acknowledge that there are snakes which - providing I don't have to get to close to them - seem to have a certain charm, and I did actually bring myself to stroke a California King Snake (juvenile) briefly a while back while she was being held by someone alse and it wasn't an unpleasant experience - in fact she felt quite soft and silky. It's surprising then that I'm so fascinated by their patternings and the shapes they make, and that I use them in my work as symbols. Contradictory eh? But as Walt Whitman put it: "Do I contradict myself? Very well I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes"

So far I've made one small snake quilt, which was used for a piece about dislikes in Myrna Giesbrecht's Self Expressions class (highly recommended) at Quilt University, and have an unfinished one (will be finished this year) using the idea of snakes and ladders symbolising - lightheartedly - some stages in the creative process.

I found myself recently playing with curvy lines as part of a Fast Friday challenge on movement and some of these turned into some lighthearted snakes, using - quite unusually for me - some printed fabrics I'd bought because I liked them (as you do) and couldn't think what to do with them:

This one's multicoloured cotton fused to a hand-dyed fabric background, with the outline couched in multi-coloured hand-spun (by me, with a hand spindle) yarn, then quilted in plain and multi-coloured thread to suggest more movement. The second one uses a hologrpahic curvy-line print with aa African print background, fused and couched with hand-dyed rayon/glitter chainette, and free-motion quilted. One thing I'm really proud of: perfect binding properly filled (I finally learnt to do this after reading advice on the Quiltart list for which many thanks).

For anybody not already participating in Pay It Foward, please read the previous blog and sign up - I only have one taker so far. I promise you a really nice gift! (No snakes unless you really like them!)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Pay it Forward

The picture is here just to get your attention.
Thanks to Marie at for inviting me to participate in Pay it Forward. The idea is the sort of passing on of good things. The first three people to leave a comment on my blog will receive a gift from me of something I have made. I will need to be able to contact you so please either leave an e-mail address (you can do this by e-mailing me with it (address on my profile page) if you prefer. You may not get the gift next week or next month but I guarantee you will receive it within six months. In return you are required to post the same promise and invite people to participate, on your blog.
I love the friendliness of the internet - and really cherish my blogging friends so hopefully the gift will be worth waiting for!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

journal quilt - now showing in Houston!

Not the perfect photo but the best I have at present (suddenly realised as the courier service was due to arrive that I didn't have a picture of it so had to whip out the camera, take it out of the packaging and take a couple of hurried shots (really it does hang straighter than this! I hope!)

The images are taken from Leeds West Indian Carnival which this year celebrated its fortieth anniversary plus the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain and its colonies. The bottom image came from the slave-ship theme and I think may be a slavemaster; the middle image, the peacock, signifies pride; and the top image reminded me of a rising sun - I chose these both for their appearance and their symbolism; on the side panels the symbolism is obvious - broken chains growing into leaves then flowers (flowers loosely based on hibiscus).

As for techniques - the background is a single panel of hand-dyed silk overlaid at the sides with hand-dyed silk chiffon: the leaves chains and flowers are reverse applique outlined in braid. The faces on the centre panel are made very simply using a counterchange effect with multiple layers of silk and metallic organzas. For the top image I've used lame (never again!), fancy threads, sequins and braids; for the peacock, braids, multiple organza and lame layers, beads and threadpaiting fo the feathers; for the bottom image bonded shot silk and black georgette plus silver braid and metallic thread.

I'm still not sure I'm satisfied with it - but I'm conscious of having had to modify the costumes/headdreasses to fit the design - for example the slavemaster's collar (the stand-up bit at the back) was at least twice the size, giving an amazing impression of power and domination which is lost in my interpretation.

However the journal quilts are meant to be about exploring and learning and this one definitely took me out of my comfort zone: the techniques I used from the book are threadpainting, couching and reverse machine applique; these are new or relatively new to me; the composition is much more formal than I sould normally use - but it seemed to fit the subject; I created a number of my own fabrics by bonding together transparent fabrics - unfortunately the depth you can achieve this way doen't show up in the photograph; and I used a lot of unfamiliar and non-traditional fabrics.

Below are details of two of the appliques: