Monday, 27 July 2009

Just a taste

Just a small taste of this year's entry for Festival of Quilts, and artists book based on the varied wildlife found in English woodland, partly based on Wytham woods where I grew up. Many of the pages remind me of specific incidents - the dragonfly which followed me one summer afternoon, the grass-snake which found itself wound round my dog's hindleg. The stag-beetle, above, used to terrify me when I was little, it looked so ferocious. The ghost-orchid, below, which is now extremely rare, is a flower I once saw during my career as an amateur botanist - not in Wytham woods but elsewhere - I did not know at the time how rare it was but even at that stage I knew to content myself with looking and then move on...

The pieces were made first by cutting designs from silk-painted pelmet vilene (timtex), one for each side of the page (producing double-sided designs was an enormous challenge but I managed sixteen of them). I used a scalpel for this - the first time I have done so, and the perfect tool for intricate cutting - providing you take great care. Then each page side was covered in hand-dyed silk organza (one of my favourite fabrics - it takes dye beautifully) and the design was stitched on: with the more intricate designs I drew it onto tracing paper and stitched from the back to outline the design accurately, taking out the paper before continuing. Next the two sides of the page were sandwiched together with a piece of hand-dyed silk tulle net as a "filling", and then quilted through all layers before being finished off with satin stitch. Finally I cut back some of the organza to reveal the net underneath. Using translucent fabrics means that the light shines through the pages which is meant to imitate the way you get patches of light shining through the woods.
That's why I've been so quiet recently!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Harvey and John update

By the time the programme ended I was already getting asked for information so here goes:
website is:
phone: 01859 530 485
address: 1 Lickisto, Isle of Harris HS3 3EL

I was prepared to be impressed but found it even more impressive than I expected it to be - and love the idea of secluded campsite pitches coupled with good-quality facilities. They deserve to be successful and I'm sure they will be.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Harvey and John on t'telly

From here...

To here...

Harvey and John, my friends who left Leeds to move to the Isle of Harris for a different kind of life are on television tomorrow (Wednesday) night - UK television programme Build a New Life in the Country on Channel 5 at 8 p.m., repeated on Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fiver. I've just watched the programme on
and even without knowing Harvey and John I think I would have found it riveting to watch them working ro restore the buildings and prepare to open a campsite business on thirteen acres of land through sheer determination and on a tiny budget all done with their usual wit and good humour. For those of you not in the UK you can see the programme on the link above.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

the one that didn't make it...

The reason I've been so quiet recently is that I've been making a project for Festival of Quilts. Never one to shirk a challenge, I've been making an artists book with double-sided see-through pages (one of my neighbours said "Isn't that ... sort of ... difficult...?" which has to be the understatement of the year) using silk organza, silk tulle net and pelmet vilene all hand-dyed/hand-painted. It has been a lengthy process and a testing one and I am now looking forward to getting it finished so I can get on with something else (like normal life perhaps?).

During the process there have been some cast-offs and casualties. The moth above is definitely not a cast-off (apologies for the inadequacies of the photograph though), merely the other side of something that really did not work, namely a dragonfly that looked as if it might sink if it ever managed to launch itself. The metallic thread seemed like a good idea at the time; by the time I finally admitted it wasn't the two halves of the page had been sewn together, and ditching the dragonfly meant I had to - very reluctantly - give up on the moth as well.