February and on track….

Well, I am updating but without much to say, last month I felt totally uninspired and the creative flow dried up. Recently I have been dyeing again but am not ready to show anything finished yet.

Pole wrapped silk noile.

I have signed up to do journal quilts for the UK Contemporary group of the Quilter’s Guild, January’s is almost finished just needs the finishing touches.

Last weekend I was at the show at Cholet, about an hour and a half from home. There were some very good and varied exhibitions and the number of visitors the first two days was good. Once people were in the show for the most part they wandered about aimlessly, I don’t have any photographs to show because I fell into a lighting black spot, at least a few contacts were made and it was good to see old friends again. My car had a very unexpected decoration for a few hours one evening, actually I rather fancy a car like this.

The one piece I do have to show is the first of my Fifteen by Fifteen pieces. This year we have all chosen an artist and are each working a series of six in the style of our chosen artist. I made a short list from a list of 101 best known artists and then I looked at each artist in detail to see how I could produce a series in their style. It is interesting to see how many of the others have chosen from my personal shortlist! It wasn’t an easy choice because I wanted to have a progression in my series but I finally settled on Georges Seurat 1859 – 1891 as my inspiration because A) I like his work and B) despite his short life he produced a large body of work from which to draw inspiration. I have begun by using his black and white drawings as a starting point.

For Seurat black and white drawing was a perfect medium, more than using just individual lines he rubbed rough paper with a greasy crayon, therefore creating tones of blackness. He wanted to be a painter of an instantaneous view of a single moment with no movement. As somebody who often works from photographs the instantaneous moment is totally apt and something I relate to totally. For this first piece I have used a photograph of the river Charente in flood in the town of Saintes which I took on December 25th 2019.

To recreate the heavily textured paper I have used old cotton sheeting. I have used black thread and black paint but I strayed slightly by using black vilene for the reflection of the tree trunk. I made a stencil and applied the main part of the tree then stitched the main lines and applied more paint before returning to stitching in more detail. Seurat has a way of leaving patches of the page totally white which I have tried to use to give more light and definition to the piece, I found that leaving the halo around strong sunlight very difficult to blend in the lines are a little too regular and angular. Onwards and upwards for the next piece. all the group’s work can be seen at fifteenquilts.com.

Tomorrow I am heading of for a week of snow-shoeing hoping that there will be some snow, not only for the snow-shoes but also because I have packed a snow dyeing kit! No point of going to the snow if I can’t dye with it!

January 2022

While wishing you a Happy 2022 I am trying to promise myself that I will update my blog more often but in order to do so I need to get back into the habit of producing work! The festive season has seen me re-cover my dining chair seats and attack a tapestry, started more than twenty years ago, which I would like to get out of the way. I also made the mistake of giving myself a 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle….

Looking back on 2021 all things considered it wasn’t a bad year for me I made new friends and sold a fair number of pieces. After three years of Serge Billards inviting me to exhibit at Face à la Mer down on the coast I have worked out what works as far as sales are concerned. I started working on small, normally 20 x 20 cm pieces, mounted on a frame and they have proved to be very popular. Although I want to sell work it is important to me that these small pieces represent my way of working, this year I made a series of birds and some small more abstract pieces.

During these last few months I have also played around with the Katazome technique after having taken an online with Sarah Desmarais, it is a resist dyeing technique that I have always wanted to try and Sarah shared her way of more available materials. After a first attempt on silk organza with ready made stencils and a paper one which wasn’t strong enough I found that some sail cloth which I had made a really good reusable stencil and I tried again. It also works well as a stencil….

First attempts on silk organza, the top right is a paper stencil and random dots, the other three found stencils.
Moonlight on the sea on cotton, with the sail cloth stencil.
Sari tree, printed over a piece of old silk sari.

I also played around with a piece of shibori, having dyed the cotton it sat on my pin-board for some time until I saw the ‘marais’, the drained marshlands near home. For me there was a tangle of trees and the water in the foreground so I densely stitched the two areas, blue horizontally for the water and green vertically for the foliage.

Since the end October when I last updated this blog life has been calm even if I was involved in two exhibitions and one show. The first was Arts Atlantic in La Rochelle which involved 200 artists, I exhibited four 20×20 cm pieces along with fifty-nine other members of Gaspart17, I never got to photograph them together because they sold within half an hour of the show opening. I spent Saturday morning at the show and was really impressed by much of what I saw especially the work of Victoria Danville Vermeersch who works by sculpting textiles .

Two of the birds which sold at Arts Atlantic.

The next outing for my work was Fil’Passion at Perigueux, it was quite quiet but there were some interesting artists present. There was one piece which really intrigued me in an exhibition of work by a local group who had not exhibited before. This piece by Amandine Bézamat seen from a distance was really striking, close up there was a more visible three dimensional aspect.

My wonderful exhibition space.
Work by Amandine Bézamat

The weekend before Christmas I was invited to exhibit at Sainte Marie de Ré, they invited all thirty of us who had had exhibitions in the town during the summer season to exhibit but only six of us were interested which gave us four metres of hanging space each, apart from myself there were three painters, a photographer and a sculptor which made for a very interesting exhibition. Sadly visitors were very sparse but some those who did come were very interested, I am happy to say that I was the only one who sold anything but then it was one of the smallest and cheapest things on exhibit!

The piece which sold. Also katzome, dyed on green silk with button leaves hand crafted by Auvergne Laser.

Now my work is all stored away until I go, fingers crossed, to Cholet for Fils Croisés at the end of January.

The end of November also saw the completion of the last piece for the Fifteen by Fifteen challenge about countries, mine being Pakistan. This time it was fauna and flora and I chose to take a photograph of mulberries being collected for our dessert as my starting point. I printed the photograph on ExtravOrganza and then created the leaves using the above mentioned resist technique and stencils. The background was a piece that had rust dye on it and reflected the colour of the bark and dustiness of the surroundings. The mulberries were created with small beads.

So until next time…..

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Well, time has truly flown since I last wrote, but that is not to say that I haven’t been well occupied!

The first weekend of September was the ‘Fête des Arts’ at Nieul-sur-Mer, the neighbouring village, and good friends of mine invited me to exhibit in their home; it was a lovely weekend and the visitors who came were really interested in my work which was a real boost. I am happy to say that the following piece found a new home although I was sad to se it go.

Once that was finished I headed off to Sainte-Marie-aux Mines for the EPM show where I was exhibiting in tandem with Chantal Guillermet, our work on show was based on places visited while travelling. Our style of working is very different but as a result complimentary. In the past EPM has been extremely busy attracting people from far and wide, this year there were many fewer people which meant that we had time to talk to visitors and they had good space to view the work on show. It was so good to be among people who were really interested and I was amazed that the distances some people had travelled especially for the show.

Made it to the local paper while I was installing my work.

We chose our exhibition space to suit our work but the lighting and hanging system made it difficult to take good photographs, I need to take the time to redo them all so that they are well lit and square, from these you will have an idea of what I was exhibiting.
A general view.
Inspired by Indian door curtains and some blue striped fabric I found in India. I dyed the blues, lino printed, wood block printed and appliquéd using motifs I photographed when travelling in India.
These three developed in to a series, the first two were planned as positive/negative works but it was during lock-down and I was doing a big jigsaw puzzle so the idea to create the same doorway with a garden behind as a puzzle came to mind. Once again India inspired.
Based on the Taj Mahal, I photoshopped an image and appliquée it before adding hand stitch detail .
Before visiting Russia I thought the high rise flats were drab but not at all, so I wove a backdrop of dyed fabric and then added the domes.
A street scene on the island of Burano known for its lace with a carnival mask to tie it to Venice….
I couldn’t leave out the African continent so I created a piece based on a batik print I bought in Kenya using fabrics I had brought back from The Gambia.
There was a panel of the small pieces I have done of people met in Pakistan back in the mid ’90s, this one included.
These three are all based on photographs that I have taken while walking here in France.

While I was away an exhibition opened at Ste Marie de Ré where I had three pieces on display, the subject being sea shells. It was an interesting exhibition because not only was it multi media but it also had a scientific element in the guise of lectures. I used two pieces which fit the bill and made one more on the subject of shells.

In this one I have returned to a way of working which I love, stitching directly into the wadding.

Ten days later it was time to head to ‘Pour L’Amour du Fil’ at Nantes where I taught two classes both of which were over full with enthusiastic students, it was so good to be in the classroom again.

At the end of September the fifth Fifteen-by-Fifteen piece was revealed, still based on our chosen country, mine being Pakistan, the subject was literature. I struggled because the north-west of the country is not strong on literature but there is a culture of mime, dance and oral stories. I chose to depict two different tales, that of Halmasti a wolf-like creature the size of a horse spitting flames and that of Terich Mir, 7708 m the land of fairies. The full story can be read with this photograph at Fifteenquilts.com .

Barely back from Nantes and rather last minute I decided to visit the UK for the first time for over two years. This meant that I could finally deliver my niece’s wedding quilt, which I made in the spring, because I had been unableI was unable to get to the wedding in June due to COVID restrictions. I also got to meet my great niece for the first time and gave her a rag doll I had made. I had made a ball for my great nephew but sadly didn’t get to meet him due to illness in the family but at least he now has his ball!

The quilt is made with May Morris design fabrics and pieced by machine. The larger squares are all hand quilted.
Rag doll and ball .

I made two new birds to make a collection of four, I sold all the others I had made, for the Arts Atlantique show next weekend.

When I work on my little birds I always use work from photographs that I have taken myself. I sent a small panel of two shells to America for the SAQA trunk show.

Now it is time to start a new body of work and I started off trying out some resist printing, now the ideas are running out ahead of me….

August 2021

Having started July juggling exhibitions the rest of the month was relatively calm and not very summery, high winds and heavy rain showers, but it meant that there has been plenty to do in the garden.

At Marans I showed some new and some older pieces, I had two square metres of display space.

Then in La Rochelle it was an exhibition of small pieces so I exhibited last year’s Fifteen by Fifteen pieces and some which were smaller and had been made for the monthly SAQA Europe and Middle East gallery, these four pieces are mounted on frames and I added two journal quilts.

I didn’t spend a lot of time at any one of these exhibitions as they were all running at the same time but I did have enough time to appreciate the comments from the visitors. There were not over many visitors at any of the exhibitions, the weather was far from seasonal which didn’t help.

As a result of my exhibition at Ste Marie de Rè I was invited to hang my work at a hotel/spa just outside the town. I don’t know what will come out of it but I am happy that the work is hanging rather than sitting under my bed! There is a long corridor linking the two areas and I have 19 pieces decorating it.

The corridor is curved so difficult to photograph but the pieces are hung away from the windows and therefore the sunshine but under the lights.

I am gearing up for EPM, Ste Marie-aux-Mines in mid-September and then at the end of the month I have two classes at Pour l’Amour du Fil in Nantes which are already fully booked. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that everything will go head.

The last piece for Fifteen by Fifteen has been completed, the subject was architecture. In the Chitral valleys in the north west of Pakistan the houses are a built on steep land leaving the valleys for agriculture. As a result the houses are all on top of each other, one person’s roof becomes another’s terrace, they are built in wood and stone with some mud. I used a dyed cotton/silk mix as the upper cloth which has a texture and then after hand stitching it I cut back to the landscape that I had roughly painted on the background. I didn’t put much detail in to the background as I wanted to put the emphasis on the architectural content.

Now I am hoping to finally getting around having time to play with some new ideas that have been turning in my head for some time and allegedly summery weather is coming!

July 2021

Looking back I really can’t see what I have been doing over the last couple of months but it feels as if I have been busy!

I am finally able to announce that I am exhibiting at EPM, Ste Marie-aux-Mines, in Alsace in September in an exhibition with my good friend Chantal Guillermet. The work for this has kept me busy these last couple of years and won’t be posted here until once the exhibition is underway or finished.

This week I have a ten day exhibition at Ste Marie de Rè, the subject is related to nature in general and the local landscape which is giving me the chance to exhibit older work as well as newer pieces which haven’t been shown since I came here. The following week I have space in two other local art exhibitions, one in Marans and the other in La Rochelle these will both feature newer pieces.

My last piece for Fifteen by Fifteen involved a great deal of stitching because it was all stitched by hand. It is my third piece about the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, the subject was ‘in the style of an artist’. As far as I could find the region is not full of artists but I found the work of Afshan Shoaib who was born in Peshawar and studied in Pakistan before going to London. The full story is on Fifteen by Fifteen but I really liked the way that she worked with two faces in one. Having visited the Kalash valleys in the 1990s I was struck by the differences between the lives of the women there and those in the town of Chitral, the former were very much in evidence while the latter were at home in their compounds and not seen on the streets. I used a photograph I took in the Kalash valleys and half the face is stitched accordingly the other half is swathed in a dupatta, as I was when I visited the region.

Fortunately I always pick up cowrie shells when I see them so I was able to add them to the piece which makes it more authentic.

The season has started at the Cabane on the coast, The Bistrot du Port, Marsilly and I have some small pieces on exhibition.

I sold my curlew piece and then made a new one and I have recently stitched a shelduck and there is a black redstart in the pipeline.

The other piece which was completed was a small piece for the SAQA benefit auction, it started out as an exercise in colour using a colour I wouldn’t usually work with and then I developed it further.

I continue to walk and photograph what I see and will soon start a new collection of work, watch this space…

April 2021

It is only after the second reveal for the year with Fifteen by Fifteen that I realise how long it has been since I last posted. Time during the ‘COVID’ period is endless and one day blurs into another, with no routine life drifts along . I think a lot about friends but lack the motivation to contact them, when I am in my bubble I am quite happy and outside contact can make me yearn for other things. Although we are only just going back into lockdown we have had a curfew since before the end of 2020, it was reduced from 6pm to 7pm a couple of weeks ago. 

On the stitching front as per usual there are things I have worked on which are tucked away for exhibitions and a wedding quilt on the go which I am keeping under wraps until it is gifted and that will depend on travel restrictions this summer. All I can say is that I know exactly what I am doing in front of the television of an evening for next month or so.

This year Fifteen by Fifteen are working in a series based on a country of our own choice, each reveal has a subject in common, the first was emblems and the second landscapes. Back in the 90s I holidayed in the north of Pakistan and it is a country which intrigues me, the scenery in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram regions is spectacular and my mother was born in Karachi pre partition. I deiced to to mix two flags, the national and regional flag of the formerly North-West Frontier are, now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. The colours used are the same in both flags, I machine stitched with three different weights of green thread before adding the painted areas.

The landscape was much harder the mountains rise so high above the river valleys and I wanted to try and concentrate on the KP region. For some reason years back I bought a very detailed map which was just beyond the region but it included the ‘road’ that I had twice travelled so I took a small section and enlarged it, contour lines and their spacing are a really good measure of the steepness of a region, I added some spot heights, the buildings marked on the map and the tracks/paths. The road, which crosses the north, is more of a track as it is a dirt road, then there are many water courses some of which dry up in the summer months. The map is old but I really don’t think that much will have changed in these high frontier lands.

This year I have decided not to do journal quilts, I was finishing my on-line course with Sue Stone and doing varying challenges with the Textileartist.org’s stitch club and I want to have time to explore different ideas without feeling that I had to complete too many things on time.

A small piece as a result of a workshop with Stewart Kelly. I love collecting samples to give me inspiration and ideas for further development.

For the last unit of my Stitch my Story course I had to choose a person I know and do three portraits from the same photograph. I wanted to work on my mother and had difficulty finding a photograph, the first one was relatively easy but the next two were harder as we had to change the look and I was hopeless at it, had I known what the 3rd subject was when I did the second one I would have changed the order. I discovered that finding words to describe her character was really difficult because she was distant during my childhood and latterly suffered from dementia, my choice for the second one was then to try and age her and in her thoughts were her grandfather who she cried out for all the time.

First attempt…
Second attempt with my great grand-father taken from a grainy newspaper cutting…

The last one was in the colours of a jumper she had which I adored, her glasses were made more bookish, she loved reading and the cross stitches used reflect the fine counted thread embroidery she so loved to do. Her jumper reflects nature, she loved the garden and outdoors in general.

I am really pleased to have done the course and now have many ideas of where to go from here…

Next week was meant to be having an exhibition of my own for two weeks but, as is the way of things at present, it has been cancelled. Hopefully it will happen this autumn or next spring. This, however, has encouraged me to make some smaller pieces and mount them on frames as the subject for the exhibition is nature and the patrimony of the Ile de Rè. I intend to go on with the series in the weeks to come but here are the first three. 

I also made a small piece for the SAQA Spotlight Auction.

During March SAQA had a seminar on Colour with weekly lectures, chat sessions and loads of resources, I managed to attend most of it even if I didn’t do all the exercises. I knew some of it and some was too scientific for me but it was great to have something to focus on. With virtually nothing in the diary for the next few months I hope to have the time to be really creative!

December 2020

So, here we are at the end of the year, mid December to be precise, and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone, or more importantly what I have done with my time. I haven’t the excuse of being elsewhere, since the end of October we have been under lock-down…. I have been very focussed about walking daily and at the same time looking for photo opportunities, after a month of walking the same 5 km circuit daily I think I knew every blade of grass! With the restriction of a 1 km radius it did encourage me to be more observant and really look around me, hopefully some of the photos will be put to good use.

I have continued with my on-line course with Sue Stone and produced a couple more portraits adding appliqué and mixed media and just have the last section to do, all that I need is the right photo! I have found it a wonderful course and hopefully I will use what I have learnt and take it further. 

A nepalese lady high in the mountains. This took ages and due to the amount of stitching and I don’t think I will work in this way very often, but it was a good challenge!
A cook in a taliban restaurant in the north west of Pakistan where I ate one evening many years ago. appliqué and hand stitch.His mouth was difficult because he had no teeth!
A mixed media piece depicting a young woman carrying a basket of hay high up in Nepal.

On the subject of courses I have also continued to do some of the Textileartist.org workshops which have pushed me to try techniques I might not otherwise have tried, again there are techniques which I intend to return to.

A sketchbook made after Ali Ferguson’s workshop.
A glove made of plastic as a result of Jennifer Collier’s workshop. Rather more enjoyable than I had expected!
This and the following photograph are inspired by Richard McVetis’ workshop encouraging abstract work, neither piece are really abstract but I had great fun doing them…all hand stitched.

With the uncertainty of how the world will pan out next year I still have pieces stored away for exhibitions and I would like to add to them, I have the feeling that my productivity has really dropped and I must try and get focussed. I have finished my year of journal quilts, (subject Out and About using used materials) many of which used techniques from workshops. I think that next year I might take a break from monthly journal quilts, I will see how I feel in January., although they do give one the chance to try out ideas in small pieces before making a something larger.

Samphire on the coastline with the shelducks swimming.
Painted shell appliquéd on to an old handkerchief which was also painted.
The sand as the tide goes out, base fabric with a metallic thread painted and then an old paper bag appliquéd.
A partridge without his seasonal pear tree, but he was eating things in my garden one morning so I photographed him from the kitchen window. Hand stitched then painted on an old pillow case.

I have completed the monthly SAQA regional challenges here below:

The subject was the garden, I played around with the photo programme on my ipad to produce this pattern of some ornamental grass in the garden.
Colour; one of my projects is to look at colours , inspired by the work of Albert Aymes.
Cities: inspired by floor tiles at the basilica of St Servatius, Maastricht.
Mono-colour: my interpretation of a rock sculpture by Valentina Dusavitskaya and Yury Tkachenko at Les Lapidiales, Crazannes. I felt that their idea of man/women, yin/yang or night/day reflected the state of my emotions over the last month, sticking my head in the sand included…

The year has also ended for the Fifteen by Fifteen pieces and my series is complete. we were working on a different letter each challenge and I decided to use places I have visited as my subjects, with the inclusion of the letter in morse code.

M for Murano, a Venetian island which is renowned for its glass production, the millefiori marrina in particular. I have replaced the water and some parts of the buildings with fabric which represents the glass.
A: Akko (Acre, Israel). I sun printed the letters then stitched the stones. There are motifs from the city flag representing the city as a port and more recent industry, a motif of an old bread press I saw in the museum , the colour is an entry ticket which I printed on ExtravOrganza. The whole then had some roof vaults from the Knights Halls.

Looking back over 2020 it has been a strange time for us all, it started for me with a flurry of activity and a heavy work load trying to complete things for exhibitions which gradually fell by the wayside, the result is a feeling of emptiness. On the whole I am happy in my bubble and I have not lacked time for reflection, the result is that I think in my head I am getting a clearer picture of the direction I want my work to go in…

Seasons greetings to those of you who have read to the end!

Tempus fugit…

How time flies and I don’t seem to have achieved anything although I reckon that I have been constantly occupied. Not having a structure to my life means that I have floated through the summer never really knowing what day it is or what I am going to do with it! With an empty diary I started filling it with noting when there were zoom meetings or on-line Stitch Club activities. In some ways this ‘time out’ has given me a freedom to experiment with ideas and things I would never normally do stitch-wise. I have to admit that there are various household chores which also come in to that category…. 

As somebody who likes things well organised I found a workshop with Gregory Todd Wilkins a real challenge, the idea of applying paint randomly, with no plan, difficult and my efforts were timid but I did it and turned the piece in to a 12” by 12” piece ‘Home is where the heart is’ or in my case the emotions which have been contained there in within the previous six months. I used colour to express how I have felt home alone. Grey: depression, Blue: calmness with a touch of sadness, Yellow : happiness, Orange : creativity and energy, Pink : cheeriness. Fabric paint with hand stitching and a wood block print for ‘home’. The quantity of each colour reflected the balance of my emotions.

Out and about: a wander along the coastal path. This was my July journal quilt using found objects and plastics in particular. Hand painted old sheeting and couched plastic string for the plants with beads as the seed heads.

Out and About: along the coast during one of my usual walks. The sea and the bush are made with old paper bags using Momigami (thanks Cas Holmes and the Textileartist), I have also used commercial scraps and the sky is hand painted silk. I tore the ‘sea’ paper in to strips and then painted it before layering it with some grey nylon. All hand stitched, the fishing hut should, in retrospect, have been in deeper water/mud ….

My inspiration continues to come from what I see around me and maybe the fact that I haven’t been far afield has led me to look at things in more detail and search patterns and textures where they are not obvious at first glance, the lichen on this signpost is a good example. I have yet to use it as a basis for a stitched piece but watch this space…

July’s Fifteen by Fifteen piece was the letter ‘D’ and I choose to work a stained glass window in the church of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne .
When I first saw the modern stained glass windows I was inspired to use them in textiles because I found the shapes so pleasing and there was no lead separating the coloured panes. The only separation is the line of stonework between the two sections of window. The pulpit was carved stone and again I was drawn to the designs. I first painted the silk ‘window’ and then stitched in the ditch to hold the layers together. I overlaid the pulpit design and machined the motifs with a rayon thread, the finer details are not too true to life but the creating of the shapes was fun. The idea was to create something that looked very basic but which  then produced a second more complicated shape upon closer inspection. I have used the centre of the flowers to insert my ‘D’ in morse code. This piece demonstrated how difficult photographing textiles can be.

A second workshop with Anne Kelly resulted in this small booklet recording a visit to Israel in 2017. A good many of the workshops have encouraged us to use found materials which is great except that recently I decided to declutter, moving house and living in a modern space really made me aware of how much clutter I had accumulated throughout the years. Sadly many small pieces of small memorabilia have been chucked away….

I am still, slowly, working through an on-line course with Sue Stone and am determined to get to then of it. I love stitching portraits and have done two recently, the first as a gift and the second for my coursework.

Aware that I have far too much surplus fabric I decided to cover two cushions which have been lying around for months, the first is from left overs from a quilt I made some years back, that was so much fun that I did another with further scraps in a brighter colour range. There is something very relaxing about piecing and hand quilting…

Nearing the end of September I realise how much time has slipped through my fingers, my walking group has restarted with twice weekly sessions which has given me some structure to the week so all I have to do is attack some new work on my empty and recently tidied work table….

Holiday time….

Well in theory holiday time is here, in fact not a lot has changed I am still happily at home with no real desire to go anywhere. I have been tempted to venture further afield but I prefer solitude at home rather than wearing a face mask amongst strangers. I have been busily stitching since I last updated this blog but as virtually all my targets have now melted and disappeared, for the time being, I find myself beginning to relax. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be continuing to stitch frantically, it just means that there is no pressure to do so. I am doing an on-line course with Sue Stone which I began at the beginning of the year knowing that I wouldn’t really be able to commit much time until the autumn. Then, at the the beginning of lock-down the textileartist.org produced weekly challenges with other textile artists , it was really great to have workshop followed by a Q&A session each week, I didn’t do them all but I did listen to them all. The they started the Stitch Club and I am just beginning to catch up on that. There is no pressure to complete each week but I love listening to what inspires artists and see how others interpret the project. I intend to spend more time trialing ideas and ‘playing’.

Much of what I have been working on has to remain under wraps until it has been exhibited publicly but there are a few other projects I can share.

There have been various panics about not having what I most needed in the sewing line, in my confused state I had completely over looked the fact that I could dye my own threads because recently I have done far more painting than dyeing. When I dye fabric I also tend to through thread in at the same time that way my thread and fabric match.

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I have continued to photograph things as I walk, I am beginning to have a large library of flowers, my phone is very good on close ups less good on landscapes but I glean inspiration nonetheless.

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There has been another piece for Fifteen by Fifteen which was the letter ‘C’. I chose the Cinque Terra and Corniglia in particular. As I have probably said more than once I like the idea of layers so I used a slightly rusty old iron balcony in the foreground, cut in black interlining and de-coloured, with the village painted in in the background, well the form of it and the colours which were then machine stitched. I then hand-stitched the balcony in to place. it is bound in white because this year all my six pieces finished in this way to make them look like snap shots…

CornigliaC detail. may 20jpg

There are beads across the middle depicting the C in morse code.

During May I also gave a live Facebook workshop on the Spanish I maraton Covid 19 page. It was slightly harrowing when I couldn’t get the camera to work live on the trial session but after 5 hours of reading Macs: for Dummies, amongst other things, I finally sorted it out for the class. It appears to have been appreciated, despite the fact that I don’t speak a word of Spanish, judging by the number of positive comments I received. In return I was given a virtual medal…

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Journal quilts continue and I am trying to use all that I am learning in the workshops to produce them. This one was as a result of a workshop led by Anne Kelly, her style of work and mine are poles apart but I was intrigued to give her method of working a try. I recycled an old linen napkin and cut it to size to keep the finished edge intact. The whole thing is machine stitched which holds everything in place and it is really interesting to see how the tight stitch really changes the density of colour.

Caroline Higgs - May -2020

Other workshops have been exercises in the different ways of using basic stitches which I have enjoyed. Focussing on one type of stitch and using it differetn ways really makes me stop and think and there are so many possibilities.

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While sorting through my lace bits and bobs I found a collar and cuff set from Malta, I don’t know which grandmother bought them by I now need to find a special use for them.

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The last workshop I did was with Mandy Pattullo, again her way of working and mine are very different, I watched thinking that I wouldn’t take the project any further because I consider myself a maker of books but I got hooked and produced a small concertina book on India. I had an idea in head but as I looked at my fabric scraps it morphed in to something quite different. India is a land of contrasts so the book tells that story, the base is a rough hand loomed cotton while most of the fabric is silk, the stitching which is hard to see in the photographs is either in contrast or matching the fabrics at same time creating texture. The scraps of fabric I chose all represent different facets of India, architecture, gardens, colour and bling. The story begins and ends with cotton, the elephant from a block printing demo and the end a pice from a shalmar kameez set I had made for me many years ago. The covers are lino and wood block prints… There is in my mind also the contrast between the tatty and chic….P1010460P1010466P1010468P1010470P1010472

 

Finally I once again have work on display at the Cabane de la Mairie just down the road from home right on the coastal path.P1010407

I had an idea of teaching small classes there but without the contact with people it has fallen by the wayside for the time being. It is strange how while I am busy at home I forget that things are different beyond the garden. I am so grateful that that the art textile community is there and so much has been going on through social media, it is such fun connecting with people world-wide…. Onwards and upwards!

 

Springtime at home….

I started the year with so many good intentions of keeping this blog up to date but ‘life’ had other ideas, difficult to write when one has nothing to say and one’s horizons have been clipped or should I say severed.

After the show at Cholet I was gearing up to four days at BIAT, Villefranche-sur Soane and a days’s teaching at Pour l’Amour du Fil at Nantes and then Covid19 came along….. slowly but steadily things were cancelled or rather postponed.  Now well in to the second month of confinement I find that in many ways life hasn’t actually changed that much. I am, fortunately, use to being on my own and spending time sewing and I have plenty of projects to occupy me. I set myself some targets for the confinement but as usual I think that maybe they were over ambitious, I didn’t build in time for grey periods…. When the sun shines I feel full of energy and all feels well with the world, or at least my little corner, the house is flooded with sunlight and I can throw the doors open and even work outside in what I call my garden . That is another story, the lawn is more weeds than grass but it is very neatly mown and fairly regularly, most of the growing area is weeded but lacks plants and the parts which aren’t weeded are too dry to be able to extract the roots of the weeds. If I am lucky I will have a couple of parsnips and some pick again salad… The bird song is fantastic and there is a hoopoe is doing a great job on eating the grubs in the lawn.

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I reckon that when I come out the other side I am going to wonder what I did with my time, each project I start takes longer than expected to finish and then I spent time earlier this week making masks, didn’t think it would take very long but 30 masks later I wondered where the time had gone. The plus of this lockdown period is Textile Artist.org who have organised weekly challenges with different artists, there is a video on a Monday and then a questions and answers FaceBook session on the Friday, even if I haven’t actually found the time to sew all the challenges they have been really interesting and informative. I am still doing my on-line course with Sue Stone but that has been temporarily put on the back burner and I can’t wait to finish the project I am doing to return to it. Ideas are now flowing far too fast.

The main consequence of the lockdown is that I can’t walk more than a 1 km radius from the house which means that there is not much chance to get out of the village, there is one lane around a field of flax flowers from where I can see the coast but it is a little like drink driving easy not to do do it at all than be frustrated ……

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I try and keep interested in the natural world by photographing flowers most of which have been in the garden, that source is now just about finished for the time being but it is amazing what one can find when one looks

 

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I have made the March journal quilt, I photographed a tuft of grass growing in a crack of the tarmac in the car-park at Cholet, I heavily quilted black wadding and then added the grass using an old veggie net and some plastic ribbon.

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April journal quilt, based on an old tie I created a snail shell by hand stitching the motif on the tie after having machine stitched the motif itself. The inner part of the shell is painted with Inktense.

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The end of March also brought the second Fifteen by Fifteen piece of the year. This time it was the letter ‘P’ and I was inspired by my visit to Pisa, the buildings were created in layers and the background quilted with the design of a wrought iron balcony I also photographed while I was there. I sun-printed  the sky and the word Pisa which are like clouds in the sky…

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I am still producing work

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and yesterday I painted the background for a new piece which I am really happy with.

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I have hit a slight block with another piece I am machine appliquéing at the present because the thread keeps breaking and I can’t change thread because it would show so after a couple of days of trying different machine breaking two needles and loosing patience I have put it to one side for the time being! Onwards and upwards I am not going anywhere in the near future so hopefully time I will soon feel a sense of achievement, roll on May 11th when I will once again be able to go on long walks even if they have to be solitary. The real plus is that at last my garage has turned in to the work and storage space I wanted and it is tidy!