February

Time has passed and I don’t seem to have anything to show for it, at present I am sitting with my bags packed ready to go to India to collect more inspiration for my textiles; watch this space…

I have done some snow dyeing with limited success, time was short when the weather wasn’t too cold but I had some interesting results.

I was playing with black as I wanted to see what happened, the results on the right were two efforts, the bottom the most interesting because the brown came through very strongly although there wasn’t much in the mix! Judging by the speed at which the snow in the garden is melting I reckon that that is me for another year…

This year for my Quilter’s Guild Contemporary group Journal quilts I have chosen to work in black and white with a flash of colour. The format is 11″ square which is larger than recent years but I am actually quite enjoying the size. For January I used a wrought iron balcony motif that I photographed in la Rochelle and I played around with positive and negative.The flash of green represents the shutters which were on the window behind.

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For February I decided to work with different sized circles, my life this month has been going around in circles so it seemed to be relevant. The yellow are the highlights, the rays of sunshine that we have been enjoying, the promise of warmer times to come. The black and white circles are chain stitched quilting thread, the background is quilted with invisafil, I wanted to quilt it without detracting from the circles.

 

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Now I am turning to developing thoughts about where I want my Indian inspirations to lead me. I know that when many people think of India it is instantly the vibrant colours which come to mind. I am more interested in form and shape, architectural features, but at the same time I should try and be bolder with my colour choices. I will also be collecting a couple of wood print blocks that I have had made for me…..

 

 

 

January 2017

Where does the time go to? The late autumn was very busy and I had no time for sewing But I did get my Fifteen by Fifteen piece finished. the subject was motion and  I decided to entitle my piece ‘A little motion in the air’ and use a piece that I had shibori stitched and dyed in pomegranate and iron when I did a course a couple of summers ago. I love seeing the movement of seeds in the air. I hand stitched and machine stitched to create additional texture.

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The I finished the last of my 2016 journal quilts, I played with scraps of silk and some stencilling, I wanted an old look to it as in things that have faded and was more or less happy with the result. Some squares were stitched to give more richness, others were left to fade away.

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I find producing work difficult when I have too much else going on so it was a great relief when the Christmas break arrived and I could concentrate on creative ideas rather than the preparation of my English classes. The weather was cold and frosty, we had over 50 days of no precipitation which was, I think a record. The crystals were amazing.

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Then there were the trees covered in frost, the sun only hits the house for about 3 hours at this time of year due to the mountains but the light is wonderful.

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I started to organise my thoughts for textile classes this year and played about with stitch pictures, one of which I did as a surprise for my sister’s Christmas present. I had a go at sewing my mother, the mouth wasn’t too clever but I think I captured her spirit.

I also decided that it was time to finish a piece I had started in the summer and which needed stitching. I challenged myself to only use the machine and was quite happ with the results.

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It was made of squares which had been shibori stitched and then dyed, the stitching was then undone and they were dyed a second time, I used four dye baths each time so that no two were the same. The colours were not as bold as I had intended but with the stitching of the veins they came to life. Once the whole was quilted I over painted to make the leaves stand out.

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While looking for inspiration I knitted a new bag,  mounted on an ‘inner’ which I love and which is very practical , using sari yarn.

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Finally this is a section of a new piece made for the Quilter’s Guild suitcase collection.

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I am hoping that I will be rather better at keeping up to date in 2017!

November

Where does the time go?

The OEQC  in Maastricht was great fun, there was a lot to see and teaching there was a great experience. Part of the joy of going to these shows is the chance to network and chat to people before or after the doors are shut. There was a really contemporary feel to the show although traditional work was also present.

Normally I do not like showing the worked others on my pages but there are a few artists whose work really inspired me. There was a competition entitled 20 and a quilt I really liked was that made by Grace Meijer, The Pianist depicting the decade of the 20s and the start of the Jazz scene in New York.wp_20161022_16_54_09_pro

I didn’t take many photographs but certain artists made a real impact on me, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs for the way she quilts and Eszter Bornemisza for her work in general. Mary palmer had some really interesting work, a mix of traditional and contemporary and for the main very large pieces, there was an interesting statement in small quilts about abortion, a smaller one entitled, if I remember correctly Mind-Mapping

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and then a big piece of portraits

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The latter was all in tones of blue and white.

Having a chance to look closely at Susan Chapman’s work also inspired me with the way that she uses hand stitch to create contrast, two examples below, the figures below both have a slightly coloured thread outside the figure which gives a more visual impact.

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Four days after my return from Holland I turned around and headed out west for a few days holiday before Vendée Quilt. The weather was good, there was very little traffic and my drive was accompanied by the most spectacular sunset, the clouds turned blood red…. a good omen. After a night en route I hit the coastal area and visited a lovely village which allegedly is one of France’s best, out of season I dispute that, but it was pretty even if the tide was out so there was a fair amount of mud in the estuary! The autumn colours were great.

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I chose to take small roads to reach my target la Rochelle and had a lovely drive through small villages and across marshes. The sunset a La Rochelle made me realise how I miss large expanses of sky and of course the port of Minimes helped with the ambience, as did a good ‘moules frites’!

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I spent a day exploring the Ile de Ré, walks along the shore at various places and generally just exploring.

There was so much to look at in the way of textures and forms.

La Rochelle has so much to see and I took loads of photos to inspire my work in the future, I am particularly drawn to wrought iron, watch this space!  The buildings are old and those which are timbered have the timber protected presumably from the salty air, the market is wonderful and full of good local produce.

Then there is the stonework, there are streets with vaulted walkways, gargoyles and a wonderful looking statue resting in pieces while the area is being revamped.

The town was tidy and clean and the rubbish bins had metal screens around then which were attractive, what a nice change…

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Was was staying out of the centre near opposite the little boats and the pontoons that led to them, the reflections were just stunning and my mind was working over time…

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I then headed up to Roche sur Yon for Quilt Vendée, a great show which was sadly under attended but again a great time was had by all and of course I made a quick visit to Les Sables d’Olonne to see some of the Vendée Globe boats and absorb some of the atmosphere….

As you can see there was not a lot of sewing done but I have more than enough ideas to keep me going… I did complete my November Journal Quilt though.caroline-higgs-november-pushkar-screen

The richness and sheen of the brown silk does not show up on the photo but I love the contrast of the smooth of the silk and the rough of the dyed wadding.

Off to the OEQC, Maastricht

Bags are packed and I am off at dawn tomorrow to teach four workshops (two of each) and demonstrate at the OECQ….

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The two workshops are Photo to stitch

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and for a bit of fun Geometric Christmas Decorations…

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My most recent journal quilt is completed, based as previously on the idea of screens and colours shining through. I was lucky enough to have some sari scraps which fitted the bill…

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When one buys a length of sari fabric it comes with an extra piece for the ‘top’ so I have tried to group together the fabrics accordingly .

For a local group we had a challenge with water as a title. It wasn’t until I was going through my photographs from this summer that I found ‘the one’, which I posted on the autumn page…

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This is the wrought iron railing on a bridge over the military canal in Kent. I had seen a demo on Facebook of somebody painting on a smooth surface and then wiping the paint back and adding layers. I gave it a go, it used a lot of paint, I had to use extender to stop it drying out, and then treated it as a mono-print. The background fabric is an old sheet and was stable enough to stitch before I added the wadding. I was very conscious that the wrought iron cut-out shouldn’t take on the texture from the background stitching, and by adding the wadding for the last stage I seem to have got away with it.

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As the subject was water I didn’t want to develop the undergrowth to detract from the water.

When I get back next week and once I have made my preparations for Vendée Quilt, I hope to experiment further; watch this space!

June was washed away!

Well another month has disappeared and not as I had hoped! I envisaged spending lots of time walking in lovely sunny alpine pastures admiring the flowers only it has been wet and the high areas still have too much snow… I have been working though and not all of it on textiles unfortunately but at least I have been earning.

I spent a lot of time this month working on a group project; 6 of us who did our City and Guilds together have just finished our second round robin quilt, the quilt is handed on between us for each person to continue the work ‘blind’. It is a really good exercise and one which is also extremely nerve-wracking. Once that was done I got in with my niece’s wedding quilt, the 540 pieces are now all stitched together and quilting began last night.

After working on my Fifteen by Fifteen piece on the subject of circles I did a second and there is a third waiting in the side-lines. I have been encouraged on several fronts to try and work smaller and in a series to try and create a more homogenous body of work. The circles idea came from a photo I took in India which had a back-drop of brick circles.

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The centre piece also had circles on it and I tried to recreate the idea of two different layers, the back ground I have already shown but here is the finished piece.

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I then went of to play further by making a larger print of the circles and printed the two together making the foreground a little transparent.

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watch this space for further developments.

I also completed a piece for a local group we had a handkerchief from China with a flowery motif on it which we had to incorporate in to our work, I traced the motif to reproduce it to form a tree. The trunk was  made using flour paste and Chinese ink before I painted the background. The fence is some decorative ribbon cut in strips and painted with acrylic paint. I played around by quilting the piece quite tightly to create movement, to get the effect that I wanted I actually worked at 90° to what one might expect, so the sky is actually quilted vertically .

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The journal quilt for June again used ideas from India, this time I used a photograph of wrought iron railings that I took in Pushkar.

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I redrew the design to make it straighter then cut out the pattern using a flowery sari silk scrap behind and tried to create the shadow by using a freezer paper stencil.

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I have so many ideas I want to try out but now I am concentrating on preparing my classes for Birmingham, Maastricht and Vendée Quilt so that I have no last minute panics! The weather is now more seasonal and I want to get out and enjoy the countryside and of course there is the wedding quilt to quilt….

This is one of the classes that I a teaching at Vendée Quilt…

Tous à bord

 

 

 

May has almost gone

I arrived back from Quilt en Beaujolais a little subdued. The show was wonderful with a wide range of contemporary work and over 6000 visitors over the 4 days. My teaching went very well but I was not happy with the display of my work, I had a much bigger display than originally planned and as a result my work did not produce a coherent exhibition.

I now need to spend time rethinking what it is that I really want to produce, not easy when there are ideas all around me and I want to try so much!

My journal quilt for May was finished ahead of time and is the first with a touch of green. I saw some fabric at the Anouki museum in India and loved the way only part had been quilted so I wanted to try the same effect.

 

Meanwhile I have had  two pieces which have not been accepted in to exhibitions, this has helped me decide to work in a different way and not to try for acceptance to different challenges. The first is a piece that I am really pleased with but is probably to ‘simple’, the fabric is distressed with tea and the pattern is painted and stencilled and then the outlines are machine stitched, it is hanging very happily at home.

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The second is still waiting for a home:

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When ever I am out and about I look for inspiration, only now I need to channel my ideas, these are some of the photos that I have taken recently.

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Detail of a railing outside the classroom I was teaching in.

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Nice iron work part way up a mountain.

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Interesting pattern on a tree trunk on the way down the aforementioned mountain.

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The dandelion which was growing, uninvited outside my backdoor.

Then I have also been playing around with lino cuts and printing, this is the beginning of a series

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I have still a whole list of things which need to be done in the next couple of months,  including a quilt for my niece’s wedding. She has chosen a fairly traditional design and we went shopping for the fabrics last week, all I need to do now is to get cutting the 540 pieces…P1130781