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.

Caroline Higgs-May-Pushkar Balcony

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

April has arrived

April is here and it seems much more like spring. For the time being my sewing is up to date, deadlines have been met so I am feeling quite relaxed. Now I have to really concentrate and get ready for Quilt Expo en Beaujolais, I have packed the quilts for my stand, just need to cut a few more batons and write a few labels. I know what I am teaching so I need to put the kits together and then cross my fingers for a few more students.

Today was the new reveal for Fifteen by Fifteen, I found the subject East meets West a difficult one it didn’t fit anything I really wanted to do; I finally decided to play around with stitching. Following the course I did last August I wanted to start experimenting with patterns and dyeing so I used this as the base, using the Japanese karamatsu technique and double dyeing. I then quilted the main body with a traditional Northern English chain pattern, placing a sashisko motif in the centre. The threads were dyed  with the fabric, so the middle blue thread was the first dye run, then I added yellow,hence the yellow thread and the result was the green. I think I should

have been bolder with my colours but was pleased with the result.

I have also been working on examples of photo to stitch for my classes, I love working in this way and now have ideas in my head for larger pieces of work. I want to present them with all manner of different items to demonstrate how adaptable this technique is, and how even if one can’t draw one can produce something artistic!

The tree is actually from a postcard that I have had for ages and the water buffalo is one I photographed in Kenya last year. The latter is using a slub thread so that the lines are not ‘clean’. They are both small.

I have also got the Journal Quilt for April finished. I played around using a photograph of a stone carved window/screen which was taken at an angle so that one could see that it was in 3d, I have cut away to show an old sari behind and used the same fabric for the bindings. Fine silk sari is difficult to work because it has a mind of its own, this one was faded and had holes in it and the scrap is never quite the size that you want it to be! I have stitched the lilies by hand and in coloured threads to bring it slightly more to life and the depth of the stone is shaded with crayons.

Caroline Higgs. April; Lily Window

On the Edge is finished and has been submitted and I have one or two other projects up my sleeve, but at least I have time to sort out the garden and try to get rid of the weeds!

 

 

Slow progress

I have been working hard but I am not sure that I have much to show for it! I am working on a piece for the Quilter’s Guild Contemporary Group challenge, ‘On the Edge’ and it is nearing completion. I want to have it finished because I need to prepare for my stand and classes at Quilt Expo en Beaujolais which takes place 13 – 16 April. It should be an action packed few days, because apart from hoping for lots of visitors to the show it will be an occasion to meet up with friends and share a few glasses of wine, in the evenings of course.

At present I have work in TaiwanTIQE 2016 Profile Image

I will also have work in two exhibitions at Beaujolais, Fifteen by Fifteen and the Contemporary Group’s challenge from last year Elements.

March

Where does the time go? I fully intended to keep up this blog on a regular basis but somehow that hasn’t happened. I have been working on pieces that are either for competition or display which I can’t display here, so in my head I had nothing to show.

I started the year by playing with ideas which still loiter in my head for a project later in the year.P1130653P1130652

This year I have decided not to travel as I did last year but to concentrate on things learnt on my travels, and the above were as a result. I intend to go further and actually produce something from these experiments.

Then there was some snow dyeing….snow dye

It has been frustrating this year because I have had relatively little snow in the garden and it has not always been of the right consistency, this was the first run and I have recently done another. Having thought that I would do a lot of dyeing like this this year, I have been disappointed with the results, not enough thought has gone in to my efforts, it has been a mad dash to use the snow before it disappeared.

At the beginning of the year I started doing journal quilts again for the Quilter’s Guilds Contemporary group. This year they are 8 x 10″ in portrait format and they have to have some purple in them for the first four months. I decided to use my many photographs of India and at the moment have been using old sari scraps which I brought back from The Stitching Project last year.

January: Bird Tree

Quite by chance I also bought some plain cottons while I was in Pushkar and lo and behold the colours I chose are the colours that I need for the JQs this year. I have appliquéd this from a photograph I took of a mural in the Delhi Craft Museum.

My February JQ was inspired by a photograph of a screen where there were colours behind it.

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To create the JQ I have used some printed silk that I bought in Delhi and cut out squares which have silk scraps inserted behind them.

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The JQ for March has taken this idea one step further, photo to follow in the next post.

I am a member of a small group in this area who meet for the day about 4 times a year and who set themes for the following session. This time it was the sound of (in French)  “ou”. I thought long and hard and then managed to get 5 or six in to the same piece. Having done the fine machine appliqué for the January JQ I was motivated to continue, and I used neo-colours and crayons to add the colour detail.

Les cinq 'oux'

We have also had a reveal for Fifteen by Fifteen since my last posting, the subject was mono-printing which I found really difficult, I like to work from a subject rather than a technique, but finally I got my head round it. I used some fabric which had been dyed with pomegranates and then I printed from the imprint of bubble wrap using procion thickened with manutex. Using the pattern I had printed  and coloured flowers and then chain-stitched around them, adding a little sparkle wax at the end and printed some silvery grass at the bottom with a thermo-fax screen

My midnight gardenMy midnight garden; detail

I have also worked on a piece for Quilt Expo en Beaujolais where I will also have a stand and be teaching quick and easy workshops, based on creating images in stitch from photos.Caroline Higgs; From Photo to Stitch 4

During this period, a piece I did some years ago has come home after travelling around France in a suitcase collection; we had to create an advertisement around the word MacFlé. I was drawn back to the Scottish hills and had great fun doing this although the pleating of the kilt did take some considerable time!

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An finally a little detail of another piece that I have just finished.

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Now back to the stitching!

Quilt Expo en Beaujolais is 13th -16th April 2016 at Villefranche sur Soane.

 

 

 

Final post for 2015

Well the year is almost over and I am looking forward to 2016 when I hope to put some of the thoughts and ideas that I have in to textile art. My travels have been many and varied and the inspiration they have given me will hopefully be fruitful!

At present I am working on a piece for ‘ Liberty in all its senses’ for Quilt Expo Beaujolais, I have been fiddling around for a while and now at last it is coming together and I hope that by the time the holiday season is over it will almost be finished, I am not going to say more about it until it has been shown.

Last week I made a small work for a Christmas present, I was with friends and  they decided that we should do a secret Santa except that we knew who we were giving to, men are always difficult but this time I knew what he would like.trout

It is only a small panel, mounted on a canvas frame, the background is silk sari fabric which was dyed in an indigo vat, the fish were drawn and coloured with water soluble crayons, one is on white fabric cotton the second on pomegranate dyed cotton so is darker, the dots are in crayon but with a stitch in the middle of each, they were appliquéd by machine with a fine Wonderfil thread.

I am waiting with baited breath to here what the Quilter’s Guild Contemporary group’s journal quilt constraints will be for 2016. I have photographed all my 2015 pieces together, this year I decided to work in a true journal style producing pieces inspired by what I was doing, fine when there was something, but I found it really difficult. I tried many different styles and techniques, some of which I will revisit, others of which I will leave well alone. One was on paper but I wasn’t bold enough with what I did and will definitely go back to that. 2015 journal quilts

Wishing everybody a very happy 2016 while waiting for winter to arrive, and by winter I mean snow!!