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.

Caroline Higgs-February-Glimpse

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!

macflé 2

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!!

Mid December

Well the festive season is approaching which, hopefully, means that I will have time to play textiles, I am not one for seasonal festivities and there is no snow worth talking about!

I finished playing pomegranates and am happy with the results I achieved; I made a journal quilt so I could test the colours and stitch types:JQ November: pomegranates

The fabric is dyed with pomegranates then printed as per my previous post; I stitched outlines behind and shaded them and hand stitched the seeds.

I then produced the challenge piece, I slightly misconstrued the subject which was kernels and pips by producing seeds and failed to add any of the former to my work, but I am happy with the result!

pomegranates

On Sunday I went to the Indian fabric exhibition at the V & A which I loved, there were some very old fabrics and items of clothing; I hesitated about buying the catalogue but at £30 and weighing a lot I decided to forego it and will have to make do with my cryptic notes and basic sketches. I also went to the wrought iron section which I have never knowingly visited before and found some lovely patterns there. Now I just need to spend time putting all these ideas in to practice!

To finish off the year by making my Christmas cards I went very seasonal and took contemporary route with my design, using paint sticks and a stencil. Not the best idea when there are two different colours and more than 70 cards to make, but I got three and took the design one step further by using it to make my final journal quilt of 2015. I stencilled the design three times, machine stitched the background with sparkly white thread and then simply applied one line of hand stitch to each motif. The idea was holly and snow flakes….

JQ December; seasonal

Experimentation

Now that winter is approaching I have at last time to play. My first project was a lino-cut pomegranate. I wanted to try to lino print and have been playing with different medium. I used procion dyes with a rather old manutex mix. The results on paper were ok.paper print So I continued to print on fabric, which incidentally was dyed with pomegranates. Once printed I outline stitched and then started to embroider.P1130480Having got that far I decided to try using fabric paint which also worked relatively well.

print on red

Using up the paint at the end I had a shot at mono-printing on paper, the results of which pleased me.monoprint try

I now have a lot of ideas to develop further….

Winter is approaching

As the year has progressed I have got no better at keeping this blog up to date. In late October, after a couple of weeks in Kenya, I went to Maastricht to the Open European Quilt Championships. I was there to help steward our Fifteen by Fifteen Quilt exhibition, we are a group of 14 international quilters and we make a new 15 x 15″ quilt every two months, the subject of which is chosen in turn by the members. This gave me the chance to photograph 8 of my quilts together.masstricht They use various techniques, some very machine stitched and some almost totally hand stitched. There was an exciting moment when somebody showed interest in buying one, it didn’t come to anything but made me feel good!

I also submitted a piece in to the ‘People’ category – the judges comments were very fair but I was miffed that it missed being ‘good’ by 0.1 point! The comments made me realise that living in a small space I can’t judge the impact from a distance very easily, the piece is 92 x 122cm, combined with the fact that the quilt was free hanging and was relatively light-weight so the outline of my two main characters became a little lost. I know better for another time!

Disappearing in to the blue...

This quilt, ‘Disappearing in to the blue….’, came about after my visit to the Gambia in 2014 and the ongoing stories of refugees being lost at sea. The blue fabric was dyed in India and the forms created with mud resist; sky and soil is fabric which I snow dyed. The outlines are hand stitched with chain stitch.

Wanderings

The summer has flown by and I failed to update after almost three wonderful weeks in Canada in May. I went over to assist at the Ailsa Craig Quilt Show which was hosting the quilts of France.We welcomed by the local community and had a wonderful time staying with Gerard and Trucy.

Ailsa Craig town HallQuilt airing On the Sunday the village had a quilt airing and they hung their quilts outside the house for all to see.

We then moved on the stay with Doug and Marion in Elmira. They were excellent hosts and took us all around the area, we took in a theatre performance of Mamma Mia in Kitchner, Toronto, the Bata shoe museum and dinner in the CN tower, the Niagara Falls and the St Jacobs Quilt show amongst other things. We were in Ontario where the place names reflect its history. I managed to go to London, Woodstock wasn’t far away, nor Stratford, I could go on….. We were in the mennonite country where life has a different value and tranquility.tranquil farmscape buggy It was a truly wonderful area and our guides were so informative.

I have loads of ideas to transform in to stitching not least the Niagara falls which I have already attempted. Although the falls themselves were impressive it was the upper reaches that i found so beautiful; there was a peace in the water which seconds later grew in to turmoil.

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top of the fallsJuly: Niagara falls The piece is only small 6″ x 12″ and was my first attempt at needle felting. I could go on about Canada but time to move on!

June and July  here were incredibly hot and the plant life all around, not least my garden has really suffered, sadly the hedge was not affected and has shot up, need to get the clippers out…

August arrived and it was time to head for the UK for the Festival of Quilts. I watched the news as chaos reigned in Calais and wondered if i would actually ever get there, the Gods were with me and I sailed through, did see one passenger removed from car in the neighbouring queue….. with all the fencing and barbed wire it did feel as if I was driving in to prison….

Two nights in Kent and more inspiration from the beach between Dover and Folkestone with my God-daughter Philippa:

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Looking at the middle photo I find it extraordinary that this beautiful scene taken at low tide is in spitting distance of Dover and the heavy shipping traffic in the Channel.

Moving on through the country I had a whistle stop tour of Oxfordshire before arriving at Birmingham NEC. I met up with friends Claudette from Norfolk and Chantal and Fabienne from France and we went to Nuthurst Grange for dinner. I was a real trip down memory lane for me because it was my grand-parents old house and it was there that I knew my grand-father who died when I was 6 or 7. Last year I made a 15 x 15 quilt with the subject of memories and I used a family photo which I distressed which was taken outside the front of the house. It was a really lovely experience and I remember the entrance and the hall with the staircase, the drawing-room is still there and what was my grandfather’s bedroom when I knew him is now a bar!2014-07-16 14.27.58

The real reason for being at the NEC was the Festival of Quilts and we were there for the whole 4 days. it was great to spend time with like minded people, there was so much to see and do. I do not like posting the work of others on the net but I would just like a small detail of a piece by Maggie Vanderweit, A Wing and a Prayer. We were invited to Maggie’s house for dinner while we were in Canada and she showed us her studio. I was blown away by her work and generosity.P1120626

While at the festival I went to several lectures, one of which was interactive about how to judge a quilt, I do not want to become I quilt judge but I did want to understand what the judges are looking for. I found this a really useful exercise and think that it should help me in the future. I had a quilt in the contemporary section which I previewed in a previous post and was made on the back of my visit to India,

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I also had a piece accepted for the Quilter’s Guild Contemporary Group Challenge, the subject was elements and I chose to work around chlorophyll as I wanted to stay with my subject of trees and leaves.

CarolineHiggs_Elements:Leaf

There was also a group quilt which was made in a round robin fashion by seven of us who had done our city and Guild diploma together. It was a really interesting and nerve wracking experience because we each had a three week period to add our contribution without consulting the others; I started it off by choosing the fabric and snow dyeing it…

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The Festival of Quilts opens one’s eyes to what is going on and what one really likes; the first time I went it was a big wow I have lost that facture and become much more selective but I think my ideas have moved on as well! It was a great time for meeting old friends and making new ones.

After the NEC I headed back to Norfolk with Claudette because I had signed up to do a course with Jane Callender who conveniently lives just down the road from Claudette’s house. Cally has wonderful set-up and three of us had a wonderful five days with our hands in the dye vats, a week later and my nails still show the signs of indigo. The weather was good so our work dried in the open air and the vats were outside for us. I discovered the joys of pomegranate, will give me a reason to buy them when they come in to season! I have chosen sections of work I completed to show you, so many techniques and ideas flying around my head….

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The journey back from the UK was uneventful except that the Highways Authority in their wisdom decided to shut the Dartford Crossing, and so effectively the M25, for Saturday night, the result was that I went across before it shut and spent a night in the car at Maidstone service area!

At least now I am up to date. It is difficult to show what I am doing when a lot of shows ask that work has not been shown publicly. I will try to keep up to date in the future!

Sewing on track….

Have had a really productive time since just before Easter; the weather wasn’t too good so I got my head down and did a load of sewing, now it is warm and sunny so I can sit in the sun and sew, perfect! I am up to date with my journal quilts and my next piece for Fifteen by Fifteen is well on the way. I have then started tow larger pieces using fabric I dunked in the indigo vat in India, the photos are just the beginning of the work ,now I need to get my head down and stitch.

ready to stitchin progress

I made one of my journal quilts on paper, a new experience for me and I was a bit too tentative but I wanted to try and keep it simple. The motif is one I found when sifting through the old textiles in the Delhi Craft Museum, I can see possibilities of using the the motif and also of working on paper.  folk tree

Springtime is a time for new ideas and the warmth and light of the sun gives me a new energy, so many ideas and so much to do!

A trip to India

Just under three weeks in India absorbing all that was textile related and other things besides. I set off not really knowing    camel cartpeacock;JPG

what I wanted to get out of the holiday but with scenes like these inspiration was all around me. For most of the time I was staying in Pushkar and was on a Creative Arts Safari organised by Fiona Wright. Not only did she have a small farm with a cow, (fresh milk) and a calf a couple of goats and kids, chickens, tortoises, a dog and a camel but at times there were nosy peacocks in the field.

Fiona looked after us very well and we were entertained one evening by gypsy dancers who were very colourful and elegant, the photo is a bit blurred but they were moving in the dark and dancing with burning post on their heads!

gypsy dancers

Each day we were collected and taken either to the farm or to Fiona’s workshop by Mr Satu in his tuk-tuk, he is  lovely person and very chatty and towards the end of our stay brought his young son with him to accompany us on our bumpy ride (a tuk-tuk has no springs and the roads are full of speed bumps and potholes).

father and son, Mr Satu

When we arrived at Fiona’s we were lucky enough to meet Sanju Devi from the Bihar region if India who was also staying, she showed us the Folk art of Sujani embroidery which tells stories of day to day life, it is fairly basic stitching but the messages are very strong.

big SujaniSujani folk art Needless to say I chose to interpret in my own way, I am not overly keen on people and I wanted to stay with my trees so I challenged myself to do a small piece while I was there, I also decided to use thinner thread to finish the back-ground. Sanju was not very sure about what I was doing but I recieved this message when I sent her my photos

“it is very good,appreciated and unique designe.i am very happy to see it.

thanks for your concern”

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One of our first tasks was to draw a design for a pair of slippers and then we headed off to see Mr Om so that he could make a Mr Om a pair for each of us and before we left they were duly delivered, they are made without a left or right and one’s feet shape the leather to fit, the decoration is done with chain stitch and they are incredibly comfortable but are desert shoes so I will not be venturing out in them! This is not my design but is a good example of what they look like.finished slippersAfter placing the order for shoes we went in to the village and found men turning and decorating metal plates at an incredible speed and a shop which sold really nice cotton, the latter of course meant spending money and the local children came to watch:

bowl makerchildren

Towards the end of the first week we headed to Jaipur in a bus taking the highway, slightly alarming because the heavy trucks seem to prefer to drive in the fast lane and everybody just over or undertakes as they want. On our way we went to Bagru to indigo dye and also to do some mud resist beforehand. The mud is printed on the the fabric covered in sawdust and laid in the sun to dry. The fabric is then dunked in the indigo vat from where it comes out green which soon oxidises to be blue. The dyed fabric is then laid out in the street to dry (animals can be seen walking over it) and to get a deeper colour the fabric can then be re-dipped. Once it has fully dried you have to scrub the resist paste off, and I mean scrub, before washing the fabric to get the dirt and dye residue out. This process actually took a few days, the first two steps were done in the village and the rest was done at Fiona’s when we got back a few days later.

Mixing the resist, mud, old wheat germ and lime well trampled.

mixing mud resist resist printingPrinting the with the paste.my work dryingTwo of my pieces drying on the motor-bike which just happened to be handy.

the indigo vatFabric coming out of the indigo vat….

drying indigoDrying out in the street in the sunshine.

scrubbing away the resistDijanne Cevaal scrubbing her piece to remove the mud resist.

washed indigofinally washed and hanging out to dry.

We then visited a paper factory that makes paper out of the off cuts from tee-shirt manufacturing, we had great tour of the factory which was quiet because the following day was Holi and most people had gone back to their families. The paper is stunning, fantastic colours and all totally hand made, unfortunately my camera was in the bus at this point…. but the paper is good for sewing so watch this space…. I managed to get a roll home although it was too big for my suitcase.

We arrived at our hotel where we had been upgraded to palatial suites, very spoiling and so many different light switches that turning off the lights was a game of its own. Four of us went to the bonfire and prayers that start the festival of Holi and the owners of the hotel came and explained its significance and we duly wrote out wishes on the sand around the fire and ate freshly roasted chickpeas. The next day was the festival proper and three of us  went and bought white cotton pyjama suits so that we could join in, suitably clad we went via the main gate to be welcomed by a couple of elephants and a band with a man dressed as a dancing horse (can’t quite remember the significance of this!) holi festivities

We then approached the tables laden with piles of powder paint, sadly the fine dust was such that my camera stayed in its bag inside a plastic bag most of the time. Some of us were more involved than othersRuth and Zak  and I decided to be selective about the colours thrown at me and seem to have missed the greater amount of water which was sprayed from water pistols to mix the paint well and truly.holi back It was mainly over the fifties letting rip.(except of course for Zak who had far too much energy). The reason that we stayed at the hotel was that they organised the festivities for the guests and it was much tamer than if we had been in the streets. There was a  good buffet lunch and after a great deal of scrubbing the afternoon was spent lazily in the garden.

On our way back we went to the Anokhi block printing museum which has some wonderful fabrics and examples of block printed items, we also had a walk around the village to visit the most incredible step well.the stepping well near the Anokhi museum

Back at Fiona’s we split our time between the workshop and her farm, there was plenty of chance to have a go at block printing but it will take some time before being able to print like Mr Mahindi who was really kind and helpful and even gave his approval to a dress that i was trying on which of course meant that I bought it!Mr Mahindi in action I don’t know where the time went but it was a really good relaxing time to get the inspiration flowing, I went in to Pushkarno comment  Pushkar market

town twice and was rather startled to discover a bath(with toilet) open to all comers lurking behind a tree growing out of what I think was a small temple on the fringe of the market.

Pushkar in the eveningThe evening light over the lake was stunning as was the sunset….

Then of course the ladies went shopping in Ajmerladies shopping.

All good things come to an end and we took the train back to Delhi with dinner served en route. We visited the Delhi quilter’s group for coffee and lunch and had a show and tell session. We visited the haberdashery wholesale market where photographing the porter’s back to show his back protector became a bit of a game because he wanted to pose face forwards, I managed it though and snapped Dijanne in her new indigo top at the same time.street porter Dijanne street market

On our last day Dijanne and I headed out to the craft museum which had wealth of things, particularly wall paintings and textiles to look at, the restaurant wasn’t bad either!

pigeon house terracotta figures

Now back at home trying to find the time to put all that I learnt it practice and wondering  how soon I can return!

February already

When I started this site I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to keep it up to date, it would seem that I have done nothing this last month but in fact everything that I am working on can’t be shown until I fail to make it in to the competitions/exhibitions that I am aiming at. The snow has finally arrived which has been a distraction but great for snow dyeing! I am ticking off the days before I head to india for the ‘Creative Arts Safari’ in Rajasthan, the wood blocks I designed have been made and I am beginning to think about what i want to achieve while I am there.

Our new collection has been published at Fifteenquilts.com our subject was monochromatic which for me was difficult to photograph to get a true black and white without using the black and white programme which I didn’t reckon was correct.

Small trial pieces

P1110172 whispering grass

This is a photo I took in September, I then used the idea to create this piece which is stitched on snow-dyed cotton. It is 26.5cm x 19cm.

IMG_2745                               sunrise

Again working from a photo, this time I decided to try and recreate a section of the photo using only stitching and coloured threads, as yet the edges are not finished. This is 26.5cm wide and around 15cm tall.