Saturday, 18 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

       It's this time of year that I look back over the last 12 months.... how fast it has flown by.... and what a great time I am having at this stage of my life.  Part of the joy are my textile friends and those I meet through teaching.  I have been lucky again this year to have such had inspiring students. Before the year ends,  I wanted to share class photos and art/textile work from some of the groups that I have had the pleasure to teach.  A big thanks to them for letting me show their work.
This is only a very small selection.......... Quite wonderful!!
Cowslip Workshops and Quilt Shop, Launceston, Cornwall
Quilt Canada - CQA conference Calgary - bound sketchbook and Art to Stitch classes
West Dean College, Chichester - Imagery in stitched textiles
Roseland Mews workshop - Mixed Messages
Quilter's Guild Museum, York -  Art to Stitch workshop
Quilt Time textile group in Sheffield - Colour and Imagery in Stitch
Teaching to textile groups in Ottawa and Montreal
      It was also great to teach and lecture to other quilt, textile and embroidery groups around the country including FabBeads, Torquay, Missenden Abbey Summer school, Festival of Quilts and Farncombe Estates in the Cotswolds.

      This year was indeed special - In conjunction with the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition at the
Victoria and Albert Museum in London,  I had the opportunity to teach a class during the event -
'Digital Imagery in Stitched Textiles'.  Students found photographic inspiration from the Ceramics and Glass galleries, we took photos, downloaded images into Photoshop, black and white and colour photocopies were collaged together and the composition then scanned., printed and
heat transferred onto cloth for stitch.
These are some of my collage samples.
All in all, a very full year.  2011 promises to be just as interesting with teaching in the UK, Europe, 
Festival of Quilts and a trip to Australia in the spring, at Fibre Arts  Forum and for other textile groups in Australia.   I will keep you posted... Until then....

 Enjoy the holidays and thanks for reading.

Please note that all images on this site are fully protected by copyright law and no image may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the artist. 
Links to many of these workshop venues can be found on my website

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Inspiration from Art

As I was going to St. Ives…..
No – I didn’t meet a man with 7 wives
I recently saw a wonderful BBC 4 program on the abstract art movement from St Ives and Newlyn in Cornwall between the 1930’s and mid 1960’s.  Names like Kit Wood, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicolson, Alfred Wallis, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron were so important during that period in British abstract art. 
Until then the centre of the art world was in Paris, but this group in their own way changed that.
In watching I was interested in several aspects of how abstract art could inspire textile and art quilt design.  Alfred Wallis, who had been a fisherman all his life – came to painting later in life and his na├»ve images of flattened perspective with boats, piers and lighthouses have an innocence and strength about them. 
Ben Nicolson – looked at the rolling landscape and use curves and shapes in his own work. Although with very minimalist leanings, many of his paintings became very evocative of the colours of the west country.  I like the way he kept many of his curved and geometric lines in the frame, and I thought how it lent itself to piecing and overall machine quilted stitch marks.
Patrick Heron not only used exuberant colour – referring to the point… ‘when two colours meet each other the world suddenly pulses’ -  I liked that expression.  He talked about the ‘colour of colour’.  Another aspect of his work was to simplify shapes by ‘windowing’ the landscape.  Looking through one eye at the world will flatten the view – minimising perspective.  The ‘window’ abstracts it all further, simplifying the elements.
We can learn so much from studying modern art as inspiration for our own textiles. 
St Ives and Newland in Cornwall continue today to be a centre of creativity both abstract and figurative in the British art world.  If you can, - visit the Tate in St. Ives,  the next time you might be in Cornwall.
Latest News
I have just revamped my website and it includes workshops for 2011 if you are interested.
Quite a few classes now include exploring digital and art images on cloth and have proven to be quite popular.
Farncombe Estates in the Cotwolds is a beautiful residential centre for workshops in many disciplines.  Set in the beautiful landscape above Broadway in Glocestershire, it is an inspiriting place whatever the season.  Have a look on

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Beginning with the Plan

As it is so important to work to a theme for one's own stitched textile journey, I thought it might be good to begin with the choices we make from the start. We all come from different stitch or art backgrounds with varying years of experience, so perhaps before starting a new project it might be a good idea to list all the techniques that you already know. Those skills that you are most familiar with and enjoy, will be at the top of the list.
      This might include patchwork and quilting, embroidery or surface design techniques accumulated over the years, or perhaps art training with drawing, painting and mixed media.   Stitched textile and art practise go ‘hand-in-hand’, as there is such a cross-over these days.  Dyeing, painting fabrics, discharge, stamping, screen printing, image transfer, as well as stitch techniques both hand and machine, layering, cutting back, applique, piecing –  the list is endless, might be included.  
      Then, with a special theme in mind we can ‘fine-tune’ that list, making choices that would fit the subject perfectly.
      Occasionally, there will be something new you have seen, that would really work well and you need to learn more. It may be time to investigate further with a new book or some experimentation in a class.  However, it could become confusing to just continue exploring these new products and techniques, (and there are so many at the moment), without concentrating on which ones would be appropriate for what you have in mind.  
      Here is an example to illustrate this....
"Some years ago I wanted to do several textile pieces on the subject of Alzheimers.  I knew about the condition and read about the physical changes in the brain as the disease progressed.  So, I decided to work with layers and sheers...., undefined and confused images.... faded pictures of the past that come in and out of focus.  Or perhaps the mesh of nerve endings that don't quite meet up, ... the spaces and the void... in the brain.
Deciding on several stitch and surface techniques was the next step.
  • Photo image transfer on background fabrics like cotton could include words and writing - this would be with heat or acrylic medium transfer methods.
  • Image transfer could also be on sheers - perhaps by printing the stabilized sheers through an inkjet printer.
  • Screen printing an image on both base fabric (cotton) or sheers using an original screen made with the ‘thermofax’ screen process.
  • Creating an open mesh with machine threads - stitching on cold water soluble materials could mimic loose unstructured nerve endings
  • Or, burning big holes through a layer of lutradur to create the void space might work as a layer to 'look through'.
  • All of these could be incorporated with sheer layers that lay together or perhaps have space between them.
      These were my thoughts at the time…..I even had a picture in my mind of how these layers could work and done some preliminary sketches for a series of pieces.   In the end, I didn't need to make the final pieces, but the journey for me, was necessary.
      Planning in advance is such an important part of the process.  
There can be occasional happy accidents, and these new skills have to be explored before we can put them on our list…..but all the new products and techniques are just tools in the end. The ideas and the choices we make are more important to a successful final outcome.
                                                                                                            Thameside 2009
In future posts - I will be reviewing the importance of Design and Composition when we begin.  New ideas will be worked through in sketchbook form, with drawings and collage.  

Stay tuned.....and thanks for reading..