Friday, 29 August 2014

In my studio: fabric printing and painting

screen print onto hand dyed fabric
After a summer out of the studio, having fun as well as seeing lots of fantastic artwork, I’m struggling to settle back into making.  There are so many things I want to make, but I just don’t seem to be getting started right away.  I thought I knew exactly what I was going to do, but I’ve discovered out I didn’t!  What had seemed the key things during the holidays have turned out to be less fully fleshed out ideas than I had thought.
Hanging out to dry
Rather than panic – I have some exciting deadlines which I’ll tell you about later – I have decided to take things easy and just paint and print and see where that leads to.  So here are some of the things I’ve been ‘playing’ at this week. I don't know where any of them will lead, but maybe the panic will start subsiding in a week or two...
Reverse of the breakdown printing

Painting with thickened dyes

Mono-print from bubblewrap

Printing with bubble wrap

Painting with Inktense pencils

Print plate ready to make mono-print

Lightly dyed fabric, with circles stamped on top

Monday, 25 August 2014

Out & About: Carradale and the quilt show

Although it is still August, it feels like the end of summer.  And it has been a fabulous one!  A dearth of blog posts from me will be for one of two reasons: either I feel down and inadequate and so have nothing I think is worth sharing, or things are going very well and I’m really busy with family and enjoying life.  Luckily this has been the latter and rather than worrying about not creating work over the summer holidays, I decided just to enjoy them this year.  So after our trip to Yorkshire in the last post, I’ve also been to Holland, the Commonwealth Games, London, the Festival of Quilts, had two lots of friends and family to stay and at the weekend there, we went to Carradale on the Mull of Kintyre to see Marjory MacKinven and Marion Robertson’s exhibition.

I hadn’t visited that area of Scotland for the best part of 20 years but we had such a lovely time I hope it won’t be 20 years until the next time.  We camped at Carradale Campsite, which led straight onto the beach  - a fantastic location.  

The views were stunning, as you can see from the harbour view (which R took).
Marjory with Liz Ferguson and some of their beautiful sketchbooks
Then, of course, there was the exhibition.  It was fabulous seeing so many of Marjory and Marion’s quilts in one room.  The theme of the work was ‘From the River to the Sea’ and both of them are heavily influenced by water in their work.  

I love Marion’s pebbles which I first saw at the Festival of Quilts last year.  

Also in a grey colourway was Marjory’s new piece based on Skipness Castle.  I think it was my favourite piece in the show.  We visited the castle on the way home.

The kids loved the baby quilts on show and were very proud of their efforts at mono-printing on fabric.  Thanks Marion for being so patient and showing them how to do it.  They were thrilled. 

I’m now back in work mode and really pleased to be so – having the summer off was fun but so is being the studio.  This week I’m dyeing and printing lots of fabric.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Out & About: Inspiring Yorkshire

Poppy in field
School’s out for summer and, displaying my Cooper genes, I whisked the kids away 20mins after school finished.  Holidays should never be wasted!  
Lots of poppies
We had a glorious week in the North York Moors, with R joining us as weekends, finishing up staying at the in-laws elsewhere in Yorkshire for the start of the Tour de France.
Column in Whitby Abbey
I took lots of ‘inspiration’ photos as you can see.  I also really enjoyed spending a few minutes browsing charity bookshops – we don’t have any here and it is rare I have time when I do go to places with shops just to browse.  R found an old guidebook for a museum in Greece, which had some lovely, exciting images for me.
Drawing from a vase in the Greek Museum Guide.  It doesn't say what museum!

This week has been spent juggling spending time with the children and finishing quilts off to send away for exhibitions.  I’m really relieved to have finished sewing on the sleeves.  Definitely my least favourite part of the process.  But I am pleased they are properly finished and in the post. 
Old wall 
Now to enjoy some of the lovely weather we have been having!

Seeing the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France
Smoke dispersing after the Red Arrows passed over Harewood House

Not good on plant names - but it was pretty

We went to Scarborough Aquarium.  It was the kids' suggestion honest!

The jellyfish were stunning and the kids were very excited on my behalf

Monday, 30 June 2014

Inspiration: Marjory McKinven and Marion Robertson

Marion and Marjory
I’m really pleased that my latest article in Popular Patchwork features my friends, the sisters Marjory McKinven and Marion Robertson.  Marjory and Marion are both lovely people, always ready with smiles, encouragement and laughter.  Marjory has also been a fantastic help to me this year with the C&G course, whilst Ruth has been too ill to teach.  Marjory also creates the most amazing hand-dyed fabric.
Detail of one of Marjory's quilts
The reason for the article is that they are having their first joint exhibition in August in Carradale, on the Mull of Kintyre, where Marjory spends more and more of her time.  Carradale really is a long way from anywhere, but I assume that is part of its charms.  We’re heading down to see the show and are going to take the tent (and the kids) with us, as there is a campsite besides the village.
Detail of one of Marion's quilts
So if you are looking for something interesting to do over the August Bank Holiday weekend, why not come up to remote and beautiful Scotland?
Their exhibition ‘From the River to the Sea’ runs from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August from 10am to 5pm.  Email for further information.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Inspiration: the Difficult Fabric Challenge

I’ve just spent the last four days teaching the C&G Summer School with Ruth Higham.  The weather was glorious, which helped as we spent Thursday at the Botantic Gardens in Glasgow.  There was so much inspiration in the plants, especially some of the amazing foliage and the glasshouse architecture.  The next three days were in the Studio making a piece of art cloth using dyeing and printing using a thermofax screen which the students designed as a result of the Botantics visit. 

I also gave the students a fun challenge.  When I visited AQS Quilt Week in Paducah I spent several hours trawling the vendors’ booths for a particularly difficult piece of fabric to work with.  When I saw this piece, I knew I had struck gold.  
Each student got a piece and was challenged to turn it into something beautiful.  Someone did suggest burning it and I think that could have worked, if you then stuck the ashes to some nice cloth in an interesting pattern, but no-one took me up on this!
Here are some of the results (there were another three but I didn't get to photograph them):

Laura dyed her piece and it will look great in some quilt soon

Moira dyed hers and then appliquéd it to a red and purple background.  I love the colours she achieved

Valerie’s  is in progress and is chopped into pieces of confetti, along with other fabrics, layered between dissolvable fabric

Rosemary has hidden her piece in the middle of this faux chenille design

Irene also slashed hers and then stitched it down

Christine dyed then stitched her piece onto a black background with tiny seed beads

Ellen cut circles from the fabric and turned them into a group of Suffolk Puffs to decorate her apron

Finally, Linda decided to celebrate the fabric and created this little appliqué.
I’m really impressed with their inventiveness – what do you think?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Inspiration: Lily Lui's Textile Vessels

Lily Lui
Textiles are very flexible and can be used in so many different ways.  I think this is part of the fascination for us.  Functional such as clothing, curtains, towels, bedding quilting, embroidery, knitting and, of course, art.  Any regular reader knows I really like objects which subvert our understanding of the textile form and so I was thrilled to discover Lily Lui’s work in Paducah. 
Lily Lui
With a background in textiles and ceramics, Lily creates beautiful 3D vessel shapes from tiny pieces of fabric, exquisitely rolled into shape and then joined together.  The forms she makes are undulate, like her fabric rolls; interesting kind of bowl shapes.
Lily’s work was included in the Fantastic Fibers exhibition at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, and also in her studio/shop ‘Created For U’, which was very close to the Exhibition Center.
Lily Lui

I can’t find many details about Lily’s work online for you to look at, but I did discover this fantastic blogpost by Rose Hughes, showing how Lily creates these beautiful vessels.  I would have loved to bring one home, but unfortunately I had a soft suitcase.  I really need to grow up and stop using rucksacks and get a hard suitcase so I can purchase proper art when I travel!
Lily Lui

Lily Lui

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