Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow dyeing continued...

We uncovered the pieces of fabric we had left out in the snow today.  It had snowed several inches more (as you can see from the blue box photo - the snow was only up to the top yesterday), so it took a bit of finding - there were not many tell-tale dye spots.  

The results were fun, not at all subtle, but what can you expect when you make up full strength dyes in primary colours and let three children loose on them!

Today, my enthusiastic helpers plus a friend decided to stay inside and let me do the work.  However, they did cheer valiantly everytime a piece of fabric was uncovered and the oldest one did dain to take the pictures.  The fabric seems to be rinsing out well, without much colour loss, although it isn't completed as I got distracted by preventing disputes and fights.  Maybe I can nup out one evening and do some when they are in bed as I think the effects could be cool.  On the other hand, maybe I'll just collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine as tomorrow is another closed school day.

Monday, 29 November 2010

unexpected holiday - snow dyeing

Scotland, or at least where we live, is under an unexpected blanket of snow.  It's really early for snow here and in the six years since we moved back, we have not seen anything as deep as this - even in the two huge freezes last winter.  So school was cancelled, snowmen built, lots of baking done and we had a go at snow dyeing.
I had read about snow dyeing on blogs last winter and it looked like fun.  These were our attempts today.  I don't know whether they worked yet - they are still buried in the snow.  I didn't really follow any precise rules or formulas, so if they work it will be more luck than design. 

Still it kept the kids amused for another 30 minutes and was fun for me too.  School has already been cancelled for tomorrow and more snow is falling just now.  The local Co-op is empty as people have been panic buying milk and bread.  I'm sure we'll survive a few days more...!  So we'll dig out the fabric tomorrow if we can find it under all the fresh snow and see what the effect it.  Hopefully it will be some marvellous to wow you with tomorrow night.  However, I'm happier with a smaller success: amazingly, apart from a couple of pink fingers, it seems that the dyes missed the children...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Life begins today...

... or so I am told as it is my 40th birthday.  Yesterday was spent in the kitchen cooking for the party and hopefully today will be fun and relaxing, but probably not, as we are having a party at home for lots of family and friends and their children.  It should be fun, but rather chaotic.
As life is beginning, it feels like time for a change and so, after more than five years, I am stopping subbing Popular Patchwork at the end of the year.  I've really enjoyed working as part of the team and will miss it, but hopefully I will still be writing articles and making projects for it, so it is not a total goodbye.
The main reason for giving up the regular paid work (I must  be mad!) is to give me more time to concentrate on my art.  I want to spend what time I have whilst the children are at school creating and considering my art practice.  I do have a big goal in mind and although I can't say anything definite yet, let me suggest it involves Birmingham in August.  I'm really excited by the opportunity and am looking forward to getting down to some serious making.  Although it may have to wait until we've done some serious tidying up next week!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Eye of the Quilter at Houston

Eye of the Quilter at International Quilt Festival
Although I may not have had a quilt on show in Houston (I'm not sure my technical abilities are up to it and you have to enter to be in with a chance of being shown), there is a little side competition called the Eye of the Quilter, which asks quilters to submit photos which inspire them. I had one of mine included - a photo of a rainbow over the north of Scotland. By chance, it was one of the first exhibits I saw when I arrived at the show. It was very exciting to see my work, even if it was a photograph and I was really surprised to see a second one of mine there too - the sunset over the sea loch. I was only expecting one. I didn't get someone to take my photo with my photos, although I was tempted...!

My photo is the one second from the bottom
The other photos were amazing and very inspiring. I actually spent ages looking at the photos rather than the quilts.  Some of them had fantastic use of light and there was one of the Eiffel Tower very similar to what the kids were taking when we were there last month. 

My photo is the one at the top.  The bright light is flash reflection, rather than part of the photo

As an added bonus, I was given the mounted photo back from last year's competition. It made it home safely and it is now sitting on our mantlepiece, with it lovely red shades (it's a photo of a cowbeb on top of an autumnal bush), with two silver stick men sculptures in front of it. The boys made these in our kids art class yesterday morning and the results are rather good. Hopefully I'll post some photos from it when I upload them from my camera later this week.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Houston street reflections

As I have spent all of this week in the Quilt Show, almost literally from dawn to dusk, I haven't had any time to see Houston at all. From the trip in from the airport, I was surprised how flat the land was and the only other impression was seeing the skyscrapers towering up as if from nowhere as we arrived downtown. Apart from that I have walked up and down Dallas Ave from my hotel to the Quilt Festival and back. However, I loved seeing the reflections of the buildings on the glass of the other buildings and started photographing it whenever I could. Although I would not like to live in such a concrete area as a city centre - I would miss grass and trees, it is fun to be right in the middle for a while and apart from Canary Wharf in London, I don't think we have any area like this at all back home.

My other impressions of Houston are that it is incredibly meaty - I don't think there was a single non-meat option in all the different catering stands at the Convention Centre. However, the people were all really friendly and helpful. I went in a bookshop one evening and I have never been in a place with so many Bible and Christian related gifts (that wasn't a specific Christian bookstore) before, but this was made bizarre as in the same shop there was the biggest array of gun magazines I've ever seen. Someone told me later there is even one called something like 'Southern Homes, Gardens and Guns'. Sounds like a contender for the guest publication on Have I Got News For You.

One thing we look out for as a family is what the different crossing signs are in each country. With small children, you have to spend a lot of time waiting for them to change to teach them road safety. At home we refer to the green man. Well here it is a white man and rather than a red man it is a large red hand, which counts down when the lights are going to change to 'don't walk'. Strangely the number it started counting down from varied from light to light.
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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Paintstik Inspirations

When I knew I was coming to Houston, one thing I wanted to learn more about was more ways to add colour and texture to my fabric, so Laura Murray's Paintstik Inspirations workshop was definitely on my list. I'm really glad I got on the course (apparently it was very over-subscribed). I spent a lovely morning, not only learning lots but having loads of fun playing around with the paintstiks.
The first two images are made using irridescent paintstiks and rubbing them over texture plates.

This one was made using a stencil - I haven't used stencils for years - it made me think it might be a fun thing to try at ArtWorks with the kids sometime soon.

This one was trying colouring a cream fabric, then rubbing and finally adding the stencil.

At the end of the morning, Laura suggested that we make a quick sampler of the techniques we tried.  This is on dark green fabric.  I was really pleased with the results and can see great potential for what I want to do next...  It was definitely worth washing the fabric to remove the size in the hand basin of my hotel room the other evening and then ironing it.  I don't think I have ever ironed in a hotel room before!

Workshop with Caryl Bryer Fallert

Yesterday's treat was a morning workshop with the well known quilt artist Caryl Bryer Fallert, one of the key names to know in the quilt world, according to today's Houston Chronicle. She took us through her technique of piecing fabric together called applipiecing. This is my sample, made from her range of intensely bright fabric. The accuracy of the piecing is impressive using her method. It was fascinating too how different the colours turned out on all the different samples given we all used the same pattern and same piece of fabric.
Although Caryl said her technique was simple, when used to make a large complicated quilt like she does. Just keeping track of all the pieces is impressive - whenever I try something with lots of pieces I always get lost and confused as to what goes where - it seems so obvious to start with, but then my markings get overly messy.
It was a great class. It was also funny as Maureen, who is involved in the Loch Lomond Quilt Show, who can't live more than 30 miles away from me in Scotland was in the same class. 55,000 people at the show and I keep meeting people I know!
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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Amish Color Adventure

I'm in Houston for the Quilt Festival.  It's my first trip to the States in a decade and I've got a whole week here to enjoy the quilts and take some classes.  It's very strange not having any children with me, but we decided it wasn't best practical to bring them and it is nice not to have to rush back to make sure that they are suitably entertained.  Yesterday I took a class with Roberta Horton called Amish Color Adventure. 
To be honest, it wasn't on my list of classes to take, but when I turned up yesterday morning, there was a space available as someone had to drop out (sorry Sonya).  As the Quilt Festival didn't start until the evening, I thought what the heck and signed up.
I didn't have any supplies with me, but people were incredibly generous at sharing (thank you) and I learned lots about Amish quilts and how to think about colour a bit differently. 
We made two mock-up quilts.  The top one was the morning one and in the afternoon we progressed to flower baskets.  The tiny triangles were from a 3/4in square so were really fidly.  The top picture of the flower baskets shows the starting position.  The next one what happens when you change some of the colours slightly.  There are two changes in each block.  The final picture is after adding the borders.  They were Roberta's choice of colours.  I would never have chosen bright pink and green, but strangely they work!  I'm off to another workshop now - something completely different

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Big Draw in Balfron

On Saturday, we held our first ever Big Draw event in Balfron.  A group of us has set up a not-for-profit organisation, called FAB to encourage art activities in our village.  Since August, we have set up the group, two other members have spent hours doing grant forms, we have all undergone Child Protection Training and many meetings, all to try and raise awareness of art here.
On Saturday it paid off.  Thanks to a very welcome grant from our local Community Council, two jars of sweets, curtesy of the local Co-op, we were able to hold a drop in and draw day, as part of the National Campaign for Drawing.  At the last minute we also heard that our grant application to Make a Splash had been successful and so our funding is secure for at least another three events like this. 
Everyone had a great time and more than 200 people turned up. 
Our local paper, the Stirling Observer, published my piece about it today and I'm really pleased with how it looked (and that they didn't alter my words too much!).  Unfortunately, the article doesn't seem to be online, so here are some of the pictures they used.
Katie drawing with pastels at an easel.  She spent about 40mins on this one drawing and lots of other kids really enjoyed drawing using grown-up easels too.

Louise adding her mark to the large floor drawing

Large scale painting

Luci and Aoife creating self portraits
There were free cakes and coffee, but to get your cake, you had to draw your fantasy cake on a paper plate.  There were over 250 on the walls by the end of the day.
Daniel adding Kalim's outline to our giant 'put yourself in the picture' drawing
Angus showing that even the youngest could get involved.
Ewan, a local artist, showing us how it should be done.
Julie, who hates getting her photo taken adding some detail to the stitch drawing.  I spent most of the day threading needles for people.  It was lovely to see so many people sewing, especially boys.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Family Outing to the Quai Branly

Now this is how museum visiting should be with children.  The three of them sat down and drew with (washable) felt-tips, whilst I got to look and draw at the objects that interested me (I'm in the background standing up and drawing.  It diminishes the cosy image a bit if I let on that the youngest was just intent on scribbling colours and the middle one was drawing yet another maze, totally unrelated to the objects on show, but still they had a great time and so did the grown ups.  The cafe gave them ice-creams and us coffee with a little shot glass of chocolate mouse and a macaroon.  Almost idyllic.
Today however, I was on my own with three children in the Louvre.  Slightly ambitious maybe, but still they had agreed to a visit.  We had tantrums over lunch, walking, what to see and who ate the last sweetie (and with it my bribery tool).  They did do some drawing and I liked the floor patterns, but I didn't engage with the classical Greek sculpture the same way as I had with the non-Western art/objects at Quai Branly.  Part of it, I think is that it was harder to draw and more accuracy was required - not necessarily my strong point.  So thumbs up for the Quai Branly and whilst not necessarily thumbs down to the Louvre, maybe it wasn't the best choice. 
In fact, the highlight of today was messing around with all the colours of make up in Sephora on rue de Rivoli.  The kids loved being able to try out all the different colours of lipstick on their hands and their attempts with blusher restored the laughter.

Mask made of seal skin from Greenland

Guardian figure from the Gabon 19thC

Rain God from Mexico 1000-1521 AD, made from stone

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The River

We are in Paris on a week's holiday and this was a fantastic installation we saw at the new museum called Quai Branly. The building itself is beautifully designed. It has a curving walkway up to the galleries, which are all black, with light filtered through the windows which were covered with a black mesh. There was lots to listen to as well as see. This installation was in the walkway up to the galleries and is by Charles Sandison. Called 'The River', it is as its name implies a river of words flowing down the path. Words got caught by the current and pushed on quickly, others get caught at the edges and move very slowly. There was even a waterfall of words down a column. The projection was onto the visitors too, which was fun and a storyteller taking round a group of nursery children suggested that our children were fishes in the flow as they lay down and let the words pass over them.
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Friday, 8 October 2010

Popular Patchwork October

... is now old news, but I'm really pleased as my quilt was chosen as the cover girl.  I made this quilt for my aunt and it uses unusual colours for me - I was trying to match in with her living room. I'm not convinced it worked, but it is bright and colourful.  It also includes my last Quilters' Corner. After six years of writing it, it has been decided it is time for a change.  I'm going to miss writing it, especially as it encouraged me to do lots of textile based activities so I had something to write about, but hopefully it will give me more time to concentrate on other things, like my artwork and this blog.
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