Sunday, 9 December 2012

Facebook page

Do you know I’ve now set up my facebook page as an artist?  Please go over to facebook and have a look and ‘like’ it, if you like it!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Going round in circles

Made by the third class, aged 6-9
Made by the second class aged 6&7

Over a number of weeks at our Saturday morning kids art classes, we have been going round in circles...  It was the longest project we have ever tried and we looked at some fantastic artwork which used circles, then painted ‘targets’, cut them up reassembled them, made circular prints, printed sheets using circles. The kids collaged their individual pieces together so each class made a 1m square piece, which was attached to canvases, kindly funded by Balfron Community Council.

Made by the first class aged 5&6
Made by the fourth class aged 9-12

I had no real idea how they would turn out.  I knew how it would turn out if I did it and had some fun playing around with the ideas myself.  But these weren’t my artworks, they belonged to the children and so of course they are all very different.  They’ve taken a while for me to finish – I offered to do the final gluing down and varnishing (more fool me – it took ages!).  When they were in my studio being finished, I wasn’t totally convinced by all of them, probably because I had spent too long trying to finish them!  However, now they are up on the walls of the McLintock Hall, I’m really pleased with how they look and think the kids did a great job (they are all aged between 5-14).

in progress

some of our circle prints

Making a print sheet using potatoes and stamps

I am very relieved that they are finally in place as it means I can get on with some of my own work now!


Monday, 3 December 2012


Susan Ross
Threadlines is a group, which like many others, has grown out a class.  The group enjoyed the class so much that Ruth Higham, the tutor, ran an extra year of classes for them, before deciding to give up and join them as a member of the group.

Gina Watson

Although they liked meeting up and making once a month, they decided they needed a goal and so someone had the mad/great idea of creating an exhibition for the West End Festival.  They had started dyeing using indigo and thought this was the way to go.  They got Jane Callender, an indigo and shibori specialist to teach them the finer points of the craft and they couldn’t speak highly enough of her and her teaching. 

Carolyn MacGillivray

Their work is well underway and it was fantastic to see some of it on Friday.  I was really impressed by their skill and dedication.  They are all preparing three large hangings, which will be predominately indigo, numerous smaller pieces and a jacket.  I can’t wait to see the finished results!

The indigo vat

Fabric wrapped round a pole, dipped in the indigo

Monday, 26 November 2012

Exhibition at House for an Art Lover - You’re invited!

Detail of Acquari by Gillian Cooper
Yesterday I dropped off some pictures at House for an Art Lover in Glasgow for their next exhibition, which opens on Thursday 29th November.  The Private View is on Thursday evening and if you’re in Glasgow, it should be worth attending.  As well as my pieces, there is work by lots of other artists which looks really interesting.


In some ways it was quite sad dropping off the work as now my mantelpiece looks empty.  It’s not until you take the picture away that you realise what an impact it has on the room!  Still, it will soon be time to put up the Christmas decorations there instead.


It was all a bit of a busy day yesterday.  As well as dropping off the pictures, we went to the Studio, running by the Loch Lomond Quilt Show people to see their first City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting exhibition.  It was very impressive work and as I’m teaching the next C&G course with them which starts in January, it leaves a lot to live up to – which is fantastic.  The children liked the quilts, but were even more impressed by the cakes!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Studio time - new samples

This week has been lovely as I managed to have three days in the studio, just concentrating on my own work (sorry to anyone who was expecting work or tidiness from me this week...!).

Having spent a lot of time mulling ideas over, I finally bit the bullet and got stuck into making.  Nothing big so far, although I have now started some bigger pieces.  These are little samples/pieces.


Using a strategy that worked for me in the past, I decided to make do with the materials I had at home rather than obsessing about what materials I really, really needed to make the work.  So rather than buying a screen and screen printing inks and getting some thermofax screens made, I used my runnier fabric paints (Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, which I love) and the odds and sods of acrylic paint I had lying around.  Before this all sounds too saintly, I have bought more procion dyes to increase the colour range of the background fabric and bought some additional acrylics when I was out on Thursday as I ran out of the colours I used in the samples!


I really like the results of using the acrylics to mark the cloth after more subtly altering it with the fabric paints.  I then added lots of free machine stitching on top.

The other piece uses one of my least favourite fabrics: polyester net curtain fabric. However, the transparency works really well, more so than the silk I have here.  Although I melted it a couple of times, I think I may work with it in the future.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Mags Ramsay's Rule the Waves?

A few months ago, I showed Mags Ramsay’s quilt as part of my review of the Festival of Quilts.   As photography is notoriously difficult at the Festival of Quilts due to the lighting, she kindly sent me a better image of ‘Rule the Waves?’.

Margaret Ramsay - Rule the Waves?

I have been rather remiss and am only just getting round to posting it on this blog.  I met Mags at a masterclass with Chunghie Lee at the Festival of Quilts a few years ago and I have been following her work ever since.

Margaret Ramsay - Rule the Waves? sample
Her work is lovely and she is very prolific given she also has a full time (and interesting) job.  She also writes a great blog, which is well worth a look if you don’t know it already.

Margaret Ramsay - Journal Quilt March 10

‘Rule the Waves?’ is a really clever use of indigo as you get a real sense of the sea and of the horizon.  She also has emphasised it by stitching in indigo colours using hand stitch. I also like the long narrow format, because the sea is so vast, you could never portray all of it and by concentrating on a section of it, you have a better sense of the whole.

Margaret Ramsay - Weymouth Waves

Mags kindly sent me some other images of related work, all of which is gorgeous.  ‘Weymouth Waves' is included in the SAQA regional exhibition ‘Wide Horizons II’.

Margaret Ramsay - Indigo Waves

Indigo must be an up and coming trend again as a number of people I know are beginning to work with it.  Ruth Higham and her group Threadlines are in the process of creating an entire exhibition based on indigo for the West End Festival in Glasgow and I’m going to visit them next week to find out more about it.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Big Draw in Balfron

Weaving Secrets at the 2012 Balfron Big Draw
Last weekend we held our third Big Draw event in Balfron.  This year’s theme was ‘2012 in lines’.  We had lots of different activities, from traditional drawing to less obvious interpretations. 

Weaving Secrets at the 2012 Balfron Big Draw

The mapping activity using masking tape on the floor was really popular with the children and we went through all our supplies of masking tape and some more!  The adults enjoyed extending out and altering some black and white photographs of Balfron.  Everyone seemed to like building 3D sculptures using paper straws and more masking tape.

Weaving Secrets at the 2012 Balfron Big Draw
Of course, we had to have a textile activity and we had ‘Weaving Secrets’.  I had dyed some fabric and torn it into strips.  We asked people to write a ‘secret’ on it and then weave it into the overall tapestry, leaving it up to them just how much or little of their secret they revealed.  The tapestry frame was made from a borrowed quilt frame from the Loch Lomond Quilt Show and Luci of eventsdecor had generously donated some fabric.

Weaving Secrets at the 2012 Balfron Big Draw

The finished result was really attractive, especially after I compressed it down to very small.  When I tied it off it wound up beautifully and I’m enjoying having it on the window ledge of my studio to admire.  Dawn, one of my fellow organisers of FAB, our local arts organisation, was suggesting we displayed it in the local library, but .... rather selfishly, I like it where it is!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Temple of a Thousand Bells

‘The Temple of a Thousand Bells’ by Laura Belém at York St Mary’s

One of my favourite things about visiting York is going to YorkSt Mary’s.  A medieval deconsecrated church, it is a beautiful space, which is filled with an annual art installation.  This year is has been ‘The Temple of a Thousand Bells’, made by Laura Belém.  It is based on a legend of The Temple of a Thousand Bells which stood on an island that sunk into the sea.  It’s not a story I had heard before, but it made for a lovely experience.  Each of the bells is hand blown, transparent and silent.

‘The Temple of a Thousand Bells’ by Laura Belém at York St Mary’s

Again, the work is made so much more interesting by its interaction with the old building and the silence of the empty bells seems so appropriate for the silence of a former church. 

‘The Temple of a Thousand Bells’ by Laura Belém at York St Mary’s

The exhibition is on until this weekend, so if you haven’t had a chance, I would recommend visiting it.  Alternatively, there is a lovely film about the hanging of the show here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A break from the funding applications

Last week was our half term holiday and we went to York for a few days.  We almost went up north to the wilds of Scotland, but I chickened out, worried about what we would do if it rained.  York was great.  We visited loads of museums and galleries and the sun shone the whole time.
The highlight of the trip for me was a long awaited visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  It is a wonderful place, spread over a huge country park.  It was fun to explore finding new sculptures round corners, behind trees and as part of the landscape.
Barbara Hepworth at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I don’t know whether I was just more attune to art that day or whether it is my tastes changing, but I got very excited by the Barbara Hepworth sculptures; pieces that have never really interested in me in the past.  I loved the way they stacked up and how, although simple shapes, they looked different from each angle due to holes cut into and through them.  From a distance they looked sleek and smooth, but closer up the texture was more interesting
Barbara Hepworth at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

There was also a Miro exhibition on and again, I loved the simple shapes.  The associated children’s trail had pictures of household objects Miro had used as a basis for his sculptures and the kids had to find them in the exhibition.  It was a great way of keeping them entertained whilst we got to look at the artwork (the body of this one is based on an almond by the way!).
Joan Miro at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

So I would highly recommend the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – and we didn’t manage to see it all, so hopefully we can go back soon.  It is really exciting seeing artists in a different light.  Have your views changed on any artist recently?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Trying a long arm machine

Life is rather busy at the moment, but without many pictures to show you.  I’ve been filling in lots of funding applications, which I can’t really share with you at the moment as we can’t start the projects until we find out whether we have the funding.  However, they are rather exciting...

I’ve also been doing lots of drawing and will show you some of these soon.  I’m not sure how these drawings are going to translate into work yet, but that’s part of the fun.

I had a lovely fun day on Wednesday at Beechwood Quilting, trying out their long arm machine for an article for Popular Patchwork.  I really enjoyed it.  It was amazingly fast and I quilted a single bed quilt in an afternoon.  I can see great possibilities for it in my work....

Last night was also fun, when I visited Helensburgh and District Quilters to talk about my Unsung Muses work to date.  They were a lovely group and very appreciative of my work.

Anyway, I need to get back to those funding forms.  If anyone has any great strategies for getting funding, I’d love to hear them.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

SAQA Benefit Auction

Past Divine by Gillian Cooper

This little piece is in the SAQA Benefit Auction, which is on now.  The prices in the auction start high and drop over the week, but therein is the gamble.  Wait too long and the piece you want could be gone.

As part of the promotion for the auction, members of SAQA were invited to create their ‘dream collection’ and I was delighted when Virginia Spiegel included my piece in her collection.

There are so many amazing quilts in the auction, I’m not sure I could chose which ones I would have in my dream collection, to go in my dream house.  My dream house is remarkably similar to the one I live in, just a lot tidier, with less clutter and not requiring first aid from plumbers and roofers!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A moment of madness

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front recently, not because I haven’t been doing much to share, but rather because I’ve been doing loads!  Since my youngest started school just over a month ago, I’ve been helping out the lovely organisers of the LochLomond Quilt Show one day a week, started back teaching 5-14 year olds art on a Saturday morning and written some articles (more when they are published) and spent some time trying to get my own work back on track, whilst working at a possible book idea.  


As if that wasn’t enough, Dawn and I have also started mini-ArtWorks for 1-5 year olds.  Running art classes for pre-schoolers and their parents is proving fun and popular with the parents.  We already have two full classes and a waiting list for another third.  I have to admit I wasn’t sure about art and pre-schoolers, especially as I have just finished that phase myself.  However, we knew that it was something that people really wanted locally, so we thought we would give it a try.  And actually, I’m really enjoying it.  Well, apart from the cleaning up afterwards!  Last week we played with salt dough and flour.  I’ve got some left over and keep meaning to make something with it myself.


I’m not quite sure what the next activity with the pre-schoolers will be.  I quite fancy trying painting with feet, but I might chicken out of it due to the mess!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The fourth yellow journal quilt

Past Present IV by Gillian Cooper
For my final yellow journal quilt, I decided to try something a little different.  On one of the (many) wet days in the summer holidays, the monsters and I were playing with modelling clay.  They did some nice pieces, but pretty soon wandered off to do something else.  They kept coming back to see why Mummy was taking so long!  I had great fun shaping the clay and marking it with some of the motifs from my ancient female figurines.  These circle shapes were made at the end as they were really running out of patience with me, but I like the rawness of the rough edges and the imperfect circle shapes. I can definitely see some potential in using them going forward. 
Past Present IV (detail) by Gillian Cooper

The final four journal quilts of the year have the theme of shades of blue.  I'm going to try and finish these in a more timely fashion...!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

CQ@10 book

At the Festival of Quilts the other week, I was constantly asked if I had any work in the show. I felt like I was doing something a bit wrong when I said no, which is a bit silly as there was no reason why I would have anything this year. Actually, it wasn't quite true as a bag I had made using a pattern from the Creative Handbags magazine was on the Popular Patchwork stand, but that doesn't really count!

I was also asked the same question about the CQ@10 book, which as well as being a catalogue for their exhibition, also had works from their other projects over their first ten years. Again the answer was no, as I am a relatively recent member of CQ (the Contemporary Quilt Group of the Quilters' Guild) and am only currently taking part in their journal quilt project for the first time. Hilary who was organising the book had asked for images from the current project and I hadn't sent any, partly because the timing was whilst I was away and mainly because I don't think they were amongst my best work. I was really surprised when I flicked through the book that evening and found my journal quilt was included (it's the top right). And actually, besides all the other little red quilts it didn't look too bad. I'm very pleased to be included so. A big thanks to Hilary Gooding, who I only met for the first time at the Festival of Quilts for including my work.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Second and third yellow journal quilts

Past Present III by Gillian Cooper
For my second and third yellow attempt, I stayed with the idea of collaging paper to fabric, but I decided that newspaper was slightly too thick and also the words were potentially interferring with what I wanted the piece to say.  So I used tissue paper.

As one of the conditions of this year's Contemporary Quilt Group challenge was to use at least 75% yellow in these quilts, I had to add some tea staining to the white fabric to bring it up close to the required level...!

Past present II by Gillian Cooper

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Fabric purchases at the Festival of Quilts

Normally I don't actually spend much money on supplies at the Festival of Quilts.  A mixture of maybe not quite the right supplies being sold for me and sheer bewilderment at the choice of fabrics and threads available. However, this year, I went with several purchases in mind, and I can't quite believe how much I spent.

I'm intending writing a book or e-book or expanded blog this year about log cabin quilts, so needed the fabric to make them. I decided to ignore my daughter's comment from a few months ago that I never needed to buy fabric again and that I should use up everything on my shelves...



I also expanded my collection of paintstiks for my art pieces, as now all the children are at school I should have more time to create and I have loads of ideas milling around in my head about how I want to move my unsung muses figure pieces forward.

When I saw the woven bands of soft cotton at the African Fabric Shop, I knew immediately that it could make any interesting addition to this work.

Then there were some books I couldn't resist: Pauline Burbidge is an artist I've admired for years and I was thrilled when Bridget from Popular Patchwork commissioned me, without any pushing on my part, to interview her for the magazine. Watch this space for details of the article.

 I also purchased the CQ@10 book and the EAQ catalogue.

To round it all off, I also purchased some Wonderfil rayon thread. I just liked the look of it!

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