Thursday, 31 December 2009

A tale of two quilts

In 1986 Nic was still at University.  In the normal way of things I took over his room.  During vacations I had to make a hasty retreat, well not so hasty, boxes of bits everywhere.  In one box I found a pile of dyed fabric, experiments.   I had just started 'playing' and at that time not many dyeing books were available.  So I had fun.  Such pale colours - I had a lot to learn.   I pieced them all, free cutting, with a vague Log Cabin pattern.   

I love old Welsh quilts - filled with carded sheep's wool; the utilitarian quilts of India, stitched together randomly, and quilted to hold the layers together.   So this quilt has, possibly, Warm and Natural wadding, and a plain cotton backing.   It's quilted from the back with big stitches.  The back could be a whole cloth quilt.   

I love this quilt, it's randomness, the texture - over the years it is now getting that old 'lumpy' worn look.   I called it Indian Comforter - Winter (and it does!)  There is also a Summer Comforter, Thermofax wadding, much lighter. also hand stitched.  The colours on this one were really bright. No more pale colours for me.   This quilt was sold and is living in a cottage somewhere in Dorset.  

A detail of the quilting, seen only as points of colour

So now we come to 2009.  I have my own room, what a joy to settle at last with my 'stuff'.   I still continue to experiment with dyeing, moving on to screen printing, and the beloved Indigo vats.   Trips to India inspire, and I sometimes get to 'play' with master craftsmen, or at least watch the process of their craft.   I actually take dyeing workshops now, and I guess I am so lucky doing what I want to do, passing on knowledge and learning from students.   Never going to be rich, but as long as I have enough money to continue with my work, and then some over to travel to India I am as happy as happy can be!

The old shirts (pillow cases, kurtas, or anything white laying unattended) quilt completed.  Dyed, waxed, overdyed;  free cut and pieced;  Soft and Elegant wadding this time, and machine quilted with simple (not so) straight lines.   My dyeing skills have improved!   

These two quilts gave/give me such pleasure.   Just going for it, having fun and not sticking to any rules!   I can piece precisely if I want to, I am a Virgo after all - yeh, I might have broken out, and machine quilt pretty well too. It's good to know how to break the rules sometimes

I'm going to call this one Blue Moon, as this is the evening of such a moon.   It will be part of Raw Talent, the family exhibition - see link bar.   Guess this is only going to happen once in a Blue Moon.  

A Good New Year to you all.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Boxing Day

Rayna asked for an explanation.   Traditionally Alms (charity) 
Boxes were placed in churches to receive gifts for the poor.  
These were opened on Boxing Day and the contents
distributed to the deserving of the parish.   

It is also St. Stephen's Day - patron saint of horses and
sport.  The hunting scenes of Christmas cards are now
history - the sport was banned in recent years.   Lots of
football matches in rain and snow.   There might be
boxing going on too - who knows?!!

The recycled shirt quilt is almost finished.   Half quilted, by
machine - I need to have it completed (with other things)
by next Tuesday.   Not a straight line in sight, great.
The colour should be a bit more toward turquoise - taken
using flash 'cos it is very dark and very wet outside.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Family gathering

 Back from a trip to deliver presents to our family.
We stayed with Will, Juliet, and young Benjamin
who is now looking about and really smiling.  

A wonderful carol service at Hampton Court 
Palace,which took the form of a walk about.  
Through various courtyards, corridors, and 
spooky herb gardens.  No sighting of any
 ghosts.  A very atmospheric evening -  cold 
enough to notice,  with a flurry of snow 
falling down through the beam of spotlights. 

Today my sister Lesley with Lottie and Tim, 
and my niece Harriet with Harry and Albie
drove up from Berkshire to join us for
mince pies and presents.

Now home, having driven through rain and
sleet, we are putting our feet up for the rest
of the day, ready for tomorrow's celebrations.

With good wishes to one and all.
Peace and Love

Friday, 18 December 2009

old shirts

Earlier this year I treated myself to a Batik
Wax Pot. This week was time to get down
to business. The recycled shirts have been
dyed, over dyed and the final process,
a touch of batik.

Here's one block, free cut and pieced.

Ages since I've gathered a large selection
of oddments and recycled fabrics. What
initially seems a huge pile quickly becomes
small. I have a feeling I am going to have
another forage today for more plain shirts,
old pillow cases etc.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The last Journal Quilt of the year

Winter Leaf

Discharged dyed cotton through
vilene stencil. Machine stitched
before the blue border was
rolled with white textile paint.

The back is equally good!

Monday, 14 December 2009

it's not raining

Cold, clear, slightly frosty and the sun is shining - perfect.

Three weeks ago I was set for a dyeing and printing session.
Other things intervened! However, although December is
traditionally my hibernation month, I am making up for lost time.

It's pretty cold in the conservatory, dyes are kept in the
warmth of my room, and cloth is batched in a tray on the
floor. Several short dyeing sessions before I freeze,
then back in the warm. Layers of clothes, thick socks,
and scarves help.

This is a small section of a large piece - dyed for cutting into

Over dyeing a breakdown piece - I like, reminds me of India.

This piece was dark and light peach (! i don't do peach) I like it now.
Over dyed with turquoise and navy

A tray of cloth - recycled shirts gathered from my men and myself
over the past year or so. A 'family' quilt in the offing.

Finally a little peep of my Indian slippers - worn with socks, good grief.

Monday, 7 December 2009

situation almost normal

November was not the best of months. We got off to a good start,
but then it all went down hill. Keith's operation was a success,
he's still recuperating - doing well. Shed loads of rain and grey
days, broken up with various new duties. Not a lot achieved.

So, December. Deadlines looming, not even thinking about
the festive season. Fabric, dyes print paste ready to go.
To get me on the roll again, I start the week giving a talk
and slide show of my Indian Journey in February. A local
quilting group, and it's their Christmas party. I can feel
several mince pies coming on.

A little show for you of a gorgeous Rabari Bag. Indigo
linen, typical Rabari stitching. I just love the huge
triangle and diamond shaped mirrors.

It's still gray and raining. Must pack up my 'show' carefully to avoid
a soaking. We can at least close the curtains and escape to the
heat and dust for a while

Friday, 20 November 2009

The birthday boy came home yesterday, in time for morning
coffee and birthday cake .The operation was a complete
success, thank goodness. Fabulous service by good
old NHS. Now to keep him occupied and off the
computer for a few days.

Some beach art, which seems appropriate.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Just another day, or not

Yesterday afternoon I felt the November Journal Quilt coming on.
Torn paper stencils, screened with discharge paste.

Ghost Leaves

With sensible head on I mixed the discharge
paste wearing full respirator mast, and set about
the process. I noticed our window cleaner, next
door. He noticed me looking like an alien (no place
to hide in the conservatory) and almost fell of his
ladder. I am not sure whether he knows exactly
what I do, except every time he calls he must
wonder why my room is a 'creative' mess and
the dyeing area outside is a bit colourful.

This morning, up early, I started quilting Ghost
Leaves. Everything going well - too well?
Keith had been complaining about a spot in
his vision - he managed to get an emergency
appointment at the Eye Hospital this morning.
The quilting was finished conveniently for me
to take it along and tie the ends in. Well, now
I'm home again, Keith is awaiting an op for a
detached retina. He'll be home tomorrow morning.
It's his birthday - hope he can manage some cake.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Endings and beginnings

My summer indigo slow cloth is finished. I feel quite lost not having
a piece to pick up and stitch. Guess there might be a winter slow
cloth gathering itself quietly.

The last patch to be stitched - kantha fish swimming in a sea of blue.
Can you see them? Very subtle.

The wrinkled elephant

Yesterday was a Lentil Winter Warmer soup day . Out came the
new soup spoons brought back from Marrakech. Carved out of
orange wood, simple and beautiful. Very satisfying to use.
I like wooden spoons, especially for eating porridge.

Today I am preparing ingredients for a screen printing session.
There is a slight window in the stormy weather we have been
enjoying. The sun is shinning in the conservatory, so it's on with
lots of warm clothing for a couple of creative days. It seems ages
since I have had a chance to dust off the silk screens.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Magic Paint

Souk Sebbaghine - the Dyers Souk
Cotton, wool and silk yarn

A look in vats, the finished woven products,
mainly scarves - the silk is 'vegetarian' produced
from the cactus plant. Very light and airy cloth,
with a strange 'hand' akin to polyester.

Then the sales talk, Magic paints are used to dye
cloth, they are fast not fugitive like chemical dyes.
Sample scarf dampened, and, sure enough, the
water is coloured. Perhaps not rinsed enough?

This led me to thinking of experiences with 'magic
paint' in India. Powder is placed on paper - you
you have to guess the resulting colour when water
is applied. Result amazingly different and magic.

Sometimes the brain is the last thing out of the bag.
Plus there is always a fair bit of showmanship.
How could fabric be dyed with magic paint?

Last year I bought this simply lovely tray of mineral
pigment as used in Indian Miniature painting.

Magic paint - can you see what colour it will be?
The top left is a green metallic powder, top right dark green,
and the bottom very dark blue.

Indigo chunks and terracotta dish with cochineal - Burber lipstick

Ah, a chink of light - we are definitely dealing with mineral
pigments not only for painting, but also dyeing.

No time for in depth investigations right now, will have to
save that for a rainy day. So far, I believe the pigments are
mix with egg tempera, 'glues' and even acrylic paints, for
painting various surfaces. For painting fabric, use alum as
a mordant. Then there is the soy milk option described
by John Marshall - an excellent website for all things

The blue vases in Jardin Marjorelle were a bit of a clue.
My Indigo chunks are, of course, cobolt blue pigment.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Souks and other itineraries

Crazy places, crazy people. So easy to get lost for hours,
retracing your steps many times.... Scissors from the
Metal Souk. Had to have them. They measure 20 x 10 cm.
Monster scissors, they cut well too. Surely I can't loose
these at workshops?!!

Tassels in so many shapes and sizes

Beautiful perfume bottles

Aladdin's lamps

And finally, the Tanneries

We couldn't decided whether or no to visit. We were
armed with a map and compass (Top Tip No.1, this is
essential, or at least a great help). Within two minutes
of leaving our riad we made a 'friend' who was "not a
guide", apparently. We wandered through a maze of
alleyways, eventually ending up - yes, you have
guessed - at the Tanneries. At the gate a group were
still grasping the handfuls of mint to their noses.

On entry we were also given fresh mint leaves, or as the
locals refer to them, a gas mask. Not a good omen.
Here I offer Top Tip No. 2 - if you feel the need to visit,
go in the early morning. I have a very good sense of
smell, and didn't find it unpleasant, although perhaps
I have become immune to 'unusual' aromas from visits
to India. The scene was grim, certainly not colourful.
The picture shows the lime bath, which removes hair
and other 'things' from the leather. Next up the pigeon
poo bath to soften hide, and then the dye baths.
These were all a bit brown and black.

Conclusion - good to tick off list, curiosity satisfied.
The local do not like their photos taken, except for
money. 'Friends', gatekeepers, et all. also require
cash, as did the man watching us take a photo of
a donkey. Clearly he had nothing to do with said
donkey, but it was another earning opportunity.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Storks and Sneezes

Marrakech was great. Enjoyed the warmth of 35+, blue skies and
total madness. On Sunday, our wedding anniversary, we had lunch
at a rooftop restaurant overlooking storks' nests, thinking of one
flying off to Will and Juliet.

At dinner we had a text to say that Benjamin had been born.

Home on Monday, we went to the hospital with Will to see
Juliet and meet young Benjamin.

On the flight home I was brewing a cold, so had to keep my
distance. Right now I still feel awful (but getting better).
I have done absolutely nothing except sleep and blow
my nose. I did manage to upload pix this morning, so
leave you with a collage of images from Jardin Majorelle

Monday, 26 October 2009

Flying South

Getting ready to fly to Marrakech on Wednesday, where the sun
is bright in a blue sky and it is hot! It is going to be so good.

We visited very briefly, like two days, a few years back, and said
then we must return.

Deep in one of the souks is this shop. Suitable for a
visit on Halloween I think. All sorts of lotions and
potions, terracotta scrubbing brushes, sea sponges and
oils for the hammam, strange magical looking objects,
plus dyeing ingredients - madder, lumps of dried indigo,
and 'red' indigo, although I think something was lost in
the translation. Maybe it was cochineal? I did buy a
little terracotta dish of Berber's lipstick - cochineal. Hmm.
But first I have to find this treasure trove again.

I must also revisit the metal souk and take a better picture
of these lanterns, including all of the spiral tops.

Doing some research I have found the cloth dyeing
quarter, a must. Then there are the tanneries - which
I might just give a miss. Never mind getting lost in
the small alleyways, the smell of leather curing in
pigeon poo is going to be a give away. My nose is
wrinkling just thinking about it!

Our riad has wi fi apparently, so I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Scarves to go

A stack of velvet scarves delivered today, thus a week
of manipulating, pole wrapping, and dye painting velvet
Rich jewel colours, very subtle colour blending. I find
it impossible to get a good picture of the dyed velvet,
suffice to say gorgeous!
Hey look, I've gone a bit technical. I took pix of velvet
dyed and undyed, then fiddled around in Illustrator.
I like the result, so I should do more of this!
I must make time to explore the wonders of Blogger

Monday, 19 October 2009

A "Parson's Egg" week

e.g. good in parts

Last Saturday found me on Brownsea Island, Poole.
Now owned by the National Trust, it was the birth place
of the Scout Movement - Baden Powell set up the first
camp on the Island. A beautiful tranquil place, no
cars allowed, home of red squirrels - all busy gathering
their nuts, so to speak. Delightful.

Cottages on the foreshore - what a great place for a studio.

I was invited over to take a dyeing class as part of an
Embroidery Workshop. Location The Girl Guides summer
house - so quiet and inspiring, especially as students were
encouraged to take nature as their theme.

Samples drying on hedges

Cloth dyed in autumnal/island colours

The view from the house - dappled sunlight, looking
towards Poole Harbour.

I had been invited by Betty (Ruffell) who organised the
weekend. I think I surprised her on my arrival in
complete walking kit, boots, walking pole, and
racksack, jeans, big jumper etc. My norrnal attire
for workshops is churridar (trousers) and a kurta!
We had a great time. When it came to make my
way to the ferry my back said 'no'. Consequence,
last week not a lot got done until a visit to my
Chiropractor on Friday.

Enter the 'elephant in the room'. Velvet for dyeing.
Getting a good way into this now - dyed lengths for
scarves piling up. A few more metres to go.
Must take advantage of reasonable weather today
and tomorrow before the rains come. Wednesday
should see me at the sewing machine, all being well!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Getting there

First off, the October Journal Quilt - Autumn Leaf

Then clearing the decks, so to speak. Velvet ordered
for the annual dyeing of scarves fest. Car reinsured!
Paperwork, blurb and photos - publicity for our
family exhibition in January. Next stage, really
getting my head down to some creative thinking.

Flights booked for a short break in Marrakech at the
end of the month, to celebrate (Keith's words) being
married to long. I think he meant it in a nice way!
Should be back in time for the arrival of the first
grandchild. Exciting times ahead.