Tuesday, 22 May 2018

May Session

At last,. with the help of John, I have managed to load my photos on to the computer. At the May session some of us were working on hand stitching, while others were continuing with ongoing projects.I am not a very good photographer, but here are some of the photos. It was such a lovely day two members sat and sewed under the tree.

Almost finished.

Sitting in the shade.

 Samples from a gilding workshop.

Saturday, 19 May 2018


I have really enjoyed being back at home and being able to come to BATS regularly. 

I found our last session particularly helpful on a number of fronts, it is so important for me to get critical feedback from others, thank you. I thought I would share my progress mid month.

1. IQD Project

Yes, ive finished the fun quilt started at the International Quilt Day, run generously by Helens H and B. Not a spectacular piece of creative artwork, nor to be studied critically stitch wise but my goodness, how important it was for me just to do a bit of fun stitching that absorbed me and made me want to get out other projects. Tick.

2. Australian Desert Sands Project (recycled fabrics)

Yes, the tea bags worked to dull the brilliance that had stopped me progressing with this project. Now that the colourway is more fitting I have begun the slow process of embellishment. This door curtain (to be) has been in the making for ten years or so. 

Originally designed to be used in the making of a conservatory door curtain, several similar (but embellished) panels were rejected from the original curtain when it came to the construction phase. They languished looking for a home until I decided to make a similar but different back door curtain. This panel was simply too white and when I dyed it it became too orange. 

The curtain will be comprised of around eight different panels in creams, oranges and browns. Perhaps this winter it will finally hang at my kitchen back door.

Original Curtain Project completed 2016 with close ups showing textures (recycled fabrics)

Another Curtain Project Cornwall Autumn 2016 (recycled fabrics)

One of two pairs, this showing work in progress.

(This is here just because I found this pic while looking for other images. These have now been turned into one large pair of curtains for my sewing room in Norwich)

3. Orkney Mycelium probably Honey Fungus


On a guided nature walk in Binscarth Woods, Finstown, Orkney, I found a 'curtain' of threads dripping from a tree. The tree had fallen and was leaning, rotten, propped up by other trees. I loved the textures of the tough threads and when I was told it was fungal mycelium leaping from tree to tree, underneath the bark and was not precious, I just had to bring some home. I rolled a small section and tucked it in my lunch box. 

I tacked it on to a plank of wood in one of our sessions some time ago and have been trying to decide on a backing fabric for it. I also need to decide whether to reduce it in size or make it into 2 smaller pieces. I feel it would naturally break, two thirds of the way down.

For backing, I have explored free machining wood grain lines onto hessian and hand quilting loose hessian. I have also discovered that a piece of saori weaving I did some time ago is the right size even if it initially appears to conflict in every respect. 

I will be bringing all pieces to our next meeting and invite critical evaluation of the suitability of each, maybe one will suffice or maybe I need to weave/design something else for the purpose.

Loose weave hessian, rough textured with hand stitched quilting. I think this is too delicate for my purposes.

Experimental, free machined grain lines on loose hessian. This is fun to do, seems an appropriate background, sufficient to add textured interest without detracting from the mycelium.

My first piece of saori weaving. 
There is nothing about this apart from the shape and size that says it is worth trying. However, for the very reason that my brain saw it and made a link means I will bring it and having lifted the mycelium from its current safe place, will see what happens when I lay it on. 

There are elements in the weave that interest me. It could be that I need to weave a piece, narrow and long whereby the interest is the warp not the weft. 

I dont think this is going to happen or would necessarily work but am sharing my exploratory process.

4. Future Ideas?

And finally, while my thoughts are on plant fibres and weaving, here are some sumptuous pieces I recently found in Spain, two cushion covers most gloriously woven, seemingly with dyed t-shirt material into hessian, and some prickly pear, rotting away to leave fibrous remains. Somewhere, I am sure, I still have fibrous remains of Australian pandanus, gathered in 2001. Perhaps this is the beginning of an area of real interest.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Gelli Plate printing

At our gathering in April we had great fun with Gelli plates, Terry and Sue had used them before, but the rest of us were novices. It was a good day as you will see by some of the results.

At our May meeting we will be discussing and practising Slow Stitch.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Adapted from Finding Your Own Visual Language: Bennewold, Dunn and Morgan. Permission to share given by Leslie Morgan

Using The Principles & Tools Of Composition As A Checklist

Does everything 'fit'' or belong?
'Are there good relationships between the different elements? Or would a visual bridge help (eg. size, shape. colour etc.)?
Is the piece balanced? Or does the composition feel lopsided or heavy?
Is the 'door into the picture world' (Composition) working as you intended? Does it need strengthening/too dominant/obvious?  
Is there an unintentional bull`s eye?
Is an element leading your eye out of the picture?
Does any element need to be repositioned to be better balanced?
Does any element feel too big? Or too small?
If the colour of an element were to be changed would the balance be better?

Is there contrast in
- size? - colour? -  value? -  shape? -  texture? - style? -  theme?
 Where could additional contrast strengthen the piece visually?

Is there a clear sense of colour relationship(s)?
Do value relationships exist or make sense?
Are there coherent size relationships?
 Are there coherent shape relationships?
Are there useful textural relationships?
Do the stylistic relationships make sense?
Are thematic relationships supported by the combination of design and colour elements?
Where could the sense of relationship among the various parts be 

Does any colour Strike you immediately as being "off"7
Can colour use be supported by theory? (Even if it is in the simple terms of a basic colour wheel). Do colours feel connected? Or would a visual bridge help unify the surface?
Would adding a brighter colour make the composition more interesting? Or does a colour need toning or calming down?
Would removing any colour make the composition stronger?
Would a high contrast colour element add focus to help move the eye?
And finally consider evaluating workmanship. finishing, straight edges (if appropriate), presentation and so forth. 

As you answer these questions, acknowledge the good aspects of the work.This will help you stay in balance and motivated.

These simple yes and "no" questions are designed to identify specific issues leading to solutions.You've started funnelling, moving from the broad to the specific. 

Next, dig deeper to encourage specific ideas to flow.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

October Meeting Notes

BATS October Notes
Workshop Session at Mettingham Village Hall 10 October 2017.

Present:- Annette Watson Birgit Jones Dee Nicholson, Helen Durrant

On holiday…


Not currently attending

Dee explained that she was acting as Treasurer for the group. She asked that members of the group took it in turns to take notes or provide a report on a meeting

There is a notice about the group on the contemporary quilt web site and Magazine

Terry has spoken about artist’s liability cover. Dee had already investigated public liability insurance for BATs. She noted the hall had public liability insurance and would check with them to what extent we as users were covered. Dee will investigate with the Quilters Guild and Helen D will find out to what extent Embroiderers’ Guild members are covered

There was a brief discussion of numbers of attendees, future venues and costs. There was brief talk of the possibility of house meetings

We considered a trip to the Sainsbury Centre

Annette showed her woad scarf and a woad died stitched piece she intended to quilt.

She showed a white on white piece depicting Orchids and twigs in large brandy glass flower arrangement by Tor Gunderson (https://www.torgundersen.no/portfolio). She spoke about flowers as a source of inspiration especially from close observation for example the colours in a delphinium

She discussed her ideas for the light and dark theme based on seaside and coastal images at dawn or dusk. She showed some interesting fabrics, which might be used to interpret light and dark. She worked on her Woad stitched piece using machine stitched echo quilting

Dee showed stitched a dyed indigo dark circle piece ( which she had completed at a Jane Calendar workshop) and her recent work of a similar woad circle. She discussed if these should be worked together or as separate pieces.

She showed her exploration of dyed textured fabrics e.g. hemp and velvet and knitted fabric.
She showed work from a screen-printing workshop (with Jackie Linney) printing on plain fabric and a pre-dyed cloth.

She showed he pieces from the recent summer school on the theme of trees with Jean Littlejohn  and Jam Beany

She showed 4 square quilts from her French quilt group. These were a two-person project where the first person makes a square for the second to incorporate into a final piece. Dee felt the bold colours were typically French. In the future she thought we might like to consider joint or shared project ideas.

She worked on hand stitch

Showed her indigo and woad fabrics, which had been very successful, and her yarn, which had taken, colour well. She had dyed a selection of ropes from light to dark and these were very effective.

She was asked about the “broderie anglaise” fabric dress she had dyed. She had expected the stitched parts to take up the dye less well but the thread was now very dark and it had worked well.

She showed a hand-felted piece, which she worked on with hand stitch.

Helen D.
Showed her indigo pieces from the first dye session at Dees. She showed her pieces from the recent summer school on the theme of trees with Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beany.

She showed images of staircases for a project on the interior of Felbrigg and took advice on design and construction ideas. Annette recommended Whittington’s  on the Sweetbriar estate in Norwich for useful materials such as wire https://www.facebook.com/pg/whittingtons.norwich/about/?ref=page_internal

She was also working on a small chain stitch challenge and considered the different kinds of chain stitch she could use. Could the design be inspired by light and dark?

She brought some inks for the group to experiment with. She had kebab sticks for drawing with and Dee had glue spreaders.
We experimented with ink on Paper. Dee and Helen experimented with using inks on small pieces of Calico. There was a discussion of Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks

Helen worked on her woad and indigo dyed thread in the afternoon

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Metaphorical Moving

I have moved a long way since our meeting. It was good to be in creative company, thank you everyone. I wonder how many of us are in this blog and whether we will use it as our keeping in touch. I do hope so. 

I sat down on Tuesday evening with a sketchbook and played with the notion of 'light'. I wrote a lot. I thought a lot. I researched for a long time. I concluded that I don't understand why, when light is SO important to me, I am going to a land of darkness. 

The Orkney Islands are 59 degrees North. The Arctic Circle is 66 degrees North, above which the sun does not rise for 67 days mid winter. I am going into a winter of grey. My research took me into thinking about degrees North and hours of sunlight and i came up with a design based on 90 strips of fabric grading upwards from 12 hours of day being light at the equator but dark at the north pole. I decided my 'line' would be a penumbra though rather than straight. I did not think colour but def blues and creams rather than black and white. Hanging mirrors in my conservatory caught my attention and I decided I MUST add light to the darkness so suspended these in front of it.

I will not progress with this piece for now but it was useful thinking. Why will I not make it? Because I would need to be in my sewing room with bags and tubs of scrap fabrics to chop and change so the colour-ways sit easily for me but instead I must pack something somewhat contained. I will stitch while way but need to take a manageable project. 

The stitching group I will be joining are working on sampler quilts this term. Hmm not me. I had already decided that I could make a quilt tho, to try to fit in a bit and thought I might try quilt as you go so I have smaller pieces to manage. My theme would be sea and sky and I could use many samples I have made over the years. 

I sorted and laid out random pieces and was pleased with the chaos and the colours of the northern lights dancing around although it needed direction. Stitching this disorder using quilt as you go though was not manageable and I decided I must introduce order and rationalise colourways.

That was immediately before we met and agreed light as a theme. I pondered on my light design and decided to try to order my pieces from dark to light. There followed a series of experiments with a gradual trimming, removal of colour and conflicting lines such that I seem to have ended with blues, few northern lights and little grey. 

I find myself stuck. I am procrastinating. I enjoyed something about the discordant nature of my initial chaos but confess the largely blue sits more easily on the eye. 

Perhaps I need to abandon the idea of quilt as you go, which has been limiting my sizing and placement, and just strew them out again, a bit more random but removing the purple but putting back the sun. 

Hmmm, this seems to work better...