Thursday 27 September 2012

Of stitching and cereal

This week has seen me taking a little break from my quilt project and instead slicing and stitching together some random pieced cushions with a possible view to selling them, although haven't quite thought that bit through properly! It was a particularly enjoyable activity as I had a stitching friend with me and we chatted and listened to radio 4, drank large amounts of tea and generally had a rather marvellous time of it. So here are some work in progress shots.

A bundle of blues

Brunch - forgot all about breakfast until lunchtime!

Panel taking shape

Ribbons bursting out of their box

Tuesday 25 September 2012

X-ACTO sampler

A couple of days on and I have a completed cut panel - it didn't take two solid days of cutting I should say! I was on major mum taxi duty, and ironing  and pruning before the rain set in and a host of other domestic obstacles so it was a somewhat disjointed journey from doodle to fine cut. However it's done and I'm pretty pleased with it and wondering what to do with it next - tea towels, cushion covers, screen print.
And how did I get on with my new gizmo compared to my trusty Swann Morton surgical knife that I have been using from a very early age (daughter of two graphic designers used said knife instead of pencil sharpener at school to the horror of teachers!). Well I like the rounded handle, it feels just like a pencil, but the blade sits at a slightly odd angle, odd in comparison with the SM knife, so I kept on catching corners and having to deal with tiny tags of paper. I'll probably mix and match how I use the two knives, meanwhile here's the panel, in progress and complete.
Comments/suggestions please!

Thel doodle

First letter cut, 25 to go

C/U of panel

Panel finished!

Sunday 23 September 2012

My aversion to gizmos!

Yesterday I took delivery of a new knife. It's called the 'X-ACTO Z series' and yes I know it sounds like something from 'Doctor Who', but I was cruising the web the other day and came across Joe Bagley, an American papercutter, and he mentioned this particular knife, so I hit Amazon and am now eyeing up my purchase debating what to cut!
I do not embrace new gizmos instantly, I have to contemplate their possibilities mentally before I actually put them to use - a little eccentric I'll grant you, but that's how it goes.
When my husband bought me my digital camera, I did not tear it out of the box and rush out snapping everything in sight. It was my daughter who gave in and opened it, put in the batteries and took the first few pics, and even then I persisted in using my Nikon SLR in preference. But then I got hooked, grew to appreciate it's immediacy and handiness and now it goes with me everywhere and I can't imagine not having it.
And it was a similar story with my rotary cutter. All the evidence pointed to its plus points and numerous friends recommended that I should get one but I resisted until I was given one for Christmas, and I have to tell you that a rotary cutter isn't just for Christmas it's for life! Once I started gliding through my fabrics I was a convert and now I wonder how I made a quilt without one!
So today I shall free my new knife from it's packaging and get cutting - watch this space...

My new gizmo!

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Of practical patchwork

Things that I love about patchworkng are not only it's hugely decorative aspect but also it's practical application. Some time ago when we were painting and decorating on a shoestring, we needed several window coverings and an under-stairs drape. I decided that patchwork on a large scale would solve the problem and using the existing curtains as a starting point for a colour palette and as a mainstay of the design, I set to. Chopping and cutting and pinning and stitching - the room's requirements included a small single curtain, a larger single curtain, a roman blind and a set of nearly floor to ceiling curtains - I have to say that in our ancient cottage this isn't a great drop, but still when working on items of this scale onyour hands and knees a small floor area, it was a challenge. The only fabric I bought , was a check that combined the cream, dull red and soft greens prevalent in those I had already. Top tip!!! Checked and striped fabrics give structure to a design and are easy to cut in straight lines accurately. I was so pleased with the results and they are much commented upon. 
If you like the look of these, I could come and mix and match fabrics for you, just drop me a line...

The roman blind back lit by the sun, you can see the seam structure clearly

Detail of the roman blind

One of the long curtains

Gathering detail of curtain

Detail of window seat cushion piped with remnants from the curtains

Sunday 16 September 2012

Of socks and celebratory cut out

Today is always a rather sad day in my calendar. It is the day when I surrender my sandals  and dig out a pair of socks and 'proper' shoes, after a summer of naked feet. I hate having cold feet and the prospect of being a football mum this morning, forced me to give in to autumn footwear! Ah well all good things etc etc!
On a totally different note, I got all artsy/crafty on Friday in honour of a dear friend who had a significant birthday this weekend.
One of the great things about paper cutting is making truly personal gifts that don't cost a fortune and are utterly unique. Even though my cut outs have a certain style that is mine, they are all individually crafted with specific people in mind and I love that!

The leftovers of cutting make great abstract patterns -
must do something with them....

The finished panel - I do like a bit of alliteration 

Fabulous shadows

Feeling inspired? Check out when the next paper cutting workshop is on

Friday 14 September 2012

Of inspiring cut outs

When people ask what I do and I say, amongst other things, paper cut outs, I watch them struggle to formulate what that might involve - rows of news paper dollies, ransom notes or collaging of some sort. Then I try to explain and I usually end up referencing to the wonderful Rob Ryan whose work adorns so many things - enamel mugs, cards and book jackets are just the tip of his impressive mountain of credits - and yes I am slightly envious!
I have been interested in cut outs various and assorted for many years, and not just paper, in fact that came rather late in the day.
So I thought that I would put up a couple of my most treasured possessions, ones that make me smile every time I look at them and inspire me.
If you are feeling inspired why not check out my workshops

One of Rob Ryan's beautiful book jackets - just delightful

A mirror image paper cut that I was given on a trip to Krakow

This is AMAZING!! A Victorian fret worked wooden Lord's Prayer

And this, from Haiti. Chiselled from the top of an oil drum
And here's one of my cut outs, made for a gardener friend
 who has a penchant for fishing!

Monday 10 September 2012

Sunshine and stitching

Spent a blissful day in the garden cutting and stitching more of my latest quilt. I love working outside despite the gusty breezes that whip various bits of fabric around the garden on a regular basis, and scattering pins and threads to the delight of Dustin, my cat who likes nothing better than being involved with whatever I am doing.
I pegged the quilt to the washing line and pinned extra blocks in place to see how they were working, colour and texture wise and cut and pinned on the picnic table. I moved the ironing board outside to cut down on marching through the house for pressing seams - a major part of machine patch-working. However the sewing machine remained in place on the dining table as non of our outdoor tables are robust enough to support its weight reliably!
Highly productive day and here are some photos.

Back of the quilt showing the seams

All set up and ready for a creative day

Two minutes and a gust of wind later!

Dustin enjoying a pile of wind blown fabric

Saturday 8 September 2012

Of pruning, rude awakening and sketch books

What a glorious day, have spent much of it outside pruning like a woman possessed. I thoroughly enjoy cutting and chopping back, it's up there with selecting and stitching fabric and stitching needlepoint, may be it's something about the little bit at a time to complete a whole project that appeals. What ever the reason it is great to be out in the sun.
The day started at about seven when scuffling in the tiny window above our bed woke me up and I sat up just in time to see a very bushy tail disappear and then do a quick u turn and reappear attached to a squirrel. I have never seen a squirrel on the thatch before and neither had our large cat who spotted said rodent through the window and threw himself across the bed and landed rather spectacularly up against the glass. The squirrel took off and Dustin had to pretend he wasn't really interested insquirrels. Time to get up...
I went hunting for some of my old sketch books the other day to show my daughter the sort of things I used to do and also to demonstrate that sketching is a 'Good thing' and something you can't really do too much of. Having said that I rarely sketch these days, although every time I visit the Pitt Rivers Museum, I regret not having a pen and paper with me, so much too inspire and record.
These particular pages come from a diary I made during a trip to Poland. I used to teach film and animation to graphic design and illustration BA students and the trip to Krakow was a field trip. Much drawing  expected of everyone and alot of fantastic work as a result.
I also took photographs, this was pre digital, so they were taken on my trusty SLR, which, truth be  told I rather miss. I really should make more of an effort in the drawing department, the photography aspect is very healthy thanks to my digital camera and uploading/downloading stuff.
Drawings made at amazing costume museum

Painted Easter eggs and puppets - very Polish

Photos off various signs, printed and collaged in to book on return

Remember so clearly taking the two cafe chairs photo

Monday 3 September 2012

Stitching in the garden

What a blissful day! Having done another filling and emptying of the washing machine and the dishwasher and hemmed a pair of jeans, I felt guilt free in taking my patchworking outside and setting up under the apple tree. The children both had friends over to keep them occupied and happy, so I could play with fabrics and and my rotary cutter whilst catching the sunshine - perfect.
Patch work in progress, trying out various combinations

Sunday 2 September 2012

Of apples and quilting

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day so I hit the appletrees and pruned and chopped off cankerous bits, so relaxing. Our apple crop this year is dismal but I have been assured by our village expert that everyone is in the same boat due to our dreadful weather this year. It's a shame as I love pottering down the garden and picking apples for the children's lunch boxes.
On a more positive note, having attended to the appletrees, pulled up a few weeds and done a spot of lawn mowing I felt that I was due some stitching time. I laid out my chosen fabrics, got out my key bits of kit, rotary cutter, fabulous cutting rule and cutting mat, pins and sewing machine. I love chopping fabric, laying out the different combinations, adjusting them until I'm happy and then stitching them tgether. It is such a calming and all consuming activity and you end up with some beautiful and practical. I think that everyone should make at least one quilt in their life time - the feeling of achievement and satisfaction is immeasurable - and the actual design aspect can be very simple and still create a massive 'Wow!' factor... now go tell everyone!
My first blocks showing different combinations of textures and patterns

The state of the dining room table, the downside of quilting!

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