Monday, 9 March 2015

Fun with fabric

I am often drawn to fabric projects and feel fortunate to have been sewing in various ways since I was little.
Sadly my first little needlecase, made when I was about 7, disappeared in the painful years of divorce and moving but recently I came across my old needlework file and realised what a sound foundation the needlework lessons gave me. I really enjoyed sewing and 3 friends and I made history when we insisted on taking both Needlework and Art at O level. We had to see the headmistress about it but stuck to what we wanted and the whole exam timetable had to be changed for us. Interestingly, one of those friends is Alison Wilding, now a world famous sculptor.

This file cover was the first thing we made at Senior school. Here's the first page in my needlework folder.
I remember being scared the first time I used an electric sewing machine but by O level was making my own dresses and enjoying it; heres my Olevel Practical paper - a trip down memory lane!
More useful things we learnt!
My grandson's quilt has been fun, about to start the machine quilting.
NOT my favourite job!
I've used up some more 1970's strips to make a table runner for my sister Liz, or it could be hung or put on a bed or chair.
Nearly finished.
Exciting news is that my hare prints will be in a lovely new book.  It was March 2014 when I first heard about this project and now it's nearly there! Very exciting. It is called The Artful Hare by Alan Marshall. Publication will be early May, books available from and selected bookshops and galleries, price £27.50 (hardback, 275mm x 245mm, 208 pages, work by 73 British printmakers, 370+ prints).
Here's the cover, I'm looking forward to holding a copy! More information on my fb page. Please share my post if you can to spread the word. Thank you!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Endings and beginings

I had a quiet, restful end of year with time to reflect on 2014. This year I want to practice my mindfulness, be grateful for each day, help others, learn, relax, be brave, enjoy more creativity and walk a lot.
Hopefully 2015 will be full of good health, fun and new experiences; happy times spent with family and friends.
I was pleased to finish my shawl which was a challenge for me!!
It has proved useful on chilly evenings and is a lovely soft wool. I was missing the therapeutic qualities of knitting so started on this hat. 
Another new beginning is a patchwork quilt for my little William in limey greens and greys; I bought some at the Festival of quilts in 2013 and as William is still in a cot I knew I had plenty of time before it was needed. Over Christmas I needed a change and this has been ideal. 
I knew I wanted to base this quilt on the flying geese pattern and finally decided on this
design. I made up 2 blocks using fabrics I liked and then made up 2 small blocks the same. I remembered how difficult it was rearranging the blocks of Barney's quilt on the floor; this way by the time I'd made enough blocks I could play around with the little ones (just pieces of fabric stuck on paper) to see how I wanted to arrange them. I tried out lots of combinations. I like working this way, planning block as I go and making changes. 
Of course you don't get the scale of the fabrics but it helps to see the balance of light and dark and patterns and although fiddly to do beats crawling around on the floor moving blocks. There are so many possibilities. 
With each pair of blocks I tried to link the fabrics I chose, however loosely! Here we have 2 methods of transport, bicycles. I've finished the blocks and am putting it all together with plain grey strips inbetween each block, 'a bit tricky' as Barney would say.
Meanwhile to relax I'm enjoying the new books that appeared over Christmas. The other morning Louise said she, Barney and William were in bed until 10am reading books (14!) - I think a love of books runs in the family! Here are some I'm enjoying, the Quilt history one is fascinating, I'm very lucky to have some quilts from my family in Cumberland, more of that another time. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Odds and ends

A drop of festive drink to warm you up; I've passed this recipe on to several people after serving it at my Christmas Open Studio. With no alcohol it's a good choice for anyone driving and is delicious.
Mulled Fruit Punch
1litre red grape juice
500ml cranberry juice
500ml orange juice
6 heaped tbsp demerara sugar
2 sliced lemons
2 sliced oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1 heaped tsp garum marsala
Make a bag from a clean cloth and put the spices inside, tie up so that you can hang the bag in the pan. Put the rest of the ingredients in the pan and heat to just under the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, taste and add more sugar if needed. Enjoy!
I've found knitting therapeutic and once I'd worked out how to start this pattern (5 attempts!) I enjoyed the challenge. I bought the wool from baa ram ewe who had a stand at Ally Pally Knit and Stitch show; I really didn't need anything else to do but found myself going back to their stand, I loved the colours and chose these to knit this shawl; the internet proved useful for stitches I didn't know.
I worked out my stripes and it's nearly finished, just a few more ends to weave in and then I need to block the shawl. 
My print group met for our last printing day this year with a few Christmas goodies to help our printing along. I thought how my life has changed since I retired and discovered printmaking; a new creative journey for me and lovely new friends, time to spend with family; especially my two little grandsons which is precious time indeed. 

Both have a great interest in books and of course William likes to copy his big brother. 
I wish you all a brilliant Christmas wherever you are, I will be with my daughter and her family having fun.
Recently I swopped a print for a press, this is a dear little etching press which I will have fun with in the new year. I can use it for drypoint, monoprints and lino prints as well, only small ones but good to have at home to experiment and play with. 
Happy Christmas and let's hope 2015 will be a happy, healthy and creative year.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Printing ready for Christmas Open Studios

I've been printing fabric to make cushions for my Christmas Open Studio weekends.

First the cutting fabric from the roll and marking up where I want my central images.

This time I was printing hares in black, grey and red. 
Here on tea towels and here are the cushion pieces. 
I've also been cutting a new lino block, a hare in the summer to complete my hare series. 
Now finished and ready to print along with a small lino block of Hare and Moon. 
I cut a stencil to screen print some backgrounds for the hare print. 
Screen printing in progress
and the results 
I can never decide which process I like best, so I often combine screen printing and lino cutting.
I hope to have time to print the block on top of the screen printed background soon.
Meanwhile I've been hand colouring my other hare print. The original edition is sold out. It's fun to be painting again and I enjoy mixing and playing with different colours. 
Now to make up the cushions!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Busy, busy, busy, long time no posts!

Here we are in mid October and I've not written a post for ages. August was a quieter month with good family times, a time for reflection, thanks for health, family and every day.
Time for big Will to spend time with little William
and Barney 
before flying back to Oz on September 1st.
What a year this has been. Will is now in USA, holding meditation meetings, talks, inspiring people and promoting his book. All going well apart from collapsing and being taken to hospital; all OK now but a reminder that the journey continues.
My September was busy with Herts Open Studios, open for 3 weekends which were good although, as usual, quieter than Cambs open studios; taking work to a gallery in Long Melford - Jessica Muir, a great day at Gransden Show with a stand in the Craft marquee and a lot of preparation for an amazing print show in Cambridge. I was fortunate to take part in the inaugural exhibition of Cambridge Original Printmakers, 40 printmakers showing their work in the wonderful Pitt building right in the centre of Cambridge. The aim was to raise the profile of hand pulled printmaking, which it certainly did. There were talks and demos and a fabulous variety of techniques on show. Heaps and heaps of visitors over the 9 days made it all worthwhile and it was lovely to meet other printmakers new to me. I learnt a lot and made new friends. 
From this to..... 
to the private view. 
Friends Kate, Sue and Tracey. It was a great experience for us all. The chelsea buns from Fitzbillies over the road kept us all going!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Great news

My son had a brain scan a couple of weeks ago and this week we had a consultation with his oncologist. Waiting has been difficult but it was brilliant news, all clear with no sign of regrowth of the tumour; so the radiotherapy did it's job, hooray!
The next scan is in February, so he can get on with his life and I can get on with mine! He has recently self published his book 'Blessed with a brain tumour' and will go to Oz and then USA to promote the book.
His positive attitude throughout has been inspiring. He will be holding meetings, talking at conferences, life coaching and continuing to write, which he has always wanted to do. A complete change from his work fund raising for charities. All very exciting.
My Cambridge open studio went very well. This year I opened for 4 weekends and I had a lot of lovely visitors with good sales. 
The only photo I managed to take, my sister!
Another good happening was in the post, the RSPB are using my hare design as a Chr...... card (far too early to use that word). 
They are calling it Leaping Hare. They pay me for the licence to use the image. Another charity are also using one of my designs but I haven't seen the finished card yet.
I've only 2 of my Hare at Burrough prints left, it was a variable edition of 35, using different colours for the fields and sky. Sometime ago I handcoloured a woodpecker print and thought I'd do the same with a black and white version of the hare. It was fun getting my water colour paints out. This will be sold as a one-off unique print. 
I really enjoyed a recent 2 day stay in York with 4 college friends, we met at Wall Hall College of Education inSeptember 1966 and in recent times meet up every year. It was my first visit to York, what a lovely place. 
Here are Mary, Carol, Miz and Barbara exploring the Shambles area.
We had a fabulous tea in the Earl Grey Tea shop as well as going on a river trip, exploring the Minster of course and the Museum. 
I couldn't resist this roundabout! 
I was lucky to have 2 helpers in the garden the other day, both growing fast, Barney is now 4 and William is 17 months; both great characters. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

More bits and pieces!

I've not written a post for some time, first, some not very good photos of my last lino cutting workshop; I'll start again in October.

As usual 3 amazing results, I am always so pleased to see the lovely prints my pupils produce.

A few weeks ago a friend, Sue and I went to Cornwall to walk part of the South West Coast Path. We started in Penzance and ended up in Falmouth. What a stunning area!
I last visited this area about 49 years ago and probably wasn't so aware then of the scenic beauty.

The start, Penzance and the Egyptian House 

Wonderful wild flowers and beautiful scenery. 

We were excited to see choughs along this stretch of coastline. 

One of my favourite places was Cadgwith Cove. 
A wonderful week with great weather and lovely people we met along the way.