Sunday, 26 August 2012

Olympic postcard exhibition

Last week I went to the Embroiderers' Guild Olympic Postcard Exhibition  which is currently on display at  St Martins-in-the-Field Church in London. Each branch of the Guild created a series of stitched postcards relating to a country that was participating in the Olympics.  This picture shows the postcards for 5 countries, with my own branch North Herts & Beds as the last country on the right - Zimbabwe.

There were around 200 countries represented, so there was a lot to see! Most of my photographs were of postcards at eye/camera level as they were much easier to take and get a good angle on. The work was accredited to a branch but not to an individual artist.


It's well worth visiting the exhibition if you are in London. There's such a variety of techniques and it's interesting to see how the countries have been represented. The postcards would make a wonderful reference guide for reminding you of techniques you had forgotten about or for inspiring you to try new ones. There was often a lot of detail captured in a small piece. Perhaps I should try to  work smaller? I know at least one person who wishes I worked at a smaller scale!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Festival of Quilts - Part 2

I find that one of the benefits of blogging about an exhibition is that it forces me to really think about what I saw.... or at least makes me think more than I would otherwise have done.  So I have selected a few more of my FOQ photographs and I have considered why I have chosen them. It goes without saying that I admired all of the pieces I have selected. 

Reason 1 - A personal connection to the subject matter

I have selected two of the miniature quilts based on David Hockney's work. These lovely pieces of work reminded me of a very enjoyable evening spent at the RA exhibition.  I love colorful landscapes and I like the unconventional colours which are in these pieces and in Hockney's work. Anybody ever seen blue trees?

Liz Clark - Hockney's 'Winter timber'
This piece reminds me of a collage I made of tissue paper and I surprised myself by using pink paper to represent the trees and by the fact that I liked the result. Personal challenge to myself: To design a piece using unconventional colours?

Susan Wakefield - A Smaller Picture

Reason 2 - A style and/or technique that you seek to develop

This piece was the winner of the Quilters Guild challenge 'What does Britain mean to you?'

Cherry Vernon-Harcourt
I like the simple design of this piece - 'just' hedgerow and sky. That's not to say easy. I know that this piece required a lot of skill, planning and patience as the layers were built up. In general, I prefer simple unfussy designs but designs that have depth and this ones got that.  I was also interested to see that it was lightly quilted because I don't always want cover the piece in stitching. Personal Challenge: To significantly develop the depth/complexity in my pieces.

Reason 3 - Blown away by the skill shown

This quilt was absolutely amazing! Why didn't this get a prize or a commendation?
Laura Kemshall
Personal Challenge: None! My skills artistic skills will never come close to this

Reason 4 - It's a subject that keeps catching my eye

Margreth Saterhall - Catwalk
I've lost count of how many times I have admired fashion illustrations on paper and in textiles.  I was sorry to have missed a course on 'Textile Portraits' run by Rachel Howard last month at City Lit and I'm really hoping that she will run it again.

Personal Challenge: Start sketching people...Mmm....just writing these words makes me feel slightly uncomfortable - not feeling hopeful that this will be fulfilled anytime soon!

I could go on...but I think I've given myself enough food for thought and enough challenges for now!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Festival of Quilts - Part 1

Yesterday I spent a very nice day with my Mum at the FOQ.  This was the first time that I have entered a piece of my work and I was looking forward to seeing my pieces in the exhibition. I knew that I was going to look at the other entries more closely than I usually do.  How would mine compare? It was quite close to the submission deadline when it dawned on me that, although my pieces were quilted they were a long way from the tradition of quilting. They weren't evenly quilted across the piece for a start and were hand stitched in (deliberately) uneven stitches.

I entered one piece into the pictorial Quilt category and here is the winner of the category - Graceful Dance by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga:

Here is the quilt that came second -    Hawthorn Sky by Roberta Le Poidevin.

I also entered a piece into the Art Quilt category. Here is the winning piece - Silence by Olga Gonzalez Angulo.

This piece won 2nd prize - Up in Smoke by Barbara Lynn Tubbe.

The winning pieces were of a very high quality. I wasn't expecting to win and so I wasn't disappointed! I was however, disappointed at how my pieces looked when they were hung. I was keen to ensure that the top of my quilts didn't curl over the front of the piece. I achieved this but unfortunately the hanging sleeve was visible above the quilt. Although, I couldn't replicate the hanging system, I could have tested the sleeve but I didn't. I have to put it down to (lack of) experience and focus on completing the stitching. One thing's for sure - it's highly unlikely that I will make the same mistake again!

So as I came away a little disappointed. But I have been really cheered up today when I saw the positive comments made on Margaret Cooter's blog, on magsramsay's blog and by comments left on my own blog.  Thank you - I have really found them encouraging....and I have found two new interesting blogs to read as a bonus.
I have run out of time this evening but I will post a couple more of my photographs from the FOQ in a few days time.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Different ways of working

I was looking forward to the Olympics coming to London but I have enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. I have never watched so much television. As I work in London, I was dreading the impact on the transport system but fortunately the problems didn't materialise. The Olympics may not have delayed my trains but they have delayed this post!

Here is another of my gridy pieces - still work in progress.

You may have seen in a previous post that I had printed with white screen inks and then dyed the cloth green. I tried to discharge the cloth but it had very little impact. There were sections of the cloth that were quite interesting and others that were a little ropey. I didn't have much to lose so decided to over print the cloth with more grids.

By chance I came across some notes on how to mix aubergine and thought that colour could work well with the light green cloth. I started with darker colour at the bottom of the cloth and lightened the dye paste as I worked up the cloth. The aubergine began to look quite pink near the top.

Here is a close-up of some of the darker areas and it's surprising how adding the darker colour has highlighted the earlier screen ink printing.  

Here is a close-up of the lighter areas. I really like the how you can see the layers of printing coming through.

When I go back to printing in September, I think I will try and make the very bottom of the piece darker still and I quite like the idea of introducing some gold too. But we'll see.

I plan to work on these gridy pieces until they are complete ....whatever that means....but not to start on any new gridy pieces. It has been a bit of an experiment to work this way. My usual method of working is to have a goal, a picture in mind of what I want to achieve and to work back from that. Obviously this requires a clear picture in the first place and it can be frustrating when you don't have one. With this method of working I have printed and responded to the results. This brings it's own challenges, of course. If you don't have a vision of what you are trying to achieve then how do you know what to do next? On the other hand you can't be disappointed that it doesn't meet your vision.

I'm sure that both methods of working have their merits and I feel that I have benefited from working outside my comfort zone. Perhaps in the future I could incorporate both into a piece? I certainly feel I am more likely to now. How do you work?