Friday, 29 August 2008

August PC

I'm running rather late for the CG August challenge , but just about made it in time. My swap partner is Debbi so I'm preying she'll like my lateral approach.

The source picture for this month was as you see above , and I decided to go with the verse, after I'd been to the Steam Festival. Now I'm sure you're thinking, this woman has really lost it this time!! what the heck is the connection. You may well ask!
The thing is, I was so struck by the wonderful dedication that lovers of steam engines have for their metallic beasts, that in Ebeneezer's case is over 100 years old, and yet he has hundreds of friends, so there you have it, that's my connection, to the verse.

I took the original pic and played about a bit with cropping straightening and burning out the highlights and then put on a posterise filter in PS, and repeated this 3 times to get the depth I wanted.

I then transferred the image to a piece of cotton fabric using a PC World image transfer sheet. It transferred very well but was a little plasticised which made FME on the piece a bit difficult. As I'm using my DD's posh machine at the moment I took the opportunity to write the name in the corner.

If you want to see Ebeneezer in action, he's on the end of my video in the previous post.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Steam festival

I've been trying to get around to putting up a post on the steam festival at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for the past week , but there's been so much going on I haven't had a chance.

Anyway it was a fantastic day out last Sunday, with lots of wonderful stream engines, most of which were chugging away giving out a nice bit of warmth from their furnaces on what turned out to be quite a cold windy day.

I don't know how many of you have stood next to one of these engines, but they really are like a living beast and the rhythm of the pistons is just like a steady heart beat. You might gather I'm rather smitten, to the point where when they announced that the public could have a go at driving one I was first in the queue.

There was a beautiful carousel (on the video clip with a wonderful organ) that was powered by an equally lovely steam engine that had always been used in the fairground, and was lovingly kept in an immaculate condition. And just to prove what I mean here's a close up of one of the wheels.

And the star decoration on one of the boxes, fancy cleaning all this brass, that's dedication for you. To give you an idea of just how much it takes to bring these engines back form the brink, here's a wheel that hasn't been restored.

Even more brass

This amazing man not only created this steam bike from scratch, but also made a steam gramophone (also on the video clip)

The final event of the day was a series of steam engine races and in this one they had to roll the barrel up the field without crushing it, the marshal you can see running had the job of putting the barrel back under the roller if it went sideways. It was of course instant disqualification if they squashed him :-)

One crew got a bit excited and squashed a barrel under their wheel so tightly that they had to call for this chap to get them out of trouble.

I made a small video with my digi camera, so please excuse the quality, it's on my list of 'must haves' to get a an upgrade, but I wanted to try and give the nostalgic flavour of the show. On the end of it you'll see a beautiful old steam engine who's name is Ebeneezer, he helped to build the road that leads to the original Wembly Stadium, but more of that on a later post as you'll see the significance.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

3 generations

Last night I went to see the film Mama Mia with 2 of my DD's and 3 of my GD's and what a great time we had. It was a fantastic film that had me crying with laughter and empathy, in equal quantities. Julie Walters made the film for me with her inexhaustible energy and wonderful sense of humour.
The Abba songs bought back so many memories of when our children were young, which made it even more poignant to watch it with their children who also thoroughly enjoyed it.
This film is a 'must have' for every woman over the age of 50, to watch on a bad day and know that 'You can dance' too :-)

Friday, 22 August 2008


I've had a really good week this week as far as goodies are concerned, first of all I received my August CG PC from Jenny, which is absolutely lovely, the shrink wrap daisies are superb.

Then I got a real surprise when I received a parcel from Joanna and it contained my September CG PC. I was amazed, not only by the contents, but by her promptness, I hadn't even looked to see who my partner was for September! Imagine my surprise when I took the PC out of the box and found it was a fully working clock, amazing. The face has been manipulated in PS beautifully, and as you will know that's my favourite pass time so I was pretty impressed.

To finish the week off I receive the above award from Sue, for which I was very honoured and flattered.

The rules for this award are as follows:

(1) The winner can put the logo on their blog. (2) Link the person you received your award from. (3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs. (4) Put links of those on yours. (5) Leave a message on the blogs of the girls or boys you’ve nominated.

I've given it a lot of thought as to who I'd like to pass this award onto and decided that I would like to nominate some bloggers that I have recently found and enjoyed visiting and receiving their comments.

So here is my list:

All these lovely bloggers have given me so much fun and inspiration.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Festiaval of Quilts

On Friday I joined the thousands of women, and half a dozen men for the annual FOQ at the NEC in Birmingham. There were so many people that the queue for the opening stretched nearly the full length of the Atrium.
The highlight of this year's show for me was meeting up with Jacqueline and Fran├žoise. I've been blogging with them both for quite a while now, so it as a real treat to have a coffee and a chat about our creative endeavours.
We parted company to have a look round the show and the all important trade stands and then met up later in the afternoon to compare notes. It was wonderful to have the three of us together discussing the various pieces that inspired us, I really hope we get the chance to meet up like this again.
My lovely OH came into the the show with me for the first hour or so and took some lovely shots for me, just as well as mine were dreadful! The only thing is I'm afraid I didn't make a note of the makers, so I'm afraid all pics are anonymous.

I thought this quilt was amazingly powerful and certainly one that stopped me in my tracks.

This was my favourite piece in the show, the whole piece was just magical.

And the close up.

Just couldn't resist these, they were so colourful.

I think this must have been my OH's personal favourite as I don't remember seeing it!

It is a huge show and difficult to take in, on a day visit. So I think I have probably gained as much from looking at the pics when I got home as seeing the work there, but a couple of things have stuck in my mind. The first was seeing Laura Kempshall, so proficiently quilting their new family project, it was such an insight into how they produce their wonderful quilts. The second was watching the members of Committed to Cloth working in the virtual studio.

Monday, 11 August 2008

In the pink.....and the blue

On Sunday we decided to make use of our NT membership and went to Nymans Garden. It has a very varied selection of gardens and woodland walks to see, and makes a full day out.

We just caught the hydrangeas before they'd gone over and I couldn't resist the beautiful colour ranges going from blue through mauve to deep pink, they reminded me so much of space dyed cloth, complete with those rouge spots of red that always seem to find their way onto the blue sample as you're busy dying the red one!

As I'm not a gardener, I'm assuming this one is another variety, which I thought was even prettier with its delicate little flowers in the centre. It was very difficult taking flower shots as it was extremely windy, so most of my shots were blurred.

Here's a close up of the petals which I took in a brief moment of calm, my OH has a perfectly sharp version of this as you would expect but I can't wait for ever for him to process all his images from RAW!

Being a textile person and not a gardener I thought the dead version was superb, but then we're known to be an odd lot.

There's a house on the site as well, but unfortunately most of it was destroyed in a fire in 1947, leaving only this shell and the servant quarters, which were later made into a home for one of the original family. I thought the remains were enchanting, they had a fairy like quality, and it would have been wonderful to explore them but there was no admittance to this part.

Then of course there was the ever eager eye for those textural shots, and I found this lovely lacy plant, I've no idea what it is, but I thought it would make a great BG for something.

While we were exploring the wild garden, I nearly stepped on this baby grass snake. Not being a fan of snakes I must admit he did make me jump, I didn't manage to get a decent un-blurred shot of him even though he played dead several times. The truth was I didn't want to get too close! However the little video camera seemed to do abetter job than the still images.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Quilt experiments 3

This post follows on from QE2 which you can see here and QE1 here

Having got the first sample out of the way I decided that I’d try for something less busy, especially as my client is a businessman, (for my self set brief) I thought he might find the first sample a bit too fussy.

I had in mind to add some printed pieces too and as I had a nice selection of hand printed Indian cotton 4” squares, I selected 4 and made a composition with the original hand dyed fabrics.

Having decided that this was what I wanted I made a diagram to size.

I then cut all the relevant pieces, making sure to add the seam allowances, and stitched them together, making quite sure that this time I stitched them together correctly.
I also found it very helpful to mark the size of the pieces on the diagram, and use a photo of the mock up to guide me.

I put the three layers together as described in Quilting Experiments 2 and worked a selection of hand and machine stitches, keeping in mind a definite masculine feel this time.

Having got 2 ‘safe’ samples ‘in the bag’ I decided I could now afford to experiment.

My starting point was an exercise that I’d done on a workshop with Julia Caprara. Our first design task was to tear up strips of magazine papers in a colour scheme of our choice and glue them together. We then had to tear the strips and join them back the other way with stitches and coloured tissue paper wrapped around thin wire to make it bendy. Lastly we had to stitch in running stitches that echoed the shapes in the magazine papers. This was a very good freeing up exercise, although at the time I felt very out of my comfort zone.

If I thought I was out of my comfort zone with this exercise there was much more scary stuff to come. The next thing we had to do was pick fabrics that may/ may not represent the magazine strips in colour, and putting one piece over another do exactly as Julia said. Quickly!! She called out things like ‘do three rows of running stitch down the cloth holding the pieces together, then do stars with anther piece of fabric', etc. So it was a combination of speed sewing and colour experiments. We were then invited to add embellishments from her enormous collection.

So it was a modified version of this technique that got me fired up to do sample 3. I had all the off cuts of the dyed samples and the print experiments, plus the small leftovers of the Indian samples. This gave me the confidence to experiment, as I knew I didn’t need to conserve these pieces as I already had 2 completed samples.
I used Julia’s method to join the various pieces together with hand stitches, making good use of my hand dyed threads. Once I’d got a rectangle the size of the other 2 samples I sandwiched the batting and calico together and started to consolidate the piece with machine stitches, still thinking masculine straight lines.

As I’d been using my daughter’s computerised embroidery machine for work recently, I thought I’d have a go at the quilting stitches and also some wording. I tried to maintain some rhythm to what I was putting onto the cloth and followed some of the print lines and the shapes of the cut fabric. All together it was a very exciting and enjoyable experiment, and I do feel really pleased that I had a go at something looser than my normal way of working.

As I don’t have any pictures of this sample at an earlier stage (too excited with the progress to stop!) I’ll go straight on to the next part of the construction, which was to choose a fabric for the sashing and the binding. After talking to my fiend and quilter Carrol (who sadly can't be persuaded to start blogging) we decided that dark colours would be the best bet, so I went for a lovely chocolate brown and chocolate polka dot. Both acquired from a seller on eBay, (courtesy of DD2) and here’s the results for all 3 samples.

As you can see on this sample my very clever friend came to the rescue once again and suggested that I make this panel removable as I was worried that it wouldn’t wash well. So I put in 4 buttonholes and found these perfect matching buttons in my stash.
The backing piece to this one has a polka dot centre and is sandwiched with very fine Vilene type wadding and is bagged out with the same backing fabric.

On the other 2 samples I had to add batting to the original block in order to incorporate the sashing and the border. If I was making this up as a full sized throw, I would work each piece with enough batting for the sashing and then add the border batting at the end, when all the blocks had been sewn together, but I need to learn more of this process before I could do that.

This sample has been finished off with the traditional narrow binding, mitred at the corners. It’s not my favourite finish as I think it’s too heavy, but DD3 liked it so I suppose it would be down to the client’s choice at the end of the day. The backing for this one is the plain brown.

I decided to stick with the simple option for this sample and just put in a wide border of brown, which would surround the blocks and also be used as the border fabric. The backing is the polka dot fabric and the block has been bagged out. I really like the simplicity of this sample and could see it being used in the setting.

That will be the next challenge, to create the presentation for this brief.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Change of address

Just quick post to let anyone know who visits my blog regularly that I have changed my email address, so please use the one in my profile if you want to email me.

Rain did not stop play!!

Despite a dismal start to Sunday morning we decided to revisit the Open Air Museum at Singleton, as they had a Blacksmith demonstration and blacksmith art exhibition on there.
We were really pleased that we went, as the artwork was absolutely brilliant, and very inspiring!

This wonderful fairytale bed with its accompanying doggie bed was my favourite of course.

And I think my OH thought this exhibit was a bit special too.

There were even quite affordable pieces like this beautiful heart, for £38.

The exhibition space itself is an amazing architectural structure.

The working blacksmith's demonstrations were very exciting too, with such a broad selection of people working, on very different projects.

The Museum is a wonderful place to find all sorts of artistic inspiration, such as these lovely sheaths of corn set out in the traditional way of stacking them.

And how about this for a bit of rusty paintwork.

Then there was the truckle bed, you don’t see these very often.

This wonderful print on a grain sack will definitely end up as a lino print.

And this poor old feller had just about had enough of being on show for one day I think, he looked pretty happy when we saw him grazing in the field just before we went home.

I was just thinking that I had finished with the camera for the day when I saw this great detail on a gypsy caravan that was being restored.

I managed to take 124 pics on this trip, so I think I’ll have enough inspirational goodies for a while.