Zoom – a blessing or curse

I write this today, having spent over 6 hours on Zoom. I started with a CQ West group meeting – http://www.cqwest.uk. We have been meeting on Zoom during lockdown. It has changed the way we share and resulted in a couple of smaller interest groups within the main group. Zoom sessions are certainly easier with small groups. But definitely better to meet than not. Today, we spent a lot of time discussing alternative ways of exhibiting – in smaller groups as 20 artists require a big space, virtual galleries, more local venues. It is all so unknown. Whilst the UK is opening up after lockdown, due to social distancing, the audience capacity in venues is less. One of the big unknowns is how many galleries will financially survive the pandemic.

A little work – I like to stitch when travelling in the car, on a plane or anywhere that I might be bored. I have a large pile of felt pieces which were cut from an old felted blanket. I made marks on the squares with black acrylic before I began stitching them emphatically with the marks. I am discussing how to frame them with a friend – here is a prototype. The frames will be quite expensive but it makes the pieces look good.

Hope you are keeping safe and well – the easing of lockdown seems more weird and complicated than being in total lockdown.

With best wishes

I like colour

I like colour – I like to dye my fabric in rich colours. Very often my fabrics are not dyed for a particular project. They happen because I like playing with colour and feel a need to dye fabric. These fabrics fell into the “I need to dye and print” activity mode. I made them last week. I had to use a dryer to dry the breakdown screens – the weather here has been so wet that the screens had absorbed water from the atmosphere.

Currently, I am doing a sketchbook/drawing inspiration course with Susan Yeates, http://www.magenta-sky.com/. This month, the theme is colour. I am working with yellow – it is bright and cheerful. I have been taking photos of yellow objects and painting in watercolour which is not a medium I use very often. From my breakfast bar, sunflowers which are in abundance in the shops in the UK at the moment.

As well as collecting images and objects in yellow, I am supposed to be drawing them – time to stop procrastinating and start drawing, I think.

I hope the sun is shining where you are – the French celebrate Bastille Day today. Keep well and safe.

Using scraps

I was clearing out some cut offs for a friend who wanted some bright fabric for project she is doing. I found some bright colours with circles on them. She didn’t get these!! They have been made up into a small sample that has potential to be scaled up.

Pieced Circles

As I was only experimenting, the pieces are just ironed onto a iron-on Vilene. Not a technique to be repeated as it was quite difficult to make the pieces meet cleanly. The patches need to be properly pieced for future pieces.

Zoom has become the latest social media tool for everyone worldwide. It is no longer the preserve of business communities. My husband is even using it for his virtual pub evenings. All attendees sit with a drink and nibbles and the conversation isn’t much different (better) to it was in the pub.

Interestingly enough, it has changed the way my quilting group, CQ West, is communicating. We have had to be more disciplined about talking at our meetings. Side chats are impossible – a good thing!! Overtalking each other has been minimised by the Mute button. Will Zoom be one of the tools we use when life normalises? Time will tell.

Hope you are finding time to experiment. Also that you are keeping well and safe

New Work

Last week’s real work is nearly finished. I have completely quilted it and cut back the reverse applique. I have cut it almost to size. The jury is now out – do I bind it, do I face it or go with my current inclination to heavily stitch the edges and then cut it to the exact size, 70cm wide and 100cm high. Any form of binding or facing will be be a bit lumpy. The photo isn’t great as I used my phone.

Zulu Bracelets
Detail before I cut back the circles.

I hope that you are keeping well and safe where you live.

With best wishes

More discharge printing

Back to my default occupation – screen printing. My stash of greys is seriously diminishing. This is a good thing. My new set of prints definitely need overprinting either with dye paste or textile inks. They don’t have any depth. My first task is to get out all my thermofaxes and see if I have some that will add the extra dimension the fabric needs.

Discharge Cloth June 2020

Some real work – heavy stitching. That is much more intense than I usually do. I actually enjoyed doing it. The top has two layers, cotton strips in bright colours, black and white as the under layer, covered by dyed organdie. It was a nightmare to get the organdie which is pieced to lie straight but it quilted really easily. The image below shows the start of cutting back the organdie to reveal the layer below. Still a lot more cutting back to happen. It is a slow process.

Zulu Bracelets

A beautiful rose from my garden. The roses are loving this hot weather after a very wet spring.

Keep well and safe

Two more weeks of lockdown

It has been another two weeks of lockdown. It has its ups and downs, for me and everyone I know.

The ups – I had a corona birthday. I thought it would be very subdued but my husband excelled himself. I woke to this banner in our bedroom:

He also sourced 3 virus t-shirts – “It is my birthday party and you are not invited”, a martini glass with “quarantini” below and a Mona Lisa image wearing a mask. I have kept all my cards and plan to bind them into a book as a historical memory of the odd time we are living through.

I have been doing a lot of techie work – tidying up websites and building a new one. Creativity with fabric has been slow to put it mildly. I have started my SAQA donation quilt, a 12 by 12 inch piece – due for July 1st. It had to have a corona theme and here is the fabric:

I cut a paper stencil and applied it to a permanent screen with my scribble on it. It was a surprising result that I am really pleased with. Discharged, of course. And now I have a jug of formusol to do more printing with. But I had better stitch this mini quilt first.

Handmade Book Club – Could try harder

At the end of last year, I joined the Handmade Book Club run by Ali Manning of Vintage Page Designs, a Brit now living in the USA. Membership of this club, has moved my book binding skills from basic to moderate. The last two books using Dragonfly stitch are the best looking I have made so far. However, my report would still say “Could try harder”.

Ali’s instructions are very good and the extra techniques that she add to each book design help to make the task in hand easier and more professional. Each month, Ali adds a different type of binding to the club. I have yet to make two of the bindings which were posted whilst I was on holiday – in another country in another life!! Will we ever be able to travel again?

Talking of which, being creative is still a challenge as so many of my artists friends are writing, even Leah Higgins whose productive is legendary!!

Please keep safe and well,

So much time, so difficult to concentrate on being creative

We seem to have been in lockdown for so long and currently little sign, we will get out soon. It makes being constructive quite difficult. I get more visits in my studio than usual – all household members, coming for a chat and to ask where something is.

So last week, I switched to my default activity – screen printing and discharge. I love to decorate fabric and screen printing is fun. Doing it with discharge paste means no soda soaking of fabric beforehand.I have more than one pile of fabric that I am not sure I like the colours of so I have discharge printed some of these. The prints with less discharge will be easier to use. I am considering over dyeing some of the fabric with lots of white as they kind of look dirty!!! May be just vintage.

I have also started to listen to audio books – somehow the radio with its overly cheerful DJs has lost its appeal. Currently I am listening to Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir by Irvin Yalom. Very New York – I love the accent. But an interesting memoir of another time and world.

Please keep safe and well,


Well, we are living in a very odd world at the moment – the stuff of sci-fi novels of the 60’s. It has, in theory, given us all more time to jobs but it is difficult to focus and most of us are spending more time checking up on friends and relatives.

So it seems a good time to experiment – I do have some deadlines but not for a while so I am playing with reverse applique. This one was okay until I washed it to make the top fabric fray. Wet, it is much more fun. So the next piece will use dyed organdie as the top so that it is transparent and the breakdown cloth shows all over. That is the theory.