appliqué in progress

I made good progress today with the appliqué wall hanging which is my first assessment piece for City & Guilds 7822. I got all the shapes laid out ready to shadow quilt. On the left of the pic is the overall design; on the right, how it will change with painted silk organza pieces laid over it. After it’s quilted I’ll be cutting back into it to reveal some of the coloured shapes and the felt batting again. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking the composition but this is about it. I’m going to treat myself to some variegated machine threads at the Festival of Quilts, so I won’t stitch it till after that, but I can get the pieces fused to the felt and think about the quilting for a few days. Now that I see the appliqué pieces on the felt, I’m not sure that I’d go on to add the top layer if it wasn’t for a quilting assessment, but I think if I’m careful with placing the stitching I can cut back effectively to get some interesting contrasts.


I tried a technique from Tray Dyeing yesterday – not with Procion MX dyes (as used in the book), because I don’t have everything I need for that yet; but I dyed some strips of silk with Javana silk paints. These bits were torn off the edge of one of them to put in my sketchbook – I sent the piece off to my daughter with some other bits, and forgot to take a photo. I used lemon, magenta, and cyan together – I love the resulting zingy colours. The silk was dry and loosely scrumpled in a small box before squeezing the colours on with a pipette.


I was reading a very interesting entry a couple of days ago on Karren Brito’s blog Entwinements – What people will do to wear red – about the effects of dyes on the skin – in clothing, not just while you’re using them. Food for thought, especially as I hope some of my dyeing experiments will end up in my wardobe. If you’re interested in dyeing there is some wonderful shibori including wearables on Entwinements.

catching up

Some time seems to have gone by since I last posted. We had a weekend away in Cornwall, and visited the Eden Project for the first time. They currently have a very interesting exhibition of recycled products from all over the world – kNOwtrash. I can’t find it on their web site, but it includes textiles, furniture, accessories and jewellery, and is on till 12 September. I came away with some ideas for my craft session at youth club – braiding with newspaper, jewellery with bottle tops, and flowers from plastic bottles. Many of the items were from groups and collectives overseas, plus some by individual artists including Michelle Brand’s beautiful and eyecatching work using plastic bottles and shop tags. I hope the Eden Project will archive some images from the exhibition on their web site – it was very inspiring.

My daughter Esther is borrowing a few of my samples for an exhibition at her church, so I’ve photographed them before sending them off. These were from a batik workshop with Nell Dale and a feltmaking workshop with Jenny Scott.


felt and washboard

The Glass Queen is a lovely old washboard I found on eBay, she’s perfect for fulling felt.

book cover I had an exciting delivery this week – I’d ordered Tray Dyeing by Leslie Morgan and Claire Benn (Committed to Cloth) from the Embroiderers’ Guild bookshop. Wowowowow!!! It’s only a short book but packs in a huge amount of information and although I’ve done some tray dyeing before I was astonished at the amount of control that can be achieved and can’t wait to try.

I’ve been working really hard this week to try and clear a couple of days to do art as I haven’t been doing much at all with being away and having visitors. I was having fun experimenting with colour mixing on paper, but I’ve lost my impetus and I need to get back to it and back into it.

Only a couple of photos in Cornwall – I’m hoping to get a new small camera soon. This jaunty little seabird by the starry water, at Polkerris, near St Austell, and a random lobsterpot decorating the wall of the inn there.


rust dyeing around the web

Lois Jarvis’ Rust-Tex blog charts her ongoing journey of exploration into rust dyeing.

There are lots of interesting blog posts showing rust-dyeing experiments including those of Liz Plummer of Dreaming Spirals, Shirley Goodwin of Dyeing2Design, MargaretR of Digital Gran, Francoise of Creatilfun, and Helen of Quilts and ATCs.

Art Van Go sell chemicals for iron rust dyeing on the stove-top, with the technique described here , and there’s a NUNO NUNO book that documents a Rust-Dyeing workshop in 1999 at Taishamachi. Under the auspices of architect Toyo Ito, Nuno staff and local school students worked on the beach “using seawater and iron scraps to create imaginative designs in a day-long workshop”. Say, of Plum Tuckered, attended a Nuno led workshop at her school, and a followup post shares some fascinating technical information.

exhibition report: Jo Budd – Beyond Surface

Yesterday I went to Farfield Mill to see the Jo Budd exhibition that’s showing there as part of the Women’s International Arts Festival. It was well displayed in a light airy room, walking in was like walking into a song of colour, a first impression of acid greens, rust, greys and shining yellows, sky shade blues, ochres and earth tones. Very visually stimulating. The work is an exploration of the colours and layers of landscape, seen through painted surfaces and layers and depths of translucent colour.

From the artist’s statement:

“A new studio in a new location, looking over river marshes, and a new dyeing technique using rust and water, have given me a fresh set of colours and marks to play with.”

“Focusing on surface but refocusing on the layers, in land, water and sky – these are the qualities which fascinate me.”

The work shown dates from 1998 – 2007, some glazed pieces and some hangings. Jo Budd collages and quilts dyed and painted fabrics, on a large scale. Lines of stitches create shadows and depths. Fabrics are sheers, cottons, silks, juxtaposed and layered to create wonderful plays of colour, light and atmosphere.

Corrugated Iron (1998) is a large piece maybe 8 foot by 6 foot. It’s pieced and layered appliqué, with the painted marks very evident, both paint and stitch expressing the lines of corrugation. There’s an image of this striking piece with an essay and some other examples of her work, on Celia Eddy’s QuiltStory web site.

Rust Series (2007). This is another large piece about 6ft square, one of a series of pieces using rust-dyeing. The effects create a dramatic texture. Lines of long yet fine stitching that define some areas. The colours are cool browns and greens, blues and greys, exploring shape and movement. Colours change subtly where the fabrics overlap.

Fields of Green (1999) – I think this was the piece I was most drawn to. Strong horizontal bands of greens, stitched and dyed, lustre of silk and flatness of cotton. A smaller piece,about 3ft by 4ft, but it drew the eye from the moment I entered the room with the intensity of the colours and the stitched textures.

All the work gives me a strong sense of celebration of the incredible beauty of landscape, and the expanses of land and sky that characterise a flat country. Driving home, I was seeing the colours of my own Cumbrian landscape, different though it is, in a new way. I found the exhibition very inspiring. I love the effects of paint and dye on fabric and the depths that build up. I love the intense and subtle colours Jo Budd creates. I especially like the intrinsic connection between the rusty marks and the subject material of her work.

I hope I’ll get to see this work again at the Festival of Quilts.