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It's Here!!! 3rd edition of Through our Hands.

 Here it is!!  The 3rd edition of Through Our Hands the magazine, free for you to enjoy and share with as many people as you like.

You can read it by clicking the link above or the picture below, but if you'd like a pdf version to download and read offline, print, etc., you can get it from the shop here  

New TOH magazine due out next week. Get your copy!

The 3rd edition of the Through Our Hands magazine, is due out next week.  If you haven't already signed up for it, you can do so here   Scroll down, and there's a newsletter box about half way down on the right...just fill in your details!

Through Our Hands magazine - Link to new edition OUT NOW!

I know this blog is officially closed, but couldn't help sharing my excitment about the 2nd edition of the Through Our Hands magazine, which is out now!!  Click the link to read and share.


Textile Arts - on facebook and in Australia

Before I began working on the Through Our Hands exhibition in Leamington Spa nearly 18 months ago, I started a Facebook group called Textile Arts

The idea was to show there was a following out there for quilts in art galleries rather than in shows.  I'm not alone in this view I know, but I wanted absolute proof that I could show to my own local gallery.  It quickly grew and my mission was successful.

Shortly after that I handed over the admin for the group to a lady called Neroli Henderson, and it's gone from strength to strength with about 5,000 followers.  Do go and have a look if you haven't as it's a great place to post your work.

The group has been so successful that one of the leading Australian magazines, Down Under Textiles, asked to do an article on it, and of course, Neroli gave the history including how the group started and why, and included images of my work.  I've just heard that they've done a beautiful article but haven't published any of my images.  Why?  The usual.

I confess I had thought the Ozzies were a bit more broad minded and understanding of these things than the Americans, but apparently not.

Because this blog seems to be just one long thread of such things at the moment, I'm taking a break from blogging in this format. If you'd like to keep up with the work and see how it develops, updates are on the website front page under Studio Blog.

Life 13, The unProfessional Wife - body stitched.

Following a little bit of unkindness about Life 4 on an American Quilters forum, I'd like to move this comment I made from that posting to here, as it's worthy of mentioning again I feel.

" I also feel I'd like to say a word on behalf of the models. When people start to discuss work as if the maker doesn't exist that's one thing, but no one ever thinks about the wonderful models. Yes they are paid, but they've purposely put themselves out there in the hope that it will help their fellow women feel better about themselves and about how they look. I'm truly grateful for their courage and their willingness to support me, and I'd like to remind others that they are not faceless lumps but caring and thoughtful women trying to help their fellows in their own way."

Life 12 all framed and done and waiting for an outing!

I shall now celebrate with a spot of lunch (my fave sandwich being cheese and raspberry jam) and start the next one this afternoon.  It's raining like heck here and still pretty gloomy, so may as well.

It's quite an imposing quilt and is the largest I've done so far - difficult to photograph and get any detail - you'll have to come and see if for real please!!  (Bilston 2015?)

6th June, 1944.

Life 10 - Leaf Mould

Life 10 is about war.

People are born, and they die. Fleeting memories are all that are left. They are absorbed into the earth, but their experiences nourish and change us. Sometimes they help us to grow. 

The words on the body are from a poem by Tom Walker, about the futility of war.

When greed sups with the devil
And principles are shed
When power is corrupted
And truth stands on its head
When fear pervades the confused mind
And fools are easily led
When reason is a prisoner
The bell tolls for the dead.

Tom Walker

Details of leaves with images printed on them and then painted.

The “soil” background fabric has a list of all the wars ever.

The strips of fabric sewn onto the soil are covered with statistics about deaths from various wars.............

World War 2 1939-45 between 50 and 80 million deaths. Spanish Civil War 1936-36, 1 million deaths. Paraguay 1864 – 1870, 1 million deaths. Mongol conquests 1206-1368, 50 million deaths. China 1340-1368, 30 million deaths. China 1616-1662, 25 million deaths. China 1851-1864, 20 to 100 million deaths. World War 1, 1914-18  65 million deaths. Timur-e-Lang 1369-1405, 20 million deaths. China 755 – 763, 13 to 36 million deaths. China 1862-1877, 12 million deaths. Japan 1894-1945, 5 to 30 million deaths. Russia 1917-1921, 5 to 9 million deaths. Congo 1998 – 2003, 5 million deaths. Napoleonic Wars 1803 – 1815, 4 to 7 million deaths. Holy Roman Empire, 1618 -1648, 3 to 12 million deaths. China 1840’s to unknown, 3 to 7 million deaths. Nigeria 1967 to 1970, 3 million deaths. Afghanistan 1979 onwards, 1.5 to 2 million deaths so far. Poland 1655 to 1660, 4 million deaths. Korean War 1950 – 1953, 4 million deaths. Vietnam 1955 to 1975, 1 to 3 million deaths. France 1562 – 1598, 2 to 4 million deaths. Africa 1816 – 1828, 2 million deaths. Sudan 1983 – 2005, 2 million deaths. Holy Crusades 1095 – 1291, 1 to 3 million deaths. France 50BC to 58BC, 1 million deaths. China 1856 – 1973, 1 million deaths. Mexico 1911 – 1920, 2 million deaths. Iran/Iraq 1980 – 1988, 1 to 2 million deaths. America 1861 – 1865, 80,000 deaths. Spain 1936 – 1939, 1 million deaths. Paraguay 1864 – 1870, 1 million deaths. 

This is what happens when you go away for a couple of days.

Life 11 - Trolls

I've been away for a few days, which is a good thing.  Space gives you time to think, but even if you don't think, it gives time for your ideas to settle and congeal.

I thought I'd be tackling the "Roots" quilt next, but when I got home and checked the images, there's only one quilt in my mind.

I shall be starting it very soon, just as soon as the frame has been completed on Life 12- Murder.  I'm very excited - can't wait to start.

It's going to be called The unProfessional Wife, and I have found my angle, but am thinking about the words - another similar to Life 4 perhaps, although after reading these comments this morning on a quilt forum, I feel I should let the world know that:

I'm quite well adjusted. I'm reasonably calm and sensible, with - I hope - a fine sense of humour. Just saying.

Comments (of which there were many, many, nice ones to be fair, so don't feel sorry for me!!) I fint it's interesting, nothing more.

"ew. just No. We can celebrate all we want but some things are just not meant to be put on display."

"I clicked on the second link that someone had posted and cruised through the website looking at other quilts she has done. This lady seems like a very tortured soul, almost makes me feel bad for her. The close up pictures of some of the faces are very very creepy. Like the "haunt me in my dreams" kind of creepy."

"I hope she never does a nudist quilting bee scene. I showed this to a friend and their comment was "Psycho quilter, it will do that to ya, but woman are psycho anyway". Seriously though, my takeaway is that women have to be naked to get their opinions noticed and I find it disturbing and demeaning. A woman exploiting women, shame on her. Just my HO....should have posted a warning."

To each his own, and art (including art quilts) is quite subjective. But this piece does nothing for me. On the other hand art is designed to elicit an emotional response, and I did actually have one - - "ick". 

So, a little bit of unkindness about Life 4 on an American Quilters forum, I'd like to move this comment I made from a recent posting to here, as it's worthy of mentioning again I feel.

" I also feel I'd like to say a word on behalf of the models. When people start to discuss work as if the maker doesn't exist that's one thing, but no one ever thinks about the wonderful models. Yes they are paid, but they've purposely put themselves out there in the hope that it will help their fellow women feel better about themselves and about how they look. I'm truly grateful for their courage and their willingness to support me, and I'd like to remind others that they are not faceless lumps but caring and thoughtful women trying to help their fellows in their own way."

Life 13 - Roots. The beginning.

Having indulged myself with some portraits for Life 11, and having been a little arsy for Life 12, I think it's about time to get back to the job of life studies.

I have 3 or 4 quilts lined up to tackle and they're all vying for attention, but I think I might tackle Roots next as it's the most rounded idea so far.

Love this painting - sorry don't know who it's by.

I'm fascinated by tree roots - well trees in their entirety really - but those large ancient roots that peep up from the ground like old fingers are unsettling, intriguing, beautiful.

Do you ever think about taking emergency shelter?  You know, if you suddenly became homeless or cast out without penny for some reason?  I do.  When I go for a walk, especially in the countryside, I often look at hidden and protected places, as somewhere to spend the night. Its a comfort to know that you could always find shelter.  Just me then??  ok.  Places such as a bridge out of the wind, or a nook in lush vegetation where you wouldn't get wet, or somewhere where there's easy access to cardboard or waterproof sheeting!

Taking it a step further, (well why not - we're already in the realms of fantasy)  my nails are really, really strong and grow quite fast. It’s always a pain to cut them and I’ve often thought that monthly visits to the Vet or an accomplished Farrier might be useful. It was a small step to imagining that if in difficulties I could always burrow to find shelter without too much problem. I’d probably live in a set much like a badger or rabbit! Just think, you could dig tunnels and add rooms just as you needed. Though with my sense of direction I'd head off with a tunnel towards Buckingham Palace and end up in the local sewage works. I'd also need good lighting I think.

Back to the roots.  

A mono boob uber quick sketch of an idea of a body under tree roots, done a while back.

Below: a painting on paper done quite quickly at a life drawing class.  It may not look much for a day's painting efforts, but it was great because I managed to get some thoughts out of my head and onto paper. 

I also had a visit from a most fantastic model, a few weeks ago, who will be just right for this piece.

In fact, at the moment, I'll use two models I think, including the one on the right.

I might have enough for more than one quilt. Not so much working in series, more working in a forest.

Now there's an idea, who said I had to limit myself to one tree?

Using digitally printed fabrics in a different way, opening and closing of doors, and the problems with shop bought cake

One of the things about working on a piece fairly constantly over a period of time, is that you don't see it as others do.  Your eyes get used to seeing the same things daily and your brain switches off a bit to the bigger picture.

So I was a bit surprised when I was asked how I managed to get the quilts into Life 12 - Murder, which I finished yesterday - the ones draped over the table.

Here's a little explanation about the process.

 Using Digitally printed fabrics 

 I had no idea at the outset whether this would work or not, just the germ of an idea.  I draped two Life quilts over a box on my workroom table, and arranged them so they had gentle folds and flat areas towards the front and side.  I then took a photo.

I emailed the photo to Laura 
with directions about the length I wanted the finished image to be.  I knew I wanted space for other things above the qilts - birds on a chain -  so had to be careful not to make the image too tall in proportion to length.  Laura did magic and sent me back a piece of printed cloth.

I fixed bondaweb to the reverse of the cloth and then cut out just the shape of the quilts, ironed and then stitched. I cant think of another way of achieving this effect.  I also used own designed digitally printed cloth on Life 10-Leaf Mould (below) - imagery on leaves and printed text in the "soil/leaf mould"

I then set up a still life and took a photo to use for collage and painting references.  Why didn't I put everything on the quilts and just take a photo of  it all?  Well,  I didn't want to soil my precious quilts with food and wine etc., and at the time, I was just playing with an idea and making it up as I went along. I hadn't got that far!  Here's a still life set up, one of several!

Now what's the problem with shop bought cake??  Well, size basically.  Have a look at it in the photo.  It looks cakish doesn't it? but then compare it to the size of the cotton reels, and say, the teapot.  It's very very very small....too small.  I was too lazy to make one and nipped to Tesco. They've got a cheek haven't they calling it a Victoria Sandwich?  It's just a big cupcake really.  It was enormous fun taking a huge bite or two from it, but scale never occurred to me.  Oh well, as Father Ted would say, "it's not small, just a long way away."

I enjoyed making up the applique still life - great to delve into the fabrics again - and free machining it all, then painting it afterwards, but I'm also glad it's finished so I can move on to the next quilt in a few days time.

Doors opening and closing?

Last year and again this year, I entered a Life quilt in Fine Art Quilt Masters at foq.  I didn't have high expectations, which was just as well as I didn't get past the initial sift through!  It's still a bit disappointing though, and I have decided that I don't think I want to enter any more quilt competitions (the ones that will have me that is!!) ever again.  We're just not cut out for each other!  So that was one quilt show door closing....fortunately it couldn't bang shut, as the wood was rotten and the hinges have gone!

But another opens, and I heard today that Life 10 is wanted for an art gallery in Wolverhampton as part of their Craft and Conflict exhibition for 3 months from September.  The other artists are:  Michael Brennand-Wood, Elizabeth Turrell, Lin Cheung, Iona McCuig and Betty Pepper.

At the same time I heard that Lady Gilda Levy is very keen to tour the London Oxo Tower exhibition to other rather lovely venues around the country, and I'm delighted to be part of that.  What with that and Through Our Hands quilt show at Bilston in May 2015,- and TOH 2 to prepare for a month after that finishes, I shall have a busy few months.  Best get cracking!!

Life 12 - Murder finished....plus some before and after photos.

Life12 - Murder.  (finished except for Border/Frame)

And the Crows came to the Feast and Laid Waste to the Beauty.

69" x 49" (175cms x 125cms)
Digitally printed own design fabrics, applique, stitch, acrylic paint

The weather this afternoon was too dark and grotty for a good photo, so when it's framed I'll take a better one.

Some before and after photos.

The next two photos show after the applique but before the stitching, and then after the stitching (but before the painting)  The two after that show the same area after painting.



Mostly stitched in this photo and then the same area painted.

Nearly finished.

The next time you see this quilt it should be finished!  A long job!!  But I can't wait to start the next one....I have a fancy to do The unProfessional Wife next.

Today, I've bought......

A set of proper wooden printing blocks, from eBay.  They can be quite expensive but these are smallish - about an inch high - so were very reasonable, and, a set of cast iron keys to decorate my shed.

The latter, although they are cast iron and look ancient and wonderful, are in fact from China, via the National Trust, and were £6.  Definitely drawing material there!

Chelsea - and a Granny Rainbow moment.

 Above are some of the plants GALS have grown for The Chelsea Flower Show, which opens today. 

On the left is a photo of them in situ!!  How fab.  Our fingers are crossed for Debbie Cooke and Sarah Horne - we hope you get a gold!!  You deserve one.

 And here's some shamelessly happy Granny moments.  Such a cutie pie....the shorts always get me :))

Snippets of the painting so far

When I paint a quilt, the idea is not to obliterate all that lovely fabric under layers of acrylic, but merely to enhance what's already there.  Sometimes because I have a change of heart about something, it might make a repaint necessary, and sometimes, at the outset, I deliberately choose fabrics that are a base colour knowing that I might have to alter it substantially later on. (The mouse for example was grey cloth, and this still just about comes through the overlaid paint of browns, reds and white.)

Above, after stitching and before paint.  Right, the painting nearly done in parts.

Although not finished, I thought you might like to see this process, and the effect it has and why I do it.

More close ups are below.  I will go back into most of these bits to refine, when the rest of the quilt is done.  There's no point getting too bogged down in one area - it has to build as a whole first.

We found a dead crow in the park yesterday, when we were weeding, and I was really tempted to bring it home and draw - the wings are lovely.  I told G, and he said that if I had brought it home, he'd have gone out and bought me a garret somewhere far away which I could fill with dead things, but he'd draw the line at filling the house with maggoty bits and bobs. Fair Dooos.  When I've finished I'll do before and afters next to each other - it's great fun!