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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!

Dawning Light

In case you were wondering what the crows were looking at - and I don't suppose for one minute you were. (But if you'd noticed, I award you my very special "observancy gold star"!!)

They are gazing at The Dawning Light!

Life 12 - Murder. Stitching completed, now to paint!

The stitching is finished now, and I shall move onto the painting.  It took a while to do not only because it was quite close and small on the background bits, but also because I don't like doing this pattern, and kept putting off doing it!  There were other distractions too - see last posting!!  Here's the back view with lots of white cotton.

 I've been growing some plants for Chelsea this year, but now they've been moved into a polytunnel in the wilds of Warwickshire somewhere, so the garden is a bit empty. However this rhododendron has just come into full bloom and is looking fab. Just the job to cheer a wet and grey day!

TaaaDaaaa!!! Here it is.

Newsflash:  I think we may have melted the diodes in the issuu machinery, so if you're having any troubles at all downloading the magazine, Laura has rather brilliantly I think, made a pdf copy for you to download from easily.  It's here  http://www.throughourhands.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ThroughOurHandsMagazineMay2014.pdf

If it takes too long to load you can see it here too.

Why not pull up a chair, grab a coffee and join us for a look at our fabulous new magazine, packed with the most beautiful quilts and artwork, What's On, articles to read and lots more. Laura has done the most fantastic job making it look really stunning and we hope you enjoy turning the pages and reading all about life at Through Our Hands.

We'd love you to share the magazine, so have produced something that can be easily emailed to friends or even embedded on your own website or blog. Please pass it on to anyone you think might enjoy it!  We'd also love your feedback so please let us know what you think - we'll be here, hiding behind the sofa nervously.

If you enjoy the Magazine why not head over to the website for more eye-candy? You'll find portfolios packed with work from Through Our Hands artists, lovely things to purchase in the online store and of course the videos.

How you can help spread the news
  • Simply share this email using the handy links at the very bottom of the message for Facebook, Twitter and email.
  • Share the link: TOH May 2014
  • Love the mag? You can put it on your website or blog. Just paste this bit of embed code and it'll appear!
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If you want to customise the size or need help there's a cheat sheet here.

Mega excited - coming soon to an inbox near you!!

My chum, Laura Kemshall, and I have been working our butts off just recently to bring a new project together.  It's the new Through Our Hands magazine, and we're happy to say, we're ALMOST ready to publish. Here's some snippets to tempt you!

The magazine is 54 pages long and FREE.  If you'd like a copy delivered straight to your inbox, then please do sign up for our newsletter here  You'll be able to download it, share it, and print it out.  More details coming very soon!!

We're also tweeting at @throughourhands for up to the minute news and views from Through Our Hands.