Free Stuff

Linda and Laura Kemshall (Design Matters TV) are in the sidebar as an inspirational place to visit. They occasionally have new FREE videos on their website and here's a link to the latest for you It's all about felted and stitched landscapes. If like me, you don't have experience of needle felting let alone a machine, there are loads of other free videos that may inspire you, including how to make one of those Infinity Scarves, which is on my to-do list.

Here's the needle felted and stitched landscape.

Gardening is creative too!

No, not an excuse for lack of postings! When the weather turns to glorious sunshine at this time of year, it's good to be outdoors in the fresh air despite the enormous amount of pile-driving that seems to be going on around the hermitage.

Here's some garden photos - can't wait for the roses and perennials to burst forth.

Boiled pages?? I give it a go.

Thanks for this idea goes to Laura and Linda Kemshall and is from their video how-to website, DMTV. They called it plant printing.  I had a go using all sorts of plant material from the garden.

My results were mixed and I wonder if it's because I didn't have the requisite lump of rusty iron and used a natural iron oxide (artists' pigment dry ground - raw sienna) instead. It worked but I only used 1/2 teaspoon and may have needed more to deepen the colour. Iron Oxide pigments do come in other colours too including a chocolatey dark umber, so a bit of experimenting is called for I think, if only to justify buying an £8 wok for the boiling process from Wilko. (I didn't want to use my food prep pans, and none of the charity shops had any saucepans)

It was a fun way to spend an afternoon. When I get something better to show you, I'll post again. Below is heuchera and abutilon.

V Neck Dress by The Assembly Line

I liked the look of this pattern on the model, who was, to be fair, not shaped a bit like me.

The pattern comes up quite long and I had to chop about 8 inches off to get a sympathetic length on me - the full length made me look frumpy.

It is one of those patterns on paper not tissue so easy to alter and robust enough to take fiddling. The instructions were good apart from at the V neck, where it took me a long time to understand and get right - but I managed it. Yay me!

The fabric was 100% cotton from a quilt making shop, but I think something drapier would have given a better look - perhaps a double gauze or even wool for the winter.

The pockets sit very well indeed - you'd hardly know they were there unless they were stuffed with paper tissues. I added some stitching at the sleeves, hem and neck line, to lift and add definition. 

And here it is on a real life person!  I've just signed up for a pattern drafting course in the summer so that should help with fit etc.  The stitching below is done in quilting thread by Gutermann.

Monoprint using oils and I buy a little treat!

Here's the little treat! It's a monprint in oils by Dan Tirels  I've watched his videos on YouTube for a couple of years and have even been inspired to try out his methods and they work really well. I will be doing more of monoprint using oils in the coming months.

The original posting of my experiments are copied below to save you ferreting through the blog! 

  Monoprint experiment in oils - inspiration Dan Tirels.

The above monoprint (blue/black)was made with oil paints and the orange with Caligo printing inks. They were very quick and easy to do, and a pictorial how-to follows.

You need a very little amount of oil colour. Squeeze a little (I've used indigo and prussian blue) onto a small sheet of polythene. I have large sheets of this to cover my table, but an old bag or some packaging would work. Spread the paint using a spatula, scraper or a piece of card. It doesn't need to be smooth!

Here's my sheet of polythene covered with a thin layer of oil paint.

Next, tape a piece of printing paper or whatever you wish to the table to stop it from moving. Put a frame over the top to give a crisp edge. I've used an old card mount.

Tear up some light cardboard into shapes and put them over the paper. Small pieces work better than large.

Lift the polythene and carefully begin to press it over the card (which will probably move a bit). The idea wasn't to get a complete covering but just to press some paint into the background.

Here you can see how much paint was pressed into the paper and the shapes left behind by the torn card pieces.

Gently, with a sponge or piece of cloth etc., blur the edges of the shapes.

I used the end of a paintbrush over the painted polythene to give some movement with lines.

A final bit of blurring of the lines.

Below: the finished piece.

Gelli plate printing - using Vaseline as a resist

I watch the Gelli Plate company's videos on YouTube. They did one recently using Vaseline as a resist. Now, I've used lots of resist techniques before but never Vaseline, so thought it was worth a try.

The plus point for me was the "noise" you get on the print - if you look at the leaf above you'll see that it's got traces of darker paint from the top layer of print, overlying the orangey paint I printed first.  If I had used paper as a resist, I would have got a clean and clear print of a leaf with that underlying colour coming through completely - no noise. I like this!

It might be easier to explain if I post photos of the process.

The equipment: Gelli plate of a size that suits your paper, brayer, paint (I've used Open Acrylics), stencils, Vaseline, sketchbooks, baby wipes, scrap paper to roll your brayer on to get rid of excess paint.

Put a few spots of your chosen colours onto the gelli plate and use the brayer to roller the colour over the surface. Blend the colour as much as you wish. If you want to keep the colours more separate, then roller the brayer on your scrap paper to clean it.

Print the paint onto paper, labels, or your sketchbook.

Leave to dry.

Choose a stencil that you like - it can be anything, and be quite detailed.

Use your finger to gently rub the vaseline into the shapes on the stencil. Take care that the stencil doesn't move and you get a good covering. The vaseline shouldn't be thick.

Use a paper towel to gently wipe the excess Vaseline from the stencil.

Vaseline doesn't dry so you can start the next bit straight away! Roller more colour onto your gelli plate. I've gone darker with my colours so that it makes a good contrast.

Print the plate on top of your stenciled paper, and leave the paint to dry. This is important or the next step won't work properly.

When the paint is dry, use a baby wipe to gently rub the print and remove the excess paint and Vaseline. This bit is great fun as the print comes to life as the colours shine through.

Festival of Quilts - new, the Fine Art Textiles Award

Things have got away with me this year, and I've been uber busy with my mum. Sadly she died a couple of weeks ago, and I've been slow to get in the creative mood. However, if this hadn't have happened I would definitely be giving the above a go! Work has to have been made in the last 2 years, but even so, I don't think I have anything suitable.

The closing date for entries is 3rd May, so if you fancy giving it a go yourself, time to get cracking!!

Festival of Quilts have extended their usual Fine Art Quilts award to cover a more general textile practice, and have renamed the competition the Fine Art Textiles Award. Here's what they say about it:

"We are delighted to announce the launch of the Vlieseline Fine Art Textiles Award, an international juried exhibition open to both amateur and professional artists using textiles as their medium.  Our ultimate aim is to elevate and support the recognition and profile textile artists receive within the UK and throughout the world.   The new award will replace the former Fine Art Quilt Masters that has been presented annually at Festival of Quilts and will endeavor to break down some of the boundaries that currently exist between the various practices within textile art.

The new award will come with a £5,000 prize value, along with an additional prize of £500 for the most innovative use of textiles. You can see the full details about the award here, along with the application form for entry:

Our plan is to exhibit all finalists at both Festival of Quilts and The Knitting & Stitching Shows, where we will extend the private view activity launched this year. 

To ensure the credibility of the award we are working with a high profile panel of judges who are all experts within their field.  The full panel will be announced within the next two weeks.

The final winner will be selected on site at the Festival of Quilts and will be announced during an awards ceremony on the opening day of the event at the NEC Birmingham on 1st August 2019. 

The closing date for the competition is 3rd May 2019. 

I do hope you will consider entering and also ask that you share this email with any other artists or groups who you think may be interested.

We hope this will be the start of a really special award and exhibition that we can use to really shine a spotlight on the phenomenal practicing today."


OK a little celebration on my part

I know that sometimes the Life Quilt series upsets people. They're are a reflection of how I feel and respond to the things going on around me and are sometimes blistering. They certainly do not fit in the category of nice homely domestic wares and have shocked and yes, disgusted, some people.

Although the series has ended, I would never say never. I'm dealing with my mother's last days of life at the moment, and gosh I'm angry and upset and definitely feel "blistering" again.

I'm sharing my most "popular" (notorious!) quilt today as the views on the page above have just hit over 1/2 million and that's worthy of celebration in my book. That's a lot of people who've read what I thought on that day in waaay back in 2015, so thank you even if you didn't agree and didn't get beyond a first look.

You can read the words here:

I guess this quilt was the highlight of my quilting career - can't see it getting much better! It was exhibited alongside work by Tracey Emin and others and led me to being hugged by Cherie Blair who confessed she had the same slippers!!

" Life 4 has been selected by
Roxane Zand, Sotheby’s, Amy Mechowski, currently Sotheby’s Institute, previously Curator at V&A, Andrew Gwilliams, White Cube, and Len Massey, RCA, to be part of the Spirit of Womanhood Exhibition at the Oxo Tower, South Bank, London in March
If you’d like to see it if you’re in London, the Exhibition will open to the public 20th – 30th March 11.00-18.00 at galleries@OXO, South Bank, London. Other work on show will include pieces by Tracy Emin
The Exhibition Private View is 18.30 on Tuesday 25th March, Opened by Melvin Bragg and Cherie Blair."

Merchant & Mills, The Trapezette (little girl pattern)

I had seen this pattern before but dismissed it as not being very exciting. The cover photo on the pattern doesn't look quite the same as the finished article, but I saw it made up in a local shop, and it is in fact deliciously swishy and swingy, and my granddaughters definitely love a good swish!

I had some left over baby blue cord, and some lovely turquoisy cotton printed with parrots which made a nice lining (the interfacing pattern pieces fit the inside of the bodice. I didn't have enough blue cord and also thought it would be a bit thick doubled up under the arms for a little one).

Like all Merchant and Mills patterns it's printed on white paper which is much more durable than the usual tissue paper. It says a beginner can tackle it and I'd agree! It has 4 pieces - front, back, and 2 interfacing/lining.

The trickiest bit for me was making and turning the rouleau loop which you fasten to the back as the very first thing. It's very small and I had to abandon the cord and go for the lining fabric which was a little easier.

The instructions were very clear, and was easy to line, and was done by sewing all the fabrics wrong sides together, at the neck edges and armhole edges, then turning inside out. Very neat finish. I also followed the instructions carefully for the hem which is circular and there were lots of tips to get it right.

I will definitely make again, though to be honest, my little GD's would prefer a lighter fabric, preferable pink and definitely with unicorns on it. I go in search!!

Photos: finished dress, the rouleau loop and button, pulling the dress to one side to show fullness.

Butterick Pattern B5925 - A drapey top with lots of variations

A lovely drapey top with large side pockets, an uneven arching hemline, and a variety of necklines including a distorted one with matching pocket tops.

I made this in a size larger than normal (I'm a dress size 12 to 14 by M&S standards) so was worried that it would be shapeless, but I went by the measurements on the packet.

I think I could have got away with a size smaller but the fit over the bust was quite nice.

I made view A - a single colour - with draped and twisted neckline and pocket tops. I chose a thick cotton jersey in a pumpkin colour, with Gutermann thread colour 649.

The pattern is printed in black on brown tissue paper and comes in 2 sizes - x small, small, medium and large xl xxl. I chose to make the large version as some of the patterns I've made recently have all come up a bit small.  I prefer to buy multi size patterns so I can check the pattern pieces against myself before deciding which I'm going to use.

It was a simple construction and I was delighted not to have to set sleeves in - the top of the sleeve is fitted into place, but the arm, underarm and sides are sewn as one, and they also catch in the pockets.

I'd never made pockets like this so it was a new technique for me and it took me a while to fathom. The twists were made by matching dots along the edges which were designed to skew the seams.

There are 4 variations, so lots of scope for customising. Other views show arms of different colours, differing fits over the body, and different necklines and pockets.

Would I make again? Maybe in a lighter more drapey fabric. I love the colour and features but I topstiched the hem and it doesn't sit as flat as I'd like. A nice warm one for doing the pruning in!!

Chelsea Buns

Yesterday the weather in Rainbow Towers was bleak - one of those spring days which is wet and windy and feels more like January. I decided to stay indoors in the warm and have a domestic cooking day. I love to play at being one of those "Mrs Bridges" types!

I haven't made Chelsea Buns since 1968, but the urge for something sweet and fruity had me rummaging through the recipes, and I found one by Mary Berry in her Complete Cookbook.

It was ok. The buns were substantial (2 gave me indigestion, piggy that I am) and I would double up the filling/fruit next time and put in more spice. I used apricot jam as a glaze rather than honey and it was lovely but a bit of crunchy sugar with some cinnamon in would be good too.

Chelsea Buns (the original Mary Berry recipe, without the extra fruit etc)

500 g of strong plain flour
1 tsp salt
60g butter
1x7g fast action yeast (1 packet)
1 oz castor sugar
200mls lukewarm milk
1 large egg, beaten
sunflower oil for greasing.

Honey for glazing (I used apricot jam)

Make the dough in the same way as you would for bread.  I use an electric mixer. Put all the ingredients into a bowl, and turn the mixer to minimum until it's all blended, then whack up the speed to 2/3 and let the dough hook do the work by kneading it all for 3 minutes. If doing this by hand, knead for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic then congratulate yourself on your strength and youthfulness.

Rub a bowl with a little oil, and put in the dough. Cover with cling film and let rise until doubled in size. With enriched dough this takes about twice as long as for ordinary bread dough.

Prepare the filling (this is the bit I'd double up)

60g butter
30g muscovado sugar
60g sultanas
60g currants
Zest of one orange - I used a lemon too
1 tsp ground spice

Leave the butter to one side but mix the other filling ingredients together and leave.

When the dough has doubled in size, (Mary says this takes about 30 minutes, but mine took an hour) turn it back into the mixer and knead on speed 2/3 for 2 minutes. Remove and roll into a 12" square. Dot the butter over the dough and spread over the fruit, then roll up like a swiss roll and cut into 12 pieces. Put them in a 7x11" tin, cut side up, and leave to prove until the buns begin to touch each other.

When risen, bake for 20-25 minutes on Fan 200 (220 non fan, or Gas 7) Mary suggests covering with foil after 15 minutes. I don't like the brown hard edges, so covered mine with foil before baking and just removed it for the last 5 minutes.

I used apricot jam as a glaze, but Mary suggests using about 4 tblsps clear honey.

Revisting old sketchbooks

Very occasionally I find myself tidying The Cupboard in the studio - it's a dumping ground if I'm honest! I also keep my old sketchbooks here as I can't bear to throw them away. Revisiting sketchbooks can be great, not just to look at but to spark ideas and have a chance to add extra bits to them.

If you google "creative sketchbooks" you can find lots of people making sketchbooks as a finished artworks, running workshops and courses, and just having fun on a theme. The artists ones are sometimes spectacular!

Here's some images, just for the fun of it. I'm toying with the idea of duplicating bits of this blog into a separate creative sketchbook blog and then running it alongside this one as it seems that's where the interest is - judging by my stats anyway! The postings will be duplicated on this blog so there's no need to change, but if you want to tune out of the rest of The Slightly Artistic Woman, then you will be able to visit the new blog instead (details later).

Here's some I made after watching DMTV with the wonderful Laura and Linda Kemshall

This is a page painted black with ink (not paint) and then bleached. It wasn't washed afterwards but left to develop. It hasn't damaged the pages, but if you have a go, take care and wear gloves as if you were cleaning the loo- it's noxious stuff.

Below: Pages from a made sketchbook. The pages were printed after watching one of Laura's videos, and I can't share the processes with you as it wouldn't be fair, but I love how this came out. I'm still cutting away at the pages and adding bits and bobs.  If it rains this afternoon, I think I may lock myself away for a couple of hours and have another crack at it.