Monday, 30 May 2011

Could this be a return to creativity?

A few weeks ago I bought this book by Wendy Cotterill. It is full of ideas for using these heat reactive fabrics and she mentions that Lutrador can be worked on with the embellisher. I have had Lutrador for ages and never done anything interesting with it - likewise the embellisher - so yesterday, after being good and doing yet more weeding, I painted some sheets of A4 copy paper with transfer paints which is the best way of colouring Lutrador, and when dry I ironed my pieces in readiness.

The sample above had a base of kunin felt which I lightly embellished to hold the two layers together. I laid strips of organza, silk waste, hand made felt shapes and wool yarn with more wisps of silk waste on top and worked all over the piece with the embellisher to hold everything together. Sadly the colours are not accurate and look very washed out in these photos - in reality they are very rich and quite deep.

I then attacked the piece with a heat gun and achieved these nice textured holes as the heat went through the Lutrador and kunin felt. I have two heat guns - one shaped like a small hairdryer which is more gentle, and one like a long fat sausage which is more powerful - I used the more powerful one here and am quite pleased with this sample.

This little piece was embellished directly onto the coloured Lutrador with no backing at all. I used little strips of muslin, wool tops and silk waste. When you place strips onto the fabric they look rather straight and stiff, but the embellisher soon does it's own thing with them and you end up with softer shapes and trailing lines which I like.

When I heated it, the front looked very little changed but this is the reverse which I find more interesting.

For this piece I worked on cheap stretchy synthetic velvet, again with layers of silk waste and wool yarn. I love the silk waste and the way the colours can be blended as you apply little wisps of it.

Again, I applied heat but ended up with a fancy dog bowl! I like the holes in the centre but not the bunched up edges, but they could be avoided or minimised by trimming away some of the fabric before applying the heat. I just played here with no preconceived ideas of what I was producing. I suppose the more I play, the more control I will have over the whole procedure.


I also have some Evolon which has a lovely soft suede-like feel to it. It will be lovely for book covers.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Home from Glastonbury.

I've had a lovely few days with our youngest daughter in Glastonbury. We stayed in a tiny studio flat very aptly named 'The Cubbyhole'. It made up for it's lack of space by being so well placed for everything we wanted. In the picture above you can see how the minerals stain the water from the Chalice Well which is said to be fed from beneath the Tor. The water has healing properties and many visitors take a little bottle of it home with them. The gardens which house the well are so tranquil and almost at the foot of the Tor, and I am so pleased I was able to get up to the top and enjoy the amazing 360 degree panorama of Somerset and beyond, spread out beneath us.

We had to make a visit to the Abbey ruins and grounds which I love - they too are so peaceful. I took loads more photos again this year but have posted only a few.

This little well is tucked through an archway in the Undercroft, one level below the railings in the following picture. I missed it last year.

I'm surprised there is any of the Abbey left as it was virtually used as a quarry for about 300 years after the dissolution. It is thought that many old buildings in the town have stone from here somewhere in their construction. The Abbey museum has a few beautiful tiles and shards of glass, but all the precious things were stripped away. It has a stunning model illustrating just how large the Abbey was.

In the space between these two high sections there would have been an arch and reversed arch above it forming an enormous curved letter X and similar to the one in Wells Cathedral. It must have been a breathtaking sight, and was the largest and most richly decorated Abbey in England, in it's time.

I bought this postcard of the Holy Thorn to remind me of how it looked before vandals chopped all it's branches off earlier this year. This tree is a descendant of the original one which grew on the spot on Wearyall Hill where it is thought that Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff into the ground and it took root. It is interesting that this particular species of hawthorn is found in the Middle East and is not indigenous to Britain. It flowers twice a year - at Easter and Christmas - whereas our native hawthorn flowers only once in Spring.

Sadly, it now looks like this, but the good news is that tiny green shoots are appearing round the base of the tree and from several of the branches. Hundreds of people have been to see it and tied ribbons and messages of goodwill round the metal guard protecting it from the cattle and sheep which graze the field. It won't look the same, but it's definitely alive.

I came home feeling much better and almost free of my cough, only to find that my husband had gone down with the same thing. He has a weak chest so even an ordinary cold is bad for him and has been quite poorly but seems to be improving. Antibiotics are helping the condition but making him very drowsy.


We both still tire easily but Dick mowed the lawns yesterday and I have done quite a lot of tidying up in the front garden and planted out the sweet peas, potted up some herbs and pricked out seedlings which were practically climbing out of their seed tray. All we want now is some rain, and then a bit of sunshine to sit out and admire our handiwork. Too much to ask? Probably.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

I'm Still Here!

I thought you might like to see this picture of my lovely Allium Christophii just coming into full flower. I am so pleased that it seems to like my garden and returns each year. Couldn't resist taking a quick photo of it this morning.
I've been so busy coughing round the clock that I've had no time to take photos even if I could have held the camera still! By the time the third lot of cough linctus wasn't really working I discovered that it was a viral cough and needed antibiotics. Into the second day of taking them I can say they are doing their stuff and as a bonus I have found a natural dry cough remedy using essential oils: 2 drops of lemon oil, 2 drops of eucalyptus oil mixed into 2 tablespoons of runny honey. Take 1 teaspoon of this mixture in a wineglass of warm water and sip it. It works for me and I am so grateful. I took this recipe from Valerie Ann Worwoods book 'The Fragrant Pharmacy'. I thought I'd never stop coughing. The only trouble now is that there are all those jobs that I have neglected over the past 10 days or so. They have been very good natured about it and are patiently waiting for me! Don't be surprised if I'm not back for another 10 days!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Exhibition at Ashton Court, Bristol.

The group I belong to, Gordano Textile Artists, took part in the North Somerset Art Trail over the past few days and held our exhibition in the refurbished gallery in the Visitors' Centre at Ashton Court. It is a lovely venue and one of our favourites, though for some pieces the beautiful stone walls can be a challenge.
On entering the gallery the first thing I noticed was the Pearl Project which we had made to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Bristol Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild back in February. I hadn't seen it in it's entirety before and think the fabric folds and driftwood set all our individual pieces off very well.
The next things to catch my eye were Kirsten Hill-Nixon's amazing felt vessels which are so tactile and Liz Hewitt's columnar strips of dyed stitched African mudcloth. The detail on them is wonderful. Liz appliques small shapes of various fabrics which take the dye differently and add to the effect.

I tried to take photos of several glazed pieces but without success as the glass reflected the lights and everything else, making it impossible to get a clear result. Added to that, I was not really 'with it' yesterday afternoon and trying to decide whether I had hay fever or a threatening throat infection - I'm still not sure.

So I opted for just a few to give you a small taste of what it was like.

This is another of Liz's long pieces which I love. The pattern is oak leaves with lots of hand stitching meandering right down the entire piece.

A close-up of part of it. This picture illustrates how the various fabrics used, take up the dye differently.

The day after my last post the collared dove fledglings flew their nest. We always took a peep at them each morning and suddenly they were gone. They mature so quickly and it's hard to imagine they were strong enough to fly though we had seen them doing quite a bit of preening. I wonder if there will be another brood this year. I'll let you know, but promise no more photos of them!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Wonderful Wisteria and Bonny Babies.

Our wisteria is looking it's best at the moment.

When we planted it I knew there was a white version but didn't realise that there were quite a few more types. This is my favourite and I'm so glad I chose it. The ones with the very long panicles of blossom would look silly in our small garden.

It has established really well now and stretches the entire width of the house. We planted it just outside the front door and have trained it along the wall in both directions. It meets up with the winter jasmin on one side and a honeysuckle on the other. I missed it last year as I went away for the week it was looking like this, and wet and windy weather had finished it off by the time I got home again. There will be a terrible mess when the petals drop - I practically have to shovel them up - but it is worth that small inconvenience to see it like this. A bonus is it's lovely perfume.

I love these alliums too and am looking forward to the larger christophii which are just breaking bud and will look lovely in a few days time. I meant to take a photo of the lilac - it's looking gorgeous. I'll post both next time.

I took this photo on April 27th - it is our two baby collared doves in their nest between the Sky dish and the house wall.

Just four days later on the 1st May they looked like this. They grow so quickly, it's astounding. By next week they'll probably have flown. I wonder if the parent birds will lay more eggs. They are very considerate neighbours and although so close, don't make any noise apart from a bit of cooing.