Happy Weekend Making

A while ago, I used to get up early on a weekend morning, and head into my craft room to create. For a while I seem to have forgotten this, instead having lie ins, or spending too long browsing the dreaded internet,

I got up early yesterday, resolving to print in my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project, which needs to be on the way back to the States by the end of March, and I hadn’t yet started.

None of the themes particularly interested me, but I liked my friend Anne’s idea of No Worries being easy to interpret. I had no time to think up, draw and cut new stencils and stamps, so I returned to my coffee pots. I got out lots of lovely background stencils and Rollagraphs, including ones which I did not own when I last used the coffee pots, for variety.

I’m really enjoying working with purple, blue, and green at the moment, so I got those setacolours out, and set to.

I love it when my desk is all piled up and ready to go, so much potential. I am using the sketchbook project book (the small one with the kraft cover) and a lovely long Seawhites zig zag book which has a slipcover. I saw Hilary using one when we were at Festival last August, and it looked such fun.

I love printing with stencils and stamps; I have so much fun composing on the pages that I think I could keep on printing forever.

After a while I ended up with these gorgeous prints:

And happy, painty hands:

Having enjoyed yesterday morning so much, I got up this morning and set about dyeing my pages.

I love how a black wash makes the rich purple and greens really shine:

And watching the dye run down the slanting zig zag book pages, past the paint is wonderful:

The dye is drying, then I get to sit and spend glorious evenings colouring them in:

2017 Journal Quilts

During 2017, I joined the Quilters’ Guild’s Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt Challenge. This meant that I had to make a total of 12 11” square art Quilts over the course of the year, to a set theme.

My in laws live in Spain, and we have had many happy holidays visiting them, so I chose Spain as the theme for my Quilts.

For all of the quilts, I researched the images I wanted to use, cut stencils, and then combined them with commercial stencils to print my own fabrics.

I then collage the fabrics together into pleasing compositions. Composition is a part of making art quilts that I really enjoy, but I am less good at working at small scales, and working on square pieces, so this was a good challenge.

I tend to compose quilts by dividing my printed pieces of fabric into backgrounds, focal points, and pieces that could be either. I then grab a focal point and start building up backgrounds and other interesting elements to go around it. I try to balance light and dark tones, and make sure that the eye travels round the piece in an interesting fashion.

I add machine stitching in shapes inspired by the theme, then outline the focal points with white backstitching.

I dye the backings and bindings in the same colours as the main printing, and this year I have enjoyed experimenting with various tie dye techniques to get interesting patterns.

The first four journal quilts were inspired by an area of Spain called the Mar Menor, the little sea, where we often go for walks. I used the colours of the sea, sand, sky, and the wood of the boats and windmills in my printing and dye colours. The background stitching is inspired by fishing nets.



Old boat


The second set of quilts was inspired by my in laws’ house. They live inland, surrounded by mountains, with broccoli fields out the back of their house and orange and lemon trees out the front. The local farmers regularly drop bags of fruit off on their doorstep, so breakfast is often accompanied by freshly squeezed juice, served in a lovely square jug. When I made these quilts, I had just been on a Language Of Flowers retreat with the excellent Hilary Beattie, and so I used the thread-sketching technique I learned to draw orange and lemon branches for two of the quilts.

Orange branch

Lemon branch


Oranges and lemons

The third set of journal quilts was inspired by my honeymoon in Barcelona in 2014, where we enjoyed sightseeing and eating lots of tasty food. We went for a trip on the cable car from the beach area up to Montjuïc, where we enjoyed a trip to Fundació Joan Miró, as well as the views over the city. The “BCN ❤️” graffiti was frequently seen on city walls as it was in the run-up to the 2014 independence vote. We saw the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló, as well as Casa Milà, all wonderful, inspirational examples of Gaudí architecture.

Casa Milà

Sagrada Família

Casa Batlló

Cable car

I’m really proud that I finished the whole set of 12 quilts. It was a great exercise for working in a theme and to a strict deadline. I can’t take part next year as I have a few too many personal commitments, but I am hoping to join in again in 2019.

Test post

I have not blogged for far too long. I ran out of space to upload my photos to WordPress, and didn’t want to pay the amount they weer charging for more storage space, which was approximately equal to a year’s worth of Heat’n’Bond.

My photos were uploading to Flickr fine, but I needed to find a way to easily get them into a blog post. I’m trying a new app, and if this works, I will try to go back and update you on what I have made in the past 6 months.

For now, lets see if this image comes across from Flickr ok:

Fabric Dyeing with Edwina Mackinnon – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I had an excellent day dyeing fabrics with Birmingham Embroiderers’ Guild. Edwina Mackinnon led the workshop, teaching us how to achieve lovely effects with procion dyes. This post has the finished fabrics.

We started by dyeing a colour spectrum. As this post was likely to be very pic heavy, I created some slideshows instead:

Most of the techniques involved mixing dyes in various proportions in sequential bags, and adding fabrics scrumpled to get these lovely patterns.

The next set of fabrics I dyed was with complimentary colours, on a scale from fuchsia to green:

My favourite technique was this colour family dyeing one, where we added one colour of dye, allowed it to fix for a while, then rearranged the fabric, and poured a second colour in. This took in different places, so produced lovely crystal-like patterns:

We also did some folds to use up leftover dyes.
Folded into a square and dipped in dyes:

Folded into a long thin concertina, rolled up into a pinwheel, and then dipped in one colour of dye, with others poured on top.

Randomly scrumpled, dipped in one colour with another poured on top.

The last piece I did was plow dyeing, tightly pleating fabrics to get these strong patterns.

It was excellent fun, and I love the fabrics I made.

Plenty of Printing

Today I did some printing, using the stamps and stencils I cut yesterday. I’m working towards a couple of nature inspired competitions for next year, so I wanted to make plenty of prints to be going on with.

Envelopes, tags and zig zag books to tip in to my sketchbook.

Lots of sketchbook pages, for evening colouring

Prints on fabric:

And on deli paper, which is excellent at picking up small details from the Gelli plate:

Lots of prints on A4 copier paper:

Including some backgrounds from stencils to go with the prints:

And this print on thick round khadi:

All in all, a good day:

A productive day

This morning, I set a batch of chutney going, using the apples from our tree. It’s been slowly brewing for hours now, so soon I will have to go and jar it up.

I’ve also discovered I can use my pyrography tool as a hot stencil cutter, so I cut the stencils in much quicker time and better detail than I was expecting. It’s hard to photograph clear plastic, so the best thing I could think of was to hang them on my washing line:

Honeysuckle, comfrey, ivy.

Bumble bee, lavender,  apple blossom, chives.

I also cut positive and negative stamps of the bee, apple, ivy, and comfrey.

And blocked the Turner’s Hill TV tower piece.

A new beginning…

I’m working towards a couple of competitions next year with a garden theme, so I have planned a couple of stencils. As per my usual style, they are rather complicated. If I can get them cut as planned, I will be very pleased.

Not too sure how to cut the hollyhocks!


I spent some lovely summer and early autumn evenings picking blackberries, giving me a 4kg harvest.

Last Sunday, a friend and I spent several happy hours in his kitchen, listening to some good music, and making jam.

Berries ready to go.

We had plenty of jars to use up.

Very precise measuring of jar apertures to cut waxed paper circles!

How much sugar!

Bubbling nicely 🙂

I didn’t take any more photos after this, but we made 13 jars of blackberry jam, and 8 jars of blackberry and apple jelly. It’s lovely, great in porridge.

We also made some non-Newtonian semi-Freddo, with some of the water which we poured over the berries, boiled for a bit, and then changed our minds, so poured it off and froze it. It is amazing, quite tart, but wonderful with chocolate ice cream. We’ll never be able to replicate it, sadly.