Saturday, April 29, 2006

There arn't enough hours in the day!

But I have been using them to their fullest extent! I made two bags in the class on Friday using them as demonstration models. One I got up to lining stage at home and the small one I did from scratch in the class as a step by step demo until the lining stage when I switched to the larger one. I then finished them off at home later. This design is what I call a really useful bag. I have a larger one for shopping but the one shown below is ideal if all one needs is a handbag.
I have seen a lot of comments lately about not liking to read about people's lives on their blogs but wanting them to stay focused on crafty things. Well for me the insights into other people's lives is fascinating and gives the reader some inkling of what makes them tick. I love Tommy the Material Girl blog because it is as good as reading a novel. Its like a daily serial and I rush to read the continuation each day. Definitely as good as a book! There are several blogs like this with a mixture of chat and quilting and, groan, often knitting! And I think people who avoid these blogs because of their mixed content miss such a lot. And another thing the historical and geographical content is educational. I know more about the social geography of the world than I ever did before. And I love the tips and hints and good recipes! But then I am a natural sticky beak!

The sun is shining and I've been working steadfastly in the garden. All my seeds are up and I am half way through digging up the patch of lawn which is to become garden for fruit bushes and veggies. Tomorrow I will finish this off and get stuff planted. This year I actually have one flower on my lilac bush and three lily of the valley flowers. This was the year I told them that if they didn't flower I'd dig them all up! They listened!

Tomorrow I shall dye. If the weather stays good I shall dye outside so that I can be really messy and slop dye around with gay abandon. I have some lovely fine lawn to try out so that will be fun. If I like the results I'll buy a bolt.

I'm sorry if the colour of the printing is all to pieces but Blogger is playing silly b's!

This tulip is amazing. It suffered a calamity and the stalk bent in two but the flower kept on blooming though instead of being tulip shaped it was totally open like this. Wonderful ideas here for dyed fabric!  Posted by Picasa

This is the bag I did in my class on Friday. It fastens with Velcro and I put a couple of very useful pockets inside. It is handbag size but I also made a tiny one for Fenella. (see below) Posted by Picasa

The little bag I made for Fenella. Isn't it cute? It is 5 inches by 7 inches. Really diddy! It is folded in at the sides so that it has a larger interior than it looks.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Today has been a great day! I found out that ALL the fabric I'd sent to the quilt guild on a sale or return basis was sold! On the one hand this is so pleasing as we are talking a lot of fabric, but on the other hand it means a lot of dyeing to get stuff in hand again. But it's worth it! And I've had an email from an internet friend with the possibility of selling fabric through a shop in another part of Cornwall.
My seeds have started coming up and the garden is looking lovely. I now need to dig up the end of the lawn and turn it into garden so I can plant my blackcurrant bushes. I am slowly turning parts of the garden into vegetable areas so that I can have fresh salads in the summer. Martin bought some hanging baskets so that we can put Tumbler tomatoes in them. As we face south they will get loads of sun. During my mammoth clear out I unearthed my Kenwood juicer and I am now going mad on juicing anything I can lay my hands on. It is amazing how much vitality I seem to have and the juices are great if a little bizarre!
Tomorrow I am going to use my time in the morning to make a small bag for Fenella. This Friday is my first class for the summer term and we are making a quilted bag using a very interesting but simple pattern and because I already have and use one of these bags I thought I'd make a smaller version for Fen which I shall use as a sample so I won't finish it completely tomorrow. I shall be seeing her in just over a week so it seemed like a good idea. Time is racing by and we still haven't had any really good Spring weather. My fingers are crossed for this weekend.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Coming up for Air!

I spent nearly all of the weekend dyeing. There was a rod at my back as our local quilt guild had ordered several metres plus I had individual orders to fill. As fast as I put one load in the washer I was getting another batch of fabric prepared and dyed. One batch was a set of colour gradations which I enjoyed doing and will do more over the coming weeks in different colours. I want to do a series of browns as I find browns one of the most useful colours for applique. In between batches I stamped some previously dyed fabric with metallics and now I will over dye them to get a very subtle effect.
It is amazing at how quickly a bolt of fabric will be used up and it is now time to order another one or even two. Some fabric I had ordered a week ago arrived today and there is some wonderful natural linen plus some very fine lawn. I also indulged myself with some cotton/viscose crepe which has a lovely drapey handle to it. It would make a lovely flowing skirt with big bold painted flowers all over it. And last but not least I have some white on white fabrics to play with. So I am going to be busy. Its a bank holiday weekend coming up so I'll get another extra day to dye in. Just as well as the following weekend I am going up to London to stay with Caroline for four days.

The sum total of my weekend's dyeing efforts!  Posted by Picasa

More of my dyeing efforts. Posted by Picasa

Some more of this weekend's dyeing. Five FQ's in light to dark colourings tied with silk ribbon.  Posted by Picasa

She also gave me this very strange piece of clothing. Its silk circa 1920 or could be earlier. I'm at a loss as to how it was worn. To begin with I thought it was a fill in for a low neckline but why have the tassels if it was to be worn under a garment? Any ideas? It obviously tied on at the sides. The embroidery is beautiful.  Posted by Picasa

A friend gave me a pile of old lace and linen plus a box of very old hankies with lace trimmings. These will be wonderful for Crazy Patchwork. I shall dye some as well!  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wonderful sentiments!

How to Feel Miserable as an Artist
( Or what not to do. Underline any that currently apply)

1. Constantly compare yourself to other artists.
2. Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.
3. Base the success of your entire career on one project.
4. Stick with what you know.
5. Undervalue your expertise.
6. Let money dictate what you do.
7. Bow to social pressures.
8. Only do work that your family would like.
9. Do whatever the client/customer/gallery owner/patron/investor asks.
10. Set unachievable/overwhelming goals to be accomplished by tomorrow.

I came across this on a blog called Wishjar Journal. It is an amazing blog and well worth a look. These ten statements above are so true in that they deplete one's self confidence and therefore are to be avoided at all costs. I tried to put a link to the actual written piece but they are not a current posting and I couldn't so I copied out the wording and put a general link. I hope I'll be forgiven! I do tend to be guilty of numbers 5 and 6!
I am being very busy as I have to supply a large amount of hand-dyed fabric by next week. I am really enjoying planning my colours and patterns and also will do some light to dark gradations. I do five fat quarters in light to dark and then tie them up in a bundle with matching silk ribbon. They stand out this way. I've also ordered some white on white printed cotton fabrics which I will dye in fat eighths and also bundle together in similar fashion. All of this has kept me gainfully occupied. And this activity on top of watering my newly sewn seeds and planted shrubs. Of course as I knew it would the weather has gone colder with no sun! Now if I hadn't had the horticultural long weekend would the sun have continued to shine? I wonder!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Today is my daughter Caroline's birthday. It doesn't seem possible that 36 years ago I had just given birth to her at a few minutes past ten in the evening! It was a home birth and is one of my best ever memories as it was a wonderful experience. Now Caroline is a mother herself!

Happy birthday cherub!

Happy Easter!

I love Easter as it means a four day holiday from work. A time to refresh oneself ready for the summer. Well I am supposing we are going to have a summer. So far it has been unseasonably cold and windy and we are at least a month behind with plants in the garden. However I took a chance and went to a garden centre and bought herbs, tumbling tomato plants, courgettes and nasturtians plus a couple of blackcurrant bushes. And I treated myself to a small lavender tree. It is tiny but the smell is delicious. I like the idea of having a standard lavender plant rather than a bush. I have three grow bags and I'm ready to go; all I want is some warm sunny weather.
There were some really good replies to my questions on marketing. Caity of Princess and the Pea fame gave the view point of a customer while several of you emailed me with ideas for promoting a business. All very useful and interesting and I have taken note. I think Mrs Mel's idea of having a separate blog to sell stuff on is A1. Blogs are so easy to edit and keep up to date. I've already started on this and once I get more fabric done I'll be rolling and will promote the name of the blog. What was interesting was how differently people view marketing. To some it is a chore, but necessary while to others it is the raison d'etre. I think I fit in here somewhere in the middle as I don't find it my life's work (I'm too lazy!) but then again I don't think of it as a chore. In many ways it is fun. I know I would dye fabric even if I didn't or couldn't sell it.
I have been searching everywhere for some cookie cutters that I have. Twice I went up into the attic and rummaged through various boxes but to no avail so today I admitted defeat and decided to look for some in town. Eventually I found a tub of 50! More than I needed but I bought it as they were the only ones around. Later I needed to go into the attic again and look for some copper sheets I had for embossing. Guess what I found...yes, you're right. The cookie cutters. Isn't it so annoying! I am now drowning in cookie cutters. But I'm glad I found my original ones as they are far superior to the ones I got today. The idea was to make Easter biscuits. Now I'm thinking twice about it as I wanted to make them yesterday.
I hope you all have a Happy Easter or whatever. The picture is a piece of hand-dyed cotton with markal rubbings.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dyeing is my saviour!

Dyeing is always good. It lifts my spirits and as I press the fabric the next morning I am always inspired by each piece as it 'talks' to me. This batch of dyeing wasn't as colourful as usual but even so I was pleased with it. It was more a batch for applique work as I can see how each piece can be used to produce varied colours for flowers, leaves, fish etc. So I now feel I can go into the workroom and draw/paint and produce some ideas. I think my biggest problem is one of size. I have such a small space to work in...8 x 7 feet...and this doesn't lend itself to doing large pieces of work, and I've allowed this to discourage me. But I have decided that I will make the most of what I've got and do small to medium pieces and not fret if I can't produce mammoth epic pieces. And I am going to try and get some stuff finished because this will make me feel more inclined to get going on something new. It was warming to the soul to have such support from so many of you re my angst over not being able to get going on anything. I will get round to answering emails and comments I promise as I did appreciate your words. Thank you!
Gabrielle's blog had an interesting piece in it about the joys or not of marketing one's work. Something that most of us have to think about at some time or other. For me, marketing my work is one of the hardest aspects of being creative. Mainly because I have such a horror of being pushy and not quite liking to tout my wares with gay abandon. I do very well selling my fabrics to my students and in this I am so lucky as I have a built in set of clients. But I would like to sell my hand-dyes further afield but don't quite know how to go about it. Liz from Dreaming Spirals gave me some good ideas here a while back and they were very useful. Thank you Liz. But there doesn't seem to be a regular formula for getting sales. Also I have a fairly wide lazy streak when it comes to some aspects such as keeping my website current and up to date! Bad bad girl! My packs of fabric and notions for crazy patchwork and experimental embroidery have always sold well as have my hand-dyed silk ribbons but I want to slowly move out of this sphere and concentrate on the hand-dyed fabrics, perhaps adding silk into my repetoire. It would be interesting to see what other people's ideas on this subject are. As Gabrielle about a discussion? What is it that makes things sell? Is it price? Is it the type of fabric? Is it being on the same continent? Is it knowing the seller? Is it the fact that the seller is well known? What is it? Answers please..I need them! Like yesterday! :-)
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 07, 2006

Time passeth!

I haven't written for a while as I've been feeling quite un-motivated. I'm not depressed and I'm not sick but I have been unable to work up any enthusiasm for doing anything creative! This doesn't mean that I've been idle but what I've been doing has had nothing to do with art and sewing. I have totally organised the house from top to toe and been totally ruthless in throwing out, giving away or recycling stuff and things that I haven't used in years. I've bought cupboards and stacking towers of drawers and have managed to put enough things away that no longer does my house look like a second hand emporium or an off shoot of Steptoe and Son! But I just can't rake up any enthusiasm to do anything with fabric or paint. I'm at a standstill. I've browsed through my scrapbooks, looked at pictures and studied my workbooks intently but nothing gels. The muse isn't there! I think its a reaction to being on holiday from teaching. No pressure to get anything done, no stress and no last minute things to get ready. Its amazing how much stuff I accomplish when I know I've got other things to do as well. I'll regret this idleness when the new term starts. :-) Tonight I've forced myself to tie my magic squares quilt so I can cross it off the 'to do' list. And tomorrow I'm going to dye. I'm sure this will get me back in the mood but if it doesn't you'll know why I'm not writing. I'll be in the garden feeling virtuous planting out my courgettes and beans and sewing seeds for lettuce, beets and radishes.
Note: picture is of the Eden Project near St Austell Cornwall