Light and Dark

Cwilt Cymru, with whom I exhibit, are going to be at the Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre in June. Our work will be smaller pieces than usual, (we are exhibiting there again  in 2019 with work that has been more slow-burn) based loosely on a theme of ‘Light and Dark’. My sci-fi brain instantly went ‘ad astra’ when I heard the words, and I enjoyed working in a less introspective and cerebral way, whilst still making the work complex and, I hope, interesting and ‘faceted’.

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CQ Journal Quilts – second quarter in progress

This quarter’s focus is on using stitch to apply text to fabric. April’s 11″ x 11″ journal quilt has the word free-motion machine-quilted. I am sticking to a blue and white colour way throughout the year. The stitching followed circular marks made with a Frixion pen – I spiralled outwards from the centre by eye. The ‘i’s were dotted using a Derwent Graphik pen.  My normal handwriting is extremely messy but the delightful, almost meditative sense of rhythm that I fall into when free-motion quilting brings out the deep-down style of cursive I was taught in primary school, (using a dip pen) – with the idiosyncratic open ‘p’   Miss Bulmer of Moorgate Primary preferred. Her ‘f’s were even more unusual double-looped affairs! I loved that school!!

May uses my favourite text-to-fabric method – appealing to me because of my interest in negative space. Tight layers of meander surround the letter-shaped voids.

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CQ Journal Quilts 2017

Working on a theme of ‘text’, I am going to use a different base technique for each quarter. I decided to stick to white fabric and dark blue media, with white or blue stitching. The size requirement this year is 11″ x 11″.

First quarter is print.  


Using water soluble printing ink and a wood block alphabet from Colouricious, what I like about this is how the white thread in the tight meander picks up some of the ink.


‘Scuse the stray thread invading the photograph! Monoprint – inked plate, fabric on top, drawn into with an empty ballpoint pen, then a pull from the same plate. I played deliberately with the knowledge that monoprinting can be a mirror image.


My current favourite – I call it ‘instant breakdown’. Lettering drawn onto a silk screen using graphite, breaks down over several pulls. 

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Coptic Binding

On Tuesday, at the March meeting of Marches Book Arts Group member Mike Clements showed us how to do Coptic binding using two needles. As a stitcher, I was enthusiastic but there is some glue involved so my first attempt has the usual tell-tale gummy fingermarks. Mike is a great teacher though: patient, genial and, of course, hugely knowledgeable.

I have had a collection of my grandson’s first two years of painting gathered for a while, kept with the intention of making them into a book. I had them folded and arranged as three sheet signatures, but I wasn’t sure which binding method to use and how to build the covers. This method was what I have been waiting to discover!

The papers  making the pages are a little too thin, but I could have strengthened the spines by adding fabric or stronger paper, if I was not too brimming with enthusiasm and keen to create a finish. With this method, the covers can enclose a strengthening medium, so I was able to place some medium density card between the cartridge paper layers. I relished the chance to use some delicious stranded silks for the stitching – I am allowing myself ‘beginner’ status and whilst my knots do not lie perfectly evenly, I am still thrilled with the result.   I am going to return the book to my grandson and hope that he uses it to draw into. Laura Kemshall uses painted, printed and sketched papers to create sketchbooks that can be further embellished, and that gave me the germ of this idea.

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In Print

I have just received a complimentary copy of the March edition of Pretty Patches magazine which contains an, (also complimentary) interview about me! Sadly it came to late to share in any useful way as, after not receiving a copy, I tried to buy one and the edition had sold out, (not claiming any credit!). 

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I love water soluble printing ink. It is fragile, yes, but you can do a lot with that fragility, working in to areas to change the textures, and to move the colour around to lighten and darken.

I like to transfer a lot of the work I do on paper into work on fabric. Anything done with a water soluble medium will, of course, be useless for an applied art piece like a bed quilt, but can work interestingly in art for art’s sake.  

My CQ journal quilt theme for 2017 is ‘Text’ and I am going to look at different ways of getting text on to fabric – changing the approach quarterly. The method for January, February and March is print and the medium is water soluble ink – totally in the spirit of experiment.  For January, I used a set of wooden blocks from Colouricious, (the blocks I used are not in the shop at the moment).  This (reversed) image shows a Gelli print, which gives lovely texture because of the water based medium, and shows how you can, on paper, go back in and push the ink around.

As well as a brush, I used a baby wipe to remove colour and gained a great by-product.

I printed directly onto fabric, trepidacious of making a mess that would be impossible to clean. It didn’t go too badly, for me. I am like the Schultz character Pigpen normally, with my own Sod’s law – whether it’s mascara, dye, paint, or even food: if it can go everywhere, it will go everywhere! This time I got away with it!

What I got was that lovely texture with a ‘distressed’ feel. What I hoped for, and got, was migration from the fabric to the thread. I used MadeiraViscose in White, and got my own spontaneous variegation. 

I also got variegated fingers which, miraculously, did not transfer my prints, as if in a Miss Marple story, all over the house!

Will post the continuing process soon.

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Another small book of spring

Today I have hung washing from the line for the first time in weeks, and emerged from a week of flu into brilliant sunshine. Yesterday, I was alone and had to poke my nose outside for the sake of the dog, who, as I fought with the weather-tossed door of the polytunnel, abandoned me anyway, to wait by the door of the warm house, as if to say “What are you thinking, woman-mine???”

What I was, and am, thinking is…..I need sun. If I cannot find it in the sky, I will find it in scraps of fabric and my bead box.

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