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Walking in the wild woods

Gosh I am tired!  I have just returned from a wonderful 2 days with Stephanie Redfern, doing a two day course at The Bramble Patch.  The shop is located at Weedon in Northamptonshire so I begged a bed from lovely Beverley and carted my fabric and art supplies up there and went with great anticipation to the workshop. Stephanie Redfern's work is among my favourite.  I suppose technically she is a mixed media artist but the boundaries merge in so many ways and she is always at the Festival of Quilts so it is tricky to know exactly where her work sits.  Wherever it sits (and some of it sits in my sitting room!), it is fabulous.

Our two days covered painting, stamping, printing onto cloth and creating various fabrics and media to create our picture of a Wildwood. As I have been at Committed to Cloth I felt more confident in creating fabrics and was very pleased with my outcomes. I spent time creating a design.  The fabric which I created last time I went to Committed to Cloth felt very inspiring, especially when linked with a photograph which I took in La Gomera of the rainforest.  For the first time ever, I really enjoyed using my sketchbook, made various overall designs, focused on some of the detail, auditioned fabrics and generally really engaged with it all.

Some of my fellow students were very experienced in working in this medium and I felt a little intimidated.  Here are a few of their outcomes. Isn't it amazing how they all came from the same starting point?


These two are very different but both very attractive. With the one above, I love the way that the details overlap from the central piece into the surround.

Mine is very different. Big blowsy and in yer face!

I have lots of work still to do - stitching by machine and by hand.  Some beads and generally trying to make the piece look as if it is a real work of art!! To be honest, I've had such fun and enjoyed it so much, if it turns out to anything worthwhile, it will be a bonus!

Isn't it pretty? It was fascinating to see how everyone worked.


I found the whole course really enjoyable even though at one point I was so out of my comfort zone that I felt vaguely tearful! But a few well chosen works from Stephanie encouraged me to resolve the problem.  All the element are attached to bondaweb to make it easier to cut them accurately and to enable them subsequently to be attached to the background.

I can't wait to get stitching!!



After the dyeing the washing and ironing.......

I hate ironing. I loathe the futile action of uncrumpling something which I shall only crumple rapidly again once I wear it.  But ironing dyed and printed fabric is very exciting.  You never quite know what you have created until it has been washed many times in cold and warm water and then washed in a washing machine.  I did all this faithfully last night once I got home and this morning it was all dried and ready for me to iron.

Firstly I did the 15 pieces I have created from dyeing fabric in different strength of brown dye and then over-dyeing with different strength of turquoise dye.  It is a very disciplined approach.  Everything has to be super-organised and labelled.  Why? Because with these fabrics I am starting to create my library of dyes and colours.  I hope to work my way gently through lots of these combinations so that in the future when I need a specific colour, I shall know exactly how to create it. Want a skirt in a specific colour? Come and see me.........but not quite yet, unless you want it in shades of brown/turquoise.

Remember these?

These are metre length of fabric which I dyed on day one of the course.  They are all the same colour brown dye but made up in different strengths.  I cut up the fabric into fat quarters and then dyed them in turquoise in different strengths. Between them they made 15 colours. Have a look at the outcome:

The ones on the left are the turquoise on white fabric and the ones on the right are the brown on white fabric.  The rest are a combination of different strengths of brown and turquoise. More for the stash!

I also did a little tray dyeing.  I just love these fabrics.  I will over-dye them at least once or twice more to make the colours richer.

The first one was pleated into a tray and scrunched on one end and the dyes dripped over it and pushed into the folds.

I just love the richness of the colours.  

This one was twirled using the end of a spoon into a Chelsea Bun type of arrangement:


I am pleased with the spider-like detail which was just a couple of drips of dark brown dye.  The rest is acid yellow and royal blue and black!

Finally this is a little washed out and not the best of the three but it will perk up once I over dye it with something else.


I think I need to lie down in a darkened room!


Another day of dyeing and painting!

You will all be pleased to know that I shall not be going to Committed to Cloth for a few more weeks! But today, Monty and I set off at 6.45 am to do battle with the traffic and go to Betchworth in Surrey for another lovely day, dabbling and painting with dyes. I needed to catch up with the day I missed in March when I was on crutches and couldn't drive.

I love the barn and it always looks vibrant and exciting>

Apart from the beauty of the barn itself, the textiles are constantly changing.  Today I was working with other students who are following a course of independent study.  They are all much more advanced than I am and so I was fascinated at what they were achieving.

Most of the photos I am going to show you are about how the backgrounds to wall hangings are created before stitching:

Finally it is amazing what you can achieve with some string and black dye!

Finally my work is much more ordinary.  I have been working out how dyes look when painted on top of one another. This is the cloth while still painted before being washed out.

Now I intend to put my feet up!


Making my mark!

My days at Committed to Cloth are heavenly.  It is a heck of a flog to get there - nearly 2 hours in the morning and about and hour and a half on the way home - but the hours in between are just wonderful.  I love the learning, I love the experimenting, I love the calm and the creativity. In short I just love it!

Today we were focusing on using dyes as paints and it was fascinating.  I love the chemical side to it.  We learn recipes and try unusual media to make the whole thing work properly. I bought some delightful little measuring spoons to help me be more accurate in my use of dyes - I even have one which measures 1/16th of a teaspoon!  Now that is accuracy!.

Before we started on today's learning we had a quick recap on what had been achieved last session.  As I was busy negotiating crutches at that time, I was fascinated to see what was done - especially as I have a catch-up day planned for next week.


These two photos show how, by varying the strength of the dyes, a complete range of colours can be made by dyeing half the fabrics first scarlet and then brown and the other half scarlet then brown.  Aren't the colours just luscious?  But look below at the ranges of colours when the scarlet is substitued with magenta and brown with black:

I think there are 15 shades in each run and that is just using the reds mixed with brown and black, there are still colours such as acid lemon and golden yellow, turquoise and royal blue to go.  How's your maths going, I reckon that is about 90 shades in all!!!

We moved on then to mark making.  It's almost a zen-like activity!  You just get lost in making marks and then trying to experiment with paler/thinner dyes over the top of the black and seeing what you make.


They probably don't look much to the untutored eye but I have learnt much today about how to make marks and what I can do with different tools.

Here is a little picture of some prints I did just in their raw black and white state and below is the outcome once I have had a little dabble with some coloured dye.

Worth driving for 3 1/2 hours for?  It is to me!!!!


Book wrap gems

The tombola at the Festival of Quilts this summer is for book wraps. I wanted to have a go at making one so I looked at the website and got a feel for what was being requested. This weekend up in Nottingham there were several examples for us to see.

So, I bought some fabric (one FQ makes two) and sat down to make it.

Here is the result. It turned out to be a bit too small on the height but overall, I like the look of it.  More to come.