Thursday 31 January 2008

The Earth Moves

Good to be back amongst you, having spent a tedious couple of days worrying away at shape-shifting quilting templates. I think it is sorted now and most of the proofing is done. Comments on comments next and then lots of pics further down.

Arti - glad you liked the fossils. I used Model Soft - a bit like Hearty but not so prone to cracking - and pressed it into an actual fossil. There is the problem of integrating the edges as you can’t have a great lump of clay (or anything else) just plonked down. A lot of hand stitching solved the problem here. I used to have this wonderful fossil with lots of ammonites in various sizes. It had been around for millions of years and then it met my youngest grandson. I now have lots of little ammonites - or old snails if you are Margaret R!

Fran├žoise (note the accent) I liked your flowery displacement map. So cute, the way it trails over the solid colour. Have you tried using the tiles, especially increasing the tile size? I am now on Picture Tubes in PSP - Hazel Credland has written me an article for WoW and I can’t stop using them.

Jackie - go for it. I think buying that machine would be a really good start. I have the 640 and have been delighted with it. A really good machine makes the whole process of machine embroidery so much easier. If you are starting right at the beginning I would make sure that you frame up the fabric really tightly, use a thread made for machine embroidery and then have a good play - try writing your name, simple patterns etc and relax into it. I had an article in WoW a while ago on beginning machine embroidery. If you give me a couple of days I will put it up on the free taster for you. Paint programs - it’s no secret that Paint Shop Pro is my favourite. Buy an old version (7, 8, or 9) from Amazon and fork out a tenner for my CD of tutorials. Shameless advertising - sorry.

I have found five minutes to start the background for my earth stuff. Here’s felt, painted Bondaweb (acrylic paint) and the abaca tissue from the other day.

Bondaweb ironed on felt, Abaca ironed on top and then some zapping and over-painting. You are probably thinking that it looks a right mess. So am I.

However, bits of it are gorgeous. Peeling paint. This is the water based Colourcraft metallic paint. Cheap as chips and it zaps very well - wear a mask, though.

Finally - a finished bit with Thermogauze, puff paint and Embossing powder. Just to give me an idea of how it might go.

I want to add some machine embroidered fossils - here I am transferring the design to fabric, using the window as a light box.

Hellishly difficult taking a photo at the same time. Day off tomorrow - see you on Saturday.

Tuesday 29 January 2008

New Beginnings

Hey, Margaret - sorry about giving away the secret of the cell. I think it would be really scary to be shut up in such a confined space so I shall be going straight from now on.

Betty: displacement maps are an effect in Paint programs like Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop where one image is used to shuffle about all the pixels in another image. For instance, in the screen-shot below you can see that I’ve just filled a blank page with a gradient colour (left-hand window in the menu box) and used a pic of fossils (below)to displace the pixels. The result can be seen in the image below the box.

I made this a greyscale image but it will work with coloured ones as well. PSP is very friendly for this effect - anything open on the desktop can be used as a map. Good contrasts provide the best result, although, having said that, you can never really tell - that’s the fun of it. I’ve blogged quite a lot about it - so has Margaret Roberts (Digital Gran - worth searching the pages if this aspect interests you.

I have started on the biggish piece that I want to make for the Highcliffe castle exhibition. It began with inspiration from the Above the World book and has been furthered by the visit to the Earth Gallery at the Natural History Museum. I had a long love affair with fossils a few years ago and quite liked this effect - a detail from one of the pieces I made then.

This used Model Soft, the papery moulding stuff, for the fossils and worked quite well, as long as the material was well integrated (by stitch) into the background.
This time I wanted something different. I’ve been working on Thermogauze (vanishing muslin) for a couple of WoW articles so decided to build on that, together with puff paint and stitch. The inside of the globe at the NH museum had lovely metal fossils, so that’s a possibility, too. All layered up on a tissue paper background coloured with walnut ink and Colour Wash Sprays. Then floaty strips over the top of this with couched threads used for the linear elements of the design.
First I painted the abaca tissue (I used the heavier version so that I could wet it) with Moonshadow mist in copper. Nothing wrong with a bit of glitz. While it was wet I added Colour Wash in Stream - my favourite blue. Then I left it on plastic to allow the colours to run. The colours look very much like the ones in the fossil piece above but I want to bring in rich reds in the top layer, so we shall see.

While it was drying I Ironed painted Bondaweb on to white felt and foiled it, very lightly. Later, when my proofing duties are done, I shall iron strips of the tissue on top of the Bondawebbed felt.
I dug out my drawings of fossils - this one looks hopeful. Tomorrow I am determined to do some stitching so I will trace the lines onto tissue paper in readiness .

Saturday 26 January 2008

Confession of a Wimp

Chrissy - love the dog (and the Monet translations).
Sorry about the book temptation, Marjorie. I do think the Visual Language book should be on everyone’s bookshelf. I love the work of all three of those ladies - Leslie, Claire and Jane. Had the honour of sharing an exhibition with Jane Dunnewold at the fibreEssence Gallery in Vancouver where we both sold really well. I think I’d do better to arrange exhibitions overseas as it is difficult to sell over here just now. Seems to be a general problem in the arts field as my painter friends, one of whom always has a sell out, are finding the same thing.
I don’t feel that exhibitions are all about selling, as it is great just to show your work to other people and the feedback can be illuminating. It would be good to cover costs, though.
Pricing is an issue - Constance Howard once made an oft-repeated remark about not wanting to have it all back under the bed. A good point.
I had to go to London yesterday for the final proof of the Image to Stitch book. They only had one set of proofs so couldn’t post it. Great to see all the pics properly - you only get low-res images in the early proofs. I was really pleased with it and it was good to see Batsford’s new home in the Anova HQ, West Kensington. I’ve not been there before so we had the ’ten bob tour’ from editor Nicola. As it is a listed building they had to keep the old cells intact and they use them for storage. All the graffiti on the doors is still there - including some very rude words. Here’s a pic.

It’s very strange. One minute you are in a modern, light, high tech office building and then, by going through a door, you are in a version of ‘The Bill’.

We were supposed to be going on to do the Collect exhib at the V&A but, with the Earth series in mind, we stopped off at the Natural History Museum. I so love the Earth Hall - I am like a kid when we get on the escalator that takes you through the centre of the earth. Here’s the interior of the globe.

I insisted that we went straight back down in the lift so we could go up again! Then took lots of fossil and rock photos (great for displacement maps) and lingered for a while to experience the earthquake. The GCs love that bit, where you are in a mock-up of a shop in Kobe and the floor shakes. Clive’s mother was in an earthquake in India and said it was the noise that was so frightening.

We eventually got to the V&A and saw the 'Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft' exhibition which was fantastic in some parts, interesting in others and weird in a couple of places. I loved these paper cuts by Lu Shengzhong. The long lines of cut paper cascade from a great height.

By now it was late and I was so tired that one look at the long, long queue for Collect made me decide to go home. Today, of course, I really wish I’d made myself go and I feel such a wimp. I wish it was on for longer.

All my fault really for going to the NH museum first.

It has taken me ages to do my blog today as I’ve been following lots of threads and then found Becky Vigor’s wonderful collagraph tutorial. I must have a go at this - Jane Wild produces wonderful collagraph prints just using tissue and blotting paper. When the surface is sealed she uses them for paper casting.

She did this one for our PMS book. Can’t wait to see Becky’s prints.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Down to Earth

Arti - (back to the nickname again, I'm afraid) I've used the soy silk on the embellisher with no difficulty but haven't tried by hand. I have got Val from Silk Sacks on the case and she will let us know.
Elli - that is a brilliant title. I love it and will probably use it, if that's OK. I can see a globe with its middle bit highlighted, seen through a sighting device. certainly need a few lunches for this series.
The first piece will be called Earth Music and I have a rough drawing, shown here half completed, of how it might look.

I managed to do some sneaky work on it by incorporating some Distress Crackle I was trying out for WoW Products page. Here's a detail.

This is my original page from the Earth book. Moving it while scanning gave me the idea of strips over a background. Doesn't look much like the drawing but there are elements in there. Hope to start on it next week when I've finished proofing mags.

The cat has provided another entertainment. In addition to the tummy troubles (still ongoing) she has got sore eyebrows and keeps scratching them. The vet provided a collar and Clive and I duly fitted it.

Stevens went ballistic. It was just like blowing up a balloon and then letting it go without tying it up - the minute we let her go she shot off round the room backwards at 100 mph. Ornaments, furniture, books and magazines were flying through the air. She removed the collar in about two minutes by jamming her head under the bookcase while still in reverse. She then shook herself, gave us a hard stare and sat down for a wash as though nothing had happened.

I have given up on the collar.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

After Swoopy Photos we have Swoopy Scans

Susan - thanks so much for the award. I'm honoured. So much so that I am trying to stop calling you Arty, even though that is how I think of you. Your husband sounds really romantic. Clive is good at getting cards with proper words, too.

Today we had the morning off and celebrated by taking my trusty Bernina in for a service. I have worked it so hard lately that I thought it deserved one. I'm gearing up to start a new body of work based on the Above the Earth book.
I have an idea for a series - the titles are there: earth stories, earth mother, earth elements and so on. Clive suggested 'The earth moved' but I have treated that with the contempt it deserves.

I have scanned and printed a few images, as the book is so heavy to have on one's lap. Tonight I shall work on some drawings. Have you ever played 'swoopy' games with the (flat bed) scanner? They are a bit like 'swoopy' photos in that you move the source as the scanner is in motion. I find the just moving the book up and down slowly gave me this result - original image below and swoopy one below that.

If you wiggle the book you get an image like this.

Making a negative image works well here.

Quite fun - have a try.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Memories are Made of This

As usual I'm inspired by your comments, many thanks.

Aussie Jo - liked the lost in space idea for the sketchbook. That's certainly an option. Bet you'll have fun with Dale. I do a course called Frescos and Fragments too. Will have to compare notes with Dale.

The more I look at the satellite book, the more I can see stitch. Next week I must finish WoW and proof Quiltwow and then I shall start on the sketchbook. It's time to do products - my favourite bit. You'll have to look out for a £4 version of the book, Margaret.

Elli - I thought your new surname was rather exotic, but it should be back to normal now. Good about the bodies.

I've continued to sort and classify my book collection (home-made rather than hardback). Don't know which category this little chap fits into. It is made from Softsculpt, warmed and then folded in half. Warmed again and each half pressed over a bottle. Then bits of stitching and organza scraps applied to the 'covers'.

I suppose it isn't really a book as you can't open and shut it, but it does have leaves. They are, of course, leaf shaped and stitched on water-soluble film with the edges wired.

Today I've been sorting out a box from the loft. We are trying to clear it so we can have some additional insulation put in there - a very green ambition. I found a lot of stuff that I couldn't bear to go through when my mother died, some years ago. Very sentimental letters from my father from his destroyer during the war. They were supposed to get married at Christmas 1944 but he was called back to his ship hours before the wedding. Apparently the reception went on without him and sounds like a very boozy affair as he is asking 'Did your mother get very drunk?'. This is my stiff and starchy granny he's talking about!!! Such revelations.

Clive and I were discussing the fact that past generations of men were much more sentimental, even though the stiff upper lip was much in evidence. I have a diary and postcards from my grandfather in the first world war and his letters are even more gooey.

Do you think that this is true, or have you all got love letters, tied with ribbon, tucked away?

Thursday 17 January 2008

Cats, Clothes and Books

Stevens wishes to thank everyone for their good wishes. She is quite big-headed about her fame and is going around the house singing ‘Je Suis une blog star’.

You will gather from this that she is much better, eating well and her poor face is clearing up. At the moment she is sitting on top of her medicines, with her arms folded, in the mistaken belief that we won’t be able to give her any more.

I have had fun with Google Earth, Linda - some great images. Thanks for reminding me but I now feel even more guilty about buying the book.

Edie - thanks to the furkids at Hootenanny Hollow. The ISBN for the ‘Above the World’ book is 1-84403-181-0. I shall work one of the designs from it for a WoW product test. The great gals at Ario have sent some intriguing goodies for me to play with. I’m thrilled with the bookswap site, thanks for that.

Annabelle, do hope there is better news about Dylan. Is he the lurcher? Our mini-lurcher lasted until she was eighteen - I thought she was here for ever.

Good news about Elli blogging - such a quick start, too. I think she should put some photos of her bodies on her blog - go on Elli, show us your corsets! She’s on I’ve put her on my links. Had a bit of an update but still haven’t got all my favourites there yet.

Yesterday I spent the whole day hunched over the laptop setting articles and my shoulders really ached. So I’ve had a bit of a day off today and taken my grandaughter to the dentist. It was too late to go back to school so, with her mum, we went shopping for her birthday present, clothes. Can’t believe she is fourteen next week. Needless to say the budget was exceeded (but granny, that’s what I’m for, she said).

I’ve spent the last hour looking through some of my sketchbooks, in preparation for making the satellite one. I liked doing this one - based on rain-forest studies. The dangly thing is a seed pod.

I wanted it to look like an old naturalist’s notebook (or are they the ones who take their clothes off?) so I drew brown lines in PSP and rubbed some of them out. Then, when printed, I wrote in pale walnut ink.

The end of the book got much more colourful, using gesso and setting leaves in it and then painting it.

I think I will work this way with the Above the Earth theme. Need a snappy title - any suggestions.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Falling at the First Fence

Glad that you are all as excited about my WoW signings as I am. I’ve just talked Ken Smith into doing a series on machine embroidery techniques - he is a real master of his craft.

Arti - you will be fine. Yes, not bombarding students with information is a good point. I find it hard, on one day workshops, when you are constantly having to interrupt people who are having fun, just to get on to the next thing.
Glad you all enjoyed the Bondaweb transfers and are having a go. It’s such fun. I have tried printing directly on to the webbing, KBP, but would warn folk that an elderly printer may get hot. You can imagine what happens to the webbing! (Been there, done that, narrowly avoided the divorce).

Becky - I’m into hand stitching too, at present, so we’ll definitely count that in. Have to do some thinking as to how we could get our round robin to work.

Carol - Know what you mean. We try not to go to bed too early as we wake up correspondingly early and getting up before six is obscene. We keep watching American detective series and going to sleep ten minutes before the end so we never find out who ’dunnit’.

Poor cat Stevens has had to go to the vet hospital and have an endoscopy as she is still throwing up. Thank God for pet insurance. I cheered myself up by going for lunch with my friend Elli Woodsford.
You’ve probably seen her book - it’s got lots of great ideas, especially for corsets (bodies) and shoes - hence the body and sole reference. I am trying to persuade Elli to blog, as she has a wonderful turn of phrase and would keep us all amused for hours.

We met in Christchurch, a really pretty little place (even in the rain) with a lovely priory church, an interesting river and quay, Soho ( for coffee), and the Boathouse for lunch. Even went for a stroll along the convent walk - an unlikely pair of nuns.

Then Elli failed to prevent me from breaking one of my resolutions. I bought a book. Clive and I are not supposed to buy books until we have given up some of the ones we already have. To add insult to injury, it was another satellite imagery book and I have two already. In mitigation, it is much more colourful than the others and it was only 4 pounds. Here’s the cover - so stitchy.

It shows much more detail (see the pyramids, below), and we spent some time looking at Sydney, Australia as I wanted to text son Ian and say ‘I can see your house from here’.

Look at the colour in this one.

I was, of course, quite unable to avoid a bit of Displacement Map work. Here’s a Celtic scabbard design, displaced by the title page. Interesting what happens to the letters. Must try this with more text.

The vet has called to say that he couldn’t find anything nasty in Stevens' tum but he has taken lots of bits for biopsy and he’s sure that it will be treatable. I guess that is good news but I wanted her back cured. My confidence was rather shaken by the fact that he kept calling her HE. Understandable, with a name like Stevens but I thought they were trained to tell the difference. Just off to bring her home.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Bondaweb Transfers

Gosh, but it’s been a busy week. Having WoW and Quiltwow in the same month is good because it gives us long stretches of time in between but it certainly makes the article gathering time hectic. Very exciting though. You can never be sure, when you commission, what will arrive and we’ve always been fortunate that the articles have been consistently good. Some wonderful stuff for both WoW and Quiltwow. I usually check the techniques for WoW but this time I have got quite carried away with some of them. So now I’m behind and Clive is chasing me (that’s quite fun, actually).

I also ran out of evening stitching and had to find myself something to do. Can’t just sit and watch TV without the hands being occupied. Some time ago Clive said we needed a new TV, as ours was getting fuzzy. Turned out that his glasses needed changing and, as I only listen and never watch, I took his word for it. Glad we got the new one, though - it looks much nicer - all slim and sexy (unlike its owners).
Here's my new stitching.

I had made a book for my Image to Stitch book, using Bondaweb to transfer images. I didn’t want to sell it so decided to make another one.


To make the transfer:
Printout, or photocopy your design.
Iron Bondaweb (fusible webbing) on to the fabric of choice - I used white cotton. If an inkjet print, it’s better to then leave for a few hours but I don’t always do this.
Iron the print, colour side down, to the fabric.
Damp the paper with a sponge or spray - don’t get it too wet. Scrape away the paper to reveal the image, now on the Bondaweb. If it doesn’t scrape away, damp ir down until it does.
Then I hand stitch on top. The image is quite pale, which I like and sometimes I leave some of the paper on and draw into it.
Here’s the back.

And some Gaudi chimney pots inside the book.

I love this transfer method and it is one of my favourites.

Lovely to have an award Maggie, Thank You. Haven’t thought who to give it to who hasn’t got it already. Lynda Monk made my day yesterday by agreeing to write articles for WoW so she must have one. Dale and Margaret R, of course, and Annabelle (Wittering Rainbow) because her profile makes me laugh. Lots more people I will think about but my battery is getting low.

Peg - do try stitching on metal but be sure to put something under it. I use a heavy craft Vilene.

Jackie - I’ll certainly pass on my bits if I don’t win my challenge. Perhaps I could get rid of lots of bits this way. Perhaps we could all play stitch consequences. Val & I used to send each other bits we were stuck on - a terrible responsibility for me.

Thursday 10 January 2008

Guzzisue - how lovely to have an award - and all for just rambling on. Thank you. I will have to have a big think as to who to pass it on to. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. It really does make my day to hear from you all.

Janet - glad the AVG info came in handy. Sorry you missed the Eye but, as you say, it’s a great excuse to go back. Will look into Ccleaner but I don’t think I’ve had time to get this machine dirty yet.

Pascale - the Janome needles are much stronger than the Pfaff, I don’t think the machines are the same but I don’t know the Pfaff embellisher that well. I love my old Pfaff sewing machine - the 7570 and still use it for free machining, even though I have newer and posher machines.

I do hope that you are soon well enough to play with pre-felts, Gilby. They are especially good with soft woolly fibres.

I have been AWOL for the last couple of days as I had a nasty run-in with the dentist. Some of you may remember that this saga has been running for a while.

I was supposed to have a tooth crowned but it was such a long time between the tooth cracking and the coronation that a lot more bits fell off it. I really thought he would just take it out and I think that, at the half way stage, we both wished he had. Apart from the fact that it was right at the back, and difficult to get at, the drill started playing up. I’d just been telling him about all my recent equipment failures so he blamed me.Anyway it is half done and does feel a little better today.

I have set myself a new challenge. During the recent cupboard cleaning I filled a box with an assortment of half stitched textiles. Here are some of them.

I have given myself two months to make them into something or I have to throw them out. It would have been one month but this is the busy month for WoW and Quiltwow.

I have assembled three sets that might work together. Here’s the most likely one. A tissue on felt background, a heavily machined icon face and a border that I made for Val’s edges and finished book.

I have an idea for this combination, too. It is painted metal shim and a computer print on brown paper with black Mistee fuse ironed on top.

This one may be a real challenge. Another icon on shim, lightly stitched to brown paper and a strange mixture of puff paint and stitch. Can’t think how this is going to work.

I’ll keep you posted on all these.

For my New Year’s resolution I have vowed to tick off one thing a month from my ‘been meaning to do it for ages’ list. So far we have achieved two - one was the Wi Fi thing, and now, finally, (roll of drums) I have ordered my groceries on-line from Tesco. It worked and they arrived. Now all I have to do is to pop into Tesco for all the things I forgot to put on the list.

Monday 7 January 2008

Embellisher Bits and a London Trip

Chrissy - on my last embellisher course I had a lady who bought in half her apricot poodle and made a piece with it. Looked surprisingly good with a bit of greeny-blue silk. I do agree about reverse psychology for cats - it used to work well with the kids when they were young, too.

Babylock needles seem to be fine on the Pfaff embellisher and they are much stronger. Winifred Cottage sells them and, I guess, a Google would bring up other suppliers. The original Janome needles are very strong - I went a year before I broke one. Don't know whether the new, replaceable needles are equally good as they haven't sent me any yet. Must remind them. You expect to break a few needles when you start embellishing but shouldn't do so when you've got the feel of it. Sometimes though, if I'm into something really thick, I do resign myself to losing a few.

Pre-felt is a lovely soft, woolly fabric which has been lightly needled by a big commercial machine, ready to work on. I get mine by the metre from Rainbow Silks. All these suppliers are on the Workshop on the Web Traders' Mall It's in the unrestricted bit.

Pre-felt is lovely to use on the embellisher. Tomorrow I'll find some pieces to show. Bit of a rush today as Clive will kill me if I don't finish my WoW article on vanishing muslin.

We had what will probably be our last day off for a while on Saturday and took the three biggest GCs to London. We drive to Richmond and get the underground there so it's not a bad journey. It was a lovely clear, sunny day so we took them on the London Eye. Clive worked in the City for years so he is a great person to go on with as he knows all the places to look for. Here we all are.

Then we had a really good lunch at Giraffe and went to Tate Modern. They loved it - especially the Louise Bourgeois spider. We had a bit of trouble with the balloons we'd acquired at lunch and had to leave them with the man at the entrance. I knew they were a mistake.

Here's the famous Tate Modern Crack.

I took a 'swoopy pic' of it which came out like a landscape.

So I put it through PSPs Feedback filter and then put a drop shadow on each of the feedback pics so it looks 3D.

I may even make this - got an exhibition coming up soon.

We walked over the Millenium bridge to St Pauls where Leo found a cracked paving stone and wanted to know if it was art!

We ended the trip by hopping in a taxi to drive around Trafalgar Square and down to Buckingham Palace. Still got the balloons.

It was a lovely day and was pronounced 'Well Good' and 'Wicked', by the GCs. As we pulled in to their drive Jake said - 'What a great way to spend a Saturday'. Summed it up well, we thought.

Friday 4 January 2008

An Embellisher Problem

Just a quick post because I forgot to answer an embellisher query from a couple of blogs ago. It was about Pfaff embellisher needles breaking. I've found, running the courses, that this happens with some Pfaffs and the solution is to use Babylock needles. This has sorted it out well, so far. Thanks to Myfanwy Hart for that tip.

Cat Stevens kept sitting on my pre-felts - so nice and soft. So I cut her off a piece of her own. You can see it to the right of the uncomfortable scratchy organza I was working on. You can't win with cats.

Point taken on the cold weather. How do you live with it? We are lucky down here on the South Coast - never cold for long and rarely any snow.

Annabelle - I'm sticking with the stiff upper lip for now.

Glad you got your coffee Shirley. Happy to have been of service!

Verobirdie - you will love it.

Sorry about the bear thing, Sue. I'll have to tell the bear factory.

Thanks for the ideas for the Celtic Warriors - I'll have a think about that.

Thanks also for all the good wishes. The cooker man cometh today so I may have my big oven back. Fingers crossed.