Monday 29 September 2008

Glossary & Fossily

I’m finding your help on the glossary so useful. Amazing how many terms there are for the same fabric. Scrim is a real puzzle. The encouraging thing is that most people know what is meant by the term so, as long as a photo is shown, that should do the trick. I’ve put the first draft of the glossary on the d4daisy site (my book page) but haven’t taken all your comments into account yet. Hope to do that later today or tomorrow.

Francoise - we seem to be having enough trouble with the English version!

Ibbygee - what was the subject of your dissertation? Would it make a book?

Aussie Jo - couldn’t get into your blog as it came up with an error message. Blogger strikes again?

Can anyone help Jacqui, with an American soldering iron - fine tip required. If all else fails I think that Margaret Beal sells irons suitable for the USA voltage. Hers are wonderful. email

I'd forgotten about Pellon so thanks to you all for that and for all the help with the fabric. This glossary could be very useful all round.

Wabbit - over here encaustic wax tends to be solid beeswax with pigment added. You melt it on an iron to use it. Acrylic wax is runny and comes in a plastic container. It is very useful, especially with paper.

In the meantime I am awaiting the printer's summons and hope to be able to collect the books tomorrow, so watch this space. I see that they have it on Amazon but we have no plans to sell to them. I expect some of the smaller booksellers may have it on there but they tend to be expensive for overseas posting. We very much hope that Julia's book will be out soon - it should be on the way to the printer by the end of the week. It looks fabulous.

I am preparing for the Knitting & Stitching at Ally Pally. I have to get some work ready for an exhibition at Salisbury Museum in December. Wessex Textiles have been offered a smallish area, next to the costume displays. We decided that we would all work six 8" square stretchers, based on the theme of Wessex. Mine is going to be a Salisbury Timeline and will stretch along either side of a mock tape measure, marking time. I did something like this before with my fossils.

A brilliant idea struck! I will be doing demos at Ally Pally, based on the mixed media book and I thought I could build these up into the finished exhibition pieces. I could have the designs up on the wall and, as each square was worked, I could replace the design with the finished piece. Inspired - or what!!! It does owe something to the Kemshalls at the FOQ who were building up a quilt over the days of the show. So I have four of the six rough designs worked out - here they are.

This one is fossils again - well, they were a good starting point for most living things. The designs are mostly charcoal pencils on cartidge paper.

Then we have a cross section of Old Sarum, just a tree on a hill with the ground broken up into strips and other papers woven through it. This will have fossilish plants woven in but I haven't done them yet. It is a design I drew some time ago, redrawn on cartridge paper and coloured with tinted charcoal pencils.

Then an view from above Old Sarum. Same design media. Looks a bit like a space ship. May have to modify.

Then a three-dimensional piece based on a fragment of carving from the old cathedral. Loved the shape of it. It has some delicate pencil drawing of the celtic-ish spirals but they are hard to see in the photo.

It will be great if it all works. Two designs to go.

Hope to be back tomorrow or Wednesday, having got the book.

Wednesday 24 September 2008


The book has been printed. Michael went to watch and had a great time. It is so interesting to know what happens to a book before it hits the shelves. I think I will write an article about it - wonder who would want it? The printers we use are wonderful - a little more expensive, but they take so much trouble with everything. They’ve won heaps of awards and they recycle everything - even the plastic pots the ink comes in. I shall be able to pick up the books next week from the printers in Tunbridge Wells. Every printer I have ever dealt with has been based there - must be the UK’s printing Mecca.

Here’s a shot of the finished sheets piling up. This is the cover.

Followed by shots showing the colour separation process in action.

You asked how my catalogue is getting on. It was too fanned out, which I thought might be interesting but then decided not.

So folded it back on itself.

Here are the slits.

It isn't possible to do anything in the garden without my two assistants, who hang about and try to be helpful. Smudge is inspecting the goods while Stevens is lurking.

I like the idea of us being a cult. The soggy catalogue sun worshippers (we keep the rain away). My friend Ellie was always threatening to open a convent for elderly stitchers and call it ‘The little sisters of the soldering iron’.

Help needed

I’m putting together an on-line glossary for the Textile Translations book and I think it would be a great idea to expand it eventually to cover all kinds of materials. It would also be good to include translations of terms between UK/North America/Oz. We could have pics of the materials and add new ones as they come along. Does this exist already, does anyone know - I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.

In the meantime here are some things I’m not quite sure of:

Scrim. A loose woven fabric, slightly more open than muslin, that pulls apart very easily. Also builder’s scrim - on the roll in the photo. What do you call this in the USA?

Poly-cotton: a mix of polyester and cotton which is interesting to use with a soldering iron. We can buy it quite easily but where can you get it outside the UK?

Acrylic Wax: a runny wax that acts like a cross between a varnish and a wax. Where can you get that one outside the UK?

Quink: A fountain pen ink that bleaches well. Not a drawing ink. Is that called something else? Can it be obtained?

Bondaweb is fusible webbing and that seems to translate OK, doesn’t it?

Silk pods: Are these easy to get? They are like stiff silk tubes and are a by-product of the silk spinning process.

Soft Pastels: not the hard chalky ones that are more like charcoal but like soft chalk. Can be smeared with the finger and set with hair spray. Easy to find?

I think UK calico is called muslin in the States. Our muslin is more like a slightly heavier, softer scrim.

Craft Vilene - Timtex OK? Is there anything cheaper?

I’m sure there are lots more. Talk about divided by a common language! All help much appreciated.


Thanks to everyone for the replies. Catalogue thing makes an interesting saga.

Anna - leave it in two parts but put the pages back on top of each other. The rain action (if we ever get any) will mould it together. We won’t be doing anything with these for a couple of months so just let them lie.

Leanne - slashing not obligatory but, if you do, go through a chunk of pages.

Writer in Residence - thanks, that was an interesting read. I didn’t know about the print on demand problems. It seems to take away so much from what we all think of as the freedom of the web when companies get so greedy. We make a big chunk of our living from the web magazines but we keep them ‘pared to the bone’ pricewise. Haven’t put the price up for years - we just hope to go on adding subscribers to absorb the rising costs. So far this has happened but we are all in worrying times right now.

Saturday 20 September 2008

In the Swim

Big sorry to Arlee - I left a Fiona link on the site by mistake - all my fault. More haste less speed. Have enabled it now and the other links were fine. Couldn't start a class without you, Arlee!

Thanks for all your support with the book. I'm sure there will be others to follow it, Olga. I think it might have been you who started the whole thing off, with your encouragement of the Embellish and Stitch idea. It is on track for the Knitting and Stitching show and we are testing on the secure site.

I had it ready really early but it is amazing how long it takes to add captions and do all the final proofing. We have found storage for the books and will be able to borrow the WWSIL's van for book collection. I am just longing to hold it in my hands. I know there have been a lot of books (too many, do I hear you say?) but the ones that have been slaved over by Michael, Clive and me, at all stages, are special somehow.

Arlee talks about Amazon. I rather hope that the book won't be listed by them as this company is not good for authors. It's not that good for publishers either, as they use their huge buying power to pay very low wholesale prices (and we receive very low royalties). At the moment they are putting the squeeze on the publishing group that includes Random House and, because they won't go any lower, have removed the 'BUY NOW' buttons from all their books.There is a huge row going on about it. If I am honest, I am a hypocrite, because I do buy books from them sometimes too, but I enjoyed the rant.

vintagerockchick (aka old bill) I am so excited that you are blogging. Also that you are C&G - ing with Gina. Will follow your exploits closely. Love the studio.

Isn't it funny about the weather and the catalogues. What a pity we didn't do it earlier. We might have had a summer. Mine is very dry so I shall water it. My friend Pat has just told me that she fell in her pond while dunking her catalogue (so sorry Pat).

This brings me to Smudge's latest CATastrophe. I was putting a casserole in the oven yesterday when I heard a sad sort of mewing. There he was - a drowned rat, covered in pond weed and shaking all over. We rushed upstairs and hosed him down with warm water in the bath. It was hell getting all the pond weed out of his coat. Here he is after a good cuddle in a warm towel.

He spent all evening washing himself and soon recovered.

I don't know what happened but Stevens had a seat in the circle and I'll swear she was laughing!

Even worse - I forgot to turn the casserole down and it boiled over in my clean oven.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Proofing and a Puddle

Yesterday was printer proofing day for the new book so I headed up to Michael's studio in Pinner. We started by drooling over the pics for Julia's book which look fantastic - especailly on Michael's big screen.

Then the proofs arrived and it was all go. They are produced as eight book pages to one proof page as this how they are printed - so complicated and all done by computer, according to the printer. I think this was supposed to reassure us! Of course, none of the pages run in sequence, so it's hard to get a feel for the continuity. They did a great job with the embellisher book so we will believe them.

It was a nice day and the light was good so we took them outside to work on them. Retriever puppy Kia thought this was great fun and grabbed a page as soon as we put them on the table. No harm was done and we looked at them with great excitement - Michael checking the images and me looking at the text.

What a lovely garden to work in. Hard to believe it is so close to London. They look super and we didn't find much. Isn't it funny how one element is always destined to be wrong? A caption that I have corrected several times (all my fault) was still wrong. However, that's a minor detail and the rest was fine. The next step is printing on Saturday and binding next week. On course, so far, for the Knitting and Stitching show and hope to have it on the web before that.

The details of the free classes are on the new, improved website. Clive has had a really good go at it and it looks splendid now. We had to put it up in a hurry, when the webmaster was really too busy with other work, so he is happy now he's polished it up.

The catalogues, yes, they will work better if slashed (gets the rain to the bits other parts cannot reach) will be used in the final set of lessons. Isn't it all exciting?

The first one will look at 3D pieces and will examine altered books as a framing device. Here is a detail of the one on the lessons page.

Fiona has just arrived for a staff meeting so I must go. Will answer all comments later this week.

If you wonder about the puddle in the title it is due to the fact that I discovered, on the way home from MWs, that you can't open a new bottle of water while driving, even when almost stationary in road works. Drove the rest of the way home in a soggy puddle.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Back from my Summer Holiday

On Thursday we set off on our summer holiday - two nights in Birmingham and two in the Peak District of Derbyshire! Such high living. I have to say that we didn't get off to a great start. I packed us some posh sandwiches so we could be flexible about lunch and Smudge really enjoyed eating Clive's - dill mayonaise and all. The little toad pulled down the bag and ate the lot. Clive was not amused - it was the last of the smoked salmon. It didn't help that everyone else found it hilarious. So Smudge went off in disgrace to stay with my daughter.

We were on our annual quest - every year we go to Birmingham to explore the jewellery quarter and every year we do something else instead. This year was no exception as we found a new bit of the Art Gallery and spent so long there that we ran out of time. It has become something of a joke and at least we have the chance to go back next year.

We had a fun meal that evening with the Oliver Twists gang and the Ario girls (Hi Karen and Fiona), who were all at the Knitting and Stitching show. This, of course was the reason for our visit, as I wanted to do a write up of the Art Van Go initiative - Artists in Action. It was every bit as good as I expected, but I shall make you wait for the next WoW for the report. Here's a pic to get you excited.

Lots of my favourite artists were there and we don't often see the Scottish girls, Rose Campbell and Alison King, down south. Their work is so exciting and it was good to have the chance to talk it through - right from sketch to stitch. Here is Laura Kemshall in action. She can be relied on for great work, especially live.

I tried not to look at too much more of the show as I want to see it at Ally Pally but sneaked a peek at some delicious work from Jan and Jean and saw a flash of colour that could only be Ruth Issett.

We met Fiona Dix for lunch to talk over the secure site for the new book. She is such a rock and keeps our sites running smoothly. She has become the 'stitchers' web designer and does sites for all the textile stars. I feel much happier now we have spoken.

After this, we moved up to Matlock hoping for some walking in the Peaks, but the book was back from the designer earlier that expected and it had to be finished by Saturday. I managed to get the captions done on Friday in the hotel but we decided to come back a day early to get all the rest checked out. More on that later.

We had a wonderful sunny visit to The Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath - going up the steep slope in a cable car. Then we went down a cavern (fantastic light effects) and visited the fossil shop. Needless to say I bought a fossil.

How about this for a coffee stop? Note the phantom scone picker.

Then it was off home to burn the midnight oil on the book. Even worse for poor Michael - it was not my best effort as an editor (too long a drive, I think) and I had to make some revisions this morning.

I have to tell you that the book looks fabulous. I am so pleased. It will be out in about three weeks, so not long to wait. If you want to reserve a copy let Fiona know on - no obligation, just gives her a chance to get organised before all the books arrive. It is much bigger than Embellish and Stitch and the pics are wonderful. More details on the d4daisy site next week. I'll also be giving details of the classes and yes, we'll have a google or yahoo group to upload pics and chats.

I expect the classes to start in early November, to give everyone the chance to get the book and try a few basic techniques. I want to use the classes to build on these basics and I have some great ideas. There will be a password and you need to have the book to log in and register.
It's been so funny listening to your stories about the soggy catalogues. They will take some time yet to 'mature' and then comes the drying out. I think they will feature in the very last of the on-line classes.

Julia, who sounds just as crazy as the rest of us, sent this email to her mum after spotting a catalogue outside her house. Luckily her mum is crazy, too. I'm sure she won't mind sharing this, it gave me a good chuckle.

'Hello Mum! - have found something dreadful for you on the path. It's a catalogue (I think) of some kind, I flicked a snail off it. It's soaking wet still, and I've brought it into our garden in case(!) and this is the best bit...anyone else takes it!! You've got to be an artist to think like that! Will bring it up to you when Maggie Grey says you can move yours from under the cherry tree. Lots of love x x x xJulia'

Do you think there could be a new underclass of 'soggy catalogue' thieves? Better set up the CCTV girls.

Do feel free to chuck water over the catalogues if they have only just gone out. I suspect that Mother Nature will do that for us, though. Very soon.

Thanks for all the comments and glad you didn't mind the picture nicking, Anna.

Aussie Jo - we may meet at last. Hooray. I have to go back to Dale with the dates but she is so snooty about the All Blacks (they play rugby, apparently) that I might make her wait!

Finally 'Hi' to the ladies from Basingstoke I saw at the show. Glad you like the blog.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

A Love Affair with Water Soluble Paper

A major panic kicked off last night when I was offered two extra pages in the Textile Translations book. We felt that one of the pages was too crowded and it wasn't possible to see the detail clearly. As you can't just have one page there was the great decision of what to put on the other one. I don't like to have 'it'll do' pieces in a book, so I set to to make another piece and discovered that judicious use of the heat tool will dry even a thick coating of gesso - eventually! I have written in the book about using moulding from the do-it-yourself shop with water soluble paper (I can't get away from this material it gives such wonderful fine detail, I love it) so I used one of the strips from my moulding as the border for this piece. Here it is - colourful or what?.

Considering the lateness of the hour it turned out OK. Even managed to do some stitching on it.

I have had such a giggle, thinking of you all putting out your catalogues and thank you for those who took blog photos of them. It could be a wonderful hoax, I agree, Janeo (did you know there was a man with a camera behind you)?

Some people were puzzled and sent emails asking for the exact sizes and number of pages, but it really doesn't matter. They are better with a bit of colour and they need some text, but the fun thing is that they will be different. We should probably have photographed them first! They will take some time to disintegrate so we will be using them later in the course.

PurpleMissis tells of rusty old cloths on the line and this reminds me of hanging out some painted mulberry bark, while staying with son and his wife in Australia. Helen asked me to bring them in as she didn't want her neighbours to think she had dirty dishcloths! Btw roadmaps sound like a good idea.

Destruction by dog could work well, ibbygee - go for it.

Welcome yarn girl. Hope we continue to inspire you.

I know what you mean by the unmentionables. The s word. We'll use gloves and a blindfold when we wash them off at the end. Photos of that, please.

Sharne - come and say Hi at Ally Pally. I'll have lots of work from the book and I'll be demo-ing. More on that next week.

Maggi - I'm not at the NEC so will be launching the book at Ally Pally.

Gill. I am going to do the Perth show next year and I think Dale will arrange a workshop while I'm there.

Now for a bit of stitch stuff. Jill Packer made a lovely chenille bag with space dyeing techniques, in the latest Quiltwow. Here it is.

She also brought two other colourways to the Festival and I took photos. Didn't have a chance to get them in Qwow so here they are.

Love the handles on these. Jill makes lovely things, as does her daughter-in-law Sam, who writes lots of the WoW product reviews. Sam's mum is stitchy, too - how lovely that the three of them have such a joint interest.

Finally, I stole this pic from Anna Nowicki's blog.

The caption said 'Something has crashed on my computer'. Who does it remind you of? I've been laughing all day.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Distressing Books. Step one.

Glad you all liked the paw. I'm glad to report that all the gesso came off. Interesting that you had the same experience with the disappearing paragraph, Genie - btw hope you are feeling better now. I was so cross when mine disappeared as it's never so much fun when you are repeating yourself.

I was interested in your comments on the Houston show, Cathy. There were certainly lots of folk from the USA around at the Festival of Quilts and they were very positive. Next year I will only just have got back from my Aussie trip, so I won't have a stand but will go up and visit. Hope to do a couple of talks too, as I really enjoyed the one I did this year.

Jude, AKA Mrs Sock - it's really great that you are blogging. Do visit, folks -

Wabbit - you are such a staunch supporter. What a relief that you like the book - I thought it might be an anticlimax!

Nice to meet you Jade - I love your tree study.

I have had such a busy week, but it has been a really good one, in spite of the weather. I met Michael on the A303 last week and he bore off my last minute book bits to photograph. He is so amazing. I wanted a photo of some salt in the materials section but it looked boring. So he has mananged to get a shot of the salt pouring down into a heap and this pic will run down the edge of the page. Shan't show you - it will spoil the fun, but look for it in the book.

A couple of days later we went up to his studio for a last minute photo choice before it all went to the designer, Liz, who lives in Australia. Isn't it amazing that you can do all these things using the web? Blow me down if we didn't get a PDF of the flat plan from Liz, more or less the same day. Speedy or what? The author doesn't usually see anything at this stage, so it is a real treat.

Even though it only a rough of the text and pics that will go on each page it still looks great. Here's a spread.

None of the pics are cut-out or properly placed but it looks like a book and I am so excited about it all. It is just such a pro-active way to write books and it keeps the buzz going. I will have to restrain myself from suggesting extra photos though.

I am planning the on-line lessons that go with the book. If anyone wants to join in there is one thing you can do in preparation. Get a catalogue (in the UK the Argos one is ideal, so is a telephone directory) slash through with a Stanley knife to make deep cuts through the cover, into the pages. Tear as well, if you like. Then leave it out in the rain for some time. If you live in the desert you may have to water it! Otherwise just forget it. It is even better if something eats it or chews bits off to make a nest.

I left this one under a bush on the common, slightly covered, so it didn't look too unsightly. That may not be a very public spirited action - adding to the litter. I will give further instructions when we get to that section. Don't bring it indoors until I tell you.

I have also been doing some work for my next embellisher course in November. This sample has been deep framed.

We are planning a trip to the NEC Knitting and Stitching show next week. Not having a stand this year but we are going up on Friday, as the Art Van Go initiative (lots of my favourite artists doing demos) sounds great and I must see it. They are only doing it at the Birmingham show. Before that, we must do some more work on the d4daisy web site. No peace for the wicked.