And because it was a V&A exhibition you were allowed to photograph and encouraged to share....so here's some of my favourites: enjoy!
Hazel & Terry (who's a bit miffed at not going...)
I've waited and waited for this exhibition to come to the UK after seeing it featured on a friend's Instagram feed last year (she'd seen it in Paris) and this Monday was an ideal opportunity for a mother-and-daughter day out! Unfortunately, I'd forgotten it was half term but even a 50 minute wait in the members queue did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm and eventual enjoyment.
The V&A exhibition spans from 1947 to the present day, and traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century's most influential couturiers, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house, and Dior’s relationship with Britain.
And because it was a V&A exhibition you were allowed to photograph and encouraged to share....so here's some of my favourites: enjoy!
Some of the designs from Dior who came after the untimely death of Christian had a more challenging focus. I wonder what he would have thought? Colourful yes, but wearable and flattering? Not always!
One of my favourite rooms (and there are many in this exhibition) was the one based on the atelier. The simplicity and clean line of the calico toile was stunning.
Dior designed the whole look and an important aspect was millinery .
Could this be the perfect hat for me I wonder?
The penultimate room is one for you to linger in. Walk round, admire the dresses and then sit and enjoy the light show. A magical end to a truly stunning, and unmissable, exhibition.
The V&A exhibition runs until 14th July but, except for a very limited number of daily tickets, is sold out. However I am sure that, due to the popularity of the exhibition, its run will be extended. More information can be found over on the V&A website. And of course, if you are a member you can visit the exhibition free at anytime - if you don't mind standing in the queue!
Hazel & Terry (who's a bit miffed at not going...)
Happy New Year! A bit late I know, but as it's still January so I think I'm still in time! You'd be forgiven for being a bit confused over the title for this week's blog but if you follow us on either Instagram or Facebook you'll know that we've had entered 2019 with quite a bang using this hashtag!
For the last 18 months we've watched as Chris, our landlord, built a new studio especially for us. Planned originally as a warehouse he adapted the plans in the building schedule to transform it into a bespoke studio just for InStitches.
No, we can't quite believe it either!
It's a bit of a dull day so perhaps not the most inspiring of images I know, but it'll give you an idea! The outside still needs to be landscaped and the carpark levelled, but we're in and open for business: Phew!
It was a close run thing aiming to move in over the Festive period, especially as there was still so much to do... But you know what they say: If you want a job done, just ask a busy woman. So, as you can see from the photographs, we tied on the aprons and got stuck in!
Grouting, undercoating, topcoat painting, climbing up tall ladders: we tackled all that we could. And before any of you make comments - I was there, working just as hard (that’s me up the very tall ladder ) but someone had to take the photographs!
Cups of tea and sweet treats kept us all motivated and working...
and gradually everything began to fall into place until
everything from the old studio was moved in! There was still furniture to put together, new print tables to build and the painting to finish,
but eventually the tables were up and despite the ever-growing pile on the table
everything made it onto shelves, into cupboards or, when we were desperate, up into our loft. Our ex-ward trolley is even being used for what we'd always intended!
Time to close the door and go home, at the relatively early time of 10.30 pm!
The next day we were open to welcome our students. With 12 large adjustable print benches, huge windows to let in plenty of light, a dedicated 'wet' area and space to sit and eat lunch (this week we are hosting a guest tutor workshop ) and level access parking to say we're feel pleased would be the understatement of the century! I expect we'll be wandering around with silly grins on our face for quite some time to come...
Come and see us soon, you'll be sure of a warm and creative welcome!
Hazel & Terry
Regular readers of the blog will know that a couple of weeks ago I'd tried, and got waylaid, to see the Tate Modern's new exhibition on weaver Anni Albers. However, a dreary Monday this week was a good a day as any to rectify this so I hopped the train up to London and visit the exhibition; in fact it was the perfect day (trains cancelations not withstanding) because Monday afternoons in mid November look to be very quiet days in Tate Modern.
I spent 5 years learning to weaving when I lived in Finland in the 1990's; rugs, runners, bags and wall hangings, I've had a crack at them all, and one of my hand woven bags is still in regular use 25 years on! Last Christmas I also very lucky to received Anni Albers' seminal book, On Weaving (confession: I look at the photographs rather than read the words...)and so I was more than a little intrigued to see how Tate Modern would portray this artist and her work.
The first thing to note is that this isn't just an exhibition of Anni Albers' work but rather an examination of her process as a designer, artist and teacher. It charts the way she transformed weaving from the domestic to a medium for art, design and architecture.
Anni Albers had enrolled as a student at the Bauhaus, Germany in the 1920's and after a general preliminary course was required to chose a specialised workshop. But despite the ideals of equality at the Bauhaus, women were not actively encourage to join some classes, however weaving became a popular class for women, so much so it became known as 'the women's workshop'. Anni Albers said that she 'went into weaving unenthusiastically, as merely the least objectionable choice' but 'gradually threads caught my imagination'.
When I read that I knew instantly what she meant: a passion born.
Not Anni's loom, but a replica and just like the one I used to learn how to weave. To see what is involved watch this short video, How to weave like Anni Albers made by the Tate in collaboration with weaver Rosa Pearks.
The designs for weaving needed to be meticulously planned and calculated before the loom could be warped with the required number and colours of threads. These grid-like designs were painted in water colour using four or more different tones and were exercises in colour theory.
Artist, Paul Klee taught at the Bauhaus but Anni Albers said that she was more influenced by his paintings than by his teaching! Following Klee's exercises in composition and colour and tonal variation combined with his mixing of layers of watercolour on paper influenced Albers's own designs.
I was so taken by these studies made on the typewriter (remember those??!) that once home I was straight upstairs rummaging around until I found my ancient one, blew the dust off and started pounding the keys.
Now there's an exercise workout for the fingers; quite forgotten how much effort is required to thump the keys down. Oddly satisfying though, it has to be noted... Now, where can I get a new ribbon from?
Unlike so many exhibitions these days, photograph was allowed in this exhibition so it's very tempting to wander around snapping away. But here's my advice: if you only have the one chance to visit the exhibition, put the camera/phone away: weaving isn't a process to be rushed and neither is this exhibition. Take the time to explore Anni's creative world, marvel at her use of colour and development of techniques
and then sit in quiet contemplation of the Ark Panels woven by her in 1962 for Temple B'nai Israel, Woonsocket, Rhode Island. After all, you'll need all the stillness and calm you can get before the madness that is Christmas arrives next month!
Besides which, there's plenty of merchandise outside the backdoor waiting to tempt you. Alternatively why not ask Father Christmasoppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppl (heee, hee, hee: Betty cat has just jumped on the keyboard to embrace her inner Anni....) for a Tate membership so you can visit this and many other exhibitions (in all the Tate Galleries up and down the country) as many times as you want, without booking or queuing?
The Anni Albers exhibition is on from now until 27th January. See you there (again!)
Hazel & Terry
Yesterday we had a day out in London, first to catch the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A and then we headed over to the Tate Modern to hear the curators talk about the newly opened Anni Albers exhibition. It wasn't raining, so we decided to walk from Blackfriars Station, across the Millennium Bridge, to the Tate.
And quite a nice walk it was too. I always like crossing the Thames on that bridge, it gives you a marvellous opportunity to stop and look at London - with out being mown down by traffic.
But how many of you ever look down and see where you are actually walking? I don't usually, but today I did and I'm glad, because I found something really quite amazing, and puzzling.
I've been over the bridge many times before, but never spotted them; have you? They're all over the entire span.
So there we both were, staring at the floor and wondering what they were, and more to the point, who had put them there. Was it some subversive form of advertising, a promotion for a Tate event or a new form of lovers declaration (remember the locks on bridges?)?
Then I spotted this chap, so I asked him - 'is it you who does these?' And do you know what? - it was! How about that? Apparently he works all over the world making street art, so what were the chances that we'd see him today? Pretty slim I'd say!
Chewing-Gum Man is actually Ben Wilson, an outsider artist. He creates tiny, and often intricate works of art by painting chewing gum that's stuck to the pavement, or in this case, a bridge. Ben creates work out of other's discarded rubbish all over the world, from London to Helsinki via the USA and Serbia.
His art hasn't always made him very popular with the authorities, but he's not breaking any law because he's not defacing private property but merely painting rubbish! There's lots about him on t'internet if you Google him, I'm quite late to the party it seems!
And the Anni Albers exhibition?
We never saw it, by the time we finally reach the Tate Modern the gallery had shut. So that treat will have to wait for another day!
Hazel & Terry
The little Victoria plum tree at the bottom of the garden has given me a bumper crop of fruit this year.
Planted about 10 years ago, to provide fruit to make my husband's favourite jam, it has had a mixed track record and quite frankly I was beginning to think its days were numbered!
But as you can see, Mother Nature came out trumps this year!
When you grow your own fruit and vegetables it's lovely to be able to share; although I think my neighbours still haven't recovered from the glut-to-end-all-gluts of courgettes a couple of years back... So I've given lots of the plums away and frozen, poached, baked and crumbled many more, but there are still some left.
This weekend we are taking part in the Wokingham Arts Trail.
In the InStitches Studio we are hosting artists David Cotton and Nina O'Connell and jeweller Machi De Waard as well as showcasing our own work and the InStitches courses and workshops.
We will also be offering tea, coffee and (of course!) homemade cakes, with donations going to Macmillan: an excellent opportunity to convert the excess plums into baked goods!
In the end I made 4 huge sticky plum Bakewell tarts using a 2013 recipe from Waitrose, with the addition of a generous layer of homemade plum jam on the bottom of the pastry case before I topped it with the almond sponge and dropped in the stoned plum halves. To save you Googling to find it, here's my adapted recipe:
Sticky plum Bakewell tart
250g shortcrust pastry
150g butter, at room temperature
150g golden caster sugar
75g ground almonds
75g Self-Raising Flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp (homemade) plum jam (optional)
400g Ripe plums, stoned and quartered
2 tbsp flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface and use to line a 23cm deep, loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 5 minutes. If using, spread the base with the plum jam.
2. Meanwhile, place the butter, sugar, eggs, ground almonds, flour, baking powder and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
3.Spoon the filling into the tart case then press the plums evenly into the mixture (they will sink into the centre as the tart bakes). Scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 40 –45 minutes until risen and golden brown.
4. Leave to cool. Cut into slices and serve.
I think I was a bit generous with filling the pastry cases so a couple of mine overflowed slightly, but that just provided a cook's treat for me to nibble with a cup of coffee - happy days!
The weather forecast doesn't look too brilliant for this weekend, but if you are free and fancy a day out why not pop in and see us at Venue 10? All the venues on the trail are open 10.30 - 5.30 each day, and if you do manage to visit all 11 over the weekend be sure to have your trail card stamped each time to be in with a chance of winning one of 5 bundles of prizes donated by WAT artists.
Hope to see some of you this weekend,
Hazel & Terry
This is the fourth year that we've had a stand in the Quilting in Action area as well as teaching in the Quick & Easy workshops, so we didn't get much time to have a look around the show - or blog for that matter! However we did get to see some quilts and enjoyed several galleries, which we will feature over the next couple of blogs.
First are some quilts of the quilts which caught our eye. We both enjoyed the Modern Quilts category - back for its second year. The use of colour and space make for some striking compositions which when combined with plenty of quilting equals some truly stunning quilts.
Sarah Hibbert's Happenstance is a traditional drunkards path block with an alternative piecing layout with extra strips. The large scale of the blocks allows Sarah to showcase the wide variety of patterned linen fabrics with straight line quilting complimeting the curved piecing.
Iva Steiner's quilt, Narrow Geese Around was paper pieced and quilted on a domestic machine. However in her artist's statement Iva says she quilted it in a way to suggest that it had been quilted on a longarm machine! Narrow Geese Around was received a Highly Commended.
Not all modern quilts include a lot of white as Melanie Turbitt's quilt shows. Again this quilt was quilted on a domestic sewing machine, as well as being hand quilted. The finger print was made using bias applique and the unique print was taken from her husband's thumbprint!
Another modern quilt with beautiful machine quilting was Tomomi McElwee's Wind Ripple. A square of improvised piecing using scrap fabrics was off set on pale grey, which allowed the maker to use the large empty space to showcase the beautiful texture created by the free motion quilting to look like the wind ripple on sand dunes.
Hanna Farquharson's quilt, Family Sanctuary had travelled all the way from Canada. Hanna made the quilt the actual size of the endangered artic wolf that she loves. In her artist statement she says that 'the circular den is a sacred space, sanctuary, honouring and protecting family. The white fabric represents the pristine beauty of the snow and represents the harsh weather and challenges to survival. Fierce love unites family'. The central emblem carries family the initial and denotes four children.
Quo Vadis? is Birgit Schuller's emotional response to all that has been happening in the world recently. She asks 'Where are you going, mankind?' but states that the options are numerous yet no clear direction can be determined. Birgit free motioned her quilt using a longarm machine.
Quilts are made for many reasons and often to celebrate special occasions, as was the one made by Tracey Pereira for her friend's birthday. Tracey used the Free Wheeling pattern by Denise Schmidt and free motion quilted it with her own, bespoke, patterns. Beautiful, what a wonderful birthday present!
Aztec colours, geometric patterns and the Aztec word for racoon was the inspiration for Paula Steel's Mapache Tale. The quilt uses stripes to represent the racoon's tail with an Aztec inspired colour palette.
Modern style quilts featured in other categories as well and you'd be forgiven in thinking that Little Marble Track by Claudia Scheja from Werne in Germany, was full sized quilt. One of the main criteria of the Miniature Category is that in a photograph the quilt should be indistinguishable from a full sized one. So scale of fabric, stitches and binding are all crucial - as well as the usual design principles.
Helen Howes often uses improvised piecing even when she's works in miniature as she has done this year in her quilt Another Fair Copse.
Winner of the Miniature Category was Philippa Naylor with her perfectly pieced Circuit Training. Philippa used a combination of hand and machine piecing with hand applique and hand guided free motion quilting. Stunning!
Click on the gallery above to find out who made the quilt and which category it was in.
I do like quilts with a sense of humour and Moira Neal's quilt Time flies when you are having fun in The Quilters' Guild Challenge Category certain had that. Click on the images below to see more detail and in Moira's own words 'Stand, look and laugh!'
Moira must have had so much fun and it's a quilt with so many memories caught up in its making - her mum died whilst she was making it, but she says that happy times are trapped in her mum's handmade lace which she ahs incorporated. Her mum would have certainly been thrilled with Moira's Highly Commended award.
Another quirky quilt is Mousehole - no cats! sewn by Brenda Thomas. Mousehole is one of her favourite Cornish fishing villages with its almost circular harbour, golden sands and beautiful turquoise water. Moira says that her pictorial quilts invariably feature a dog - hence the name of this quilt!
Elita Sharpe must love cats, because there's a naughty one peeping out from her quilt! I see you features a large paper pieced faceted cat's face, which is an original graphic designed by her daughter, Faith Mazzone.
The Quilt Creations Category always has interesting and very non-traditional entries. Umbrellas by Tanglewood Textiles featured an umbrella made by each of the 6 makers. Inspired by the seasons, weather and nature each member of Tanglewood Textiles created an unique umbrella in her own individual style. Each year Terry and I try to spot which one was made by who - all six makers were once our students! So from left to right the makers are Hilary Drake, Melanie Pask, Jackie Amies, Sarah Dixon, Anne Gallagher and Susan Short
Next time Terry will be showing you some of the galleries.
Hazel & Terry
A couple of years ago I travelled around India and spent some time in Rajasthan. Wherever I travel I take hundreds and hundreds of photographs and very often I come home, unpack, stick the laundry on and then don’t do anything with the images. Until, that is, when the 2018 Contemporary Quilters’ In Print challenge was announced.
The peeling, shabby walls of India tell their own stories and the walls of Pushkar were no exception. Wandering the back streets one afternoon, camera in hand, photographing anything and everything I took a series of images and it was these which were to become the starting point for my quilt.
This part of Pushkar had definitely seen better days - black mould crept across the once white walls, the paint worke was peeling and tatty posters and handbills were stuck everywhere. Graffiti spread like a rash. Much to the amusement of my fellow travellers and accompanying guides I often photograph graffiti. From Cambodia to Vietnam, Myanmar to India I’ve photographed a lot because, I don’t know about you, I think that when it’s in a script I can’t read, a lot of it, far from looking destructive, looks creative! The pattern of these words inprinted on the walls are telling stories often only know to the writer.
If you’ve followed the blog for awhile you’ll know I often photograph doors, walls, windows and now graffiti! So out came the photographs (actually, on went the computer – isn’t that where all photographs are stored nowadays?) and these two images immediately caught my attention. I remember photographing them and being amused – Pink Floyd, playing here, right here in the back streets of Pushkar, really?! Absurd, but it tickled me that’s for sure.
As with all the CQ challenges there is a size restriction and for this challenge it was 100cm x 45cm in either a horizontal or vertical format. I tried both and ended up selecting horizontal which meant I had to modify my original ideas, but it made me focus!
First step was to fuse the two images, nothing technical, I simply printed them off onto normal copy paper, married them up and glue them into place and rephotographed them!
This fused image was then uploaded to Adobe Sketch on my iPad. This app allows you to have different layers so I was simply able to trace marks, shapes and text . SSSh! No drawing required...
This whole cloth quilt is a piece of vintage linen. To create the rusty marks for the door I draped the fabric in a large plastic tray, the rusted objects (and we have quite a lot at the studio!) were strategically placed on the door area, as well as littered over the rest of the ‘wall’ surface and then I poured over black tea. It’s the black tea combined with the rust which gives the grey, black and finally rusty marks which I needed for the first layer of colouring. This is definitely a quilt of layers!
Once I’d rinsed and dried the fabric the door area’s rust marks weren’t as distinct as I’d hope for. Balancing nails on their head for the nail marks isn’t an easy task! What is easier is to dip a nail into pva glue, print the required mark and sprinkle with rusting powder before spritzing with a water /vinegar mix. The cup of ground coffee which had gone cold by this time was useful for adding extra colour to the door ‘wood’. Nothing goes to waste when you’re being creative!
Machine stitching came next to give structure to the door with hand stitching to blur the edges. Then it was time for another layer of paint. White opaque fabric paint, mixed with puff paste, was sponged onto the wall area and then heat set to expand – I was after that slightly blown, bubbly texture of old painted wall. The creeping damp was created by sponging over black fabric paint.
I’d already ‘traced’ the text in the Adobe Sketch app so it was a simple step to create cut file and send it to the Cricut for cutting as a stencil. A couple of test runs using copy paper were needed to find the correct size (the separate arrow was tricky!) before I then set it to be cut in freezer paper. The Cricut has been in the studio for quite awhile but it’s a struggle finding time to play with it and put it through its paces. We have it for making repeatable stencils as it’ll cut through a wide variety of materials so I’m sure that once I’ve figured it out it’ll be a brilliant tool to have at our disposal.....
Anyhow, freezer paper stencil ironed into place, it was time to add colour with Markal oil pastels. I over did the black slightly so then I had to used several cotton buds to carefully remove some. Curing takes a couple of days before I could start stitching. For a little quilt there was a lot of hand stitching to create the surface texture, thank goodness for tv box set!
I didn’t want a visible binding so chose to apply a facing to finish the edges. The last step was to apply, using red Markal pastel and a stiff brush, the red graffiti numbers.
I’m pleased to say it was juried into the In Print exhibition and you can see it at a variety of venues around the UK until spring 2019. At the moment it’s at the Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch and at the end of August it’ll be at the West Country Quilt and Textile Show, which is where I will catch up and see the whole collection.
Bye for now,
Where do you find your colours ? Flowers, fruits and natural landscapes are often used as inspiration, but have you ever thought about looking at the hard landscape - the buildings, the roads and man-made structures?
From Wakefield to Bath via the Mekong Delta.
The peeling, the rough and the weathered
or the modern, the reflective and the graffic?
You can see how we've been inspired in our new range of fabrics - Sticks & Stones, which will be available to buy on our stand at this summer's shows.
Until next week it's back to the print bench, there's still plenty to do!
Hazel & Terry
Hazel takes every opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park because its such an inspiring place , but last bank holiday, when spring and summer finally arrived all at once, I went to explore a different sculpture park. Set on the northwest corner of Portland in Dorset, Tout Quarry sculpture park is a fascinating place with views over Chesil beach and Weymouth to die for.
Tout Quarry is one of only two remaining quarries where Portland Stone was extracted using the old methods. The last stone was taken from there in 1983 for the sea defences at West Bay (30000 tons of it) and since then the landscape has been left to nature. The Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust Project protects the site, and artists have created over 60 hidden sculptures from the stones left behind by the quarrymen. It’s a great place to explore and gives a sense of the geology and ecology of the area, as well as the history and of course the art.
Works are carved into rock faces, extracted boulders or built from shale, and there is something to see around every corner of this magical landscape. Some are inspired by animals, with detailed carvings or simple line drawings. . .
.. . .others by the human form: the work on the left & middle below, entitled Still Falling, is by Anthony Gormley, and is carved into a massive rock face of unquarried stone in the centre of the area.
One recent sculptor took inspiration from the grizzly local folk tale of the Roy Dog, which hunted smugglers and ate them, weaving their eyes into its fur so they can still see. Look closely at the picture on the right and you’ll see the eyes!
All around are remnants of quarrymen’s work - tramways, bridges, caves and the places where the spoil was tipped over the cliff.
As you wander around the park you will discover a wealth of marks and lines to record and inspire you. (The ones bottom centre are known as Portland screws - fossilised shells in the rock - often seen when Portland Stone is used in building.) Nature has been left to reclaim the area and it is managed as a nature reserve.
We had only intended to stay for an hour but ended up staying all day, walking to the local town centre (Easton) and buying a picnic from White Stones Cafe and Gallery, which is a gem with an artist’s garden and well worth a visit.
We’ll definitely be back to discover more in this fascinating corner of Dorset. Put it on your list if you’re ever in the area - you won’t be disappointed.
Until next week
Terry & Hazel
Last week’s blog was about how we take inspiration from nature for our InStitches’ dyed fabrics and threads, so I was particularly intrigued to visit the exhibition, Fashioned from Nature, which opened recently at the V&A, London. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 up to the present time. Not only does it show how fashion has been inspired by nature but it also highlights the effects on the natural environment of the fashion industry. I didn’t have a enough time to view the whole of the exhibition in one go so in this visit I focused on the more direct and troubling interaction with nature, which is featured on the ground floor.
Here are just a few of the exhibits which caught my attention.
Thank goodness for female emancipation, it has spare generations of women from many things, not least the constraints of a whale bone corset
and the dresses which required huge hooped underskirts. I just can’t begin to imagine how restricted and constrained life would have been wearing such garments.
The clothes we wore reflected our social status so having such a tiny waist (just look at the female jacket modelled above!) was a way of showing the society that you were wealthy enough to employ the servants to do the work you obviously couldn’t given the clothing you wore!
The production of the raw materials and the subsequent processing had huge social and environmental effects - think of the cotton plantations, polluted rivers and working conditions in the huge northern cotton and woollen mills.
Many animals and birds were slaughtered, some to the point of extinction, in the pursuit of fashion. Most of this part of the exhibition was both sobering and fascinating in equal measure.
Fans of Alice in Wonderland will recall the mad hatter. Mercuric nitrate was used in the felting process from the early 1700s and mercury poisoning was a common occupational hazard for hatters. To this day the V&A still keeps its many felt hats in sealed bags!
There are so many interesting and thought provoking exhibits that I think I’m going to have to visit several times to really get the most out of this exhibition. Fortunately it runs until the end of January 2019!
Until next week, enjoy the (finger’s crossed) warm weather forecast for this bank holiday weekend,
Hazel & Terry
Welcome to our blog! Here you'll find out what's been going on, plus plenty of ideas and inspiration and the odd cake recipe!
Check back often to see what we're up to - it's great to have you along
Hazel & Terry
InStitches: exciting courses for people who love textiles, quilting, design, stitching and sketchbooks
Courses and workshops