Thanks for reading
Terry & Hazel
As Hazel mentioned last week, whilst she was in Petra I was at the other extreme in Iceland. And it didn't disappoint. Whilst its climate often has a reputation for being a colder, wetter version of our own, the week we were there started with glorious sunshine, with clear skies perfect for Northern Lights chasing, and ended with snow as Storm Gareth hit the east of the country.
We toured the whole island with an Icelandic guide, which was a great way not only to see the sights but also to hear about the way of life, customs, folklore and of course the sagas. Being on a minibus for long stretches of time even meant that the sketchbook (which always optimistically accompanies me on holidays and rarely sees the light of day) actually got filled, albeit in a somewhat wobbly fashion, which did sort of suit the scenery.
Iceland's location at the junction of two tectonic plates is responsible for the volcanic landscape, with rift-valleys (moving apart 2cm each year),
130 volcanoes, many of them beneath glaciers [the one on the left below is Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010 and caused airline chaos in Europe],
hot springs, geysirs and lakes,
black sand beaches and seemingly endless flat lava fields stretching between the mountains and the sea.
Add to that its latitude, just on the arctic circle, which explains the huge glaciers which cover much of the interior,
creating beautiful glacial valleys, meltwater rivers and waterfalls and which formed the eastern and western fjords.
The scenery is stunning and with such huge variety it has a very other-worldly quality, which is why it has been used for a location for many films (James Bond, Batman Begins, Game of Thrones, Star Wars).
It would seem that I have taken over 1500 photos, many of them of interesting textures and lines, for inspiration!! So here are a select few for you to enjoy.
And since I haven't yet touched on folklore, traditional houses, old ways of life and arts and crafts, I think there might be another post in the pipeline ….
Thanks for reading
Terry & Hazel
If you went to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC or The South West Quilt and Textile Show in Bristol you may have joined us on one of our ‘take two stitches’ workshops, where we explored the potential of just two stitches - the straight stitch and a French knot.
This lady enjoyed the class in 2017 and had brought her sampler with her this year to show me and to buy some more of our thread so she could finish it. When I asked her what it was she had enjoyed so much she said it was having the encouragement to start and the inspiration to continue; she enjoyed the slow rhythm and peace that hand stitching brings.
Terry also enjoys hand stitching and often combines it with machine stitch and this year two of my quilts featured dense hand stitching.
My Contemporary Quilt ‘InPrint’ entry ‘Pink Floyd, this way’ and
my entry for The Fine Art Quilt Master, ‘the space between the moments’ both featured a lot of freestyle cross stitch to build up layers of texture to suggest a decaying old wall (Pink Floyd) and pine trees and snow ( Moments). Like the lady who came to show me her sampler, I too find this type of hand stitching very contemplative and soothing: I have to slow my mind and develop a different rhythm.
Through the winter evenings I can sometimes even be found knitting woolly socks on 4 bamboo needles - got to have something pretty to keep those toes warm! Knitting is rhymical and soothing too - and given their size I have a good chance of finishing them as well!
I always like to keep some hand stitching on the go as well, this little blue study was done on a piece of vintage table linen. Can you spot the exquisite darn in the middle? It was that which inspired me to join in with #1yearofstitches2017 over on Instagram.
I kept the daily hand stitching up for a good few months, even as I cycled round the Mekong Delta and Myanmar. Obviously not while I was actually cycling, but when I was having my restorative G&T in the evening! I always mean to keep an art journal when I go off on my adventures but some how it never happens, but last year the stitching did. Secretly in my room at first (I didn’t know what my fellow travellers would think) but then down in the bar and at the dinner table whilst we were waiting. I needn’t have worried - everyone was fascinated and as the days went by the whole group were keen to ensure not one event went unrecorded in stitch! By the time I came home I had a whole stitched account of my 3 week adventure on two wheels.
This autumn the socks are coming along at a pace so I’m thinking that I’ll need another hand stitch project. I don't have a quilt on the go at the moment, but like a pianist I need to keep up with my daily practice, so I’ve looked out some stitch books for inspiration,
collected my hand sewing equipment,
and started to select my threads. I thinking a piece of vintage table cloth or maybe some old linen for the fabric, I’ll need to have a rummage through my stash in the morning.
Or I might continue stitching on this. I put this together a couple of years ago from an off cut of wool wadding and some of our cotton fabric from the studio. It’s a couple of metres long already, so I could piece on another section and carry on! I intended it as a stitch sampler, a place to try out new combinations and threads, but sometimes I struggle to come up with something different.
Which is why I’m really excited to be welcoming Richard McVetis into the InStitches Studio this autumn. Richard is a British artist known for his meticulously embroidered drawings and sculptures and his artistic practice centres on his training as an embroiderer through the use of traditional hand stitch techniques and mark making.
If you feel inspired to pick up needle, thread and fabric why not come and join us on the 12th and 13th November? If you want to know more about the two days then take a look at the workshop Richard has planned for us. All you need to bring is your hand sewing kit - all the other materials are provided as well as homemade biscuits with morning coffee, a delicious light seasonal lunch and a pot of tea and a slice of homemade cake before you head off home after a day of creative stitching. What are you waiting for? Come and join us, I for one can't wait!
Hazel & Terry
I just can't help myself - I need to touch things! Looking is all very well but I find that I also have to touch and feel the texture of the surface. As quilt makers creating texture, both visual and implied, is an important part of our work. In a recent piece I wanted to create a section of an wall I had photographed in Pushkar, India.
I used different paints - acrylic, Xpanda and screen printing inks, rusting using tea, Markal oil pastels and stitch to try and recreate the distressed surfaces of the wall and door.
On our recent trip to Finland we were busy collecting inspiration for texture.
But you don't have to travel so far to find inspiration for texture! Rummage around in the kitchen cupboards and photograph what you find...
Until next time,
Hazel & Terry
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Check back often to see what we're up to - it's great to have you along
Hazel & Terry
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