Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Quilting by You Tube

I have often maintained you can learn anything theses days off the internet.  As a teacher,  I can't emphasis enough the importance of a face to face class,  but if you can't get one, for what ever reason, then the internet is fantastic.

I have wanted to make a quilt for a very long time,  but having a sister and a sister in law who are both fabulous quilters, then I have always been a bit put off as I have been told actuary is the key and I am really not that actuate and attention to detail is not my forte.

I did make a rag quilt out of old jeans some time ago but I just threw that together and not much thought or accuracy went into it

But I really really wanted to make a proper quilt so I decided.....why not?  and if I was going to do it, lets not dilly daly with little bits to practice, lets just go for the double size quilt, as I may never make one again.

It started because I found this picture linked from Pintrest to a flickr photo


There was no pattern just a brief description

I don't neither have a pattern nor the measurements anymore. But it's a simple log cabin block, starting with a square, I guess about 5", and than adding to strips to the left and right, each about guessed 3" and then another two strips on top and bottom of the block, again 3".

The fabrics alternate with each block, one time white is in the middle, prints are the strips, next time the other way round.
Setting of the quilt is just alternating these blocks in rows and columns, use as much blocks as you need to get the desired size.

So I set about learning to quilt.

I started off by reading this great blog

Then I picked a couple of water looking fabrics from a local material shop,  but she had no picture patterns and I wanted a seaside theme.  So I looked up local quilting shops on google and I found a hum dinger.  

Midsomer Quilting

Not only did they have a very wide range of materials,  they had classes and most importantly they made my husband a coffee and had he not been interested, then he could have sat and chatted.  But actually he loved helping me pick out patterns.

I wanted some white material so I bought a 1.5m off cut from Dunlem in a kind of linen material,  ( this was probably the biggest mistake I made,  but more of that later.)

I also needed a few basic bits of kit, a rotary cutter and a quilting ruler /guide.  I already had a cutting matt, sewing machine and so thats all the equipment I needed,  in all honesty you could have cut by scissors and a ruler but it wouldn't have been as accurate or as easy.

I worked out a paper pattern and started cutting squares.  I  realised the paper pattern I used was no good as I hadn't made any allowances for the seams.  Mr WD and his lovely maths brain worked out how to cut the most out of my material ( turned out to actually cut a 11" square out, then I could get all my bits for each block out of two of these one in the coloured fabric and one in the white.

I then had to work out how to keep my seems the same,  I could have bought a special foot for my machine but I found this article about seem allowance accuracy  and used a bit of masking tape to mark it on my machine.

Sewing the squares together took a long time,  but I soon started using the chain piecing techniques described here 

another great tip I picked up was to have your ironing board set up by your machine so that you could press seems quickly without having to move all the time.

Wow all those squares, 42 in total.  I  layed them out on the bed to try and sort out the pattern,  it was more  difficult than I had expected but actually made  a huge difference to how the quilt looked.

I bought the quilting material and was going to buy a few yards of sheeting material to back out with,  but I found that it was quite a bit cheaper to actually by a double sheet which needed no joining and was the perfect size.

I wanted to try the scribbly quilting I had seen on the original picture.  I made up some quilting squares to practice on .  I did ask my sister to meet me and to show me how to do free motion quilting but she was busy and couldn't do it for a couple of weeks.  Anyone who knows me, knows I have to get on,  I have no patience once I start a project,  so I ploughed on ahead, andf found this interesting little video

A solid 4 hours practice and I thought I was up for it,  so I  pinned it all out and started quilting ......  so nervous after all that work.

This is when i realised my mistake on the material I had bought as remnant.  It was too think.  it had been fine putting the blocks together but the seams on some edges were so thick with all the layers, the material would not go through the machine smoothly.  I just had to accept a few long stitches and also i did try and manipulate the pattern so it didn't need to go over theses seems to often.

Phew that was a mammoth task,  but one done very rewarding.   I had a couple of hoc ups and had to unstitch,  thank goodness for my seem ripper/un-picker!  

Then onto the edging,  this was a brilliant tutorial and I watched it as I was actually sewing the binding to the edges.  I was particularly taken with the final bit about leaving the batting to make a fuller edging

So here it is , my final quilt, certainly not perfect,  but I am pleased with myself,  just not sure I would put it to close to one of my sisters or sister in laws!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Normal service not yet resumed

Still no painting but Wow what a busy few weeks I have had.  Some of you may know that my youngest daughter is getting married very soon.  So we have had some adventures, especially the Hen party!!!  The theme was Barbie so I decided to go as Artist Barbie.  I am sure you can see the resemblance.

Unfortunatley my daughter didn't and she thought I looked like Claude from the Raggy dolls.  I will leave you to decide which I looked like for yourselves, but I think she may actually have a point!!! ??

These are my two fabulous and beautiful daughters ,  One went as 60's barbie and the other as Bride Barbie,  I wonder if you can tell who was who?  haha

On the creative front I have been having a go at my first ever quilt.  I have dabbled a bit before but I have been rather slap dash so  I haven't got very far,  but I have spent a long time researching quilt making and so have taken it all a bit more seriously this time.

These are the blocks I have made up,  I have yet to put them together,  I am just sorting out the order and then I will attach them all together,

 If you look closely you may be able to see a seaside theme in the patterns I have chosen,  there is a reason for this,  but thats something I will tell you about another day.

In doing research I picked up a few tips,  I use a bit of masking tape in my machine to be able to keep my 1/4 inch seam allowance as accurate as possible.

Also setting up the ironing board next to my machine was also a huge time saver when making up the blocks, as every seam had to be pressed.

I can see why quilts are so expensive having not had any spare material I had to buy it all in.   I did find a wonderful quilting shop in somerset, called Midsummers Quilts and they had a huge supply of materials,  I bought the white material as an off cut/end of roll from Dunelm,  so before even buying the wadding or backing material, it has cost me a good £25 and I also invested in a rotary cutter and quilters ruler/guide, but to be honest I think they were essential and hopefully will last if I ever do another one.

so watch this space to see the actual blocking and quilting 

I aslo have a new love of my life............

I am driving everywhere as I just love her!!  maybe the novelty will wear off soon..... but I doubt it :-)

I have been teaching a bit at the Blue room in Nailsea,  but have decided I am not really up to it, and don't feel I am doing the lessons or students justice.  So for the time being I am not going to continue.  I will finish the batch I have signed up for and then I will look again at doing some workshops maybe later in the year.

Janice x

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What no Painting

Its been a busy few weeks,  I have managed two trips to Cornwall for inspiration, a 30th Birthday celebration and a bit of wedding planning events ( hair trial etc) for my lovely daughter who is getting married in just under 6 weeks. and a lots of leather work and glass painting.

Below are a few examples of some of the work. The glass was for a Show at the National Trust House Tyntesfield in Bristol last weekend.  I added my bit onto the stall of Wight and Wight ( Glass workers at Clevedon Craft Centre) .  I demonstrated Traditional glass painting techniques to a few hundred people over 2 days.  It was hard work but also a lot of fun and very rewarding.

The leather is for The Blue room in Nailsea.  I have been exhibiting work their for the last month.  I'm not really sure how its going,  but I guess only time will tell. She asked for things suitable for father day,  Ok so I know the hair slides are not really suitable but I wanted to try my new dyes out.

Although I am enjoying doing these bits and pieces I am frustrated at not painting.  I had such a lot of inspiration in Cornwall I just want to get back to painting.  I am ever so slightly annoyed with myself that I committed myself to so much as a distraction and it has slightly taken over.  

I did do some painting as I have painted the Pet portrait for the lady who won the competition I ran on my Facebook page a few weeks ago.  Hopefully that should arrive with the lady in question today and then I will be able to show you 

........and of course my top secret project,  I really can't tell you anything about it, not even a hint,  but all will be reviled later on.  Don't get to excited its not anything life changing.

So no more distractions back to painting it has to be!...........  but first I have to do a bit of delivering and visiting,  next week,  I promise myself,  next week!!!

Wish me luck,  I am going to need it,  I am my own worst enemy !!!

Janice x

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Interview with Textile addict Christine Shephard

The lovely Christine has give a great interview if you love hearing about her work,  why not go and visit her folksy shop after and see all the lovely things she has on offer


What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?
Textiles mainly, which is quite a broad area. In my case it includes sewing, embroidery, knitting, felt-making, silk-painting and dyeing. I still experiment with new techniques when I fancy doing something different.

Is this a full time job?/Second income/ Or hobby for you?
Currently it’s a full-time job for part of the year. I gave up working permanently at my ‘real job’ about 6 years ago, so I could go off travelling. Since then I’ve worked for part of the year only and developed my arts/crafts in between. Each year the arts/crafts take a slightly bigger chunk of my time and, with luck, I’ll eventually be able to do it full-time all the time.

 How long have you been doing it?
As a business, about 3 years. Before that it was a slightly obsessive hobby.

Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?
Like a lot of textile addicts, my obsession with making and fabrics began when I was very young. My Mum used to make clothes for me and, as I got a bit older, I helped with tacking and other menial tasks, similar to an apprentice I suppose, learning all the time. As a teenager I made my own clothes and continued from there. Mum also taught me to knit and was interested in all kinds of crafts, so I picked it up from her I think. I stopped crafting for a while when my career took over, then about 10 years ago I did a silk-painting workshop and a felt-making workshop and got the bug again! With more spare time on my hands, I started sewing again, sourcing vintage fabrics, making use of my huge stash of remnants from years ago, and decided to try selling my makes.

 What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?
I just adore the tactile quality of textiles, the colours of the silk dyes, the physical act of creating something from base materials. I get lost in the process and find it incredibly satisfying.

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?
I’m also a keen photographer and produce prints, cards and magnets for local outlets. I’ve had a couple of local exhibitions too, which was quite exciting. I’m not great technically, but love playing with light, colour and effects, so I call it photographic art rather than photography.

 Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?
I don’t think it’s a choice really – most creative people experiment with other materials and techniques, and whatever the result, it can generate some interesting ideas. From a business angle, it’s probably better to specialise, but artists are generally not driven by the needs of the business!

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?
I love what I do. I’m a morning person anyway, and love getting up and out early (if it’s a nice morning) and taking a stroll along the beach. It clears the mind and allows ideas to form, so I’m usually raring to get started when I get back. Housework just doesn’t get a look-in!

 Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve made lots of new friends since selling at craft fairs and taking part in local events, and a lot of my customers are other sellers/crafters. They realise how much time and work goes into each item I make, so they’re very appreciative of my work. My family accept this is what I love to do and give me lots of encouragement whenever doubts creep in.

Describe what your prefect Art/crafting day would be like?
An early start on a sunny day, a few hours felt-making or silk-painting, lunch in the garden, a bit of sewing or maybe take some photos.

What are your aims and goals for the future
To give up the ‘real job’ completely; to sell at a couple of my dream craft fairs; to keep learning and developing my skills; to still be enjoying what I’m doing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meet Brett, Diana and Emma from Saltmarsh and Samphire

Meet Brett, Diana and Emma from Saltmarsh and Samphire

If you enjoy their interview pop over and chek out the links to their work 

Folksy shop 

 Social media sites

Emma is at www.organdie.co.uk 


We are three artists collectively known as Saltmarsh and Samphire.

Brett Gardner is a photographer who recently made the leap from wedding photographer to nature and landscape photographer following his true passion and has been short listed in national competitions including British Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

Diana Stickley originally trained as a graphic designer (possibly a few more years ago than she would care to mention...), and has worked as a visual artist and printmaker for a number of years in Norfolk.

Emma Stickley has a background in visual arts, having studied The History of Art and Design at University.  She terms herself a trainee photographer, being a very recent convert to the medium.·      

What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

We are mainly known for photography and fine art in the form of linocut prints.

Our favourite crafts would be printmaking and photography.  Diana loves to take inspiration from the seaside and beach as she lives close to the North Norfolk Coast.  Beach huts and sandcastles feature prominently in her work.  Even tiny pebbles found on the beach can provide inspiration for a fine art piece later on.
Brett is passionate about the natural world.  He is based in Lincolnshire near the Wolds and takes inspiration from the woods near to his home (as well as the coast when he come to Norfolk every few weeks).  His macro/close up photography can take the patience of a saint, but the results he achieves are well worth the huge efforts.
Emma loves flower photography and enjoys taking photos of plants in situ as well as cut flowers in a simple studio set up.

Is this a full time job?/Second income/ Or hobby for you?

Diana has been a self employed artist for a number of years and Brett left full time employment to pursue a career in photography.  Emma jumped the employment ship in August 2013, and that is when Saltmarsh and Samphire started.  So now Saltmarsh and Samphire is our main source of income - scary stuff!

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?

We like printmaking and photography because of the huge variety of effects and results you can achieve with the same set of tools.  The possibilities end only with your imagination.

Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?

We don't work as such in other creative areas, but Diana and Emma are partial to a little bit of knitting and crochet from time to time.  Doodling is another activity that Emma enjoys (not that she thinks she is overly good at it!). 

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?

We think that you can gain a lot of inspiration from any form of creativity.  It can be extremely positive to mix and match from different areas of your life - who knows what you might come across! 

Perhaps the only negative thing that comes from having a lot of different interests, is that it does tend to eat up all your time - not enough hours in the day we say!

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?

We are all lucky to live in very beautiful parts of the country, so really you only have to look out of the window to feel that something very wonderful could be created on any day.  The only gripe we have had recently is the amount of rain and wind - not pleasant for photography, and of course horrendous for those who have suffered in the floods.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?

Yes!  We are all supported in numerous ways, from free board having moved back home, to support on social media sites.  It all adds up and makes us feel like we have made the right decision even on the tough days.

Describe what your prefect Art/crafting day would be like?

Tea and biscuits might feature heavily here!  Perhaps a walk down to the beach to gather some inspiration from nature, maybe a sneaky ice cream on the quay before heading home to hopefully create a piece of work that will remind someone else of their days by the seaside.

What are your aims and goals for the future.

We would love to make a success of Saltmarsh and Samphire.  It is still fairly early days for us as yet, but we are very excited about the direction we are going in now.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

End of week round up

 Last week I told you about seeing the Van Gogh Sunflowers  and how I was inspired by them. Well we  had no sunflowers so the nearest thing we had was some tulips my sister bought me for my birthday.  So I did a sketch and I was going to try and paint it using thick paint and using very loose techniques.

Well as it happens fate gave me a helping hand.  On Bank holiday Monday, when sorting the loft out ( well trying to) I hurt my wrist, I thought it was nothing serious,  so left it but it became apparent the next day I had done something more that just over done it . So after an X-ray and being relived I hadn't broken anything,  I was give a splint and told I probably had either damaged the tendons or the ligaments, so for the last week I have been painting in a splint.  I didn't think it would make a difference as I had full use of my fingers but it definitely hindered any detailed painting or drawing, so perfect for what I had wanted to achieve.  So with long paint brushes and think paint,  I painted away for three days.

I have to admit to being surprised how long it took as I expected it to be quicker,  but I was totally frustrated with not being able to hold the brushes how I wanted and I would have loved to have added more detail.

For what I wanted to achieve it was a good exercise and I am not totally displeased with the result,  but to be honest with you, its just not me,  I have learnt a couple of tricks about technique and brush holding so very worth while,  but not something I would repeat in a hurry.  But thats what its all about really isn't it,  experimenting to find what works for you and what doesn't and I like to push myself out of my comfort zone once in a while.

On the other hand I love doing the next Tulip painting.  This one was on glass this time and I loved the whole process,  from mixing the pigment with gum arabic and water to the actual painting.  I liked the painterly effect that I got from thinning the paint and the delicate texture for laying down the pigment and then scraping away.  Flooding and line drawing were also added to give an overall effect. The whole piece was then fired to make it permanent.  I have also learnt that I can't photograph glass,  so I will have to ask Mr WD, for some help.

So after all that excitement I also had a lovely meeting with Sharon at the Blue Room in Nailsea.    She agreed to take my work in to sell and also I will be teaching some basic painting and drawing sessions for her. Just enough to keep my hand in,  but not so much that it overwhelms me again.

So here I am with my first painting just having been hung.

The Blue room is  a very interesting enterprise,  incorporating lots of yummy, local arts and crafts,  but also trying to engage the community in creative tasks.  So hence the teaching,

For those of you interested in learning to draw and paint, or any other creative task check out Sharons' website for more details 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Beautiful glass with Simon Alderson

Welcome to another Art/Crafter Interview.  Today its my absolute please to show you Simon Alderson's work.  Simon has taught me about stained glass painting,  but also he is an incredibly talented artist using glass, as his medium of choice.

Check out his great interview and also, as always their are links to his blog , web page and facebook page. It would be lovely if you would comment and pop over to check out his link

 What is the main, Art/Craft you are known for?

I’m mostly known for my glass work, though these days probably even more so for teaching glass in Bristol. My specialty within glass is traditional glass painting and kiln formed glass, though I still dabble and teach in all areas. I also do a lot of drawing.

Is this a full time job? /Second income/ Or hobby for you?
All the above!! I’m very lucky in that I have a day job within the glass world, at Creative Glass Guild, so I get to spend my work days surrounded by the medium I love, I then come home, or go to my studio and work on my own creations. At times I think I eat, sleep and breathe glass. Which I literally did at one point as when I first moved to Bristol I had my kiln in my bedroom!! (Not recommended)
Teaching has become a large part of what I do at the moment, and an area I truly love, it’s so rewarding to spend time with and teach people who are as passionate about a material as you are. Students often come from other creative backgrounds and will view glass differently than myself, which challenges me to look at it in new ways. Teaching is in itself an endless source of inspiration.

How long have you been doing it?
I’ve been working in glass for around 7-8 years now, it all started with an evening class at my local arts center.
·      Could I have a little potted history of your creative life please?
I’ve always known I’d pursue a creative career, I just wasn’t sure in what form, After doing a BTEC in Design at college I was still unsure so took a gap year, and continued to learn through various evening classes at college and the local arts centre (which has now sadly been demolished) and it was through the latter I was introduced to glass. It was actually my ceramics tutor Sheila Plews who suggested I went to look at Sunderland University’s Glass and Ceramics degree, as soon as I stepped foot into the National Glass Centre it just felt right, like I was meant to be there, and come the next September I began my degree. 3 amazing years spent in world class facilities, taught by world renowned tutors, cemented my passion for glass, and once I graduated I set up Simon Alderson Glass. Two years ago I moved to Bristol to work at the Creative Glass Guild where I now run various courses from taster days to weekly and monthly courses covering all aspects of glass. I’m also teaching a master class in fused glass later this year.

What do you love most about what you create and the process of creating it?
That’s it the process, for me the processes involved in most glass work is the biggest draw, particularly with the glass painting, the stages you work through of: tracing, strengthening, flooding, matting, highlighting. It’s like a rhythmic, hypnotic dance. I become lost in the work.
Glass has an intrinsic beauty, and an ability to transform a room, which is why it’s been used for thousands of years, whether it is through function or decoration.

 Is this your total creative output or do you also work in other areas and if so what are they?
Glass is my main output, but I underpin that with keeping my drawing skills active, I love working in monotone, in graphite, line work and shading.  Up until recently I went to life drawing classes every week to keep these skills active.
But I also think it’s important to experiment and work in other areas, test out new skills, try your hand at something new, I think we should never stop learning!  Absorbing new skills can often develop our existing ones, and take us in new exciting directions.

Do you think that its important to specialise in one area or to have lots of creative outlets?  Can one impact on the other, in positive or negative ways?
I think it’s important to specialize to an extent, in terms of marketing yourself and your business you need to have a niche, a style, an area of creativity that draws people and that they will remember you for, but within that you can explore other creative avenues, you can’t remain too specialized or you’ll become stagnant in your creativity.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and motivated to create wonderful things?
A passion for the medium I work with and the thought of maintaining and passing on traditional skills. It can often be tiresome to finish a full day of work then get the bus over to the studio, but once there I get lost in my happy little world of glass.

Do you have the support of friends and family when crafting and do you and they value what you do?
I have invaluable support from friends and family they love what I do and have always encouraged me, several commissioning me to make various things. My dad would go to the end of the earth and back to help facilitate my creativity, from building frames and light boxes to driving me 200 miles to take part in a Living Heritage Crafts show the other side of the country. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his love and support.

Describe what your perfect Art/crafting day would be like?
After the all-important morning coffee, get up and out in the world to soak up some inspiration, and clear the head, a stroll through woods or the gardens of a stately home, sketchbook and camera in tow. Followed by an afternoon at the light box glass painting, the satisfactory ‘thadunk’ of the kiln switching on to fire a full load.

What are your aims and goals for the future?
Well like most, the ultimate dream would be to give up the day job and be able to work on my own creations full time, but the realist in me knows this is a long way off.  For now I’ll settle with pushing and exploring my craft to new limits, and a wider audience.