Monday, 1 August 2016

Four in Art- Third Quarter- Purple Passion

Father and Son

This theme really had me stumped for a while! Purple really isn't my colour, but then I realised that I've used it quite extensively in each of the previous two Four in Art projects. It's not a colour I choose to wear or have around much in my home, but maybe I have a secret hankering if I've voluntarily chosen to use it in those other projects?!

My first thoughts were to do a zoomed in Passion Fruit similar to this clip art image I found, which I thought I could have fun with, practicing my paper piecing! But after drawing up something I got a bit daunted and as well, decided it was too literal an image for the theme.

The other idea that had sprung immediately to mind was something ecclesiastically purple, to do with Passiontide. The particular shade of purple for this season in the church calendar is the one I think of when I think of purple. This is often synonymous with Holy Week and represents Easter and Jesus' death and resurrection, particularly as celebrated in Anglican  and Catholic churches.
I wanted to do a pared down ecclesiastical cross with linen; which would also have symbolic importance at Easter, as Jesus' body was wrapped in linen cloths, as he was as a newborn, according to the Gospels.

I love the look of a natural linen and the way it tones down and complements purple which is naturally more "shouty". These shot cotton purples are rich and subtly textured. (Albeit hard to photograph!)


I'm not sure which orientation it should have, perhaps I should add two hanging sleeves so I can switch according to whim?


This one almost captures the iridescence of the shot cotton.

It looks quite monastic in this stairwell archway.

 A bit different again with my daughter's mobile creation.

The simple design form holds meaning if you want to see that aspect, but if that isn't significant to the viewer, I like that the form is pleasingly pared down and simple. The two forms are related but distinct, rather like Father and Son. I considered adding a third trinitarian cross, but this looked too blatantly symbolic for me and I liked the balance of the two halves.

I quilted each cross complementarily rather than identically and finished with a simple linen facing and I'm thinking that perhaps I'll block it before I add the hanging sleeve(s)? I've never blocked anything before and don't mind the slightly softened edges but think it might benefit from a little more shaping?

This quarter I'm happier with the result and pleased that I started super early though apart from unpicking some quilting I wasn't happy with on one of the blocks, I didn't have any major revisions to do. 

The size measures 18x37.5cm or approx 7"x15" and uses linen and cotton with cotton/bamboo batting.

Do check out all the other entries for our group at Four in Art from 1st August (according to the time somewhere in the US!)

Or check out everyone's blogs here:

Monday, 2 May 2016

Four in Art- Second Quarter

Time for the second quarter reveal for the Four in Art group. This quarter's theme was Colour: Music, an easy theme I thought... I had an idea right away but in the end I really struggled to bring it to life.

As soon as the theme was revealed, I thought of a quote I had heard years ago, about how the colour purple might be described to a blind person as the deep notes of a trumpet. I searched for the quote and couldn't find it but the image was quite visual to me, with purple sound waves emanating from a trumpet in profile. (I had a hard time getting the colour to show up as the purple it is so you'll have to take my word for that. After weeks of sunshine today is grey and dark so hard to photograph true colours).

I made three different attempts to realise my idea and am still not at all happy with the result. In fact I'm feeling quite embarrassed having to publish my effort... but the idea of the group, for me at least, is to stretch my creative muscles in making something to a theme within a timeframe and to try to identify what makes something work or not. So I'm trying to hold it lightly as a learning experience. Maybe you can help me identify what would have made it work?

I like my profile trumpet which I cut out and fused to the background. I like the idea of the sound waves, but they're not quite right. I tried ribbon on another one and I've tried different colours and shapes. Perhaps the wave form is not right across the space? I quite like how they're fading out, but maybe the zigzag needed to be denser?

Or they needed to be altogether fatter? Or the waves all needed to match and echo one another?  I tried different waveforms but couldn't decide what worked. Perhaps the problem is with the negative space? Definitely the quilting is a problem. My initial idea was to echo quilt the waves and I tried more colour with lines in a lightly variegated purple thread- lots of unpicking after that...

In the end I ran out of time- there's learning in that; but don't seem to have had much success on trying to start earlier- spent plenty of time reading this and this and now I'm all sorted!

My daughter has it worked out, she said sometimes creative projects just don't work and you probably should just scrap it and try a new idea- yeah- that one! But I would actually be interested to read your comments as to what would have improved this one, coz I feel like success must be in there somewhere trying to get out.

You can see how the others in our group interpreted the theme; we have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, but you can also visit the rest of us here:


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

I won!

I'm a winner in many ways (in the sense of being very fortunate), but just not in competitions, raffles or draws. Usually!

Here I am the lucky recipient of an exception- an exceptional book  from Melissa Wastney in fact, which came with little personal touches of a card and little handmade envelopes. Melissa is also a fellow NZer and the book has a subtle NZ flavour which is lovely to come across.

The book includes 25 projects to create clothing and handmade items for children. Sadly my own children are too big for this now but I look forward to trying some out as gifts for little ones I know and there's a lovely bag which I have some fabric in mind for already. All the instructions and even pattern pieces are in the book.

Melissa has a lovely creative blog called Tiny Happy that somehow transmits calm creativity and a delightfully mindful pace of life.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Four in Art- Microscopic Colour

There's nothing like a deadline for getting going on a project! I'm lucky enough to be part of an online group called Four in Art where we challenge ourselves to come up with a quilted something to fit a given theme four times a year. This year's theme is Colour and this quarter it's Microscopic Colour. I found it a pretty inspiring theme and had several ideas which I could have followed up on. Whether they would have worked is another thing, but nice to feel inspired to begin with!

I remembered seeing these brightly coloured images of microscopic algae, but I didn't remember they were called Diatoms. An image web search of "microscopic colour" quickly located and named them for me. Apparently the Victorians had a thing for photographing them and arranging them in patterns, often in circular forms.

Diatoms are widely varying in form, but almost always show bilateral symmetry so I thought I could use patterned features of fabric from my scraps and cut them out and fuse them onto a background.
I have done almost no appliqué and have always shied away from fiddly edges, so wasn't sure how this would go. I decided to raw edge appliqué them, hoping that the stitching would represent the silica cell wall that is a defining feature of diatoms. I think I could have made more of this perhaps with a denser stitch. To be honest I was a bit scared of ruining it. If I'd had more time I could have experimented with that step a bit more.

I decided to do free motion echo quilting around the shapes in black thread. I thought about using monofilament for a bit of shine, but ended up deciding on the plain black.

To finish I used a facing (tutorial here) rather than a binding as I though the binding would provide a too dominant defined edge on such a small piece. It finishes as 12" square.

One slight issue which I hadn't anticipated, is that I used cotton bamboo batting which I had on hand, but it has bearded very slightly. I was trying to remove the dust/lint and on close inspection realised that the quilting process has actually pulled very tiny threads of batting up to the top of the piece. I haven't struck this before, perhaps I'm just noticing this because of the dark background. I'd be interested to know if others have had this issue before and what to do about it?

Can't wait to see how others have been inspired by the theme. You can check them all out here on the Four in Art blog from 6am Monday 1st Feb US EST. Being in NZ I think I have a slight head-start.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Summer Break

It's been quiet around here as I took some holidays with my family. 

We enjoyed some time up in the north of the North Island with our families over the Christmas period and then a busy day packing back home before heading off for two weeks' camping with some friends in Abel Tasman National Park which is is in the north of the South Island

Awaroa Inlet
The campsite is located in the bay in the distance in the extreme top right of this photo

This chunk of holiday time was spent in blissful disconnection (from mobile coverage and thus all internet, email etc.)

Camping here always includes a relaxing blend of walking, running, kayaking, swimming and biking for some, interspersed with lots of lounging, chatting, games, reading and plenty of delicious food and drink. 

There are lots of places to paddle; in both senses of the word.

Delightful on both grey and sunny days

The 60km of walking track in the park provides plenty of options for exploring. All in all one of my favourite kinds of holidays- back to basics!

Do I sound like a tourist brochure?! Leave me a comment saying what kind of holidays you enjoy?

Getting back to normal daily life here again now and currently I'm excited to be a part of Four in Art this year and I'm busy working on my project for this quarter. This year the theme is Colour and this quarter our inspiration is Microscopic Colour. The big reveal will be here and here on Feb 1st or thereabouts depending where in the world you live.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

WiP Wednesday (or Thursday here)

I've been playing around with some scraps making a few potholders- always useful...

I'm posting this on my phone and I can't seem to get the photos to line up right, to say nothing of the picture quality, but you get the idea...

Linking up with Lee for WiP Wednesday 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Beautiful Barcelona

We were so fortunate recently to have the opportunity to take a trip to Barcelona and Lisbon. We hadn't been to Spain or Portugal before and given that these days we live on the opposite side of the globe, the temptation to cram a few more places into the available fortnight was great. However we managed to resist in the interests of  really getting a feel for the two cities and not racing round like mad things. Some of the time in Barcelona was taken up conferencing for Peter, which was another reason not to try to visit Seville, Madrid, Cordoba, Granada or the host of other possibilities.
We're so glad we didn't try to spread ourselves too thin.

I'll post here on our highlights of Barcelona and leave Lisbon for a separate post.
We stayed in an Air BNB apartment in the old city area of El Born and I'd really recommend that area. We could walk to pretty much everywhere we wanted to go- that said, be aware that we love to walk and walked a pretty long way on several days. Walking and soaking up the sights is pretty much my favourite way to get a feel for a new place.

On our first day just after arriving we just took a short walk in our local area to orient ourselves. Although that was easier said than done. The area is a maze of laneways which is fine except that at times the grills are down over the shopfronts and then later it feels entirely different and can be difficult to get your bearings as chic shops and cafés are revealed behind. The hours of operation took a bit of getting used to with everything closing  during siesta time from 1-4pm

It's all very pedestrian friendly and the narrow atmospheric lanes open out often onto little squares

There are medieval and gothic churches
And many many galleries to explore.

We went to a great guitar concert one evening in the Palau de la Musica; and given the state of our jet lag it was just as well the concert included some lively Flamenco and the ceiling in the hall was a famous art nouveau/ modernist sensation!

I bought an art passport online which gave me discounted entry to several of the highest profile galleries
and that's worthwhile if you want to visit more than three I think I worked out.

Barcelona is both a very modern, efficient well planned city and an ancient historical place.
On our first full day we grabbed a ticket on one of the three hop on hop off tourist open top bus routes to a get an overview of the city. We found that a great way to get more widely oriented to the city.  We took the red route that went around Montjuïc to the West 

We passed by several sights that we returned to later, including some of Gaudi's apartments, Miro's massive mosaic clad phallus sculpture and several museums and galleries on Montjuïc itself as well as the Olympic stadium and things which we felt we saw enough from the bus.

Our Barcelona highlights for the week were without doubt gaining insight into Gaudi's amazing creative genius.

La Sagrada Familia is the cathedral which is still being built. I expected it to be striking, but I was completely blown away!

The facades are one thing... I thought the one above looked at first glance like a cake extravagantly and slightly wildly iced with Royal icing. It depicts The Nativity and has lots of amazing detail to examine; but my favourite was the Passion Facade which is in an altogether different style and very evocative and symbolic.

Take a look at Judas' kiss of betrayal on the bottom right below. You can see the serpent curling out from behind his robe...

(The audio guide is fantastic for understanding the work and focussing on all the different aspects of the whole building.)

But the interior moved me to tears! Even as a work in progress, I was entirely flabbergasted. Photos cannot do it justice. The quality of the light from the stained glass windows and the scale, but most of  all the extraordinary creativity and imagination realised here has to be seen to be believed!

You can ascend the towers and see the extraordinarily detailed work continuing on the roof 

and get some stunning views of Barcelona too.

The school Gaudi designed for the workers children demonstrates on a smaller scale how he used curves in all his designs to great effect.


Don't miss the crypt where workshops are still located  and the museum gives insight into many aspects of Gaudi's design for the cathedral.

We wandered back to our apartment (a bit tired and footsore by the end we have to admit) through residential suburbs, past more Gaudi and other modernist designs; top end shops; markets; cobbled streets and squares.

Another day we visited the Picasso Museum which was outstanding. Buy your tickets online and skip the loooong queues. Don't expect to view his most famous works, but rather a journey through his development as an artist from a very talented youth through his boundary breaking adult life. Fascinating!

We took the metro one day most of the way out to Parc Guell, another of Gaudi's amazing undertakings, this was intended as a private residential estate for several well to do families. It never got off the ground (no pun intended!), but they built several of the public spaces before it failed, including a school and the gatehouse and porters lodge

and an amazing space intended for communal markets with leaning pillars and a domed mosaic ceiling

With a terrace above affording stunning views back towards Barcelona

There is beautiful organic landscaping throughout the park.

After this Peter was conferencing and I took the opportunity to go to many wonderful art galleries and learn about Spanish art from Gothic through to modern in several stunning galleries also reflecting different era.

In the evenings we wandered and ate tapas and people watched and came across several events associated with La Mercé festival which began while we were there. There was this procession of giant figures

and free concerts at several outdoor venues.

I happened across traditional dancing in the square near our apartment one morning

And the brick pattern on the wall behind the dancers was not lost on me for quilt inspiration!

All in all a fascinating and vibrant city, to which we hope to return one day. There are many more layers to explore.
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