Tuesday, 4 December 2007

More Beautiful Brittany

Here are some more of my photographs from the Brittany trip last week-end. Also I didn't mention what a lovely surprise we had when we boarded the boat for the return journey. While all the passengers has been off for the day the Christmas decorations had been installed. Everywhere was decorated and there was the most amazing snow covered tree in the stair well between decks on the main information desk deck. It was such a lovely unexpected surprise and quite entrancing.

Beautiful Brittany

I have just returned from a lightening dash to France. My friend Linda and I took advantage of one of Brittany Ferries offers and took the last boat Friday night (30th) yes the one with the howling gale. It is well known among my circle of friends that I don't like boats and can't go anywhere on them even if the sea is like a millpond unless I have swallowed my seasick pills so the thought of crossing the Channel on one of the wildest nights for a long time was not a pleasant one for me. The drive down to Plymouth from Dorset was bad enough with driving rain making it almost impossible to see the road as well as fog this end. Our plan is always to make straight for the Restaurant and have a good meal, drink half a bottle of wine each and then go to bed. We were lucky on this trip as it was one of Brittany Ferries Mini Cruises which automatically gave us a cabin going out and on the return journey. We stayed true to our plan and ate a most amazing meal and drank half a bottle of wine each. The result of this was that I (the paranoid one) slept through the whole crossing and mega storm and Linda (the seasoned sailor lay awake most of the might worrying about all the lorries in the bottom of the boat!!)

God was on our side when we landed in Roscoff. The sun shone all day and we had the most amazing dawdle all along the coast road from Roscoff to Lannion where we had the most delicious crepe lunch washed down with local cider! The coastline and scenery was stunning. Roscoff has always called us back and this was our first opportunity. We sat and looked at the sea and one lonely surfer preparing to take to the waves at the beginning of our journey. On the way back it was another story. The bush telegraph had been very active and when we got to the same stretch of beach again the car park was full of cars and vans and the sea was alive with surfers, wind surfers and kite surfers. I do envy them their courage it must be the most exhilerating activity.

We on the other hand also had a brief experience with the sea!! We had followed the road down to a small beach hoping to find somewhere to have lunch. There was a fish market selling freshly caught fish and shellfish, a cafe selling drinks (no food until next April!!) and an Antique shop that was closed. We had a little wander and went to have a look at the sea breaking on the rocks. I took quite a lot of photographs and it was while I was doing this that I noticed a large amount of scallop shells thrown down amongst the rocks. As we both like scallop shells for all kinds of reasons we decided to get down among the rocks and pick some up. Engrossed in what we were doing we took our eyes off the sea for a second and were suddenly swamped by a mega wave. I could almost hear Neptune laughing and saying 'Thought you were safe, did you?' We laughed our socks off quite literally. Poor Linda had been up to her knees in icy sea water. Luckily she had a change of clothes with her and we went hastily back to my car to get dry.

Our excuse for going to Brittany was to try to find a new area for buying textiles and linen. It was not very productive in that department. We found an Emmaus and spent some money on a few things but the lack of linen was disappointing. We did the usual Supermarket run and brought back some Cider this time. By the time we reached Roscoff to board the boat again it was pouring with rain, thunder and lightning and hail stones.
The return crossing was equally as rough and this time it was my turn to lay awake and worry about the lorries in the bottom on the boat. The weather was bad in Plymouth Sunday morning and the foot passengers had to disembark through the garages as it was too windy for the gangplank to be put in place. We were an hour late driving off but better safe than sorry. I can never understand the people who complain about having to wait a bit longer when it is all for their own safety.

All in all it was a great week-end and Brittany was all I expected and more. It feels quite different from the other places I have visited in France and there is the constant reminder at every signpost of the Celtic link with place names written in both French and Breton. I hope to return many more times next year.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Cowslip Workshops Christmas Market

I have just returned home from 4 days in Cornwall. I was asked to participate in the Christmas Craft Market held annually at Cowslip Workshops, Launceston in Cornwall. As I just love it there I jumped at the chance. I spent a frantic week making up some things to take with me but most of the things I took with me were my usual vintage textile stock items. I had a range of French linen and tickings, Welsh Blankets and Welsh Blanket offcuts and made up random patchwork bags plus some bag kits for people to make up their own. I was quite pleased with the way my stall looked in the end. I had had a difficult start to the day of my journey down. After spending two or three days loading up my car with everything, when it was time to go the blessed thing refused to start. It was as dead as a dodo. A hasty call to good old AA remedied that and I set off two hours later than I wanted to. It was dark when I arrived which made unloading difficult as there was not much light in the Farm carpark but I managed. When we had finished setting up it must have been about 8 p.m and our lovely hostess Jo provided us with one of her home cooked suppers which was very welcome after such an exhausting day.

There were a wonderful assortment of really interesting and good quality crafts on offer and I spent a very enjoyable three days working with a group of warm friendly people and feel I have made quite a few like minded new friends. My trips to Devon and Cornwall are a constant source of inspiration. There seems to be so much more going on down there in the Textile World and I feel so at home there I always have to tear myself away with great difficulty when it is time to return to Dorset.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Humber Bridge - May Journal

In May I was 'up North' . This was the furthest North I have been so far. I was booked in to do a Vintage Fashion and Textile Fair at Lincoln and took the opportunity to go to see a friend who was looking after her family house in Hull while her Father was in Hospital. The morning of the Fair we drove across the Bridge very early in the morning as the sun was rising. It was spectacular and made a lasting impression on me. This quilt is a digital image transferred to fabric and then thread painted and quilted.
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Here are three of the Journals I had to catch up with. The top one - July - is a mixed media piece using pieces
started at the Cas Holmes Workshop I attended at Cowslip, Launceston in July . The middle one - August -
was in response to the Indigo exhibition I visited at Plymouth Museum . I have used my own indigo
dyed fabrics, a digital imaged printed on to fabric and linen washing buttons. This was simply an amazing exhibition and the information video that was running taught me such a lot. The bottom one -
May - is of the Humber Bridge. I drove across the bridge very early in the morning to go to Lincoln to work and the sunrise was spectacular.

The July Journal is a collage of mixed media pieces. It includes sun printing, mono prining, hand drawing and painting. The layers are laminated together with wallpaper paste and stitched and enhanced when dry. Some areas are scraped back with a craft knife to reveal the layers underneath and distress the surface.

The August Journal is much more simple, relying on the beauty of the indigo dyed fabrics for its impact.
Indigo is such a wonderful dye. The process is magical and the resulting colour is spectacular. It can be quite messy. I dyed these fabrics one sunny day last summer in the garden - a very happy day!
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Where did the summer go?

I can't believe that it is the end of October already. I have had a very busy summer. After I returned home from the workshop at Cowslip in Launceston I was very busy finishing the Quilt that was due to be sent to Festival of Quilts at NEC, Birmingham. I managed to get it done by the deadine day for posting only to be told at the Post Office that day that there was a strike and it wouldn't go for couple of days. I left it and went home to worry if it would be OK and not get lost. I hadn't had time to take any photographs of it before I had packed it up. All was well as a fortnight later I had a phone call the evening before the Quilt Show opened to tell me that I had won the Amateur Award in the Small Contemporary category. Imagine my surprise. I was stunned to say the least and absolutely delighted. I still can't quite believe it to this day .
I also had to catch up with my Journal Quilts; I fell behind after my spell in Hospital in June . I needed to get four made by the deadline date of 11th September.!!

Friday, 27 July 2007

More Cornwall workshop photographs

Here are some pictures of the work that was done during my recent workshop at Cowslip. Nothing ccompleted, but plenty of inspirational papers and textiles to work with.

Cornwall workshop

I have just spent 4 days in Cornwall. I booked a workshop at Cowslip workshops, Launceston just after Christmas and have been waiting excitedly for July ever since. It was a mixed media workshop with Cas Holmes, a Textile Artist whose work I have admired for a long time. She had us working hard for three days and I can honestly say that at the end of each day I was exhausted with all the mental concentration. It was very enjoyable. Cowslip Worshops are situated in an idyllic situation just outside Launceston. It is a working organic farm environment . The surroundings are peaceful and inspirational. There is a wonderful shop there with the most beautiful fabrics and everything you need to make beautiful patchwork quilts. The newly opened restaurant is excellent. The food is delicious and home grown produce is used. I came home with a wealth of new knowledge and plenty of ammunition for several projects. We were a small class - eight I think - and we all got on well with each other and it was a very pleasant experience.

This was my first long drive after my Pacemaker procedure. I have not been able to drive for a month and this was my first trip on my own. I can't tell you how worried I had been in the weeks leading up to this trip as it all depended on my 4 week check up as to whether or not I would be able to go. The sense of elation when I joined the M5 at Exeter and branched off to Plymouth was so great that it felt as if I was flying down that motorway.! I always get that feeling when I am heading that way. I feel more at home there when I am at home!!!!!!!!!!!!

Catching up.

Quite a lot has happened to me since my last entry. The time has flown by and I have had a medical problem which saw me in hospital for 24 hours. A problem with my heart was picked up by my GP during a routine visit for a pneumonia injection. This led eventually to my brief stay in hospital for a pacemaker to be fitted. I am still coming to terms with this. I have never been one to visit the Doctor regularly. In fact I never go to the Doctor! I have always considered myself indestructible and have been far to busy with life in general to think about my health. During the waiting period for the operation I was told that I would feel so much better when it was completed and it was a 'new lease of life'. I have not found this to be true. I have turned into what I consider to be some kind of 'wimp'. I am overly nervous about almost everything. I now have a scar on my chest and a visible bump where the battery has been fitted. I fluctuate between being as high as a kite and deeply depressed and cry at the drop of a hat. I don't feel any better than I did before in fact I feel worse. The slightest little twinge makes me think I am going to have a heart attack and my scar is uncomfortable and at times painful. This all makes me sound ungrateful and probably very self obsessed but that is not true. I have a wonderful GP who has probably saved my life with his attention to detail and the Hospital staff were great and were very thorough in their care for my 24 hours with them but I can't help feeling that maybe I was happier in my sublime ignorance than I am now. I am hoping that this is a temporary state of mind and that I will come to terms with what has happened to me in the course of time. I know that things could be a million times worse and I am truly thankful.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Where has all the time gone!!

Its a long time since I sat down to add to this Blog. I have been so busy with working in different parts of the country and my Sketchbook course. I have finished my first assessed book. The subject I chose was the Jurassic Coast - the whole of it!! This subject is close to my heart and I became totally immersed in what I was doing. I was born in Lyme Regis which is in the middle of the coastline and spent all my school holidays with family at Exmouth, Devon at one end of it and have lived in Weymouth which is towards the other end most of my life. I really loved doing this book but at times it left me completely drained as I seemed to tap into my very soul at times. I haven't any photographs at the moment but will post some soon.

The other thing that has kept me busy is the Journal Quilt Project. I have managed to get March and April done for the deadline and am thinking about what I shall do for May!! For March I used a piece of hand mono-printed fabric and printed running hares all around a central moon and for May I printed a computed manipulated image on to fabric and then cut it up and put it back together again. A process that all patchworkers are familiar with!!

Sunday, 4 March 2007

February Journal finished.

Well I have finally managed to get the February Journal quilt finished and the photograph uploaded to the Group website. I have named it 'February Friends'. I am quite pleased with it. The fish are painted and crinkled tissue paper which makes a great medium for mixed media stitching.
I have had a filthy flu like cough and cold for the last ten days and am feeling uuuggghhhhhhhh! I am so annoyed as I felt so well when I came back from my holiday which now seems like light years away. I haven't been outside the door for 7 days which is maybe a blessing in disguise as I have been working on my Sketchbook assignment. I have painted loads of papers and made various pop-ups and now I seem to have brain fag as I can't make up my mind what to do with it all.
I had a rest from sketchbooking on Friday and played around with my needle felting machine. I found a piece of Nuno felt I had made last year as a sample when I was demo nstrating in France and have added more luscious fibres to it and turned it into a little clutch bag. I just need to line it now and put on a fastening and it will be ready to take with me to my Talent for Textiles show in Ilminster at the end of this month. I feel a certain amount of pressure at the moment as I need to make a lot of things for Ilminster as well as finish my first Sketchbook assignment for the end of the month.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

January's Journal Quilt

Today I finished the January Jounal Quilt and posted the photographs on the Group web page. I am quite pleased with it. I used my hand painted fabric for the background and printed one of my photographs on to Bubble Jet fabric which I then appliqued on to the background. I added stitching to the image to accentuate the lines on the Palm Tree trunk and then layered up to sheer fabrics over the whole piece and stitched the two palm leaves from the back. I used pink thread for this to echo the pink flowers that were on the bushes behind the leaves. I then cut away practically all the sheer fabrics leaving just a trace of them . The stitching for the palm leaves forms the quilting and I have also machine written the words 'Barbados Rocks' underneath the image.
I have been fiddling with the February one. I have pieced the background and am trying to decide which techniques to use for the Pisces logo.

I have had a very busy day. I spent the morning and part of the afternoon making up a Quilt for the Linus project. The day was held at East Coker Village Hall. There were about 25 people in total. All busy with their own particular projects. We all came away with what we had been doing to finish off at home. This is a particularly good Charity event to be involved in as the little quilts are given to children in hospital or temporary accommodation such as refuges and hostels.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

February Journal under construction!!

I have been playing about today with designs and ideas for my Journal Quilts. I have painted some fabric, made stencils and am waiting for an image transfer to dry. Because I am behind with this project I am working on January and February!! The great Christmas clear up has left me wondering where things are! I do know what I am supposed to be doing in both cases. It is my daughter's birthday this month on the 23rd so Pisces will feature in there somewhere but still maintaining the Caribbean influence with colour. Here is a picture of the stencil I have made. Her colours are pinks and purples so I have found just the right piece of my hand dyed fabric for the background and the images will be stencilled on top somewhere. Haven't decided where yet so need to do some drawing. Its a good job these little quilts are only A4 size! Shall have some more fun deciding about stitching and other techniques. Sketchbook Class tomorrow so must put on other hat in a minute.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007


This palm tree is on the beach at Cocomos a beach bar on the West Coast. It was my first day on the Island and I met a very amusing man who tried to turn my head with his Bajan accent!
I am going to use this tree and the beach at Crane as the subjects for my January Journal Quilt. I know I am late but I have been away resting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 5 February 2007

Planning my next trip!

I started planning my next trip before I got back! I am going to do what I have been talking about doing for the last few years. I am going to have a huge clear out of all my unwanted things. There are still a lot of things hanging about from my old shop. These are not necessary and their removal from my life will give me space and hopefully funds for my next trip to Barbados. Items I can't sell I shall box up and put into auction - I am afraid I don't have the temperament for selling at Car Boot Sales - all that haggling over a few pence drives me mad. Ebay will also come in to the equation. I do have some lovely things and I also have a lot of rubbish but we all know one man's meat .............

The other important thing I have to do is send a letter and Birthday card and little present to the African boy I have sponsored. He lives in Malawi and is 10 years old the same age as my youngest Grandson. The only thing they share is their age - his life is much different from my Ethan's. I added this extra child to my life before I knew that my eldest Grandson was going to join the Navy. My daughter and I are still coming to terms with him leaving the nest but it will be the making of him, and I can't wait to see him in his uniform!!

Reluctantly home again.

Well my holiday in paradise is over. I returned to the UK on Friday 2nd February and immediately had to get ready to go to work in London at the week-end. While I was away I did manage to produce some Art work. I collected tiny shells from the beach and some sand as well as some long strips of coconut palm bark. After I have washed the bark I am going to incorporate it into one of my pieces for the Journal Quilt project. I am lagging behind a bit with this due to being away but I have done all the necessary planning so will be up to speed soon.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Just another day in Paradise

This is my first chance to post news. It is wonderful here and it gets better every day. I am having a wonderful time swimming and lazing around on the beach listening to steel bands and eating great food. I have taken loads of photographs and will post these when I get home as I am not sure that I can do it here. Watch this space I may be able to do it sooner than I think.!!

Friday, 12 January 2007

Gerry waiting for his Christmas Dinner!!

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More pages

I had a wonderful day in the summer with a friend and an indigo dye vat in the garden. The colours were so great that I had to get them into the book. This proved a talking point with my Tutors as the blue pages were a big contrast to the softer more muted colours of the other pages. I felt the contrast of the indigo blue dyed fabrics with the green leaves of the plants and the rusty lid of the dustbin were too good to go un-noticed so I added them. I think they work alright and this was a practise book so I went ahead. After all it is a complimentary colour scheme!

Practise sketchbook

This is the cover of my practise sketchbook. The background was made from my favourites of the moment pva glue and layers of crumpled tissue paper which was then painted . It is decorated with a real leaf, tree bark and lichen. These have all been given a coating of pva glue to preserve them and make them flexible to manipulate without breaking.
The theme was 'my garden' or as I call it the reclaimation yard. I have all kinds of reclaimed bits and pieces in my garden; its not just about flowers; more about nature and the ravages of time. There are some plants that I absolutely adore like the Japanese Tree Peony that I bought for £1.50 at the garden centre out of season. It was reduced because it looked dead. A few small sticks in a pot have now turned into a huge plant measuring about 4 foot across and 4 foot high. It must like the clay and the dead ash from the fires that I throw all over the garden to help soak up the wet from the clay. There is an awful lot of work to be done out there at the moment, but that can wait until I get back from holiday.

Practise sketchbook

This is the cover of my practise sketchbook. The background was made from my favourites of the moment pva glue and layers of crumpled tissue paper which was then painted . It is decorated with a real leaf, tree bark and lichen. These have all been given a coating of pva glue to preserve them and make them flexible to manipulate without breaking.
The theme was 'my garden' or as I call it the reclaimation yard. I have all kinds of reclaimed bits and pieces in my garden; its not just about flowers; more about nature and the ravages of time. There are some plants that I absolutely adore like the Japanese Tree Peony that I bought for £1.50 at the garden centre out of season. It was reduced because it looked dead. A few small sticks in a pot have now turned into a huge plant measuring about 4 foot across and 4 foot high. It must like the clay and the dead ash from the fires that I throw all over the garden to help soak up the wet from the clay. There is an awful lot of work to be done out there at the moment, but that can wait until I get back from holiday.