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Red-eared Celtic dog

One of my morning rituals is to listen in In Our Time on Thursdays on BBC radio 4.  I start out full of optimism that I will understand the science-y ones, but really I prefer the history and culture subjects.  Last week it was about the collection of Welsh folk stories, The Mabinogion.  I knew a little bit about this, but not much, and I know a lot more now.  I recommend a visit to the podcast, as it was a brilliantly clear exposition of the the collecting and content of the stories, and made me want to read them.

The point of this preamble is that I learned from the programme that in Welsh mythology there is an Other World, Annwn, which is a sort of parallel world to this one.  In the Other World you lose your memories which only come back when you return to the everyday.  I discovered that there are very subtle signs that you are in Annwn which are a bit puzzling to the modern reader, but were well-known to the contemporary audience.  One of these sign is that dogs have red ears.  I couldn’t resist making one.

So here is my boro version with red ears:

I made the boro fabric up in a piece and the cut the dog out of it:

Boro is a Japanese technique for mending work garments, usually indigo dyed, and often with white thread.  My version is a very westernised version, and I love to make it because I like the way that it textures the fabric so well.

I couldn’t stop his head bending to one side which I think was a combination of my stuffing technique and the way the grain was running over so many fabrics in so many directions.  I think it gives him a bit of character, so I didn’t try to fix it.

One note is that I decided to use safety eyes rather than beads.  Went up to Hobbycraft to buy some and discovered that they only sell them in packs of 25.  Interesting challenge to find something to do with that spare eye.

Advance notice: there will be a boro workshop coming up at Pomegranate Studio very soon.

 

 

 

June marketing post 2

 

Well, the polythene bags for my June marketing campaign have arrived.  Sorry to trouble you with this very unglamorous photo.

Desperate times call for desperate measures

 

Things are not going brilliantly well with my new businesses, which is because I haven’t really been marketing them very well.

So, I have decided to combine them in a way and start a rather ambitious project which is to do a month’s giveaway, leaving handmade articles in a variety of places with details of my naming ceremonies service.  So, for thirty days I intend to leave something I have made with details of what a humanist naming ceremony is and a small gift that people can keep anyway, plus my contact details.  This is a lot of work, but I hope it will raise some awareness.  I also hope that it will provide something interesting to write about for the blog.

Any suggestions or feedback would be great.

 

 

 

 

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Little blue baskets quilt

I am giving a talk next week about frugal quilts and am making samples to demonstrate my points.  This little quilt, which is about 20×20 inches is made from really small offcuts of a traditional hexagon patchwork, which is in turn made from the leftovers of a bed-sized quilt which will eventually feature on this blog.  These are the scraps from the scraps.

I decided to use them because I saw a photo in my mother’s copy of Quiltmania.

I don’t usually do straight copies of things, but these little pieces by a Japanese quilter, whose name, shamefully, I forgot to write down, really appealed to me.  I had a happy half hour doing sketches and making rough templates:

I am not sure if the photos are of a high enough resolution, but you might be able to see the messiness and roughness of these pages.  I love neat, photo-ready sketchbooks, but mine are very much design notes.  They are not meant to be a work of art.  I am often working things out on paper.  And I often make mistakes, particularly with proportion.

The next stage was to quilt the square(ish) backgrounds.  I pieced the main bits of the baskets and applied them using needle-turned appliqué.  I find hand appliqué really relaxing and very good to do in front of the television.

The background is a bit of a very old, very laundered, very well-loved linen shirt kindly donated by the medieval historian.  I quilted it with Madeira lana thread because it makes a good, slightly distressed mark and some of the variegated colours are lovely and subtle.  I stitched it together with a perle cotton:

One of the design techniques featured in this piece is stitching in different scales.  There is big stitch quilting on the background with the wooly thread, and small over-stitching with the perle, and as invisible as possible stitching with ordinary dark grey sewing thread on the appliqué.  There is also a bit of decorative stitching with the perle:

I like the wonkiness of this quilt, and the unusual shape of the baskets.  They look a bit like the sort of bag you can construct by folding cloth to make a shopper.  I can never work out how to use them so that the contents don’t spill out on the floor, so I don’t make them, but I do admire the look.

I made this quilt for fun and for the soothing quality of the hand appliqué and it was quick and delightful to make.  All the fabric, except one ancient Jinny Beyer print comes from old shirts, and the wadding and backing come from the trimmings of a much larger piece, so it cost nothing to make.  File under craft as therapy.

 

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Yellow Ribbons 2

If you had a look at this blog a couple of weeks ago, you would have seen Yellow Ribbons 1.  That version of the design was stitched entirely by hand.  This one is stitched entirely by machine.  The point of these two small pieces, to recap, is to use up the tiny strips of fabric you can see forming stripes at the top and bottom.  With this piece I stitched the strips on with a decorative stitch:

I quite like the effect although the decorative stitch is pretty basic.  I am awaiting delivery of a very shiny new machine from a supplier I will not name, and it has a vast range of stitches and embroidery functions which I look forward to trying out.  I have reluctantly decided to give up on my belovèd old Bernina which is showing signs of fatigue after thirty years of constant hammering doing all sorts of techniques requiring bursts of dense stitches.  Of course, the minute I take this decision it decides to sew like an angel as you can see from this awful photograph of the quilting:

All these photos are dingy, for which I apologise.  The quilt is pretty zingy.

I decided on this quilt to use some of the motifs from a Kaffe Fassett print which is not included in the pack of strips I am using but which clearly is in the range with the central panel.  I bondawebbed them on and then did free machining to secure them:

They don’t shout out from the piece but they add a nice piece of detail.

Drum roll please – our first workshop

Design for a seaside wreath

 

Well, I have finally pressed the go live button on Pomegranate Studio’s very first day school.  This is on Maying: wreaths, garlands and Green Men.

Here’s the blurb:

Information about the workshop

Around Christmas there are any number of lovely workshops on creating wreaths to decorate the festive home.  It forms part of our Christmas tradition.  We bring evergreen holly and ivy into our homes when the days are shortest and most of nature seems to have gone into decline.  We love the natural world and want to hang onto it even in our darkest days.  We do this by twisting lengths of holly into decorative wreaths and using other plants and flowers and shiny things into wreaths for our doors.

There is something about this tradition, which seems to get more widespread every year in my part of the world, which acknowledges a silent promise: spring will return, nature will be rejuventated, and the plants and flowers will flourish again.  What we don’t seem to do is celebrate the keeping of that promise.  We love it when spring begins to roll round, but we no longer celebrate Maying by bringing the new greenery into our homes.

In this workshop we will look at a selection of ways of bringing in the May through textiles and stitchery.  I will demonstrate all of the following and you can decide which to develop yourself.

What we will cover

  • Wreath makingWe will look at making wreaths from fabric and possibly yarn and paper.  These can be wall-hangings or made on hoops like door wreaths.  We will take a little inspiration from Polish pajanki – paper chandeliers – which are hot in design shops like Anthropologie right now.It’s worth noting that the trend for wreaths is really big but sparse and elegant.  The really trendy ones are broken – a bit like a crescent moon.  Think minimal not showy.

 

  • Garlands

    Bunting is so over. We will be making garlands which can be used to decorate depending on the time of the year.  Scope here for making pompoms which are really having a moment.  We can also use unloved fabric to make tassels, or work with beads and bits of broken necklaces.

  • Green MenSpring and May includes the wild side of nature, sap rising and blood rushing to the head.  The Green Man, The Wild Man of The Woods reflects this.  We will make fabric Green Men.  These look difficult but are really easy to make when you break the design down.  You can turn your Green Man into a cushion cover, wall hanging or decorative panel.

 

To book a place you need to click onMaying: wreaths, garlands and Green Men link on the home page and then the button on the right hand corner.

Exciting times

Patchwork and quilting for the fashion forward, Part II

In this post, I return to the trends for interiors  identified in Elle Decoration for 2018, and have a look at how we might adapt them to add a bit of an update to our textile work.

Plates on the wall

I have to admit that I found this one quietly hilarious, having been brought up in an age when old ladies had plates on the wall, but the difference here is that the plates are either solid colours or very sophisticated patterns.  I have adapted this for my garden and have collected and painted plates for the fences.  With regard to textiles, many of the craft magazines such as Mollie Makes, which I really like, by the way, run features on mounting work in embroidery frames/hoops and putting those on the wall.  I am not sure how many of us actually do that in ‘real life’.  On the other hand, the porthole quilt could be an adaptation of the circular theme.  This is a form of a reverse appliqué with a large cut out circle on top revealing the feature fabric underneath.  I have made one block of this just to try it out, and it is a nice effect and so I might make more.  It is one way of working with large circles.

The plates in the article certainly were too beautiful to eat off, and I think that is analogous to some fabric being too beautiful to cut.  This would be a way round having to slice into very lovely fabric and also a way to use difficult fabric like woven metallics as the feature cloth can remain a square under the circular aperture.

Colour trends

The colour trends this spring and summer include grey.  This is a bit of a disappointment given that in the UK at the moment pretty much all the weather we have is grey.  There is one element of inspiration here, though, which is the notion of using different textures of grey including metal, metallic mesh, concrete, stained wood and so on.  I like taking one colour and using a lot of shades of it, particularly red, which I think really benefits from this treatment.  I certainly know a lot of fabric and textile artists who work extensively with different neutral textures to great effect and it would make an interesting project to use some different textures in a large piece.

Other colour trends include monochrome and there are lots of black and white graphic patterns in interior design magazines at the moment.  The twist is that the monotone is pared with terracotta.  I am not a big fan of terracotta; it reminds me too much of the 1980s and really quite nasty furnishing fabrics and paint charts.  I think I could just about cope with it as a highlight colour or a sparkle fabric in a monotone quilt.  Burgundy is also singled out.  This is another of my least favourite colours, so it looks like I am doomed this season.

Fairly monotone table runner in my studio,

Reflective surfaces

In interior design terms this means lots of mirrors and shiny paint.  In textiles I don’t think we can go as far as reflective surfaces, unless we use really massive sequins or pieces of acrylic, but we could try putting in a bit of metallic fabric into our work occasionally,  The odd patch of gold or silver always perks things up in my view.

Bristol Blue Bubbles Anita

Bristol Blue Bubbles Anita

This panel from a quilt of mine was stitched and then painted with my very favourite Golden Fluid acrylics.  I like them because they are liquid but with a lot of pigment so the colour stays true even if you put it over brightly coloured fabric like this yellow silk.

Bengal tiger rugs – not real

This is a bit of a if you only take away one thing let it be this moment.  It seems that the Bengal tiger is a super trendy motif.

I suppose we could use this as a colour scheme inspiration: black, white and orange which would make a zingy type of quilt, or think about making an appliqué piece which would be an alternative to a tiger rug.  I would love to have a go at this if I had time.

 

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Patchwork and quilting for the fashion forward, Part I

This post is going to be a bit tough to illustrate because it’s about future trends rather than stuff I have done in the past.  It’s a copyright nightmare, and I might be fighting court cases next time you hear from me.  So with that caveat…

This is one of those things that I do so that you don’t have to.  I have had a look at Elle Decoration’s Spring/Summer Trends for 2018 and made a note of how these might translate into textiles with a little bit of a contemporary edge.  So here goes.

The new neutrals

According to Elle D, the new neutrals are very gentle chalky shades of pale rose pink, minty green, amethyst, grey and blue.  They are pretty much ice-cream colours, really.  This is not my palette at all, but it is right in there with a lot of patchwork fabric designers.  These sorts of shades would fit the bill:

  

There isn’t that much trouble using these in patchwork and quilting as they adapt easily to traditional piecing and appliqué.

Printed velvet

This is one I can get behind.  It seems to be in direct contradiction to the previous trend and to be a continuation of last year’s luxe trend.  I love velvet and I really love the new printed velvets with their wonderful baroque patterns or gorgeous florals.  They are a bit eye-wateringly expense, though, and I think the best hope is to find them at a remaindered, end of roll-type fabric shop.  They are tricky to work with in patchwork and appliqué, but they could work well in a panel in a medallion or modern strippy quilt.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the example in Elle D is £135 per metre, so it would have to be a feature fabric and not a sumptuous backing for the majority of us.

Hanging rugs on the wall

This one is far more doable as lots of us already live with our textiles on the wall, but it might be worth thinking about the sorts of rugs under consideration here.  They tend to be fairly muted colours and geometrical shapes.  Or, they almost relish being textiles and attempt to have that weathered and antique-d look which is so popular in a lot of contemporary textile work.  If that is what you like making, maybe you could think about doing it on a much bigger scale

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This is a piece of my work, which is probably 12″x10″ which could scale up.

3D wallpaper

This is a bit of an oddity because it looks like an updated anaglypta wallpaper to me, but I suspect it looks a lot more impressive on the wall than in a photo.  I rather hope so, as it retails for £372 per square metre.  It relies on texture for its effect, though, and the fall of light and shade over the surface.  I think it could provide some inspiration for contemporary whole cloth quilters:

I can also see that it could be an inspiration for quilting stitches, or using candlewicking, or sewing white beads on white cloth and so on.

Kintsuge

This is the latest Japanese influence after wabi sabi and boro.  This is the technique where a piece of smashed porcelain is put back together with gold, thus emphasising and not hiding the damage.

There are lots of kits available on the web if you want to try it on porcelain rather than fabric.  I can see that it could make some nice couched work, although trying to get it to fit gaps in fabric which moves constantly in my experience would be rather difficult.  I can also see how you could use it in crazy quilting with a gold braid round some or all of the pieces.  It might be possible to use it in stained glass appliqué, although I am not sure that that would have enough irregular organic shapes to make it work well.  Apparently it became so popular in Japan that people started smashing pottery just so they could repair it, so I suppose you could slash up a block and put it back together with gold fabric.

Verre églomisé

This is a thin layer of gold on the back of a piece of glass so it sparkles through whatever colour or design in on the front.

The above examples are from Cuppeboard and look really lovely.  This is a an old technique rediscovered.  I am sure that I have seen a lot of it in the Stately Homes of England and passed by without remarking that it was verre égolmisé that I was looking at.  There is mileage here to think about putting a sheer fabric over a gold backing and then doing some embroidery or burning or cutting away, or just leaving the piece intact with a hint of the gilt sparkling through.  It is also an excuse, of course, to get the gold paint out, as not all of it is subtle.  So, it gives an opportunity for foiling, which always looks great with machine stitching on top, or printing or stamping and using the ultra thick stamping powder with a heat gun.  And it’s another opportunity to channel the quilter’s standby, Gustav Klimt.  Again, it might be nice in the occasional block rather than all over, but it makes all those metallic prints in the stash bang up to date again.

This is a piece of my appliqué work with the beak picked out in gold.

 

Plenty more to come in part two, but as the research shows people don’t read long posts, I will take a break here.

 

 

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Yellow Ribbons I

This is the first of  pair of small quilts I have made for a talk I am preparing about frugal quilts.  It uses a bag of very narrow scraps that I bought for about a pound at The Festival of Quilts from – I think – the Cotton Patch stall.  They are clearly the trimmings for kits they put together or from fat quarters as they are very narrow and cover a full range of Kaffe Fassett prints.  This is why I couldn’t resist them, even though they are a bonkers buy.  The widest strip is probably about 3/4 inch or 1 cm but a tiny strip of loveliness.  The bag is stuffed with strips.  I saw it while I was paying for something else and it just winked at me.  And this was a chance to have a whole range of Kaffe Fassett prints at one time.  I particularly love the Philip Jacobs prints, and use them a lot, and here was a chance to mix them up with the Kaffe Fassett collective designers.

I have made two quilts: one is entirely hand-stitched (above) and the other is machine-stitched.  I started off hand-stitching the tiny strips together on a piece of cotton domette interlining, which is what I had to hand.  I stitched them with Madeira lana thread, firstly because I like it and had a wide variety as a Christmas present, and secondly because it makes a good definite stitch.

I did a lot of straightforward quilting stitching but also added in some embroidery stitches for variety:

This approach was based a bit on Japanese boro textiles which I will describe in a future post.  Briefly it is a textile technique in which pieces of indigo cloth are used to patch worn clothing.  They are attached with lots of close running stitch.  You can see my version of this in the above illustration.  This is great stitching to do while watching the television or listening to the radio.  The problem is what to do with it then.  I remembered that ages ago I bought some Kaffe Fassett panels which I never used, and, amazingly, I managed to find them:

I finished the top with some Kaffe Fassett ribbon I had bought at the NEC with the scrap strips.

These ribbons are really gorgeous, but very expensive and so I only have half a metre at the most of any of them, which isn’t enough to do much with.  It was enough to stretch across this little quilt.  This one with geranium/pelargonium leaves picks up the Philip Jackson print below it.  I have used these strips a lot because they feel like such a small investment.  I think that can be important.  The ribbons are an investment and need to handled with care and great respect.  The cheap slicings off a bolt are much more expendable and so it is liberating to work with them.

As the grand finale to part one, of a two-part series, this is my beloved dog, Hedy, who is no respecter of textiles:

Pomegranate Studio – because making is good for you

 

This is my first post on my blog on my lovely new website for Pomegranate Studio.  I have started the studio as part of my post-academic teaching career.  I am now a portfolio worker, which really seems to mean that I have more than one part-time money-making (fingers crossed) activity.  The other main part of the portfolio is that I have trained to be a humanist celebrant specialising in non-religious naming ceremonies.  This is not a blog about that work, so if you are interested please look at my Humanist UK site

https://humanist.org.uk/annrippin/naming-ceremonies/

This blog and site are for Pomegranate Studio.  This is my textile work.  I am going to pursue my own work and run small workshops for people who are interested in developing their work.  So I will not be teaching basic patchwork (go to someone who does perfect points for that) or showing you how to make a particular bag or quilt, but rather, I hope, inspiring you to take an idea or a technique and run with it yourself.

The studio is lovely, the garden will be lovely in a couple of months, and there are loads of books and objects to inspire you.  My dry runs have been great days and people have had lots of fun – as you can see in the photo at the top of the website.

 

I managed to get the square original to fit the box on the website pretty much on my own.  So proud.  Anyway, a few more photos of the studio for you to inspect, and then normal service will be resumed in the next post: