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Trends for 2019

 

For some time I have wondered about doing a pictorial blog, and so this is an experiment using pages from my little ideas notebook.  I am going to start with a bit of a summary in case my writing is too hard to decipher, but after that it is notebook pages.  Any feedback gratefully received.  Just for information, this is my ideas notebook:

It’s a very nice Italian number with wooden covers, which I picked up at a bargain price at TK Maxx.  It’s very small, and I literally use it for quick notes when I have an idea.

This post then, is about trends in decor from the January number of Elle Decoration.  I occasionally do this quick review and have a think about what impact the trends might have on patchwork and quilting.  I think the answer is basically none, but it is worth thinking a bit about if you are hoping to sell anything, or just want a prod to do something slightly different.  This year’s trends then are:

  • Industrial luxury (I am none the wiser having read the article)
  • 1970s full-on Abigail’s Party
  • Yellow and in particular deep mustard and turmeric.  Also recommended: deep mustard, terracotta and teal
  • Chrome
  • Handpainted tiles
  • Lozenges
  • Woven art work on the walls
  • Eco surfaces
  • Coloured stone
  • Graphic lines
  • Rust and rose together
  • Timber

 

 

 

I hope you find something here of interest.

 

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Art crossover

A couple of weeks ago the medieval historian and I went to the Djangoly Gallery at the Lakeside Gallery at the University of Nottingham and saw an exhibition of work called ‘Space Light Colour’ by Rana Begum.  She makes large work playing with the three elements in the title: Space, light and colour.  The work changes totally as you move through space.  In the large pieces there were strips of square material – I think, wood, painted different colours on different sides so they look different as you see them from the left, right or straight on.

We were there on the most beautiful bright sunny morning and this made the colours glow in the white gallery.  But my eye was really caught by two smaller pieces which really reminded me of boro, the Japanese mending technique.  They start out looking like op art but change as you move in closer:

 

 

 

 

The superimposition of the grids leads to little cross marks just like the random boro stitches making cross stitches:

 

 

Really good show by an artist/architect who was new to me.

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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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Sources of Inspiration

I have been teaching various creativity techniques for years, and am interested in where we get our ideas from.  It seems to be a difficult process to map.  For me it really does feel like a spark in the brain: I could do that.  Then it’s followed by: well, what if we did it this way?

One thing that lots of us do to find that initial inspiration is to look through magazines.  In my case, I like some of the quilting magazines, I love Uppercase and Selvedge.  I am getting to the point, though, where, lovely as they are, magazines about stitching fabric together in geometrical designs are just getting flicked through rather than poured over.  I have started to like the very glossy house magazines such as World of Interiors and House and Garden.  In my last post about my pheasant/phoenix piece I described working from this photo in House and Garden:

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An advertisement for the coming month’s issue led me to buy it as it promised a feature around a man holding a massive stuffed fish.  Imagine my delight when it had a whole run of beautiful photographs of the new season’s fabrics made up into outfits for sailors and several fabric sea creatures including this chap with some lovely lobsters:

Fabric lobsters

All the photos are glorious, and here are a couple of fish:

Two fabric fish

I really liked the feature because the other pieces are so brilliantly done using the fabric, but also the tongue-in-cheek of the photographs.  The Penzance Sailing Club, it seems, were persuaded to wear ludicrous outfits and to play it absolutely straight for the camera.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a credit for whomever made the glorious fabric artefacts.

In World of Interiors, there was a feature using the new fabric ranges photographed in Portugal.  This one also had some wonderful sea creatures including this moody and misty shot of a giant fish:

Big fabric fish

Again, sadly, no credit is given to the maker.

The upshot of this is that I think I will be changing my reading habits a bit, and sinking more often into the fantasy world of the glossies.

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Pheasant/Phoenix

Pheasnt phoenix

I am hardly ever proud of what I have done.  I follow a curve of getting very excited about something and then thinking it’s a pile of rubbish.  I am with all those artists who say that there is massive frustration in what is in your imagination or mind’s eye and what you are actually able to achieve.  But, for once, I am absolutely delighted with this piece, an embroidered fabric collage of some sort of bird.

I started this piece on a lovely weekend at the wonderful Shore Cottage Studios on the Wirral.  I have written a lot about this magical place on my blog before.  This time I went with my Grate Frend, Mike, who is a brilliant maker of fabric collage, and who I thought would like the studio and Sue, who was our tutor, and fabric dyeing (all of which he did).  We went for a walk on the beach and gathered some inspirational stuff: stones, feathers, crab shell, seaweed and so on.  Then we did some drawing and in the afternoon some microwave and rust dyeing.  The following day we started to make our pieces.

I found all this so exciting that I couldn’t sleep on the first night, so I did some sketchbook work and got prepared for the following day.  This is my sketch of what I intended to make:

Wreath sketch

It’s a pretty wreath with all those elements we found on the beach.  I went on to work out all the stitches I would use, and was ready to go.

In my hotel room, however, was a copy of House and Garden, which I very seldom read as the houses really are grand, and my house is not.  But it had a picture from an exhibition at Waddeston Manor:

Pheasant original photo

I thought he was rather magnificent, although rather more striking than pheasants I have encountered.  Anyway, I ummed and ahhed, but finally decided to make a pheasant rather than a wreath.  I used the fabric that I had dyed the previous day and supplemented it with a bit from Sue’s stash, and in the bottom right hand corner a pale turquoise piece that Mike had dyed.  I very carefully hand-appliquéd a rosy red piece for the body using the needle-turning technique.  Bit of a daft mistake.  No-one can now see my exquisite (!!!!!) hand appliqué and it meant another layer to stitch through, and it was thick by the end as much of what I used was weighty furnishing fabric.

It is one of my new-found pleasures of retirement that I was able to take it home and work on it the following day.  Here are some details of the feathers:

Wing feather details

I hope you can see from this photo that I over-dyed some printed fabric – you can see the white lines of the botanical design.  I stitched into that with some of the hand-dyed threads we produced.

Feather stitch detail two

This shows the next layer of feathers which were stitched with a variety of threads, some commercial and some from the workshop.  This was the first stitching and really brought the piece to life and convinced me to keep working into it.

Phoenix feather stitch detail

These are the same feathers showing how the embroidery secures them but also allows them a 3D effect.  It also shows some of the fraying I did on the feathers’ edges.  My fingernails did not thank me for it.

Back of head feathers

These are the back of the neck detail feathers.  The stitching here is with a very fine variegated silk thread produced commercially.

Feathers three

This shows the beads I put on his chest.  I bought them for the project and astonished the woman in the bead shop by my speed of choice.  The darker faceted beads really catch the light.  I wanted to use the turquoise ones to try and capture his brilliant flashes of jewel colours in the photograph source material.

The other things that I knew were going to be really important in this piece were the beak and the eye.  I wanted him to look very proud and fierce and defiant.  I left the features until last because I knew that they could easily ruin the whole thing which is a bit silly when you think about it, but I knew if I got it right they would bring him to life.  So, I deliberately exaggerated his beak and make him much more raptor-like:

Pheasant beak detail

I used the Anna Scholz gold fabric I described in my last post, and then I stitched over it with fine cotton perlé to knock the gold back a bit, and also to give it the 3D curve of a beak.  I tried very hard to integrate the gold into the face, as it can jump out, but I think it sits okay here.

Then I went onto the eye and thought about several ways of approaching it, including painting it, but in the end I went with a simple satin stitch in black perlé cotton and a small pearl bead:

Eye detail

I really wanted that evil glint in his eye, and I think it more or less worked.

I am really pleased with him, but as I was stitching it, I thought, it’s not a pheasant at all, it’s a phoenix, and not to come all over poetic and wacky woo woo, I think he is symbolic of my new life after being a university teacher for so long.

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Alf Rehn's shirt

 

Wednesday was the birthday of a Grate Frend (Molesworth) of mine, Alf Rehn.  Alf is the epitome of the modern European: divides his time between London, Copenhagen and Finland, speaks most modern languages, is sophisticated, suave and soigné.  He is on the international speaker circuit, writes books on innovation that get translated into umpteen languages, and is father of my godson.  So, a pertinent question is, what do you get him for his birthday.

Well, some months ago I was telling him about an artist whose work I really love, Elvis Robertson.  Robertson takes old cloths, mainly table linen, and embroiderers the stains on them.  This might sound a bit disgusting to some people, but I think the pieces are exquisite.  For some reason I find the reclamation of these damaged and discarded pieces of fabric really moving.  Here are a couple of pictures of what I mean:

His instagram account is definitely worth consulting too.  Alf said how much he would like a shirt with coffee stains embroidered on it.  I suddenly remembered this and thought it would be a good present for someone who had everything, and if he didn’t like it he could always cut it up for dusters.

I bought a white shirt with a front woven to look like a pintucked dress shirt and went into the studio on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  I started by printing some rings with a ceramic ramekin using Golden Fluid acrylics in raw sienna and bronze.  I then sprinkled some copper metallic powder over the wet paint.  This is the sample piece:

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Having got my confidence up, I stamped the paint on the shirt and left it to dry in the warm studio.

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I put it in an embroidery hoop and did satin stitch in ordinary brown stranded embroidery thread and added some tiny coffee coloured beads.  I decided to embroider just the button flap as a design feature.

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This is a shocking picture of the finished shirt:

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Fortunately, Alf loved it and has promised to send me some photos of him in it when he wears it, which he says he will do when he does one of his big strategy talks.  More news to follow then.

Gucci chicken

 

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Were there an award for the nicest person in the world, I think my friend Alison would be a very strong contender.  She noticed the above Gucci chicken in Florence and kindly sent me a photo to go with my own Fabergé attempt.  Of course, this could just mean a lot more work: a series of chickens in the style of – Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston, Gudrun Sjødën and so on.

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Restorative walk in the woods

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The Medieval Historian and I decided to go to Westonbirt last weekend to walk the dogs and have a bit of an excursion.  This was beyond stupid.  Westonbirt is the national arboretum, with the national collection of Japanese maples.  If you can’t get to New England in the Fall, then the next best thing in the UK is Westonbirt in October.  At least that is what half of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset seemed to think.  It was heaving with people.

I thought that I might get some nice photos to work with at some point, but only took my phone camera.  This made me a considerable lightweight as people were hauling round cameras with two foot long lenses and the obligatory tripod.  People formed orderly queues to take photos of particular trees, such as this one, without others standing in the picture:

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Glorious, but it only gives you half the picture:

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Everyone and their dog had their cameras out.  Most people queued up and took the shot and moved away, but some families took another approach and set up shop to have picnics under the boughs of all this autumn colour.  It struck me that it was like going to one of the big blockbuster art shows or even the highlights of the great national galleries.  You begin to wonder if anyone is looking at anything or just using it as a photo opportunity.  In the end, I got very fed up with the people and the cameras and the buggies and constantly looking out to see if the dogs were getting trampled and we left the maples and walked round the less visited native British woodland areas.  That was lovely.   It was my stupid fault for suggesting the trip and, of course, people have every right to troop through the trees en masse, I just wish we had gone on a weekday and missed the crowds.  I did get some lovely photos, though, hypocrite that I am!

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Even the seed pods were pretty.

I will end with a couple of very odd but interesting experiments my phone decided to make all on its own:

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A good read

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I haven’t done much in the way of recommending quilting books, but this is one worth looking at, not because I particularly want to make three fabric quilts, but because it has a really good introduction on how to make a quilt.  There is a lot of good advice in this one.   At least a third of it is about sewing.   Also if you want to make a small quilt in a weekend, I think that this would be an excellent place to start.

I bought it in one of those bargain bookshops at the weekend.  I saw it full price and passed it by some time ago, but for £6 it was a real bargain.

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Brunel Broderers’ Exhibition at Newark Park

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On my recent visit to Newark Park I was lucky enough to see the Brunel Broderer’s exhibition, which was of work made in response to the house and gardens.  I really hate singling people out in exhibitions, because often it is just a matter of taste as to whose work you prefer, but there was some glorious embroidery on display.  I particularly liked seeing the sketchbooks accompanying the work, and I liked the way that it was spread throughout the house and not just in the gallery.  For example, my good friend Liz Hewitt had this rather lovely piece in a little ground-floor reception room:

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This is a little taster of the rest of the show:

The combination of this very high quality contemporary needlework, and the older pieces I mentioned in an early blogpost make this a really good day out for sewers of all sorts.