Working Inside    Sunday, March 29, 2009

The sun is coming out now. Otherwise it has been a grey and rainy day. A perfect day to stay inside and catch up on projects. I have this ambitious plan that I would like to have definitely two, preferable 3, exhibition pieces done or almost done with in the next couple of weeks. I like working with dead lines. Deadlines make me focus. I'm a fast and concentrated worker when I get going. But sometimes the "get going" part is in slow motion. Not that I sit idle. That happens very rarely. It is rather that I get side tracked. There are so many exciting and fun things to try, and oops...two days later....I haven't really accomplished a hole lot regarding the 'serious' stuff. I have lately been doing a lot of trial pieces with various ways of transferring images on to fabric. Something that I hadn't really explored before. But I rather like it. It definitely has a potential. This is one of the techniques I've been trying: I enlarged some of my design photos and made black and white photo copies. Brushed some acrylic mat medium on to fabric. Layered and firmly pressed the photocopy into the medium. Let it dry completely. Soaked the dry fabric paper sandwich in water and rubbed the paper of. And you are left with a transferred photo. Pretty neat.

Photo Challenge    Saturday, March 28, 2009

I've been taking photos for my Etsy shop for new listings. Amongst others, photos of all the wonderful threads that I dyed recently. I have always taken a lot of photos when out and about, but photos for Etsy listings is a completely different way of taking photos. When setting up my shop there were a lot of things I hadn't really put a whole lot of thought into. One of them were how to take high quality photos. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had never even downloaded photos before opening my SewDanish shop. It was sooo much easier to ask my dear husband :-) And photo editing, no idea!
I do think it is fun and paramount to try to get your items look their best, but boy, sometimes I just cannot get it right. I have learned a lot from the Etsy forum and from looking at other sellers photos analyzing what works and what doesn't. I have come a long way since I took the first item pictures and over the months I have redone most of my first photos. It is pretty sad though, when one of my best Christmas presents last x-mas was a tripod and when you start reading your camera manual in bed before turning off the light. I have a straight forward 'point and shoot' canon camera, which for now is plenty. I had no idea how many settings it actually had before I needed them, and I definitely have to graduate from my little 'point and shoot' before I upgrade to something more fancy.

White On White    Thursday, March 26, 2009

In our daily lives we are bombarded with colour. But have you ever noticed how many shades of white there are? In one of my textile groups, The Advanced Textile Workshop, our tutor has made us work white on white. I have worked with shades of white for a long time, but for some it is a very neglected "color". Especially in free machine embroidery, it becomes very clear that a white sewing thread is not just a white sewing thread. Like with emulsion/latex paint you discover hints of blue, green, yellow, purple etc. Being aware of what's happening on the surface it can be used to your advantage. You can create very subtle yet powerful pieces. Since there is no color to claim the center stage, texture becomes very important. Textural areas can be build up to create a focal area. The area that eyes can be drawn to and rest, while taking in the piece of work.

Cambridge    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I went to near by Cambridge, England the other day. Needed to pick up a few things, but wanted as well to take some photos of this fantastic historic city. Every where you look you can find design inspiration. By the way, the colleges of Cambridge are celebrating their 800 year anniversary this year. In front of one of the colleges, I think it was Corpus Christi, there was this wonderful pile up of bicycles. Some looked as if they had just been parked, others as if they had been abandoned. There are bicycles everywhere in Cambridge as it is a great way of getting around. But this heap of bicycles looked just wonderful in the sun. Muted, mat and bright colours intermingled. Beautiful lines and curves. I felt a quilt coming on! I did feel a bit out of place as a group of tourists were taking pictures of the beautiful ornate entrance to the college and there I was taking pictures of a heap of bicycles. Ah well, I'm sure we all were very pleased with our shots.

Traditional Craft    Monday, March 23, 2009

I've signed up for a weeks summer school today and I'm so excited, because I know what to expect. Quite physical work, lots of noise, dirty, possible a sore thumb... I've signed up for an upholstery class :-) I did an upholstery class last year, and loved it, but had to stop going, when I was invited to join the free machine embroidery textile group, Advanced Textile Workshop, ATW, that meets on the same weekday. For some years I have been doing basic furniture restoration and painting. I love going to flea markets, car boot sales and auctions. Especially at auctions one can often come across a wonderful furniture frame in need of upholstery. At our local flea markets one can pick up lovely antiques that needs a bit of TLC at good prices. Since upholstery is a craft and a skill that I hadn't touched base with, I decided to sign up for a course when we moved back to England. And it was great. I love learning a new skill. It is a fantastic process to strip a piece back removing the old upholstery, do the repair work if needed, treat/paint the the wood and see it come to life again. Then build the chair up layer by layer, horse hair and all. Tremendously satisfying. There is so much to learn and I have only touched the surface, so I decided to do the summer school i July. I cannot wait!

To See A Quilt Grow    Sunday, March 22, 2009

I have been quilting making traditional quilts for about +20 years. The last +10years I have made art quilts and I have experimented high and low with lots and lots of techniques. I'm often combining fabric, papers, found objects... what ever fits, the project. This type of work is obviously not meant to be washed, nor handled in a way, one would a quilt made as a throw, lap quilt or bed spread.

I still make traditional quilts and I'm nearly always working on one along side all my other projects. I love the process of figuring out a pattern, cutting up the fabric and then sewing it all together again. To see a quilt grow is a lovely process. I usually like the more straight forward quilt patterns. When stitching it all together on the machine, it is blissfully mindless. Quite meditative in its own way. The tactile feeling of the fabric is lovely. Seeing the quilt top change expression when being quilted always amazes me. It is as if the quilt top starts to find its own identity. I love hand quilting, but now mainly do free motion machine quilting. From a time perspective it is not realistic for me to hand quilt large quilt and I would end up with too many of UFO's (unfinished objects).

Featured on    Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm featured on . If you click the link listed in "I'm featured" in the right hand column, then you can go straight to the site, if you want to have a look.
I February I saw a request. Cyndi Lavin from was looking for Book Artists to be featured with an artist statement and photos. Thought that sounded exciting, and even though I see my self more as a fiber artist/textile artist, I decided to submit my statement and photos. I don't make exciting 3D book sculptures, but I do make a lot of handmade books and loose covers for journals and books, where I use my textile/mixed media techniques. I like making items that has a purpose and that has the option of being used in every day life. My love for books could be due to being spoon fed with books as a child. My mother and father were both librarians. Since my dad was the head of the library, we all lived just above the library and my sister and I treated the library as an extension of our home.

Want To See My Dye Batch?    Thursday, March 19, 2009

The result!

These skeins of space dyed thread, all ready to be used in a project, came from my first dye batch done Saturday.

Bits and pieces: silk cocoon stripping, pipe cleaners, coffee stirrers and silk cocoons. You never know when they come in handy for a project.

The dyed colour catchers I wrote about in my post yesterday. Aren't they lovely?

Thick hanks of dried threads, ready to be separated and twisted into skeins.

I thought I would share the results of my last two dyeing days. When everything is rinsed and dried. The kitchen thoroughly cleaned and all the dye stuff put away, then comes the best part. To enjoy what you have been doing, taking in the result and the richness of the colours and textures. You just want to sit there and touch the yarn/fabric assessing the colour combinations and thinking about future projects. I always write down what dye combinations I have used. I won't ever be able to reproduce the exact dye batch, but I can aim at getting something similar. I just love to dye and have been experimenting with lots of dyeing techniques over the years. You can make the process as controlled or as unpredictable as you want. Space dyeing, the technique that I have used here is one of the "happy go easy" ones. What ever happens happens, and if you don't like it you can always over dye the lot :-)

Color Catcher    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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I'm having my second day of dyeing to day and I have reached my least favorite stage of the dyeing process, the rising. I did 3 of my 6 batches of dyeing on Saturday until I ran out of washing soda which is used to fix the Procion MX cold water dyes. So I came to a grinding hold and haven't had a chance to continue until today.
I'm so careful not to make any mess during the actual dyeing, but come to the rinsing, it is almost impossible not to "throw the dye around" how ever careful. However I have found one thing that can shorten the rinsing process, making it more enjoyable, as well as saving a bit of water. That is "Colour Catchers". Here in Britain they are sold in the detergent section of the supermarkets. They are smallish white sheets of non woven fabric and they are meant to prevent colour run when doing a load of laundry. When added to all stages of the rinsing process of your dye batch, they will actually absorb the loose dye and you will end up with a batch of beautiful graded colours in the same colour as the main batch as well as shortened the number of rinses. If run through the dryer the surface will crinkle a bit adding a lovely texture. If dried on the line then they will stay smooth.

Charity Quilt    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Once a month for two hours in the evening, I meet with a group of lovely ladies. "Material Girls" is an open patchwork and quilting group, where people for a small fee either can join as a member or come and pay as you go. What makes the group so lovely is the mixture of ladies. There are absolute beginners that have just been introduced to quilting, to the very experienced. We have a program. Sometimes we have lectures, mini workshops where we either teach each other or we have an external tutor. Other times we just do our own work. There is always help at hand if someone has run into a problem and is stuck. At our meeting last month a member of the group asked if we would be interested in making about 15 quilts approx. 3 x 4 feet. She is involved with a charity that helps children that has fallen victim to the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980'ies, where a nuclear power plant in Russia was destroyed by fire. The area is still contaminated and the next generations are paying the price. In July 15 girls age 8-11 will come to this area for a month recreation, and she thought it would be a lovely idea if we gave each one of them a quilt to take back home. At the meeting last night we saw lots of lovely quilt tops in progress.
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