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Friday, 11 October 2019

cloth collage

The BirdQuilt is evolving nicely, or I could say organically; organic has such a wholesome ring to it and it really does seem to have a life of it's own.
I sense this is how I work: I always have a feeling of not being in complete control of what happens in the creation of a piece (or story for that matter), let alone the outcome. 
I enjoy how once I've started a piece it moves forward of it's own volition, I so look forward to being taken by surprise by what happens.
As I have more time than I used to with another part-time job in this setting-up-my-own-small-art-business process [meaning this is it Full-Time!] it allows me to observe my self at work; in so doing I'm learning more and more about how and why it is I do as I do.
How I start out with an idea, a small sketch, sometimes not even that, just a scrap or two lined up or (part of) a lino-print on a bit of cloth.
I like starting in the middle and working outwards, I prefer some sort of symmetry, however the two sides (panels) are never completely alike, they are similar whilst differing ever so slightly.
I can work pretty neatly, with lots of small stitches, I prefer the squares and oblong shapes in a patchwork, at the same time I am most definitely not a perfectionist, so I do not mind if and when the lines do not quite add up. Maybe I don't use rounder shapes as I'm not yet capable of managing those. What I find extremely useful is ironing the seams before sewing as the crisp crease offers an excellent guide for my needle and thread.

This 'hanging construction' for the BirdQuilt allows me to try out different combinations, a bit like making a collage, pinning strips of fabric on,  taking a step back, looking closely, engaging with the piece.....taking a photo, staring at that, undoing some bits, stitching them back together, deciding to take it apart yet again....sewing together new patches, abandoning the project in frustration at being stuck; inspiration rekindled  by Jude's class......picking the cloth up once more.
This small collage of patches simply grew by picking bits from my third scrap basket (I have three baskets: one with very thin bits of fabric, a second with my small collection of silk cloth bits, a third with cotton/linen scraps)

These cloth scraps were gifts from so many: Jet Jude Julie Nancy Jennie, the blue chambray comes from Dee and the green flowers from Lise, my mother; I call it Connection Patch Piece, underlying everything I do is the desire to connect, make connections with others

In these emotional times I yearn for colour, desiring cheerful, joyful patterns in the knowledge that sadness, pain and loss are facts of life, always just around the corner. They'll seek me out no matter what, all I can do is decide to lean in and in moments of reprieve embrace life.
laid out on the floor


   

I made four more StarBirds, two of which feature here, I do like the combination of the blue with the home-dyed fabric below; I don't know why the tips of the wings turned out 'clipped off' however I think I've managed to make turn my mistake into a quaint detail, varying from bright red to a magical nod to Jude


Thursday, 3 October 2019

life is about letting go

after 2 days of serious sewing 4 joyful birds!

first sketch (and in fact final basic design) for a bird puzzle block, of course inspired by Jude's Class over in Small Cloth, Patchwork in Perspective Part 2

 I had gotten stuck in the BirdQuilt and here was the solution to unblocking my clogged up brain



this is StarBird number one, made with a nine-patch-grid in mind; a lot of stitching and seams meeting at the back which needed a good iron-press, so I got to thinking, maybe there's a shortcut:


number two, with larger areas pre-cut, however this proved to be more difficult than I had imagined, especially the triangle on the left! which pushes the piece up a bit; good to know though.

Number three is the one with the green polka dots, where I divided the larger left triangle into two, making for a better fit, plus the 'body' is made up of three parts again: a square and two triangles (are you still following?)

I suppose I could get away with keeping the lozenge (i.e. the head) and the larger triangle with the wings facing 'downward'. However in all other variations I think I'll stick to the making of squares, as I am not that precise, despite using the same templates and ironing the seams flat before stitching.
 I have learned and discovered for myself by actually doing (duh), that breaking the parts down into (parts of) squares and then sewing them all together according to the nine patch grid makes perfect sense, which is why Jude, among many other patch-working people probably follow this principle; the nine patch (or 4, 16, 25 etc) method is the most forgiving as far as I can tell
I also very much like the grid-lines showing

instead of being less work, number four proved to be more work, although that could be down to my imprecise cutting and ironing! those angles where the corners meet up were particularly cumbersome, although I did enjoy trying all this out!



I am now sewing four more, same as number one, albeit with different background colours, as I need a couple more for the quilt. The birds are all Blue so they match the colour scheme, because I'm that organised (not;-))

This is a 2faced post, much joy in the stitching and much sadness due to family circumstances, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to share here, but the crowd's not that big so here goes:
it has been a tough year for me, not just because I have been struggling with my burn-out and physical pain - I am on the mend! - but also because both my aging parents' health has deteriorated rapidly these past months; in fact my 85 year old mother now does not have long to live. Although we, i.e. my younger sister and brother, do not know exactly how long, as no doctor can possibly answer such a question.....With parents aged 88 and 85, I suppose this is only to be expected and we have of course known this was going to happen, especially after our dad's heart attack a year ago. It has been an emotional blow to hear, see and feel how bad it really is now. Fortunately my siblings and I have a good, loving relationship and can offer each other support. I have a husband and two sons, who are incredibly sweet, kind and loving; a couple of close friends who are simply there for me.
  
Many of you have been through this and know exactly what I'm talking about.

We will be together tomorrow, just the five of us spending precious time together

I don't know how or what or why, just that I am going to have to let go 

Friday, 6 September 2019

lots of Small Pillows

'he sings his song
the long night long
she never knows
how much he glows
because of her, because of her
.............'

'a tragic love story, or is it?
the birds strut their stuff and wag their tails at each other...forgetting there is a mountain between them, so neither one can see the other....what a shame! their hearts aflutter with longing....but then, hurtling through the skies a small box full of Jude's black&white magic, trailing threads of potential....who knows where those threads might lead.......'

'it was hot outside, very very hot
despite that
I wanted to sew so badly,
I chose cool cool colours,
my fingers managed to hold on to needle & thread
despite the constant drip of sweat'

I made many mistakes with this one, f.e. way too many thread-beads in way too many colours and way too many running stitches, instead of invisible basting; so there was a lot of un-stitching, leaving puncture marks in the delicate fabric
I reconfigured the 2 top left patches
and
added tiny dark blue crosses, yellow stars and red pinpricks
with one central red dot


what I love most about this one is the corner I had to add on as the 2 layers of fabric didn't quite measure up

practicing 9patches and Small Patches
homework from
Jude's latest class



I first made the larger version of 'portable rainbow'


The OldBirdKing liked it so much, he asked : 'I really like this portable rainbowSaskia, could you make me one as well?'

'but of course OBK' I replied, 'I would be honoured.'



Saturday, 31 August 2019

middle age mishaps and happy endings


Refreshed after a dip in the river, Django and I returned to the house. Chattering as we wandered back at a leisurely pace, and just as I was about to put my right foot down I heard this deep voice warn me ‘Mind your step young lady!’
Surprised at being thus addressed I looked about. For I am neither young,I am in fact middle-aged if we’re nitpicking, nor did I feel particularly ladylike, wobbling on one leg, trying hard not to topple over and water still dripping from my body. I looked down to see a mole. That explained a lot……
I managed to avoid treading on him and asked him how he was.




‘Well what does it look like?’ he retorted gruffly.
‘You don’t look quite right’,  I said as politely as I could.
‘Exactly!’ he uttered.
‘What happened? I asked.
‘I will tell you what happened, but first you must take me with you as I’m baking in this sun and I cannot begin to imagine what it’s doing to my complexion.’
And so I carefully picked him up by his tail, he was truly a bit worse for wear and reeked terribly…..of course I didn’t say that out loud and the three of us finally went home. Fortunately he didn’t seem to mind I carried him in this rather brutal manner, I guess he was relieved to have been spotted by us and removed from the hot sunshine.
As soon as we entered the garden, he insisted he must stay in The Birdhut. I found a glass display box for him, where I laid him down gently, just so he could cool down and not bother the other critters in The Dwelling. They’re a hospitable bunch but they have standards too and heavy decaying BO can be a bit too much at times, especially with tempers on edge due to the hot Summer weather!
Anyway, Mr. Mole seemed happy enough in the shade and promptly fell asleep, snoring loudly bless him.




‘Hmm, so much for explanations…..’ I thought out loud.
’We will just have to wait Saskia’,  said OldBirdKing.

Which we did.

Meanwhile I went in search for some bedding; as I had mown the lawn yesterday there were lots of freshly dried grasses and I made a loose, comfy mattress for him, plus for the sake of privacy I draped Mo’s lace curtain over the box. Clay Frog happened to be sitting there and agreed to watch over Mr. Mole. He doesn’t mind the smell, I guess it’s an acquired taste.


After several hours Mr. Mole woke up, prepared to start telling us his woeful tale.
‘I was digging away, providing the missus with a new tunnel (you know how they always seem to want more extensions to the house and can’t be bothered to do the digging themselves but somehow manage to get you involved in all the construction and hard work) when I heard a rumbling noise coming closer and closer and the earth began to shake and I feared the tunnel would collapse. Now that wouldn’t do! So I dug myself a hole through the dirt upwards, the missus warning me “don’t go up in the daytime dearie, you never know what’ll happen, remember when Georgie climbed up in the daytime…..” Georgie is my long lost brother,’ he sighed and fell silent for a moment….we all waited with baited breath for him to continue…..

‘I came up and just as I was about to ask what on earth was going on, I felt a huge weight roll over me and I was squashed by something very big and very heavy. I think I must have passed out for a while and when I woke up, I just lay there panting and flattened out like a pancake! I said to myself, I said “this does not feel good Mr. Mole, this does not feel good at all. The world feels upside down now and I cannot really move anything anymore. What will I do and how ‘bout the missus?” I tried calling her, but she’s hard of hearing as well as being blind, so no hope there. I must have lain there several days and then you came along and at last someone heard me and you took me in. I am so grateful to you Django and Saskia!’

Well, by now we were all moved to tears, such a sad story. Although it did seem Mr. Mole himself wasn’t sad at all, in fact it would seem he was relieved. How about that? So I asked him if he wanted to go back. Did he miss his missus?
‘No way, all that digging in the dirt and scrubbing my fingernails every night after a hard day’s work and for what? The missus is practically deaf as well as blind, so the food’s not much to write home about, anyway she’s not my missus, she’s my sister-in-law, I kind of inherited her after my brother died, let their children look after her from now on.’ He answered adamantly.

‘but won’t they miss you? ‘ I asked.

‘I very much doubt that,’ he said ‘we were never a close knit family, such differing personalities. If I don’t return they’ll simply assume the worst and leave it at that. That’s what happened when Georgie didn’t come back all those years ago. I am a self-confessed bachelor, by choice my dear, by choice……..,’ he murmured thoughtfully, ‘no,  I’m quite happy to have moved up into the world of daylight creatures and you know there are stories about this studio and all the goings-on in The Dwelling in the Small Animal World. So I have always wanted to meet you all and see for myself, in a manner of speaking of course as I am blind.’

We all started clapping and hugging each other and welcomed him in our midst. It would appear Mr. Mole is here to stay in The Birdhut.




Sunday, 11 August 2019

how looking at combinations led me to a lot of work! and a very long post.......



after helping CL-down-south tidy up, cleverly combining this with a visit to my parents and a long lunch with friend E, whom I've known since we were 8, I journeyed home with a humongous bag full of sample fabrics! dabbling with the colourful squares, Jude's lessons in the back of my mind as per usual, seeking out new 9patches, mixing and matching very different materials, I came to realise I would have to wash the new batch before being able to use them: shrinkage, coating, fraying etc had to be dealt with.....and once I started down that road I was in for it big time!
'cos now there was no excuse not to tackle the already present fabrics from Catharina, hanging mostly unused in my so-called Linen Library
First I had to cut away the plastic foil or paper edging along each individual piece that prevented fraying.....in some cases I also had to cut each piece off the backing














 above unwashed, below washed, dry and ironed
- the silk flowers are from Jude, goes without saying -





then there followed a series of multiple short wash cycles in the washing machine, matching colour as much as possible with same colour; then everything had to hang out to dry! but before that I had several laundry baskets full of moist, clean pieces  where I had to cut away the threads that had come loose and I made piles of oblongs and squares.....

if I'm honest there were moments where I despaired, such was the Herculean task I had set myself, or so it felt at the time.....




finally they were dry enough to iron, I ironed each and every one on both sides; some found a spot in the renamed ClothLibrary

others were laid out on the studio floor in piles according to pattern
so even more fondling and holding and getting to know the quality of the cloth





some I hadn't properly noticed before: birds, flowers, china vases jumped out at me

I am going to have to find workable storage space for my growing stash

leaving work bench as empty as possible!
looking forward to that 


the linen and linen/cotton all in one pile

Nest, nestle, nesting urge
nestle
/ˈnɛs(ə)l/
verb
  1. settle or lie comfortably within or against something.

    "the baby nestled in her arms"

    synoniemen:snuggle, cuddle (up), curl up, huddlenuzzlesettle, lie close, burrow;
    snug down
    "he nestled up against her"
    • (of a place) be situated in a half-hidden or sheltered position.

      "picturesque villages nestle in the wooded hills"