Thursday, 31 January 2008

Cutting more than the stencil

Decided to make the stencil for a Nefertiti piece today after some much needed housework. Uggg
Turned one of the Nefertiti images into a black and white image then used the effect Find edges to make my pattern.
Then I began cut out a stencil from it.

I was using a craft knife which was like a pen with a long thin blade. After a while I noticed blood on the knife. When I looked at my finger it was being cut when my fingers slid down over the edge on onto the base of the blade. A badly designed knife.
My OH then reminded me that I stopped using this particular knife because of this problem and that I had bought another one which was much safer and better. I had completely forgotten this knife and even when he reminded me of it I couldn't recall it and said he must be mistaken. He began looking for it and was insistent we had this knife and eventually I went looking , but not sure what for. Eventually we found it and only then did I remember it. Must be the age thing again. Glad he remembered it. Once found , only the stencil was cut from then on.

I can use it to stencil the different colours and overlap them using one of the designs from last week. Have a couple more ideas to work on too.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Worth a visit

After seeing the sculptures on Sharon's blog I was reminded of the sculptures at Durham botanical gardens so I thought I would post a few of them.
The gardens are part of the university and is used for the students to do practical study so there are all kinds of garden settings and conditions including a hot house for tropical plants.

There were huge carved wooden sculptures of all the prominent men in North of Egland history. This is George Stevenson of Rocket and railways fame.

Behind each of the carved figures is a metal wedding type train which is a stencil of - in this instance - the railway track. Difficult to describe but very impressive. I used this one to create a digital special effect image which is on my web site. Hope to use it someday.

Other figures are the Venerable Bede, one of the Durham bishops, a shipping magnet, a mining magnet, St Cuthbert and a Durham Knight. They stand in a circle with the metal trains spreading outwards.

In a small lake there are metal sculpted storks and herons and among the trees was this fabulous gigantic insect patinating nicely.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Beautiful day

It was a beautiful day today which couldn't be missed so we went out for a walk and to try out the new camera.
We have a National Trust property within walking distance where we regularly go for a walk from home.
The church was built in the grounds of the hall. It is so popular for weddings because of the setting that they now restrict it to those living in the parish. It is also the most expensive church in the area for weddings.
However, we often walk through the lych gate and up through the churchyard and into the NT Ormesby Hall grounds.
Today close to the church we saw daffodils and lots of snowdrops. Early for this area.

We have done this walk many ,many times and yet today noticed for the first time three crosses at the back of the church near the gate to the hall.
They were in the shade but took them anyway , hand held. very pleased with the results. Not the best they could be but.....

I have taken some close ups too. They were carved on all four sides.
On our way back through the grounds we saw a view of the church we don't see very often as it is hidden behind the trees when they are in leaf.

It is still a beautiful day so we are off out again to do some more photography and exercise!!!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Multi-tasking day

Spent most of today working on the paper bag pieces. Still not finished yet but stitching the edges on one of them led to fixing a problem.
I have some very unfriendly and difficult metallic machine threads - a cheap version of Madiera FX 20 but they are in pastel colours and more delicate than FS. I love them but they twist and tangle as they feed off the cop. I have tried them horizontal, vertical, and with a net over them but they still twist and tangle. To overcome this, I usually loop it round my finger to feed it off the cop. This means it is difficult to stitch trying to watch both so I suggested to my OH that I could do with something which would do the finger holding bit. He disappeared out to the garage and came back with some thin rod and tools and made me an attachment. It works brilliantly - not one single twist or tangle.He also made the block to feed off 3 cones and another block for large cones. They fit into the top of the machine. The metal loop coming from the bock to the front of the cop is the gadget he made me. It keeps the thread feeding at right angles. So simple but it solved the problem. He is sooooo handy. I've lost count of all the gadgets he has made for me to solve problems or just make things easier.

I printed out my book - all 80 pages of it but only on draft quality so that I can make the changes, inserts and move things around. I find it easier than flicking from page to page on screen. The publisher has my printed copy. I received more answers to queries I had today so I can get on with it now.
At one point during today I was machining, printing and trying to watch the ice skating all at the same time.

Need to do some colour matching for the paper bag pieces so will have to wait until daylight to get it right.
Still time to do a few more other things.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


In reply to Sharon and Lynda re keeping a record when playing with digital images. I have got into the habit of doing this as I write articles about it for the magazine Design-IT so I need to do it for that and because one of the things I stress readers to do is to make a note of what you are doing and of the settings. I well remember not doing this when I got carried away with applying filters and when I wanted to reproduce an effect to use it I couldn't because I didn't know what the setting were.

I did the foil painting yesterday and thank you Lynda - I did let the paint dry well before I gave a second coat. I didn't use kitchen foil - thought I would experiment with packaging foil so I used the large bag from a Cadbury's mini chocolate range and the packaging from Yorkshire fruit cake - which was delicious. I scrunched them up first.
I stuck the Cadbury one to a piece of craft vilene which was colour washed and sized first as it soaked up the glue medium like a sponge.

I decided to paint the cake foil before I stuck it onto a backing. I used Stewart Gill Alchemy paints for it as I really need to use them up. They are starting to dry out and they were too expensive to let this happen.
It definitely needed two coats for these paints but they did cover and have adhered well. Don't know what I am going to do with it yet.
Once I had glued the Cadbury foil to the backing I pressed it under a heavy book until it was dry. Then I painted it with acrylic paints.

I think Lynda will guess which paints I have used here. I did, however, add a touch of gold metallic to it too. It isn't finished yet - may dry brush over it or stamp onto it.

While I was sorting out storage ready for my new units , I came across a pile of paper bags stored away - the fancy ones craft and fabric shops use. They have been there for years. They have some lovely designs and colours on them and I remembered that I was going to use them to create paper fabric. Two of the bags jumped out at me - not literally! - and so while I was preparing the foil I decided to do the same to the bags. These are the two bags which are well on the way to completion but I will post the workshop for them on another blog.

This morning my new storage units arrived. I managed to unpack them and cut up all the card from the three large boxes, tie it all up and put it out ready for the recycle wagon which was due this morning. Then spent the rest of the day deciding where and how to arrange them and what to store where in them. Still ongoing but getting there. It will be nice being able to get at my supplies easily and seeing what I have especially the things I have forgotten I had - fancy paper bags!!! for instance.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Digital play

I spent some of today reorganising and clearing out the area behind my computer seat in my living room work area. I get so frustrated when I want something and have to move so much 'stuff' to get at it then have it all to put back. Sooo today I did something about it and it is so much better now and I managed to throw out old supplier catalogues and other 'stuff' cluttering up the area.
Wonder how long it will be before it builds up again.

I have continued to tinker a bit more with the quilt - added some treasure gold down one side of the sheer heads to create shadows and some more detail stitching. It has been edged and a hanging sleeve created so I will leave it alone now.

Having bought a new book about digital techniques in Photoshop I decided to have a play with the bust of Nefertiti. Now I have the problem of which ones to use and how.

This is the image I started with. First I created 5 single colour images using the colours I 'colour picked' from the images of Egyptian jewellery.

Once I had the separate colour images I began to layer and overlap them creating different arrangements.
This diagonal arrangement was the first one. I put it through some filters and kept a few of them which had possibilities.

I have the feeling I may be making a stencil or a stamp.

Next I made a different arrangement of the images overlapping them in the standard five pattern and then in a vertical zigzag pattern.

After I had put the image through a filter I layered the original image over the top so that the pattern became the background. I am not sure if it is a bit too psychedelic but I didn't want to delete it. Finally I gave a gradient filled background to the original image. This last one may become part of a digital composite.

I am hoping to paint some foil tomorrow as a background to another piece. I bought the medium to mix with the paint to make it adhere to the foil so fingers crossed it all works for me.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Finished quilt - at last!

The quilt is finished although the photograph doesn't really show much of a difference from the last one. There's no depth to show the quilted effect but posting it anyway and it will be the last time. The quilting took quite some time - wouldn't really like to do a big one. I have to put a border around it yet but will have to do that later as other things have come up.

Spent much of yesterday sourcing storage for my workroom and have ordered some drawer units. Starting clearing out some cupboards and moving things about. I spent a lot of time just standing there thinking about where and how to store things and measuring space after space.

Got a phone call from my paint mixing man to say he has managed to mix me the colours I wanted and so there will be a box of paints arriving next week, and some books and some units. A busy time when they arrive.

I also received an email from my publisher to confirm details I asked her about for the book. Need to get down to the rewrite ( or should I say expansion as the bulk of it is done). I look forward to taking the pieces down to the photographer and seeing how the professionals do it. I have to provide some photos too so will be re-photographing some pieces. All the drawings and diagrams are done.

Then I spent time organising and booking a workshop with the CTDG. I want to go to support them and to socialise with friends I normally only see once a year when I steward on our stand at the shows. Should be 2 days of playday fun.

So a funny couple of days with not much to show for it compared to some of my favourite blogs out there.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Latest developments

Firstly - the new lights are fitted in the workroom. So much brighter and lots of directed light. I still spend most of my time in my workspace in the living room. Don't like to be isolated - can't talk to OH.

Made most of the daylight doing the stitching and then it is too dark to photograph. The same thing today as yesterday but this time I have taken photos and used flash. Not exactly as it is but reasonably close to view detail.
I keep adding to the quilt but not sure it is turning out as I envisaged as yet but will keep going. I rarely give up on a piece.
The colours are not quite as they should be. They will be better in daylight.

I have used Lynda's favourite paint and colour on the cat -Golden quinacridone nickel azo gold - which was the exact colour for the clay showing through the flaking gold on the cat artefact.

The little boat is padded gold leather and free machining.

The jewellery is printed on sheer and free machined. Thinking of applying some beads.

When I was still teaching one of the history modules I had to cover was about the Ancient Egyptians. I always did a lot of research for everything I covered and so over the years I have amassed a big files of information, illustrations etc. on lots of subjects. These files are coming in very handy as resource material and in the Egyptian file I found these little men which I really like so I have used them all over the quilt. They represent all the slaves and workers and seem to work well.

In answer to the transfer foil question from Lynda - no I didn't add anything to the surface. I just used a hot mini iron and rubbed hard. It worked well as it transferred just the right amount onto the tissue paper.

After seeing Sharon's digital piece I went onto the web and sourced some Photoshop tutorials. There are a lot out there (and for PSP) and I have downloaded a few interesting ones. Would have taken too much time to look at them all so will have to look at so many at a time and see which are worth having - all free BTW.

I saw that Dover books have brought out a resource book on Leonardo DaVinci and his drawings with a CD so I have bought it - always wanted a book like this.
Must back to the quilt.

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Didn't get a lot done today - 'creativewise' that is. Other unplanned things.

We bought some new lighting for the workroom which will be fitted tomorrow I hope.
I coated some sheer fabric with inkAID and printed some images which will be stitched onto the quilt. As these images are of jewellery I thought I might use some beads to embellish them.

As I have been using InlAid I thought I would post another piece which was created when I was testing it out.
This is a digital collage - Faces of Ancient Egypt - which I put together using Photoshop. The faces were layered over hieroglyphics and a torn edge effect created around the image.
I crumpled and paint washed tissue paper and when dry glued it to a sheet of thin card. I coated this with semi gloss InkAid and printed the image onto it. I then applied gold transfer foil by rubbing over the surface so the foil would adhere to the ridges of the crumpled paper but only around the border. Unfortunately this does not show up as shiny gold on the scan so that will have to be imagined.

I am now thinking of creating some boats in padded gold leather to stitch onto the Nile representation on the quilt. Have found one picture of a boat but will need to find another. Off to do that now.

Friday, 11 January 2008

A long blog

I received a much appreciated 'You make my day award' yesterday from Sharon and so now it is my turn to make my awards.
I haven't been blogging long but have made some wonderful blogging friends and look forward to their comments each day.
I know how time consuming it is so that makes it even more special and appreciated.

I will begin my awards with Sharon who never fails to visit my blog each day and make such positive and encouraging comments and I so enjoy her sharing her family with us as well as her work and her personal creative development.
Then there is Lynda who is so generous with her fabulous workshops and experimenting and has been such a great help with information about paints and mediums.
Vivien too who regularly visits my blog and how I love and admire both her painting and digital art and value her expertise.
I would also like to send one to Karen who was such a help when I was revamping my web site, finding the time to find and email information and I look forward to seeing lots more of her work now she is feeling better.
And as Sharon has done - I give a big award to my OH who has been so supportive of my work and tolerant of the the time I take doing it and for being my own personal engineer - making all the gadgets I ask for.
And the little person who makes my day every time I look at his photo and even better have him stay every weekend is my gorgeous, gorgeous grandson.

The quilt is progressing - I am not covering the whole quilt with a sheer overlay. I am creating images of Ancient Egypt stitched on sheers, which will be cut out and appliqued onto the quilt. I have stitched three so far ready to cut out.

I think I may print some onto sheers too and applique them. (Just thought of that - using my InkAID) and there's the obelisks and columns yet - so a long way to go and I haven't forgotten about the foil painting Lynda.

Now to answer the queries about the machine stitching.
I have a Pfaff Creative 2140 upgraded to a 2170. It is an all singing and dancing machine ( doesn't make a cup of coffee though).
It is a fairly sophisticated computer which sews but is also used as an ordinary machine too and yes - it was expensive but wouldn't be without it. There are about 28 years between this machine and my old Pfaff so I could well justify the expense. I love free machining and do that most of the time but....
I have software which lets me digitise designs, send them to the machine and it stitches them out for me. I only use what I have designed and digitised myself.
One of the software components allows me to design stitches which I send to the machine and the machine stitches them just like any other built in machine stitch pattern.
When I was creating my Craster project, I created lots of stitch patterns all based on the name Craster and on the letters C-R-A-S-T-E-R(a different one) .

This design was created in Photoshop using the name. It was then digitised and made into a machine stitch.

I can also make them up to 6cm wide - maxi machine patterns and 18 cm long so they become motifs but I can stitch them as a machine maxi stitch.

This one was created in Photoshop using the name and digitised. I can stitch it continuously or just a single one.

On the Celtic manuscript piece you can see this motif and along the sides the machine patterns.

I also made a hanging which couched down threads using machine stitches designed using just the single letters.

I have another component which allows me to create all over patterns a bit like the embroidered papers you can buy. I can use my own motifs and digitise a pattern which will cover the whole fabric surface. Haven't used this one much as yet but I have created one piece with it when I was trying it out.
So as you can see - a very useful tool to make my work very individual and all mine.
I think I have reached information overload. Hope I haven't sent you to sleep.

I have my Grandson sleeping over tonight and will be with me all tomorrow so the sewing will be put aside and we will do other things together.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Quilt St.3 and more sheep!!

Managed to do all the machine joining of the triangles. I had to design a stitch to do this as the similar built in stitch was 9mm and when reduced the stitches were too small and dense for what I needed. It was a quick job and I have it for future use too. I prefer to design my own stitches as they fit the pieces better. I quite enjoy designing them too.

I am sorting some gold organza to stitch some digitised images to overlay. Thinking of using the sheet of hieroglyphics to make some obelisks and columns - they should be OK if I iron stabiliser on the back.

Yes Sharon I am still a member of CTDG and have written lots of new articles for our magazine.

Here is the latest 'digitised sheep'. Made the changes as suggested with a few other subtle adjustments. Anything else??

Quilt stage 2

The triangle pieces have been 505'd to the base fabric (above) , tacked down and removed from the frame.
I am now at the stage of putting on the surface embellishments. Need to get this right after all this work. I keep sitting and looking at it and worrying about spoiling it. Have sponged some gold fabric paint on parts of it - the sparkle in the sand.

Tomorrow my OH is off at 5.45am!!! to the Rally show at the NEC. He engineers and pit crews for a rally team so I will have the day to myself.

Should be able to machine the joining patterns between all the triangles and hopefully some digitised images. It will be a 'go with the flow' job - each stage determining the next. So.. fingers crossed.

Thanks Vivien for suggestion re hedge - left, right or centre???

Monday, 7 January 2008

More sheep and triangles

Had another very little play with the sheep. Moved some sheep (digital shepherd!) to make a long thin composition.

Spent some time making some more stamps to put pattern and texture onto some of the triangles. because I never waste a scrap - I always finish up with lots of extra stamps to use up the bits I've cut away. They come in useful.
This self adhesive 'funky foam' makes very good stamps and even with all the scrubbing clean after use doesn't loosen them. A couple are a bit worse for ware (the hieroglyphic ones on the right) but they have been used a lot for paint stamping and impressing into clay.

I have finished cutting out all the triangles and placed them onto our jigsaw board. The colours don't look so good on this wooden board but I needed to lay them out to keep swapping the triangles about until I am satisfied with the colour shading. They will look different again, however, when the stamping, stitching and quilting is completed over the top.

It represents Egypt with the Nile and it's delta at the top and the Aswan dam at the bottom, a hint of pyramids on the left and a hint of the Red sea on the right - just in case it isn't obvious.
About to sort the underlay for the triangles next.