Posts Tagged From The Magpies Nest
Last year I mentioned that Anne Lawson, a talented botanical artist, instigated a sketchbook which would start with her in Australia and make its way around the World to interested parties who signed up for the project and, at each stage of the journey, a new entry would be made. As everybody who signed up for it is a woman, it became known as ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook’. I believe there have been others but this one – our one – began life in the Spring of 2016.
I cannot draw or paint to save my life, nor have I ever attempted to write poetry, but I knew that other media was acceptable so thought I’d join in for fun. Then I started dreading its arrival when I saw the standard of entries as they were added to the book then recorded online. The sketchbook finally arrived in France last week – people have been taking their time enjoying the book and considering what to contribute and, despite having considered other options, I decided to go with my first idea. I have taken photographs of most of the entries but didn’t take the book to pieces – too scared – so apologies to the sisterhood if I’ve cut a piece off or haven’t done their piece justice with my photography.
Click on the name beneath the images to go to the contributor’s website.
The sketchbook started and will end with Anne who set the bar high with her sketch of Kakadu Escarpment along with her garlic and lilies that adorn the front and back covers.
by Anne Lawson
Staying in Australia and up to Queensland to Kate who added this delightful paper pieced patchwork feather together with the lovely words beneath.
Staying in Queensland for a tasty, beautifully illustrated Ratatouille recipe from Sandra.
Moving back down to Victoria, Chas created this brilliant cycling trail map to show us some of the sights to be seen from a bicycle on the way to Melbourne’s National Gallery. This is a long, fold out map so I’ve just included a small detail.
The last stop for the sketchbook in Australia was with Sandi Worrall -Hart who wrote a beautiful poem called ‘ The Explorer’ which you can see included in the collage below cleverly compiled by Alys from all the entries so far in the book at the time it reached her in the United States.
From California to Mount Vernon where Sue added these gorgeous mixed media pieces using fabric, beads, thread and charms.
Over to Ushasree in Indianapolis for an eyecatching and colourful collage of small delights
Then a trip over to Europe and Greece with this take on the naming of Athens.
From Greece to Germany where Constanze produced this lovely textile piece which reflects the snowy landscape around her as she created her entry for the sketchbook.
The sketchbook should have stayed in Germany for another entry but, unfortunately, Annett is struggling with some health problems at the moment and didn’t feel able to contribute – we wish her well and hope she’ll be able to join in next time, should there be one!
So, to France and to me.
I’ve told you I can’t draw or paint. Kate, Sue and Constanze had already done perfectly lovely works in textiles and fabric so what to do? I thought about something knitted or even a bit of crochet but it would have to be something quite tiny and relevant. Back in 2016 I attended a workshop on freehand machine embroidery and my plan was to practice and practice and produce something lovely for when the sketchbook arrived at my door. Time passed – quickly as usual – and I didn’t get to practice as much as I would have liked but freehand embroidery is a forgiving craft and I hope I’ve produced something – though ‘naive’ (polite talk for ‘simple’) – that sort of enters into the spirit of the sketchbook, using thread instead of a pencil.
I know it looks like a kid’s drawing but that is sort of the style – honest! I like using natural linen for freehand embroidery as I think it sets off the fabrics and stitches really well but it frays like a bugger so I have deliberately frayed the edges and run a couple of rows of stay (I hope) stitching around the perimeter. If you’re wondering what the blue lines are they are my interpretation of the map of the World. It is very imprecise! Australia is disappearing up the skirt of the last sister, Europe is frillier than necessary and there appears to be a squished square country north of the barely recognisable British Isles but you get my drift. As I’m an English expat living in France I introduced a bit of entente cordiale by using French linen (the type they produce to make those classic linen t-towels) and the dresses are all in Liberty of London fabric. I didn’t want to make any political statement but, as it was a recent event and as I know one of the sisterhood went along with a pink plastic bag on her head, I’ve included a pink pussyhat wearer just to be topical.
As soon as I’ve worked out how to add this to the book – the linen is backed with calico and card so I’ll probably glue it in – it will be on its way to the United Kingdom for its last two entries, then back to Australia where we have hopes that it will be digitally scanned so we can all have a copy to keep.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the Sketchbook as it stands so far in Tialys blog form .
A great project to be involved with 🙂
Even though the patchwork block swap I’ve been participating in hasn’t quite finished yet – there’s one month to go – I have actually made all the blocks I need to and I’ve already started getting withdrawal symptoms. Kate and Sue who have run the F2F (Foot Square Freestyle) swap for the past two years, have decided they need a break from organising duties and as I am more of a participant than an organiser I didn’t offer to take it over so, sadly, when Claire receives her 24 blocks from 8 other quilters around the world by the end of February, that will be it.
I found that participating in the swap really motivated me to improve my work, try out some new techniques and get things finished on time
So, what to do next?
I searched around the web for other swaps but the few I managed to find had either already started or didn’t appeal.
Kate has started making a quilt – unusually it will be for herself – from a book both she and I have had for years.
We’ve both been in love with one particular quilt inside it – I even made the templates for it and one block back in the mists of time – but never got any further.
It’s rows of vintage hatboxes made to look as if they’ve been covered in wallpaper, as olden day people used to do, and each one set in the angle of a little cubby hole with a floor and two walls. So, lots of design decisions to be made.
Kate has been busy with it for a few months now – you can see her progress here – and I decided I would join in with her and we would aim to make three blocks per month and publish them on our blogs at the end of the month. This will be my motivation.
I am making a wall hanging for my bedroom rather than a quilt – there is an empty wall behind the bed and I thought this might go well there rather than a picture. I don’t want it to dominate the room or anything so I’m not making it too large, just four blocks wide x three blocks high. If I make three blocks per month, it should be ready to start putting together in May.
Each ‘cubby hole’ is constructed by joining two trapezoids, one reversed, plus an 8.5 inch square which is set in to the angle of the trapezoids. Eek! I was so pleased when I got it right first time and then realised my perfect seam would be covered up with the hatbox appliquéd on top – still, that’s patchwork for you. Here’s a ‘blank’ just so you know I can do it.
And here’s the block after the hatbox has been added.
I decided to use scraps for the backgrounds where possible and Liberty tana lawn for the hatboxes. I realised too late that, because the tana lawn is so fine, you have to be careful what you put underneath it. You can see the stripes of my ‘flooring’ vaguely show through but I thought it sort of looks like part of the design on the box so I’ve left it.
This one is a darker print so I got away with it here but, for the other blocks, I won’t use that particular striped fabric. I am not usually an ‘appliqué person’ but Kate has got me trying several techniques I’ve either never done before or previously said I’d never do such as foundation paper piecing so here’s one more to add to the list. I am using Bondaweb to attach the hatbox shapes and then using a turquoise thread and machine appliquéing on to the background.
This next one had to be re-done because I had used light coloured tana lawn for the hatbox and the ‘floor’ was showing through and making it look as if there was a shadow across the box. I had to peel it off – a tragic waste of both Liberty and Bondaweb -and use a darker design. You live and learn.
I’m enjoying making these hatboxes but my workroom is a mess – strewn with fabrics over every surface as I audition them for ‘wallpaper’, ‘flooring’ , the hatboxes themselves and the bands. Decisions, decisions……
I will finish by proudly announcing that I have managed to complete Dry January without a drop of alcohol passing my lips – apart from that used in cooking which doesn’t count because all the alcohol comes off as vapour (boo!) . I never usually touch Pastis – the favourite aperitif of the French – because wine is my poison and the aniseedy alcoholic tipple makes me go woozy very quickly which is a feat in itself. However, Ricard (the favoured brand of the French when imbibing their favourite aperitif) make a version called Pacific which has no alcohol, no sugar, no calories, no nuffink apart from quite a few E numbers but I haven’t looked them up to see whether they are dodgy ones. As with the real stuff, you dilute it with 5 parts water but, unlike the real stuff, it is already a cloudy colour.
This, and Bucklers non alcoholic beer (which is really Lager if you are British) , kept me on the straight and narrow when temptation threatened to overcome me. I don’t know whether you can get it (or Bucklers) outside of France but, if you can, and you are the designated driver or want an alcohol free evening for any other reason, I would recommend it.
Several packages arrived on the same day last week – more fabulosity from my F2F block swap partners. For those of you who are regular readers but not participants, I appreciate that you might not want to see numerous posts on this so I’ve done some collages of the blocks that arrived last week and hope you can still see the hard work that went into them and the beauteous results.
I used a programme called ‘Shape Collage’ for the first two but, after that, it stamps its watermark right across the middle of the image unless you pay to upgrade so I made the last one myself. Any corners, points or other details cut off are purely my doing in the editing process – they are actually all perfect. I do like the programme though so, if it’s not to expensive to upgrade, I might do so.
The first blocks are from Claire in the U.S. and I love the little orange birds and the unusual teal colour she’s used with the grey spotted fabric.
The second collage contains blocks from Sue at the Magpie’s Nest. Sue is the co-organiser of the F2F Block Swap along with Kate.
Sue must have been reading my blog and seen my dog habit as the block that is a little hidden has a central text that says ‘My Alarm Clock Wakes Me Up By Licking My Face’ which is definitely what would happen if my dogs were allowed upstairs in our bedroom.
These four are from Nanette. There are four because she called the one in the bottom right hand corner her ‘stuff up’ block as she thought the colours were wrong. Not at all! I love those geckos and that block will blend in fine with all the blocks I’ve received as a whole.
Nearly there now. I have a few more to photograph and a couple more to arrive – which have been held up due to having the wrong postcode on the envelopes due to an earlier administration error but I am holding on to my confidence in the postal services and have everything crossed they will arrive.
I keep meaning to tell you about the blockfest I’m a part of which has been organised by Kate over at Tall Tales From Chiconia and Sue From The Magpies Nest and involves twelve people from all over the World. It’s called Foot²Freestyle because each block will have a finished size of 12 inches or a foot, get it?. Every month, one of the twelve participants is ‘the one’ and the other eleven participants make three blocks and send them to ‘the one’ so there will be eleven parcels to open, each holding three patchwork blocks in colours asked for at the beginning of the swap. I do love a parcel – it’s my turn in October. Then, the recipient will make three blocks of her own, making 36 big blocks with which to make a 72 inch square quilt or whatever else you would like to do with twelve patchwork blocks (no rude suggestions please).
The first month, June, belonged to Esther from the Netherlands and her colour choices were backgrounds of white/light grey/cream and main colours of mustard, jadeite/minty blueish greens, coral.
Many of the participants are habitual block swappers if their blogs are anything to go by. I am not – this is my first and I was only tempted because it is being organised by Kate who has just won first prize and a best in show rosette for her beautiful hexagon quilt called ‘Worldwide Friends’ made, in part, using fabric sent to her from her readers and adorned on the back with some Haiku poetry some of which was also contributed by some of her readers. I’m afraid, in the company of such talent, I have kept my blocks simple and concentrated on the colours and getting the finished size correct. I don’t want to disappoint too much with wonky edges and non-matching points – although I’m sure everybody will be very polite about things, it is forcing me to be much more careful and accurate than I would be if I was just making for myself. Which is a good thing, right?
Esther has now received her blocks so I can show you what I sent her.
A Daisy with a touch of French in the centre.
A Bug Jar
and, my favourite, an Anvil
They are not perfect by any means but I’ve kept well to her colour choices and hope she’ll be able to use them in the quilt or even for a coordinating cushion.
Next month is Annett’s turn from Germany and her colour scheme is a white background with orange, turquoise and green.
Easy with the postage so far but there are participants from farther afield – Australia and the U.S. for instance but the three blocks fit in a nice small package and will go letter post so not too bad.
Any suggestions for 12 inch blocks that are interesting but not too difficult (i.e. not too many points!!) would be welcome.