Saturday 4 August 2018

New Theme Announcement

Congratulations to everybody for creating such a spectacular collection of Spiral Quilts!

Our list of theme choices now looks like this:
  1. the sea
  2. a walk in the park
  3. texture
  4. memories
  5. improv
  6. a quilt inspired by a newspaper headline
  7. emotions feelings
  8. opposites attract
  9. colour theory
  10. dreams
  11. wishes
  12. a scene from a book
  13. raindrops keep falling on my head
And for the next quarterly challenge Mr Random has chosen  # 5 - Improv.

So please have your Improv Art Quilt ready to publish for the deadline. And, just as a caution, please remember that this is a group for smallish Art Quilts - I think with this theme it would be easy to get carried away end up with bed quilts before we know it! 

The deadline for this quarter will be November 1st 2018 at 10.00am GMT. 

If you have any questions or problems arise, please feel free to email me (Janine) or Catherine at any time.

In the meantime, please post here, on The Endeavourers Blog, with any thoughts, ideas or techniques you'd like to share. I can't wait to see what you all will create for this theme.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

“What goes around, comes around”

Hi everyone,

Apologies for being late ...... I was going to say, because I was finishing off late into the night last night, which I was, but as you will know by now my naughty computer has let me down today, and I found that, although I am able to edit from my iPad, I wasn’t able to add a photo. Luckily for me Janine was kind enough to offer to add my photo for me. Thank you again, Janine.


My piece is called “What goes around, comes around” because as I was stitching around the triangles, heading for the spiral, I couldn’t stop this line from an old proverb entering my head. 

The reason I’ve entitled it so is because all the triangles are from previous projects I’ve worked on, and as such they were “What goes around” with their scraps being used again and again in future ideas. As I stitched the spiral into the centre and then back on itself, and around the triangles again I couldn’t help thinking “comes around”, which although it isn’t the original meaning of the saying seemed so apt for this piece.

I wanted to show a few more photos of the backing, the heading, and how I worked this, but it will have to wait until either we buy a new laptop or the sick one is repaired.

I hope everyone has had a fun day unveiling their quilts and I will be round to visit shortly. I can’t wait to see how everyone else interpreted their “Spiral”.

Barbara x

Major problem! - Updated 1300hrs

Hi everyone,

Apologies for being late! I’m having a major problem with my computer. It’s switched on and saying “Starting Windows” but nothing is happening! No whirring, nuttin’!!!!

Oh, help!

Working on it, and hope to show my photos soonest!

I’m not visiting anyone until I post.

Hope to be with you shortly.

Update: we’ve had help from a computer oriented friend, but it appears our computer has died. I will try to post from my iPad if I can get my photos from my phone. This would happen now wouldn’t it!

Very Frustratedly,
Barbara xxx

Spirals Everywhere!

When I saw Spiral was our next challenge a feeling of delight was my first reaction.  The possibilities if not endless are many and I had lots of ideas.  I struggled settling on which of two to make.  My first idea was a throw quilt size that could be functional as well as a themed art project - yes I know there is a debate on functional items not being art but I was going to ignore that and make a quilt with text in a spiral. Trouble is I didn't know what I wanted to say or what colour palette to use. 

I had the idea of a Celtic tri-spiral and ended up choosing the first lines from my favourite books to make the spiral.  Design ready, I paused and thought this is quite personal, what does it say to the world to make it an art piece, rather than a nice quilt for Ruth to snuggle under? 

Around the same time this year I was invited to make a piece for the Irish Quilters showcase with the theme of Culture.  Working on two projects at the same time they seemed to meld a bit in my mind.  I thought of a double spiral of text with local sayings and slang and all the ways we have to describe the rain in Ireland.  But as I was doodling and sketching spirals the Yeat's poem "The Second Coming", and the line 'things fall apart, the centre cannot hold' got stuck in my head.

I thought about the rise of the right in politics, the ugly glee some people took in labelling people snowflakes, while at the same time angry about being labelled themselves and I thought self righteousness is really ugly - both left and right.  I was reminded of a TED talk by Jonathon Haidt where he looked at the traits of conservatives and liberals and I took away a few things from that talk.  All human beings care about being Fair, about doing no Harm and Caring for each other.  Liberals place a lot of value on Fairness and Equality.  Conservatives care about these things too but also care about Community, Authority and Purity.  Some Conservatives care about what you do with your body and some Liberals care very much about what you put in your body or on your body.  When you see passion at both extremes and name calling and violence you wonder how important is the centre?
Are we perfectly balanced or is it like Yeats poem the centre cannot hold?  I haven't answered this question in the making of the quilt but feel like exploring it in textiles, shape and colour has been a worthwhile thought experience for me and it turns out I do have something to say.  I called it "Snowflake, who me?" and entered it to the exhibition curated by Paula Rafferty and Nikki Foley.


My quilt for this quarter is about spirals as they appear in the natural world.  You can find them in my quilt in the form of a bindweed climbing a stem, in a furled bud, and in the living snails and extinct ammonite.

The spiral is a symbol representing some of the forces of nature, and so I was also thinking about this theme when I chose Robin Hood's Bay with its dynamic geological history as the location of the scene in this quilt.

The techniques used are applique, watercolour painting, and hand- and free-motion embroidery.  Although the top and sides are squared, the bottom edge is cut in curves.  It is approximately 20 by 14 inches.

You can read more about it here!

Dorothy's House

I'm very excited to see all the spiral quilts that everyone has been making for this challenge.

I recently went to see 'Wicked' with my daughters and I decided to make my quilt for this quarter a sort of remembrance of that occasion, with Dorothy's House inside the cyclone being whisked off to Oz and a spiralling rainbow.

You can read more about my trials and tribulations making this quilt over at Rainbow Hare

Echoes of time past

Once again the theme for this quarter has been both challenging and inspiring. Of course, once again too I took ages to decide upon my eventual project!

The quilt, which I am calling "Echoes of time past" was inspired by the spiral art of the early Celts and also this stunning example of an early Celtic Cross at Kildalton on the island of Islay off the West Coast of Scotland. 

You can read more about my inspiration here

 I used an old grey shirt of my son's as the base of the main quilt and stitched on to it

a couple of pieces of this lace. (top of the quilt)

then I tore off a couple of pieces of scrim and attached them to the lower part of the quilt. 

Next I ripped off some pieces of horticultural fleece and attached them to the quilt. When ironed the horticultural fleece wrinkled and tore, which was exactly what I intended it to do. It makes a change from that happening when I really don't want it to :)

Then I painted over the quilt top with acrylic paints mixed to an old stone grey colour and left them to dry. I now had the weathered stone base of my Celtic Cross depiction, next up was to back the quilt base with a length of grey felt and then add the Celtic imagery.

 First up I stitched a Triskele, or Triple Spiral, motif on the main body of the quilt.

Then I created a length of machine wrapped cord with several variegated threads and couched it on to a plain grey quilt sandwich then added it to the main quilt.

I traced another triple Celtic spiral pattern on to some tear away stabiliser and hand embroidered through it on to the circle of grey marled felt to create another symbol for the quilt. The embroidery used a variegated linen thread to depict the rusting and ageing of the piece through time. The embroidered felt was backed with another piece of the same felt and stitched on to the main quilt.

Finally I quilted concentric semi-circles on to a quilt sandwich and blanket stitched around the outer edge before blanket stitching the semi-circle to the quilt base.

I moved out of so many comfort zones with this piece and to my surprise thoroughly enjoyed putting it all together.

 In this book which I referred to often, but never quite got the hang of the maths, the author talks about it being possible to "skirt around the outside of a Triple Spiral and return to the exit without having traversed the inner circuit. The (resulting) short cut would only partially cover the course. If we read this as a metaphor for a human life, such a route would miss the core experience, and leave the unwary traveller none the wiser."

I have to admit that in the past I have often been guilty of skirting around the outside of projects but, thanks in a large part to the challenges thrown up by this group, I am now trying very hard to immerse myself in the process and make sure that I do not miss any of the experiences available.

I look forward to seeing how my fellow Endeavourers have risen to this challenge!

A Spiral Path

I don't know what I think about this piece.  It did not turn out ANYTHING like I envisioned.  I admit, I didn't know how to achieve the piece I had in my mind.  I do have more thoughts on THAT on my blog post.

Most things I stitch are about a part of me, or my deep thoughts.  When the Spiral theme was selected, I was thinking of a spiral as being our path in life.  Each patch being a step.  We learn as we go and as our knowledge expands, so does the spiral.  The stars in the background depict eternity.  There are little silver lined crystal beads sewn along the path.  I have a friend that absolutely loved John Denver.  Though I am not a fan, my friend repeated to me once a line from one of his songs that has always stuck with me.  "Some Days Are Diamonds".  So I have taken that phrase and over the years a good day is a Diamond.

I have given some thought about how I could have achieved the piece my brain envisioned.  I thank this group for encouraging me to think more creatively. Experience is the best teacher and I just might try this theme again.

Have a Diamond Day!

Not Long Ago, In A Galaxy So Close By...

This was a hard topic for me, even though I love spirals!  To research, I looked back at old issues of Quilting Arts, and it seemed like spirals were featured on every second page.  Gorgeous thread-painted spirals, scrappy reverse-applique spirals, Thermofax printed spirals, you name it!  I could not imagine what I could come up with, that hadn't been done over and over.

I turned to science and history and read the book Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells, by Helen Scales.  I learned so much, and I wrote about some artistic inspirations from that book here, but I still didn't have a good idea.

Finally I got an idea I really liked, and it was going to involve some thread painting.  But then my sewing machine decided to have problems with timing, and threads and needles kept breaking.

I pulled out a spare machine, and while looking for its auxiliary parts, I found a big bag of industrial zippers my brother gave me when he down-sized.  It reminded me that I have always wanted to try using zippers as trim, as does the Zipper Queen, Jamie Fingal.

And since I couldn't find the parts to the back-up sewing machine anyway, I decided to postpone finishing my great idea, and switch to a small, hand-stitched piece.  So here it is:
The Sewist's Universe

Hook and Eye Galaxy
Snap Galaxy

Now I don't know why trying this zipper technique spoke to me.  I didn't want to do any of the other techniques I had seen in Quilting Arts, because they had "already been done".  But this technique, which is highly associated with one particular person, seemed like a fun one to try.  Maybe because I had this giant bag of zippers and I just wanted to either use them up or pass them on.  And I could add on all the odds and ends of notions that were taking up space in that drawer as well.

The background is fabric I dyed two years ago.  The spirals consist of grommets, eyelets, beads, snaps, hooks and eyes, and metallic threads that have been handed down to me.  I added a string of inexpensive battery-powered LED lights. (I would never leave these lights on unattended, I just wanted to see how they would look.)

I don't think of this as a finished piece.  I think of it as a practice piece that would answer questions for a planned show entry.  Where do the difficulties lie?  Should I tweak the composition?  How much beading should I add?  Should I use multiple colors of metallic thread?  Would complementary colors spice things up?  Or distract from the image?

Maybe I would settle on a simpler composition for a finished piece.

But I had fun making it, and I am happy that I tried out the new-to-me materials of the zippers and the light string.


Spiral Mini Quilt
Spiral Mini Quilt
Spiral Mini Quilt
Spiral Mini Quilt

When I fist read the concept for this project I thought - oh this is going to be easy- well it turned out more difficult than I thought. The idea was to create an applique spiral using twine rope;  let the shape be very organic and freehand the applique. I used a zig-zag stitch to applique the twine to the quilt and basically let the stitches go through all the layers of the quilt to quilt it as I was doing the applique. While I liked the technique I'm not sure about the whole execution of this project. I'm really dived whether I like it or not. I like the texture of the twine and the quilt and applique at the same time technique, but I think next time the spirals should be more structured.
I can't wait to see your projects and see what you came up for this concept of spirals.