Boroinspired quilting

I have always wanted to have a go at making a quilt. I was given a small blue one when the children were small that I always loved.

I have never been able to imagine cutting out the fabric neatly with 90 degree corners and straight lines. Doing some research around my teabag quilts after some one said they looked a bit like sashiko- I discovered the fabulous world of Japanese stitching and boro inspired patching.

There are lots of sources on Pinterest and blogs about the history of /methods online

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/an-experts-favorite-japanese-textiles#9

Above is an early 19th Century bed cover.

Back to my quilt. I was offered a bag of fabric scraps by a friend if mine. I decided to have a go at making a quilt using an old single duvet as a base.

As a child I remember saying when I grow up I am never going to darn socks – after watching my mother sew little hard circles of stitches into jumpers and socks. So I am amused that the technique mum taught me is now being used to top stitch a whole quilt!!!

My aversion to the effort required to cut neat shapes means that the design will be quite organic and the top stitching will hide a multitude of sins ….

I had a bright cotton skirt that was too busy. It would make a good choice to base all my other fabric colour choices on.

I started at the edges because I thought the hem of the skirt would add strength to the final piece.

I practiced boroinspired stitching on some of the pieces

Then started adding my friends fabric scraps. She has some experience with quilting so a lot of the pieces were cut into rectangles or squares ….

I wasn’t really sure about the yellow but it does lift the blue.

I have been a bit obsessive and made my hands and back ache. So I decided to stop pinning new fabric and sewing it onto the base and concentrate on a bit of top stitching.

Jon and I are enjoying this because me adding fabric pieces is very very messy πŸ˜‚with needles pins, fabric and thread all over the kitchen.

This is as far as I have got with my design. I am thinking of just adding blue pieces to the middle bit in a nod to the Japanese

history. I am using second hand pieces of fabric or clothes in an attempt to be frugal.

Experimenting with different thread/ teabag quilt

I have had a sewing box for ever. This is the first time I can remember running out of white thread.

I had a go at embroidering a mandala with the same thread that I used for my most recent quilt ( see my last post). I sewed using cheap white thread that I had had for years. I was disappointed with the results. So I overworked the stitches and added some thicker cotton/ wool

I saw some multicoloured thread on a friend’s Instagram feed and thought it would be fun on teabags. I went on a shopping trip and found some fab colour ways made by Guttermann.

I also bought a heavy duty white thread and a large multi use 100% polyester white. The multicoloured reals are 100% cotton.

I love the results

I think the orange will be great as the cotton to sew the tea bags on to my substrate. The darker/ rainbow mix shows up the best. However I like combination of the three colours.

The stronger thread shows up against the tea bags very well

I decided to make my – mandala into a sample piece. I added the paper fabric as an edging

I am getting better at making my work more regular (πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚)

Sometimes it feels like I am in a dyslexic fugue-shining a light – ‘Soul Restoration’

I am ‘doing’ Soul Restoration with the ‘Brave Girls University’ . my best arty friend Debbie Howard is tutoring me electronically and I have signed up for Melody Ross’ video tutorials and bought the work book….

I am shining a light on my truths, today looking at my dyslexia which is driving me mad this week. I have trouble with dates and calendars – I try so hard to compensate but sometimes I have a melt down – 4 double bookings over the next few months has me reduced to a quivering jelly with a lack of self esteem……. I drew a table last night of my cock ups to get a better idea of how much grovelling I have to do , over the next few days.

As compensation I decided to stop beating my self up and look up symptoms of adult dyslexia

I tried very hard to spell the title properly but – drawing letters sends my potty – concentration on tooooo many things at once πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I picked out those that apply to me the most – if you have 10 the website has a course that you can attend to help you ……

https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/signs-of-dyslexia/common-characteristics-of-adult-dyslexia/

I try an compensate but when I was a teacher it was a bit tricky with report writing and timetables….

I was reading the list – which I found interesting – it has a disclaimer at the top

‘Most adult dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics are often inconsistent, and may vary depending upon the day or situation.’

My art journalling called – I sometimes see pages in my head just before I wake up properly in the morning – today a girl was drowning in a sea of dyslexia – a bit dramatic but I liked it.

In the sea it says ” the very things that held you under are going to lift you up’ there is a randomn ‘ ‘achieve’ and ‘pressure’ and watches to represent time – calendars etc

The Soul Restoration course asks you to look at your light and shade in your life

Yesterday I had a mad art day and produced quite a few pages based on the idea around shining a light on the shade/ lies that I tell my self – I am finding the ‘lies’ quite difficult to get my head around

The one below looks at how there is too little natural light in my basement flat and how it is necessary to get out and walk everyday

Below I look at how I achieve when I push my self – this is quite a hard balance to achieve with the beating myself up that goes on with my dyslexia. These pages feel raw, untidy and unfinished but the express how I was feeling and the struggle to be authentic on the page

My first spread for this course looked at 3 different senses of self – a facade that I can present to the world , a shadow self and an authentic self. I made the page after a movement medicine session. Sometimes it feels like I dance to feel the light. – the page is a fold out piece so there are several pics

Developing a style , A3 size part 1- step by stepΒ 

Frequently over the years, I have been asked to do bigger work. I bailing at it because I like working in my kitchen on several things at once. However, the still life style I have been producing would work well A3 ( 12″x16.5″)

Drawing a mandala that big was a bit tricky until I got the hang of it

Stage 1 – mandala  drawing using water soluble teal ink on 140lb watercolour paper and cartridge paper 

Stage 2- Spritzed with water x4 

The second one is drawn with thin sharpie just to see what happens ( my turquoise pen ran out) I always think as I do each stage – leave it here …..


I love the slight differences that you get doing a series 

Part3- adding texture and energy drawing loose spirals in a variety of different pencils , gelatos and pens 


I also added some Galeria  Matt varnish because the blokey in my local art shop said it would act as a resist …… we shall see 

Stage 4 – sprayed pink watersoluble pink ink through a crochet diolly 


I have decided that If I am doing teal and turquoise acrylic backgrounds on top and of these I need to add a bit more zing to the underneath layer. Disappointing there is no evidence of the varnish acting as a resist at this stage …..


But not too much 
Fluorescent pink and yellow is just a bit too much even for me …. ( above I spread it on with a credit card) 

Developing a style – ‘Still life’Β 

Since I started being an artist full time 3 years ago, I have been trying to find a style or way of working that is my own. The layering of mandalas and tea dipping is very therapeutic, but the wanted to work towards something more concrete. I want to incorporate these images within other pieces. 

I love flowers and enjoy creating 3D designs that you can achieve with  a ‘still life’. My hubby and I are both a bit allergic to flowers and pollen so I have bought a range of different artificial examples. 


I have a couple of white jugs and a favourite over decorated piece that belonged to my step grandma. I thought it would also be fun to use jars and bottles which are currently in fashion as vases. I also visited the National Museum of Scotland looking for different shaped vessels 



When I start a project – I do lots of preparation and thinking , but then procrastinate about actually starting the work….. 


these are my first efforts – I have prepared lots of mandalas on cartridge paper and printer paper. The printer paper is too thin and buckles and creases too much but is good to practice layouts and composition. 

I used some water soluble powdered pigment  ink in some of the mandalas and this seems to leak into the acrylic, causing the circular effects you can see in the last picture above. 

I like the way the negative shapes of the flowers work well with the flat background. I thought The fowers and vase need to be drawn simpley  to contrast with the mandalas. I have been playing with different tones of blue and thicknesses of pen. I think each mandala needs me to be more intuiative with the back grounds rather than mixing up a vat of colour like I did yesterday 


I hav been trying to draw as realistically as possible and have been posting  on Instagram to see what reaction I get from my friends.  I was surprised when I posted the picture below asking for feed back – I was unsure about the white and felt that the jar was a bit clumsy – it received more positive feed back than some of the more neatly drawn careful designs 

I have tried different colours in the back ground and I am particularly fond of the shapes created by my artificial seed pods 


When I posted the image of the step by step below I was also interested in how people appreciated the contrast  of orange and mandala top left and the thin layer of orange bottom right- when I had been striving to achieve a flat opaque finish 


Larger fleshy flowers are not as effective – because there is not enough negative shape to play with and the thicker line looses definition 

This background is too simillar to the flower- not sure what it is supposed to be really….. the stems and flowers appear to be a climber but the rigid stem is a bit incongruous 


My real cycleman didn’t really work either – I think the flowers and the petals are too close together and the pen line too thick


I will keep at it ….