My Adventures in Wonderland!

2-blog-5Why am I in Wonderland? Well, because things keep growing and shrinking under my gaze! Transparents are so tricky….

Lucky that I had the 2 spare black circles from the slightly botched print run, as this allowed me to do full size sample of stitching to try out my ideas. So that is the stage I have reached – I have now done all my sampling and am ready to start work on the piece itself – Gulp!

First I tried stitching on the poly voile itself. I decided to work within a ‘stream of consciousness’ format to keep the words within a band rather than having them all over the piece so I tacked out a stream and started to stitch, stabilising my work with Aquafilm (Romeo). I was uncertain whether this would be sufficient to keep the very flimsy fabric stable with the amount of machine embroidery I needed to do.


Apologies for the appalling quality of photos but white AND transparent – almost impossible to photograph!

After dissolving the Aquafilm, a good press resulted in a lovely swathe of stitching which still hangs beautifully – RESULT!

The next sample to try was the machine lace that will link the first 2 layers and qualify the piece as a ‘quilt’ (2 or more layers stitched together – my interpretation of ‘stitched together’ is quite loose admittedly!). So more writing with the sewing machine on Aquafilm. I had a piece of thick wool felt sealed with acrylic paint which I knew I could pin the writing out on.


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I carefully pinned it out, dissolved and….clearly had not added enough pins! So I did it again – with more pins….


I nearly used a whole box of pins just doing one line of text! By now I had 2 pieces of polystyrene to pin on to – a by product of Christmas! So I pinned away and then realised that my sink at home was too small to get the polystyrene into! So I had to use running hot water – never a satisfactory way of dissolving Aquafilm so it was luck it was only a sample. I will have to do the main piece at the studio in my lovely large and deep sink where I can leave it soaking. This time, even with the difficulty with the dissolving, I got a good result.

I then pinned the little bits of machine text between the 2 layers – see the picture at the top – to check out which colour worked best. Still not sure but think I will stay with the pale and possibly some black behind the innermost circle. I can foresee some trouble in assembling as I suspect I will have to do this once the layers are hanging from the battens. Mmm…. may have to ponder that one some more….!

In the meantime,  full steam ahead with the main piece, once I had tacked out the ‘stream’ on to the top layer. This involved tacking the outline of the whole piece on ALL layers – something I did at the studio on the print bench so I did not have to scrabble around on the floor – so much easier on my knees!


So those sewing lessons all those years ago in school were not a complete waste….as I tailor tacked and loose tacked through all 4 layers so that I could gradually remove a layer at a time and retack the outside edge of the piece to make sure the circles would all end up in the right place in relation to one another. It took virtually ALL DAY during an Open Bench session at Studio 11 – and I promise I was not talking to lots of people slowing me down; I was very focussed!

All ready to stitch on the top layer now…..



In The Spotlight

I am delighted to have been asked to represent Region 2 (South East) of the Quilters Guild in the Festival of Quilts Gallery ‘In The Spotlight’ – for up and coming quilters.

When I accepted, I had not realised there would be a theme – I have been so focussed on working on my dementia series that I felt I might not be able to rise to the challenge! However, having accepted I thought it would be ungracious to pull out.

The theme is Alice In Wonderland, next year being the 150 anniversary of it’s publication – yes 150! I had not realised it was that old either. I considered making patterns with hearts – that would be fun – then making mazes – that would also be fun. But neither of these ideas really represents me as an artist.

Then I heard about Alice in Wonderland Syndrome – a condition associated with migraine that Lewis Carroll may have suffered from and the effects helped him create some of the more outlandish adventures, including the tunnel and the shrinking room. So I have decided to use this to look at conscious and unconscious, creating a work using familiar materials such as transparents.

Sample to try out layering effects

Layering up 4 black circles in decreasing sizes in loose suggestion of tunnel, or a rolling ball as one sufferer described her experience of the sydrome’s sypmtoms. But also representing the consious and unconscious.

Scaling up was a simple matter – I thought! Make a stencil from newsprint and draw a circle. The large circle was going to have to be around 80cm so I pinned into my design wall and drew a circle using a thread and pen.

Drawing the circles

Cut out and then paint black acrylic on to sheer polyester voile.

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First problem – how to stop the paint from the first circle corrupting the clean fabric for the second circle. Answer – cover with paper. Second problem – how to stop the spare fabric around the circle getting corrupted as fabric being moved off the print bench. Answer – fold and peg excess fabric before lifting off.

Circles completeSo I spent a happy day on Sunday printing circles. In fact I printed 6 circles not 4 – I failed in my attempts to get clean prints on 2 circles and had to repeat. But I have to have samples to try out the stitching on – right?

And I got left with some interesting papers to play with for another project perhaps….




alice-blog-1-3Next stage – stitching – trying out some words on dissolvable fabric – more pics next time.