A whole new world

We’ve all watched Escape To The Country and that’s what my husband and I did. When I first moved here to the beautiful heart of Wales, I had been a teacher for twenty plus years with little time for anything other than work.  At first the chance to have a bit of peace and quiet, take walks in the countryside and read my way through a list of books I’d never got around to filled my days. But after a while I was bored with all that. Plus, when you’re new to an area you need to get out and make a new network of friends.

So one day I spotted a two day willow basket -making workshop at a place called The Minerva Arts Centre which was in our nearest town just four miles away.  The basket making was a disaster – weaving willow was not for me I’m afraid. But what an amazing place I had found!  As someone who had done a bit of patchwork and quilting many moons ago the weekly quilting group, Welsh Heritage Quilters, gave me a chance to not only brush up on my old skills but to build a social life too. And then I discovered the workshops run by the Quilt Association which opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me.   I’ve always loved sewing and I’ve also always painted and sketched when time allowed.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been on several workshops at Minerva that have combined my love of sewing and art. Fabric, paints, colour.  What’s not to like!!! This is the journey I’ve been on so far.

In 2015 I went on a workshop tutored by Deborah O’Hare. We learned lots of different techniques for painting fabric and came away with lots of samples, some of which I’ve recently used on a World War One themed piece. Deborah will be back at Minerva on 26th July to teach a workshop called Layers and Shadows

Last March, I did a Print and Stitch workshop with Linda Paris where we used thermofax screens to print onto both commercially produced and hand dyed fabric.  Again, I’m still using up some of the samples we made that day on my WW1 piece. And the little thermofax screen of a stag I bought from Linda was used to make my Christmas cards last year.  I don’t think Linda is teaching any longer but her legacy lives on.

Below are a couple of photos which show an example of the painted landscape backgrounds I did with Deborah O’Hare.  The top one has been incorporated into a piece about World War One and the one below has a thermofax print on top, done with Linda Paris.

In May we held a Spring School tutored by Hilary Beattie. Hilary has a lot of followers and the course was full before I tried to book so I had to make do with looking at her work in our Spring Exhibition which featured work by the group Art Textiles:Made in Britain, of which Hilary is a member. I then discovered she has a whole series of videos on YouTube so I was able to watch and learn. Until I did that I’d never heard of acrylic wax or gelatos. Thanks, Hilary!

In August I did a fantastic two day workshop with Bobby Britnell,  a wonderful teacher who gives her students so much confidence to try new things.  What I took from those two days was an absolute passion for mono printing and, in particular, making my own stamps. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this new technique has given me.  I learned so much from Bobby – I am like a woman possessed. This was followed by a two day workshop in November led by Ruth Issett, Ruth is the absolute hero of many a would-be textile artist because of the way she uses colour in her work.  From her I learned how to improve my work with mono printing by overdyeing with procion dyes and how to be brave with colour.  The workshop was such an enjoyable one – one of my fellow students was beyond excited at the start of the second day (yes you, Lynda!).

Foam print blocks I made after my workshop with Bobby Britnell.

Mono prints in my sketch book using the foam blocks.

Mono prints on cotton fabric, waiting to be overdyed.

Mono printing and overdyeing done on Ruth Issett’s workshop.

Both Bobby and Ruth are members of the Textile Study Group , ‘a group of nationally and internationally recognised textile artists and tutors, well known for innovative and challenging approaches to art practice and contemporary teaching.’ We are so pleased to be one of the venues for their touring exhibition, DIS/rupt, which opens here at Minerva Arts Centre on 21st April. As part of our Spring Exhibition series of workshops, Bobby will be tutoring a half day workshop , Barking Up The Right Tree, for us on 8th May, and Ruth will be here on 25th May to lead a half day workshop called Disrupting Repetitive Pattern. We are also delighted to welcome Sarah Burgess, another member of TSG, on 28th April for a day workshop entitled Lost And Found.

This has been a long (and quite personal) post for me but I wanted to share with you how much being part of the Quilt Association means to me.  As a group of trustees we are passionate about what we do.  We take our responsibilities as curators of the building and conservators of the quilts we care for very seriously but we also have a commitment to sharing the very best practice in quiltmaking and textile art through the medium of our workshops programme.

If you haven’t been on one of our workshops before please give it a go!! I promise you that you will learn so much and have a fabulous time. We are in a beautiful part of the country and many of our course participants bring their ‘other half’ along. There’s plenty for them to do – walking, fishing, cafes, trains!!!

We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

Hilary Beattie

Hilary Beattie will be running a spring school for The Quilt Association this May.  Hilary taught here in Llanidloes in 2016 and that three-day retreat was a run-away success with many students booking again for this year. As a result, the school is sold out, but we hope that you will come and see Hilary’s work, plus the work of other members of Art Textiles:Made in Britain in the exhibition at The Minerva Arts Centre during May.

Anyone who has met Hilary, seen her teach, or demonstrate at quilting shows, will know that she is passionate about her art and tireless both in its execution and in the promotion of textile art as a movement.  Her work goes from strength to strength as she embraces new techniques, and experiments vivaciously with new materials. Hilary explores personal subject matter and shares with the observer her many passions, whether it is, for example, her love of the coast, her beloved dogs, her garden, or her own emotional journey.  What singles Hilary out as a true gift to textile art in Britain is the generosity with which she shares her knowledge, and, especially, her ability to impart that knowledge with engagement and enthusiasm,  to both experienced and novice practitioners.

Concealed

This exhibition by members and guests of Art Textiles:Made in Britain opens at The Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes on May 6 2017 and runs until 3 June 2017.  The gallery will be open from 10.30 until 4.30 each day except Sundays.

There are related workshops as follows:

Rosie James – Photostitch – May 6 2017
Hilary Beattie – The Language of Flowers – 18 – 20 May 2017
Cas Holmes – Unfolding Landscapes – 22 – 23 May 2017
Sylvia Paul – Concealed – 1 – 2 June 2017

 

Quilt Association City and Guilds Graduates

“I feel quite sad now that it is over. I have thoroughly enjoyed my course, all of it, some parts more than others, at each stage I have been inspired, and enjoyed the challenge.  I have grown in so many ways, but especially confidence.”

Recently, several students have graduated from our City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Patchwork and Appliqué. They produced some outstanding work, as varied as their own personalities. During their online studies, they have filled sketchbooks as they learned about the elements of design – 

They have practised design development – 

and learnt practical skills such as traditional stitching techniques, Procion MX dyeing and free-motion quilting – 

and produced beautiful finished items focused on Patchwork and on Appliqué –

We had some lovely feedback from the graduates, (as well as the quote at the start of this post)  saying such things as;

“I learned a lot during the course and did things I would never before have                a) thought of doing or                                                                                                        b) thought were things I was capable of, probably just because I didn’t know how. In future if I come up with an idea, I will be more inclined to find out how things are done and can I acquire the tools needed rather than saying “that’s not for me”

“You have been a super tutor and your course is quite outstanding…wonderfully constructed and designed.”

“I have really enjoyed the course and learnt so much”

Some of you will have heard that City and Guilds are about to radically change their creative provision.  No one is sure yet exactly what they intend, but we do know that we can continue to register new students on our programme, which is 7161 from the Creative Techniques pathway,  until 2018.  If you are thinking of taking a City and Guilds course don’t delay.  We continue to be the best value online provider, with our price held despite increases in administration costs.

 

Spring forward

Well, the clocks went forward last weekend and doesn’t it make a difference!  More daylight hours to do all the things we’ve been putting off and hopefully a bit of sunshine to do them in.  I’m getting this blog post down now because I know that, come tomorrow evening (given my inability to keep myself clean) I will be up to my elbows in printing ink after the first day of Linda Paris’ Print and Stitch workshop.  I can’t wait to get started and I’ll keep you updated at the weekend on progress so far. Then on Tuesday we’re going to be putting some stitch to fabric.  We still have room to squeeze you in if you want to come.

Saturday sees the opening of our first Vintage Fair of the year which runs from 1st – 12th April.  It always amazes me how many things are there that I have to restrain myself from buying.  If I got my act together I could probably fill my own stand.  For any fan of all things vintage it’s like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures: china, clothing, books, records, furniture, jewellery – the list is endless.  Come and see for yourself.  Open every day except Sundays.

Our next workshop will be the one tutored by Rosie James on 6th May and we still have places but they’re filling up fast.  Likewise the ones led by Cas Holmes, Hilary Beattie and Sylvia Paul.  If you’re interested in those and our summer workshops (Ruth Singer and Bobby Britnell) see our Workshops page for more details and information on how to book.

 

Anja Townrow Workshop

A day when the concentration levels kept the workshop very quiet!  Everyone created perfect points using Anya Townrow’s personal method of foundation piecing, and everyone agreed that her teaching method is both efficient and charming!

Anja’s own work is just beautiful – take as look at her website for examples, kits, and more.

We hope that Anja will be with us again in 2016, teaching a two day workshop full of techniques and with students completing a wonderful stitched ring binder.

2015 Activity at The Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes

Touch wood, we have endured a quiet winter weather wise, (there is still time!!).  This year we risked a February workshop and got away with it! No snow!!

Deborah O’Hare is always a most welcome guest, and this year she taught her exciting Landscape Fabric Painting  workshop.  Participants learned all sorts of techniques, such as using salt to dapple the surface.

Deborah has posted about her day on her own website – do have a look – she sells wonderful fabrics and kits.

Coming up this weekend we have Anja Townrow’s workshop full to bursting, as she teaches foundation piecing, and then in April, Angela Daymond will be printing with Woad – how intriguing!

Two Workshops in One Day!

There was a great buzz in The Minerva Arts Centre with workshops hosted by Dawn Cameron-Dick and Angie Hughes taking place on the same day.  With two huge gallery spaces and lots of kettles and mugs on hand, great fun was had by all!

For Dawn’s students, there was the hum of sewing machines, and lots of hints and tips on how to create perfect New York Beauty blocks with surprising ease.  Everyone went home happy!

Angie Hughes was making a return visit to Llanidloes as the first time she taught Exploring Velvet, the demand was so great that she just had to visit us again!  Hosted this time by the Mid Wales Embroiderers, her students played with inks and bleach, stencils, foils, and sprays, to create textiles with great atmosphere and depth.

Turning Twenty – quilt exhibition now open

Our twentieth annual summer exhibition in The Minerva Arts Centre is now open.  It is a magnificent display of old and new, with the best of The Quilt Association’s vintage and antique quilt collection sharing space with contemporary work by Sandra Meech and Welsh textile group Cwilt Cymru.  The exhibition is open 6 days a week, 10.30 until 4.30 with an entry fee of £4.00, (£3.50 concessions)

Members of our local quilt group, The Welsh Heritage Quilters, contributed quilts on an appropriate anniversary gift theme – China.  The added proviso was that the quilts measure 20″ by 14″, (2014) – but you know quilters!  Some have complied!!

The preview, held on Sunday July 13 was enhanced by a delicious buffet – here is what Jeni Morrison said about the food she so kindly prepared:

I was able to indulge in one of my favourite occupations last week – preparing food for a special occasion.  What has this got to do with quilting?  Well the special occasion was the preview of the Quilt Association’s 20th Summer Exhibition that is open from now until September 15th.

One of the most popular items was the pile of truffles made from a sponge cake and Fairtrade chocolate and raisins soaked in rum.  I also made some butter shortbread using stone-ground wholemeal flour, from Talgarth Mill, and Fairtrade sugar.  The only problem with those was the difficulty knowing when they were done as they were brown to start with.  Unfortunately, I over catered so the stewards at the exhibition will benefit from the biscuits and cakes.  The other left-overs have mostly been made into soup for the freezer.  I can’t guarantee there will be Fairtrade wine next year as the Namaqua wine was a bargain introductory offer.  There was none of that left over!

Purple Missus

Lynda Monk, aka Purple Missus, came to teach for us on 4 July.  It was an intense and wonderfully creative day.  Lynda is a specialist in creating intriguing textile surfaces, with depth and mystery.  More than that, she is an excellent teacher.  I don’t think I have encountered a better prepared tutor and the kits she makes up for her students are a perfect way to make sure that every student is clear on process, keeps up, (even donkey’s tail me!!!) and gets great results.

We are hoping we can persuade her to come back and teach for two days in 2016.  Become a member of the QA, or sign up to the monthly newsletter (link at the bottom right of the QA homepage) if you want to hear about our courses before they sell  out!