Counting down to Taunton Live 2017!

Just a few weeks to go now before the start of this year’s amazing Taunton Live Arts Festival on 24th July and things are hotting up in more ways than one!  I have created a page on this blog on which you can look at the full festival programme here.

Amid blazing sunshine and soaring temperatures, I am currently putting the finishing touches to all the pieces I am going to be taking to this year’s festival as time ticks rapidly by. It’s hard to imagine that this year’s event could possibly be even more exciting for me than it was in 2016 (see this post which is full of happy memories) – but the signs are looking good indeed!

This year I am going to be exhibiting framed quilled artwork in two different places.  Firstly, I will be participating in the Go Create members’ exhibition at the Winchester Arms which is situated right at the heart of the outdoor festival events on Taunton’s Castle Green. I have decided to take one new piece and two remaining from my church exhibition of 2016 which I hope may yet find buyers in this centrally-situated venue. Here’s the new piece, which is entitled ‘Love the Levels’:

It’s my interpretation of the peat-rich flatlands of the glorious Somerset Levels, featuring quilling strip ‘strata’ and gold/silver edged coils depicting light glinting on the muddy puddles of the moorland which stretches for miles around the iconic mound of Glastonbury Tor. I also added a quilled willow tree and reeds to complete the image which for me captures just a little of the magical essence of Somerset. I hope that visitors will like it.

This year I have once again been fortunate to have been given further exhibition space in Taunton through the Festival’s fabulous ‘Adopt An Artist‘ scheme. My ‘adopter’ this year is Priory Close Veterinary Practice in Canon Street who have generously offered me wall space in their spacious waiting room, plus some shelves which are visible from the street through very attractive arched leaded light windows.  I am going to take a few of my quilled ‘sculptures’ like these for the window space:

… plus the focus of my display of framed pictures on the waiting room wall will be birds. These will include my recently-framed ‘Resplendent Quetzal’ bird of paradise (pictured below), along with my quilled turtle dove, green woodpecker, and ‘murmuration’ of starlings (also below) which I created using Diane Boden’s amazing ‘fairy dust sprinkles’ technique that I learned at the Quilling Guild‘s last International Festival of Quilling in Liverpool in 2013.

Still on the subject of birds, I blogged earlier about the yellow bird I’ve created for the ‘origami wall‘ which is being planned for the Festival, organised by my good friend Fran who currently has people across Taunton folding origami birds by the dozen! I’m a bit concerned that my quilled bird may look a little out of place amongst all the folded ones, whilst Fran is worried that I’ve spent a lot of time working on something that may – sadly – end up being stolen or vandalised (it’s an outdoor installation). However, I’ve said I’ll be happy just as long as my bird flies on the wall long enough for me to get a photo of it. We’ll just have to see how it goes …

On Wednesday 26th July, I’ll be doing a ‘pop-up’ quilling demonstration in Taunton’s main shopping area, the Orchard Centre, alongside other ‘pop-up’ performances by various Go Create Taunton members. I plan to be making some quilled jewellery for the public to watch, and there will be an opportunity for them to have a go at quilling if they want to – I’ll have plenty of starter kits on standby! This event will also provide me with the chance to offer some of my quilled merchandise for sale – I’ve been making quite a few new cards and jewellery items this year.

On the jewellery front, I’ve been developing some new-style quilled pendants which my friends in Taunton are already quite excited about:

Over the months, I’ve progressed from multi-coloured creations based on solid coils to some interlocking hoop designs, inspired by some of the wonderful ideas shared by the eminent Australian paper jewellery-maker Licia Politis in the Quilling Guild’s ‘Quillers Today‘ magazine a few years ago. (Quilling Guild members can access this feature via the Quilling Now! blog).

As for cards … well, I underwent a bit of an ‘epiphany’ this Spring after attending a ‘Collage Creativity’ course at the wonderful Dillington House adult education centre.  Before going on this course, I had already started working on a few ‘mixed media’ designs featuring quilling, typography panels and embossing like this one:

However, after being told in no uncertain terms by the collage tutor to “put that craft knife down!!”, my designs have morphed into a much softer style with torn edges and distress inking along these lines:

I hope that the cards I have made will prove popular in Taunton.

These merchandise items will also be on sale at what I regard as my ‘main event’ at the Festival: I am honoured to be hosting a display of the Quilling Guild’s amazing GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title display of 6,241 quilled flowers at the Temple Church in Upper High Street, on 28th and 29th July from 12 noon – 4.00pm each day.

I’ll be demonstrating quilled flowers at this free event, and I’m hoping that lots of people will come to see the display which is being billed as one of the highlights of the Festival.

So, with all this going on, I’m sure you can imagine my rising sense of excitement as I count the days until the beginning of Taunton Live on 24th July. If you live in, or find yourself in the area during the Festival week, do please come and see me at one of my events, and take in the rest of the Festival which will be packed with spectacular art and performances of every kind. It is my absolute pleasure and privilege to be part of it.

Quilling with marbled paper

DSCF6584I’m always on the look-out for potential new quilling materials, so was delighted to make the acquaintance of a hand-marbled paper supplier last week at the fabulous Taunton Flower Show. Marshall and Fuller produce an amazing range of uniquely patterned papers whose weight is ideal for quilling applications, so I just had to treat myself by buying a sheet to play with.

DSCF6587Here’s a photo of a section of the sheet that I bought … yes, with a pattern like that it was guaranteed to get the creative ‘juices’ flowing! What’s more, I was assured by the manufacturer that the colours do not run in contact with PVA glue or varnish, so I just couldn’t wait to start experimenting. First, I cut some 3mm wide strips and backed them by gluing standard quilling strips in complementary colours along their length. When dry, this produced some very substantial strips – patterned on one side – which held their coil beautifully after rolling. Here, you can see the lovely effect that quilling with these produced:

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Then, I tried rolling up some long triangular sections of the paper to make some beads, and I’m absolutely thrilled with the result! The little sections of pattern combine together in a really attractive and interesting way, and (although I say it myself), I think these earrings are absolutely stunning!

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I just can’t wait to experiment some more, so watch this space …

Candy stripe paper bead earrings

ycv7tAInspired by a recent tutorial/free printable giveaway on Susan Niner Janes’ blog, Papercraft Post, I was keen to have another go at paper bead making. Susan’s clever idea was to add patterned ‘toppers’ to the narrower ends of tapered paper strips which are rolled into beads, so that an attractive design appears on the widest part of the bead after rolling. I wondered whether I could create my own patterns using short sections of quilling strips to produce a ‘candy stripe’ effect – and these earrings are the result.

To make the beads for my earrings, I tapered the edges of 20mm wide iris-folding strips by careful measurement and cutting to achieve a symmetrical shape. To the wider end (on the inside of the bead when rolled), I glued a short looped-over length of paper twine to form an integral hanging hook for my earring beads. This doubled-over length of twine runs across the whole width of the strip right at the end, providing a fairly firm central ‘core’ to roll the bead around. The resulting loop is useful because it gives you something to hold on to when smoothing the bead into shape and also when applying glue/varnish. Plus, of course, it provides a fixing to thread the jump ring through when making the beads into earrings!

For the candy stripes, I selected 8 short lengths of left-over 3mm quilling strips and glued them diagonally, edge to edge, across the narrowest end of the strips (to appear on the outside of the bead when rolled).

After rolling each bead, I found I could easily slide the outer band of candy stripes up and down in order to ‘play’ with the finished shape, and the central paper twine loop could also be pulled and pushed to help achieve optimum shape and smoothness before fixing the finished bead with an outer coat of glue. Once I was happy with the shape of each bead, I applied the fixing coat of glue with a brush and popped a cocktail stick through the loop to help hold it upright while drying. (I insert my cocktail sticks into the tiny holes of a ‘pin art’ board for drying purposes, but you could equally well use a bulldog clip or a lump of plasticine to hold them.) Once the glue was dry, I finished by applying a layer of clear nail varnish.

I’m quite pleased with the end result, and am sure there must be many more interesting ways of enhancing beads with ‘toppers’. Do check out Susan’s blog here for further bead-making inspiration.