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.

Check out the whole Festival programme here!

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Introducing my ogees!

yellow-birdFive months since I last posted to my blog!! Time rushes by, and I’m kept so busy with producing the Quilling Guild’s members’ magazine and blog that my own site here remains sadly neglected. Plus to be honest I’ve been seduced by the ease of the ‘quick-fix’ alternatives of ‘micro-blogging’ on Facebook and Twitter which have become my main communications platforms in the meantime. Then there’s Instagram, too – I keep forgetting about that … when it comes to social media, there’s simply too much to keep up with!

However … it’s Sunday afternoon, and I have some time at last to write a proper post for my own blog. So here goes:

It’s February 2017, and this month I was supposed to have been staging an exhibition of my work as a featured artist at a gallery in the village where I live – except it hasn’t happened because, tragically, the gallery was forced to close last summer. There’s a saying here in the UK that “when one door closes, another opens”, however – and that’s certainly been true for me!

Last summer, I was privileged to be asked to get involved in the Taunton Live Arts Festival in Somerset – you can read all about it here. This enabled me to exhibit, and subsequently sell, some of my work – which more than makes up for the lost opportunity of the cancelled gallery show. Plus preparations are now well underway for Taunton Live 2017 in which I am going to be even more deeply involved this year!

This should give me plenty more to be blogging about as the year unfolds – and I’m going to start with this piece, which I finished quilling yesterday:

yellow-bird

One of the festival organisers is going to stage a wall installation in the town centre, featuring an array of origami paper flowers in individual rainbow colours, and she asked if I could produce a yellow bird with quilled decoration to ‘fly’ amongst them.  The bird had to be based on a solid cut-out background shape which can be attached to the wall by means of ‘sticky fixers’ – and it had to be flying from left to right.

I started by cutting out the bird shape from yellow card, and edging it with a crimped border made from two 3mm yellow quilling strips glued together. The border was attached by applying glue to the side edge of the bird shape, working from the back so that any excess ‘blobs’ would not show on the front side. I also started working to develop a format for the tail feathers, based on a central wheatear spine bordered by two alternate side-looped huskings.

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I then made a radical decision regarding the way in which I would ‘feather’ the main body of the bird. In earlier days, I would have set about laboriously filling up the space with closed loose coil marquises or endless ‘beehive’ twists made with a slotted tool – but, do you know, I am just SO bored with these popular methods of quilling infill!! Beehive, to me, is over-done these days and really rather unimaginative. As for interlocking coiled marquises – well, not only do I find them boring to make, but I personally think the end result can be unattractively ‘heavy’ and ‘clumpy’; I badly needed to develop an alternative approach.

So, this year, I’ve started experimenting with simple marquise/teardrop shapes formed from short ‘conditioned’ (i.e. rubbed with a thumbnail) and folded lengths of quilling strip, glued together at their tips. Thanks to their pre-conditioning, these can be gently pressed open to form a shape like a delicate blade of grass:

folded-strip-grass-blades

OR, they can be pinched and pressed into a shape which I like to call an ‘ogee’ because it echoes the architectural form of an ‘ogee arch‘. I have used these ‘ogees’ as the basis for a composite feather pattern for my bird, incorporating tiny huskings, as you can see here:

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Do you know, I’m really getting into these ogees! I LIKE the fact that they are light, clean-cut shapes, uncluttered by the visual distraction of multiple outward-coiling ‘spiracles’. They can be fitted into awkward spaces and grouped together just like coiled marquises – but the end result is so much more open and, in my humble opinion, more attractive. I’m going to be working on developing the use of this shape in many more projects, like the leaves of this quilled wisteria, for example:

quilled-wisteria

I’m becoming convinced that making space is sometimes more effective than slavishly filling it. So I’ve used ogees for my bird, which is now flying free, and will be making its public appearance in Taunton in July.