Tudor Timbers

 

Tudor Timbers #2

The title of this collage – Tudor Timbers – refers to the picture at the top of the arch which shows one of Taunton’s most iconic landmarks, dating from the 16th century.  This lovely half-timbered building stands right in the centre of the town, and always used to be known as the Tudor Tavern. Today it is a coffee shop, but I remember it back in the 1970s as a Berni Inn (oh happy days!!), with a separate room at the back called the Hangman’s Bar. The hangman in question was the infamous Judge Jeffries who presided over the so-called ‘Bloody Assizes’ in Taunton in the late 17th century. This followed the suppression of the ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion at the Battle of Sedgemoor, in which many local citizens had unfortunately been involved. Despite this somewhat grisly association, the Tudor Tavern remains a potent symbol of Taunton’s history, and seemed to me to be the perfect centrepiece for a Tudor-style collage. I like the way the steep roof of the Tavern zig-zags down towards the right hand side of the arch, highlighted by a subtle patina of moss on the richly coloured roof tiles.

Like my other collages, this piece is divided into brightly coloured black-bordered sections reminiscent of a stained glass window, with quatrefoil tracery shapes positioned on the inside of the arch. The tracery is constructed from 3mm pastel yellow/silver-edged quilling strips, crowned by my quilled interpretation of a Tudor rose. Two of the window panels contain typography: look closely and you will see that the one positioned towards the lower right includes the opening words to the famous Tudor song, ‘Greensleeves’. I decided to decorate this particular panel romantically with a folded paper rosebud. The interlinked silver spirals in the gold panel above it were made with a punch – I had to insert the paper first forwards and then backwards into the punch to form each pair, because the paper I used was only coated in silver on one side. (I’ve had to learn how to think both upside down and back to front when making these collages!) The serrated decorations on the left hand side of the arch were made by cutting paper with pinking shears, and I’ve also included numerous tight pegs made from gold and silver edged quilling strips throughout the design. The borders for the arch were created using the quilling strip ‘sandwich’ technique described here.

DSCF7393I promised to share the pattern for my Tudor rose, so – for the quillers amongst you – here it is:

I worked with 3mm (1/8 inch) wide quilling strips, cut into lengths as detailed below. These lengths are necessarily short, since the main body of the finished rose measures only 30mm (just over 1 inch) across – yes, be warned, it’s fiddly to make! However, the pattern could easily be scaled up if required.

Make 10 closed loose coils out of 26 mm (1 inch) lengths of crimped white paper, and five tight pegs out of 26 mm (1 inch) lengths of grey paper. Create five pairs of white coils by gluing them together side by side. Then add one grey peg to the base of each pair as shown in the photo. Glue these three-coil sets together in a ring, working over circular graph paper.

Use a yellow strip to create a tight peg big enough to fit inside the ring, and glue it in place.

Make 5 teardrops from 3 mm (1.25 inch) lengths of dark green paper and glue these in position between each pair of white coils, pointing towards the centre of the rose.

Make 5 crescent/bunny ear shapes (refer to photo) from 225 mm (8 inch) lengths of dark red paper for the rose petals and glue these in position above the white coils, separated by the dark green teardrops. Glue the tips of each petal together.

Make 5 teardrops from 3 mm (1.25 inch) lengths of lime green paper and glue these in position as shown in the centre of each red petal.

Voila!

If you use this pattern and post a photo of your Tudor rose online, I’d be grateful if you could please include an acknowledgement to me and a link to this blog post – thank you.

Tudor Timbers will be placed on public display at various locations in the coming months, including the Taunton Live 2016 arts festival. Should you be interested in purchasing something similar (custom-made), please contact me by emailing quilliancemail@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Viva Vivary!

Viva Vivary #2

One of the many treasures to be found in Taunton (the county town of Somerset in south-west England) is a classic Victorian park which was first laid out for the public’s enjoyment in 1895.

Known as Vivary Park (after the medieval fish farm or ‘vivarium’ that was once sited there to serve Taunton’s ancient castle and priory), it features prominently in my memories of life in Taunton in the 1970s, and is still one of my favourite places to visit whenever I find myself in the town.

Vivary Park is the venue for the famous Taunton Flower Show which takes place annually in August, at which I was thrilled to win some prizes for my quilled art last year.  If you like, you can read about that particular adventure here and here.

The park has now become the subject of my latest quilled collage featuring gothic-style tracery, which aims to create a decorative ‘window’ on to this peaceful and colourful oasis in the town. At the centre is a digitally stylised picture of the gorgeous fountain which was unveiled as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria in 1907, and which is regularly re-painted in vivid bright colours which preserve its original magnificence even in modern times. The beauty of the fountain is echoed by fabulous displays of flowering plants throughout the year. There is also an elegant Victorian bandstand in the park, plus a peaceful sensory garden area – it really is such a delightful place!

I have tried to capture the rich colours of the park in this collage through my choice of background papers and the quilled flowers I made to complement them. Quillers will notice a little combed work along the edges of the deep magenta panels, nestling in between crimped-strip teardrops. The tracery is constructed using 3 mm gold-edged gold strips, triple-rolled to create ring coils around dowels. By cutting the ring coils, it is possible to make arcs that form the basis of classical gothic architectural shapes. I’m learning more and more about the geometry of tracery every time I make one of these pieces!

This picture will be placed on public display at various locations (including Taunton) in the coming months, unless previously sold. Should you be interested in purchasing it (or maybe even something similar, custom-made), please contact me by emailing quilliancemail@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Viva Vivary!!

Gold beneath Burrow Mump

Gold beneath Burrow Mump

 

So, this is the style that I’m adopting for my gallery collection: a segmented collage of different background papers, individually bordered with black crimped paper strip ‘leading’ like the panes of a stained glass window – all contained within a rigid framework made from ‘sandwiched’ multiple quilling strips and selectively decorated with various forms of paper filigree. Continuing the stained glass window analogy, each piece is going to be framed by tracery shapes, constructed from metallic-edged quilling strips. In church architecture, tracery forms an integral part of the window, crossing the panes, whereas mine positions itself – perversely! – around the edges.

If art provides an insight into a person’s soul, this speaks volumes about my affinity with bold shapes, ideas and colours. I’m so excited that others have seen and responded positively to this unique new style of mine … and I feel as though my creativity has been unleashed in a way that I’ve really never experienced before.

Yes, it’s moving away from quilling just a bit … well, away from ‘traditional quilling’, anyway, and for that reason I suspect it may not necessarily find favour with all of my friends and acquaintances in the ‘quilling blogosphere’. However, quilling still underpins the work in so many different ways: in the tracery (ring coils, cut and joined); in the edging (straight and crimped quilling strips sandwiched together); in the decorative detail of the window panes (open coils, ring coils and delicate huskings – the very essence of filigree as practised by our ancestors).

Because the piece shown above speaks for my soul, it had to contain just a little bit of Somerset. You’ll find this in the uppermost segment: a tiny image showing the summit of Burrow Mump – an iconic hill which rises dramatically out of the flat lands of the Somerset Levels.

King Alfred the Great is known to have climbed Burrow Mump to scan the distant landscape for marauding Danes in ancient times. During the time of his reign as the King of Wessex, the area of the Somerset Levels was a vast, marshy sea in which this natural knoll stood out as an island, making it an ideal lookout post. The ruin at the top of the Mump is the medieval church of St Michael which was used as a refuge by Royalist soldiers during the Civil War. Soon afterwards, the King’s army occupied it again during the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. The views from the summit of Burrow Mump are spectacular to say the least. As you catch your breath beside the ruined church after your steep climb, you can look out towards other ‘islands’ standing in the Levels, such as Glastonbury Tor and Alfred’s own royal Isle of Athelney. The Rivers Parrett and Tone converge at the foot of the Mump and flow away together to the Bristol Channel. It’s a truly magical place.

When creating this piece, I imagined that there might be gold deep inside the Mump, stretching out beneath the strata of the rock. Go deep enough down, and you might eventually discover subterranean water, whose colour echoes the brilliant blue of the sky above. However, I will leave my image of the Mump to speak to you in its own way …

For those who are interested in the technicalities of these things, I created the outline for this collage using a cross formation assembled using blank jigsaw pieces, which then provided templates for the individual segments of the design. The borders of the cross are delineated using my quilling strip ‘sandwich’ technique , glued down on to an outline shape which I embossed on to the blue background card over mounting board, using the crooked end of a crochet hook. In this photo, you can see how I applied tiny dots of glue into the indented outline and allowed them to go ‘tacky’ for a minute or so before placing the ‘sandwiched’ strip into position on the background card:

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I am proud of this piece, which will be placed on public display at various locations in the coming months, unless previously sold. Should you be interested in purchasing it (or maybe even something similar, custom-made), please contact me by emailing quilliancemail@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

 

 

The opportunity I’ve been hoping for!

All too often over the past few years, I’ve been unable to share photos of ‘work in progress’ here on my blog because the projects have had to be kept ‘under wraps’ … usually because they were destined to be competition entries. I very much enjoy entering competitions staged by The Quilling Guild (and other organisations I’m connected with such as Taunton Flower Show), but I love my blogging too – and now, finally, I’ve got a new objective in view that I’m able to ‘go public’ with right from the start!

I have been invited by Freda James, the owner of Gallery Fifty Five (in Hartley Wintney, southern England) to submit a collection of framed quilled/collage artworks for display in her Spring 2017 Exhibition, where I will be introduced as a Featured Artist.

This means I now have twelve whole months in which to work on creating the pieces that I plan to exhibit (and hopefully sell!), bringing me exactly where I want to be in terms of featuring my activities publicly on this blog and perhaps even enhancing my reputation as an aspiring artist.

This very exciting opportunity arose for me after I had shown Freda a quilled/collage picture that I’ve just completed. Now, true to established form, I cannot show you this particular one in its entirety just yet because I’m intending to enter it into a couple of competitions in 2016 … but I am going to share a tiny section of it here so that you can see the kind of style that I’m going to be developing for my Gallery collection:

Window section

 

It features cut-out sections of various background papers on a black background, embellished with quilled shapes and bordered with ‘sandwiched’ lengths of bundled quilling strips … all linked together with a network of the quilled tracery that I’ve been developing in recent months, and which has already been featured in several of my earlier posts this year. Once the competitions are over, this particular collage is going to be the centrepiece of my 2017 exhibit.

I’m really excited by the potential for these tracery shapes in quilling, echoing the wonderful curved and intersecting patterns that are found in gothic-style stained glass window architecture. Now I have the opportunity to develop them fully and explore their potential in some ‘proper’ art pieces.

I started with some experimentation this past weekend, after obtaining a quantity of silver-edged mixed pastel coloured 3mm strips which have allowed me to try making some ‘multi-coloured’ tracery pieces:

Coloured tracery

 

The initial results are quite pleasing, I think. I obtained these pastel-coloured strips privately, but will be happy to share details of the supplier on request.

I also plan to do lots more work with the wonderful solid gold/gold edged and solid silver/silver edged strips from JJ Quilling Design that I now have in my stash and which have brought me the closest I’ve ever been to feeling that I’m actually working with precious metals.

Right now, I’m starting to put together my next piece in which quilled tracery will be featured centre-stage … and I’ll definitely be sharing it here as the work progresses. Maybe there are some potential buyers out there who are going to like what they see – well, you never know!!

 

 

Mullions, transoms and tracery

Tracery bouquet

Quilled tracery design by Philippa Reid; lace effect graphic courtesy of Karen Stimson

In Somerset – these things always seem to happen to me in Somerset – I was struck last year by an aspect of church architecture which I had never really noticed properly before.

I used to live near to the lovely old country town of Langport, and like to return there whenever I’m in the area – these days, it’s quite a ‘hot-bed’ of contemporary and traditional arts.

During a visit to the town’s breathtakingly beautiful All Saints Church, I stopped to look – really look – at the wonderful stained glass windows in the church, which are complemented by beautiful examples of tracery.

As I mentioned in my last post, tracery is the network of interlaced ornamental stone ‘ribs’ which can be seen supporting the panes of coloured glass. The upright posts in such windows are called ‘mullions’, while the horizontal cross-pieces are called ‘transoms’. Now, I’m not entirely sure where mullions and transoms stop and tracery begins, but I do know that the overall effect can be stunning, and the patterns which are formed can – with a little imagination – be effectively translated into quilling.

This has set me off on a real ‘quilled tracery kick’ which is taking me on an interesting journey of experimentation and discovery.

The basis of the tracery I’ve been making has been ring coils cut into consistently-sized incomplete circles (horse-shoe shapes). By gluing these cut circles side by side, I’ve been able to create patterns like this:

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… which has then led on to some new ideas for card designs:

Tracery fish

Tracery #2

Last week I was in Somerset again, and took some time to check out the fabulous church architecture to be found in the county town of Taunton. I took this photo of St George’s Roman Catholic church, whose main tower window is a classic example of the way in which tracery patterns can be linked together:

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Then I visited the amazing church of St Mary Magdalene where I discovered that these tracery patterns are also evident in carved wood pew-ends, the font cover and ornamental seats like this:

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The pattern in the photo above interested me, because in a way it’s ‘tracery within tracery’ – take a close look and you’ll see what I mean. So I had a go at reproducing the shape using metallic edged gold and silver strips – and this is the result:

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I love these patterns – they really to offer SUCH design potential. So please bear with me, because I suspect I am going to be continuing on my ‘tracery kick’ for quite some time to come!!

Tracery and deconstruction

Every now and then, my love of experimentation gets the better of me and I eagerly set convention aside to try some ‘different’ forms of quilling.

DSCF7273Regular readers of this blog will know that I often like to cut things up when trying something new, and a few weeks ago I tried cutting through some of the spiracles (loops) of an eccentric coil, just to see what interesting things might happen! I’m not a particularly enthusiastic cook, but I do enjoy watching the TV programme Masterchef, and I’ve noticed that the chefs in the competition are often very keen to ‘deconstruct’ classic dishes, presenting familiar ingredients in different and surprising forms. I had this in mind while I played with my eccentric coil, looking for ways in which I might cut the loops and then put them back together in new ways. The shape shown on the left is the result!

Once I started, I realised that there are all sorts of ways in which the spiracles of a coil can be shaped and repositioned … and I also could not resist inserting a few new coils inside the loops of the original one! Incidentally, all this has strong echoes of the cut coil flowers that I wrote about a while ago, and which I believe also offer some interesting potential.

After seeing my ‘deconstructed’ eccentric coil in a post on Facebook, Jane Jenkins asked me whether I had tried deconstructing a husking, so I decided to give that a go too. I fiddled about with a wheatear and also an alternate side looped husking, but didn’t really get very far with either – both the shapes are just too linear. I’ve concluded that spirals offer far more opportunities for creative variation than straight, narrow loops, but if further inspiration strikes I will definitely let you know!

The other thing I’ve been experimenting with is an attempt to reproduce Gothic architectural tracery patterns in quilling. In architecture, tracery is the network of interlaced ornamental stone ‘ribs’ which can be seen supporting the intricate panels of stained glass windows – I have often admired this feature when visiting old English churches and cathedrals. Tracery gives us beautiful trefoil and quatrefoil shapes which are formed by positioning incomplete circles together. I’ve found that it’s possible to recreate these patterns in quilling, simply by cutting regular sections out of ring coils. To achieve consistency in my cut circles, I’ve made marks on the dowels that I roll the rings around so that I always make the cuts in exactly the same place. Then, with a little imagination and careful gluing, I’ve managed to create the simple tracery-style quilling that you see below. Experiments are ongoing!

tracery card

Where the heart is …

I have lived in several different places over the course of my life, but none has ever meant more to me than the town which I am so proud to call home: Taunton in Somerset.

For this reason, I was thrilled to be awarded two prizes for my quilling at the prestigious Taunton Flower Show earlier this year (see previous posts here and here) … and, this weekend, I am equally delighted to have been accepted as a member of a vibrant local arts organisation called GoCreate Taunton – you can now read my profile on the GoCreate website here.  This connection has produced a very exciting opportunity for me take part in the Taunton Live 2016 arts festival next year – watch this space for further announcements!  You can read a review of last year’s event as a taster here .

Yes, home is definitely where the heart is – and yesterday my own house provided the venue for a really enjoyable quilling workshop, staged especially for 10-year-old Lily and her Dad at the kind request of our mutual friend, Janet.

It soon became apparent that Lily is artistically talented and very creative, just like her father! They both took to quilling like ducks to water!

Janet came along with them, and I insisted that she try some quilling too, despite the fact she’d assured me beforehand that she’s totally ‘cack-handed’! Not true … it wasn’t long at all before we got Janet rolling and coiling with the rest of us, and she surprised herself with the results (see below).

Janet with her quilling

After I had shown them the basics, Lily began by making a lovely purple flower and Pug (her Dad) got stuck into making a very impressive collection of marquise shapes for a poinsettia! I showed them some of my own quilled pieces, and Lily was very taken with my fantasy octopus that had won one of the prizes in Taunton. She was inspired to start making multi-coloured solid coils (just like the suckers of the octopus), and one of them quickly became so big that I had to help her reinforce the base with glue!

It was a delight to spend the afternoon with these three lovely people, and I’m very pleased to be able to share some photos of them and their creations here:

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Let there be light!

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Here’s the birthday card I’ve made for my friend Nicky … inspired by today’s post on The Quilling Guild members’ blog, and captured on camera inside my new photographic light box! I would never previously have attempted to photograph work on a dark winter’s night – but I’m pleased to say it’s turned out OK, thanks to some powerful lamps. No shadows, either! I thought about lightening the image even further using Photoshop, but didn’t want to ‘bleach’ the colours. It’s all still a learning curve for me.

I printed the lettering for the card via word processing software, and then set about decorating the initial letter with quilling, using a variety of different techniques. I could easily have gone on and on adding decoration, but I decided that sometimes ‘less is more’. Hopefully this was a good place to stop.

If you’d like to know more about the Guild’s blog and how you can access it, please visit this link. The blog has been going for nearly three years now, and I can promise you it’s a good read!!

A new direction

I’ve always been fascinated by collage work, so recently decided to try and combine a little collage with quilling! When I relocated my craft room recently, I came across several drawers-full of patterned/coloured scraps of paper that I’ve been collecting ever since I first got ‘into’ crafts – and now their time has finally come!

Helen's card copyrighted

This card, made for my daughter-in-law, uses the ‘sandwich’ quilling strip border edging that I described in an earlier post, lined up around a green square (her favourite colour!) which I had printed on to a card blank. I used two flower-shaped templates to create an overlapping design drawn on to a piece of cardboard (you can see the templates I used and the layout in the picture below.) Being drawn on to card, the individual segments were easy to cut out and draw around with pencil on my chosen background papers … then it was just a simple matter of cutting the papers and fitting the resulting shapes together on the card. Once I had glued them in place, it was time to add some quilling!

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I created the ‘Happy Birthday Helen’ paper using my word processing software with a mix of typefaces to produce a typographical square which could be printed out.

As a result of all this, I’ve definitely got the collage ‘bug’ and can’t wait to start using lots more different background papers in future projects.  Watch this space!!

My black pearl

Black pearl montage

DSCF6349_2When I visited the sumptuously decorated Alcazar Palace at Seville in Spain last year, I noticed an unusual moulded seashell motif which had been made so that the inner (concave) side of the shell was on display. You can see a photo of it on the left. In quilling, tight coils that are ‘domed’ for 3D work are normally secured with glue on the concave side as it is the convex aspect that will be seen, but – being me! – I wanted to experiment by reversing this process to create a shell that would be viewed mainly from the inside.

I began by making domed tight coil segments for the two halves of my shell using 3 mm strips, applying a thin layer of glue to the convex side of each segment in order to secure their shape. The hinge pieces were made in a similar way using 1.5 mm strips, shaped very gently using the head of a pin. The segments were assembled in stages, allowing plenty of time for the glue to dry after each one was added to the others. The shell had to be carefully supported in its partly-open position after the two hinge pieces had been glued together.

The pearl was made by rolling up a 1.5 mm black strip in a’ tangled’ fashion between my finger tips which were liberally coated with PVA glue – a messy but effective process! Once a satisfactory shape had been achieved and the ‘pearl’ was dry, I rolled it again in a thin layer of glue to attain a glossy finish.

The shell is mounted on a structure of ‘P’ coils rolled using wide iris-folding strips and decorated with small pastel-coloured cylinders made from 5 mm strips.

The inspiration for the ‘seaweed’ decoration came from an antique ostrich feather fan which I saw in a museum. I noticed that the shafts of the feathers were firmly fixed together side by side at the base of the fan, but the soft wispy parts of the feathers spread randomly up and away from their shafts to form an interesting, unstructured two-dimensional effect. With this in mind, I glued bundles of short 1.5 mm wide strips together at their bases and twisted their remaining lengths randomly in a variety of closed coil, tendril and open coil shapes, rolling at an angle in order to lift the twists upwards to create random multi-dimensional patterns. I also experimented with crimping short sections of some of the strips to achieve added interest in terms of texture. This was achieved by gently folding the strips, inserting the fold into a crimping machine for a few short turns, reversing the cogs to release the strip and then straightening it out again. By doing this, it was possible to make a strip which has a small section of crimping along its inner length while the two ends remain flat.

The result of all this is my ‘Black Pearl’ sculpture, pictured above – I hope you like it!

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