Oxford Summer Lunch –August 2018
Judy Harris, and her enthusiastic and helpful husband John, provided a wonderful setting in their home, and enabled a very happy and successful event. The quilt hung from from an upstairs window meant that nobody could miss the venue. A lovely touch. Construction work was not quite finished on their beautiful rebuild, so going ahead was a brave decision, perfectly vindicated on the day. No builders attended! Quilters from right across the region did – Berkshire and Oxfordshire both well represented.
A cornucopia of fabulous foods was donated by attendees and was enjoyed at tables on the spanking new patio, the party overflowing onto the lawn. The raffle and bring & buy, flamboyantly presented, went down an entertaining treat in support of regional funds. Then, after lunch, we spent an afternoon celebrating our passion with a spectacular show and tell. The range of work was extraordinary and fascinating. We do not have enough space to do this show justice, but Judy Harris, just possibly, stole it displaying a splendid “Fidget” coat of many colours as worn, by her, when manning the Fidget Quilt stand at the NEC. And there was much, much more... Altogether a day of quilters’ wonders, greatly enjoyed by everyone there.
Thanks, again, to Judy and John!
Oxford Regional Day - October 2018 with Linda Seward
The first Saturday in October dawned damp, dull and chilly, so it was perfect weather for immersing ourselves in all things quilt related, and a real treat was in store at Benson Village Hall. It was a first opportunity for many of our members to meet our new regional Co-ordinator, Tina McEwen, who is stepping into Susan Brown’s shoes. She began by thanking Susan for all her hard work over the years, and Annelize Littlefair who is also stepping down from the committee. She then introduced our speaker for the morning – Linda Seward, (above), with her talk “Quilts: from Utility to Art.” Linda brought some of her own quilts plus old ones that she had collected over the years to illustrate her talk, along with plenty of slides. Some history first; so to begin with Linda took us back all the way to 1915 and Marie Webster, the author of the very first American book about quilting – “Quilts, Their Story and How to Make Them.” We heard about Quilting Bees and marriage quilts (apparently a girl in those days had to make 13 quilts, the last of these being the marriage quilt where, if wonky stitches were found, problems might be expected to follow in the marriage. Or, before she even got that far, rejection by potential in-laws!) We admired one particular quilt on show that featured appliqué flowers on a feed sack background. The thriftiness and artistry of its creator really shone through.
A great display of boxes! Well done everyone! Keep up the good work. We still need more...
In the succeeding decades, we were told, countless quilts were made across America and were so commonplace that they were considered valueless. A number were rescued by two far-sighted people who staged the 1971 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and brought them to the attention of the general public to great acclaim. The bicentennial celebrations a few years later really kick-started the resurgence of interest in quilting which continues to this day. Linda then summarised all the techniques for construction with which most of us are now familiar. Piecing, crazy quilts, appliqué, strippies and so on. We looked at Modern Quilts, a new style that involves lots of white negative space and strong colours. She then moved on to non-traditional art quilts, and surface design techniques, such as shibori dyeing, stencilling and etching, plus the inclusion of unusual materials like steel wire and wood – not something most of us would include I think! But many of the slides showed art quilts that were breathtaking and beautiful – there was much to enjoy, even for the traditional quilter.
The afternoon was devoted to a workshop making boxes for next year’s FoQ tombola. Apparently at least 2000 are needed! Joë Bennison, Annelize Littlefair and Susan Cornwall led sessions making various different styles and sizes from little ones with a twist (what a great use for Pringles tubes!) to large baskets and all sizes in between.
We were extremely industrious all afternoon but it was still staggering that we managed to fill three large tables with our creations by the end of the session!
In between all the other activities we were able to admire part of the display from Buttercross Quilters’April exhibition which included a stunning “Dear Jane” quilt, miniquilts made by members participating in next year’s Dorchester Festival, inspired by the architectural features in their lovely abbey (and to inspire more to join in the fun!) plus the tempting goodies on Running Chicken’s stall.
Not to forget the tea and delicious cakes – no Regional Day would be complete without them!
Berks Summer Lunch – Scorchio!
It was a spectacularly hot day for the Berkshire summer lunch this year. So hot that some of us stayed indoors the whole time! It was nice and cool inside our host’s house. With the front door open to receive guests, a cool breeze blew through Joë Bennison’s home. Even so, some brave souls chose to sit in the garden. Phew!
As usual, everyone brought food, and there was a splendid buffet lunch, with salads, savouries, and sweets suitable for all diets. Joë provided copious amounts of cold drinks to keep us cool. We had a good selection of items on the Bring’n’Buy table, including lots of nearly new books courtesy of Annelize. There were some real bargains to be had, as well as tickets for the Raffle, which was drawn at the end of the day.
After lunch we had our traditional Show’n’Tell. I have tried to show as many pictures of the quilts as possible in this small space. Chris Dobson showed us her “Nearly 365 Quilt”. It was still 6ft square, despite being only six months worth of blocks. We all agreed that it was quite big enough as it was! And the inclusion of a band of plain navy fabric helped the overall design, having a calming effect. It was long-arm quilted by Joë, and the back of the quilt shows how skilled her work is.
Janet Scotton, Melyn Robinson and Pam showed us their group challenge quilts. All made to the same basic design, but, due to the arrangement of blocks and individual choice of fabrics, by quilt-magic they all look so different. And we were not surprised to see Melyn’s trademark palette of plaids. Jetta’s bargello quilt was given to Lillian King for Linus.
Lillian reminded us that Linus needs shoulder bags for breast feeding mothers to use in the hospital prem unit. So if you have any scraps, (of course you do! What am I thinking?) do please get creative and make a few bags. They are much appreciated.
Susan Brown and Joë showed us the quilts they submitted to Sandown this year. Joë’s Merry-go-round was beautiful, longarm quilted on a whole cloth. Susan’s Mermaid quilt for a little girl is charming. It is only the body, so whoever sleeps under it magically becomes the Mermaid. Both won prizes, and deservedly so. Rachel Gormley showed us a lovely Diamond quilt, made in cool blues and fresh greens.
Charlotte Haenlein’s talk and workshop at the Oxfordshire Regional Day 28th October 2017
I arrived in good time for the regional day on Saturday 28 October and was able to visit the trader’s stall before it got busy. On this occasion Dawn from Rainbow Silks in Great Missenden, had come with an Aladdin's Cave of wonderful materi-als, paints and dyes, and magazines relating to all kinds of fabric art.
Sheila Dunscombe had set up a demo corner showing how items which are found in most homes can be used in printing, including bubble wrap, string, plastic plant ties and empty pill packets.
There was also time to have a good look at Charlotte Haenlein’s beautiful design and sketchbooks, each a work of art in its own right. Charlotte, nominated by her tutor Barbara Weeks, won the Quilters’ Guild C&G Award in 2015 for her work which was partly inspired by Nepalese textile patterns. The bursary awarded en-abled Charlotte to realise her dream of visiting Iran, a country with a rich tradi-tion of Persian art and pattern. Persian art caught Charlotte's attention when she first saw an exhibition of Persian illuminated manuscripts in 1979.
Iran lies along the Silk Road and we “travelled” with Charlotte from Shiraz to Tehran, visiting Zoroastrian sites, bazaars, mosques and UNESCO sites en route. We were transfixed by the beauty of each place visited and our hearts warmed to the hospita-ble people met along the way, in the Mosque and out and about, all eager to wel-come, share their meals, and generally make it known that they are not the people whom the media would have us believe them to be.
Charlotte explained that many Iranians were so used to the wealth of pattern that sur-rounds them that they hardly notice it, while she couldn’t stop marvelling at its com-plexity and amazing potential for inspiring patchwork and quilting.
Here are a few of her designs influenced by this trip.
After the talk Charlotte demonstrated how to make good clean prints and how to achieve special effects. Then we were able to practice using her readymade printing blocks.
After lunch she demonstrated how to make the blocks and we then made our own and printed with them. Lots of lovely work was produced by my fellow printers and some will go on to use their newly acquired skills to create their own work for C&G. I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour next year.
There was an opportunity to see the Abingdon Museum Exhibition Quilts once more, and we learned about the construction of the amazing workhouse quilt.
The BBC Quilt Project was also on display.
We have become used to the delicious cakes which appear at regional days and we were not disappointed. Afternoon tea was enjoyed as we were updated on Project Li-nus and saw some lovely show and tell. The child in me especially loved the witch’s washing line.
Imagine my delight when I won two lovely covered notebooks in the raffle. That was the icing on the cake.
My thanks to all who helped make this such an enjoyable day for all of us. I look for-ward to hearing the continuing story of Charlotte’s travels at some future date as she mentioned that there is another journey following on from the Iran trip. Meantime I am seeing star-and-cross patterns everywhere!
Region 6 Oxfordshire Regional Day, 24th September 2016 At Benson Village Hall
A bright Saturday morning; a large, flat car park; a lovely new venue; a well-stocked trader; interesting guest speakers; home-made cake; and a man to PAT test our electrical sewing equipment –what more could a group of quilters want?
Benson Village Hall in South Oxfordshire was our new venue for the Oxfordshire Regional Day and very impressive it was too. No complicated struggle to move our equipment from car to hall and once in the hall it was so spacious with plenty of room for tables, displays, trader and speakers.
On arrival we were able to book our electrical equipment in for a session with the “PAT man” –one item free for members, and subsequent items at £2. This was a brilliant idea, and big thank you to whoever suggested it. Possibly only one “failed” item was paraded in order to identify its’ owner (she is still embarrassed!)
Oxford Quilt Group displayed their work in celebration of their recent 35th Anniversary. There were some beautiful items to be enjoyed from this prolific and talented group. The quilts displayed spanned the history of the group and contained some of their 25th Anniversary work.
Next to this display were the contents of the Quilters’ Guild Traditional Suitcase collection, laid out with plenty of white gloves to hand so that we could handle, closely examine and enjoy the many varied pieces of work. Over the course of the day there was plenty of opportunity to linger over these displays and fall into discussion with old and new friends from the quilting community of Region 6.
The morning workshop was led by Hazel and Terry who work together trading as In Stitches. Hazel and Terry enjoy embellishing their work with hand stitches executed in a variety of threads, ribbons and wools, using both traditional and more inventive stitches. We were encouraged to “let your needle wander” and to “think of it as a waltz”. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience once I had got over the “freedom” aspect of the task. Looking round it seemed as if other quilters were finding the workshop as relaxing and calming as I did, although I feel I have yet to fully master the French Knot having constructed something I described as being more of a French Slug, only to be told I had completed a Barrel Stitch! This workshop has given me the confidence and inspiration to try out a bit of hand quilting/embellishment on a project in the future, and I would like to know more about the techniques.
After lunch we sat back and enjoyed Hazel and Terry telling us about their quilting journey together and showing many of their quilts which took us from traditional Welsh quilts through to modern miniature quilts and finishing with an expanded photo of Birling Gap printed on fabric and enhanced by stitching to give texture.
We heard about the new studio recently acquired and opened in Wokingham, Berkshire where you can learn to dye, print, make and stitch. Much of the fabric Hazel and Terry use now is dyed by them and their work draws inspiration from the natural world, the sea, the allotment, their favourite landscapes and anything else which appeals to them. They love to experiment with the textures that both hand and machine stitching can create on fabric and use this to embellish their dyed or printed cloth. We were also privileged to be able to take a close look at the sketchbooks which both Hazel and Terry use to develop their ideas for their stunning work which has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Hazel showed us her quilts where free motion quilted text has been incorporated to give texture and personal meaning to the finished work she must be a very patient person.
Terry talked about her quilts depicting the bleak scenes of abandoned Cornish tin mines which I do recall seeing displayed at the Festival of Quilts a year or two ago. This was a really inspiring talk from two lovely people. I went home and found the website which I can thoroughly recommend. It’s just a shame that Wokingham is so far from West Oxfordshire............
The day finished with the raffle and an announcement that Margaret Metcalfe will be joining Lillian King in the work of regional co-ordinator for Project Linus. Hazel was kind enough to offer the use of the InStitches studio for Linus work on Mon-day and Tuesday if required.
Thanks go to the Committee for organising such an enjoyable day and finding such a good venue. As usual the standard of home-made cake was exemplary with plenty to go round and fed the 44 attendees several times. Just one tip –it’s a large hall with a very high ceiling and would benefit from the use of a radio mike if available, so that speakers don’t need to use their playground voices!
Berkshire Regional Day, March 5th 2016
By 10:00 on a cold Saturday morning the empty hall at Charvil was transformed into a welcoming hub of all things quilty.
Lovely displays of pieces completed by our region’s young quilters, tables of fabrics, patterns and notions from Juberry Fabrics, an inviting raffle table and the inspiring work of guest speaker Helen Howes transformed the hall.
4 young quilters and their helpers lead by Gill Towell were busy in the small front room and 45 members and 4 non-members completed the scene; all providing a warm buzz of companionship only present when kindred spirits engage in their chosen passion.
Helen Howes is one such lady. Her passion and commitment for modern quilting was a delight. In the morning session we were given an insight into how, over the years, she has developed a fool proof method for transforming ordinary book covers into works of art. Delving into a big box of Oakshot fabrics was a real treat and traditional paper piecing with modern designs kept us all busy until lunchtime.
During lunch there was an opportunity to view the Travelling Trunk from the Guild Museum containing samples of traditional techniques of which, two large wholecloth quilts were also on display. There was an opportunity to view the entries for the Modern Competition ‘What does modern mean to you?’ 14
After lunch Gill outlined her plans for the coming year for the young quilters. She reviewed their recent achievements and they presented their newly made furry animals, which were much admired.
Show and Tell by the grown-ups followed.
Presentations to several committee members took place next and a separate report can be read on pages 10 -11.
The afternoon talk ‘What a lot of Quilts’ was given by Helen but could just as easily been called ‘Because I can’. This phrase was a recurring theme in the account of her quilting journey, once whilst standing on a chair, and very inspiring it was too. Her quilts were a variety of shapes and sizes, many with her trademark ‘trees’ design and all displaying her considerable artistic talent. Her free hanging spiral which made me think of a DNA model I once made with my sixth formers, drew on her background in kite making to stiffen the edges with fibreglass. Truly awesome!
Tea and delicious cake is a staple of regional days and this was no exception.
Suitably refreshed the winners of the competition were announced. Sue Markham was the speaker’s choice, quite an accolade coming from such a distinguished modern quilter. The overwhelming members’ vote went to Jo? Bennison. Well done to both of them. A photo of Sue’s work is on the front cover of this issue.
All that remains is for me to thank the committee members and many other generous helpers, who quietly did all the behind scenes stuff required to pull the event together.
A good day was had by all