Monday, April 8, 2013

Nottingham, first day

With my visit to Nottingham I was rather lucky with QGBI’s planning: all my teaching was done on one – the first! – day, after which I was finished and could simply enjoy the atmosphere at the meeting, meet a lot of people, and enrich my scanty knowledge of British culture by immersion.
We had breakfast in the university’s Atrium, which, of course, reminded me about being a student at the university myself many many years ago.

Returning your food trays, and the system is breaking down...
After the grand opening of the weekend on Friday morning, at which we were greeted by Morris dancers (I am not quite sure about the spelling here...) and by Robin Hood and his lovely Lady Mariam in person

I went to find my workshop room, which had been changed last minute in the morning. Fifteen people were enrolled in the workshop, everybody appeared on time, and we had a heavy workload ahead of us. The workshop I taught was an abbreviated version of my “IQ – from inspiration to quilt”, which I had originally conceived of as a two-day workshop. So this one-day set-up consituted quite an experiment – the class is a full class, and I did not know beforehand whether the cuts had been made at the right points, and how this would really work.
I think it did.

Even the larger room was a tight fit with fifteen students,
but we managed fine.
Assuming that every student knew how to do free-hand cutting, I showed them my quilts as they appear in my eternal calendar, explaining how the different techniques yielded vastly results, even when using the same inspirational picture. After that we dove into the process of making the individually crafted paper templates that I frequently work with, based on a small design that was supposed to show the workshop participants the usefulness and applicability of my little technical trick, the half-closed seam. And in the afternoon they started to work on their own inspirational pictures, although there was only enough time for a beginning approach. Of course, it would have been nice to give the students enough working time so they could see the effects - and pitfalls! – of the technique when applied to their own intended design. But they were able to get through the entire process of template making once, I did point out to them the possible difficulties when leaving out one of the vital components in the process, such as forgetting to put a grid on the back of the templates before cutting them up, or the necessity to add further sewing lines at some points. So I do hope that they went home with a sound basic knowledge of what it is they can do when using the kind of paper templates I work with, and that they will put it to use in their own work.
Despite the fact that I was very tired in the evening I went to listen to Anja Townrow’s talk on her development as a quilter. Good that I did, it was such a show! I don’t think any quilter in Germany would have the guts to stand up in front of so many people and talk so humorously and unconceitedly about herself. 

Anja Townrow, detail of one of her fabulous foundation pieded
and appliqued quilts
Anja uses freezer paper for her many curves and perfect points and produces stunning results in terms of technical perfection and sewing, with appliqué added on top for additional effects.
Freezer paper is not available in supermarkets in Germany, so I had never thought about applying it to my technique of template making. You can get it in quilt shops, though, at the corresponding prices, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on freezer paper. Though it might be worth considering whether an adaptation of my technique is practicable or desirable, and I will certainly do a little bit more thinking about that, at the moment I think using freezer paper is just an additional step in the process. One would have to trace the worksheet onto the freezer paper, and that would slow me down. I do make sure I take a picture of the paper before I cut it up into templates, I have added enough information for orientation on the individual pieces to get them back into place, and as the freezer must be removed before joining the pieces, which need to be pinned nevertheless, I don’t actually see an advantage in using freezer paper for the kind of designs I work with.
I do see that it has a distinct advantage when using it for foundation piecing, though!

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