Friday, 11 May 2018

A new season

Traverse is in a new season.

We have finished all our work for the 'Destinations' theme and have seen it exhibited twice this year already.    We will be exhibiting 'Destinations' again at the West Country Quilt & Textile Show at the end of August.   And there's a possibility that we may also be at The Craft Show at the NEC in November.

So onward into our new season with a new theme.

We met together last weekend which was both bittersweet and exciting.  We missed Jan and talked about her often over the weekend.  However we were excited to welcome Becca to her first Traverse session.   She is coming towards the end of her course at the Windsor School of Art and will be exhibiting with Traverse in 2019.

Drumroll please!  Announcing our new theme:


Revealed, with its antonyms and synonyms, gives us a wide spectrum of areas to take our work.  And in its early stages, raises lots of questions including - should our work be technique-based or concept-based?  Each of us will be pondering other questions once we've each found the area we wish to work with.

During our weekend session we talked about our thoughts for Revealed so far.  What do we want to reveal?  What will remain hidden?

Deb started straightaway with the Embellisher using wool tops to make a background with holes.  There are many stages to go with this and who knows where it will take her.

Dia is currently thinking about weather currents and how the weather map reveals and hides parts of the UK.  It will be exciting to see how her textile work develops.

 Cath is upcycling this piece, which she started many moons ago on a workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden - the first time she'd ever tried free-motion machining through so many layers and one of them was copper shim! The application of heat to the copper beforehand revealed beautiful colour changes - a wonderful surprise. The hidden layers were then unveiled after stitching by cutting back through the velvet, silk and organza to see the copper beneath. Cath is looking forward to returning to this and taking it further - seeing it from a new perspective.

Becca wants to continue with her work on 'Making the invisible visible'.  She is looking at hidden illness and hidden disabilities - and deafness in particular.  She is knitting audio tape to represent the jumbled word for deaf people.

I'm still considering my options especially the question of being concept-led or technique-led.  I am trying hard not to do 'hidden Venice'.   I am very taken with a paper-wash technique I learned recently which I feel lends itself to revealed/concealed ideas.   How much is revealed of the contents of the pocket depends on how much of the paper gets washed away - an intriguing prospect.

Who knows where our ideas will take us?  But it's exciting to have a new theme to work to for the next round of exhibitions.


Monday, 30 April 2018

Tears and smiles and messy play

On Friday, we went to celebrate Jan's life with her family and friends. It was a heartfelt, moving funeral service, shared with over a hundred people whose lives had been touched by her in so many ways - activities known and unknown to us - and it was a privilege to be asked to share it, as we'd known her for such a small part of her varied life. It was lovely to be told by many people, how important Traverse was to her in these last few years and how much she enjoyed working with us. There was a sense of gratefulness that she managed to exhibit at the NEC, something which she was so very excited about and happy to do.

At the wake, the family had set up a wonderful display of just a small fraction of the work Jan had produced over the years - such a variety, reflecting her many passions and experiments with all things textile. Here are a few quick snapshots of the display -

Bernice's beautiful collage, including the squares we made earlier, was also displayed and will be included in a book of memories.

There was also another table set up for what I call 'messy play' - fabric paints, pens and fabric squares - laid out for people to decorate in their own way, to be included in the book of memories. These were small personal pieces, drawn or painted by family and friends and I didn't photograph them.

There was much merriment around that table, as we sat and played with Jan's wonderful collection of fabric paints and many people spoke of how much Jan would have loved it. We shared our memories and anecdotes and, in my case at least, got seriously messy! I ended up with two squares of painted fabric as I used the second one to blot the first, and then decided to flood one of them with water. Lateral thinking led me to the hand dryer in the loo and I did eventually get them dry enough to bring home with me, wrapped in serviettes; I really wanted to add some stitch before returning them for the memory book.

This is what I brought home - ripped paint-splodged serviettes and a blue one from the train ...

... and my two painted fabric squares.

I carefully separated the painted serviette layers.

The railway serviette had three layers so I removed one and then covered the remainder with roughly 50/50 PVA and water.

I layered up torn painted papers and glued them down in stages, starting from the centre and working my way outwards.

I used torn pieces of the extra blue layer to fill in any gaps and made sure it was well covered with the 50/50 mixture.

When it was dry it looked like this.

I intended to use this as a background for some kind of collage using the painted fabric squares but first I wanted to check if there were any holes - so I did this ...

I loved how it looked with the light shining through it ...

... and spent a long time taking close up shots - I went completely off task.

Now I'm not sure whether I will use this in the way I intended - it may have to change, to be revealed by a light behind it ... but I will definitely make something for the book with my splodged fabric squares, as an extra memory of the day. It feels right to finish what I started on that table. It was a healing process and just the right way to remember Jan - tears and smiles and messy play.


Friday, 20 April 2018

The British Quilt & Stitch Village

Traverse has recently returned from the quilt and stitch show at Uttoxeter Racecourse.  We were given a long run of exhibition boards in one of the main exhibition halls.  We were unsure about this space when we arrived to set up but it turned out to be a wonderful place to be.

We were right at the end of the exhibition hall and I was concerned that people wouldn't visit us.  How wrong I was!  By the end of day 1, we felt we had seen and spoken to more people than we did over the whole NEC show.  Cath put together some of the comments from our Visitors' book.

Looking at the exhibition from left to right, we started with Bernice's mixed media work, most of which is on the theme of Venice.

Next we featured Jan's beautiful work, which her family has kindly donated to Traverse.

Moving along the exhibition, we come to Dia's handstitched 'Northern Lights' pieces and the beginning of Cath's work.

Cath's work was inspired by many different places but they all displayed her passion for various forms of felting and embroidery.

Dia, Cath & Jan had made cards which sold well.  On the table we also displayed Dia's fascinating 3D vessels and Cath's silk paper candle holder.

Deb's work featured needle-felting, hand dyed fabrics and textured surfaces, including her 'unwearable' dress, which took centre stage.

All this work can be seen next at the end of August at the West Country Quilt & Textile show in Bristol.   At the current time that will be the last time that we exhibit 'Destinations'.

Watch this space for the reveal of our next theme!


Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Friends are like stars ...

Friends are like stars … you can’t always see them but you know they’re always there. This little quote has come to mind several times recently as I’ve been making things specifically for friends – but for very different reasons.

First is a birthday present for a friend – a very patient friend who’s been waiting a long time for it. It’s been a challenge at times for me because it’s out of my comfort zone to follow her colour choices, using some fabrics which have sentimental value for her, rather than my usual vibrant bright colours. A work in progress ...

However, I’m finding a middle way between her choices and my preferences and isn’t that what friendship is all about? We may not always agree on everything and perhaps we don’t see some of our friends very often but there is a basic bond of friendship; we will go out of our comfort zone for them and we know they are always there for us.

The second project has been very different – preparing two small squares for a memory quilt for Jan, our friend who sadly died recently. Again, working out of my comfort zone with text and a formal design, I have tried to make the first square influenced by Jan and some of her methods. Beginning with hand knitted fabric, I have felted it on the embellisher and embroidered it with French knots, quoting Jan, “You can never have too many French knots” – I can hear her voice saying it now.

The second square is very much in my own style – brightly coloured and textured with sari silk strips needle felted onto a background and manipulated with machine embroidery and the embellisher to give a raised spiral. I have added beads as Jan also loved using beads.

The big difference between the two projects of course is that I will eventually give the birthday present to my friend, whereas the quilt will be for Jan’s family and friends to remember her and the influence she has had on all of us. Although she will never see the squares on her memory quilt, she will ‘always be there’.

Friends are like stars … you can’t always see them but you know they’re always there.


I leave tomorrow to meet Bernice and Deb to set up our stand at the Uttoxeter Quilt and Stitch Village, where we will be exhibiting Jan’s work in her memory.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Jan Seys

We are extremely sad to announce the death of our dear friend Jan.  She was a kindhearted and talented woman, a great teacher and a lovely friend.

Knitting & talking

Today let's celebrate Jan's work and some of the happy moments we had recently at the NEC.

Jan & Dia with Deborah, the Creative Director from Janome

Small pieces of work on canvas

Orkney: a knitted and wet-felted vessel

Brancaster: free machined and handstitched

Mordor: needle felted, machine & hand stitched

Off the Beaten Track: bonded applique and hand stitched

Knitted and felted brooches

Knitting at the NEC exhibition

We will miss Jan and her contribution to the group immensely.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Jan's family.

I have known Jan since the Experimental textile course which we began together in early 2016. Jan was an unique person, warm, kind, helpful, quiet, knowledgeable, an excellent teacher and did beautiful work. At our Traverse NEC Exhibition she was so happy. She showed me how to use the embellisher and embellish knitted work. I thought that technique was very special and started a piece myself and was excited to show Jan, sadly she passed away.

Dia's work using Jan's technique
It was a privilege to be her friend and I have fond memories of her. Jan rest in peace.

Jan, your determination was inspirational.  I loved your down to earth attitude and your advice was always spot on ... you gave so much but had so much more to give.  I'm going to miss you but am happy I was able to call you my friend ... sleep well lovely lady ... lots of love

I met Jan for the first time in 2016 when all of us in Traverse met at Inkberrow Design Centre for the initial weekend of Experimental Textiles. She was a quiet, softly spoken lady but always had a warm smile and willingness to offer suggestions to anyone of us needing advice. Jan’s own work was always so beautiful and detailed and much admired by all. Jan was a wonderful friend and will be very much missed.

Jan was a very special person - a gifted quilter and embroiderer, who was always looking to expand her considerable knowledge of working with textiles, approaching new techniques with such enthusiasm - a teacher and maker of wonderful things, who brought so much to Traverse. She shared with us a wealth of experience and always had a positive response if we had a problem with a particular project, calmly coming up with a reassuring smile and a solution. I'll remember Jan's courage, her generosity of spirit, the warmth of that smile and the twinkle in her eye. I'm thankful for the chance to know her and glad to have been her friend.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Our First Exhibition

We are slowly recovering from an exciting few days at the NEC last week. It all went very quickly and smoothly, although slightly complicated by the weather. The snow on Sunday meant I couldn't get back to Birmingham as planned - there were times when I even wondered whether I'd get home after my concert on Saturday night but that's another story.

I was really sorry not to see the whole event through and not just because I was going to actually buy some resources on Sunday to add to my stash! It was just such an enjoyable experience and I wanted to be there through to the end; it was the culmination of all our hard work over the past year.

It began with build-up day on the Wednesday and we watched as the stand slowly began to take shape, thanks to our trusty build-up team of Roger and Chris, who managed to satisfy all my random (fussy) requests for various wall fittings with a smile - my reputation for faffing grew as the day went on.


It went up pretty easily, notwithstanding my foibles and we left that night, looking forward to welcoming visitors to the stand the following day. Although Chris's coat looked particularly avant-garde and might have been a useful talking point with them, he did take it home ...

and it was replaced the following day by 'Destination Life - The Ultimate Journey' - one of Deb's unwearable dresses ...

... an unwearable dress, which actually proved to be very wearable!

It was a case of 'now you see it, now you don't' for Deb's dresses as they made several appearances on the catwalk, being replaced by a photo in their absence.

Another exhibit which caught the eye of many of our visitors, was Dia's twisted vessel - how did she do that?

We particularly wanted to demonstrate some of our methods while we were there and they provided a useful talking point and in many cases (we were told) inspiration to people. Bernice's mixed media work was very much admired and she was asked many questions about it.

Bernice loves books and here are some examples of her beautiful artbooks.

She demonstrated how to make several different kinds of books on the stand ...

... including this beautiful fabric scroll book, a work in progress, which I'm really looking forward to seeing as she made it on Sunday, when I wasn't there.

Several of our exhibits were made either wholly or in part on an embellisher, which is a needle felting machine. For example, the background for Cath's 'Zanskar' ...

... and Jan's 'Mordor' ...

...and Deb's 'Destination Mindfuless - Wistful Thinking' were needle-felted both by machine and by hand.

We were able to borrow an embellisher from Janome and demonstrated several ways of using it on the stand. We were very grateful to be given this opportunity and here are Jan and Dia thanking Deborah Shepherd, the Creative Director of Janome.

Dia really enjoyed her first experience of using it.

Here, Jan is experimenting with needle-felting knitted fabric.

There was great interest. Some people were very curious as to how it actually worked and there were many comments like 'Where's the thread?' This lady was typical of many who already had an embellisher and were looking for inspiration.

These are the moments I will remember - sharing experiences and ideas with people and knowing that some were inspired by what they saw on our stand. Our aim was to begin to establish our place in the world of textile art and I hope that some of those lovely people we chatted to will remember us.

There will be more relating to our work on the embellisher later but I'll leave you with Bernice's video of  our time at the exhibition.

Cath Tyler