Monday, 30 March 2009

Out Hiking

A couple of days ago my husband and I went for a lovely 7 mile hike in the gently rolling hills south of where we live. Some years ago we came across this book with local pub walks. The idea is brillant. You drive to a pub often set in a small remote village, park the car, change into hiking boots and off you go following the trail set in the book. The hikes are circular so you will always end up by the pub and the car again. Sometimes we have a drink or a meal at the pub afterwards, sometimes we just head home. The one we did the other day is one of our favorites. Since we have done it before, we knew the trail, where to cross the fields, at what huge old oak break left etc. It was a beautiful weather and I ended up at times, doing a bit of stop and go, as there were so many great photo opertunities. My favorite photo is the one that I'm including in this post. I absolutely just love the contrast of the fresh lush violets pushing up next to the old dusty ivy leaves. The contrasts are so beautiful, so symbolic. I find walking/hiking very meditative and a fantastic way to clear my brain and just absorb my surrounding. Sometimes if I've come to a grinding hold with a project, a good long walk can inspire me to get going again.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Working Inside

The sun is coming out now. Otherwise it has been a grey and rainy day. A perfect day to stay inside and catch up on projects. I have this ambitious plan that I would like to have definitely two, preferable 3, exhibition pieces done or almost done with in the next couple of weeks. I like working with dead lines. Deadlines make me focus. I'm a fast and concentrated worker when I get going. But sometimes the "get going" part is in slow motion. Not that I sit idle. That happens very rarely. It is rather that I get side tracked. There are so many exciting and fun things to try, and oops...two days later....I haven't really accomplished a hole lot regarding the 'serious' stuff. I have lately been doing a lot of trial pieces with various ways of transferring images on to fabric. Something that I hadn't really explored before. But I rather like it. It definitely has a potential. This is one of the techniques I've been trying: I enlarged some of my design photos and made black and white photo copies. Brushed some acrylic mat medium on to fabric. Layered and firmly pressed the photocopy into the medium. Let it dry completely. Soaked the dry fabric paper sandwich in water and rubbed the paper of. And you are left with a transferred photo. Pretty neat.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Photo Challenge

I've been taking photos for my Etsy shop for new listings. Amongst others, photos of all the wonderful threads that I dyed recently. I have always taken a lot of photos when out and about, but photos for Etsy listings is a completely different way of taking photos. When setting up my shop there were a lot of things I hadn't really put a whole lot of thought into. One of them were how to take high quality photos. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had never even downloaded photos before opening my SewDanish shop. It was sooo much easier to ask my dear husband :-) And photo editing, no idea!
I do think it is fun and paramount to try to get your items look their best, but boy, sometimes I just cannot get it right. I have learned a lot from the Etsy forum and from looking at other sellers photos analyzing what works and what doesn't. I have come a long way since I took the first item pictures and over the months I have redone most of my first photos. It is pretty sad though, when one of my best Christmas presents last x-mas was a tripod and when you start reading your camera manual in bed before turning off the light. I have a straight forward 'point and shoot' canon camera, which for now is plenty. I had no idea how many settings it actually had before I needed them, and I definitely have to graduate from my little 'point and shoot' before I upgrade to something more fancy.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

White On White

In our daily lives we are bombarded with colour. But have you ever noticed how many shades of white there are? In one of my textile groups, The Advanced Textile Workshop, our tutor has made us work white on white. I have worked with shades of white for a long time, but for some it is a very neglected "color". Especially in free machine embroidery, it becomes very clear that a white sewing thread is not just a white sewing thread. Like with emulsion/latex paint you discover hints of blue, green, yellow, purple etc. Being aware of what's happening on the surface it can be used to your advantage. You can create very subtle yet powerful pieces. Since there is no color to claim the center stage, texture becomes very important. Textural areas can be build up to create a focal area. The area that eyes can be drawn to and rest, while taking in the piece of work.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


I went to near by Cambridge, England the other day. Needed to pick up a few things, but wanted as well to take some photos of this fantastic historic city. Every where you look you can find design inspiration. By the way, the colleges of Cambridge are celebrating their 800 year anniversary this year. In front of one of the colleges, I think it was Corpus Christi, there was this wonderful pile up of bicycles. Some looked as if they had just been parked, others as if they had been abandoned. There are bicycles everywhere in Cambridge as it is a great way of getting around. But this heap of bicycles looked just wonderful in the sun. Muted, mat and bright colours intermingled. Beautiful lines and curves. I felt a quilt coming on! I did feel a bit out of place as a group of tourists were taking pictures of the beautiful ornate entrance to the college and there I was taking pictures of a heap of bicycles. Ah well, I'm sure we all were very pleased with our shots.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Traditional Craft

I've signed up for a weeks summer school today and I'm so excited, because I know what to expect. Quite physical work, lots of noise, dirty, possible a sore thumb... I've signed up for an upholstery class :-) I did an upholstery class last year, and loved it, but had to stop going, when I was invited to join the free machine embroidery textile group, Advanced Textile Workshop, ATW, that meets on the same weekday. For some years I have been doing basic furniture restoration and painting. I love going to flea markets, car boot sales and auctions. Especially at auctions one can often come across a wonderful furniture frame in need of upholstery. At our local flea markets one can pick up lovely antiques that needs a bit of TLC at good prices. Since upholstery is a craft and a skill that I hadn't touched base with, I decided to sign up for a course when we moved back to England. And it was great. I love learning a new skill. It is a fantastic process to strip a piece back removing the old upholstery, do the repair work if needed, treat/paint the the wood and see it come to life again. Then build the chair up layer by layer, horse hair and all. Tremendously satisfying. There is so much to learn and I have only touched the surface, so I decided to do the summer school i July. I cannot wait!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

To See A Quilt Grow

I have been quilting making traditional quilts for about +20 years. The last +10years I have made art quilts and I have experimented high and low with lots and lots of techniques. I'm often combining fabric, papers, found objects... what ever fits, the project. This type of work is obviously not meant to be washed, nor handled in a way, one would a quilt made as a throw, lap quilt or bed spread.

I still make traditional quilts and I'm nearly always working on one along side all my other projects. I love the process of figuring out a pattern, cutting up the fabric and then sewing it all together again. To see a quilt grow is a lovely process. I usually like the more straight forward quilt patterns. When stitching it all together on the machine, it is blissfully mindless. Quite meditative in its own way. The tactile feeling of the fabric is lovely. Seeing the quilt top change expression when being quilted always amazes me. It is as if the quilt top starts to find its own identity. I love hand quilting, but now mainly do free motion machine quilting. From a time perspective it is not realistic for me to hand quilt large quilt and I would end up with too many of UFO's (unfinished objects).

Friday, 20 March 2009

Featured on

I'm featured on . If you click the link listed in "I'm featured" in the right hand column, then you can go straight to the site, if you want to have a look.
I February I saw a request. Cyndi Lavin from was looking for Book Artists to be featured with an artist statement and photos. Thought that sounded exciting, and even though I see my self more as a fiber artist/textile artist, I decided to submit my statement and photos. I don't make exciting 3D book sculptures, but I do make a lot of handmade books and loose covers for journals and books, where I use my textile/mixed media techniques. I like making items that has a purpose and that has the option of being used in every day life. My love for books could be due to being spoon fed with books as a child. My mother and father were both librarians. Since my dad was the head of the library, we all lived just above the library and my sister and I treated the library as an extension of our home.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Want To See My Dye Batch?

The result!

These skeins of space dyed thread, all ready to be used in a project, came from my first dye batch done Saturday.

Bits and pieces: silk cocoon stripping, pipe cleaners, coffee stirrers and silk cocoons. You never know when they come in handy for a project.

The dyed colour catchers I wrote about in my post yesterday. Aren't they lovely?

Thick hanks of dried threads, ready to be separated and twisted into skeins.

I thought I would share the results of my last two dyeing days. When everything is rinsed and dried. The kitchen thoroughly cleaned and all the dye stuff put away, then comes the best part. To enjoy what you have been doing, taking in the result and the richness of the colours and textures. You just want to sit there and touch the yarn/fabric assessing the colour combinations and thinking about future projects. I always write down what dye combinations I have used. I won't ever be able to reproduce the exact dye batch, but I can aim at getting something similar. I just love to dye and have been experimenting with lots of dyeing techniques over the years. You can make the process as controlled or as unpredictable as you want. Space dyeing, the technique that I have used here is one of the "happy go easy" ones. What ever happens happens, and if you don't like it you can always over dye the lot :-)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Color Catcher

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I'm having my second day of dyeing to day and I have reached my least favorite stage of the dyeing process, the rising. I did 3 of my 6 batches of dyeing on Saturday until I ran out of washing soda which is used to fix the Procion MX cold water dyes. So I came to a grinding hold and haven't had a chance to continue until today.
I'm so careful not to make any mess during the actual dyeing, but come to the rinsing, it is almost impossible not to "throw the dye around" how ever careful. However I have found one thing that can shorten the rinsing process, making it more enjoyable, as well as saving a bit of water. That is "Colour Catchers". Here in Britain they are sold in the detergent section of the supermarkets. They are smallish white sheets of non woven fabric and they are meant to prevent colour run when doing a load of laundry. When added to all stages of the rinsing process of your dye batch, they will actually absorb the loose dye and you will end up with a batch of beautiful graded colours in the same colour as the main batch as well as shortened the number of rinses. If run through the dryer the surface will crinkle a bit adding a lovely texture. If dried on the line then they will stay smooth.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Charity Quilt

Once a month for two hours in the evening, I meet with a group of lovely ladies. "Material Girls" is an open patchwork and quilting group, where people for a small fee either can join as a member or come and pay as you go. What makes the group so lovely is the mixture of ladies. There are absolute beginners that have just been introduced to quilting, to the very experienced. We have a program. Sometimes we have lectures, mini workshops where we either teach each other or we have an external tutor. Other times we just do our own work. There is always help at hand if someone has run into a problem and is stuck. At our meeting last month a member of the group asked if we would be interested in making about 15 quilts approx. 3 x 4 feet. She is involved with a charity that helps children that has fallen victim to the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980'ies, where a nuclear power plant in Russia was destroyed by fire. The area is still contaminated and the next generations are paying the price. In July 15 girls age 8-11 will come to this area for a month recreation, and she thought it would be a lovely idea if we gave each one of them a quilt to take back home. At the meeting last night we saw lots of lovely quilt tops in progress.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Huge Time Saver

I absolute love the Etsy Forum. I don't think that I have ever left that Forum disappointed when looking for an answer to something regarding shop, blog, promotion etc. It makes me so happy that there are all these kind people out there always ready to give a helping hand. Especially when starting up SewDanish I found it a huge help. Now I try to return the favor when ever I can. I don't spend a huge amount of time in the forum, as there are just not enough hours in the day, but I try to stop by on a regular basis.
The best tip that I picked up from a thread, and that I have used over and over again is this: How to save a listing that you have made, but you don't want to publish there and then. You might already know this, if not this is how you do it:
You make your new listing. When you arrive at the very last page, where you normally would hit "finish", you "add" it to your "favorites" in your toolbar instead. Pictures and all. I have a section in my "favorites" called Etsy Listings, where I store them until I'm ready to publish them. When ready to go public, you sign into your Etsy shop as normal, you click on your toolbar "favorites", select your listing and click "finish". Believe me it works like a dream, and for me it has been a huge time saver.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Dyeing in the kitchen

To day was the day. I spend all day dyeing in the kitchen. No, I haven't had food poisoning and I'm very much alive. I've been dyeing threads, bits of fabric, silk cocoon strippings, wooden coffee stirrers and beads. Luckily I didn't have to cook a meal today as you wouldn't have been able to find the cooker nor the counter tops. At some stage it looked more like a science lab. I decided to space dye in trays, as I wanted soft multicolored thread. I have been doing a lot of hand embroidery lately so I needed to build up my thread stash again, as well I have want to add mixed packs of the dyed embroidery thread to "SewDanish".

I use Procion MX, fiber reactive cold water dye for most of my dyeing. It is easy to use. Except for the dye powder it only needs washing soda ash/crystals to fix the dye and cooking salt to make the dye stock spread easily. You can add urea as well, but I rarely do that. I only got half of my dyeing done, as I ran out of soda, so I'll have to nip over to the supermarket tomorrow. Right now I have drying racks with all these wonderful coloured threads drying all over the kitchen. Cannot wait to see them all dry tomorrow morning. It is always so exciting to see the result. My dyeing is never a particular exact science, so I never know the result until it is all dry.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Recycled Bits

I think our computer chair has a special sticky coating on the seat. Somehow I've been stuck to that chair all morning and most of the afternoon. The chair just didn't want to release me. Strange.... :-)

At least I have gotten a lot done, so it hasn't been a total waste of time. I've been preparing new listings for SewDanish. Lately I have been experimenting with making ACEO's (artist, cards, editions, originals). I know, that I'm totally behind the powercurb and that people collecting ACEO's probably have move on to something new. Please tell me if thats the case, so I won't miss the boat again. Never the less I have had a blast making these ACEO's. When ever I trim something from a project, have left over surface decorated papers/fabrics or my layered backgrounds, then I save them in my big goody bag. I just love having a good rummage in that bag. It bring bags memories from all these projects, that I have made at one time or another. I very rarely toss any of these small scraps, because you never know when they will come in handy. And why start all over, when you already have all these interesting bits laying around, craving to be used in something. I like having my own little recycle center in my studio. A very dear non sewing friend of mine thought I had lost my marbels when she discovered that I was saving all my sewing machine thread ends in an empty tissue cardboard box. I'm not quite sure that she ever understood, when I tried to explain, why I was saving them. Ah well, her loss :-)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Spiral of Life

I've been to my machine embroidery group ATW, Advanced Textile Workshop. Had a great day as usual. This group is an eksperimental free machine embroidery group. A couple of weeks ago our group had a display at an event called "Textile in Focus" which took place North of Cambrigde (GB). It is a yearly event with lots of workshops, vendors, exhibitions and lectures. A fantastic day out. Our group had gotten the brief to make a non conventional container. And this container was to contain a treasure and there had to be some hand stitching. My container ended up not looking anything like my initial plan, as I couldn't get it to work. So I was sitting there with this rather large stitched piece, that I just couldn't cut into pieces. So I started manipulating. And I just loved what started to happen. My initial treasure idea was something that represented life, as I treasure life. I ended up with an integrated "spiral of life". I really think that it is so important to trust and follow ones intuition, and not try to force something to happen when working on a piece.

Monday, 9 March 2009

A Difficult Question

I have been invited to write an artist profile for this fantastic website It is website/blog for mixed media art. I highly recommend having a look. There is so much great information. You just want to keep looking, making mental notes and print great tips.
I have been working on the artist profile today. It is amazing how questions can make you focus. I actually find it is quite challenging to write about my self. By any means some questions are easier to answer than others. The one question that I have been struggeling with is "how to describe my work". A simple question, but I have always had problems answering it when asked. Maybe because I work in so many techniques, maybe beause I haven't quite found my feet as an artist or maybe it's because I don't like to be labeled. Lables means limitation to me. And I don't want to be limited. There is so much to explore within my art/craft. I dont know. But I know it is a great excersice to actually stop up, pause and put pen to paper (computer :-)trying verbalizing it. It makes you think that's for sure. You should try it :-)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

My Painted Quilt

I have painted my quilt with a thin layer of tinted emulsion/latex paint! And I am really pleased with the result. The transferred pictures are now more integrated in the surface. They blend instead of sitting on the surface. I'd didn't "invent" the adding of emulsion paint to quilt surfaces. My former tutor and now mentor for my "Out Of The Fold" textile group, Anette Morgan is the one who introduced me to it. Anette Morgan, an international exhibiting textile/quilt/fiber artist, quilt judge, City and Guilds diploma teacher. She has had several articles published in "Quilting Arts" and "Cloth Paper Scissor" magazines, as well as being an author of several books on contemporary quilting and applique. Now that's a busy lady :-)
I have now started working on my next step of the quilt. I'm going to sew my repeated design shape onto gauze. My aim is to create depth with this almost invisible layer. It really does work in my head.... :-)now I need to try it on my small sample quilts.
I'm glad they didn't ask me at the pharmacy why I needed 10 yards of gauze! Sometimes it is difficult to explain in few words. A friend of mine has recently been visiting lots of hardware store in the quest to find builders scrim/cotton plaster scrim. I didn't envy her the job explaining all the men behind the counters, why she wanted this specific scrim and why she couldn't make do with the modern plastic version. But really, the plaster scrim dyes beautiful. It kind of collapses into a soft cord which is perfect for couching. In the end she did manage to get us two big roll which was great.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Exhibition Quilt

I have been working on a quilt today. It is a quilt for our next exhibition. We are all making a 18 x 42 inches quilt on the theme of "Inside Out" to be hung in the entrance room of the exhibition area, to create a cohesive visual focal point.
I have a master plan for my quilt, but having said that, I'm taking it step by step, not to mess things up, so to speak. So far I have made a long panel with attached images. The images are transferred on to fabric from a mono print that was made as part of my design work. Four images slightly off set on an old recycled damask table cloth, quite densely quilted in long free motion parallel'ish lines. I love using the old table cloth that are beyond rescue because of too many stains. I find them in thrift/charity shops or flea markets/car boot sales. They are so soft. Dye beautiful, and I like the thought of re purposing them, giving them a new lease of life. A long side my main piece I've made three small quilts, trial and error pieces to experiment on. After having finished quilting the panel and the three smaller pieces, I took a deep breath, went and got my emulsion/latex paint from the garage. Diluted and slightly coloured the paint and painted the quilted trial pieces lightly..... It looks great. Tomorrow I'll paint the main piece :-)

Friday, 6 March 2009

Design Inspiration

Ely Cathedral North of Cambrigde (GB)is a fantastic place to visit. This morning three friends of mine picked me up and we all went on a daytrip to Ely Cathedral. We belong to the same textile group, and we were looking for inspiration for a new body of design work. I had visited the Cathedral some years ago, so knew that I was in for a treat. The Cathedral was founded as a monestery in year 673. In year 870 it was destroyed by the Danes (sorry :-). Work on the present Cathedral began in the year 1047. So we are talking seriously old! After a lovely chat over a cup of tea, we all went our own ways. With in an hour I had taken 125 photoes. I love digital photos! Everywhere I turned there was another must have detail to take a photo of. There were wonderfull inscription in Latin carved in marbel, worn medival tiles, suprisingly spots colorful details, brass plaques on the walls with the sun reflecting the stain glass windows..... my head is buzzing with ideas how to translate what I've seen to day. How to capture the atmosphere. It is so exciting! I have had a quick look my photoes and will upload them on Flickr in the coming days.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Blogger Newbie Needs Advice!

I have been working on my blog to day to really get it up and running. I have been looking at blog directories and have submitted to some of them. Here is my question. Which once are the important ones to submit your blog to? There seem to be so many out there. And what about "pingoat" ? is that a must? Then there is feedburner, RSS?
Maybe I just want to do too much in one go, but I must admit it is a bit overwelming. How would you prioritize? Any advice would be appreciated :-)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

My Wensday Textile Group

I belong to three textile groups, all great and very different. Today was "Sindano". Sindano translate into "needle" in Swahili. We are 15 ladies, age between late 40 to late 70, that have been together, as a group for several years. We all got to know each other, when we were attending a course in creative hand embroidery. Our tutor decided, after I had been with her for +3 years, that she needed more time to develop her own fantastic work, so she moved on. We ladies had so much fun, so we kept meeting. In the beginning for pub lunches. Later we decided that we might as well get some work done, and we hired a village hall/community center in a local village. We meet once a month and we alternate between own sewing/working days, teaching each other a technique or having a "proper" workshop with a paid tutor.
Of the three groups that I belong to, this is the most social group, but having said that, we are working towards an exhibition end November 2009. We exhibited in 2007, and it was such a success, that we were invited back to the same place, which was a great compliment. We all bring different craft backgrounds to the group, which is a great strenght and very inspiring. There are quilters (traditional and contemporary), weavers, spinner, dyers, knitters and embroiderers (traditional and contemporary). We bounce a lot of info and tips of each other. There is always someone that can give a helping hand when stuck. Its a lot of fun and always a great day out.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Blogger newbie is having fun!

I must admit that I'm already hooked on blogging. Not bad in less than 24 hours! I'm now looking at blogs in a whole new way. I have always enjoyed visiting all the beautiful blogs out there. It is so much fun and the creative energy out there is amazing. But now I'm doing research for my own baby here.... :-)
Hmm... must remember to use that argument with my otherwise very supportive husband. Lately he has started talking about having a sign in sheet for the computer, designated time slots or maybe even having a kick of timer installed. Chock horror!! Do you think he is trying to send me a message? Mind you he is in the process of writing his 4Th book on Fantasy Football, his big passion and the computer had always been "his" until I opened "SewDanish" in May 2008. Boy the times has changed :-)
Anyhow, I had no idea that there are so many templates, gadgets, features.... you name it out there. What I would like to find is a feature to track the numbers of visitors, once this blog gets wildly popular. I'm off to do more research.... See you later

Monday, 2 March 2009

Welcome to SewDanish' Blog !

I, Birgitte Hendricks would like to welcome you to my blog. I'm a Danish Textile Artist, living in England with my American Husband. Since early childhood I have been making things. Through out my life, I have never stopped creating. Creating and making things makes me happy. It energizes me.

I love building up surfaces from scratch with focus on the texture. I often use very basic and recycled materials in my work. I find it very appealing giving discarded items a new lease of life. It challenges me. Probably due to my Danish background, I'm very attracted to light to medium tones and colours, often combined with a minimalistic, clean design.

Most of my items in my shop "SewDanish" are One Of A Kind or made in limited editions.