A whole new world

We’ve all watched Escape To The Country and that’s what my husband and I did. When I first moved here to the beautiful heart of Wales, I had been a teacher for twenty plus years with little time for anything other than work.  At first the chance to have a bit of peace and quiet, take walks in the countryside and read my way through a list of books I’d never got around to filled my days. But after a while I was bored with all that. Plus, when you’re new to an area you need to get out and make a new network of friends.

So one day I spotted a two day willow basket -making workshop at a place called The Minerva Arts Centre which was in our nearest town just four miles away.  The basket making was a disaster – weaving willow was not for me I’m afraid. But what an amazing place I had found!  As someone who had done a bit of patchwork and quilting many moons ago the weekly quilting group, Welsh Heritage Quilters, gave me a chance to not only brush up on my old skills but to build a social life too. And then I discovered the workshops run by the Quilt Association which opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me.   I’ve always loved sewing and I’ve also always painted and sketched when time allowed.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been on several workshops at Minerva that have combined my love of sewing and art. Fabric, paints, colour.  What’s not to like!!! This is the journey I’ve been on so far.

In 2015 I went on a workshop tutored by Deborah O’Hare. We learned lots of different techniques for painting fabric and came away with lots of samples, some of which I’ve recently used on a World War One themed piece. Deborah will be back at Minerva on 26th July to teach a workshop called Layers and Shadows

Last March, I did a Print and Stitch workshop with Linda Paris where we used thermofax screens to print onto both commercially produced and hand dyed fabric.  Again, I’m still using up some of the samples we made that day on my WW1 piece. And the little thermofax screen of a stag I bought from Linda was used to make my Christmas cards last year.  I don’t think Linda is teaching any longer but her legacy lives on.

Below are a couple of photos which show an example of the painted landscape backgrounds I did with Deborah O’Hare.  The top one has been incorporated into a piece about World War One and the one below has a thermofax print on top, done with Linda Paris.

In May we held a Spring School tutored by Hilary Beattie. Hilary has a lot of followers and the course was full before I tried to book so I had to make do with looking at her work in our Spring Exhibition which featured work by the group Art Textiles:Made in Britain, of which Hilary is a member. I then discovered she has a whole series of videos on YouTube so I was able to watch and learn. Until I did that I’d never heard of acrylic wax or gelatos. Thanks, Hilary!

In August I did a fantastic two day workshop with Bobby Britnell,  a wonderful teacher who gives her students so much confidence to try new things.  What I took from those two days was an absolute passion for mono printing and, in particular, making my own stamps. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this new technique has given me.  I learned so much from Bobby – I am like a woman possessed. This was followed by a two day workshop in November led by Ruth Issett, Ruth is the absolute hero of many a would-be textile artist because of the way she uses colour in her work.  From her I learned how to improve my work with mono printing by overdyeing with procion dyes and how to be brave with colour.  The workshop was such an enjoyable one – one of my fellow students was beyond excited at the start of the second day (yes you, Lynda!).

Foam print blocks I made after my workshop with Bobby Britnell.

Mono prints in my sketch book using the foam blocks.

Mono prints on cotton fabric, waiting to be overdyed.

Mono printing and overdyeing done on Ruth Issett’s workshop.

Both Bobby and Ruth are members of the Textile Study Group , ‘a group of nationally and internationally recognised textile artists and tutors, well known for innovative and challenging approaches to art practice and contemporary teaching.’ We are so pleased to be one of the venues for their touring exhibition, DIS/rupt, which opens here at Minerva Arts Centre on 21st April. As part of our Spring Exhibition series of workshops, Bobby will be tutoring a half day workshop , Barking Up The Right Tree, for us on 8th May, and Ruth will be here on 25th May to lead a half day workshop called Disrupting Repetitive Pattern. We are also delighted to welcome Sarah Burgess, another member of TSG, on 28th April for a day workshop entitled Lost And Found.

This has been a long (and quite personal) post for me but I wanted to share with you how much being part of the Quilt Association means to me.  As a group of trustees we are passionate about what we do.  We take our responsibilities as curators of the building and conservators of the quilts we care for very seriously but we also have a commitment to sharing the very best practice in quiltmaking and textile art through the medium of our workshops programme.

If you haven’t been on one of our workshops before please give it a go!! I promise you that you will learn so much and have a fabulous time. We are in a beautiful part of the country and many of our course participants bring their ‘other half’ along. There’s plenty for them to do – walking, fishing, cafes, trains!!!

We look forward to seeing you soon.


Hilary Beattie

Hilary Beattie will be running a spring school for The Quilt Association this May.  Hilary taught here in Llanidloes in 2016 and that three-day retreat was a run-away success with many students booking again for this year. As a result, the school is sold out, but we hope that you will come and see Hilary’s work, plus the work of other members of Art Textiles:Made in Britain in the exhibition at The Minerva Arts Centre during May.

Anyone who has met Hilary, seen her teach, or demonstrate at quilting shows, will know that she is passionate about her art and tireless both in its execution and in the promotion of textile art as a movement.  Her work goes from strength to strength as she embraces new techniques, and experiments vivaciously with new materials. Hilary explores personal subject matter and shares with the observer her many passions, whether it is, for example, her love of the coast, her beloved dogs, her garden, or her own emotional journey.  What singles Hilary out as a true gift to textile art in Britain is the generosity with which she shares her knowledge, and, especially, her ability to impart that knowledge with engagement and enthusiasm,  to both experienced and novice practitioners.


This exhibition by members and guests of Art Textiles:Made in Britain opens at The Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes on May 6 2017 and runs until 3 June 2017.  The gallery will be open from 10.30 until 4.30 each day except Sundays.

There are related workshops as follows:

Rosie James – Photostitch – May 6 2017
Hilary Beattie – The Language of Flowers – 18 – 20 May 2017
Cas Holmes – Unfolding Landscapes – 22 – 23 May 2017
Sylvia Paul – Concealed – 1 – 2 June 2017


Quilt Association City and Guilds Graduates

“I feel quite sad now that it is over. I have thoroughly enjoyed my course, all of it, some parts more than others, at each stage I have been inspired, and enjoyed the challenge.  I have grown in so many ways, but especially confidence.”

Recently, several students have graduated from our City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Patchwork and Appliqué. They produced some outstanding work, as varied as their own personalities. During their online studies, they have filled sketchbooks as they learned about the elements of design – 

They have practised design development – 

and learnt practical skills such as traditional stitching techniques, Procion MX dyeing and free-motion quilting – 

and produced beautiful finished items focused on Patchwork and on Appliqué –

We had some lovely feedback from the graduates, (as well as the quote at the start of this post)  saying such things as;

“I learned a lot during the course and did things I would never before have                a) thought of doing or                                                                                                        b) thought were things I was capable of, probably just because I didn’t know how. In future if I come up with an idea, I will be more inclined to find out how things are done and can I acquire the tools needed rather than saying “that’s not for me”

“You have been a super tutor and your course is quite outstanding…wonderfully constructed and designed.”

“I have really enjoyed the course and learnt so much”

Some of you will have heard that City and Guilds are about to radically change their creative provision.  No one is sure yet exactly what they intend, but we do know that we can continue to register new students on our programme, which is 7161 from the Creative Techniques pathway,  until 2018.  If you are thinking of taking a City and Guilds course don’t delay.  We continue to be the best value online provider, with our price held despite increases in administration costs.


Art Van Go

Stunning Fabric

Regular Minerva Arts Centre users Minerva Textiles organised a two-day workshop on mark-making on fabric and paper, using mono-print, stamping, resist with masking tape, and more, led by Viv Arthur of Art Van Go.  Whoever thinks that art is an easy option occupation, should have seen the exhaustion on everyone’s faces by the end of day two. The concentration, dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm from all the participants was humbling to behold.  Viv is a great teacher and if you ever get the chance to attend a workshop with her, snap it up.  As you can see from the images here, the students in Llanidloes produced sophisticated work, in their varied,  individual, styles – styles some didn’t even know they could express!

Art Van Go March 2015

Viv came in the Van, of Art Van Go, packed to the brim with the textile art equivalent of a toy shop and, of course, we had to shop – it was only polite.  Students snapped up the Golden Interference colours we had used during the workshop, and sketchbooks and interesting papers, tools and all manner of media.  Scrumptious!

Mark making 6

Thank you Viv!!

If you are inspired and want to join in, Minerva Textiles group meet at The Minerva Arts Centre, in Llanidloes,  on the third Wednesday of each month from 10.00 until 1.00.

Black and White

2015 Activity at The Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes

Touch wood, we have endured a quiet winter weather wise, (there is still time!!).  This year we risked a February workshop and got away with it! No snow!!

Deborah O’Hare is always a most welcome guest, and this year she taught her exciting Landscape Fabric Painting  workshop.  Participants learned all sorts of techniques, such as using salt to dapple the surface.

Deborah has posted about her day on her own website – do have a look – she sells wonderful fabrics and kits.

Coming up this weekend we have Anja Townrow’s workshop full to bursting, as she teaches foundation piecing, and then in April, Angela Daymond will be printing with Woad – how intriguing!

Quilt Association Gift Vouchers

Stuck for a present idea for the stitcher in your life?  Why not give them a gift that, as they say, keeps on giving, by buying them a workshop gift voucher.  You can either choose for them, or purchase an open voucher which enables them to take their pick from our programme, (subject to places being available).

Voucher image


We will then either email you a voucher to print and give, or we can email the recipient on your behalf.  Vouchers are valid for one year from the time of purchase.

For more information, or the latest programme news, email education@quilt.org.uk


Linda Paris Workshop – making fabric bowls

Another wonderful day spent in the company of Linda Paris.  Linda is a great teacher who always goes beyond the boundaries of the workshop title.  Students go home with more knowledge of their machine, as well as the lovely makes of the day.                 

The variety of fabric that students had brought along created a beautiful miscellany of results that show how versatile the method is and everyone went home excited about the possibilities ahead!


Such was the confidence gained, that some students began to interpret the method in their own way.  Linda will be back with us in the new year to teach a series of ‘free-motion’ quilting classes.  Keep checking the ‘workshops’ page of our website for more information when it is available.  You will also find details of our exciting 2015 programme!

Two Workshops in One Day!

There was a great buzz in The Minerva Arts Centre with workshops hosted by Dawn Cameron-Dick and Angie Hughes taking place on the same day.  With two huge gallery spaces and lots of kettles and mugs on hand, great fun was had by all!

For Dawn’s students, there was the hum of sewing machines, and lots of hints and tips on how to create perfect New York Beauty blocks with surprising ease.  Everyone went home happy!

Angie Hughes was making a return visit to Llanidloes as the first time she taught Exploring Velvet, the demand was so great that she just had to visit us again!  Hosted this time by the Mid Wales Embroiderers, her students played with inks and bleach, stencils, foils, and sprays, to create textiles with great atmosphere and depth.

New Term! New programme!

Summer School 2014 with Sandra Meech

The education project, in which we are currently supported by the Ashley Family Foundation, has been vital in keeping The Quilt Association buzzing, with lots of people coming to The Minerva Arts Centre in Llanidloes, (where we are based) for the first time, to attend a workshop.  This year’s summer school was a great addition to our annual calendar and it all helps to keep the centre afloat.  Our first City and Guilds students are working hard as they approach graduation.

As you all know, times are hard for all charities, and we are never going to advocate that you throw a bucket of iced water at your quilts to raise money for us!  If you are able to attend a workshop, or the summer school, you will be helping to ensure that the quilt collection is maintained and perhaps even grows, in the future – plus you will be taught by the best in the country.  Win! Win!!

Have a look at the upcoming workshops on our website – more are added all the time.  Coming up in time to make Christmas gifts, Linda Paris is teaching Fabric Coil Pots – I have always wondered how you don’t break needles and how you stop everything going a bit ‘Ghost’!   Next year highlights include printing with woad, foolproof foundation piecing, hand-quilting with Barbara Chainey and of course summer school – 2015’s tutor is the vivacious, dynamic and talented Hilary Beattie.  

Pre-booking is essential and places do go quickly.

City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Patchwork and Appliqué Study Day

No snow, no floods and no high winds!  At last we were able to meet up for a City and Guilds study day! Sadly too few Daffodils out yet considered it was St David’s day.

It was a jam-packed day!  Busy tables!

Jam jar dyeing is just about the most fun you can have without finding out that Elvis is still alive.  It has a mad-scientist’s laboratory look about it initially.

The results however, are pure delight.

However, the fun did not stop there.  While our fabric was curing in the jar, students had a go at mono-printing – comparing a Gelli-plate with a glass plate on both paper – using acrylic paint – and fabric – using fabric medium and concentrated print colours.  After a lot of play, it was agreed that whilst both methods had their own characteristics and each would suit different intentions, the Gelli-plate had the definite edge as regards pleasure of use, not least because of the delicious thwuck noise and feel it has when prints are pulled.

We rounded off the day with some curved piecing using a technique which always feels slightly magical and a bit edgy.   After learning how to quickly and easily draft a quarter-circle block, students learnt a reliable piecing method.  Without pinning or marking, the fabric is stitched using a quarter-inch foot as a wall against which the fabric is aligned.  Once you have given yourself time to master it, the method works every time – as you reach the end of the seam you find that –  Yay! – the fabric lines up!!.  The students quickly got the knack! And it works for wiggly seams too.  More of the secret is only shared with City and Guilders so if I told you more I would have to wrap you in batting to silence you!