Launching into something completely new is always exciting. Doing it with a group of friends makes it extra special. Last week we each arrived at our textile group meeting with six different fabrics and set out to explore ‘interleave’ quilting. We were inspired by a Kent Williams’ quilt and one of our number worked out how to approach the technique.
Sorting out our colour combinations was the first step – a bit of a leap in the dark, for me anyway as I wasn’t quite clear how the final pieces would come together.
Then cutting the major shapes – a triangle sitting in a square. I am relatively new to quilting and still of a mindset of accurate angles and measurements. It was liberating just to ‘cut a triangle’ (once I’d overcome the urge to use the angles on the ruler!)
Slicing up into one inch strips and stitch & flip followed, with the shapes gradually appearing as we worked and the colour combinations revealing themselves
I thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially seeing the colour choices of everyone else. This technique really does make colours zing, even my quite muted ones (the one at the top here). I can’t wait to try another one.
Two projects finished last week! Not started and finished obviously, just completed in time for the deadline of my local EG branch annual display of members’ work. I so enjoy seeing what everyone has been doing that I feel it only fair to include some of mine. This year’s theme was trees which meshed nicely with my textile group’s challenge.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the group – Wyvern Textiles – before. We haven’t been together long, still finding our way. We joined together because we wanted to have others to talk to about our work as it progressed. I don’t know about the rest of the group but I’m really appreciating having such great people to give me help and constructive criticism. We are all very different in background and in what sort of work we are doing, hence the use of ‘textiles’ in our name. Definitely not tying ourselves down as a group, or individuals, to one technique.
We set ourselves a challenge. To all use a single point of inspiration to create, in any way we wanted, a piece to be exhibited this coming month. We chose a painting by David Hockney, Three Trees at Thixendale, Winter 2007. We have all produced very different work! It’s been an interesting journey. Here’s a detail of my piece and I’ll ask the others if they can let me have photos of theirs.
This is machine embroidery worked on a pieced and hand and machine quilted ground. I am enjoying combining different techniques, makes the process varied and challenging. The image at the top shows my other piece with couched gold and after doing that I painted and quilted the batik it is worked on.
So now – on with the bed quilt and some other unfinished projects. I’ll see if I can finish something else before my next post!
Another fascinating day on Saturday provided by Region 8 of the Quilters’ Guild. The Regional Days are a great opportunity to catch up with quilting friends and be provided with excellent speakers (and tea and cake!).
This time we were treated to an account by an ‘ordinary quilter’ who turned out to be no such thing. Margie Jenkins delighted us with a journey through her quilting life bringing us up to date with her role as President of the Guild. The variety and range of her work was truly impressive but what I most brought away with me was her enthusiasm – to try something new, to embark on yet another major project and to share with others the joy and satisfaction that creating can bring.
Gillian Travis was the second speaker and had brought with her a selection of her hundreds of journal quilts and teaching samples, as well as full-sized quilts. I came away resolving to try out her interchange applique as soon as possible. I’m not sure I can match her wonderful colour palette but I’ll give it a go.
Yesterday we braved the blustery wind to walk round Anglesea Abbey gardens. We were too late for the snowdrops (next year definitely!) but the winter walk was full of colour and striking shapes. This grove of trees stopped us in our tracks – it has a sort of ghostly beauty doesn’t it? Another image to consider for interpretation for the local Embroiderers’ Guild theme of trees this year.
For a few months I have been fortunate enough to go to one of Lynne Edwards’ groups at Chelsworth. I so look forward to those days – she is a wonderful teacher, very generous with her time and ideas and very funny. I wanted to learn her efficient method of working with half-square triangles so cast about in my mind for something relatively small I could make that would also be used. I did not want to end up with yet another “sample” that would lurk in a drawer.
A cover for my sewing machine! Perfect. I could at last abandon the old pillowcase I have been throwing over it for many years. And I determined to use only fabric I already had (it’s taking up way too much space as I fall for yet another tempting fat quarter).
And so last week, having pieced, layered and quilted, I faced up to construction (my least favourite part of the process) and I now have a brightly colour-co-ordinated cover keeping my machine dust free. I used Pellon in the side panels to give some rigidity to them; I have only recently discovered this fusible foam layer and appreciate its structural nature. Very easy to work with too.
I realise I am predominantly a “process” person. I thoroughly enjoy the planning and piecing/quilting/embroidery aspects of projects. Actually finishing something takes more energy, but it is so worth the effort. I will remind myself of the satisfaction I felt this time when next I look at my not insignificant pile of UFOs.
Eszter Bornemisza Deepwater Lights
Steve Jobs quoted Picasso as saying “Good artists copy, great artists steal’. I recently read Will Gompertz Think like an artist and he explains this as a progression: as artists learn their trade they copy the masters to gain skills and then they take (steal) certain techniques or approaches as theirs in developing their own voice. Part of the City and Guilds work is to study contemporary makers and in doing my first assignment I have certainly been ‘copying and learning from’ an artist. I hadn’t expected the challenge involved in producing samples of the techniques and designs to go with my project. Trying to deduce from a relatively small photo online just how a piece has been constructed was the first hurdle. The second came when exploring the new-to-me techniques I thought had been used. Eszter Bornemisza’s recent work I find interesting, complex and beautiful and have been fascinated by it at several recent shows. Her early work, in the late 1990s looks very different in concept, colour and technique. My first sample was based on Deepwater Lights (above) made in 1999; its striking colours and sense of light and movement seem almost by a different artist to the current pieces. But how had she constructed the work? Applique? piecing? with templates? freeform? After poring over the photos on her website I decided to machine piece with the fabric cut to exact pattern pieces to get as close as I could the appearance she created. I have little experience of curved seaming so it took some time to be comfortable with it. Diagrams were drawn, planning the order of joining and giving templates to be cut round. As the work progressed I gained confidence and abandoned the paper patterns, cutting each piece freehand to fit with its partner edge. Choosing fabrics from my limited stash was tricky but I was satisfied with the overall effect. The quilting lines were hard to see in the photos and I was puzzled at first that lines crossing different colour fabrics showed no contrasts. Then I read that Eszter uses transparent threads – a solution and another first for me! A very springy thread (with a mind of its own when being wound on to a bobbin), but the machine handled it well and I like the freedom it gives the viewer to concentrate on the textural aspect of the quilting rather than colour contrasts. As always I was surprised by the difference to the feel of the piece the quilting lines made, they really bring the piecing to life.
A worthwhile, if time-consuming, learning activity. I can see that this form of detailed study will lead to having a better range of skills to interpret my ideas and produce particular effects.