Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The African Influence again.

The impetus for my creativity is so often kickstarted by a nostalgic flick through the travel journals and photographs from our many holidays in sub Saharan Africa. There is something about the heat, the quality of the light, the wide open spaces, the colours, scents and sounds of places we have visited that I find irresistible. I usually find an image, a collection of images and my notes from a place trigger the desire to "make something". These forays into memory are usually accompanied by a trawl through my boxes of fabric. Normally broadly colour related the exception are the African collection which exists across the colours. Mostly purchases from my trips and from Maggie Relph but including regular commercial pieces which speak to me of the continent come out and I consider them in relation to the memory, the photos and how I felt there.
This summer I re read my journal from a trip to Zambia and Botswana and was instantly drawn to my description of a late evening on the edge of the Zambezi river.
I was on the shores of the Zambezi just above the point where it plunges over Victoria Falls. Here the river gathers pace in channels, areas to either side remain placid while in other areas  the water roils and boils, foams and bubbles as it seeks the fastest route over the edge. The moonlight here, without light pollution, is extraordinary and its reflection in the placid and roiling water was mesmerising. I wanted to try and create an abstracted evocative of this time and place.
I had a hand dyed length from Jo Lovelock and it was perfect as a proxy for the more placid areas of the river. This I quilted as a whole cloth in swirls that reminded me of the moving waters.

The swirling waters and the moonlight were harder to conjure. I had a collection of indigo dyed samples from a CQ winter school with Janice Gunner and found some home dyed fabrics with the same tones as the lighter area of the base quilt.

This was my palette and I strip pieced up a rectangle that was smaller than the base quilt so it could lie on top of the base.

To add movement to the reflections of the moon in the water I added thin strips from old denim jeans which I distressed to get frayed edges. I then added hand stitch to add a more dimensional feel. Both quilts were then faced and we're ready to apply the two together, hand stitched, off centre.

The quilt was then finished and had taken just than a month from start to finish!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Kaffe Fassett and embroidery

On Recent visit to York I went to the Quilt Museum and Gallery where they were showing Kaffe Fasett's first solo exhibition "Ancestral Gifts". While interesting to see the traditional quilts alongside Kaffe's take on the quilt designs in his signature prints, a case of " plus ca change et plus c'est le meme chose" while more exotic and brighter than the original inspiration pieces the technique and feel was still much the same.
What actually blew me away was a single exhibit In a small side room filled with interesting artefacts and collects of materials which had been starting points for his designs. Here there was a printed cotton jacket which had been completely embroidered the fabrics looked like Kaffe's own but the effect of the stitch work was fabulous.

On the face of it this is not an outstanding, knockout piece but when you get a closer look and see the stitching, wow!

Now I know what to do with the odd fat quaters of flowery fabric and with beads and wadding I think it could be very effective. I might start with a bolero for my great niece for Christmas!
Watch this space!!

With thanks to Kaffe Fasset, The Quilter's Guild and the Quilt Museum and Gallery for permission to use images taken on my visit to the Gallery.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Art Quilt v Quilt Art, musings......

My wandering among the quilts at Festival this year have set my mind focussing on what or where the lines are drawn between an "Art Quilt" and "Quilt Art".
Sadly I was not able to participate in the panel discussion on the Friday titled "How does a quilt become a piece of Art", it would have been fascinating to hear the various perspectives and to begin to develop criteria for judging which might reflect these perceptions when quilts are entered into the Art Category. I really hope that a CQ member who attended this sessions might put together an article for the magazine on this theme.
I suppose that to some extent my deliberations have been prompted by my experience of entering a quilt into the Art category this year. Similar work last year had been commented on by judges as more suitable to be an Art quilt, so on that basis, I made my choice this year. If a quilt sets out to be an art quilt how valid is a judges cricism on the choice of colours and on the straightness of a line of hand stitch? One can not imagine this being a criteria for a Quilt Art piece.
Yes I asked for feedback. I am not quibbling about this, this was her judgement given the criteria. I am however struggling to understand the point at which neat edges or wavy edges, loose threads and way out colour combinations become positive attributes as opposed to criteria for criticism.
Please do join the debate, I'd love to know what others think.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Game of Quilts - quilt made and handed over!

Thursday 6th started  early, lots to get organised and set up ready for our mammoth day of quilt making. We had been sponsored by Bernina for the machines and Wonderfil for our threads and the wadding was provided too.

Our team, "All Layered Up" was made up of six of us so that we could all have time out during the day, for sanity and to get around a little of the festival. 
Stuart Hillard, from The Great British Sewing Bee was there to set the teams off on the challenge.

Now we were ready to go. It took us a while to get into the swing, despite practicing, a strange machine and a small amount of space but we had a plan and we stuck to it! Our quilt was made up of four panels, one of which was plain with appliquéd flowers. We started here so that we would have maximum time to hand stitch the flowers and Echo quilt them.

Then it was all hands to cut and piece the blocks, each made up of three fabrics, the flowered and turquoise in all and alternating yellow and orange squares. Strip piecing helped and soon we had enough blocks to construct our first row. Kneeling on the floor or cut our wadding and backing fabric, and going to the outer reaches of the hall to apply 505 spray we were ready to layer up. These rows were then quilted. 

We had chosen the flowered quilt back so that our quilt as you go technique was almost invisible from the back. We had experimented with Wonderfil Invisifil thread to quilt and top stitch the strip joins, it worked really well and I'm going to invest in some for myself for the next quilt I start.
With the rows joined up we had the binding to make and while that was being done we added a drift of appliqué flowers to the blocks as well.

The binding was Sue's bright idea but it meant that she was needed on the machine at the end after her full day hanging quilts on the Wednesday.

Eventually, we did finish.

We did enjoy the day, we had some laughs along with the hard work, we realised that we had been our own worst enemy in going for a slightly larger size. It was in a very good cause, Birmingham Children's Hospital, and our left over fabric and wadding has gone into the Linus pot for the group who work at The Bramble Patch in Northants to use. Would we do it again, probably, for me it and a big birthday celebration meant that I saw less of the quilts and exhibitions than I would have liked, but it was my choice!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Are you ready for "The Game of Quilts"?

It's almost time for the Festival of Quilts, starting on Thursday at NEC in Birmingham. This year the Guild is initiating a new feature. "The Game of Quilts " and as a mad thing I have signed up to take part! Teams, of four, at any one time, will attempt to make a quilt in a day to be donated to Birmingham's Children's hospital. "All Layered Up" is ready to go.....

We have been given a block and can do anything we like with it as long as we create a quilt of a minimum 48" square between 10am and 5.30pm six and a half hours from start to finish with just one sewing machine!

This is the block we have been given to work with, a three patch.

These are the fabrics we have chosen to make it with
We have spent a day working out how we will do it, practicing some of the techniques we will use and how we will deploy our work force. There actually six of us in the team, so we each get a bit of a break from the "sweatshop" for a coffee, a comfort break and some retail therapy. It means we have had to schedule our workload in four sections so when we are working we know what to do. 
This activity is open so that visitors to the show can watch and ask questions as we go along or barrack from the sidelines. We will be there all day on Thursday, down by the Theatre area, come and say hello!