Monday, March 31, 2014

Hugs and Kisses

Love encompasses so much of life and motivates us in many ways. Everyday we use symbols to tell people we love them in texts, letters and notes. For this challenge the plan was to use the symbols and colours of love to create fabric that would convey the same message.  
The traditional colour of love is red, this together with it's complementary colour set the colour scheme and then stylised imagery was added.
These presented challenges, as a way of creating a stencil with small crosses and circles, various stamps for trialling and making a grid for the stamping had to be devised. Who said love was easy?
It all went well until the heart motif turned out to be upside down once the excess fabric was cut away. The choice was then leave the quilt in this state or cut it away and redesign with the left over bits of fabric. The perfect grid was a thing of the past,  but it has character and imperfection, just like love.

I know what you will answer

What a capacious word LOVE. 
It has so many meanings: love to children, love to man, love to parents, love to nature, love to quilting and so on and so on.

The idea came out really quickly. I wanted to dedicate this quilt to our love – my husband and me. I wanted to do a lot of handwork so “boro” style has been chosen.

Colours and forms of scraps symbolize our characters.

Very often while sitting together quietly I ask my husband: ”May I ask you?”
He:      I know what you will ask.
I:          I know what you will answer.
He:      Yes, I love you!
I:          I love you too.

Is this love?

The Writing's on the Wall

Love - The Writing's on the Wall - Amanda Sievers comes in so many forms and can be expressed in so many different ways that, for this challenge, the idea of using graffiti really appealed to me and gave me a great platform to explore surface design at a higher level than I had done before. I also wanted to try to convey the idea of how fluid love can be - how love comes and goes, how love moves and shifts in intensity, how it can be strong and vibrant, possibly at the beginning of a relationship (or further into a relationship, if we can be that fortunate) and how love can fade, dull and diminish over time, like the writing on a wall.

This piece gave me opportunity to really work on building layers and exploring surface design more deeply. I first dyed a piece of cotton mid grey, then I silk screened on an ezy-screen print I made of the brick wall. Next I got out the chlorox bleach pen and started taking out some colour which you can see in the light green areas. Once happy with that, I got out the sharpies and fabric pens, drawing and writing expressions of love all over the piece. I also used liquid paper (white-out), stamped on some hearts in red acrylic paint that I cut from lino block and smudged and sponged on some purple & red acrylic paint. Lastly, I used an image transfer paste for the large word 'LOV' that I had created using sharpies on white copy paper. It looked incomplete, so I added the 'e' at the end with fabric pens and finally the piece looked balance to me.

Lastly I quilted the piece using pretty rough stitching along the lines of the brick work and major elements.

Materials: Cotton hand dyed fabric, acrylic paint, sharpie pens, fabric pens, silk screen paint, white-out, chlorox bleach pen, dylon image transfer paste, Madeira thread.

Flowers for Valentine

Love.... so many ideas, so many interpretations, so many different aspects. It took me a long time to decide about this quilt. Would I make a quilt about the city I was born, Paris, for many the city of love, about my love for quilting, my kids... 
Valentine day was last month and when I decided I really had to start on this quilt I remembered the happy faces of my three children when they gave my the tulips my husband had bought for valentine day. I choose bright colours to represent both the bright happy faces of my children and some of the tulips colours. I used a thermofax screen, first with discharge past on the green and dark pink then with gold on both fabrics and yellow, orange and red on the white, yellow and orange fabrics to represent the different tulips I got. I cut the diffrent pieces of fabric into smaller parts and started assembling them in a diffrent order, kind of puzzle like. First I wanted to quilt hearts on the background but finally decided to quilt only straight lines. When the quilting was finished I hand-appliqued the small blue piece of fabric with a golden tulip stamped as a focal point. I made this stamp last year in a class about tulips on fabric.

commercial hand-dyed fabrics
thermofax screnn with discharge past and fabric paints
stamp withn fabric paint
polyester batting
machine piecing, hand appliqué, machine quilting

Sabine Courtellemont-Max

Song of Solomon by Linden Lancaster

'Song of Solomon' (or 'Song of Songs') is a book of the Old Testament. It tells of the intimate story between a young King Solomon and a Jewish maiden, their feelings for each other and their longing to be together. 
I started off with a lovely soft screen printed background. Various elements referencing love were then added. I printed the text from an antique bible (that was falling apart) onto fabric, which was fused on. The music is from the song ‘When you were Sweet Sixteen’, one of my favourite love songs made famous by the Irish band 'The Furies'. Lace and buttons, represent a wedding gown.  I have used warm colours to depict passion. Roses, the flower of love, have been thread sketched/quilted in a contrasting black thread over the top to add some definition and  unification. Darker reds, yellows and pinks were then splashed into the flowers with inks and crayons.

Song of Solomon

Detail 1

Detail 2

Crocus - Love for the Garden in Spring

Gabriele Bach: Krokus - Liebe zum Fruehlingsgarten

Love is a very difficult theme and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. But when I saw my little garden in the sunshine, it was clear for me, what I wanted to show in my quilt. I love my garden, especially in the early spring when it is full of crocuses and snowdrops. The crocus is a wild sort and they become every year more.
For my quilt I had the idea to show the flower with a wide border. I admire often the hand embroidery in other quilts and this time I wanted to use seed stitch to present the wealth of crocus blossoms in my garden. I have self- dyed embroidery yarn, which waits to be used.
Every year again I admire the crocuses in my garden and I am very happy that I made at least a quilt with the crocuses.

I used mostly self-dyed cotton and embroidery yarn, pieced and quilted with the machine and made the embroidery by hand.

Love’s Illusions

Most of us grew up with a fairy tale, Hollywood movie image of love. One day our Prince Charming would sweep us off our feet and whisk us away to a wonderful castle where we would live, rich and happy forever. There would never be any problems or discord, just longing gazes into each other’s eyes and eternal bliss.

For most of us who have been in relationships in the real world, we know that Life sends us many challenges whether health or finances or family or personal issues that test our love.

These challenges can affect a relationship and make it stronger or eventually wear it down. For those who survive the tests the result is a true love based on having seen each other at our best and our worse and having decided that we love and respect and accept each other no matter what. This is True Love!

In this quilt I have woven a double ikat in shades of red to represent love in its many forms and in shades of blue-green to represent the various challenges. The resulting fabric is the fabric of Life.

The white fabric is covered in black text that represents the good and bad aspects of a relationship. The red text consists of the fairy tale words. When we look at love through rose-coloured glasses we selectively choose the fairy tale words and ignore the rest.

Stone Love

The theme for March was LOVE and as this word can be interpreted in so many ways I come to think
of my love for stones and the way they have always fascinated me with their shapes, textures and colors. Not far from where I live there is a church ruin from the 12:th century, which slowly is falling to pieces but with still some lovely stonewalls remaining. Those stonewalls have inspired me to make this  stone piece.

For the stones I used fabrics that I had rust dyed and also some fabrics crackled with flour paste and painted with black acrylic paint.
The stones are raw edged appliquéd. Threads used are cotton and the batting is 80/20 cotton polyester.

Love - ursa major and ursa minor

I am not a sentimental person, and I have almost no family, so it was quite hard to think of special moments that involve love. So instead I thought of the way that animals show affection, and the strong bond between mothers and their offspring.

I found a photo of polar bears that illustrated my point quite well.  Several friends have been to the Arctic in recent years to see polar bears - one saw lots, and another only one in the distance. I am a supporter of Greenpeace, and was involved in mailing people about the Greenpeace activists who were imprisoned in Russia as they were protesting against drilling there.

All of these combined to make this a subject that I feel strongly about, preserving areas of natural ecosystems that are at risk of being permanently destroyed. We know that polar bears are finding the shorter hunting season a problem, and many starve as a result.

As I constructed my piece, using all hand dyed or painted fabrics, it reminded me of the marble floor in the church Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. This has a meridian line across the floor and up one wall, which the sun strikes and shows which astrological sign is current in the calendar. That thought led me to investigate the constellations of ursa major and ursa minor, a nice play on the mother and baby bears. I have never been able to 'see' the creatures and people in the stars. These are relatively close to the shapes in some star guides.

One collection of zodiac signs from Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Love Tulip

When I put out this challenge, I called it maybe trite but when I started working on it, it really ended up as a challenge for me. While I was looking in my sketchbooks, and my heart for ideas, I came across a journal-quilt I made last year. It was worked with spraying through stencils with some tulips. And I really love tulips with their many shapes patterns and colours. And not to forget it's history. The first tulip in Norway, bloomed in the garden of an old pharmacy here in the center of Bergen more than 400 years ago.
So I had an idea, but how to interpret it. By spraying and stenciling I managed to get a piece of cloth I liked, but I also needed a focus. I went to one of my other great love: Letters, in all it's sizes and fonts. And how they can be decorative as well as have a meaning. So I stenciled a big L on top of it all and put the rest of the letters for love as a decoration on it. I hand quilted the visible tulips, machine-quilted the background and appliqued a photo-transfer of a tulip from my garden as a finishing touch.

And some close-ups:

Moroccan Spice

Moroccan Spice
I can't believe another two months have passed already and it's time for the next 'reveal'!
This time I have chosen a slightly unusual approach to the theme ('Love' ) by exploring sensory love. Sensory derives from the Latin sentire - to feel or perceive while love I've taken in the context of feelings, pleasure and emotions. 
As a result, Moroccan Spice examines my love for:
  • the visual aspect of the exotic and enticing mounds of spices found in Moroccan souks - markets and bazaars
  • the colours of Morocco - spices, carpets, architecture, clothing and decorative embellishments
  • the designs and colours of mosaics, which can vary from the ordered to the abstract and are often highly colourful
Given my current explorations into the possibilities of Inktense as a colouring medium, this piece has been dyed exclusively using Inktense. To prepare the work I first colour washed the background fabric using simple outlines for the major shapes. I then colour washed a larger piece in broad bands of colours, to be used for the mosaic pieces.
The process was then a gradual one of building up the lines of mosaic until I was satisfied. Each piece was individually fused and raw-edge stitched - this took quite a while!
The quilting occurs in the 'channels' between some of the mosaic tiles, using coloured threads and a little gold metallic thread.
Detail 1 - mosaic pieces
To finish the piece, the untiled areas have been embellished with beads.
Detail 2 - beading
Detail 3 - beading
Size is 15" x 15". Materials - cotton dyed with Inktense, beads, rayon, polyester and metallic threads. Techniques - hand painting, raw edge appliqué, beading.

More of my work can be seen on my blog

O Canada

Love….. it can go from one extreme to another; either it is totally mushy and commercial or something as simple as a love of the outdoors.  

Well, I wanted to do something completely different. Firstly, I haven’t done any hand stitching in this piece except when putting on the binding; and secondly, I’m getting over my fear of free motion quilting and have done the entire background in different motifs.

During the Olympics in February, I found that every time the Canadian flag was raised, I stood proudly in my living room belting out the Canadian anthem with a great sense of pride.  So, my interpretation of “Love” is for my country.  I may not like the politics, the politicians, the taxes or the weather, but I’m very thankful to be living in this country - O Canada!
O Canada - Detail 1

O Canada - Detail 2
Material:         Commercial cotton and batik fabric
Technique:      Free motion quilting, fused maple leafs, trapunto


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Next challenge theme: SPACE

Space...a word that can mean so many different things and cover a vast array of concepts and ideas...
Here's just a few I thought of:

Inner space
Outer space
Personal space
Spiritual space
Positive space
Negative space
Parking spaces
The space between objects
The space/s we share with our friends & family
The space/s we create for ourselves...

I hope you are happy with this next theme and can get those creatives juiced flowing!

All the best,

Saturday, March 29, 2014


When I did my research for Balance, I made several attempts in my sketchbook, using paper-stencils. As I didn’t want to throw these in the bin,  I played a little on some of my less successful  attempts, and suddenly, I got new ideas to explore later, maybe…

This is just the cut-outs of the ballet-shoes, glued on some prints, with the left-over from my paint roller:

I had also made an attempt with the ballet-shoes on a green background. A total miss, so I just glued some of the off-cuts on top and drew lines from the different layers. Interesting result:

And – as a reminder of our next reveal on Monday, here is a little peek from my sketchbook:

So, do pay us a visit on Monday, March 31.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Edrica Huws - Patchwork pioneer - Following her artist's instinct

Edrica Huws was a pioneering patchworker whose name does not sit at the forefront of many people’s minds. Her unusual artworks in fabric are relatively unknown. I came across her work quite by chance some years ago and was immediately intrigued and captivated.
The Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool, 1970

Edrica, born in London in 1907, studied at the Royal College of Art (amongst other institutions), specialising in painting. Her early career freelancing was cut short by marriage to Richard, a Welsh artist and sculptor - and the raising of 5 children, during the  upheaval of WW2.
But Edrica always harboured a desire to do patchwork and stored increasingly large, and meticulously sorted bags of fabric scraps saved from dressmaking over many, many years. (I think we can all identify with that!).  She didn’t begin her explorations into patchwork until 1958, at the age of 51, and, due to her background in painting, challenged herself to produce representational art in fabric. Traditional patchwork did not interest her - in the words of her son, Daniel, she ‘never felt inclined to embark on something which to her was so unchallenging' !
She found traditional processes restrictive, and preferred to suggest images and ideas in a half-defined manner, inviting the imagination of both the artist and the viewer. Her works are really neither patchwork nor quilts - they consist of only 2 layers of fabric and are more akin to appliqué in construction.
Outside the Café

Inspiration came from her drawings and photographs, from which she built sections of the pictures, experimenting with colour, tone and texture, and layering fabrics until she was satisfied. The edge of each piece was then turned, pinned and stitched in place by hand, usually using black, white or red thread. The stitching is often highly visible and quite naive - even messy - in style. She had no issue with the stitches showing, and, indeed, they create another layer of texture and interest to the works.
Cat on the Ironing Board - detail
Her intention was for the works to not look like paintings, but what they actually are - designs made from scraps of fabric. Rules were made to be broken, according to Edrica! She never allowed the grain of the fabric to influence its line or position - she would place a piece the way she thought it looked best.
Important factors in her approach were spontaneity - the way children draw; she liked to work quickly; and the use of tone and colour, considering tone to be more important than colour.
'To be aware of tone is to be master of your material'. (Edrica Huws)
Cock and Hen
During a lecture in Japan, she describes creating a green field in the sunlight, where she may choose to use green floral patterns, soft yellows and browns, traces of pink and blue. She found flat expanses of one colour depressing and pointless. The juxtaposition of texture and design fascinated Edrica. Colours and materials that you would never entertain wearing together as clothing, could be just ‘right’ in her patchworks.
Over the years, Edrica’s reputation grew and at an exhibition in Japan in 1998 all the exhibits sold within a week. Edrica was then able to boast that, in her 91st year, she earned more than any other year of her life!
Edrica passed away in 1999, after a fall and broken hip in Paris.
Cat on the Ironing Board
The book of her works that I have in my collection - Edrica Huws Patchworks - Published by Manaman, 2007 - is now very difficult to obtain. I feel fortunate that I managed to source a copy several years ago. Regardless of your preferred style of working, Edrica's patchworks are worthy of study for the way she uses colour and creates texture, and the humour she brings to her works. 
Deborah Wirsu