Monday, June 23, 2014

Can quilting and minimalism co-exist?

A few years ago, when moving house, I realised the absolute joy associated with getting rid of stuff - decluttering! It generated feelings of liberation, freedom, space, air!  Heady stuff, indeed!

Before actually moving, I did everything I could to reduce the towering pile accumulated over many years living in one house. Garage sales, eBay, charity shops, neighbours, friends - it seems everyone benefited (I hope!) from my urge to declutter. And after moving, finding there was no room for some furniture and other bits and bobs, they went, too. Almost weekly, something else seems to be given the 'flick'.

It is such a great feeling!

But - how does this state of being co-exist with being a quilter? Quilters keep stuff. Piles and piles and piles of it. Fabrics, threads, supplies, works in progress, UFO's, samples, machines…..the list goes on. And I must say, I certainly seem to have quite a mound of quilting-related items. My neighbour didn't help a few weeks ago when she gave me 3 huge bins of furnishing and upholstery fabric samples and off-cuts left over from her interior design business. But they were of such high quality and beauty that there was no way I could reject these treasured items. So I've had to find a neat way to store them.

The other day, by chance, I was browsing through an old book that had been my mother's - Practical Home Mending Made Easy (1946) - full of traditional and practical tips for all manner of sewing and repairs. Of course, much of what is in this book is still practical. It was the section on sewing machines and supplies that made me think.

I have an old electric Singer sewing machine. I haven't used it for many, many years as it's heavy and ungainly but stitches like a dream - still! It got me thinking…..while I would never want to give up my modern machines I wonder do we really need all the gadgets and stitches incorporated in high-end modern machines. I suspect most of us do not! Of course, I'm not talking about machines for specific purposes such as free-motion quilting or long-arm quilting or complex embroidery.

After all, would we really want to go back to a quilting foot like this? My old Singer has one just like it!

And as for the eye-watering range of products available to tempt us at quilting and craft shows. My goodness, you'd need a lifetime just to try them all, and a bank balance to match!

Although I'm not obsessive, in my house and surrounds I dislike clutter - I feel more relaxed in a tidy environment. Being a quilter or artist is inherently messy, so how do I 'marry' the two - quilting and moderate minimalism? I've decided it's relatively easy:
  • Keep all my quilting and sewing in a separate room or space. I don't have the luxury of a spacious studio, so works in progress do creep out to other parts of the house, but I try to put them away when I'm not working on them.
  • Keep my quilting space as tidy as I can. The philosophy of 'everything with a place and everything in it's place' is a goal I aspire to!
  • Recycle products and reduce waste where possible
  • Try to be disciplined and only purchase what I need
  • Try to be super-disciplined and only purchase new products if I know that I'm going to try them out. I must confess to not always being successful with this one, but my intentions are good!
So have I reached the point where quilting and minimalism can happily co-exist?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The inspiration and process for making my "Stone Love" quilt

In 2012 at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK I attended a class called "Digital imagery in stitched textiles" with Sandra Meech.

The aim of the course was to make the connection between the images we take with our cameras for inspiration, painted surfaces we do for fun and their important connection to fabric and stitch through collage.

For this class we were asked to bring several black-and-white photocopies, different saturated, on cartridge paper, of something we would like to to use and work with during the class and also one or two pages with our personal writing, describing the theme of our choice.

As Sandra said "The use of personal imagery and writing is a wonderful way of expressing a personal theme".

As I love stones and stonewalls my choice/theme was a very old church ruin, Karnbo church ruin, situated very near where I live.

I took a lot of photos of the ruin, above are just a few of them. I also wrote an A4 page by hand describing when it was built (during the 1200 hundred century) rebuilt etc. With lots of photo copies of the church ruin and the handwritten text we started to paint every page with diluted acrylic paints. Brusho, Koh-i-noor (bright water-based dyes used for painting on paper) and procion dyes also work very well.

As a background for the collage one white A4 copy paper was folded vertical  and one was folded horizontal.

5 - 7 pieces of paper in different widths were then torn from the painted theme photocopies and personal handwriting and then glued to the white copy papers. Our collages where after that photographed for the computer and printed on fabrics.

Vertical collage on paper and
The paper collage printed on fabric.
Landscape collage printed on paper.

The same paper collage printed on fabric.

As another exercise I tore paper strips from my black-and-white photocopies and also a little piece from   a painted paper and made a collage.
The collage on the right hand side was then my inspiration for the Latitude Quilt´s  March quilt with the theme LOVE.
I called my quilt "Stone Love"

Sandra Meech has written several books. In my possession I have her three latest.

Connecting art to stitch. 2009. ISBN: 978-1-9063-8810-2
Connecting design to stitch. 2012. ISBN: 978-1-60705-622-5
Creative quilts. Unlock your creativity with design classes and techniques. 
2013. ISBN: 978-1-849941-112

Those books can not be to warmly recommended.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Under the Surface...

What a great theme chosen by Ann Mari!...This is the challenge I have been waiting for...I love to get up close and personal with nature both physically and in my art work, so I think this is the way I will go with this theme. Getting down to the cellular level is something I have always been very interested in, so this challenge suits me to a T!

The two artists that Ann Mari mentioned are truly inspirational and only goes to remind me how far I have to go! As I was scouring the internet this morning (yes, finally my internet has been restored!) I found an article about an exhibition that was done through SAQA a couple of years ago called 'Art meets Science' which may provide some additional inspiration for this theme:

Art Meets Science  

Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc.
June 11 – September 5, 2012

Art Meets Science, organized by the Studio Art Quilt Association, features thirty-five textiles by international artists—all masters in transforming quilt making into art making. Collectively, the textiles draw upon scientific theories or phenomena in new and unexpected ways. They illustrate, with strikingly visual impact, a gamut of scientific ideas, from the harmonies of randomness to the dynamics produced by scientific imagery. Many of the quilts are inspired by the "world unseen"—microscopic reflections of viruses, bacteria, and other cellular forms. David W. Fraser, M.D., the exhibition juror and a textile expert, is also an epidemiologist who was one of the leaders of CDC's Legionnaires' disease investigation in 1976-77.

Photo: Anita Welty, Virus H5N1, 2009Photo: Virginia Abrams, Lipid Cells, 2009.
Left: Anita Welty, Virus H5N1, 2009. Right: Virginia Abrams, Lipid Cells, 2009.

To see more, check out the following link:

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Empty Space

Before I chose this theme, I found a drawing that I had done in college many moons ago. The exercise had been to draw the negative space around a figure, leaving a white image. After seeing it, I really wanted to do a piece using this technique, so when it came my turn to choose the theme, I thought space would be very appropriate. 

Little did I know that the piece would become so personal to me in such a sad and emotional way. As many of you know, we lost our little dog in a very tragic way, so this piece depicts the emptiness and immense sadness I feel around losing him.

The white figure is my empty space, my whole body and being. The free motion quilting spirals are the confused, swirling emotions I felt at the time, and still do. I wanted the background to be quite busy and colourful to contradict the feeling of empitness in the figure. I didn't do a lot of quilting on the background as I wanted to focus to be on the figure with its heavy spiral quilting.

I had trouble with the perspective of the piece and I am not really happy with the table, however, I feel I have fulfilled most of my goals for the challenge. I was also influenced by Annabell Rainbow's work for this piece.

Materials used:  Commercial cottons, shot silk, white linen, silk organza.

Monday, June 2, 2014

'HEAD-SPACE' by Linden Lancaster

'Head-space Linden' by Lancaster 2014
How do we react when we feel trapped in a negative situation? Our thoughts will determine how we respond. Perhaps we might:
Ignore it and put our head in the sand?
Curse and rant about it?
Worry and fret until we make our selves sick?
Become resigned to it?
Become a ‘Pollyanna’?
Analyse it?
Pray about it?
Become comatose?
Run around trying to fix things

Perhaps all of the above?

This piece was designed from a simple exercise of cutting a circle into 16 pieces and arranging with the parts while keeping the integrity of the circle. The white is meant to represent the negative space in this instance. Windows were cut out of the black fabric and then fused over the white background. The figures were quilted with a free motion foot through the three layers with heavy black 30 wt black thread.

'Head-space' detail

'Head-spac'e detail

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Next challenge theme: UNDER THE SURFACE

I think there will be many interpretations to ponder about:
- under the surface of the see
- under the earth crust
-under our skin and perhaps also
- under our personality.
Those are some possible ways to interpreat the theme I have thought about and there are certainly many more ways to approach it and develop it into into a piece of art.

Examples of artists I am thinking of that have explored the wonderful microcosmos under our skin are:
Karen Kamenetzky  -  and
Betty Busby -

I admire their quilts!

Hope you find this theme exciting and makes your artist juices flow!