Thursday, 22 November 2012

All the Quilts I Ever Made

Ok, first things first, I should qualify the progress I've been making by confessing that very little of it would have happened without Grandma and Granddad doing stirling work to entertain Amelie. She will nap happily during the day... on a lap, she will sit contentedly in her long as there's a friendly face up close to sing, chat and smile back. Thank you Mom and Dad!

My Boro inspired quilt is coming along. I do enjoy a bit of research and so have been reading around the subject. I came across these videos which if you're also interested in the Boro tradition you might like. I would love to see a copy of the book that they flick through...

and here's the second part:

Here I am working on my version. Accompanied as you can see by my new studio assistant.

As I type Linda be may well still be weeping. I've robbed her of this stash of authentic Japanese shibori and sashiko fabrics, threads, needles and thimbles. She was given them by a dear friend who visited Japan. They were so treasured that they sat unused in her studio waiting for something special. Well you know the theory of 'use it or lose it'. They're mine now. 
I should explain the title of this post. It's also the title of the quilt. I like to have the title nailed early on. It sets the scene. Usually if I don't have the title before I start or very early on into a piece then it turns out to be a dud. Linda and I were talking as I laid the quilt out on the table. I was chopping up bits of fabric and laying them down and we were commenting on this bit being a leftover from a quilt in 2003, a sample fabric from 1998 (gosh that makes me feel old), bits of printing that went with a quilt from whenever, you get the picture. I said this quilt would be like all the quilts I'd ever made, et voila!

The nicest Boro quilts and garments are the ones with lots of mends. I'm interpreting the originals by including sections with lots of small patches or mends like this section. 
This photo shows the progress as of yesterday afternoon. That side is finished now and is tacked. Today I'll flip it over and will repeat the process on the other side. Then I'll start the stitching which I can't wait for. Working in this way at this scale is something new for me. When I've done this kind of free applique, I suppose you'd call it, before, then it's always been for much smaller pieces. I feel excited about this construction process and that it could work on a grand scale. I may have to draft in elves to help with the stitching if I go much bigger, but I like a challenge.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Progress - Annabel

Well, if Laura can get back into gear so shortly after having her lovely baby Amelie, then I, who am only a new granny, ought to be ashamed!! So I've decided it's time for an update too.

nb. On the left is one of the reasons why progress on Life 5 has been a bit slow (Evelyn Elizabeth Rainbow-Deventer born 13th October) Another reason is a poorly mum, and another reason is a poorly finger! (I bought myself one of those uber sharp Japanese carbon bladed kitchen knives, but it was wrapped in one of those plastic bubbles that I can never seem to open, and in my frustration I took a slice from my finger.  Good job I'm not a samurai - the world would be sans legs and arms by now!

I think I left you at this stage before any the stitching had begun.

It turned out that there was a lot more stitching to do on this that I originally thought - mostly because it's quite large.

I love large.

So here we are again but with the stitching completed and the beginnings of the zen garden put into the window space. I've tried to do little things with the stitching, like alter the sizes of my stitches as they recede into the background.

Below, the stitching on the tabletop is complete and I have begun to apply the first coat or two of paint....just to show where the light is coming from. If you look at this one immediately after the one above, you can easily see the effect of the paints and why I like to use them in my work.  They are ordinary acrylics - no mediums or gels - but many coats!

 Below: the roof top has begun to be painted too.  I'm going for a splash of light in the centre and am introducing some interest by using yellow ochre and quinacridone burnt orange for the lights, and burnt umber for the darks and maybe the shadows of the trees. I haven't finished of course, there's much to do!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Nothing for months...

...then twice in two days!

After another good night's sleep (only three get-ups), I feel filled with energy to crack on. Linda and were cruising the web and came across some fabulous antique garments from Japan. Amongst them were pieces described as Boro. This wasn't a term I was familiar with, but after some research it turns out that it refers to textiles that have been mended and repaired often over many generations. I loved the patching, colours and density of stitch, some functional, some decorative. These garments and cloths could be handed down through generations being worn and slept on by numerous family members. I read somewhere that babies would be born onto and wrapped in these ancestral 'quilts' and of course with my own baby that had a real resonance.

So, I have decided that I will make my own 'Boro' quilt that we will use, wash and when needed, mend with a new patch and more stitch. I remember when my sister and I were at home we always had a quilt on our beds, one we'd mope under when we were ill on the settee or haul out into the garden to sunbathe on. I reckon Amelie needs one of those too.

Traditional Boro textiles are indigo dyed and I will take my lead from that. I've done lots of indigo dyeing and I've dug out as many pieces as I can find. Most are cotton, but there are some silk ones too. Some are indigo over dyes so there are flashes of other gorgeous colours too. I love a bit of hot pink or red and so my quilt will have accents of those to complement the blues.

I do have some authentic Japanese fabric. You can see it in this photo - the bit with the waves. I've also got some deliciously beautiful lengths that have the look but aren't Japanese, but I'm not being a purist. Why would I? I'm not Japanese, never been to Japan, I'm just inspired by this tradition. To that end I'm including a Union Jack. I'm British and it's Jubilee year so it all seems to fall into place. Oh, and Amelie's middle name just happens to be Elizabeth.

The flag is an old one, very fine cotton lawn and complete with holes and a tear - just ready for the first boro patch.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Have you missed me?

Hi everyone! It is such a long time since I've blogged, well a long time since I did anything creative actually! This treasure is the reason why...

It's not that I've not had all the best intentions, but just not the energy. Turns out babies aren't like cats at all. Amelie's nearly 10 weeks old now and I feel like I'm just about getting a grip. Not to tempt fate you understand, but I'm now adjusted to the criminal levels of sleep deprivation and don't feel like so much of a zombie.

When she's awake I can't tear myself away, but nap times are all of a sudden become a frenzy of activity for me. I have to decide though whether to do washing, tidying or something a lot more interesting!

I feel like it's time to pick things back up and so this week I dug out these pieces from a pile and pinned them up on my wall. I started them for Orientation back in the summer, but with Amelie's early arrival they were never completed.

I'd fallen out of love with them, but after pinning them up and standing back I quite like them again. They're digital photos that I've tweaked into black and white and printed to cotton poplin.

They're two photos from a set of images of me folding an origami crane. There's a story about folding a 1000 cranes and then being granted eternal life, so just 999 to go then.

I started free motion quilting them using lots of different greys to maintain the correct tonal values in the shading. Now I look at them they're too black and white and so I'm going to introduce colour with the quilting in the background. I'll have to audition some options, but I'm thinking red as that's such a strong colour in Eastern cultures.

Hopefully Amelie will enjoy listening to the hum of my sewing machine!

Bye for now,