Tiny Landscapes Topstitching Done

January 18th, 2021
Little landscapes, topstitched.

I estimate that the fabric scraps selection, cutting, bonding and topstitching has taken at least an hour for each of the 24 landscapes. From here there is probably another hour’s work on each one, hand drawing certain motifs and patterns, and what I’ve decided to do about the edges. It’s conceivable I might mess at least one up and need to replace that segment …

So for the next couple of days I’ll be thinking about the necessary quilting, and how I’m going to treat the border of the quilt. I’m about 1/3 way through an absorbing book, Isobel Wilkerson’s “Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents” on how concepts of caste and racism in the USA stretch right back to the earliest colonists. Just as well it’s long, I have hours to go.

Tiny Landscapes Continued

January 16th, 2021
L – sample for bonded landscapes
R- sample of abandoned pieced units, see previous post.

Since starting afresh with my Aussie landscapes, in the last three days I’ve spent many hours bonding fiddly little segments of 24 little landscapes into place on their black background. (The stitching is a temporary guide to placement in the grid layout.) Each landscape is approx 7cm x 7cm, and tweezers and patience were absolutely essential! This morning I’ll start stitching them all down before moving to the next stage of hand drawn details.

Three segmented landscapes ~7cm x 7cm; bonded to black.

With a black background, I’m no longer sure that “Girt By Sea” is an appropriate title. Of course, I might end up bonding or stitching something watery on the black, so that’s still a possibility, but all depends on how it goes from here.

I generally mull over title possibilities as I work. I know what I want my art to say, and believe a good title is the only statement a piece needs. I haven’t looked at the entry form yet, but there’s probably a required statement, which is never a bother for me. So I’ve begun a list of other possible titles, so far noting words and phrases from certain Dorothy MacKellar and Caroline J Carleton poems. I’m sure I’ll know the perfect one when I see it beside the completed work.

Girt By Sea – Tiny Landscapes, Continued

January 12th, 2021

Silly me. I was on a roll with my 60cm x 40cm entry piece for the Oceania Distance and Diversity cal, and well into the business of stitching my chosen Aussie motifs by hand; but I allowed myself to just get little bit of a start on my next Pandemic Pattern piece and as a result lost my concentration. Christmas and New Year came and went before I focused on it again… and when I picked it up to resume a few days ago, I saw lots of things ‘wrong’ with it – things I no longer like about it, and additionally, and in the meantime a new approach had taken root. Reluctantly I abandoned it and with determination decided to start again from scratch.

As I worked on a little landscape design in Richard McVetis’ workshop, it occurred to me that I could have fused all those little landscape pieces rather than piece them, setting them slightly apart so that some of the background shows through.

10cm x 10cm landscape, done in Richard McVetis StitchClub workshop, 2020.

I reasoned it wouldn’t take long to start again, so I abandoned what I’d already done and made a new sample using this approach, left, including some possible edge markings that I still haven’t finally decided on. Just this bit of experimenting tells me I’ll have a result I’ll be happier with. and it has to be soon – entries close at the end of January 🙂

Sample left – variety of markings at edges and hand drawn motifs. The landscape on the right is one from the abandoned work.
  • There are some fabrics steeping in a strong tea bath to dull their bright whiteness.
  • I’ve sprayed some new sky fabric
  • The background will now be black instead of blue.
  • I’ve checked my range of marker pens online for fastness and suitability for fabric.
  • I decided to hand draw the detail motifs I want.

Pandemic Pattern 3’s on hold while I wait for more thread which was gobbled up far faster than I expected, and I need much more to complete the rather large plan I have, as I’m definitely not going to make the work smaller.

Long Term Trends And Influences

January 4th, 2021

It’s always interesting to look back occasionally and see how things including my views, issues and fashions/fads have changed. In April 2005 I wrote on this blog “When Is A Quilt Not A Quilt?”, raising an issue I still have a problem with: that there seems to be no lower size limit for an object to be called ‘a quilt’.

When a piece of quilted textile is so small as 1″ / 2.5cm inchies or 6′ x 4″/15cm x 10cm postcard quilts, to me it feels ridiculous to refer to that as ‘a quilt’, considering all the images associated with that word. Even the 7″x9″ samples SAQA periodically gathers up from members as a useful technical resource are hardly ‘quilts’, either. I feel as strongly about it now as I did back in April 2005 when I wrote that post. follow those links and you’ll find masses of these tiny textile units, many quite wonderful. Inchies and postcard quilts are often swapped in the mail by afficionados.

I’m not talking about miniature quilts, those technically amazing and often exquisite little textiles, as they are a legitimate thing. Despite my strongly held views and less than a year after venting on it, I allowed myself to be sucked into a postcard swap between members of a small group of Aussie and Kiwi textile artists I belonged to. There are fads and fashions in every area of fabric and textile art.

In 2006 I made these 10 cards and mailed one to every participating member of the group, but it seems art quilt makers weren’t so diligent as the more traditional quilters (who probably still meticulously carry out such swaps) as I only received 3 or 4 back. I’m not sure what happened to them, but they probably went into a drawer in my Australian sewing room which is still all packed and in storage as I write.

Postcards in a 2006 swap between some art quilt makers. Machine appliqued black or gold leather on each, and machine quilted. Approx 6″ x 4″.

In 2008 website underwent a total redesign, part of which was incorporating my blog to where it is today. A few of the earliest posts did not survive the move intact, but I found the photo for the 2006 post, and I love these long forgotten little pieces. The 10th postcard is pictured separately, because apparently after photographing them and placing them in the addressed envelopes, I found I was one short – so hurriedly made another, photographed that and managed to get them all to the post office down the street just before closing time. I’ve always been a bit of a last minute wonder.

Though colour ways and design units are different for each, they show

  • A design motif/unit I’ve used repeatedly over 20+ years
  • I’ve used leather in surface designs for 20+ years
  • Blocks/repeat units in grids are an enduring influence from traditional patchwork on my textile art
  • I think this was the last artist swap thing took I joined or was invited to take part in, which is fine by me 🙂

Pandemic Pattern 3 – Auditioning Colour And Stitch

December 31st, 2020

The pandemic pattern on my mind at the moment is that miniscule unit of the highly infectious corona virus that emerged in China late last year, swept through Earth’s human population and turned our normal lives upside down. Everyone has already experienced at least some effect of inconvenience and anxiety, and the illness itself is causing pain, death and sorrow. The majority of patients recover, but some of those people are left with residual physical and/or neurological effects.

Thanks to the wonders of electron microscopy we’re all too familiar with what the virus looks like. The particles of virus are not molecules or cells but virions, represented everywhere as a round thing with spiky bits. I have always intended to represent this PP in some shocking colours to convey the severity of its threat.

Colour+black is always dramatic. I love colour on grey, too, but the effect is softer.

Thinking about colour and the virus, I googled and found my way to an interesting article on how the colour in those graphic images is completely due to artistic licence.  Electron microscope images of the virus are seen in shades of grey only, as the virions’ particle size is many times smaller than what can be affected by light waves to appear coloured. Adding colour to the images draws our attention, making them more scary, so my instinct to use flourescent and bright colours for drama was spot on.

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