It’s amazing, isn’t it, how you come across long forgotten things when you’re looking for something else. Today I was looking for a magazine article I wrote back in 2004 about improvisational piecing and irregular shaped outer edges. I found it, but in that search I came across this gem, dated 2008, but it feels earlier, so perhaps it was updated then. Note to self – perhaps I should put the date into the text of everything! Funnily enough, though, it’s the essence of a submission to present that I recently made to the organisers of next year’s SAQA conference in NZ. Fingers X – clearly I’ve been thinking about this longer than I thought.
“Article – how my work has been influenced by the life I have led – the history and geography of a quiltmakers background! I have spent most of each of the last few years in Uruguay, where my husband’s mineral exploration activity is concentrated in the company he and another Australian founded to search for gold. This means of course that my career as a trailing spouse continues in another place where it is not possible to buy the fabrics which for so long I’ve been used to accessing easily and instantly. But this is not the hardship posting it might sound. 20+ years of Outback living around Australia have taught me to plan ahead, adapt or improvise, and to be patient if I have to order something up from the nearest capital city. Lately, (2008) it has given me the time and mental space to consider all that I have done in quiltmaking; and one thing I have realised is that much of my work can be read as modern or contemporary scrap quilts.
During a particularly cash strapped period, and feeling a little mortified at how my fabrics and scraps had accumulated, I determined not to buy any new fabric for a while; which is not too dificult to stick to if there’s none around. Experience in Australian Outback living for many years made it easy for me to plan ahead and then be comfortable using what I’d brought across from Australia or down from USA (where the offsprings live). Certainly at first, fabrics were very carefully chosen for enough pre-planned projects to keep me going for as long as I planned to be here, and over this time bags of my scraps gradually relocated here. Every time I return to Australia or come back through the USA I bring a quantity of batting along with plenty of calico and plains to act as fillers, blending fabrics and backings.”
At the time of writing I was working mostly in quilters’ and other 100% cotton fabrics including lovely batiks and designer ranges on the American market, and really I still do, as they suit the way I love to cut and piece. Today, however, I also use a wider array of materials and techniques to make what are still layered ‘quilt’ constructions, ie art quilts, and by early 2005 I had started experimenting with appliqued leather in the surface design on the cotton fabric. Here’s one of my favourites from that time: