Jottings And Inspirations

March 17th, 2018

I opened an almost-forgotten folder today, which led me down memory lane for a while, skimming through some writings by various members of a writer’s group I belonged to here some years ago.  I found fictional and autobiographical stories, and some poems including a couple of prayers; there was even a ‘Chapter 2’ of a book someone was apparently writing though I doubt it was ever completed, and there was no name on it.

Wanting to improve our writing skills, Pamela, Gerry, Mutt, Bertha, Sonya, Doris and I met regularly to discuss and critique material we’d each worked on in the preceding fortnight.  Among other things, Gerry Fairless (dec.) wrote An Appreciation in 2002 about our group which includes the following lines:  “A common aim – the urge to write/Brings us together, to excite/Each other and ourselves of  course/With our creative talent and resource.” Not brilliant perhaps, but certainly heartfelt.

One of the writings I re-read today was a poem by the late Mutt Gordon Fearing expressing her gratitude on having the gift of being able to paint.  It reminded me to stand in front of this little watercolour of hers that I pass by every day and love – “Thank you Lord for such a gift/May love of nature never cease./And whoever owns my works/Can feel in them your joy and peace.”

Watercolour Still Life, by Montevideo artist, Mutt Gordon Firing (dec.)

I have several of her watercolours, as I have always loved that medium.  Indeed, the first piece of art I ever bought was a landscape in watercolours when I was about 8 years of age.

And what  did I write and put forward to this group?  At that time I was writing short pieces for our children on early memories of my  own life, so they might understand the kind of mother they have 😉 and other articles on some of our family adventures and travels that included them.  I have been thinking I need to do more in this vein, and the grandkids, aged 15-21, are now old enough to be on the distribution list, too.  I’ve been a bit distracted from this purpose but feel ready to re-focus, and I’m no longer needing to write the great Australian novel – for me, I think short stories may be more ‘me’.

On what was apparently my first day as a member of the group, I asked the girls to critique a workshop description I was submitting to a conference organiser.  I sent it out by email to each member and each member came to the meeting with their comments on their printout.  My written introduction included “…but first, I need to come up with a snappy title: any of these?  I work a lot with lists for names of quilts, articles designs and so on, listing everything, serious or trivial, and letting them eliminate themselves one by one.”    I still use this method to come up with titles. Some of my better ideas included:

  • Scrap Quilts for Everyone,
  • New Fashioned Scrap Quilts,
  • Scraps of Skill (Required)
  • New Lives For Old Scraps
  • Tomorrow’s Traditions Today,
  • Cuttings From The Sewing Room Floor,
  • Today’s Scraps Tomorrow’s Heirlooms,
  • Scraps of Quality
  • Skillful Scraps,
  • Old Scraps New Quilts
  • Say It With Scraps,
  • Conceptual Scraps,
  • and I finally chose Hot Quilts From Cold Scraps, a workshop I have successfully taught many times now.

New Directions, 2000,  96cm  x  84cm

It was doubly pleasant to share some of these blasts from the past with former member Doris MacGibbon, who just happens to be visiting from New Zealand this week and staying here with her husband.  We’re all having a ball, talking all the time of course and covering so much ground  face to face 🙂

My Three ‘First’ Quilts

March 11th, 2018

I am not going to go into the complicated detail of this claim though – it’s long and complicated; I just want to post the link to this post on FB, which for some reason tonight doesn’t seem to want to allow me to post all three to illustrate the point I’m making in an exchange there 🙂

Distant Shores 1987

First Day on The Slopes  1988

 

 

Ancient Expressions 1  1988

 

 

 

Try Improvisational or Freehand Piecing!

March 8th, 2018

I’ve written before about freehand pieced work, including this article working from the scrap bag    This morning, looking around in my photos for something else, I was diverted by a sequence of photos I took last year while making this small piece for my friend Suzie.  I formed this collage to take some of mystery out of this kind of piecing known as ‘improvisational piecing’.  It’s a construction technique widely used by makers of ‘art quilts’ and Modern Quilts, too.

Suzie’s Quilt 30cm x 30cm.
Top left, centre and lower right – cut and remove an approx 1-2cm swathe.  Lower left – finished quilt; upper right shows pencil diagram and a strip insert pinned into place.  The tighter the curve, the more pins I use – just my way – there’s no ‘correct’ way.

Do a very basic pencil diagram if necessary (upper right),  audition some fabrics, start cutting and begin sewing.  No templates, no exacting measurements, and the result is a very organic look.  Improvisational piecing begins with simple steps, and the basics can be found here   If you want to try it at home sometime, thoroughly read through my 2 page notes first, then follow the easy instructions.  If you need any help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact me at alison@alisonschwabe.com

Working without pattern pieces is very liberating; it’s a worry-free way to construct quilt tops.  In my Memories and Ebb&Flow  galleries you’ll find many examples of works pieced this way; and I often use freehand piecing with grids constructed using rulers and different size quilters’ squares and triangles.  Honestly, anything goes, as it’s up to you how you use this technique.  By all means, pay good money and go to a workshop run by someone teaching this technique, which is fun, but if geographical isolation or financial challenges get in your way, you really can learn it by yourself at home.  You’ll find it in books and magazines, as well as online, but I don’t advise starting out by watching online demos. There are so many out there with different emphases, often by people more focused on selling you their book, that you may well become confused in a very short time.   I just looked at some, and found them all rather fussy, very precise and careful.  This is not what it’s about – it’s carefree, organic looking and meant to be very non-traditional in every way.  Using my basic illustrated notes, try working through the suggested few samples, while remembering that

  1. there is no correct way to do this kind of patchwork
  2. the only correct result is a flat one
  3. start out bigger than you want to end up
  4. resist the urges to trim as you go – save it till all piecing is done.

Feel free to use pins, marker pen or pencil reference points right on the cut edges which will be enclosed in the seam anyway  – use whatever you find that works for you.  When you’ve worked out how to do it and can repeat good results with practice, then if you will, spend a bit of time browsing some demos, but I think you’ll find you don’t need them.  Improvisational piecing has become a contemporary tradition, something to be shared in the time honoured way that traditions are passed along from one generation to the next.  So, what are you waiting for?

Rediscovered, 2011

February 28th, 2018

The illustrated catalogue I have just done of my works showed up a couple of gaps in my documenting, as although I thought I’d finished it, I just came across a photo of this piece, which I finished in 2011 just as a dear friend was leaving the country for South Africa and wanted to buy it.  So though it is in the Ebb&Flow series, and I didn’t remember to list it at the time, I have done so now.

Untitled, 2011, 60cm x 25cm  approx

At that time I was including burned synthetic fabric ‘lace’ in many of my works, and this one features plain black against black nylon organza, then the glittery layer lies behind five segments of pieced fabric – from memory each of these was quilted, but I’m sure Bradley will let me know some time. I really like how the lines in these five sections flow, and this piece is on my mind today.

Browsing With Pinterest

February 22nd, 2018

Every day Pinterest sends images of things it thinks I might like.  Because I can so easily become totally absorbed and lose hours happily wandering through images, following links one after the other, I rarely take time to browse.  It’s worse than Facebook.  So I clicked on a page of enticing images headed ‘stitch’, and found myself looking at a page of pics on which was one work I knew I’d seen before, by Cordula Kagemann and as it turned out, had saved in my own board Lines and Shapes, though I’d never gone to her website.  What magnificent work, collaging with cut paper and some fabric. Textile friends in Australia, note that she will be teaching there in October of this year.  Her cutout paper overlays feature various shaped holes and overlocking rings – my mind asked could you call this paper ‘lace’?

Holes and lace have been part of my inspiration for some time: http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  and I still have this little leather sample on my board after about 10 years  – suede bonded onto unbleached calico/muslin, and to me this is definitely all about the holes… and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Snippets and samples of holes in leather and fabric … ? lace

The surface design snippet below is part of a 12|”x12″ quilt first bought in a SAQA Benefit Auction some years back, of gold leather triangles with holes punched from it sewn to a black background with gold machine stitching forming the grid. This week it was auctioned among a collector’s pieces which were donated to the organisation to benefit SAQA a second time, and I am thrilled to hear an Australian collector it.  I never gave it a title, but with hindsight perhaps I could have called it Black Holes on Gold Triangles …

A question I’ve had in mind before is this – what is the most important part of ‘lace’ – is it the holes, or whatever it is that surrounds the holes?

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