Posts Tagged ‘colour memories’

New Life From Scraps

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Somewhere the other day – and I’m sure it was Margaret Ramsay’s blog but of course can’t find it now ūüôā ¬†I found a comment about how liberating the artist found it to just use scraps and offcuts in her surface designs instead of cutting into pristine new yardage. ¬†I totally agree. ¬†I keep all reasonable sized off cuts from earlier projects, and blogged about this¬†some time back. ¬† We all know the thrifty ethic thing that is supposedly part of the back story of quilt making, so there’s a bit of the feel good thing there, though that’s not why I do it. ¬†Scrap bags accumulate scraps of fabrics that you’ve already liked ¬†– you’ve bought them and used them in something. ¬†According to my theory stuff you like goes together as a rule. ¬† So scraps are ‘auditioned’ for their next project appearance, and piecing begins.













For every work of mine that has segments of colour forming a shape, as in all the Ebb & Flow series (see gallery elsewhere on this website) the process of putting bits of fabric together into strings before cutting them to the next edge shape, is fairly fiddly but very calming. ¬†Once you have your heap of scraps extracted from the scrap bag – which is about the only colour designing you do ¬†– then it’s time to put the bits together and just sew, iron, cut and sew. ¬†Repeat. ¬†You sort of know how they’re going to look, but don’t always, and some are better than expected. ¬† This little sample on grey has silver metallic edging on the curved strips which are about 3″ long – gorgeous but a bit daunting to make into a larger work. ¬†Having said that – heck, why not? It’s on my mind.











I’m currently working with scraps of summery colours on a cream background, and really, to do the lines of patches and then cut and sew them into the rough square takes a total of about an hour for each one from start to stop, with plenty of ironing. ¬†This wall quilt will comprise sixteen ¬†8″ squares, which means the piecing alone will take me another 10-12 hours before moving on to the sandwiching, quilting and edge finishing.

Fishing around for another pic to go in this post, I found one of a miniature I’d quite forgotten –










It’s exciting because it reminded me that in a drawer somewhere I have several colours of this fairly thick very bright neon thread I can consider using to quilt the current project, and I might not have remembered it without seeing this. ¬†All this just goes to show how a bit of looking back can sometimes be inspiring.

Segmented Designs 3

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Today I found these photos of paths, taken about ten years ago in New Zealand, reminding me I’ve had a thing for mosaic/segmented designs for quite a while.mosaics 2 blog

Brick mosaic pathways, New Zealand 2006.

And really, when you think about it a lot of patchwork designs are a bit like mosaics, aren’t they? ¬†With that thought, I looked further in the old files and came up with a few –

mosaic like blog


I also noticed this blast from the past, “Hidden Messages”, ¬†which hung only once at a solo exhibition I had in Perth, Western Australia, 1997. ¬†I have no recollection of what the hidden messages were ;-0 ¬†but might remember if it was in front of me, perhaps. ¬†It was not one of my greats, and yet finding it today gave me pause to think about it again …

hidden messages blog

Hidden Messages, 1997.     86cm  x 120 cm


Endless Horizon – Lisa Call Exhibition

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Early last month while visiting our daughter in northern Colorado, I enjoyed a gallery hopping day in Denver with friend Regina Benson of whom more in another post, as her latest textile exhibition was one of those I visited.

It really was a pleasure to see a collection of recent work at Spark Gallery, Denver, by Lisa Call¬†titled¬†Endless Horizon: 14000 feet to Sea Level ¬†¬†I have long admired Lisa’s quilted textile art since first encountering¬†Structures #11 in Quilt National 2003. ¬†Since then the output of this prolific artist has grown, developing signature elements which many have tried to copy. ¬†These elements however go far deeper than her technique of heavily machine quilting improvisational pieced designs using hand dyed fabrics. ¬†The rest comes from her approach to design and working in series, which can be explored by visiting her comprehensive website ¬†

Lisa Call horizons show2 blog

This group of 12″ x 12″ pieces, lifted from Lisa’s own blogpost, is of one group of works subtitled ‘Changing Perspective|Seeing Forever’ and really, for me this group sums up the theme of the whole exhibition. ¬†Lisa’s life has undergone much change in the past year, with new perspectives coming from travel and a new personal relationship that influenced her to leave her home in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies to live in New Zealand’s North Island. There, one is never far from ocean views and influence of the surrounding sea. Gazing out to sea or at a line of distant mountaintops is a meaningful experience in either location. ¬†¬† These life changes are reflected in new and strong expressions of landscape colour, even in such small works achieving a sense of looking through vast distance to the horizon, something new in Lisa Call’s art.

There were other, larger, pieces in the 40″ – 20″ range, mostly vertical panels, presenting groups of related sets of abstract compositions in colours observed in several particular named NZ locations. ¬†It was interesting to see her hand painted small landscape studies from which she developed the works. ¬†I think the act of actually sketching and painting them brought her deeper knowledge of her subject from which she was able to conceive and execute these successful pieces.


Freehand Or Improvisational Piecing – The Basics

Sunday, July 26th, 2015


detail, Ebb and Flow 2

I’m quite often asked how to go about improvisational or freehand (template free) cutting and piecing which has become very widespread ¬†among quilt makers in the past 25 years- a modern tradition really. ¬†Widely used by art quilt makers who piece their designs, and seen in quite a number of Modern Quilts, it’s all rotary cut and machine pieced. ¬† The following basic instructions contain all you need to know to begin, as I only learned it from watching a short demonstration by Nancy Crow at the start of a several day long workshop, and then plunging in to using it straight away. It enabled us to rapidly get through heaps of exercises in her class on design and colour. ¬†I’ve been enjoying this way of piecing ever since.

basics of improv


Hand piecers could use this just once, ¬†perhaps, to¬†make some wayy lines in the one direction ¬†but¬†it really is a machine technique, ¬†even if you’re pretty speedy, as hand sewing won‚Äôt allow for more complex cutting, re-arranging, inserting slivers and so on.

Freehand or ‚Äėimprovisational piecing‚Äô¬†has become a modern convention ‚Äď and once you recognize it, you‚Äôll see it wherever there are pieced art and non-traditional quilts. ¬† Elsewhere on this website are two galleries of my original quilts made between about 1990 and the present ‚Äď ¬†the Color Memories gallery followed chronologically by the Ebb& Flow gallery.¬† Keep in mind that have been piecing this way for over 20 years, but I too began with these simple instructions way back then. ¬† With practice, you too will be able to achieve more complex constructions if you wish.

Basics of improv blog image

The main things to remember are:

  • to place both fabrics right side up
  • without built-in seam allowances, as you cut and sew each fabric shape its area showing on front becomes progressively smaller ‚Äď so start out larger in anticipation. Experience will tell you how much to allow, but, if you run short somewhere on a side you can always add another piece as quilters traditionally have !
  • in addition to getting smaller, so, too, the edges become progressively more irregular. Resist your trimming urges until you have finished ALL the piecing.¬†¬† When you do get round to trimming, discard tiny pieces but keep anything useful ‚Äď small bits also piece up into lovely freeform mosaics you could use for appliqued or printed designs ‚Äď see Judith Trager‚Äôs work among others for some good examples.

Alicia Merrett ‚Äės YouTube videos, are good in a very precise, controlled way ‚Äďbut, they were pitched to careful traditional quilters, but even so, you might find them helpful. ¬† ¬†In the Nancy Crow class where I learned this piecing, we had a lot of colour and design work to get through in the time, and Nancy showed us these basics that enabled rapid working.¬† We put all rulers away and did no pinning, just putting edge to edge and sewed.¬† Some managed this better than others in the workshop; and at home I found my own way of working which includes periodic dots along the cut edges with permanent marker or other pen/pencil/chalk ‚Äď and even more of these in tight curves. ¬† ¬†I usually pin every few inches, more in tight curves – ¬†but it all depends‚Ķ. there are no right ways to do this, and only one correct result – a flat one.¬† Once you have learned the basics, experience will teach you whatever you want to know next ‚Äď think it, try it.¬† And, if you ever need my advice or help, feel free to contact me through this website.


An Update on Motivations

Friday, July 17th, 2015

In the past day or so I followed another quiltmaker’s link to her blog about what she has been making recently – a site I’ve been to a number of times, and left a comment to the effect “I see what you’ve done, but what’s your motivation?” ¬† Her response was that she didn’t think people would want to read about why she uses the materials and subject matter she does. ¬†I really differ, and though I thought ¬†her response a bit vague, with a principal rationale she gave as it being play, I appreciated her answering. ¬†Yes, ¬†I¬†do like to read about what motivates people; after all, we all have different reasons for doing what we do, and, we could use other ways to express ourselves – painting, ceramics, writing a book or making movies, whatever. The artist in each of us is responding to a unique vision of the world around us. ¬†Well that’s my view anyway – and I wrote back to her, in part –

The making, the sewing and assembling, is different for each of us, and leads to distinctive styles – but that is still different from the why behind it. ¬†….¬†For myself, a lot of my work, including my Ebb & Flow quilts, or the works in my Tracks series (galleries on my website) ¬†expresses what I see as a major theme in the world about me – that everything is in a process of change as long as your time scale is long enough – and that change over time brings people into and takes them out of our lives; change can affect health, wealth, geographical location, and of course we ourselves change through age and may even change emotionally as we move through time.¬† My vision is explored via abstract arrangements of lines, shapes and textures in fabric and thread; I don’t do anything pictorial/representational. Well my current series is as representational is it might get ….

Then I checked my own blog, and found it is a long time since I wrote about my own motivations!…. and if the above artist or any new reader was checking they might be wondering – so let me say a few words in general about all the textile art I have done –

For more than 30 years my original works have been inspired by landscape structures, processes and resulting patterning of textures. ¬†Since childhood I have been fascinated by natural forces and the roles they play in shaping the landscape.¬† I studied geography and geomorphology at university.¬†Since marrying a geologist in the late ’60’s, I‚Äôve found myself living in a variety of different landscapes: coastal and¬†Outback Australia, central western USA, littoral and urban Uruguay,¬†all of which have influenced my work.¬†¬†¬†Regarding Landscape as a metaphor for Life is taking me in new directions.

I am currently exploring a landscape known as The Bungle Bungles or as the Aboriginal people have always called it, Purnululu. ¬†It’s a large, deeply eroded sandstone and karst range in the Kimberley region of NW Australia. ¬†In almost 20 years of Outback living, much of it up north, I still have not yet been there – but it is one of those iconic places Australians want to go, and I hope to one day. Iconic it may be, but it is also mysterious, and I wanted to use it as the subject of an art quilt competition I was entering at the time. I have become further intrigued with it and there are still several more ways I want to explore how I feel about this huge mass of rocks that stand arising out of plains like a group of sentinels.

While reading of the WA Government’s application document for the Bungle Bungles / Purnululu to go on the World Heritage List, I came across this comment by the writers –

“Religious beliefs, places of spiritual significance, stories and paintings
associating ancestral beings with the landscape, kinship connections and language
identification are all essential to the connection between people and place in Purnululu,
providing traditional owners then, as now, with a guide to living and being.”

This rather convoluted long sentence, ¬†and other reading, have really focused my mind on this place, and at the moment I feel it could take me until the end of the year or beyond to exhaust the topic – a bit like a series of paintings on haystacks or waterlily ponds, ¬†I guess. ¬†While racking my brains for a suitable title, as I normally do I compiled a list of words I associate with my subject, and it includes these :- ¬†age-old,¬†timeworn,¬†massif,¬†massive, ¬†keeper, emblematic, timeless, seasonal sculpture, silent, presence, overwhelming, mysterious … ¬† And some titles I considered were/are Dreamtracks, Sentinels, ¬†Ancient Keepers, Guardians. ¬†The entry into the art competition that started all this I called ‘Dreamtracks’, and I may continue naming the series this with the addition of 2,3 etc.,¬†but I’m not sure if the one I am working on now will really be suited by this title, or not – I’ll wait and see when the quilting’s done.

BungleBungles 6


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