Segmented Landscape Units.

February 6th, 2023

I came across this small sample this week, and was impressed with its age and realised how influential this little doodle has been since 2013 as a stepping stone for many works which add surface stitch to the segments, some examples of which I show below. The hand stitch can be surface design only or may also serve as hand quilting.

I have always found inspiration in landscape shapes, colours and textures. I studied and loved physical geography and geomorphology, in which one draws simple diagrams to illustrate a point or a structure. Like many of us, I’m fascinated by views or slices through layers of rock showing how shifting pressures beneath the Earth’s crust forced movement between overlying layers of rock in response, producing characteristic structural patterns which a geologist can ‘read’ to understand more about the underlying structure and history of an area, all of which is relevant to mineral formation and potential nearby. Erosion and deposition too, result in interesting patterns, so my landscape inspired designs are essentially diagrams in fabric and thread.

I began using this arrangement of strips to suggest landscape many times since the early 2000s, with both improvisational patchwork –

Ebb & Flow 2003, 50cm x 60cm Freehand or improvisational patchwork.

and also in appliqued leather segments forming the surface design.

Timetracks 3 2006, detail, Leather segments arranged to suggest landscapes in ~5cm square units.
Interestingly I saved this little Aug.2013 gem as “hand quilting sample 13”, clearly having no idea what direction it was really going to lead me towards.
“About Red” 2014 40cmw x 100cm
Land Marks, 2016. squares ~7cm. Machine appliqued Mylar.
This small Ebb&Flow #30, 2023, is my 6″x8″ Spotlight auction donation piece – of that area of black on which the landscape segments are stitched. Photographed against the interesting oilslick-like finished polyester fabric I used in this work.
I love this little sample, Nov. 2022 – it’s wild – but I haven’t yet worked out how to use it in a major work.
Hand dyed fabric segments, ~2018, with smooth edges (fused) and rough edge (hand basted). Fusing the segments enables wider spaced stitching.
This little sample, 2018, of black background with matching oversewing with black thread is one avenue I might explore soon…. I prefer the thicker, perle #8 thread around the orange/yellow join..

My Quilt National ’21 quilt “Pandemic Pattern” featured hundreds of ~1.5cm x ~5cm fabric strips appliqued with straight stitch oversewing. The strips in this case represent the rows of closely spaced, hastily dug fresh graves that we saw in certain parts of the world as the Covid-19 pandemic swept around the globe; so this is a pattern on the landscape, not of landscape shapes themselves, but I mention it here to remind myself that my passion for oversewing strips of fabric did not just come out of the blue in 2020 when I decided to hand stitch the surface design of my first ‘pandemic quilt’.

Pandemic Pattern, 2020, detail. Strips ~0.5cm x ~5cm

Browsing On Pinterest

February 5th, 2023

I just read a wonderful interview with Hazel Bruce on TextileArtist.org headed Hazel Bruce: ‘Make do and mend’ pieced fabrics connected by repeated stitched pattern blocks” under which is a pic of richly textured hand stitched straight-stitch patterns that really struck a chord with me. Further reading of Heidi Ingram’s interview article, I found more key words and phrases that rang my bell:

  • make do and mend – tick – life mantra & recent banner on https://www.liftthesky.com
  • repeat patterns – tick – these underpin most of my art
  • sampling – tick – I frequently make samples for several reasons, including fabric/thread auditions, learning a material’s handling characteristics, or trying a new technique or stitch.
  • repeat lines – tick – seams, stitch lines, applied shapes
  • mark making tick – every stitch is a mark and is placed purposefully
  • Hazel said “I revisit my work quite a lot” – tick – and often see things I didn’t ‘see’ before
  • Hazel sometimes cuts a piece up when it returns from an exhibition – tick though I haven’t yet… but am thinking about it
  • re-working it and integrating it into another piece – tick just thinking about it …
  • “I’m not very precious about my work” – I’ve certainly been feeling less so. A few years ago I did cut up set of pieces that formed one work; and might another couple soon: but earlier this year I sold a couple of older works to an important buyer, so it’s something to think about carefully !

When I found this sample today, I was surprised how old it was and how much it has influenced my work since I doodled with these ideas in 2013 …

Scraps Of Inspiration, 5

January 30th, 2023

My regular readers know that a few months ago I acquired an exciting bundle of offcuts and scraps from a fellow quilter who dyes and sometimes prints her fabrics before using them in her original art quilts. By taking up her offer to send them free to someone who could use them, I helped us both feel good about ticking at least some of the boxes on ecological issues associated with textile waste going into landfills.

Earlier in this series, I quoted a comment by a fellow mixed media artist, Sarah Shoot, @sarahshootmixed that ‘red with turquoise is always fantastic’ and as I worked to complete the applique of strips of stripes onto the triangles piece, I thought at lot about this red + turquoise colour combination. A couple of days ago I selected a bunch of scraps from pale azure blue to strong turquoise green, interspersed with thin touches of some other colours from the opposite side of the colour spectrum.

I sliced into those to produce some long strips of colour/print segments, and once I was satisfied with the arrangement, machine basted them, and today began hand appliqueing them with that favourite orange-red thread which looks lively against the strong red background.

Auditioning applique thread, but finally chose the red/orange I’ve used a fair bit lately. Lucky I bought ~3600m of it!!

I have another couple of hours’ work to finish this stage, and am already thinking about the layering and quilting treatment. Because of their relative positions on the colour wheel these combinations against the red really sizzle, and I keep thinking about how in relationships they say that opposites attract – wherein might lie a suitable title.

2023 SAQA Spotlight Auction Donation

January 14th, 2023

Every year an organisation I belong to, Studio Art Quilt Associates, or SAQA, has a conference during which donated small quilted textile pieces submitted by members are auctioned in what they call the Spotlight Auction. These pieces are small, 6″ x 8″ so in my opinion are not large enough to call ‘a quilt’… and as I usually regard this small creation as something of an experiment that might lead onto use in a major work, I think of these things as samples, and that’s certainly how I describe them on the customs documentation!

Ebb&Flow 30, 2023. 8″x6″, SAQA Spotlight Auction 2023. Hand stitched, quilt-as-you-go raw edge applique. The zigzag edges will be covered by card matte showing only 4.5″ x 6.5″

This week I took a morning to make my spotlight piece, and used the exercise as a sample to try out an intriguing fabric I couldn’t resist buying at a JoAnn’s fabric shop somewhere in my trip to the US late last year. I’ve photographed what I made against the background of this interesting fabric – a very fine polyester knit, stretchy, silver-ish but appearing as if it has an oil slick all over it. .. it’s absolutely lovely fabric, I feel every square centimetre is precious.

Such experiments teach me much about the handling characteristics of unusual materials, and in this case, the cut edge tends to roll just a little – as you can see with a couple of cut edges on the left side of the pic. Then hand oversewing fine strips over a very low loft batting in a quilt-as-you-go technique, even using a hoop to make sure I didn’t pull it tight, etc, it tends to sit in such a way as to look solid 3D. My followers know I just love glitter, and I’m happy to no longer need to get hold of some mylar just now, or to save the sachets that my favourite tea bags come in 🙂 which provided the glitter for last year’s Spotlight piece. I have warned the collector that particular glittery material is not really robust and any tension could case the glitter to split a bit, but knowing the collector personally, I doubt that that will ever happen.

2022 SAQA Spotlight piece. Untitled: mylar squares over stitched with neon green thread.

In these auctions people don’t need to attend the conference to place a bid – the pieces go online sometime in the next few weeks, and are also presented for live viewing at the conference. Each is covered with a matting board showing an area of 4.5″ x 6.5″, and that whole assembly in a sealed cellophane bag. I’ll post the link to the whole lot of this year’s offerings here when they go online.

Scraps of Inspiration 4

January 9th, 2023

Progress is being made, as it seems by completing the top 2 rows now, I am nearly halfway through the process of adding the strips of colour

which I talked about in the previous post.

I did a little sample of the idea I mentioned at the end of that post of a triangular mesh with ‘things’ at the points of intersection of the dotted/quilting lines. Reviewing and considering this, it’s a chicken or the egg kind of question – do I stitch the lines in first than place whatever ‘thing’ I decide at the intersection points, or do I stitch or fuse the ‘things’ in place (and I love the tiny triangles) and then stitch between them? And will the stitching lines be quilting, ie done once the whole piece is layered, or will I make those part of the surface design and do some form of quilting in another operation altogether, closer to the end?

Well there’s no rush for decision making here, as I still have plenty of triangles on which to add bands of colour. A FB friend commented yesterday that the triangles as per the top photo look look lively and happy. I’m glad to hear such a comment – and that feeds into my thinking about the title for this work.

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