Posts Tagged ‘calming’

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.

Slow Stitch ?

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

I had an email this morning from a textile arts friend, mentioning something I’d never heard of before – ‘slow stitch’ and ‘slow cloth’¬†¬† (and as we all know, ‘cloth’ is a reverent term for ‘fabric’ or as we say in Aus – ‘material’)¬† ¬† ‘Cloth’¬† implies something has beeen done to the fabric to give it a whole new meaning, which I won’t go into here – but that’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek observation,¬† just in case you don’t know me well enough to¬†hear me speaking between the lines, and¬†I digress.

Since the mid ’70’s¬† I have stitched and studied the art of the stitch, having an exhibiting life as a creative embroiderer years before I found myself in the world of quilted textiles.¬† In all that time I had never come across this term, so of course I googled it. ¬†To my delight but some amazement, I found there’s a whole new generation out there discovering the joys and expressive potential of the hand made stitch and in particular the most basic stitch of all, the running stitch.¬† It’s been around for ever, long and short, in thick and thin thread, string, leather thonging, cord and more, and of course we all know it¬†as the stitch most used in hand quilting.¬† It appears in countless ethnic embroideries around the world, as both¬†outline¬†amd filler.

Above is a pic of one of the¬†small samples¬†I did in a workshop,¬† “The Expressive Stitch’, taught by Canadian artist Dorothy Caldwell in Western Australia, more than 4 years back.¬†¬† Let me tell you there’s a few hours’ work, perhaps 6 – in that little 6” square piece and I’m no slouch with the needle.¬† We each designed motifs from our own individual lives while we learned about the needleworked / embroidered¬† cloth pieces, Kantha, that Indian women in the Bihar region have traditionally made, and which now regularly find their way to collectors in the western world.¬†¬†Down the years I have seen some very old textiles and fragments in museums – most memorable being a fragment of layered brown (dirty?) ¬†felt,¬†¬†hand quilted with linen thread in a cross hatch/diamond pattern.¬† From the outer Mongolian steppe, and dated around 400AD¬† it was¬†most likely padding that went between horse and saddle.

The hand made stitch has been gathering favour in contemporary fibre art for some years now.¬† But what felt new to me was the near evangelical fervour I detected in the bloggings of several recent converts to the expressive, therapeutic, relaxing and calming effects of hand stitch.¬† Of course, the traditional quiltmakers and embroiderers¬†have always known¬†of these qualities,¬† but now it seems¬†that¬†some ‘art quilters’¬† are¬†tiring of frenetic zooming all over cloth with fancy computerised speed regulated machines, and¬†responding instead to the¬†slower pace of hand stitchery with it’s minor imperfections …¬† if you wait around long enough, most things come back into fashi0n again, in some form or other :-p

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