Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The finished items from my de-stashing process

The table runner is definitely finished and hopefully now sitting gracefully down the middle of Leo and Mel’s dining table. It was put together with scraps of the fabrics I’d thought I was going to give to the Op Shop, but I am pleased it has become useful – and maybe even a beautiful collection of ‘saved’ fabrics. When I say saved, they have been in my collection for 25 years!
The second item turned out to be more trouble than I thought – and I started to wonder if it was worth it…let somebody else finish it off!!! At least it has now been assembled into one piece, backed and bound. They are the same furnishing fabrics, 9 inch square and half squares on each corner; (there is an equation for that: I think when cutting a square into half diagonally, add 7/8”?).  My de-stash box also had a roll of the most gorgeous heavy weight black ribbon with bight aqua polka dots which I’d bought on special for $2 years ago. I didn’t know how I would use it then, but a week or ago the penny dropped (probably at 3 in the morning)!

Instead of joining these heavy fabrics together with a seam, I decided to use spray-on craft glue to place them onto the bamboo batting. And then the inch-wide ribbon could be used to cover the raw edges. I ended up to feeling the need to run through lines of stitching once I’d found a suitable quirky, retro backing – again from my stash. Nothing new bought for these two quilts. More spray to attach the yellow and grey diamond backing – no pins involved. This is not the easiest process in my experience – though this was my first time to use the spray for a larger piece, I can’t say I approached it in the most rational way!!!

After attaching the squares, the strips of ribbon were attached (glued here too). Then my favourite binding was added, the red and beige tiny squares, which seems to really show off the colours in the big blocks. But, without any ‘internal’ quilting of each block, the finished item does not sit quite as flat as I would like it to. All quilters know that the flatter the better…and that leaves me wondering whether quilting within the squares would help, maybe with a simple machine stitched X across each block. I‘ve even thought about the possibility of doing some hand quilting around some of the shapes in the blocks. Woo, hand quilting… who, me? But, hey, when you set dishes on top of the cloth, it will sit flat, no? So, is this little quilt finished? Might have to wait for it to send out a message about what it thinks!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

De-stashing - then finding a use!

In another attempt to de-stash over the past month, I found some wonderful furnishing fabrics, samples I’d obtained very early on in my foray into quilting from a local quilter in Katoomba. I used some of them to make cushion covers that I still love. But as I made the moves to put them into a box to recycle to my favourite Op Shop for Cancer Support, I looked again, and thought again, and they are now in the process of being made into a table-runner and a small tablecloth. Surely this is what patch working is about; using all your old scraps in a creatively useful way. I have always thought that this is what underpins all art – especially indigenous art… but that is another very big question…to pull art back onto the rails of function and use over the market manipulations, choices and demands… can’t go there right now!

The fabrics have an Italianate feel of the Baroque period, cut, mixed and matched with what was left over. Not everyone will like them, but I love the richness and flamboyance, and feel it would be nice to see on a table festooned with delicious food. These are the samples:

Finished articles are on their way very soon!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Going full circle - again!

Delving into my stash in the last few weeks in an effort to discard some to a ‘better home’, I found the fabric off-cuts to a quilt made for Nickie. They are so beautiful that I don’t believe I’ll ever part with them. I wondered how else I might bring them into manifestation. They are originally from Damascus, and literally have gold thread running through them. I do remember very well how the fabrics appeared, how precious they are, and it humbles me to think of the many facets of story attached they carry.

I have written about this quilt on my blogspot in 2011, and I’m glad I did because I’ve looked through my card files for information about it and cannot find any record at all. In one of my visual diaries I have found two pages, with vaguely sketched ideas and side notes, and ‘commission from Nickie Millard’. And although no title is referred to, the influence is evident in the way it turned out: a heraldic banner to the sisters and their parents, a family coat of arms perhaps to celebrate their ancestry. With lives, torn apart by war, abuse and distance, Nickie told me the sacred threads of their various stories. The final quilt was at once very personal and took on the ethics, values and beliefs of generations of family.

It was at a Women’s Health Centre on the Central Coast. I had been invited to take my first series of quilts for the Seasonal Cycle for the Southern Hemisphere, to show them and tell their stories. It was lovely, casual and very friendly morning. Leo, who was nine or ten then, came along too. We loved doing road trips and discovering new horizons.

At the end of my presentation, or during morning tea break a woman approached me and asked if I would make a quilt for her from some very special fabrics she’d been saving for just such an occasion. She said she would have to go home to get them and when she brought them back, carefully packaged over a long time, I was quite overwhelmed, and as she told me her story I became even more so. Although it took ten years to come into its full form, this was the beginning of what was to become my own journey into exploring art as therapy, as I started to take on other commissions to make quilts depicting the personal stories of other women. Why so long? Single parenting, casual work, Masters thesis by research into women’s empowerment through textile art, soon followed by PhD while curating textile art exhibitions.

The choice behind the symbols used in Nickie’s quilt can be found here:

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Season of the Rose: a quilt for Summer Solstice

A quilt memory on Facebook came up, and I thought this was a good opportunity to share it here. Having been designed for the Summer Solstice, it’s a bit ahead of the seasonal cycle. It is a Solstice quilt celebrating the fullness of the season, as roses bloom during this time, only to drop after they have come into fullness.

Today is the day of the Summer Solstice for 2019 (22 December), the longest hours of sunlight of the year, before our journey on Mother Earth around the Sun carries us back towards the shortest hours at the Winter Solstice. Off course it is the reverse in the Northern Hemisphere, a result of the tilt of Earth’s axis in relation to our life-giving Sun. It is a little difficult to think of Sun this way at the moment, being surrounded by blistering weather and mega bush fires. But Sun is not the one to blame. Here are some words from a dear friend, posted today on Facebook.
It's Summer Solstice - called Lithe in the Celtic Festival Wheel of the Year. I wish you all blessings of the celestial moment. Some of us remember the old ways at this time, and some of us honour this land and the many spiritual connections we weave with country. But somehow it no longer feels fitting to celebrate the Fire Festivals with Mother Nature rubbing our faces in our own soiled nest and forcing us to pay attention... there is so much that is out of kilter. Let the rains come when they may... meanwhile we must express our gratitude for all the land has given us, our grief for all the abuse we meter out upon the Earth and her creatures, day after day, and ask the unthinkable - that we might be given another chance to take our seat at Her table and then to take only our fair share. (Margi Curtis)

This quilt was made nearly 20 years ago, in 2000. The form it took on eventually was of a type of banner. Designed to represent a rose in full bloom, I used Thai raw silks for the rose in full bloom and over-dyed commercial cotton fabrics for the background. All of the stripped fabrics are cut on a 45 degree angle, machine pieced and quilted. The symbolism of the rose is important in many cultures, representing eros, an anagram of the word ‘rose’, cognate with the Greek word meaning the power of the life force. The rose is symbol of life’s passion to be renewed in beauty, strength, fragility and endurance through the endless cycles of destruction and creation.

The quilt became an icon to the continual seasonal blossoming of Mother Earth, in particular experienced through the body of Woman, as a cross-cultural icon that represents the female genitalia, the vulva, the yoni – and expresses the desire for union with the Mystery that is the gateway giving rise to all life. It is symbolic of the power, pleasure and the pain that comes with ‘a kiss from a rose’.
On the back of the quilt there is a nine-point square, included in order to make the point that we all live on the same planet and every cardinal direction shows the potential that life, in whatever form it takes, is the creative outcome of the wondrous 15 billion years of Earth’s evolution from a spec of dust…now that’s resilience! If we truly took this in would we be so keen on ignoring the effects of changing climates due to our human habitation.
It dawned on me quite a while back that this planet Earth will continue, diminished from Her former glory of wild forests, wonderful varieties of flora and fauna, birds and sea creatures – diminished, but nevertheless surviving. We humans will be the ones to become extinct – due to our self-destructive activities that can be avoided were it not for greed of the few, and denying justice, causing lack of social cohesiveness to achieve their personal wealth. Reckon it’s a safer bet to call those deniers to account than relying on an imaginary “G*d” to fix it for us.