Friday, March 6, 2020

International Women's Day quilts

This beautiful original batik is my IWD quilt made from an African artwork gifted to me by a friend ten years ago or so. It is the only one piece quilt I have done, and using hand-quilting. For me the image represents that three stages of a woman's life: the virgin, mother and the older wise woman. I added the wide black border pieced from commercial cotton fabric over-dyed. It is available for sale (POA).

Another quilt I associate with IWD is the Shrines dedicated to the images that thea Gaia had printed of ancient images of women revered in the times before the domination by patriarchal ideas the consequent institutions that evolved here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A 'resurrection'

Not so much de-stashing, as resurrecting a quilt started in 1994!! It’s a ‘round robin’ quilt, created during my very early years after joining a group known as the Blue Mountains Quilters (I think so then). We each started by creating a strip 28 to 30 inches long by between 4 to 6 inches wide using our own choice of block style and colours. I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to this lovely group of women by my quilting friend Sue Wademan - who later took me the next step into creative textile quilting.

The original strip created by each woman was then passed it on to the next woman, who did not know who had made the original as they added another of their own creation to blend with the original strip. And so it grew as the other women added strips, until each person had completed a strip for the others in the group – twelve in all, adding to either end, strip by strip. No one was allowed to see her quilt until each woman had added her strip, which naturally aroused a lot of curiosity and excitement as the time drew near for the revelations. 

This is my finished quilt, backed and bound from the collection of strips, starting with the pale green and pink snail-trail block in the centre. I found it interesting that mine started as a pale strip that concluded with quite dark strips at the bottom - lovely variations of blocks too.

 I added some lavender to the  the side to widen it so it can be used as a throw. Finally it has found its place and usefulness after too many years folded in a box waiting to be resurrected!

You can imagine the amazing variety of quilts that were created! Some of them are being shown off on the balcony here, at one of our group weekends spent together in the Southern Highlands.

Here are some details of the finished quilt, including the beautiful way it was packaged up to hand over to me by expert long-arm machine quilter, Kerrin Yelland of Tanglewood Quilting, and some of the blocks used. The overall quilting pattern is of alternating circle within square and square within a circle - creating a wonderful flow-on effect.

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: