Friday, 8 August 2008

I did everything but take photographs

Sorry about the long delay in updating my blog. Did a silly thing. Entered not-yet-finished quilts for The Festival of Quilts confident that I'd easily finish them on time. I did (finish them I mean) but not easily.

You know how it is: you're going along to a particular timetable knowing what you're going to do and then as you do it you come up with new ideas.

The first was a small quilt based on the idea of rockpools - between the tides, where earth and sea meet. I've always been fascinated by them and the strange species which inhabit them. This one started with pebbles, translated into fabric in 3D using jersey hand-dyed and stuffed with wadding. I'd planned a simple background using a length of hand-dyed silk with dyed scrim for sand but it all got very much out of hand. It began OK with a length of scrim pressed flat over hand-dyed wadding producing a very nice dull sand colour, and the silk worked well too though somewhat inclined to fray so it needed satin-stitch. Then I discovered the viscose satin I'd dyed ages ago so that went in too; and that too frayed horrendously and needed satin-stitching. Then it needed shadows, in the form of silk organza. And of course it had to have rocks or there would be no rock-pool. By this time it had taken three times as long as expected.

I liked the seaweed made from granite stitch over silk fibre (the later seaweed, not shown in this photo was fastened to the rocks using seeding; some was stitched to a background chiffon/organza by machine and then appliqued. Then the pebbles went on by hand. And some couched hairy chenille for more seaweed.

I had all sort of plans - stumpwork shells and limpets, sea anemones, hand-embroidered feathered stars etc etc. On reflection it's probably as well I ran out of time or it could have been too far over the top!

Here it is half-way through:

The next one is based on Wytham Woods at bluebell time. I was trying really hard to be abstract but it kept coming out naturalistic. It's made in scrim over hand-dyed wadding with layers of colour used like water-colour washes. Here it is at an early stage. This version looks better than the finiished item:

I then decided to add more layers, and experimented on some scraps with FMQ which was then cut back to give a sort of speckled effect (to suggest leaves and the blue and green of bluebell plants). When I started doing this on the quilt it became obsessive - an interesting effect but unfortunately I got so caught up in doing it that I lost one of the most important compositional features i.e. the effects of light and shade which means that as far as I remember the finished piece is comparatively static. Unfortunately I have no photograph of the finished quilt - I just hope it's better than I remember and I don't have to run away in shame and hide when I see it hanging up next week.

The third entry is the only one at this stage that I am actually confident I like - i.e. the Snakes and Ladders one I blogged about earlier. The final stages improved it immensely from the way it was when I last showed it but once again I have no photo, till I get one next week at the Festival of Quilts.

I'm hoping I learn from this not to enter anything I haven't actually finished. There is actually a chance I might stick to this, since I'm doing a lot more anyway now I have retired!