Tag Archives: patchwork

A new way of working

I’ve given myself the rest of 2015 off! Well, sort of.

My plan is to release myself from any requirement to think about the final show, or my future vision, or even the outcomes of my project until after Christmas. This means I can have December to have a rest and try out some new ways of working and see how I get on. I want to do two things:

1. Play with my concept, explore it a little more as a fundamental question (rather than as something to make things by). I am going to start by going right back to the idea of how place and identity are linked and by asking a simple yet complex question:

Consider for a moment, your sense of self, that which makes you who you are. If you try to describe this as a place, what would it look like? What can you see, hear or feel around you? 

2. To make some samples without thinking too much about them theoretically. I want to see how I can let a material lead the development. I am starting from the map. I’ve spoken a lot about the concept of the map before, but materially speaking the map is most commonly a physical thing – a piece of paper, backed on cloth (old-school), just a piece of paper or a digital image. There are also mind made maps – a sequence of images, visual or sensory clues perhaps, which guide us from A to B (such as that Poy and I made manifest in our collaboration project). I am going to start from here and see where I go.

I started on a couple of what might best be described as material sketches, and it was interesting looking at what I made without the explicit focus on the form/new techniques I have had in mind over the last few months. The first thing I turned too was patchwork and stitch: a skill that much like my calligraphy, I just do without thinking about it. Now that was unexpected.

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City & Guilds final assessment piece: work started

I have made a start on my final assessment piece for my City & guilds work which I am endeavouring to get finished before the second term at Camberwell starts. This is going to be my Big Exhibition Quilt, ready for FOQ 2015. The piece is titled broken memories and I am seeking to capture something of the pain of memory loss through old age, dementia or Alzheimer’s. My design is to make three panels, showing a increasingly fragmented and pained mind. This was the original sample; I have a few more ideas on how to improve from this.

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Well, the first steps are now done, with completion of the three painted panels (acrylic ink in limited colour palette on white cotton lawn – when wet almost see through) which will be ripped and patchworked onto a cotton background. I’m using inks for this as it keeps the softness of the fabric intact in a way fabric paints don’t. I am still waiting for an order of oakshott cotton to turn up before I can get the full panel pieced and ready for quilting.

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One of the things I noticed since my last assessment piece, is that my approach is now different from before I started the MA course. I am thinking more about the materials and what they say in the piece. Not just the surface design speaks, but the surface itself. I also see how important preparation, intent and planning is, even when the physical act of making (or in this case painting), is improvisational. This isn’t something I though before – improv was only just sitting down and seeing what happened.

More to do, but good progress so far.

ANT xx

Reflections on my current practice

I have always enjoyed the process of taking and completing actions.  Crossing things off a to do list is one of life’s simple pleasures.  So, after writing down my first set of things to do from this week’s push on “getting moving”, I have attempted to tick one action off – that of reflecting on what I have done up to now.  It seems logical to me to do this before looking to move ahead – why not celebrate your successes, you are probably much more awesome than you think.

(You really should open that link before you carry on reading, you won’t regret it.)

Well then, down to business. I have tried to do some honest reflection on ‘my practice’ by answering a number of different questions I have asked myself over the last few days.

1.  What is my current practice:

I am a contemporary quilter.  I started quilting in 2008 using traditional patterns, and very quickly moved into modern, contemporary work and designing my own patterns.  Over the course of my City & Guilds study, I have been edging further towards art quilting, and an expanding repertoire of surface design techniques.  I have also dabbled with polymer clay and when I was younger I did a lot of calligraphy.  Oh and I am also an avid art journaller, baker and chocolate truffle maker.

2.  What techniques, processes and materials have I enjoyed working with to date:

I like making a mess.  I don’t go out of my way to be untidy, I just always end up dirty somehow.  I am the girl who goes out walking in the midst of a hot summer drought and ends up muddy. Unsurprisingly then, many of the techniques I really enjoy are those that involve wet and mess-making materials.  I like working with:

  • Paper and ink – brush movements, expressive calligraphy. Currently obsessing about acrylic inks and japanese paper
  • Words – writing poetry, using text directly in artworks
  • Surface design – with fabric, paper or canvas – I love colour and texture, particularly starting from a blank white page and building upwards.  I do like working with limited colour palettes, and have recently noticed a trend around earth + blood colours (brown, sepia, cream, red).  Haven’t yet been able to figure out why this is.
  • Patchwork techniques which display a beauty through incricate designs with clear forms and striking geometry.  Maiko did say “what about geometry” the other day and I believe (of course) that she is right – I am not going to be able to drag myself away from this part of my nature.  These techniques include things like english paper piecing (hexagons!), foundation piecing, Japanese folded patchwork and stained glass applique.  For the non-patchwork practitioners out there (and for my own records), I’ve photographed some of by favourite bits of my samples book that I have built up with City & Guilds over the last three years.
  • Hand-quilting – especially using sashiko stitching and thick Perle cottons for quilting.  This revelation actually surprised me, as this would not have been the case a couple of years ago when I would have been ‘arrested’ on sight by the quilt police for the poor quality of my stitching. My sewing machine is a Bernina quilting machine and it is a wonderful, wonderful piece of kit, but I have noticed becoming increasingly drawn to the more imperfect but more personal feel you get from stitching by hand.
  • Mixing paper and stitch – been getting more into this recently, driving on from what I’m doing in my art journal. Occasionally I have visions of creating grand steampunk like mixed media creations with clockwork owls and motors and wheels, but then I realise all I really want to do is dress up in the Victorian costumes and get a parasol.

Extracts from my sample book of techniques I have tried and taken to heart:BeFunky_candg

3.  What new techniques or materials would I like to adopt:

  • Making handmade paper
  • Learning how to make Temari balls
  • Photography
  • Polymer clay jewellery – something organic and with movement
  • Playing with lights, LEDs and glass beads in materials

4.  As question 3, but if resources were unlimited:

  • I would absolutely love to work with glass, perhaps making handmade glass
  • Silversmithing (to go with the polymer clay!)
  • Porcelain, especially precision work a la Jennifer McCurdy (This one is in this list instead of question 3 as it is rather skill constrained!)

5.  Where would I like my practice to evolve to:

First off, I realised recently, that whatever I do I would like to continue making art quilts, and aiming to create some exhibition quality pieces. I am going to submit something to Festival of Quilts 2015 (I decided this yesterday), and whatever happens in the future, I think I would like to continue having art quilting as one of my strands of work.

As for the rest….well I’m currently open to ideas.  I like the idea of mixing and mashing up techniques and materials.  Stitching other things than fabric (parchment paper is currently top of my list), using fabric on other things than a quilt.  The question of what I want to do in the future is to big to answer just yet, so for now I feel more comfortable just exploring options.

That exercise was actually more fun than I expected, perhaps I have been underestimating just how much stuff I have done – not having a BA art degree or a fancy website doesn’t mean I don’t have a practice!

Awesome indeed.

ANT xx