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:
3. What new techniques or materials would I like to adopt:
- Making handmade paper
- Learning how to make Temari balls
- 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!