I’ve just about been finding time to do some quilting. I’ve promised two new pieces for SiX – Orientation which’ll go on display next at The Bramble Patch in Northants, UK towards the end of March. When the theme ‘Orientation’ was suggested to the group nothing really sprang to mind, but I’ve learnt by experience that the themes which can appear to be the least inspiring at the outset, often drive the most interesting work in the long term. I suppose it’s being forced to research something new that causes this and results in other influences being drawn into the work. I do find it difficult to change tack and much prefer to gently feed in outside inspiration to what I’m working on naturally rather than go off on a tangent and produce something quite separate to my ‘proper work’. When you’re a person from England who’s experience of the Orient doesn’t extend much further than the Chinese takeaway, it at first seems quite a stretch to introduce anything oriental into a set of work without it seeming unnatural. Eventually though ideas present themselves either through long hard thinking, or just doing. Looking at the work I’d been making over the last couple of years I noticed that there was one common denominator – hands. I do love drawing and painting hands. It’s always challenging to capture the complicated form of hands and convince the viewer that there are bones and joints underneath the flesh and skin.
I’d begun looking at origami forms and folded a crane, thinking I was going to draw it. Of course then it struck me that the interesting aspect of origami is the process of folding which is of course done by hand. I refolded the crane this time photographing each key stage. It was simple to convert the photos to black and white (I love focussing just on tone), then print them to cotton poplin using our digital textile printer here at Fingerprint.Of course the print is just the first step. Quilting is my favourite part of the textile process. I’ve used freehand machine quilting. Usually I’d work on a longarm, but these pieces are relatively small so I’ve used a regular sewing machine, besides, Linda’s been hogging the longarm and with the intermittent nature of my work at the moment I daren’t block her progress with one of my quilts lingering on the frame far too long!
The quilting is simple, contour quilting on the hands, linear quilting on the crane to suggest the change of planes that the folds create and then a more decorative, Sashiko inspired background in an ‘oriental’ red. So this is the first, there’s definitely a second underway and quite possibly more to complete the set, but I only have confidence in two being finished and ready to hang for the next exhibition.