'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Silk purse or sow's ear?

The blue mes now looks like this - clockwise from top left:

  1. Sprayed with turquoise paint and embroidered with automatic stitches. It looks better than it did but I wouldn't bother doing it again!
  2. Cut into slices, rearranged, sewn together again, and then the whole process repeated in the opposite direction. Quite interesting.
  3. The same process but only cut in on direction, and extra embroidery added. I like this best - it makes me think of the sea, and the texture and shine help.
  4. Painted with white emulsion and free motion embroidered over the original quilting lines. It now looks like lumpy graffiti - so if I ever need lumpy graffiti in a piece ...

After I'd finished trying to rescue the blue mess I played around with some design work. Some of C June Barnes' shrunk quilts in her book reminded me of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's aerial photos. I bought his book 'The Earth from the Air - 365 Days' thinking it would inspire some embroidery, but nothing came of it - until now.

I picked a photo and began to explore it. I can't show the image, obviously, because of copyright but if you've got the book, it is January 6th.

It is a picture of salt pans in Morocco - a grid of rectangles of different sizes disappearing into the distance, in yellows, oranges and greys. Why did I pick something so geometric for such an organic process? Who knows!

My first efforts were a bid rigid - straightening out the grid.


Then I tried a couple of techniques from Sandra Meech's excellent 'Creative Quilts'. It, and her other book 'Contemporary Quilts', are two of the three best books on design for all textile artists, not just quilters, that I know. [The other is Dunewold, Benn and Morgan's 'Finding Your Own Visual Language'.]

The first exercise I tried was cutting chunks out of a scan of the image and adding my own drawing to fill in the gaps. One area I liked was these strong diagonals across the paper. This is a tracing, with added coloured pencil. Better - I see it in silk piceing with strong black diagonals, and added hand embroidery to liven it up.

I've Googled around looking at Moroccan textiles and some examples are woven with rectangles of different shades, with a similar feel to this.

Then I cut up a black and white scan of the image, rearranged it, stuck it down again, and used view finders to isolate interesting areas. These are the tracings, all on one sheet of paper which is why they are wonky. I like these better still - when I get time I want to try these out with Barnes' technique, but I think they could also be applique or canvas work, or curved piecing if I am feeling really masochistic.

So - quite a pleasing day, once I'd got the blue mess out of the way!

Today's orange image is really ginger. I couldn't resist taking this photo last summer. A team member, or waiting to make a complaint?

Either way - he looks like he's in charge.

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