Saturday, 12 July 2014

Exploration is in our nature...

Photo A
 It's all about the border today!

Surrounding the entire quilt are two quotes by Carl Sagan, astronomer and brilliant science communicator, about the importance of imagination and curiosity for the advancement of the human race.

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that neverwhere but without it, we go nowhere."

"Exploration is in our nature, we began as wanderers and are wanderers still."

Once the lettering is marked out (photo A), I stitched round it (photo B) then cut out the fabric inside to reveal the green fabric below. This is called reverse appliqué as it's taking away a layer as opposed to adding one (appliqué).

Photo B
All the frayed edges then are satin stitched around in black silken thread (photo C). The border is then added to the rest of the quilt and black fine braid stitched on to hide the seam.
Photo C

I wanted a wide gold braid to edge the quilt so found a heavy metallic ribbon and fancy braid. Though it was super expensive,  the end result is just right, once the ribbon was dyed down and the braid painted to age it. Then the braid was stitched onto the ribbon  and then hand stitched onto the quilt. It definitely finishes the quilt off.

Next stage is to quilt the layers together then bind the edges. Almost finished!
Quilt so far

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The elements come together

The International Space Station (ISS)

Today's post, I want to explain a little about the idea behind the quilt, hopefully giving a greater understanding of the design. The idea is about Man's driving need to explore their universe and to question their place within it. 

We have come a long way from thinking the Earth being the centre of the universe and the Sun and all the planets revolving around it. Before the mid 15th century, it was heresy to think otherwise and astronomer and mathematician, Copernicus daren't publish his findings until just before his death in 1543. I chose Copernicus' map as a defining moment of the setting aside religion and superstition and using science and mathematics to explain the nature of the universe.  

On each corner of the quilt, there are two definative symbols of modern space exploration, the Voyager probe and the International Space Station. I chose to incorporate them in a flat simplistic way like an old tapestry. Those hours spent in the V&A museum looking at old tapestries have not gone to waste! They were made using felt and machine embroidery.

The planets were also made from felt and are all decorated with hand stitching in silken threads. In the picture below, you can see all the elements coming together, the fine cording used for the planet ellipses and many hand drawn stars. Yes, (all done by hand!) giving it a naive printed look.

Next to do is the border around the quilt and the quilt the whole thing. The end is near!

All coming together at last.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Map of a celestial journey

Hand stitching rays of sunshine!
It's been a while since my last blog update, stuff gets in the way and I forget to post. At least my Facebook page has been more up to date with some recent photos of the art quilt I've been working on the past couple of months. I'm happy to say that it's finished!!! Many, many, many hours of hand stitching, machine stitching, printing, dyeing and procrastinating has happened to get to the finished design. 

Free machine stitching the lettering.
I'm going to post separately on the progress to the finished article as it's interesting watching the different stages and don't want to lose any of your attention by writing a massive long article!

In the last post, the sun in the centre of the quilt had been started. Rays of sunshine were hand stitched in gold thread using a split stitch and yellow and orange embroidery thread in a running stitch. Do love a bit of hand stitching!

Next up is stitching the text which is taken from a Renaissance map of Copernicus' theory of the Sun being the centre of the universe (which of course was true but until mid 16th century few believed it!). Bit tricky stitching this as you need to move fast to get the right tension so watch out for the fingers.  I'm going for the olde handwritten look of an old map, not perfect modern typography. 

Like hand stitching, free machine stitching (removing the feeder feet under the fabric so you can move the fabric in any direction and stitch length) is very satisfying and feels like drawing with thread. Which is a nice analogy, the needle the nib, the thread the ink!

Next post, the planets and satellites are added.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A new project

 I've been working on some new ideas the past two months and thinking at what direction to take my work in the future. I know it's a clique to say that you're on a journey but it's true and sometimes you return back to where you started. Before I went down the more employable route as a costume maker, I made textile art at college. So recently I've been getting back into machine embroidery, hand stitching and getting more creative with textiles.

At the moment, I am working on a art quilt which I am planning to exhibit later this year. My love of quilting extends to owning a number of vintage quilts that I like to look at now and again. I especially love hand quilting despite it being time consuming and completely uneconomical but sometimes you need to make purely for your own pleasure and that's what I'm doing now!

The quilt is based on renaissance maps and particularly Copernicus' map of the solar system with a bit of modern elements appearing too. A visit to the V&A museum looking at the magnificent tapestries held there also played a part of the inspiration.

Copernicus map.
The quilt is over a metre square and will involve a number of techniques including appliqué, hand stitching and printing. I will post photos as the quilt develops to show the different stages as it all builds together. Sometimes I know exactly how I want it to look and othertimes it's rather spontaneous!

Cotton dyed with 50 teabags! 

Close up detail of the ISS. Applique and machine embroidery.

Machine embroidering the central piece.

Starting to hand stitch gold thread round the sun.