Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Multiverse - quilt for the Festival of Quilts

Multiverse- art quilt

For the past 3 months, I have been working on a very large wall hanging with the intention of submitting it for the Festival Of Quilts, Fine Art Quilt Masters competition. It is a big event in the textile calendar attracting huge visitors to the hundreds of quilts on display, workshops, exhibitions and shopping for craft supplies. It is held every year at the NEC arena in Birmingham and I visited it a few years ago and was impressed by the variety of work on display.

With the great intention of applying and making a quilt for entry for the past few years, I finally found the time to do it. Of course, having an idea to implement is also part of the worry as there has  to have a visual impact for a large piece (one side has to be at least 1 metre). I did’t have any set idea in mind as an idea organically changes once you start putting texture, colours and pattern together. I did though plan the top layer of the quilt to be a large cyanotype print but as I washed the fabric out, the print disappeared! Back to the drawing board...

So here it is. "Multiverse" is a large wall hanging completely made from antique and vintage fabrics. The main textile is a 19th century hemp dyed in indigo, worn, patched and mended. Behind the holes and patches, contrasting coloured and pattern fabrics, vintage quilt pieces and Japanese textiles are placed.

Detail of stitching on quilt

Areas of the quilt are heavy stitched by hand to create texture and colour. I have mainly used dyed linen and silk threads with sashiko cotton thread being the bind through the fabric layers. The finished piece is 147cm x 125cm with three main layers. The whole piece is in fact, all hand stitched as I love stitching by hand, but also adds the unique element of human contact. I am not a precise stitcher and would never call myself an embroiderer, but nor am I interested in perfection either! 

The striking red that edges round, is from a 19th century quilt backing and the outer fabric is from the edges of a paste-resist 19th century Chinese textile. These wonderful fabrics have a lovely soft worn look that only the passing of time can produce.

The title of the piece, "Multiverse" refers to the hypothesis of alternative universes coexisting with our own. The swatches of colour, pattern and densely stitched areas represent the different time dimensions. The constant renewal of materials whether it be molecules, gasses or fabrics is a source for exploration and the “boro” ideology is an excellent example of reusing textiles to this effect.

I am thrilled to say that it has been shortlisted with 22 other amazing quilts for the Fine Art Quilt Master competition with the winner being announced on the 8th August after the judges have seen the quilts. They will then be on show at a special gallery within the exhibition hall from the 9-12th August. I will be visiting the Quilt Festival myself and will post some photos of it in situ in a later post.

Detail of patches and stitching

Friday, 25 May 2018

Work in progress...

I’m currently working on a large quilted hanging to be hopefully on display at the Festival of Quilts in NEC Birmingham this summer. All made from antique and vintage textiles, mainly 19th century, it follows my inspiration of the Japanese technique of “boro”. It is all hand stitched in a running stitch, densely in some areas.

The main fabric is a indigo dyed hemp from 19th century which had been patched and darned. These lovely areas show the passage of time and evidence of unknown person’s handiwork, a dream for any textile enthusiast! I have mixed vintage quilt pieces with Japanese patterned fabric also vintage, some appliquéd, others reversed appliqué. 

All the stitching is by hand as it gives such a lovely texture and randomness using linen, silk and cotton threads. It is an important part of the overall look of the piece and part of the “boro” aesthetic to have a human element and irregularity about it. 

I love having flashes of colour so have used a 19th century red cotton that was originally a quilt backing. Now it’s back to be used in a quilt again!