Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quiltfest Gallery - Part 2

If you haven't already read part one it can be found here.  I've just realised I forgot to tell you the title of the exhibition yesterday. The show was called "Here be Dragons". I chose it because I wanted to show my Dragon quilt and hopefully make some more. I did manage to make one new Dragon for the show. However it seems the title was more appropriate  to describe how people see getting to Wales. Yes they have a dragon on their flag, but really Llangollen is very easy to get to by road or rail. Mid Wales is harder to get to with smaller and more windy roads, North Wales is easy. To be fair until I went there I thought it was rather in the back of beyond but I know better now and I am hoping I might be able to have another show there at some point. I've just got to spread the word that it is really easy to access.

 Carrying on our tour around the gallery we come to this set of three figure quilts. The middle one is the newest of my nudes, but more on her in a moment. The first of the three quilt is called Mother. It's not been to that many shows but has probably been seen by more people than most of my other quilts. This one got a write up in Quilters Home magazine because it depicts a very well known quilter.  When Bonnie McCaffery first said how much she liked my quilts I was thrilled and when she said she would have been proud to have posed for one of them I saw an opportunity. It was a few years later when, desperate for another quilt for my gallery at the Festival of Quilts, that I finally persuaded her to model for me. When I got the photos by email (yes I have to check all that spam claiming to be nude photos for me) this one stood out. It was taken by her daughter and I think the expression is perfect, and her hair is looking great in it too. I love quilting hair and that had been part of the attraction of using her as a model.

I was aiming for this quilt (Mother) to look something like a statue. I wanted to use fabrics that gave an impression of stone.
 That narrowed my options quite a lot. Some colours it is very easy to get a nice run of shades, others, not. Guess what, grey/tan/brown would be one of the trickier ones when you need this many shades. This is why if I see a run of 6-9 shades I tend to buy it on the spot. They are rare and I use them for many of my quilts. I found the only way I could get the look I was after was to use batiks and fortunately between my stash and the local quilt shop I got the run I needed.

I made the quilt and then needed to rinse and block it, I had used washaway stabiliser to keep her hair under control. The batiks ran, a lot. It looked like coffee rinsing out of the quilt. Fortunately I keep run remover on hand and soon had the dye back out of the light areas. This is a hazard of working with unwashed fabrics which I do a lot but I can live with it. There are two reason I don't prewash, firstly time. I struggle to find the time to keep on top of washing my clothes. If I had to wash and iron all my fabric as well it would never get done. Secondly I find the fabric much easier to work with when it still has the dressing on it. As my art quilts aren't intended to be washed it seems like a fair solution. My bed quilts I wash in the machine with colour catchers. If they run I fix it. It's pretty rare though to have any problems with modern fabrics. The exception would be the very dark batiks. Do click on the pictures to see the enlargement. You will be able to see most of the stitches, almost as good as being there.

 Quiet Moment is the latest of my nudes the story of making this quilt is shown on the blog starting on the 6th August 2011. The easiest way to read it is to select the archive from the right hand side of the page and them the year and the month. There are a lot of posts showing many details of the process.

This is another quilt that was named by readers of the blog. Though this time instead of putting the top suggestions to the vote three of us chose the name. The model, Tet and I spent quite a while arguing to come up with the winning name.  It was harder because we needed the name in a hurry to get the quilt into the 2012 calendar.

This is another quilt where I had a lot of fun quilting the hair. I guess it is a texture thing, but then the curves in hair are great too. Whatever it is I do like quilting hair, human or animal.  One of the problems I had when making this quilt was finding the right shades of purple threads. Purple seems to be a really problematic colour. There are just so many different purples. The amount of blue or red in it can change massively. It seems that threads are mostly to the red side and guess what my fabrics are to the blue end. The other problem  with purples is they are really hard to photograph. Most of the pictures I took at the show made the purple of her body look the same colour as her blue shoes.  That is really frustrating as it makes fixing the colour on the computer very tricky. Fortunately I also got a few pictures where the colours came out pretty much right. One afternoon I got chatting to some of the visitors, and we compared all their pictures. The range of colours that this quilt looked was amazing. This is why I often tell people photographing my quilts that I have postcards of them. It really isn't just a money making scam. I know some really are tricky to photograph, but many have been professionally photographed with the correct colours and a good level of detail.

 Daughter is the partner quilt to Mother. In fact Daughter came first. The photograph I worked from was one that Bonnie was going to use to make a quilt. I just fell in love with it when I saw it on her blog. Bonnie and her daughter very kindly gave me permission to use the photograph for this quilt. When I heard I was going to have a gallery at the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago I thoguht it would be a great time to launch this quilt. That was a great plan until I found out how big the gallery space was. It meant that I had no walls small enough to hang this piece on it's own. That is the point at which I knew I had to make Mother.
 Stepping back we can see the whole of the wall between the gallery and the man hall. The main hall is only used by Quiltsfest on trading day,  and for access by staff on the other days. One day  the display of nudes nearly caused and accident. A workman had come in to help us out and on the way in saw fairly traditional quilts. On his way back out of the door he got somewhat distracted by the display on this wall. I would have felt guilty if he had actually failed to find the door, but I do like to surprise people. Quilting is so much more than most people think. We were also lucky enough to have a painter visit the gallery. To be fair he was literally visiting the gallery, not my show. He is having a show there soon and wanted to plan where he would hang his work. He was so positive about my work, it really made my day. When I thought about what he had said I was even more thrilled. The most important thing he said, which I didn't realise until after he left was when I said I can't paint, his reply was I can't cut and sew fabric. I'd never looked at it like that. The biggest boost to my confidence in a long time. I hope his show is a huge success.

 Nude with Rope, is another well known quilt. She has caused controversy and has a huge number of fans. It is the quilt of mine that seems to most divide opinion, and I like that. I like that people come up with their own stories for this quilt.

The quilt comes from another photograph by Alex Treacher. I choose it because I liked the shapes within it and the way the light catches different parts of it. As it required nine shades to render this image I really had to make it in blues where I find I get the best long runs of colour. In this case the whole quilt is made using Moda marbles, as is Quiet Moment. I love this range for it's subtle variations in shade. It is especially well suited to my style of pictorial quilts. As well has having gone to quilt shows around the world, and having been held in customs in almost as many places this quilt has been displayed on the Moda trade stand. Apparently the quilt was a bit of a shock to the sales staff, they weren't expecting it to be so big (just over 7 feet long). They were also very protective of it. This quilt got to stay in a hotel room overnight rather than a cold exhibition hall.

 As you can see we have made it almost to the far side of the gallery. Looking back you can just see the door we came in by to the right of Fractal Stars. In the middle of the room are two large tables. These were provided to the stewards had somewhere to sit and sew, although they were also useful for several of the visitors. You may have also noticed the chairs around the room, we thought it was a good idea for people to have a chance to sit and look at the quilts but it also provides a place to park your less quilt obsessed friends.

Carrying on down the wall that separates the gallery from the main hall, the last quit we come to is Herd Mentality. This quilt seems to be my most requested quilt and I couldn't possibly have an exhibition without displaying it.

It seems to have been the quilt that alerted most people to my existence, which always surprises me. I would have though either Nude with Rope or the Nude Triptych would have been the more prominent quilts. Certainly they have all been displayed, photographed and published about the same amount. I wonder if it was winning at the Festival of Quilts that really made a difference as that got them hung in a far more prominent position that any of the other quilts managed. Whatever it is they are clearly much loved.

Like most of my large art quilts they we assembled entirely on the longarm. I don't have any spaces at home big enough to layout something like this.  Unfortunately I didn't blog the process of this one. I was making it for a large curved wall in the Dissenters Gallery and I only showed one head on my blog before the show. The picture on that post does clearly show the pattern on one of the batiks which is very cool. While I was making this quilt I was running very low on cow coloured fabrics. I had a great idea, I would phone a trader I know fairly well and ask them to send more fabric that I needed in the right sort of colours. Some would be perfect some would be no good but it would solve my current and quite urgent problem. What I didn't forsee was getting someone who didn't know me on the other end of the phone. Apparently you don't often get customers calling and asking for 10-15m of cow colour fabric. The lady rose to the challenge and after several calls to double check posted me a large pack of fabrics. Many of which I did use, including one with a pattern that reminded us of sea anemones. We had discussed patterns that might or might not work. I had said no to anything with grids or lines on. I wasn't convinced by roses but the anemones sounded like they might work. They did. They look just like the fur on a cows forehead where it goes round and around.

 Due to their popularity I now offer a class where you can make your own cow head (does that sound wrong to anyone else or is it just me?). Your first chance to take this class will be in Sitges in Spain, March this year.

 Our last quilt in this section it Perttu. Perttu Kivilaakso is a Finnish cellist who used to play with the Helsinki Philharmonic orchestra but who is now part of a heavy metal cello (actually they are now 3 cellos and a drummer) quartet called Apocalyptica. I haven't done male nudes so far because they are hard to photograph so they don't look untidy. Sorry but women are just far neater. However if I could persuade the band to pose nude with their instruments, then I am sure I could make some very tasteful quilts.

Unlike most of the art quilts in this post Perttu himself is made from fabrics with small designs on them. He has flowers, butterflies and paw prints. I think you can just see the flowers on the lightest grey in the close up. I tend to buy grey fabric whenever I see it, and usually it will have a small print of some sort. I enjoy the challenge of using commercial fabrics for my quilt and to be honest I really don't have the time to custom dye everything I would need. I also like to think that if I can do it from found fabrics then so can other people. I would like people to leave my shows and talks inspired. The comment that most upsets me at events is people saying they might as well give up. It seems I have really failed if they can't see potential to try and make something themselves. Quilting is something anyone can do. Some will do it better than others. Not everyone will be able to do everything, but I really hope that people would feel there is something they could achieve.

Part 3 of the tour can be found here.

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