Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FOQ - Gallery - Phoenix and nudes

Well that was nearly a unanimous decision, we will get to the Dragon too, but for tonight we will head towards "Phoenix Rising". This was the last of my pieces finished, or indeed started for the gallery. So what, one piece has to be right? Well this was the piece the whole gallery was designed for, and I only made it the week before the show. It felt right that this should be the last piece, it had to slot in and complete the show, yet for many people it will have been one of the first quilts they saw. As with many of my pictorial quilts this one was made directly on my quilting frame. I had to work the phoenix itself from the top down hoping that when I had the wings in place the body would fit. It did, although it is a little slimmer than it started. Each feather is individually cut from hand dyed cotton sateen from Fabric to dye for. I bought rather a lot of fabric to be sure I had the exact shadings I wanted. It worked very well. I had chosen to work entirely with cotton sateen for this quilt because I wanted it to glow, but I hadn't realised that the sateen would have an added bonus. It frays, not only that it does it in a way that really looks like feathers. Perfect.

As you can see this is a very heavily quilted piece. I really enjoyed working on it and it went surprisingly fast. I am now quite short of these thread colours. The background quilting looks very similar to my 'standard' background fill which I call 'decadent swirls' but if you look closely it isn't quite the same. On this quilt I wanted to suggest the air currents as the phoenix launches so I tried to spread out the curls into lines and eddies. You wouldn't spot it if you didn't look closely, but I know it is there and that pleases me.

Next to 'Phoenix Rising' is another early quilt. It is called 'Bicameral Pierrot'. It was named for having two clear sections and being in black and white. I love this quilt, and it has spent a lot of time on my studio wall. Unfortunately show judges really don't. I was so perplexed by this that I took a critiquing class just to get some more opinions on it. Sadly most of the people in that group couldn't see the problem either. The best guess was that this style has been done too many times. If that is the case, tough. I will be amazed if I don't make more bargello quilts, I like them however many have already been made in the past.

Turning to look behind us we can see a cluster of nudes (I wonder if there is an official collective noun for nudes?). Lets start with the best known of them, 'Nude with Rope'. This quilt has been to several show around the world, and I would love her to travel to more (she is one of my easier quilts to ship). She started appropriately enough at the Festival of Quilts 2007. Unfortunately she cause a stir by being hung next to a portrait of Jesus. It was one of the quirks of fate that really didn't go down well. Still she picked up a judges choice award, so it wasn't all bad. She then went to the Road to California and the World Quilt Show and was well received at both. I think this is the quilt that has sent most messages home, yes even more than the cows. For me the most interesting show was Sandown, where I used her as stand decoration while I was demonstrating a quilting frame. The number of people who remembered it from the FOQ was impressive in it's own right, but what really fascinated me was how they remembered her. Peoples brains had added a lot more detail to the quilt and it was such a strong memory they were struggling to believe their eyes. The human brain is a very impressive (and at time disturbing) piece of equipment. This is one of the few quilts I have made more than once. A purple version hangs over my bed, it was made for the Royal Acadamy Summer Exhibition, so is mounted on stretcher bars. It makes it very hard to transport, so I just have to have it on display at home.

This pair of quilts have been a long time in progress. The one on the right was made first, and was entirely unexpected. I came across a photograph on a friends blog and I just had to make a quilt of it. A few emails back and forth and I got permission from both the subject and the owner of the photograph, great. The really strange part is that I had been asking this friend to model for me for a while, but I don't think she believed me. I really loved the idea of having both mother and daughter, so I kept asking. After 'Mother' saw 'Daughter' she decided to go for it. She sent me several pictures and this one just lept out at me. It's a great picture and I felt it fit perfectly into pairing I was after. However by the time I got the image time was moving on and I only managed to finish the quilt just before the show. She knew it was done but didn't get to see it until her spies (friends) managed to get a picture and send it back to her. I hope she is pleased with it, and if you think you might like to model for me please do get in touch. I am always on the look out for more models. Those of you I already have pictures of, rest assured you are not forgotten and will become quilts as soon as time permits.

As this corner had a family feel I added this small portrait to the group. It is of a daughter for her mother. This time the subject knew and the mother in question didn't. Her whole family had kept it a secret from her for months. So long in fact they weren't sure I had actually done it. The mother, a friend of mine, kept trying to find out what I was making for her but I wanted her to find it hanging so the last thing I told her was that is was something she created. Yes I intended her to think I had made a copy of one of her quilts, but I think this was a better option.

Ahead of us now is another well known piece, my first and possibly my favourite nude, 'Nude Triptych'. This was the first piece I ever entered into the Festival of Quilts. Being me I didn't just enter I tried to get into the quilt of the year section. I didn't manage it but it did take second place in the pictorial category, which was very exciting. It was the first cash prize I won and I still have a photocopy of the cheque in my studio. The idea with this piece was to explore the effect of technique and colour on an image. The grey image is made from 1/4" squares. I wanted to get a pixalated feel to the image. It is one of my "seemed like a good idea at the time" quilts. 1/4" squares have a nasty habit of falling apart when you try to pick them up, and are very very light. If you breath near them they move, a lot. This one image took me a month to assemble simple because it required so much concentration and fiddling. I needed every piece to line up as perfectly as possible.

The red image was much simpler, and is the technique I teach in my 'Art Quilts by Numbers' class. I was looking for a texture like that of oil paintings. To achieve this I used triangular pieces of fabric. They tend to stick up a little at the points giving the textured finish I was looking for. I really love this technique and it has lead me in many other directions. The last part of the triptych is the blue image. This has been my technique of choice ever since for nudes, although writing this has me thinking that some of my other might look very good in the same style as the red nude. Anyway, the blue one presents the smoothest clearest image by using flat pieces of fabric. All are quilted with very fine cotton thread that matched the fabric it is on. This is also a common theme in my pictorial quilts, I try very hard to just blend the thread in, this isn't a place for the thread to steal the show.

The final quilt as we leave the gallery for the night is 'Heat'. Her biggest claim to fame, in my mind at least, is that she has my most three dimensional nipple. I was told this by a lady at my Dissenters Gallery show, and it does have to be said she is right. You do have to stand in exactly the right place then it just pops. I guess I just got the colouring right and the angle then completes the illusion. Sadly it doesn't seem to work in photographs so this one you will have to see in real life to get that effect. It is also one of my quilts with a good wholecloth on the back. I usually use a bobbin thread that matches the colour of the top thread, so if the backing contrasts you can get an amazing reverse side. Sorry I couldn't get a picture of it while it was fixed to the wall but I do show it in most of my talks, being small it's a good quilt to fly with.

Well that's it for tonight. Rather than go back past the archway tomorrow I suggest we walk around the outside of the gallery to go back in through entrance one. This will take us past all the wholecloth quilts, then we can work our way back to the other side of the gallery. I've included a plan of the gallery so you can see how it all fits together.

Finally you might like to take a look at these two links they give you a bit of background information on 'Mother' and 'Daughter'. Just how cool is she! If you haven't seen Quilters Home magazine you might want to check that out too, Mother featured in a makeover article in the last issue, she is such a good sport.


Lesley said...

Ferret what a most wonderful walk through your gallery, I find your work inspirational and aweinspiring to view thank you.

Quirky said...

I try not to take pictures of work in galleries... but sometimes I can't help it! Your Phoenix quilts was one of those ones (ironically, because I wanted to capture how the quilting "shimmered" off of the phoenix).

When I showed the picture to my husband, he asked, "Why can't you make quilts like that?"

Thanks for setting the bar too high for the rest of us! ;)

Ferret said...

Thanks guys. Quirky you really missed a trick there. You had a whole range of "because I don't have a......" answers to choose from. In the case of this quilt you would need a computer, gimp or photoshop and a lot of hand dyed cotton sateen. Never pass up a chance to advance your stash :)

Quirky said...

Wow, you did that with Gimp? I have Inkscape, but I can't wrap my head around it... I think I got too used to Corel Draw when I was a student.

And yes, along with commenting this morning I also followed the link you put up about where the sateen came from!

Ferret said...

:) I can't get my head around Gimp either. I can mostly get it to do the few basic things I need. I work a lot from photographs so I only really need to do fairly simple manipulations and scaling in Gimp. I really aught to take time to learn more of it, but you know how these things go. I can always find something more exciting to do :)

Ferret said...

Most of the illustrations for my book were done with Inkscape, and I believe that is what Tet uses to layout my patterns. Again I can't get to grips with it but I can see it could be a great tool.

So which OS do you use?

Quirky said...

Just Windows... otherwise my husband wouldn't be able to play his video games...