Sorry for the unannounced gap in posts

Falling man quilt, detail

Falling man quilt, detail

 

Apologies for the break in posts to this blog.  I have had a family emergency and had to go home to Nottingham for a few days. But I am back in Bristol now with lots to blog about once I have had time to take the photos and upload them.

In the meantime, this is a detail of a quilt I made largely in the first flush of enthusiasm for my embellisher.  I was looking through some photos the other day and there was a disproportionately large number of photos of this one, so it must be one of my favourites.  I made it as part of a series of contemporary samplers which I was lucky enough to have shown for one night only at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, courtesy of a very good friend, Damian O’Doherty, who works at the University of Manchester.  The Whitworth is probably the museum for textiles in this country after the Victoria and Albert, and I never imagined my work would ever get over the threshold.  The evening ended in an ice-cool cocktail bar in Manchester, and then with a taxi ride with Damian in his Comme des Garcons jacket.  Excitement all round.

Normal blogging service will be resumed shortly.

 

What I did on Sunday

There is a wonderful book called Where women create.  It is a glossy, coffee table book about the studios of creative women.  It is absolutely fantastic with a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit but it is nothing at all like my life.  I believe that there are women who have workrooms like this:

But this is more like this:

But my workroom is so shockingly awful that I daren’t even show you a photo of it.  I friends who would probably never speak to me again if they knew just what chaos it is. I have an entire room at the top of the house and I end up working on about 2.5 square feet.  And I can’t even claim that I know where everything is.  I don’t.  I’ve got to the point of thinking I’ll have to buy a new heatgun because I have given up hope of ever finding mine again.  And, as I get older I can’t concentrate if there is a lot of mess.  So, crisis point has been reached.

Anyway, the long-suffering historian went down to IKEA with me this morning and we bought a flatpack bookcase which he put together and we hoiked up all the flights of stairs to my loft conversion workroom and, finally, it spurred me on.  One sack of recylcling and one bag that even I couldn’t salvage later, there are now patches of carpet visible.

The sun was beating down, the air was fresh, etc but I was inside somewhere between exhilarated and despairing that I had let it get into this state.  But I found sooo much stuff it was well worth doing.  All the clearing up gurus tell you to do 20 mins regularly rather than stick at it for hours and get fed up.  So, I intend to do 20 mins a day until you can actually see the floor from any corner of the room, and I find that hot air gun.

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Laura Ashley pockets

Laura Ashley pockets

Laura Ashley pockets

In a previous post I mentioned that I have just bought Jan Messent’s exquisite book on Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon embroidery.  Well, in the book she gives a pattern for some very simple purses to be embellished in any way you like.  So here are mine made with Laura Ashley scraps sewn onto calico (muslin) in a kind of crazy patchwork and then cut up into purses and lined with very heavy upholstery silk.  The pattern is very simple, but clearly Messent is much more skilled than I am. Fortunately I was aiming at the ‘look what we just found, moth-eaten and pathetic, in the Imaginary Museum of Costume look’ because I found finishing the top edge fiendishly difficult.  Here is the back:

Laura Ashley pockets - reverse

Laura Ashley pockets - reverse

The fact that they have a reverse means that there are problems trying to work out how to display them.  I am thinking of a shoebox or similar with tissue paper so that they look like heirlooms or something forgotten in the attic.  Reversible acrylic hanging frames are nice but ruinously expensive.

Anyway, these purses are an experiment in working with all the horrible late eighties and early nineties fabrics that I really dislike but seem to have a fair few of.  They were stitched down and then a layer of synthetic voile curtaining fabric from an old sample book was sewn over the top with heavy stitching to replicate darning and patching:

and some bits of heavy cotton lace with a dab of silver acrylic paint on them:

and some hand stitching:

I thought the end results were rather nice – they are about eight inches long and feel right somehow.  I have called them pockets because detachable pockets on a string or tape used to be part of women’s dress – hence Lucy Lockett lost her pocket – and this seemed to fit with the antique textile theme.  I would like to make some more but need to find an easier construction method – so I did a bit of work in my sketchbook and made some paper prototypes:

This felt like time well spent in the laboratory on a Sunday afternoon.

Festival of Quilts – shopping

Space-dyed perle cotton from Winifred Cottage

Space-dyed perle cotton from Winifred Cottage

Having taken personal responsibility for spending our way out of recession, I made a good start at the Festival of Quilts, with the result that I now have no money and a lot more month.  Heigh ho.  But, I stocked up on threads from Winifred Cottage, most definitely my first choice of threads for any hand work.  I use them all the time; for sewing on beads, embroidery, construction, everything.  They seem quite pricey at first, but they last forever and are absolutely gorgeous.  Their website is under reconstruction at the moment, but worth having a look (www.winifredcottage.co.uk).  The people who run it are lovely and very generous with their advice.  I tried using the threads for machine stitching but didn’t have too much success.  I think it might have been an idea to have hooped the fabric, and it certainly wasn’t playing with bamboo wadding, but from the back it gave a lovely deconstructed look:

Experimental machine stitching with perle cotton

Experimental machine stitching with perle cotton

I also bought some glorious Japanese metallic threads which I have yet to use but which have really bright colours and should look good on dark colours.

I always make a bee-line for Winifred Cottage and Anita’s Beads, but this year I didn’t buy any beads.  I think I have been stocking up all year and might need to refresh my palate a bit before going back into the fray.  I marched in a relatively straight line to Art Van Gogh too, but had forgotten to take my list of which Golden Fluid Acrylics I’d already bought and know that’s fatal – you end up buying the same colours again because you like them.  I still think that they are the best paint by miles for painting on quilts.  I bought some very murky colours in plain but shot fabric from Oakshott (www.oakshottfabrics.com/).  Apparently they are ethically sourced and fair traded, which is great, but I love them because they are such wonderful deep-dyed plains.  I bought black, grey, funereal mauve, glorious but murky lime green.  I have a depressing project in mind which I think would be just right for November… Watch this space.  Delightful young woman serving there as well.

The stand where I want absolutely everything, though, is the magnificent Aarti J’s (www.aartij.com/).  They describe themselves as specialists in lace trims, acrylic gems, beads, appliques and embellishments.  I always think that I have died and gone to heaven.  The stand is staffed by ultra polite young women who look somewhere between amused and baffled by all these women of a certain age going mad over sparkly things they would never dream of wearing (well, I would…), and they have the most astounding selection of trimmings which I never see anywhere else.  I couldn’t resist.  Here are some things that will no doubt feature in quilts in the next twelve months:

and:

They foxed me slightly this year by winding their remnants onto cards, which they said they had done to make the whole thing more professional.  It did, but I missed the fun of diving into the remnants bin and pulling stuff out.  Smart women, though, restore your faith.  I used a couple of their motifs in the Laura Ashley mini quilts by the way:

The central pomegranate motif is one of theirs.

I am not entirely sure what I did spend money on, but I seemed to get through it.  I managed not to buy any more books as we live in an outpost of the British Library as it is, at least, I managed not to until the last quarter hour before we all met again for the drive home.  I completely cracked.  It was hopeless.  I was standing at one of the bookstalls, congratulating myself on not having bought anything, when my eye was caught by what another woman was reading.  She was oohing and ahhing over the pictures and humming and haaing about whether or not she could afford it.  On these occasions there is a sort of intimacy with complete strangers which makes you talk to people in a way you wouldn’t normally.  So, I heard myself say what my Grate Friend Mike would say in this situation: ‘Are you seriously telling me that you don’t think you are worth £25?’  This works in any situation (although it does depend a bit on whether you have £25 handy and available).  And I took my own advice and bought a copy of Jan Messent’s sumptuous book Celtic, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Embroidery.  It is glorious.  A real treat for the senses and I know that I will get it out as colour therapy if nothing else.  I love everything about it!  (And you can get it much cheaper on Amazon…).  The results of my relationship with this book will no doubt feature on these pages in the coming year.

At the end of the day we met up in the cafe and did a bit of show and tell, although Ceri had insisted we did this at lunchtime as well because that gives you chance to go and track something down if you like what someone else has bought.  This backfired a bit, though, as she produced, after the show had shut, the best bargain of the lot: three lucky bags of Bali Batiks for £8 each.  She thought they would be little tiny scraps for some postcard quilts she is planning, but they turned out to be big bits.  We were all a bit green with envy.  I felt a bit bad opening them out (they were screwed up a bit), because it was like opening someone else’s Chrismas presents, but as ever, the patterns and colours were a kind of tonic.  You feel better just looking at them.  Anyway, the branch of quilting overspendersanonymous met and came up with these justifications:

  • we got cheap tickets (thanks Liz H)
  • we didn’t buy expensive train tickets
  • we pooled resources for driving and parking
  • we bought our own packed lunch with us
  • we didn’t buy programmes we would only throw away later
  • you only see this stuff once a year and it’s hard to source
  • we didn’t pay postage
  • you need to see the colours in the flesh
  • I didn’t buy an £8000 new Bernina sewing machine
  • it’s keeping the economy going
  • we only do it once a year (yeah, right in my case)
  • it’s not fast women and slow horses (thanks, Grandma)

And that was off the tops of our heads…

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Another Grand Day Out – the Festival of Quilts at the NEC

Durer's Rhinceros in stitch

Durer's Rhinoceros in stitch

 

This weekend was the annual Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.  I know that some North American bloggers occasionally read my blog, so for them, the FOQ is our equivalent of Paducah or Houston, although I understand that it is a tiddler compared with those giants.  It is the national quilting championships for the UK, but it does seem to be turning into more of a shopping event than a quilt show.  Anyway.  The picture at the top of the post breaks all my personal rules about blogging because it is not my work and I don’t know who made it, so I don’t have permission to use it.  But I thought that it was the most brilliant piece in the whole show.  Just gorgeous.  This is the whole thing:

 

Durer's Rhinceros in stitch whole quilt

Durer's Rhinoceros in stitch whole quilt

 

The photo isn’t great because it was taken on a phone, but it gives an idea of this wonderful quilt.  I loved the orange against the deep blue in the details, the glorious quilting and the use of tulle in shading:

 

Durer's Rhinoceros detail

Durer's Rhinoceros detail

 

I love this quilt.  I love the exuberance of the colours, the fabulous stitching which really gives an impression of the rhino hide, the layering of fabric and the perfect scaling.  But what I think is so great is that the maker has really done something with the subject rather than just reproducing it, which is a skill, but doesn’t add much to the experience.  Here is Durer’s rhino:

 

Durer's Rhinoceros

Durer's Rhinoceros

 

So, it is breaking my own rules, but I hope that the maker will stumble on this and see that her work was very much admired and at least one person thinks she should have won…

 

More on FOQ in subsequent posts.

A grand day out

Indigo dyed fabric drying on a washing line

Indigo dyed fabric drying on a washing line

In between avoiding pouring rain and riots, My Grate Friends and I found a day dry enough to do some indigo dyeing.  Alison very graciously offered to host it which was wonderful as she has a beautiful light and airy kitchen where we could do the preparation and then a garden where we could set up the dye bath and put up temporary lines to dry the cloth.  She also knew exactly what she was doing which was reassuring.  There was a fair bit of cake eating and a glass of wine at lunchtime, but mainly we were busy stitching and wrapping and tying in the morning and then in the afternoon the fun part started.

Dyeing indigo really is magical.  I saw it done on a commercial scale in India when I went on a fantastic textile tour with my mother, and was thrilled to see the indigo flowers in the vat, less thrilled to see people doing it without benefit of rubber gloves and face masks.  The resist there was largely mud block-printed onto cloth.  I also did it with the Spectrum group which I used to belong to and doing it with Alison, Ceri, Ruth, Becky and June last week  was the third time.  It never ceases to amaze me seeing that colour transformation from sea green to, well, indigo blue, start the minute the sun hits it.

We used a simplified form of shibori, a sophisticated Japanese tie-dye technique.  I used the technique of stitching a long tube ‘jacket’ for a pipe and then scrunching it down as hard as I could before putting it in the vat.  This gives a lovely stripy effect:

Drainpipe dyeing

Drainpipe dyeing

I also used peas and beans to make circles and bound them with very small rubber bands sourced from an equestrian suppliers. I bought three bags of rubber bands and three reels of linen thread.  These are sold for plaiting horses’ manes.  The woman on the till said, ‘You’re going to be doing a lot of plaiting.’  ‘No, bookbinding,’ I said, because it’s the cheapest way to buy thread for books.  Silence.  Thought mentioning indigo dyeing might be a step too far.  The tiny rubber bands are great because they really speed up the process.  I also use clothes pegs which is really quick.  I do a bit of stitching, but not that much:

Pegged sample

Pegged sample

I quite like a lot of white when I do it, but I can see that it is too stark for lots of tastes.  I also find it is really successful on prepared for dyeing fabric, and that not tying things too tightly is quite important.

The big question now is what to do with all these samples.  They are really good fun to make, but quite difficult to incorporate into patchwork because the patterns are so bold.  I think I might sew them all into a throw, or even, piece them into a large piece of fabric and make them into a tunic, possibly supplementing them with some commercial cotton batiks.  I understand from my other Grate Friend Beatriz, that tunics are going to be very fashionable this Autumn.  Which is a relief if you are built like me.  I wasn’t made for body-con styles.  Pictures will follow if I ever get round to this.  Although it might well take several years.

Nb. It has come to my attention that not everyone has read the classic children’s book really written for adults, Molesworth.  It is supposedly written by Molesworth, the Gorila of 3B, but was really written by Geoffrey Willans and illustrated with cartoons by Ronald Searle.  The books were published in the 1950s and revolve around a fictional very minor English public school, St Custards.  Despite the fact that I didn’t go to public school or have a little brother like Nigel Molesworth, the books still make me laugh outloud, and during one particularly grim flight home over the summer had both me and the historian crying with laughter in a departure ‘lounge’.   So, I really recommend them.  Molesworth has a Grate Friend Peason,  which is where the term comes from.  He also uses the phrase ‘as any fule kno’ which has passed into my everyday lexicon, I’m afraid.  There is a terrific website www.stcustards.free-online.co.uk/, but it is really worth buying the collected Molesworth which is still gloriously in print.  But here are a few quotations to try to persuade you to have a look:

  • “‘Reality,’ sa molesworth 2, ‘is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.'”
  • [on History] “History started badly and hav been geting steadily worse.”
  • [on Colin Wilson] “Advanced, forthright, signifficant.” (a line I am determined to use in a review one day…)
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I don't think I ever met a bead I didn't like…

Big bead mini quilt

Big bead mini quilt

 

This is one of the plainer Laura Ashley quilts, and I finished it off in a hotel bedroom.  These tiny pieces are really great to take travelling.  Of course, taking a bag of beads and other embellishments tends to add to the weight limit, and I always put them in my case rather than hand luggage and that is more or less the only thing I am worried about losing when the bags inevitably go astray occasionally (well, that and the odd really spectacular pair of shoes, I have).  I thought that this very small piece might look nice with one feature bead, but in the event, I really thought that it looked better with three.  I bought these beads because I thought that they might look nice on a beach scene or in some sort of wall or pebble path.  I thought they looked as if they were made from lava.  But the colours and the texture seemed just right on this piece when I was ‘auditioning’ beads in the hotel room:

Big bead and rick-rack braid close-up

Big bead and rick-rack braid close-up

 

For some reason I always buy beads in odd numbers so I bought five of these.   I think one might end up as a moon in a landscape piece at some point.  I do try not just to pile the beads on for the sake of it, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

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The welcome return of bling

Three Laura Ashley mini quilts

Three Laura Ashley mini quilts

The end of this project really is in sight.  These are three of the final quilts, and I have put them together as a group as they really make me feel that my old style of working has come back, and they show the interesting way that it is possible to play with the scale in tiny pieces which I wrote about last week.

The one on the left uses a scrap from some fabric I bought off the roll in a sale in a Laura Ashley shop years ago, with some purple silk, a scrap of exquisite silk velvet which I bought in a bag of tiny bits in a craft shop, and a lot of square glass beads.  The one on the right has a tiny floral print with a piece of large print fabric which came in my Secret Santa lucky bag (which I wrote about last week).  I put some very large sequins on to exaggerate this distortion of scale:

Black sequin mini quilt detail

Black sequin mini quilt detail

This is not a great picture as it doesn’t capture the acid green of the print.

I am, however, most interested in the one in the middle, which has the pomegranates on it.  It has a beaded motif which I bought at the Festival of Quilts (unfortunate acronym ‘FOQ’) at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham last year. Coincidentally, I am going to FOQ on Friday with my lovely quilting friends Ceri, Becky and Ruth, so might be able to find some more.  It also has an embroidered motif that I did months ago.  I sometimes make small things during a long sewing session. There is something about finishing something small like this which is probably three inches square in the middle of battling with a large piece which can break the tension a bit.  Or I sometimes do it when having a go at a new technique and suddenly finding myself with an off-cut I don’t want to throw away and need to do something with.  Anyway, the pomegranate is a bit of a go-to motif for me.  Over the years of making textiles I have developed a repertoire of personal symbols which I use quite a lot. So, for example, strawberries symbolise femininity, pears represent magic and enchantment, hands represent potential and sacrifice and so on.  The pomegranate represents creativity for me.  This is because it is so packed with seeds but also because it is such a great theme to work on.  My long-suffering husband had a silver and copper cuff made for me for a BIG birthday and I asked to have a pomegranate on it.  The jeweller who made it, Jemima Lumley (http://www.jemimalumley.co.uk/) really enjoyed working with the pomegranate and got a bit carried away with doing preparatory drawings.  The cuff is gorgeous, and it is worth having a look at Jemima’s lovely website.

Pomegranate quilting

Pomegranate quilting

Another reason that I like working with the pomegranate is that it was the badge of Katharine of Aragon.  People who have read this blog for a while will know that I really love watching The Tudors for the glorious costumes (we are on the repeats of the third series here and have got onto poor old Jane Seymour having to be pretty in pink and wearing an hilarious headdress this week which looks like it’s made out of an old coat hanger but would probably get Radio Four on a good day.  But this is a lapse and things really look up when we get onto the magnificently beaded Anne of Cleves).  I have loved Tudor costumes since I was at primary school.  I have always been fascinated by Anne Boleyn, partly because of that wonderful B jewel she wore with the drop pearls, but also, as I learned through the historian husband, because she was something of an intellectual, and at the centre of an important  group of Protestant scholars.  Plus she was dazzling, ‘french-polished’, witty etc.

Tasteful rendition of Anne Boleyn and her necklace on underpants

Tasteful rendition of Anne Boleyn and her necklace on underpants

Consequently I was always a bit impatient to get past Katharine of Aragon and onto the great beauty who may or may not have have six fingers on one hand and so…  But, as I get older, I have have come to admire Katharine’s refusal to compromise with Henry VIII and her sacrifices both for her daughter and what she thought was right.  It must have taken some strength of character to have stood up to the whole Tudor establishment, pretty much on your own, in a foreign country, without even an iPhone to come to your aid:

Katharine of Aragon

Katharine of Aragon

My regard for her has grown.  And so, the pomegranate symbolises creativity and fecundity for me, but also standing up for what you believe in, refusing to be cowed by authority, and fiercely protecting and defending significant others.  So, that’s not bad in anybody’s symbology.

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Golden Laura Ashley mini quilts

Two golden Laura Ashley mini quilts

Two golden Laura Ashley mini quilts

Not much to say about these two little Laura Ashley pieces, except to remark how golden they are.  They are very different in colour palette to the other pieces in this group of quilts.  One of the themes that seems to be coming out of working on these little sample quilts is the importance of listening to the materials and this pair of mini quilts is an interesting example of this.  I have struggled with making a larger piece to go with the monster Body Shop quilt because the materials don’t want to be on the grand scale.  They seem to want to be small, intimate and domestic.  They have to be observed close up.  I think it’s okay to talk to talk about respecting the integrity of your materials, but not really to talk about listening to them talking to you.  But, I think I only started having any success with these pieces when I stopped wanting to make what I wanted and started letting them be what they wanted to be.

There is quite an interesting piece of work on this by W.J.T. Mitchell called What  Do Pictures Want?  The lives and loves of images.  He is talking about art mainly in terms of paintings, but I think his ideas can explain to some extent what is happening with the materials involved as well as the finished art work.  Mitchell insists that although we do not really believe that images talk to us, we act all the time as though they were alive, as if they have a life of their own.  If we doubt this, he suggests we try the thought experiment of taking a photograph of our mother and cutting the eyes out.  For Mitchell, we have to listen hard to images to ascertain what it is they want.  And I have had a long period of listening to my materials rather than imposing my will on them and then waiting to see how they want to be used.  In this case, as I said, they want close attention, and so here are some close-up of the surfaces of the textiles.

I quite like playing with the scale in these small pieces as well.  So sometimes the work is delicate and the embellishments are quite small, but at other times I really like putting on a big piece like the square sequinned motif on the left.  This would lead onto a discussion of taste, though, which is a whole other area.

Mitchell, W.J.T. (2005) What do pictures want?  The lives and loves of images, Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

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Have you got the scrolls explored

Have you got the scrolls?  July 2011

Have you got the scrolls? July 2011

 

So, this is the latest in my suite of Laura Ashley projects.  This is it opened out.  It must be about 4 feet long (1.2 metres?) and quite narrow.  It is an interesting piece to me for several reasons.

  1. I started it as part of the workshop we had at the Bath Textile Group.  We all had to take an envelope with elements to work with that we shared with the group – so we all took one item out of each envelope and worked them into our pieces.  I also decided to take the tiny Laura Ashley scraps I had from making up my interviewing sample books, and two small lucky bags which I was given as my Secret Santa present at work at Christmas, and challenged myself to use all three in what turned out to be each panel.  The scrap element was chosen at random, but I matched the Laura Ashley scrap and the Secret Santa piece to what emerged.  I don’t usually respond very well to these kinds of challenges, but it just seemed to work on this occasion.
  2. Chris, who was running the workshop suggested that I didn’t cut a piece off the long roll of upholstery fabric that I used as my background or substrate, but gave me the opportunity to work on a larger scale.  The background fabric was the trimming from a lovely set of curtains that my mother’s friend’s son, Graham,  (following?) passes on when he has finished hanging and trimming his window treatments.  This was a lovely heavy cotton with little tufts which fell into small panels.  I was going to do one panel but making several seemed to be key to the success of this piece.  I have a feeling that I need to start working ‘big’ again after making some small pieces.  The offcut was also backed onto some interlining and so the piece almost formed itself into a quilt.  I put the backing on right at the end of the process.
  3. I was really surprised and delighted to see that my own style was coming through again really naturally.  So, these little pieces turned into very heavily embellished panels.  It felt a bit like coming home; it certainly felt like the welcome return of an old friend.  I used lots of beads and bits of broken jewellery and did quite a lot of stitching.
  4. It was also fortuitous that I ended up making a book box, as I really had no idea what to do with the piece when it was finished.  The box is an elegant and neat solution to the storage/display problem and contributes to the secrets and hidden things theme of the Bath Textile Artists’ next exhibition.
  5. I was very interested to see that such a narrative strand emerged in the full thing for me.  Although the style is quite contemporary, I had a strong sense of making a life story in cloth (a clothograph, as they called it in the Victoria and Albert exhibition, last year), of an Edwardian lady.  The elements presented and preserved in the final thing seemed to me to tell the story of a colonial lady, maybe a missionary, maybe a colonel’s lady.  I am intrigued by the way that the Laura Ashley project is all entirely storied.  This has led to quite a lot of theorising which I want to explore over the summer.  I was also really interested to hear Cirel, one of the other Bath Textile Artists, talking about how she tells herself stories as she is making her pieces and how she was surprised to hear that not everyone did the same.  I wish I had pursued the conversation and I wish I had had my tape recorder!
  6. I was struck by how this came out in a huge rush and how I just wanted to get it finished.  I went flat out to complete it.  I think it’s really interesting the way that some things just take over and almost possess you when they are going well.  I have been thinking a lot about Laura Ashley and Anita Roddick as my muses.  They refuse to leave me alone.  It is a joy and a curse!

Here are some photos to illustrate some of the above points:

 

Have you got the scrolls?  Tufts

Have you got the scrolls? Tufts

 

These are the tufts in the original fabric.  I pulled some out of the backing fabric to supplement the front.  Graham had pulled out quite a few in order to get a flat fold for hemming.  Pulling them out was immensely satisfying!  It was also interesting how much the very plain quilting at either end of the piece seemed to finish it off.  Plus I like the texture of the almost white on white effect.

 

Have you got the scrolls?  Thailand panel

Have you got the scrolls? Thailand panel

 

This is a good illustration of the narrative that seemed to emerge from these panels.  I started with the little square of gold leaf which is under the big, flat, shiny, black bead and which came in the piece of paper which has the elephant on it.  I think it comes from Thailand.  The gold is used by the faithful in temples to add to statues of the Buddha.  It is so fine that it was hard to work with, and I ended up using bondaweb which was not ideal as I couldn’t peel off the backing paper.  I also really liked the wrapper with the elephant on.  I used the trick of crumpling and re-crumpling the paper to break down the fibres so that it becomes easier to handle and more like fabric.

The black flowered fabric was from the Secret Santa bag and nice a silky for once.  The tiny Laura Ashley sliver is in the top left-hand corner of the floral fabric.

Although I think the gold comes from Thailand, I prefer to think of the elephants and what is now Sri Lanka – formerly Ceylon, which was part of the British Empire.  I can see the woman in this panel as tea planters wife or in some way related to some functionary of the Empire.   The spiky iridescent fabric reminds me of temple architecture and the little elephant plaque is something which has been lurking in my bead collection for years, which I bought in Stratford-on-Avon of all places.

This panel strikes me as having something of the shabby chic, Edwardian lady feel to it:

 

Have you got the scrolls?  Edwardian lady panel

Have you got the scrolls? Edwardian lady panel

 

The coffee lace reminds me of Merchant Ivory films.

 

This one reminds me of India – the jewel in the crown of Empire:

 

Have you got the scrolls?  India panel

Have you got the scrolls? India panel

 

There was some badinage about the fact that I had used all the beaded piece of braid down the right hand side rather than cutting a piece off and putting it back in the envelope, but it seemed to fit exactly.  This one also has a huge loop earring that Janet, the ace felt maker drew out of the bag and couldn’t make work in her piece.  It fitted straight into mine!  The bling-y broken earrings seemed to finish off the treasures of the maharajas feel.

Have you got the scrolls?  Bristol panel

Have you got the scrolls? Bristol panel

 

This is the last panel and possibly not the most interesting, but it represents the return home.  Under all the embellishments there is a scrap of a photocopy of one of the first maps of Bristol, antiqued a bit with some strong coffee.  It felt like a good homecoming.