Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The first one

I always find it impossible to compartmentalise my work. I can't separate one theme from another and everything tends to blend and merge. So while swallows weren't top of my list for Oriental subjects, I've been working on them for other things and now I have a suspicion that they're going to sneak into my work for this exhibition too. Swallows do tend to crop up in lots of cultures and I think Chinese are well known for keeping small birds as pets in cages so I'm justifying it.

Regardless of which exhibition venue the work will end up in, I'm just making a start on creating lots of new work. After working head down for months on the Creative Sketchbooks course that we offer, I've got sketchbooks packed with ideas that haven't seen the light of day as far as quilts are concerned. It's actually been quite a long time since I made a quilt. After such a break I feel full of enthusiasm to do lots of stitching.

Here's the first piece in progress:
Apologies for the hopeless photos. My workroom isn't really a cave, but needless to say, all this work is being done between sunset and dawn!
I've monoprinted the swallow using one of my drawings as a guide. It's a brilliant technique and one that I just love, I don't know why I don't use it more! DMTV fans out there - this method actually features in the new show this Thursday so do look out for that if you're interested to find out more.
 The prints are done onto a plain white cotton and I've added extra detail with a fine permanent drawing pen. Now I'm tackling the quilting which is very dense and very low key. All I'm aiming to do is flatten the background so that the birds will appear to be raised. This one will stay just black and white but I have plans for introducing some colour to the next one.

Along with the stitched versions is a painting on a wooden panel .Well there will be, at the moment I've got as far as priming the panel, but now I've told you about it, I feel compelled to get a move on.

Talk to you all soon,


  1. The piece looks very japanese style to me. I love the black and white!

  2. I loved the things pinned up at the back! It's looking wonderful of course, and the black and white is perfect.

    Talking about cages, DD also gave me for Christmas a very small ancient Chinese cage for keeping fighting Praying Mantis in. If you'd like an image I'd be happy to send it?

  3. Ooh yes please! I would love a photo of the cage!

  4. I've sent them by email Laura. One of them is of the cage hanging from a peg...would fit right in there. Just saying!!

  5. Wonderful drawing as ever Laura - and I love the monoprinted bird. Poor swallows though - is there any chance of a happy, live, uncaged one? ....... didn't think so!- x

  6. Oh Hilary, I knew you wouldn't approve! I thought of you while I was quilting last night and knew you'd be giving me one of those, 'not black, dead birds again' looks!

  7. Consider the look given awful child ..... Marie should never have given you that dead bird to play with ........ !

    In fact - given that the Japanese and Chinese are perhaps not quite as soft/empathetic as us about animals and birds,this is very thought provoking imagery. I like that on first look you just see a beautiful rendition of a bird, but no sooner are you feeling a warm rush of 'aaah', than the context kicks in - and shocks

  8. Yes it's interesting - the most popular pieces I've made are always the ones with poppies on. They tend to sell faster than anything else and I think people think they're quite pretty, but really a poppy seedhead (to me anyway) is symbolic of death, drugs, war, sacrifice and all those sorts of cheery things! I probably shouldn't say that - I won't sell any more quilts with poppies on!