Sunday, 24 February 2013

1000 Cranes - Step 1

I've just about been finding time to do some quilting. I've promised two new pieces for SiX - Orientation which'll go on display next at The Bramble Patch in Northants, UK towards the end of March. When the theme 'Orientation' was suggested to the group nothing really sprang to mind, but I've learnt by experience that the themes which can appear to be the least inspiring at the outset, often drive the most interesting work in the long term. I suppose it's being forced to research something new that causes this and results in other influences being drawn into the work. I do find it difficult to change tack and much prefer to gently feed in outside inspiration to what I'm working on naturally rather than go off on a tangent and produce something quite separate to my 'proper work'. When you're a person from England who's experience of the Orient doesn't extend much further than the Chinese takeaway, it at first seems quite a stretch to introduce anything oriental into a set of work without it seeming unnatural. Eventually though ideas present themselves either through long hard thinking, or just doing. Looking at the work I'd been making over the last couple of years I noticed that there was one common denominator - hands. I do love drawing and painting hands. It's always challenging to capture the complicated form of hands and convince the viewer that there are bones and joints underneath the flesh and skin.

'1000 Cranes', Laura Kemshall, 2013, £225

I'd begun looking at origami forms and folded a crane, thinking I was going to draw it. Of course then it struck me that the interesting aspect of origami is the process of folding which is of course done by hand. I refolded the crane this time photographing each key stage. It was simple to convert the photos to black and white (I love focussing just on tone), then print them to cotton poplin using our digital textile printer here at Fingerprint.
Of course the print is just the first step. Quilting is my favourite part of the textile process. I've used freehand machine quilting. Usually I'd work on a longarm, but these pieces are relatively small so I've used a regular sewing machine, besides, Linda's been hogging the longarm and with the intermittent nature of my work at the moment I daren't block her progress with one of my quilts lingering on the frame far too long!

The quilting is simple, contour quilting on the hands, linear quilting on the crane to suggest the change of planes that the folds create and then a more decorative, Sashiko inspired background in an 'oriental' red. So this is the first, there's definitely a second underway and quite possibly more to complete the set, but I only have confidence in two being finished and ready to hang for the next exhibition.

Bye for now,

Friday, 22 February 2013

Life 6 - Still Life (With Orange)

The Story:  Imagine a warm day in summer; you've done your chores and the house is clean and tidy. You decided to go out and do some shopping and see some friends for a coffee and chat.  You've rushed around and had a fabulous time. You're back at home and are having a quiet 5 minutes.  You're thinking about the things that happened and the laughs you've had; the sun is shining in through the window and you feel warm and contented.  Your eyes begin to droop and you smile gently.

The words on the quilt are a poem by Wendy Cope:

The Orange
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange —
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled and shared it with Robert and Dave —
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A fair exchange

So what do you do to repay Grandma for babysitting? You teach her Photoshop of course! Today Linda and I have given ourselves square eyes sat in front of the computer creating digital collages for quilts. You'll have seen Linda's previous post of her sketchbook pages. They've been tweaked on Photoshop, we've modified the colour and erased the ugly line that is the spine of the book from the centre. It's all printed to fabric and ready to be quilted now. I'll make sure Linda takes photos and posts them for you to see.

Today's aim was to make use of more pages from Linda's sketchbook, but there wasn't another spread that was perfect to be printed just as it was. She liked elements from one, motifs from another and so on. We've scanned, cropped, layered, pinched bits from one page and merged them with another to make a whole new design. It's so exciting to be able to use sketchbook pages in this way. Between us we have enough sketchbooks to keep us going in this vein for several lifetimes.

And here are the two designs. These'll be printed on the fabric full width making them about 1.5 metres wide each. The heron was a gouache painting on one page. He'd been worked onto a metallic gold background, but that doesn't scan well, it just reads as boring brown, so that was zapped and replaced with a much more painterly background. You'll spot the pattern elements that were from the previous sketchbook page and we've also used other collaged shapes from other pages. It's such fun to play with layering all of these and of course there's nothing to lose, if it's wrong, just Undo!

These quilts will be hung to face each other and in the second version you'll see that Linda chose to flip the original design and adjust the colouring.

This heron is a funny character and you may well be wondering what he's squawking at. Well like me, you'll just have to wait and see what she comes up with!