Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Views of Withens

 Last month's challenge was to make an innovative quilt for the Quilt and Embroidery show at Uttoxeter. I wanted to develop my theme of dry stone walls and incorporate devore to create additional translucent areas.

I love using dyes and chemicals to transform fabrics, but most of all I love the way that the whole process is slightly out of control and the results are often a surprise. I started by dying the patchworked fabric in acid dye (to colour silk fibres) and then in procion dye (to colour cellulosic fibres).  Then I painted, bleached and applied devore paste.

For the purpose of the competition a quilt is defined as three layers of fabric stitched together.  I wanted to retain the transparency of my piece and traditional wadding would have ruined it so, in the spirit of innovation, I sandwiched a ribbon of fabric bearing a poem between the patchwork top and a cotton organdie base. Rather than the more obvious works of the Bronte's I chose "Two Views of Withens" by Silvia Plath.  Silvia was married to local poet Ted Hughes and her words really captured the fickle Pennine landscape.

The competition judges were complimentary noting an inspired use of devore velvet for the stone wall and a good contrast of textures. Thank you ladies!

Photos copyright Claire Ketteman

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Nod to the Past

Roses from the Heart is a project started by artist Christina Henri to celebrate the lives of women transported from the UK to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania).  When my friend Marjorie persuaded me to take part and make a bonnet, I found myself drawn into the lives of these women who were sentenced for an average of 10 years for insignificant felonies and ripped from all that was familiar.  I imagined them taking small tokens to remind them of their former lives and sewing them inside the lining of their clothes to keep them safe.

I "adopted" my convict who was just 15 when she was transported in 1838.  She shared the same name as my mother.  The bonnet is made from two layers of cotton muslin and trapped inside are fragments of lace from my wedding dress, a button from a favorite cardigan and rose petals to remind me of my garden.

I have used a traditional style of embroidery to embellish my bonnet.  It has not been my usual kind of work it has been very satisfying to dwell in the past for a while.

Photos and text copyright Claire Ketteman 2012