Good morning. We have had some glorious weather down in Cornwall in the last couple of weeks, albeit very cold at times, but the sunshine has been wonderful. It has been a splendid time to make some progress tidying up our garden! When we moved here, almost 12 years ago, we inherited a garden with 24 years of weed growth. Our seller was a delightful lady who believed that every plant that came up had a right to be here. So, after all this time, we realise that we can just try to keep it manageable!! Not wanting to use any chemicals in the garden means that man power hours get more difficult year on year!
This year our primroses are wonderfully abundant everywhere!! To be honest they always have been, but they seem to be even more so this year! They have self seeded in every nook and cranny, as well as literally all over the garden, in the walls, in between the paving slabs on the patio, in the grass path, but we absolutely love them, and they are given every opportunity to thrive!
I concluded the last Newsletter by saying that I would show and explain my last two samples of Unit 5. Within the Machine Embroidery course is an additional section to the samples. The section consists of 10 extended samples. We can choose to gradually work through this section, as during Units 2,3 and 4 we can complete two extended samples in each. The last four were to be completed in unit 5. Alternatively we could leave them until all the standard samples in all units are complete then work on them and produce the extended samples as a complete body of work as a conclusion to the course. Personally I chose to create them within the units. I showed you two of the extended samples in the last post, although I don’t think I identified them as such. The final two are shown below , and are shadow techniques
For this first shadow applique sample, I have used four of my leaf eco prints which were printed onto wall paper lining paper. I cut them out and laid them onto a space dyed fabric. I have used four different colours of synthetic sheer fabric over the top of the layers. I overlapped the sheers, just a little irregularly, and then stitched down the irregular overlaps; another hint of colour mixing. Using a black Aurifil cotton thread I machine stitched around the leaves, adding detail within the shapes. I have used the space dyed fabric to make a binding to finish the sample neatly! This is a simple classic sample.
I have produced a “contemporary” sample for the second one and have visited some experimental work I developed back in 2003! This is a further development, needless to say, and I feel that there is quite a lot of mileage left yet!
In this piece I have distressed brown paper by screwing it up and straightening it out many times, finally ironing it flat. It became much softer and more pliable. I then sandwiched it with scrim under the paper and scrim on the top of it. Using a self coloured thread and straight machine stitch down the length of the sandwich in four places this anchored it all together.
Next I tore some masking tape strips, and pressed them lightly onto the top surface and then painted them with black acrylic ink. I allowed a minimal amount of the paint to seep over the edges of the masking tape onto the scrim. When everything was dry, I carefully removed all the masking tape strips and repositioned some of them, before laying a piece of pale grey synthetic sheer on top of the whole “sandwich” of layers.
I freely cut some leaf shapes from the brown paper, and placed them onto the work
You may see a hint of colour in one or two places on the leaves, I had painted one side of the brown paper with Brusho first, with the intention of using the coloured side for the “leaves”. Unfortunately the colour was rather underwhelming, so I turned over the cut leaves, and what a difference! The “wrong side” was undoubtedly correct!
Using a black aurifil thread in the needle and the bobbin, I freely machine stitched the very fine detail of the ink that had seeped along the edges of the wet masking tape. That provided a delightful, and refreshing fine change of scale. I also stitched along the sides of the masking tape, trapping it in position, by adding stitched detail across the masking tape at the same time. I looked at it in between all the sessions of stitching, and felt that the sheer fabric had dulled the torn masking tape, so then I decided to lay the rest of the strips on top of the sheer fabric, and treated them in the same way i.e., stitching across the strips, making them secure.
I have been considering making a ?folder/book to keep all my Unit five samples in. There is quite a range of sizes within the samples which is not making the task very easy, but I have got one or two ideas. The trouble is that the wonderful sunny skies are such a distraction!
Finally I have also been thinking further about faces, and have recently given an airing of one of my quilts on which I had painted figures and their faces. This a quilt that I made between 2013 and 2014.
The late Mary Miller who was an avid quilter, came up with the idea of asking Truro Cathedral if they would be interested in displaying an exhibition of work created by quilters who lived in Cornwall. Helen Edmond, Jo Morgan and myself were asked to be on the committee with Mary, to help with the large task of organising, liaising with the Cathedral staff, and co-ordinating everything.
At the first meeting with a member of the Cathedral staff she explained that any exhibition must have a connection to the Cathedral, and she suggested that the quilts should depict Cornish Saints. They were to be hung in a certain order which was in the order of the Saint’s Feast Days as they are celebrated in the Church Calendar. The format and subject matter was sent out to quilt groups and individuals, and the idea was circulated as far as we could within the county and the Isles of Scilly. Entrants could chose which Saint they would like to depict. When we collated the information which was sent back to us, we were then able to give sizes of the individual quilts to each submission, having worked with the Cathedral staff who explained where the hanging spaces were, that we could use. We had more than one visit trying to work out how we could hang 35 quilts within the space allocated!
When all the entry forms were gathered it was noted that no one who had entered their choice of Saint, had chosen Henry Martyn. He isn’t actually a Saint, but was an incredibly important ecclesiastical figure in the history of Truro Cathedral, and it was felt that it would be a great omission if he was not included. So the rest of the committee asked me if I would depict him in a quilt! (I have to say, that when this was happening I had a very full teaching programme around the county, so had said I would definitely be happy to help on the committee, on the understanding that I couldn’t, in all honesty, take on planning and making a quilt!
The best made plans of mice and men….. I felt it was quite a responsibility, but of course responded positively.
I visited the Cathedral many times, particularly the beautiful Baptistry which is dedicated to Henry Martyn, gathering ideas; taking photographs; (with permission, of course). Looking for an inspirational starting point.
On one visit, my friend Janine mentioned to me that I was “looking up” all the time, studying the windows, and collecting inspiration from them. “Look at the floor Di” she said to me, and of course there are wonderful mosaic designs on the floor in the Baptistry! I instantly knew how I could move forward with my ideas then! I was inspired and cut a piece of wall paper lining paper to the required measurements I needed and started to design the quilt.
Henry Martyn, was born in Truro and educated at Truro grammar school then Cambridge university. He spent many months of his short life on the high seas when he sailed to India from Cornwall, to work as a missionary firstly in India and subsequently in Persia.
I created a contemporary Mariner’s compass design placing it off centre in the design of the quilt to depict this dangerous but only option for such a journey.
I included a suggestion of the Cornish countryside with an iconic engine house on the horizon to depict Henry’s roots. The rest of the background of the quilt illustrates two sections of the wonderful mosaic floors in the Baptistry. The figures in the quilt were all created from my photographs of Henry Martin, taken in the Cathedral.
Before Henry left the shores of Cornwall, he had met a lay with whom he had fallen in love and earnestly asked her to consider coming to meet him later, to be with him in India. Her parents forbade her to go with him on the journey, very understandably at the time. Although Henry and Lydia had very strong feelings for each other, they had only recently become acquainted! She was in his mind all the time after he said goodbye and very sadly they never met again. Letters sometimes took months to reach their destination, and often did not arrive.
I wanted to make sure that the presence of Lydia was a definite but unobtrusive feature of the quilt, as her constant “presence” which never left Henry’s thoughts and mind, was unseen! I made a simple quilting design of her initials (LG for Lydia Grenfell) and repeatedly machine quilted them straight and then upside down, creating a little square motif centered within the calico squares of the mosaic designs on the left of the quilt. On the patchwork mosaics on the right and behind the figures, I wrote her Christian name around each side of the blue squares on point! “Lydia”! Present but unobtrusive.
I painted the group of three men in the right hand bottom corner of the quilt onto a separate piece of cloth, and cut the whole group out as one, then appliqued it in position by hand.
I had never painted on a quilt before, and approaching it this way, meant I had a second chance if things went badly wrong!
This little tableau is within one of the windows in the cathedral, and features Henry in discussion with his learned legal colleagues. The image of Henry Martyn in the top left corner, is taken from a statue of him in the Cathedral. The mosaic sections are all hand pieced with dyed fabrics; the fields at the top of the quilt are hand pieced and hand quilted; the mariner’s compass is machine pieced and appliqued in position. Apart from the section relating to the Cornish countryside, all the rest of the quilting has been done by machine.
Thirty five Cornish quilts, individual as well as group quilts, were made. They were all unique, and made a terrific display in the Cathedral. In addition, two quilters made Celtic Crosses, and a group of quilters made a stunning display of cushions too. It was all very well received by the staff and fabulous comments in the visitor’s book. The stewards played a tremendous role, and there were always members involved on hand to discuss the quilts when visitors wished to know a little more about them.
Photography of the process and of all the finished quilts was very professionally undertaken by Chris Treweek. Indeed, a book of photographs of the quilts in the Cathedral exhibition was compiled with Chris’s expert skills.
Happy stitching, until next time!