Friday, 27 August 2010

Festival of Quilts 1

Since I arrived home on Monday evening I have read a number of people's blogs about the Festival of Quilts.  It is very interesting to see what people choose to write about and photograph.  As someone who never takes my computer out of the house - I don't know why as the current one is a laptop - I can't do postings while I am away so I have decided to split my Festival of Quilts 'experience' into two or three postings over the next few days.

This year I had two days at the Show.  I usually try to have three as living at the end of the country this is my main opportunity to catch up with all my textile friends as well getting inspiration from the invited exhibitions and the competition quilts.  However, this year I only had two days as my sister in Shropshire, with whom I stay for most of the week, had a big party to celebrate her Ruby Wedding Anniversary so I sold my ticket for the third day to a friend.  I have to say I did feel a bit rushed at times because I also wanted to do more shopping than usual.

So what made the greatest impressions this year?  First, there was rust dyeing.  Having done a little of this I was very interested to see how you can exploit the results.  I was lucky to be able to talk to Lois Jarvis on Thursday and then to attend her lecture on Sunday.  She uses a method based on salt which is different from the vinegar based one a number of us in the UK have tried.  In her lecture she generously showed us how to do this with a very useful presentation of photos of four different methods.  Lois has a company called Rus-Tex and  In the Quilters' Cafe there was a display of quilts made for an international competition she organised to promote rust-dyeing. There was an amazing range of ideas including rust-dyeing used as a base cloth with printed and stamped designs, over (or under) dyed  fabric with Procion dyes, rust dyeing with discharging on black cloth and wonderful use of rust-dyed cloth with complementary blue indigo..  Some of the pieces were really strongly coloured which was most effective.  I then found that opposite Lois's stand there was another exhibition of rust dyeing by Prague Patchwork Meeting which is a large show held in April every year.  In addition to some wonderful rust dyed quilts this stand was selling small pieces of fabric at very reasonable prices so I bought a couple that I can add into a future piece.  I have learnt that you have to buy things like this on the first day because by Sunday they will all be sold so I was not surprised when Lois said on Sunday that she had sold virtually everything she had brought with her.

The second lecture I went to was by Jane Dunnewold.  She is something of a guru figure to me because some years ago I began studying with Committed to Cloth and Jane is the person Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan studied with.  Jane's speciality is transforming cloth through various colouring and patterning processes but she approaches her work in a reflective way that includes using language based exercises, poetry and a lot of analytical thought to come up with ideas for the processes.  This was the subject of her lecture on Sunday.

It was good to be reminded of the value of doing this, especially as I am trying to develop ideas for Contemporary Quilt's next suitcase challenge.  The title is 'Childhood Memories' and I feel I should be able to do something a bit different because of my New Zealand childhood.  Those of us who took part in the last Suitcase Collection were able to collect our quilts at the show.  They had been on the road for three years so most of us had rather forgotten what they were like!   The Challenge title was 'Figure it Out'.  My quilt is called Settlement and represents an Iron Age village called Chysauster which is a couple of miles from here.  I used a piece of fabric that I dyed at Committed to Cloth and then fused the shapes of the iron age houses on to it.  The red fabric and covered washers represent the remains of tin-mining that are also found in the area.

To return to Jane Dunnewold.  Following her lecture I went to see her display and actually met her!  It is always exciting to meet people you know by reputation and through their writings and blogs.  I also managed to catch up with Susan Denton who introduced me to art quilting about fifteen years ago and who this year had an invited exhibition.  Susan lives near me and some of her quilts are inspired by the archeology of this area but in a much more serious way than mine.

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