Is less more? Or is more more?

Threads of Identity project detail
Threads of Identity project detail


I went to Bristol Quilters last night, which is the biggest group I belong to with about 100 members.  Although there are far too many of us to stitch, we do have a great show and tell where we share our work. and we can afford to have really wonderful speakers.  Last night’s was Karina Thompson who makes gorgeous, tactile, sophisticated slashed textiles.  I have put a link to her website on the blogroll but for the record it’s  It was interesting to hear her talk about her work as she is definitely a textile artist rather than an arty quilter, and she spoke the language of a practising artist.  I really like the fact that Bristol Quilters has speakers who are very traditional quilters one month and textile artists the next.  I think it keeps us fresh.  My good friends Becky and Alison who have featured in this blog before went to her workshop and said she was a great teacher as well.  I loved her idea of controlled fraying for when she brushes her textiles into a chenille-type quality.  It was also interesting to hear her talk about her fascination with the doing the least possible to suggest an image.  Some of her work is minimalist; only the barest evocation of a landscape.  This is in total contrast to my own.  I am interested in sumptuous, encrusted, glittering surfaces.  In my imaginary museum of quilts it would be interesting to hang her’s next to mine!  Anyway, treat yourself and have a look at her website.

This morning I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures which is to listen to Melvin Bragg’s Start The Week on BBC Radio 4 while doing some stitching.  I know I should be hard at some administrative task, but it puts me in a good mood for the day to listen to STW and that must benefit any students whose work I am marking.  Today was on the Battle of Bannockburn which is entirely irrelevant.  Last week’s was on Aristotle’s Poetics and I spent the whole 45 minutes taking notes.  So it evens out.

To get to the point, the picture at the top of this post is of the start of my Laura Ashley project inspired by my trip to the Foundling Museum.  I thought it might be interesting to document the progress of the piece – which is very small – only about 14 inches square.  I intend each piece to start the same size and to develop out of a sample of Laura Ashley fabric.  I am not planning much but am responding to the sample, but I would like stories to emerge out of the juxtaposition of cloth.  I started with what turned out to be a fairly fine synthetic fabric which looks like unbleached cotton lawn, which I will use as the foundation for all the pieces.  The wadding is bamboo, which I quite like because it is very low loft.  For once I have started with the frames.  I usually make the pieces and then have to have them expensively framed.  This time, I thought I would be a bit cleverer and get the frames and make the pieces to fit.  Fine, but box frames are like rocking horse poo – extremely hard to find.  In the end I went to good old IKEA and bought five large square frames.  I thought the black edges might be appropriate to the memorialising aspect of the quilts.

On Sunday afternoon I made the basic sandwich and chose potential elements for the piece.  I started with a scrap of Laura Ashley fabric as each piece will have one sample, and off I went.

Initial stages of Threads of Identity 1, February 2011
Initial stages of Threads of Identity 1, February 2011

These are both linen fabrics.  The one on the left is one from a pile of samples my mother gave me ages ago from some of the last cloth produced by Rose and Hubble, a British company which is no longer in business.  The one on the right is from a bag of off-cuts of exquisitely beautiful linen I bought from The Linen Shop when I went to Art in Action at Waterperry about three years ago.  The Linen Shop sells seriously gorgeous linen with a lovely sheen and very subtle colours.  Even though the off-cuts were fairly cheap they are far too beautiful to cut into, and I had to give myself the ‘Do you want to die with this fabric in its pristine shape until the perfect project worthy of them presents itself, or do you want to enjoy them while you still have your faculties?’ talk.  I saw sense.  The Linen Shop’s website is  Again, treat yourself.

That’s probably enough for today.  But I will track the progress on this piece which is coming together surprisingly quickly in subsequent posts.

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