So this is the second piece in the Laura Ashley series based on the scraps of textiles in the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury ( www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk). This one started with the mauvey-purpley piece in the top-left-hand corner. I added the large black, yellow and purple piece on the right because the two bits of mauve just seemed to make each other zing when I was trying out elements.
It’s made on my embellisher and then heavily stitched and beaded by hand.
This is a piece which I let make itself a bit. I started with the plain cream fabric which I had intended to use for all the pieces, but which turned out to be too fine to take all the heavy stitching and embellishment I wanted to use, so in subsequent pieces I switched to a much more robust unbleached calico. I gradually laid down pieces and built up a collage type of piece. This piece was quite greedy, though. To make it ‘look anything’ I had to spend hours beading it and stitching into it. I took it with me to my sewing group and spent an entire evening stitching on tiny black seed beads while we chatted, and I spent a couple of nights in front of the television sewing on more yellow beads and stitching down the organza. It really demanded attention. I had to add the large elements fairly early in the process as I wanted to bead up to and round them rather than sit them on top of a heavily worked background. But the problem was that it just never felt finished. I kept on adding stitching – a lot of cream on cream quilting which gives it a crunchy texture, but it still wasn’t complete. There was a gap between the left and right hand sides of the piece.
In the end, I decided to paint the cream on cream machine quilting of the very traditional feather design. I had really liked this as cream and whole cloth-y, but I thought it made too stark a break between the two sides of the design. So, initially I thought about painting it black as the other side is so dark, but in the end I decided on a bronzey-gold, which worked really well. I used my favourite Golden fluid acrylics, but this time wet the brush really thoroughly before I started. A surprise effect resulted:
The green carrier in the paint ran out and made it look like I hadn’t bothered to wash away the blue water soluble fabric marker pen – which ironically, I hadn’t used. I did the quilting free-hand. So, a moment’s panic, but then I decided that I quite liked the verdigris effect it gave and left it.
These small quilts are supposed to be narrative pieces. They tell the story of their imaginary owners. I have two theories about this one. First that she was an anthropologist, possibly one of the early feminist anthropologists who would probably have worn Laura Ashley dresses, but very much in the Marija Gimbutas mould that I blogged about earlier, with her work on the Ancient European goddess figures. The strata in the black embellisher produced piece suggest layers of earth in an excavation. The beads look like some sort of flint finds that you might get at a prehistoric site, and the little gold figures look like they could have come from a number of cultures. So this might be a Gimbutas associate. Or, it could have been a goddess consciousness feminist inspired by Gimbutas’ work. Living fairly near Glastonbury I have seen quite a lot of these elemental feminists. In my experience they are quite hard work and rather demanding, which would make sense of this attention devouring piece. Either way, I’ll finish the post with an image of the goddess figure’s rather lovely bottom: