The welcome return of bling

Three Laura Ashley mini quilts
Three Laura Ashley mini quilts

The end of this project really is in sight.  These are three of the final quilts, and I have put them together as a group as they really make me feel that my old style of working has come back, and they show the interesting way that it is possible to play with the scale in tiny pieces which I wrote about last week.

The one on the left uses a scrap from some fabric I bought off the roll in a sale in a Laura Ashley shop years ago, with some purple silk, a scrap of exquisite silk velvet which I bought in a bag of tiny bits in a craft shop, and a lot of square glass beads.  The one on the right has a tiny floral print with a piece of large print fabric which came in my Secret Santa lucky bag (which I wrote about last week).  I put some very large sequins on to exaggerate this distortion of scale:

Black sequin mini quilt detail
Black sequin mini quilt detail

This is not a great picture as it doesn’t capture the acid green of the print.

I am, however, most interested in the one in the middle, which has the pomegranates on it.  It has a beaded motif which I bought at the Festival of Quilts (unfortunate acronym ‘FOQ’) at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham last year. Coincidentally, I am going to FOQ on Friday with my lovely quilting friends Ceri, Becky and Ruth, so might be able to find some more.  It also has an embroidered motif that I did months ago.  I sometimes make small things during a long sewing session. There is something about finishing something small like this which is probably three inches square in the middle of battling with a large piece which can break the tension a bit.  Or I sometimes do it when having a go at a new technique and suddenly finding myself with an off-cut I don’t want to throw away and need to do something with.  Anyway, the pomegranate is a bit of a go-to motif for me.  Over the years of making textiles I have developed a repertoire of personal symbols which I use quite a lot. So, for example, strawberries symbolise femininity, pears represent magic and enchantment, hands represent potential and sacrifice and so on.  The pomegranate represents creativity for me.  This is because it is so packed with seeds but also because it is such a great theme to work on.  My long-suffering husband had a silver and copper cuff made for me for a BIG birthday and I asked to have a pomegranate on it.  The jeweller who made it, Jemima Lumley (http://www.jemimalumley.co.uk/) really enjoyed working with the pomegranate and got a bit carried away with doing preparatory drawings.  The cuff is gorgeous, and it is worth having a look at Jemima’s lovely website.

Pomegranate quilting
Pomegranate quilting

Another reason that I like working with the pomegranate is that it was the badge of Katharine of Aragon.  People who have read this blog for a while will know that I really love watching The Tudors for the glorious costumes (we are on the repeats of the third series here and have got onto poor old Jane Seymour having to be pretty in pink and wearing an hilarious headdress this week which looks like it’s made out of an old coat hanger but would probably get Radio Four on a good day.  But this is a lapse and things really look up when we get onto the magnificently beaded Anne of Cleves).  I have loved Tudor costumes since I was at primary school.  I have always been fascinated by Anne Boleyn, partly because of that wonderful B jewel she wore with the drop pearls, but also, as I learned through the historian husband, because she was something of an intellectual, and at the centre of an important  group of Protestant scholars.  Plus she was dazzling, ‘french-polished’, witty etc.

Tasteful rendition of Anne Boleyn and her necklace on underpants
Tasteful rendition of Anne Boleyn and her necklace on underpants

Consequently I was always a bit impatient to get past Katharine of Aragon and onto the great beauty who may or may not have have six fingers on one hand and so…  But, as I get older, I have have come to admire Katharine’s refusal to compromise with Henry VIII and her sacrifices both for her daughter and what she thought was right.  It must have taken some strength of character to have stood up to the whole Tudor establishment, pretty much on your own, in a foreign country, without even an iPhone to come to your aid:

Katharine of Aragon
Katharine of Aragon

My regard for her has grown.  And so, the pomegranate symbolises creativity and fecundity for me, but also standing up for what you believe in, refusing to be cowed by authority, and fiercely protecting and defending significant others.  So, that’s not bad in anybody’s symbology.

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