I have started doing some work with Laura Ashley fabric again. This time there is no rush. It’s not for an exhibition or a conference paper, so I can take as long as I like.
It started with one of the fents – or waste trimmings from the manufacturing process, and then I added some extra elements which I bought from one of the traders at the exhibition in Malvern that I went to a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the trader. Much as I would love to say that I dyed the lace myself, I bought it, and it went instantly and magically with the Laura Ashley floral – which is the dark green fabric.
I laid out all the elements, but in the course of sewing everything shifted a bit and I ended up with a different arrangement in the end. Here are the initial layouts with the Madeira Lana thread that I intended to use to do the stitching:
This is what it looked like at the end:
I bought the buttons in the summer in a great shop in Utrecht (which is every bit as nice as Amsterdam but without the museums – and the crowds and the frantic-ness). They are big, but I thought they worked.
The piece really came together, though, when I realised that it was basically a variation on a Victorian crazy quilt. So I did a lot of embroidery on it, including herringbone stitch, which I consider to be one of the most relaxing things in the world to do:
While I was poking around the internet looking at pictures of crazy quilts and fancy embroidery stitches, I found some sage advice about not bothering whether the embroidery is absolutely perfect because it reflects your energy at the point at which you were doing it. I rather like this. My slightly wonky herringbone is a bit like my signature and the opposite of mass made. There isn’t any machine stitching on this one, it is all done by hand. And, as with a lot of my work, it seemed to come to life when I started to stitch on some beads:
The big pearl beads are stuck on as they must have come from a necklace which was taken to pieces at some point. This makes the piece a bit fragile, but I think the sparkle justifies it.
The netting, by the way, always suggests textile conservation to me, as professional restorers often use it patch up very fragile pieces of cloth, so this fits into my theme of conservation and preserving the past.
I really enjoyed making this piece and it has spurred me on to make some more panels and to produce a large piece about the importance of nostalgia in the brand.