Monday, 22 December 2014

Roses for Christmas

T's quilt. Based on  Amy Butler's Belle Quilt design

Just in time for Christmas, I have finished the bed quilt as a present for seven-year-old T, who selected the fabrics herself from my "stash" (I hate that word, but it is useful) but doesn't yet know that I've turned them into a quilt. I think it looks rather festive, with its red and green and white, although the flowers - tulips, roses and poppies - are much more summery.

I hope to be there when she unwraps the present, although perhaps that is unwise. Like the well-known and much lauded quilter who couldn't resist hovering near her own work at an exhibition to hear the considered pronouncement of the man who was studying it so intently. Turning to his wife, he finally announced: "Isn't that horr-en-dous."

I adapted Amy Butler's Belle Quilt design, which seemed to be perfect for displaying the bright red floral fabrics. And at the suggestion of a friend, I left the circles entirely unquilted, which seemed a bit risky as they are quite large, but I think has worked very well in making them stand out in all senses. (Thanks Betty.)

Details showing freehand quilting 

The more I use my long-arm quilt machine, aka The Beast, the more I find I am slipping into somewhat formulaic quilting designs. But as when I started gardening and realised that the flowers one saw all the time in other people's gardens are popular because they are easy to grow, long-lasting and hardy, I can appreciate why these types of quilting patterns are ubiquitous - because they work. And for a relatively everyday bed quilt, why fight it? Thus the spaces between the circles are flowers and feathers, but in being freehand I hope the quilting retains a degree of spontaneity.

Let's just hope T doesn't burst into tears.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

When I got to Dover, it wasn't there

Image from Dover Books' Human Anatomy, with my additions

I have for very many years been an enthusiastic fan of Dover Books - fab image sourcebooks of thousands of copyright-free and royalty-free pictures covering every subject imaginable, from Action Hero Tattoos to Zion in America. I have turned to them when I needed Mexican and Egyptian motifs, for repeating borders I could adapt for quilting, and for Victorian food-related images for a degree project that involved designing the (theoretical) menu cover for a (real) restaurant located in a former docks warehouse.

Images of food and diners taken from Dover books
"Menu cover" using Dover images

So when I needed anatomical drawings for my latest project, Lines of Communication, where else to go but Dover? The last time I looked, it was in Covent Garden, a small shop with floor-to-ceiling shelves loaded with, I should imagine, all of their hundreds of titles. Except that I couldn't find it. I rushed down all seven streets off Seven Dials, pausing in my panic and haste just long enough to buy a dress, cardigan and top in Gudrun Sjoden, my favourite shop, before ending up, panting and frantic, where I started. And still it wasn't there. "Where is it?" I demanded of the purple-haired computer game assistant in the shop where it should have been. (I imagined her sneering thought, "She wants books?") But of course it had closed.

Although available online, it is now impossible to browse a Dover book to make sure it has the right style of images you need before buying. But on the plus side, these days a lot of the books come with excellent CDs that give you high resolution images that can be resized and manipulated (I have "squashed" one diagram of a brain that was a bit too deep). Which is a whole lot better than tracing, photocopying or cutting out the pictures from the book. Which in turns means the books themselves are freed to become artistic works in their own right.

Just some of my reference books from Dover

Alas, the modified picture at the top will not find a place in my textile piece. I was indulging in some nostalgia listening to Aladdin Sane at the time and, well, it just happened. Another time perhaps.