April 8, 2013
On April 8th, I posted this blog about the colour green in a way of feeling closer to a Spring that was lazying somewhere but definitely not here ! Guess what ? One week later a friend of mine, Karen at
proposed one of her photo hunts : “Colors of your world”. The deadline is on Sunday, April 28th, please have a look at her blog if you feel like participating. I chose to send this post as my contribution to Karma’s challenge.
St Patrick’s Day has come and gone as well as the green wave that is associated with its celebration all over the world. Originally though it seemed to have been the blue colour. Green is the shade many of us long for at this Season in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is not in a hurry to give way to Spring this year. Personally I cannot dissociate green from Ireland. For having lived there years ago, I remember marveling at the infinite array of greens in the Emerald Isle.
It is a colour I use a lot when sewing. I find it relaxing. Like in this small scrappy quilt where I put together some Irish memories. Edna O’Brien’s “Mother Ireland” is the first non fiction and most personal book of the famous novelist. Her memoir (1976) includes seven essays written in her lyrical and sensuous voice. E. O’Brien wrote many other works (she is a playwright, poet and author of short stories) and had to see some of her work banned.
“Irish ? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual country. Perhaps it is that, the unmitigated challenge of landscape, of rock, of meadow, of woodland, of rain and of sheer desolating emptiness that makes people hurry there and hurry from it”.
There are magnificent black/white pictures in this book. They were taken specially to illustrate “Mother Ireland” by the acclaimed Irish photographer Fergus Bourke.
Another Irish writer and philosopher John O’Donohue, born in the West of Ireland, expressed so beautifully what the colour green meant for him in a book: “The Invisible Embrace of Beauty”. Here are some excerpts of a particular chapter entitled : “Green : The Colour of Growth”.
“One of my favourite images from childhood is of meadows. Often the sheep would be let in to graze there. When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing. It was absolutely carpeted with grass. The colour of this grass was so rich as to seem blue-green. The sheep needed neither introduction nor persuasion; they simply gave in and became instant addicts !”
“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”
March 5, 2013
For the past two years, I have been sewing this quilt by hand, on and off. I started assembling fabrics after the shock and distress I felt when a major earthquake hit the Eastern coast of Japan in March 2011. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves devastating everything on its way and caused nuclear accidents. Friends of mine were living in the same area. They barely escaped this disaster but so many, many people lost their life, were injured and are missing. Towns, villages were destroyed, homes broken, roads and railways heavily damaged, whole landscapes disappeared.
The quilt is better looked at from the bottom to the top. This is how I started assembling my thoughts and fabrics. Scraps of materials like the broken pieces of a familiar world that suddenly was “deconstructed” by powerful and unstoppable natural elements. Layers of fragments and leftovers remaining after the devastation. Phases of life after the tragedy.
Destructive waves moving further inside the country, over scattered parts of houses and objects that were discarded and that used to be part of people’s life.
Little by little as waves receded, life went on when men and women overcame their indescribable fear, loss and distress. With immense joint efforts, resilience and great courage, people started reconstructing homes, birds found their way in a nature that slowly came back to life.
The top part of the quilt is sewn with some Japanese fabrics. Symbols and tribute to the People of Japan, survivors of many tragedies, moving on with life courageously, great willpower and hope.
The quilt below, “Friendship Squares”, is one I sewed several years ago; it was sent with many other quilts made by quilters all over the world to various Japanese rescue associations that distributed them to people in need after the devastating events in 2011. My quilt was not very large, but I like to imagine it warmed the body and heart of a child.
December 1, 2012
Last July my family celebrated my only and favourite sister’s birthday. It was special. A birthday with a round number, the type that is more striking than a yearly celebration, you know? We had planned a beautiful celebration for my sweet little sister. Each of us had a personal and particular idea for a gift. I had mine too but I needed everone’s help. By now, you should know what I had in mind
A quilt of course ! Here it is : our common project and my personal gift for Françoise’s birthday. Improvisation for the sewing part but not for the preparation ! When I asked family members and friends to give or send me one or two pieces of their used clothing, they did not know what I was up to (at least not all of them) but they joyfully agreed. The most difficult part was to get some used clothing from my sister herself. She was not meant to know anything about our project.
Spring and particularly Spring cleaning helped me. Some time in February I told Françoise of the great feeling I was experiencing in sorting out my wardrobe, getting rid of clothes I no longer wore even though I liked them a lot. Which I absolutely meant.
“What a good idea ! I think it’s time for me to do the same.” said my nice sister.
Taking a deep breath I told her : “Great ! why don’t you send some of your used clothes to me ? I know what to do with them”.
And this is how it all started. After a few weeks my sewing room looked like a “souk” or African market. I was a bit panicked before sorting out the clothes I could use or not (too beautiful to bring my scissors close to them). The leftover garments I gave to an “Emmaus” charity shop.
The overall blue material in the quilt comes from a pair of linen trousers my sister wore and the grey stripes used be a shirt belonging to her companion.This silk blouse and black velvet pullover, for instance, were amongst the favourite clothes worn by Françoise. I hesitated a long time before cutting through them but I knew she would love to find pieces of them again on her quilt. Underneath the block, Ninio-the-Beagle is “stuck” in total admiration
A precious block made of one of my mother’s aprons bordered by a piece of her embroidered handkerchiefs. The hook belonged to my grandfather and the heart is sewed in one of my grandmother’s dish cloths. The three of them were very present in our hearts all along the birthday celebration.
Precious : one of my sister’s best friend clothing, her checked black and white trousers and rose t-shirt. My sister immediately remembered those clothes.
“We all love you, Françoise” (title of the quilt)
Françoise was So surprised ! and delighted. Such excitement as she tried to recognize what belonged to whom, including her. A lot of fun. And a happy quilting that brought back memories, places, events. Sewing together all kinds of materials was not exactly easy but I enjoyed the slightly wonky look of this quilt. Different.
June 27, 2011
Rules or improvisation ?
After reading Sherri Lynn Wood’s post in http://daintytime.net/2011/06/20/a-quilt-makers-memoir-of-rules/ , I thought a lot about rules or improvisation in the way I have been quilting for many years. Sherri is a wonderful textile artist and a great source of inspiration. Her “Improv Mondays series” particularly is a forum where quilters can exchange their experiences and learn from one another with Sherri’s encouragement and teaching. I started looking at pictures of my previous quilts and see how my own quilting has evolved over the years from rules to improvisation.
This is one of my first quilts. It is sewn and quilted by hand since I had no sewing machine yet. The materials are leftovers of curtains (silk-like) found in an interior design shop. I cut the nine-patch patterns around templates I was taught how to make. This warm blanket that has been mended countless times and I am still so happy with it. At that time I decided to name each quilt I sewed, adding a small fancy label at the back. Since I had very little knowlege about sewing, another rule was to start with easy patterns and move on slowly until I felt more or less confident with what I was doing.
When I joined a patchwork group later, we were proposed to sew a sampler of the colours of our choice. I bought the large turquoise fabric but used only scraps for the different patterns. No improvision yet for this quilt apart from the “crazy squares”; it was fun to learn new designs and techniques, like paper piecing for instance.
Later I ventured into curves. Controlled curves, mind you ! Four different shapes of curves cut with the cutter and assembled together according to colours and forms. I enjoyed this immensely for the surprise it created and the many variations. Not endless though, I knew there was more to learn and improvise about it. Another rule was : explore, try new techniques for a wider form of expression, even if it is not “perfect” according to some rules. Letting go of definite shapes and lines whenever I felt like it.
One of my all time favourites is this light quilt made in a very thin and sheer material, organza. There were also leftovers given by a friend who sewed the most beautiful little handbags.
I very soon realised that, wanted or not, there would be curves ! And folds and bumps and total “un-evenness” (if such a word exists in English;) The organza kept sliding under my fingers, there are few straight lines in this quilt. And guess what ? I simply loved it ! This quilt was and still is very alive, moving like a feather in its lightness and irregular folds. Another lesson I learned there : accept the fabric as it is, play with it and follow its weaving or movement while sewing. It gives more “character” to one’s quilt, I find.
Of course I have continued sewing with African fabrics since I came back home from a five years stay there. Improvisation came naturally, just by assembling colours and designs the way I thought they would complement one another.
“Africa in red and black”
Now I am trying to improvise in creating quilts that I sew for a particular person or occasion, in memory of someone or to remember a moment, a place, anything that I want to keep alive. Some quilts take time and much thinking, chosing the materials and design that will best show what I feel. I started this particular quilt over a year ago. It could be a “passage quilt” although no personal materials/clothes were available. This picture shows just a part of it, the correspondance that brings sunshine when one’s life is confined. I keep adding stitches and patches here and there as I remember events.
“R. quilt, letters”
Nowadays my quilts vary. I may sew some traditional pattern like the Seminole quilt I made a while back which was a real challenge for me. I may also follow my inspiration and put together scraps or carefully chosen fabrics and try to materialize an image, a thought, a memory. A way of expressing myself. Those are the quilts I especially love. No real “rules” as such, apart from some basic techniques but a lot of improvisation as I move along with pieces of fabrics and thoughts. For the pleasure of quilting.
Detail of a quilt where I joined the watercolour technique – learned in a great book by Gai Perry, “Impressionist Quilts” and my improvisation. I made books with selvages of various materials. A wonderful project based on a challenge about a French philosopher and writer, Michel de Montaigne.
Books and quilting, two of my favourite hobbies. Thanks Sherri Lynn for having brought up these thoughts about one’s way of quilting and expressing it.
February 14, 2011
A Happy one
HAPPY VALENTINE´S DAY!
“Inchies indeed”, another daysprompt suggested by Gerry in her Gently Used Ideas Store.
An “inchy” story I imagined for today, few words and tiny photos : a heart of soapstone, a pretty stationery, a Japanese book, an amaryllis, another heart, natural sculpture of moss, a quilt of houses seen in an exhibition, a Summer sunset in front of my home, one of my friend Nicole’s mandala drawings that I colored and a pause, coffee for two.
September 2, 2010
Like moments in a life. A WIP or work in progress that I will share with you as memories come back and inspiration helps them taking shape. I will try to blend in memories, my own perceptions of events together with fabrics, colours, patterns. Anything that will help illustrating someone´s life.
Circles that could be the years of a life, like tree rings. They appear smooth and regular although some entangled rays encircle those rings. They are joyfully radiating from the core of this life and also somehow confusing in their dispersed directions. Life in its fullness.
In the South the light is bright at sunset; a few drops of rain have refreshed the valley. A day of laughter and smiles, and maybe also of tears and darker thoughts. Life is never a long quiet river. One goes through so many emotions during a lifetime.
Then in the morning the sun shines anew over the luxuriant vegetation; a bright sun of hope whose rays warm one´s heart. Dreams may come true.
December 24, 2009
May you all receive the Christmas light in your heart.
A time for a pause and for sharing,
A time for celebrating and thinking of others, not able to do so.
A time for giving one’s time to prepare traditional meals that will bring everyone around the Christmas table.
Joyful decorations, Nativity scene, scented candles, cinnamon cookies, spiced tea, Christmas songs in church, a snowman in a garden and so much more. There is this special mood at home that makes you feel like prolonging this happy time of togetherness. And why not ?
“The essential is invisible to the eyes, one only sees well with the heart”.
Those were the words the fox said to the little prince as they were going to part. It was the fox secret that he confided to him. And to many readers across the globe since the book was published. “The Little Prince” is a wonderful tale for all ages, a story to read to children, a story for all times. And the fox secret is good to remember well beyond Christmas.
December 18, 2009
December 17 would have been my mother’s birthday. This is one of the first quilts I sewed for her. A Christmas gift that she always kept close to her. She loved it. She left this world on December 22nd, six years ago and I like to think of her as the most brilliant star in the sky. Soft, luminous, always present.
This quilt is also one of my first attempts at patchwork. It is definitely not perfect but it carries a special meaning for me, especially during the Holiday Season. It is on one of my walls at home now and I see the sparkling smile of my mother.
November 21, 2009
Last January I started sewing two different quilts. One is a calendar quilt: every month I would sew 30 or 31 (or 28 !) pieces of different materials, according to the Season. The twelve months are ready, I just need to figure out how to put them all together.
The second quilt is made with Seminole patterns. The art of patchwork created by this Indian Tribe of Florida always fascinated me. The extreme precision needed in sewing together those various patterns prevented me to make more than a few small pieces in a sampler, for instance.
The instructions for this quilt were well explained in the Austrian Patchwork and Quiltjournal. One different stripe and pattern each month of the year. I used fabrics left from previous quilts. 2009 is a “scraps-year” for me, both quilts are made of scraps and I barely managed to finish the twelfth stripe of the Seminole. I had to cheat a little bit… you will see this later
There is still a lot to do ! Black coton will separate each coloured strip, top and bottom. To avoid having too much “dark”, I will sew a narrow stripe of a colour of my choice – and still in stock ! – between the two black parts. A border will be added, of course. Only then will I start the hand quilting, mainly in the black parts.
The colours I used are not those proposed in the Quiltjournal but they were the ones I had in stock: turquoise green, dark blue, dark red (burgundy), pale yellow, pink and a mixed pattern with some of the other shades. I am quite happy, I think they blend in nicely together. What do you think ?
September 15, 2009
A French poet from the XVI century, Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) whose poem “Mignonne, allons voir si la rose…” inspired me for my first “watercolour” quilt.
It is the first quilt that I dared sending to an exhibition in France. It is also a quilt I sewed for my only and favourite sister, Françoise. So much fun to sew, first choosing amongst the many flowery fabrics in my boxes. Picking red, white and pink roses and sewing them in the garden of my imagination. Would dear Pierre have liked it ? Maybe. I hope so because his poetry was very much part of my inspiration.
Here is a detail of the quilt and of some materials I used to bring Ronsard’s garden to life. The greatest part of the work in creating an impressionist quilt is the choice of fabrics (with green background preferably) and the exact cut to give the illusion of a flower garden. The technique itself is relatively easy. Squares of 5x5cm sewed diagonally. I learnt about this new art of quilting in the very good book by Gai Perry “Impressionist Quilts” (C&T Publishing). Since then I sewed other impressionist quilts, always with the same pleasure.
Some medieval poetry for you now… “Mignonne, allons voir si la rose…”
The first strophe of Pierre de Ronsard’s famous poem dedicated to the lady of his heart. It is a poem about time that passes. About youth that goes by. And about the present moment that should be lived fully.
Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avait déclose
Sa robe de pourpre au soleil
A point perdu cette vesprée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée
Et son teint au vôtre pareil…
“Sweet and fair Lady, Let us go and see if the rose, Which this morning had blown her purple dress to the sun, Has not lost this evening the pleats of her dress As well as her rosiness…”