Monday, 17 May 2010

Exhibition V & A Quilts 1700-2010

I was lucky enough to go to this exhibition at the V&A(For overseas readers, this is the Victoria and Albert museum in London.) The description on the V&A website summarises it thus:-

"This exhibition showcases the V&A's collection of patchwork and quilted covers to bring together over 300 years of British quilting history, from the spectacular bed hangings and silk coverlets of the 18th century, to the creative reinvention of the quilt by contemporary artists."

I thought it was an amazing exhibition, and was completely fascinated by it all. Unfortunately photography by the general public is not allowed, but I have seen a couple of blogs with photos!

I particularly liked the large wall hanging George III Reviewing the Troops (1803-4), as it is like a historical record of that time made in stitch. Every piece was so well designed and constructed. Sometimes it was possible to view the back of the quilts and see the backing papers and the tiny stitches.

I liked the way some of the quilts were arranged on beds, as viewing was easy, and after all they were made to go on beds. The pieces all had stories attached to them, telling who made the quilt and from which part of the Uk they were from. Also the fabrics used. I liked the story of the marriage quilt, reputedly made using the love letters of the bride and groom, John and Elisabeth Chapman, as backing papers-however close inspection revealed that the papers were made from more prosaic items such as bills and grocery lists! This was the Coverlet commemorating Wellington (1829).

Quilted cot cover for a child's bed (1690-1720) was made in silk by Priscilla Redding from Canterbury, Kent and shown alongside the quilt is her diary which tells of her quilt and daily life.

Map Sampler (1800) by Ann Reaves aged 10 featured a map of Britain with a beautifully worked border in the tiniest stitches I have ever seen!

The Royal Clothograph by John Monro (1830-50) took this master tailor 18 years to complete.

Bedcover with Mariner's Compass Design (1830s) was composed of 1,128 cotton patches.

Bedcover with Leopard Skin Printed textile (1800-40) was composed of 1,690 patches. This featured early printed textile designs of leopard skin. The animal print seems such a modern concept, it is strange to think it was actually modern 20o years ago. My heart fails at the thought of counting all these patches, let alone making them.

Among the contemporary exhibits shown were Right of Life (1993) by Grayson Perry and To Meet My Past (2002) by Tracy Emin. I liked North and South (2010) by Louis Moreau ( The Quiltes )Ltd which tells the true story of industrialisation, although at first glance it appears to be Toile de Jouy. I preferred Liberty Jack (2008) by Janey Forgan, as I liked the pretty freshness of the liberty print fabrics used, combined with a Union Jack pattern, which is not traditionally very pretty.

I can't write about every single exhibit, but I hope this gives you a good overview of the exhbition. If you can go to see it, you will find it really enjoyable and interesting.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Scandinavian box-Reading list

Here is a list of some books I have been looking at for this project:-

Swedish Style by Katrin Cargill
This has beautiful photos and historical references to Swedish interior design

Scandinavian Folk Designs by Lis Bartholm
A lot of patterns on this theme

Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs
Lovely photos, lots of embroidery projects to make, and clear instructions. I want to make everything in this book! Most of my class want the book now they have seen it too!

Beginner's Guide to stumpwork by Kay Dennis
Good, clear instructions for lots of nice projects

Scandinavian box-stitch samples

Samples using the flower shape and pattern which will be the sides of the box.
The top one is chain stitch
Below it is stem stitch

Long and short stitch worked regularly. Different thicknesses of strand used. I prefer the pink one, which is a single strand, as it is more delicate. The thread used is satin embroidery floss.

This sample shows satin stitch worked in 2 different directions. The one at the bottom is raised satin stitch. I didn't think the raised satin stitch was more in relief than the satin stitch. I will use the satin stitch for the box.

Here is a sample worked on satin. The purple and green are worked in satin stitch with a surround of backstitch. The thread is satin embroidery floss. The blue and pink are worked in satin stitch with a surround of stem stitch in matt stranded floss. I prefer the satin floss and the backstitch surround as I think it adds more definition to the motif.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Apple and Cherry Blossom

Scandinavian box

This term's class project is a box, which we have to make and decorate with embroidery. Those of you who know me will know that I have always loved Scandinavian style. I aspire to one day having a clear,clutter-free house with soft colours, wooden floors and sheer fabrics. I do already have some of these things, but can't see the clutter disappearing while my sons are still living at home (or storing their stuff here if they are living away!) So I have chosen for my design to look at Scandinavian style-interior design colours, embroidery and folk motifs.

I am going to make myself a box for my earrings. This will mean that I no longer lose them, or have one of a pair of my favourites-or that I have to wear the same pair for weeks as I can't find any others! I want to make a box to go on my dressing table, to go with my collection of boxes which DH brings me from all over the world.

This is the motif on my 1920's fireplace, which I am astonished to find is actually a very Scandinavian motif. I am going to use this and the colours I used to pick it out 20 years ago, when we first moved here. I have also just painted our bedroom in Scandinavian colours, a lovely pale greeny blue combined with a darker greeny blue and cream.

Pictures from a book about Scandinavian folk motifs, which I coloured in, experimenting with colours

Wallhanging-progressing slowly

This term in class we do not have many techniques to follow, thank Goodness , I don't think my poor brain has room for any more! This means that we are working on our unfinished projects (too numerous to list!) . I enjoyed sitting in class chatting and adding in more stitch to my wallhanging. It is evolving now and I just keep laying on more stitch in different textures. I am glad to report that Dawn was very pleased with the way it is developing and made some very positive comments.
More photos of it soon.

At the same time we are working on the design and stitch samples for the box we are making this term. It is interesting in terms of scale to go from a 1 metre long wallhanging to a 10 cm square box. I found that when I tried to put the design for the box on paper I had been thinking too big! I had to start with the actual size of the box and draw the design inside it. From thinking bigger now I am thinking delicate and small. Good for the brain, anyway. Also I like to have a couple of things on the go simultaneously, as it provides variety and stimulation to switch between the two. Only problem is to decide which to work on !
More about the box and photos of it soon too.