Friday, 7 March 2014

Skull-A-Day: 3D Quilted Skull

Skull-A-Day: 3D Quilted Skull: I'm excited to see that my skull has been featured on the excellent Skull-A-Day blog!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Psychopomp Skull

I came up with the idea of making a richly decorative 3D quilted skull during a meditation. Thanks Deepak! My initial inspiration for the skull was from reading about psychopomps (from Wikipedia: literally meaning the "guide of souls" psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife). I intended to make a psychopomp skull for my beloved grandmother, to whom I was very close as a child but sadly she died 30 years ago. As the project progressed it emerged that it was more about transformation. The skull represents death and darkness - I made it in the depth of winter while feeling desolate and heartbroken after the end of a brief but intense relationship. As the warmth and light of spring approached and I found some acceptance for my situation, I created the flowers and butterflies which represent growth, hope and transformation. I was inspired by Carl Jung's theory of 'the gold in the shadow': his belief that what consciousness rejects is often the stuff of life that may give it its highest value.
"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious" - Jung. 
I wanted to transform the skull (an object that is generally regarded as morbid and creepy) into a thing of beauty. 
Psychopomp Skull
Profile of skull

Close up of flowers

Monday, 17 February 2014

Mini Quilts inspired by my grandmother

I haven't updated my blog for a long time but I have been busy creating. Last year I enrolled on a year long textiles course at the City Lit in London which I found very inspiring. The quality of the teaching was incredible and I was lucky enough to be taught by a textile artist I already admired, Louise Baldwin. I stitched two mini quilts inspired by my grandmother.


This piece was made from a selection of my grandmother's old fabric scraps alongside some others I have in my extensive stash. I printed a photo of her on a scrap of the nightdress I wore when I was in hospital after giving birth to my twins. The embroidered text is from her epitaph, written by my mother. You can find a larger resolution image on my Flickr page.

Fragments of memories

The mini quilt above was made entirely with fabric that belonged to my grandmother. The hexagon fabric is offcuts of 1970s floral fabrics left over from dressmaking projects, some of it Liberty prints. I used copies of old photos from her photo album and postcards and letters that I had received from my grandmother as a child as templates and kept them visible instead of just using their shape and discarding them as it usually doen with hexagon quilts. The hexagons were then sewn onto an old lacy textile piece that I inherited. A larger resolution image of this is on my Flickr page.

There is an earlier post about my grandmother, Kate Frank AKA Omeli here. Yes it took me about five years to get around to starting on this project. It isn't the end either so watch this space!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Happy New Year

I decided to start 2012 by creating a vision board to visually represent my intentions for this momentous year. I love collaging, as someone who struggles with crippling perfectionism I find it a freeing and inspiring way to work. It's something that anyone can do regardless of artistic ability (which is something I believe we all have access to!).

Friday, 30 September 2011

Lost Gardens of Heligan

I have visited Cornwall a few times over the years and this year I finally got the opportunity to visit the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan. Here are some of my photos, with a bit of Photoshop witchery…

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wedding Cushion

I am often stumped when it comes to choosing wedding presents, so when my friend Tracy got married earlier this month I decided to make her something that was more of a sentimental keepsake rather than buy her a toaster or whatever. I believe it is much nicer to receive something handmade and I prefer to use my time making something myself rather than traipsing through shopping centres or trawling the internet. For my textiles projects I have made myself a rule that I can only use fabrics that I already have (as far as possible) so I dug out some shiny silks that I bought in India 15 years ago and matched them with other fabrics I had lying around. The middle heart is red velour, as is the cushion. My favourite heart is the one in the top right corner which was from an old shirt that got ripped. I ironed the hearts onto Bondaweb and bonded them to wool from an old grey cardigan that I boil washed so it wouldn't unravel. Then I machine stitched around the hearts and couched some recycled silk sari thread around the middle heart. Tracy's name is embroidered in chain stitch and Ali's using the machine. To finish it off I blanket stitched the wool onto a cushion that I cheated and bought. I was in a hurry and wasn't sure if my cushion making skills were good enough for a special wedding present!


Friday, 16 September 2011

My Inspirations: Jessica Ogden

About ten years ago, at the end of my first year studying Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art, I managed to secure a placement at one of my favourite fashion designers' studio - Jessica Ogden. I had first seen her work at Fabric of Fashion: a Crafts Council exhibition in 2000. I was struck by the earthy simplicity and inventiveness of her designs; she created dresses from vintage linen tea towels (back when the word vintage was far less ubiquitous!) and old 1970s Clothkits fabric. It was almost anti-fashion - much of her designs used recycled fabrics.

Dress made from old Clothkits fabric

So I was delighted to spend the summer working in her studio. I don't think that I realised at the time what a huge influence her work would become. I sat there distressing skirts with sandpaper and then darning them, to give them the appearance of a WWII relic. I used a smocking machine to make a beautiful gathered silk skirt. Tattered old quilts were cut up and transformed into jackets. I was seduced by the character and history of these ancient textiles. I had just written an essay on sustainable fashion - which seemed to me to be an oxymoron, and came to the conclusion that the least damaging to the environment was to recycle old fabrics. The word upcycle was yet to be invented.

I helped dress the models at her fashion show and took some photographs...

Hand stitched patchwork skirt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Pleated skirt with hand stitching

Smocked and hand stitched wedding skirt

Patchwork skirt

Jacket made from vintage Durham quilt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Jessica adjusting the wedding outfit