Teaching Philosophy

I feel successful when I teach people:

- to see what they look at!

- that it is ok to be different!

- to open a whole new world of creativity for them....

- that there is a solution for every problem (mostly with a quick-unpick!)

- that it is a joy to be creative......

The Creative Mind Plays with the Object it Loves -
Carl Jung

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Van Toeka tot Nou...

I was invited to contribute to a new South African book, Laslap en Kwilt - Inspirasie uit die Verlede, translated Patchwork and Quilt - Inspiration from the Past.    The book was published this year (2013) by LAPA Publishers in South Africa but unfortunately it is only available in Afrikaans .   Hopefully it will be translated and available in English soon...      The book was a joint venture of the South African Quilters' Guild and LAPA Publishers.    I obtained permission form the South African Quilters' Guild President, Elsa Brits to write about my contribution as the quilts made by each quilt artist, are now the property of the SAQG and LAPA who holds copyright.

Laslap en Kwilt - Inspirasie uit die Verlede by LAPA Publishers

SAQG President Elsa Brits feels that if you don't know where you are coming from, you'll never know where you're going.     I can endorse that....    The idea for the book was to choose 15 heritage quilts from museums and in private collections around South Africa and to challenge 45 South African quilt artists to produce their interpretation of the specific heritage quilt in their personal brief.   Each of these quilts had to be portrayed in a traditional, innovative and freestyle way.    The finished size of the quilts had to be 30cm x 30cm (12" x 12")...   One always think that it is so easy to make a small scale project, but oh dear, what a challenge...

The heritage quilt - my brief!

Above is the heritage quilt allocated to me, I tried to find more information about the quilt, but at the time I could not get access to the records.  So I actually do not know the history of this quilt...   My brief was to do a freestyle interpretation of this quilt and I focused on the colours, block design and medallion style of this quilt.   

My first impression when I opened the picture, was oh no - not at all exciting....!    Mostly green and yellow which is not my favourite colour combination.   I noticed the dark green velvet (I think) border embellished with embroidered or lace motifs, log cabin blocks, the strippy square within a square (I haven't done traditional patchwork for such a long time and forgive me if I name this block incorrectly) and the diagonal strippy blocks of the centre.   I also noticed the squares on the corners of the border and remembered that I had a similar piece of fabric somewhere in the cupboard....   I decided to work with these elements.   The important thing however was to remember that I had to do a freestyle interpretation....!

As a pattern was also requested in the brief, I drew the block on scale and decided to use the strippy elements of the centre blocks as background, but using it in a horizontal line with colours ranging from yellow to cream  to beige.   I fused the strips to a base fabric, raw edges butted and secured the raw edges along the length of the strips with feather stitch.   I also fused strips which would form borders on the sides and top edge of the quilt around the strippy centre section - a patterned green as inside border surrounded by a wider plain dark green leaving the bottom section without a green border for a freestyle effect.   I used the piece of fabric which I thought similar to the corner blocks of the original quilt, as corner blocks at the top for the quilt.    So far, it seemed rather easy....

I tried various ways of doing the log cabin and square within a square blocks and nothing seemed to work as my interpretations were all too traditional...  The scale of the project was also rather limiting...  In desperation, my eye caught the candle and I decided to seal the edges of strips of taffeta, satin, lining etc by burning it to give it more of a freestyle feel.   This seemed to do the trick!   I chose colours from the quilt for these blocks.    I fused background squares for each block positioning it in a random way to give the idea of the blocks floating on the background.   I handstitched the strips down with big stitches in a log cabin pattern and the square within a square design onto the floating fused squares.

Freestyle interpretation of a Log Cabin Block
As I burnt the edges of the strips for the blocks, I needed to repeat the method in the border - this technique creates texture and it is important to balance it throughout the project.   I burnt the edges of strips of chiffon and tulle and stitched it to the outer border and added a few beads and sequins to make it interesting as it catches some light as the dark green was rather dull and lifeless.   I used a green decorative cord to seal the edges around the border sections and sealed the outer edge with a double row of satin stitch as a  freestyle technique instead of a traditional binding.

Van Toeka tot Nou 2012

This was an amazing project and an honour to be part of the recorded history of quilting in South Africa....   It was such a thrill to receive a complimentary copy of the book from the publishers and find my mug shot on page 99....!