downstairs at last

12 Oct

WEEK FORTY – (october  5-11)

The weeks of the year are ticking by…forty weeks into this blog and I haven’t nearly as much to show for it, output wise, as I expected.
This week though, in a few tentative forays, my thoughts have been directed downstairs.

I still have to sign off on the rewritten, re-compiled Salvage/Selvedge talk that I will  present soon at OZQUILT’s  Art Quilt Australia conference. It is edit down time – to take out some visuals and words to make it smaller/more succinct.
I’m still a bit concerned as I do want to be very specific when I talk and fear that without my usual “off-the-cuff conversation backed by visuals” style it may be stilted….though I still have another week to reorganise if necessary.

Back to downstairs.….. this week my task is to make a small piece for the silent auction held during the OZQUILT gala dinner.
I’m usually very tentative in starting new work – I assume that this is quite normal for many of us – though I suppose I am not generally gung-ho about much in life?…considered is much more my style.
I could offer up something made previously but I want to make a fresh piece. Interestingly, rather than go forward with the swan study right now, I am looking backward to a series titled “Can you keep a secret” of which I made five pieces over the course of a few years.

can you keep a secret#2










These pieces are based on the childhood verse that was ‘given’ to me by my maternal grandmother and reiterated by my mother. It is a tradition that I have, in turn, passed on to my children.can you keep a secret #3
The verse, similar to ’round and round the garden ran the teddy bear’ was also accompanied by the same hand-holding, the same intense suspense and the same delicious wriggling and giggling. I’ve met few who know this version, perhaps it was a very localised little ‘song’…..”Can you keep a secret, I don’t suppose you can, you mustn’t laugh, you mustn’t cry but do the best you can”.
I spent two weeks in December 2011 drawing, brainstorming, working out formats, colour stories and fabric selections. There are plenty of recorded ideas still to act upon…

can you keep a secret on gloss boardIn clearing out some drawing supplies – to move some down south –  I lined up some gloss black A4 card next to the sewing machine. I have stitched on card before and quite like the effect. So my first downstairs task was to stitch freehand and simply blurt out the chant.
I had five pieces of card. I stitched the chant five times. I loved doing it.
I love the effect and of course, as usual, my love of multiples, repeat block, quilt-making aesthetic encourages me to do more….perhaps one day…

Anyway, that was merely an introduction to my next task, done in a few stages with thinking time in between.

I sliced some grey linen and stitched folds of red linen in between, sandwiched, ‘quilt/stitched’ and bagged it out to bind.

overnight thinking timeEven though it was a simple task I stretched it out. I was, as I have already said, quite tentative. I worked through, process by process over the course of two days.
I needed to let it brew.
I listened to it.
I let myself rest with it.
The unrushed result was a free-form edge….not quite the torn out page that, in hindsight, I think I may have been chasing, but a nice start.

can you keep a secret #6 - on constant repeatIt is still a little quilt and little quilts don’t generally excite me. Still, I am pleased with it.
Simple. Quick. Satisfying.
A nice way to exercise my stitching muscles.
I hope to do a few more in the coming weeks….
I think working small will ease me into the big work I need to do in the coming months.

Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Art/Craft (Textiles/Sculpture) Living in Perth, Western Australia Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher, Mentor.