Sunday, 26 April 2015

Quilt Stories

Yesterday some friends and I went to “Quilt Stories”, the latest Textile Stories Study Day run by the University of Chester.

The Textile Stories Project looks at the meanings of textiles in everyday life, and this was the third study day it has held. The day consisted of a number of talks about various aspects of quilts and quilting, plus a chance to look at quilts which other attendees had brought along, all interspersed with generous quantities of tea and cake (although of course nowhere near the quilts!).

The first speaker was textile artist Christine Garwood, who spoke about how she uses fabric and stitching to create her artwork. You can see some of her work here.

From creating new work we moved to a very different aspect of quiltmaking: conserving old quilts and other textiles. Jacqui Hyman of the Textile Restoration Studio spoke about cleaning old pieces, stabilizing them to prevent further deterioration, storage, and display.

The final speaker of the morning was Claire Smith, who was a researcher for the V&A exhibition Quilts: 1700-2010. As well as telling us about a number of the quilts which appeared in the exhibition, Claire also provided insights on how the selection process for the exhibition worked and how the exhibition space was designed; all aspects of an exhibition which (if done well) largely go unnoticed by the visiting public.

1730-1750 clamshell bed hangings, © Victorian and Albert Museum, London

Detail of an 1829 quilt by Elizabeth Chapman, © Victorian and Albert Museum, London

Back view of the above quilt, showing the paper foundations, © Victorian and Albert Museum, London

After a delicious buffet lunch, quilter Pat Salt talked us through her design process, and how she develops her quilt series. She had brought examples of her work, and there were oohs and aahs from the audience as quilt after lovely quilt was unfolded for us. Thanks to my friend S for taking the photographs.

Fabric 'breaking out' of its triangular patch

Unwanted fabrics were dyed yellow for use in this quilt

Kantha quilting on Blue Jugs quilt (detail)

Seam allowances on the front are a feature of Pat's work

Appliqué mini quilt
The final talk of the day was given by Fiona Roberts and Liz Johnson, on the University’s 175th Anniversary quilt.

Although I have mentioned this quilt before in this blog, it was only in the context of the magnificent cake made for the unveiling ceremony. Fiona and Liz talked through how the quilt came to be, the stories behind some of the blocks, and the challenges familiar to anyone who has ever been involved in a group project: the joy of deadlines, and just how different interpretations of the measurement “14 inch square” can be!

The completed quilt

The quilt in progress

A completed block and its inspiration, the floor of Senate House

Initial plan for the 'Founders' block

It was great day, with a varied and enjoyable program. Thanks to Deborah Wynne and her team for organising it all, and for allowing me to use images from the Textile Stories blog, as I had forgotten my camera. It’s a long time since I’ve made a quilt, but I may just be inspired to make another.

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