My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Natural Wonders of the World Quilt Challenge

In April last year, Aotearoa Quilters were invited to take part in an international quilt challenge organised by a group in Japan and including quilters from France.  The idea was to have an overarching theme and 30 sub themes.  There would be 30 quilters from each country participating, each making a 50cm x 50cm quilt interpreting the sub theme they had been given.  The challenge theme was 'Wonders of the World' and the sub themes were places like Aoraki Mount Cook, Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Lights.  In the end there would be 90 quilts, with one from each country for each sub theme.

I was able to take part, and although my first pick (Moeraki Boulders) had already been snapped up, I got to choose Fjords.  Although this was meant to be Norwegian fjords, I felt a resonance with that theme because of the fiords (spelt without a j) we have in NZ.

The quilts travelled to Japan first and have toured several different venues there.  Now they are in New Zealand before they head to France, and I hear they will be in the UK as well.  I got a chance to see them in Wellington and was super impressed by the impact they made all together and now I hear they'll be coming to Whangarei - just down the road!

I thought I'd show you some of the process that I went through to get from theme to quilt.

Before I began I did a lot of research, looking at different types of fiords, u shaped valleys, images from fiordland and learning about how fiords are made (glacial activity).

I started by making some thumbnail sketches, you can see them to the left in the photo above.  The most important concepts that I wanted to convey were the impressiveness of the landforms and the sense of awe I had when I visited fiordland and Milford Sound a few years ago.  So I knew the fantastic shapes of the land had to be the focus and I wanted a quiet quality to the quilt too, which I thought I might be able to get through the colours.

Once I had the sketch I wanted, I drew an accurate sized pattern and then I auditioned fabrics from my hand-dyed stash.

When I had the colours I wanted, I pinned them up in an approximation of the final layout on my design wall so I could stand back and get a proper look.  I cut out a freezer paper copy of the pattern and used the pieces as templates.  The hills have a turned under edge, but the little shining edges are raw edge.

I auditioned quite a few fabrics for the sky.  I wanted a sense of light to be coming from behind the hills, so it took me a while to find the right sky and to get a feeling of light and shadow on the water.  I achieved the shadows and the water with layers of silk organza.

Bird life is important to me and a constant feature of my quilts, but I also wanted a bird in this quilt because fiords are a rich habitat, both here and in Norway, with many diverse species making them their home.  I chose a heron in the end, because it's a bird that can be found in both countries.

I also quilted in a couple of 'ghost' herons when I was doing the quilting.  I was thinking about indicating the loss of habitat and decline of species that we face all around the world.  I also like to put something subtle into my quilts that the viewer has to be paying attention to find!

Fiord by Charlotte Scott

So if you are anywhere near Reyburn House in Whangarei between 19 June and the 1st July, I urge you to go and see the show.  It's fascinating to see the different styles of quilting from the different countries and to see the three different interpretations of each theme.  I'm including a photo of the fjord quilt from Japan so you can see what I mean.

Fjord by Kazuko Funabasama

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Jenny Bacon Quilt Judge on The NZ Quilt Show

I was lucky enough to attend the recent Aotearoa Quilters education seminar in Wellington, New Zealand, to attend a three day intensive workshop titled ‘Judging at Quilt Shows’.  The tutor was well-known quilter, teacher and quilt judge, Jenny Bacon, who graciously made time during the weekend for an interview with me.

AQ Seminar attendees with Jenny in the middle in blue.

Jenny Bacon has been making quilts since the 1970’s when she took a class with the Embroidery Guild and learned to make a silk pincushion.  

Jenny makes traditional quilts, describing needle-turn applique and hand quilting as favourite techniques, but she also makes art quilts, where she uses traditional techniques in non-traditional ways.  She has won many awards and accolades for both styles of quilts.  

Jenny is also a certified judge with the Quilters Guild of the British Isles and has travelled widely to judge quilt shows, including in the UK and the US, as well as New Zealand and her homeland Australia. Jenny is also an accomplished exhibition curator, being heavily involved in the biennial Golden Textures quilt exhibition.  Jenny lives in Maryborough on the East Coast of Australia.  

Fyvie and Paula practicing their jurying skills on the Wonders of the World International Challenge quilts.

Thanks Jenny!  I learnt so much during the weekend and during the interview, and had a great time to boot!

Maree and I feeling proud with our certificates!

You can find more of Jenny on her website here, on Facebook here, and on Instagram here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

How I use plant prints in multiple ways in my art quilts.

I'm enjoying making videos of my art making processes.  They are home-made videos without a whole heap of post-production editing, they are not scripted, they contain bloopers, the camera moves occasionally, and the sound is not perfect.  But that also makes them fun and relatively quick to do.  Plus, we are all makers, so we enjoy seeing a bit of hand-made imperfection, don't we?!

This video features yours truly running through the way I take one flora or plant print that I like and then use it in several different ways in my textile art.  

Are you enjoying seeing my work processes?  Is there anything in particular you'd like to see me run through?

And, of course, if you'd like to see any of this in person, your guild could book me for a class!  I can put together personalised classes on any of the processes I use in my textile art, just email me here and we can discuss your club's needs.

Monday, May 14, 2018

100 Day Project 2018

June will see the start of my 100 Day Project for 2018.  A 100 Days Project (or Challenge) is really just what it says - 100 days in a row of doing something creative, again and again and again.  I've completed two 100 Days before and I've found them immensely rewarding.  I've also found them frustrating and challenging, but that's all part of the package!

Day 1-20 of 100 Days of Scissors.

Last year I completed 100 Days of Scissors, where I cut paper and formed collages.  I developed my composition skills and now I have a sketchbook full of ideas and inspiration.  I also realised that I prefer to cut to a drawn line rather than free hand!

My first 100 Days was 100 Days of Faces, with the intention of getting comfortable with sketching faces and using them in my work.  Again, I have a sketchbook full of ideas and inspiration and I'm much more confident with my face drawing skills.

Sketchbook page from 100 Days of Faces

This year, the organisation that has previously hosted the 100 Days Project NZ is taking a break, so I'm working with Lisa Call and Kate Hartmann of Tutere Gallery, who have jointly developed their own 100 Day program.  I thought about working on my own, but I know myself well enough to know that to stick with it and commit, I need the accountability and community that a group can offer!

There are different tiers of support with Lisa and Kate's program and I believe the in-person programs are full, but there are still spaces to join the on-line program running through email and Facebook if you'd like to jump on board and join in.

One of the hardest things about 100 Days is deciding what sort of project to do.  It has to be small enough to complete EVERY SINGLE DAY, challenging enough to stretch you and interesting enough but easy enough to stick with over the course of more than three months.

Then you need to think about what you want to do with the final works.  Are they just inspiration for future projects?  Do you want to have a body of work to exhibit or sell?  These decisions will also influence what project you decide to do.

To help me make some of those decisions, I got out my trusty pen and paper and did some brainstorming.  What did I want to get out of this year's project?

  • help me get into a regular studio habit
  • get me working with joy and curiosity
  • find something new
  • a body of work or a collection of inspiration

Then I brainstormed ideas for projects:

  • flora printing
  • botanical drawing
  • bird drawing
  • clothes making
  • fabric collage
  • colour - dyeing, painting, colouring fabric
  • free-motion quilting
  • surface design
  • art on the iPad
  • improv piecing
  • drawing patterns

Then I put those two lists together and I've come up with something that I think will work on all levels for me.  My intention is to 'renovate' my hand-dyed fabric stash.  This means that every day, for 100 days, I'll take a piece of my hand-dyed fabric and I'll add another layer of surface design to it. Whether that be another layer of dye, a printed pattern overlay, perhaps taking colour away with discharge dyeing, or even drawing straight onto the fabric.

Either way, after 100 days, I'll have 100 surface design samples; I'll have tried out lots of new ideas and practiced old ones; I'll have got back into the habit of regularly wet studio time and I'll hopefully have had lots of fun!  

Now I just need to come up with a funky title for my project and a hashtag that I can use on Instagram to collate my images.  #100daysoffabricrenovation is a bit clunky.  Any ideas?

And have you ever done a 100 Day Project?  Are you doing one this year?  What were your challenges and triumphs?  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Whangarei Quilters Exhibition 2018

I mentioned in my last post that I visited Whangarei Quilters Exhibition.  This is a biennial exhibition held in April and is always worth the hours' drive for me.  They allow photography, so for those of you who couldn't make it, I'm sharing some so you can get an impression of what was hanging.

One of my favourite corners was the Wot Knots Chinese Whisper Challenge.  The Wot Knots are a stitching group focused on challenging themselves and leaning much more towards the art rather than the traditional.  

In the Chinese Whisper Challenge, members were divided into groups.  The first person in the group made an A3 quilt from a photograph.  The second person got to see the first persons quilt (not the photograph) for 15 minutes, no discussion allowed, then had to make their quilt from what inspired them during that viewing.  The next two photos are one groups successive quilts from a photo of pancake rocks through to abstract agapanthus flowers!

L-R photographic inspiration, Lynne O'Donnell, Kath Hunt.

L-R Rosslee Baker, Shirley Julian, Lyn Madden, Anne Groufsky

It's a great idea for a challenge, and this particular group managed it very well.  I think the quilts were a good size and the two months between each group member allowed for thoughtful, skillfully done quilts.

The quilt above is by Donna Rowan and is the first quilt from group number 4.  One of my favourites from the whole exhibition.  The light is beautiful and the small details to suggest features, such as some single hand embroidery stitches to give the impression of bricks, is a masterful touch.

Moving on into the main hall with the large quilts, the merchants and the sales table.  I was interested to note that scarcity of what could be classed as 'modern' quilts.  I'm not sure why this is, whether the members aren't making modern quilts, or that there just weren't many on display.  But either way, the majority of quilts were traditionally pieced or appliqu├ęd, with some lovely art quilts mixed through too.

This was a very large quilt made my Leeann Hansen.  The small five-patch squares were 1 inch finished, so plenty of skill to keep the quilt straight and square with all those tiny seams.  Having the border as almost an extension of the quilt piecing heightens the 'interest' factor.

There was the nice detail of a red flange in the binding, which set off the red diagonal chains beautifully.

Leeann completed the quilting herself with a complementary all-over pattern.

There were some really nice baby quilts.  The one above was made by Lynette Ward and quilted by Kim Bradley.  See the monster peeking up from the bottom edge? A fun quilt that's a bit different.  And the circle quilting complemented it nicely.

Sorry about the shadow in the photo, the lighting wasn't the best in the hall, but I guess you work with what you've got!  This quilt was made by Jane Taylor, adapted from a Quiltmania pattern and quilted by Ed Reid.  It was an eye-catching quilt, beautiful workmanship and I loved the addition of the baby elephants.

And less of a baby quilt, more of a kids quilt, Ship Ahoy made by Angela Robinson and quilted by The Quilt Fairy's.  The bunting shapes reminded me of ship's flags and made really good use of the pirate themed fabrics, while the dynamic quilting design brought to mind ocean waves.

From the few modern quilts that were included, here are two that stood out for me.  

Due to shadows and lights, I'm only sharing a detail of 'Hint of Lustre' by Donna Rowan, a version of a pattern by Brigette Heitland of Zen Chic.  The patterned fabric brought movement to the very minimalistic piecing and the circular quilting added lots of interest in a contrasting way.

Water's Edge by Anne Groufsky showed that Anne is a master of improv piecing.  She pulls the random piecing together with repetition of various shapes and blocks and worked in a controlled colour palette to help give cohesiveness to the work.

There was a very popular cafe being run by the quilters and my friend and I had some soup, a slice and a hot drink, with a much needed rest for our feet.  Whilst enjoying my repast, a very familiar quilt caught my eye!

Sure enough, when I went to have a closer look, this was Jane Taylor's version of the Pacific Stars Mystery Quilt that I wrote for Carol's Quilts last year.  Nice to see one in the wild!  You can still find all the instructions for it here if you'd like to make your own version. 

Petra Pilkington was the guest exhibitor with her beautiful abstract, heavily layered work.  Petra usually works by quilting first and then layering paint on afterwards and you can see the luscious texture this gives in the second photo.  Yummy!

There were many more quilts to see, and merchants to visit, and a sales table to peruse.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse and maybe it's a show you'll add to your calendar for 2020.