The mini quilt pictured here is this year's Valentine, stitched on my Janome machine using Aurifil 50wt threads and my freemotion foot. It is my first experiment with text in textile art, and is a little wonky! I received a very inspiring book on the subject for Mother's Day last year, written by British textile artist Sara Impey, and I finally had the time to try it out. I have loved Sara's work since visiting the V and A's seminal exhibition on Quilts from 1700-2010 a few years back, so I was really happy when she allowed me to share her work Between the Lines later in this blog post.
The declaration "I Love You More Than Sewing" is a big statement in my house, and perhaps in many others crafty homes worldwide! As I was working on it my 8 year old daughter picked it up, read it and gazed at me in amazement, she then asked "but mummy is it true?". My husband Paul also looked pretty cynical and gave me a knowing smile.
My new logo is depicted behind the text and shows a pin through a heart.
This came about from another gift I made for Paul a few year's back when he turned 40. I cut out maps depicting favourite locations visited during our 18 years together and was struggling to attach them to the card background. I then had the idea to use pins, one of my favourite tools, and to add a personal touch.
When I came to design a logo for my business last year I didn't want anything too obviously related to sewing. One day the idea came to use these symbols as they relay the message that I love my craft and my friend Jaynie translated my drawings into this:
The truth is I really do love sewing, in many different forms (though obviously not as much as my family). Yet it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly why it is such a satisfying and absorbing process. However, when I saw Between the Lines, the work pictured below by Sara Impey, I was excited, and incredibly moved. As I read the text stitched into the grid below I got shivers down my spine. Why? Because in this work Sara articulates all of my feelings perfectly, and in a far more eloquent way than I could ever wish to.
Sara has very kindly allowed me to share the text with you. If you have any thoughts or reactions to the work please do leave a comment and I will pass it on to her. Obviously seeing the piece in real life is also part of the enjoyment, but this is the next best thing.
Text for Between the Lines
"In the negative space between the stitches, your thoughts can run free. The sewing machine comes to feel like an extension of the body. Hand, foot and eye work together, simultaneously controlling and responding to the movement of the needle in a rhythm that seems to be as natural and involuntary as your own heartbeat, until the thread flows through the system like blood. This process, on one level, is slow and all-absorbing. On another, the hours race past. Decisions are taken moment by moment in a kind of wordless dialogue with the materials during which your mind is swept clear of its usual clutter, exposing a creative space where ideas bubble up spontaneously. In this state of awareness, linear time seems to be suspended or experienced in terms of quality rather than quantity. You may be asked how long a particular piece of work took to make and find it hard to give a satisfactory and accurate answer because you’re not sure and you may not even care. It’s the transformative act of making that is important: the physical connection with the texture of fabric and thread, the evolving interplay of colours and shapes and the fascination of watching a new textile surface emerge in incremental stages, gradually building up until a critical mass of stitching is achieved and the work is complete. It may have started as no more than a vague idea, but now exists as an artefact in its own right with its own individual set of characteristics: its feel, its handle, its softness or stiffness, its ability to clothe, decorate, contain, wrap, conceal or reveal. It can be draped, rolled, folded, pleated or crumpled. It can be seen, touched, treasured or thrown away. It is out there, no longer yours but always yours, mirroring in tangible form the process of making, in which you paradoxically both lose and find the sense of self. Does all this matter to anyone else? Some people say that process and context are of little relevance and that the artwork should be viewed in isolation. Yet whatever its merits or demerits, the time and effort involved are evident even to a casual observer, who is invited to look beneath the surface and speculate about how and why it came to be made. Something is communicated that can’t be seen or touched but is there to be ‘read’ in the negative space between the lines of stitching."
I would really recommend the book Text in Textile Art by Sara Impey published in 2013 by Batsford Books, it features the work of many other artists and is a practical guide on how to create text on cloth in numerous ways.
Many thanks also to Michael Wickes for the photographs of Between the Lines.