It’s been a long time since I properly shared my quiltmaking process, and I receive regular emails and messages asking about this so I thought I’d write a blog series again.
Every new artwork begins with lots of drawing. Even before the drawing begins, though, I like to think about my subject matter. I like working with a theme, to creative a cohesive body of work. I see ideas for quilts in everything so selecting a theme also helps me to focus on something. I consider several things in choosing a theme. My worldview is important. I am inspired by God’s creation, and how everything works and fits together in it. The laws of nature, botanical and zoological interrelationships, and the God-given role of man in the natural world all stimulate me to further explore new ideas and designs in my textile art.
I also want to work with subject matter that speaks to me personally and is available to me in my immediate environment.
I currently have two themes happening in my artwork. My botanically themed artworks highlight the beauty of the plants and trees that are ‘everyday fare’ for us here in Australia. There is so much beauty in the details of each tree, for example, in the veins that produce pattern and texture on a eucalyptus leaf, and the huge variety of colour to be found on a single plant.
My childhood-themed artworks, although not quite as popular as the botanical pieces, are my current favourites, perhaps largely because they are more challenging for me. Observing children at play, these artworks aim to capture a sense of childlike wonder. As a mother I am privileged to observe that awe of little children discovering for the first time things which we as adults have long since taken for granted. Observing small children notice budding flowers, snail trails, ripening fruit, textured leaves, floating bubbles, dripping rain and pencil marks on paper for the first time is a wonderful reminder of just how special these ordinary things are. I hope I can retain some of that wide-eyed wonder myself, and continue to express it in my work.
Having decided (perhaps broadly) on a theme, I do a lot of sketching. This time is fun, but can be frustrating. I never know how long it will take to develop several quilt designs I am happy with. I am thankful to be living in the age of digital cameras, as I like to take hundreds of photos of my subject matter, from all different angles, as a reference throughout the whole design process.
At first I draw without too much intent, familiarising myself with the subject matter. Then I will start developing my ideas, trying various alternative designs, and stylising my drawings so that they lend themselves to the style of quilts I like to make (specifically, to machine piecing). This process takes place in my visual diary, which is an important record to me. I constantly refer back to original ideas and inspirations as recorded there. By the end of this stage, I have a collection of all kinds of sketches – photorealistic (for familiarisation of subject), line drawings (with piecing in mind), quick thumbnail sketches, bold marker drawings (for developing overall layout without getting bogged down in detail), simple design layouts, as well as detailed line drawings with the quilting in mind.
I find quick thumbnail sketches very useful for working through a bunch of potential designs for a given artwork. When I’ve settled on a design concept that I like, I draw it up more completely.
The final step in the drawing process is to convert my sketched design to a pattern for piecing. This pattern shows all the cutting/seam lines for the final artwork. In other words, each white space in the sketch represents a separate piece of fabric.
Stay tuned for the next step in my artmaking process soon!
this moment 2
© Ruth de Vos 2016
87cm high by 88cm wide
Fabric paint, cotton fabric, cotton batting.
Screen-printed, machine-pieced, hand- and machine-quilted.
For local clients (Perth, Western Australia), I can include a frame (email me for details). The artwork comes with hook and loop tabs for mounting into a frame. Alternatively,the artwork also has a fabric sleeve stitched onto the back for hanging purposes, and can be hung without a frame using a gallery-style hanging system, or with two screws in the wall. More info including pictures here: http://ruthdevos.com/blog/how-to-hang-an-art-quilt/
Here’s an overdue post to let you know that I hope to teach at Quilt Symposium Christchurch 2017 in October. As some of you know, my teaching engagements are few and far between at the moment (due mostly to my prioritising family time here at home), so this is a rare opportunity!
I’m listed to teach two workshops.
The first is ‘Designing Your Own Pieced Botanical Quilt’, with more details available here. This is the workshop where you come armed with a bunch of photos of a plant that you like, and you create your own quilt design based on those. We also work through the basics of beginning to piece your beautiful botanical art quilt. This includes fabric selection; creating a working pattern from your quilt designing, cutting out the quilt, and making a start at piecing the bits together. Phew! That’s a whole lot to cover in two days. I’m going to work you hard!! This a crash course designed especially for all of you who have asked many times for a workshop to cover my quiltmaking process.
The second is ‘Enriching Your Quilt with Hidden Imagery‘. In this two-day workshop, we work through ways to enhance your free-motion quilting. I love to use the quilting process to add another ‘layer of interest’ to my art quilts. I like the quilting to help in telling the ‘story’ of the quilt. Together we’ll work through a number of ways to do that. In the workshop, we work through a bunch of samples, to equip you to apply fantastic quilting to your future quilt projects!
If you’re going to Quilt Symposium Christchurch, I look forward to seeing you there!
Blossom Joy 1
© Ruth de Vos 2016
Size: 77cm by 77cm
Hand-dyed, machine-pieced, hand- and machine-quiltedFibre reactive dye, cotton homespun, cotton linen blend, cotton threads
This is my slow-burner sewing project – a storybook quilt. If you followed this blog for a while it'll be no secret that I love children's books. I also love fabric, so this project is a combination of two loves! I started this several years ago. It's the perfect project for picking up when I feel like a bit of handwork, or a change from my art making. I'm not in any hurry to complete it, just enjoying the process.
As we awaited Jason this sumner, I wrapped up all my art projects so that I would feel more relaxed about taking it easy during the last few weeks. And this was the perfect project to pick up. I stitched outside in a lazy chair while Phil built us a water feature and the kids played cricket. I stitched inside with my feet up on the couch when it was too hot to be outside. I stitched by the river on Christmas Day while the rest of the family swam, and at the park while the kids played. And through many evenings of contractions. A perfect distraction.
I love a basic geometric quilt (squares, triangles or hexagons) for showcasing a collection of fabric. This quilt includes Spot, Maisy, Where the Wild Things Are, the Pigeon, Frog and Toad, Busytown, the Hungry Caterpillar, Little Nut Brown Hare, Alice in Wonderland, Miffy, Dr Seuss, the Saggy Baggy Elephant, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Peter and Jane.
I think I'm a bit over half way now, so don't expect to see the finished results any time soon!
We always have an extra quilt on our bed in winter. Well, I do. Phil throws his half off before getting in to bed. My mum made us one for our wedding with mathematical symbols appliqués on it (we both love maths).
This year, though, is was keen to have something fresh. So I'm working on a wholecloth quilt inspired by the quiltwork we admired in France ages ago. I thought about designing the quilting myself, but have Quilts of Provence on my shelf, and it includes a pattern that was just right (i.e. not too frilly). I'll save the brainwork for other projects! I've marked the quilting lines with washable fabric marker. I NEVER use this on my artwork as I've heard horror stories of the effect it has on the fabric over time. That would bother me in my artwork, but not in a bed quilt which I'm only really concerned about using for the next ten year. (Beyond that is a bonus!) Maybe more recent markers are OK, but I try to keep chemicals like that off my art quilts. I'm curious, though, what the quilt makers of Provence used to used to mark their stitching line.
As you can see, this one is being machine quilted. One day, when I am old and wrinkly (family terminology for 'retired') I'd love to hand quilt one of these. But right now I'm too eager to have a new quilt on the bed for this winter!