Monday 30 April 2018

Tears and smiles and messy play

On Friday, we went to celebrate Jan's life with her family and friends. It was a heartfelt, moving funeral service, shared with over a hundred people whose lives had been touched by her in so many ways - activities known and unknown to us - and it was a privilege to be asked to share it, as we'd known her for such a small part of her varied life. It was lovely to be told by many people, how important Traverse was to her in these last few years and how much she enjoyed working with us. There was a sense of gratefulness that she managed to exhibit at the NEC, something which she was so very excited about and happy to do.

At the wake, the family had set up a wonderful display of just a small fraction of the work Jan had produced over the years - such a variety, reflecting her many passions and experiments with all things textile. Here are a few quick snapshots of the display -

Bernice's beautiful collage, including the squares we made earlier, was also displayed and will be included in a book of memories.

There was also another table set up for what I call 'messy play' - fabric paints, pens and fabric squares - laid out for people to decorate in their own way, to be included in the book of memories. These were small personal pieces, drawn or painted by family and friends and I didn't photograph them.

There was much merriment around that table, as we sat and played with Jan's wonderful collection of fabric paints and many people spoke of how much Jan would have loved it. We shared our memories and anecdotes and, in my case at least, got seriously messy! I ended up with two squares of painted fabric as I used the second one to blot the first, and then decided to flood one of them with water. Lateral thinking led me to the hand dryer in the loo and I did eventually get them dry enough to bring home with me, wrapped in serviettes; I really wanted to add some stitch before returning them for the memory book.

This is what I brought home - ripped paint-splodged serviettes and a blue one from the train ...

... and my two painted fabric squares.

I carefully separated the painted serviette layers.

The railway serviette had three layers so I removed one and then covered the remainder with roughly 50/50 PVA and water.

I layered up torn painted papers and glued them down in stages, starting from the centre and working my way outwards.

I used torn pieces of the extra blue layer to fill in any gaps and made sure it was well covered with the 50/50 mixture.

When it was dry it looked like this.

I intended to use this as a background for some kind of collage using the painted fabric squares but first I wanted to check if there were any holes - so I did this ...

I loved how it looked with the light shining through it ...

... and spent a long time taking close up shots - I went completely off task.

Now I'm not sure whether I will use this in the way I intended - it may have to change, to be revealed by a light behind it ... but I will definitely make something for the book with my splodged fabric squares, as an extra memory of the day. It feels right to finish what I started on that table. It was a healing process and just the right way to remember Jan - tears and smiles and messy play.


Friday 20 April 2018

The British Quilt & Stitch Village

Traverse has recently returned from the quilt and stitch show at Uttoxeter Racecourse.  We were given a long run of exhibition boards in one of the main exhibition halls.  We were unsure about this space when we arrived to set up but it turned out to be a wonderful place to be.

We were right at the end of the exhibition hall and I was concerned that people wouldn't visit us.  How wrong I was!  By the end of day 1, we felt we had seen and spoken to more people than we did over the whole NEC show.  Cath put together some of the comments from our Visitors' book.

Looking at the exhibition from left to right, we started with Bernice's mixed media work, most of which is on the theme of Venice.

Next we featured Jan's beautiful work, which her family has kindly donated to Traverse.

Moving along the exhibition, we come to Dia's handstitched 'Northern Lights' pieces and the beginning of Cath's work.

Cath's work was inspired by many different places but they all displayed her passion for various forms of felting and embroidery.

Dia, Cath & Jan had made cards which sold well.  On the table we also displayed Dia's fascinating 3D vessels and Cath's silk paper candle holder.

Deb's work featured needle-felting, hand dyed fabrics and textured surfaces, including her 'unwearable' dress, which took centre stage.

All this work can be seen next at the end of August at the West Country Quilt & Textile show in Bristol.   At the current time that will be the last time that we exhibit 'Destinations'.

Watch this space for the reveal of our next theme!


Wednesday 11 April 2018

Friends are like stars ...

Friends are like stars … you can’t always see them but you know they’re always there. This little quote has come to mind several times recently as I’ve been making things specifically for friends – but for very different reasons.

First is a birthday present for a friend – a very patient friend who’s been waiting a long time for it. It’s been a challenge at times for me because it’s out of my comfort zone to follow her colour choices, using some fabrics which have sentimental value for her, rather than my usual vibrant bright colours. A work in progress ...

However, I’m finding a middle way between her choices and my preferences and isn’t that what friendship is all about? We may not always agree on everything and perhaps we don’t see some of our friends very often but there is a basic bond of friendship; we will go out of our comfort zone for them and we know they are always there for us.

The second project has been very different – preparing two small squares for a memory quilt for Jan, our friend who sadly died recently. Again, working out of my comfort zone with text and a formal design, I have tried to make the first square influenced by Jan and some of her methods. Beginning with hand knitted fabric, I have felted it on the embellisher and embroidered it with French knots, quoting Jan, “You can never have too many French knots” – I can hear her voice saying it now.

The second square is very much in my own style – brightly coloured and textured with sari silk strips needle felted onto a background and manipulated with machine embroidery and the embellisher to give a raised spiral. I have added beads as Jan also loved using beads.

The big difference between the two projects of course is that I will eventually give the birthday present to my friend, whereas the quilt will be for Jan’s family and friends to remember her and the influence she has had on all of us. Although she will never see the squares on her memory quilt, she will ‘always be there’.

Friends are like stars … you can’t always see them but you know they’re always there.


I leave tomorrow to meet Bernice and Deb to set up our stand at the Uttoxeter Quilt and Stitch Village, where we will be exhibiting Jan’s work in her memory.