Monday, 7 November 2011

Earl Grey (& some DIY) at the Artist's House

My work takes me to some interesting places - Quilt festivals, knitting shows, sewing conventions - but the latest escapade was on an altogether smaller scale.

I attended an artist's open house back in October to see the work of/interview Jennifer, a textile artist and quilter. Her latest collection is all about recycling old fabrics and she uses anything from old clothes to clothware, mattress ticking to vintage sewing bits and buttons.

She had quite a few people looking around and so, with the crux of the interview done, I left her to mingle with her guests only to return one v.rainy day (recently) to get some images for the feature. Just her, me, earl grey tea and her fabulous quilts (there might also have been a couple of chocolate biscuits). After the tea, the real work began - choosing which quilts to photograph, where to hang them (the conservatory full of natural light was chosen) and how to hang them. The latter point soon became the issue. Numerous nails had been hammered into the brick wall of the artist's conservatory but no two were level so that we could hang the quilts without them being wonky. Jennifer was supporting a broken arm (and is also older than my mum but younger than my nana) so it fell to me to bash in some more nails.

It was one of those surreal moments when I took an outside look at the situation I found myself in. There I was half way up a ladder, in an almost stranger's house, hammering a nail into the painted white wall of her conservatory whilst the rain battered down on the glass ceiling. It just goes to show, you never know where your day will take you.

It turns out I'm pretty rubbish at hammering, just when I thought the nail was going into the wall it flew out, narrowly missing the artist. At which point I asked whether she had an existing pictures we could use, thankfully she had and good quality ones too. After another cup of the earl grey and some chat I went on my way with a selection of high res images suitable to print AND a little present from Jennifer, an essential piece of sewing equipment (because sticking needles and pins in clothes and pillows - whatever's closest generally - is just bad practice)...

And, for anyone who's curious, below is one of Jennifer's quilts that I was trying to photograph. It uses, vintage sewing paraphernalia (button cards and the like), old clothes (even a lady's glove!) as well as one of Jennifer's favourite processes - screen printing - which was also employed to make my little pin cushion.

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