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Monday, 10 November 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I have been invited to participate in this Around the World Blog Hop by my friend Martha Wolfe.  We have not had the opportunity to meet in person yet, but we have developed a strong friendship via the web.  What a wonder modern technology is!  We hope to meet next year.

Martha is a wonderful fiber artist and she is a printmaker as well as an art quilter.  She is in the Board of Directors of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates - where she does fantastic work on behalf of the art of quilting. Her work is featured in many publications and she exhibits widely.  Her work is very varied, and you can see it in her website,  Martha is the leading force in the international web-based group Viewpoints 9 - - which I am honoured to belong to as well.  The group is starting to exhibit in real places as well as in virtual galleries - this year at the Mancuso shows in USA. Hopefully there will also be an exhibition in Europe in the next year or two; and we have been invited to exhibit in 2016 at TIQE (Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition) by organiser, V9 member and also World Blog Hopper, Lin Hsin Chen -

This is one of my favourite pieces of work by Martha Wolfe:

Participants in the Blog Hop are asked to include answers to four questions in their post.  So I will do my best to answer those questions.

What am I working on?

A lot of things and not much at all - both together.  After having spent about nine months working non-stop on making new work for my exhibition "Mapping the Imagination" at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, this August, and producing a book/catalogue of the exhibition - while during the same period being a juror for SAQA's exhibition "Redirecting the Ordinary", and the curator for SAQA's Wide Horizons IV (which opened at the European Patchwork Meeting this September) - then followed by more weeks working to finish my quilt for EPM'S 20th Anniversary exhibition - and various other things such as writing magazine articles and projects, being part of other exhibitions, etc - I ended up feeling quite exhausted and drained of creative energy.  So I haven't made much in the last couple of months.  However, after taking a couple of weeks off just to rest and think, I very soon started to plan my next moves and work pieces.  However I haven't made much progress on them!

To try and coax myself back into working creatively, I decided to start small, and developed a new short series of my 10" x 10" "Map Fragments", using a slightly different colour palette from the previous ones.  They are available for sale at exhibitions, galleries, and online at the Shop of Through Our Hands website.  Here is one of them - Map Fragment # 112, 'Good Earth' series:

I also made a small piece, 25 x 25 cm, for the 25th Anniversary exhibition of Designer Crafts at the Mall - the annual show of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, to which I have belonged ever since I started being involved in crafts professionally - probably nearly 30 years ago.  The Society itself is well over 100 years old, and it was founded by a group of artists which included William Morris. They have been continuously exhibiting at The Mall Galleries in London for 25 years, and that's what is being celebrated in 2015. The show will be on from 9th to 18th January, and it always is a real feast for the eyes - textiles shown in the context of contemporary furniture, jewellery, and work in ceramics, glass, metal, and other materials.  So if you are in London at the time, do not miss it!

I won't post my new piece here because I believe it should not be shown before the exhibition.  Instead, below is another of my small square pieces mounted on stretched canvas, of a similar size.  This one is called Devon Fields and was sold some time ago, at an exhibition.

I should really be working on a piece for Viewpoints 9, but although that has been started, it is going rather slowly.  Instead I have got quite enthusiastic about other different themes, moving sideways from making the map quilts I've been working on now for several years, and have been researching and developing new designs. One theme is working with text on fabric, using a variety of techniques, and the other is doing preparation work for an exhibition next year with South West Textiles, at the Museum of Somerset, in Taunton, UK - an ancient castle refurbished into a wonderful modern museum and gallery. Each artist has to choose an artefact from the museum as a starting point, and I have chosen Cauldrons and Skillets - of which the museum has the largest collection in the UK.  I'm enjoying working in a very graphic design style - here is a snippet of my first, far from finished, 'draft' piece:

My current and earlier work can be seen in my website,

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Colour is the first thing that comes to mind - I have a passion for colour, and my work is recognisable from the way I use colour. Regarding my map quilts, there are a number of other artists which work on maps - it is a much loved theme - but I don't really know if there is anybody else that makes their maps mostly with piecing techniques, like I do.  It's good to look at other people's work and soak in the work of other artists, but when it comes to making your own, you have to look inwards and find what you want to do, to please and satisfy yourself in the first instance.

Here is a section of one of my favourite quilts - Login Shakespeare - which I see every day, as it is hanging at the top of the stairs in my house - from the Shakespeare series which I worked on in the mid-noughties - and which I have revisited occasionally.  Most of the pieces in that series incorporate lettering, here printed with Thermofax screens.

And here is another of my big map quilts - a very recent one, and a great favourite at the moment - Blue Harbour - an imaginary quilt based on studying the layout and details of a number of real harbours and marinas.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I create because I must. There is no other way of putting it.  I cannot see myself doing anything else, or ever 'retiring'.  Creating is the centre of my life, and I have always done it, although fields of work might have changed over time.

I have also written, mostly craft books and articles, but it is a side line - not my primary passion. I prefer visual books - that's how I designed my latest book, Mapping the Imagination, which is partly catalogue of the exhibition of the same name at the Festival of Quilts in August 2014, partly a review of my previous map quilts, and has a last section which is a mini-workshop, introducing readers to the basic techniques I use in my map-making.  As I mentioned above, it can be bought online, with PayPal, from Through Our Hands online shop.

Howe does my creating process work?

I play with ideas in my head, and look for images that help what I want to do.  Colour usually come first;  I get my fabrics out and pile them up to see how the colours interact, and select the ones I want to use.  But as my work progresses, colours may change - some fabrics may go, some new ones may come in.

With maps, I often study a map or several as guidelines, not fixed indicators of how the map will finish up.  Sometimes I make maps based on real places, in which case I interpret the source map as closely as possible, although it is never an exact copy.  I use a variety of methods, which may include enlarging, drawing, tracing, etc.  It depends on the piece; some need one method, some others. 

But I prefer to make imaginary maps, catching the spirit of the place or the style I want to portray.  The technique would be improvisational. For example, one of my latest map, "Coming Into Land" intends to convey images of dark and light areas glanced from an airplane landing. Here is a section:

Technique-wise, I do a lot of piecing - the map quilt above is completely pieced.  Some times I use fused appliqué, and a few map quilts are completely made using a fused collage technique.  But piecing remains my first love.

Now I will introduce the two international quilt artists and bloggers to whom I will pass the baton to, and who will be blogging next week, on November 17th.

The first one is Alison Schwabe, an Australian living mostly in Montevideo, Uruguay (across the River Plate from my birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina).  Her husband, a geologist, works there.  The subject is familiar to Alison as she studied geography and geomorphology at university, and her artistic subjects are the forces of nature and landscapes, as a metaphor for life.

I met Alison first online, and then in London when she came to teach in the UK. Alison's work is very well known internationally, and it can be seen in her website, here.  She is a prolific blogger, talking about all sorts of fascinating things, and you can read her blog here.

The second one is Dijanne Cevaal, also Australian, who spends a lot of time in Europe. We originally met in London many years ago in one of her many trips to the Old World, and we saw each other again this year at the European Patchwork Meeting in France.

You can read her blog, her adventures, and her Musings of a Textile Itinerant, here.  She is currently very busy working on her new book, Musings in Textiles: France - happily financed via crowdfunding. She is an expert in dyeing textiles and in producing linocuts for printing, as demonstrated in her Sentinelles series.

Please look at Alison and Dijanne's blogs, as well as Martha's - you will find them very rewarding. And do keep hopping around the world via these wonderful blogs - you can go backwards and forwards as much as you like - and get to know more fabulous artists and their work!

 Enjoy!  Alicia


  1. No wonder you needed a couple of weeks off before you started again. It has been really interesting reading this post. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for the details on how you make the map quilts. I am now on my second but there are things I don't like about it. I am aiming to use old OS maps to make 'historic' maps in rather flat colours but I have already learnt the difficulties of trying to make 'real' maps and I have decided to make some small practice pieces first. I also need to blog about the process.

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