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Finding inspiration in fabric

There is a lovely sign in a shop window at our local mall that reads:  Give Yourself Flowers.  And that is what I have been doing for the past two months:  giving myself flowers – yards and yards of it.

This month, I thought I’d give you an idea of the progress I have made since choosing the theme for my exhibition.  Selecting the fabrics for the quilts was an obvious first step since the walled garden theme called for colour and flowers – something that is rare in my stash.

I started cautiously buying a few fat quarters with tiny flower sprigs, but of course it did not work.  After all these years, I still get it wrong.  So it was back to the books and internet to refresh my knowledge on colour, value, tone, scale, texture, blenders, and zingers.  That took me back to the quilt shop. Several trips later, and my stash is blooming with a glut of roses, lilies, daisies, big blowzy peonies, and swags of nameless flowers. 

While I have selected some bold floral patterns, I am aiming for a more subdued and faded look – as seen in old New Zealand quilts and coverlets.

I am now spending hours and hours auditioning fabrics.  Some fabrics are too loud or too quiet, some sing and fit right in, while others stubbornly refuse to marry.  But I still only know that when I pin the fabrics up and stand back.  At the design board instinct usually leapfrogs theory and therefore I seldom plan a quilt in detail, because I like the way the fabric tells me what to do. I am in the most exciting phase of the journey.   

The new floral fabrics give me unbridled joy and inspiration. Flowers are blooming everywhere this season and I see it in shop windows, clothes, the media, on homeware, and the internet.

My guilty pleasure is watching internet fashion shows, and the work of fashion designers have always inspired my work.  Be it the patterns and pleats of a Gibb dress, the opulent textures of a Kenzo collection, or the stillness of an Issey Miyake exhibition. Closer to home, I remember vividly the excitement of photographing a Cooper shop window.  

Some fabric collections by fabric designers give me the same thrill. However, I am wary of choosing fabric from a singular collection as it seldom results in a satisfying quilt.  Instead, I use the little coloured dots on the selvage as a guide to choose complementing fabrics. While I try not to stress too much about every piece of fabric or to be too matchy with prints, I am aiming for a pleasing overall effect.  

My progress is slow, but this stage is always very meaningful for me and I do not want to rush it. Next time I hope to report on the techniques that I am exploring.

Since my last progress report, ArtsPost in Hamilton has confirmed the dates of my exhibition at the Margo Phillips Gallery – from 23 August until 23 September 2013.