I first thought of creating a piece based on the Swallows Migratory journey after completing my first Swallow picture, ‘Rush Hour’ last year. In the hunt to find out more I came across ‘A Single Swallow’ by Horatio Clare. This book gave me the story and more, its a fabulous read.
I started experimenting with text, fabrics and thread colours. I’m not someone who does lots of planning and preparation before starting a new piece but, on this occasion it was unavoidable. I struggled to find the right backing fabric and experimented with thread colours – some too light to be visible in artificial light others so dark the words ‘jumped’ out at you. I wanted to represent through the thread colours the changing temperatures the bird experienced. The spacing between the letters also took a great deal of experimentation.
Eventually I worked out the spacing, words and image, I settled on a Swallow sitting on a wire. This is the smaller of two Swallow pieces I am hoping to make for the Contemporary Quilters West Frome exhibition. This one tells the story of the bird after his journey North and what happens in the UK before the return journey south.
Below you can see the grid and lettering marked out using a iron-removable pen and stitching the double grid lines horizontally and vertically using a walking foot.
Starting to stitch the letters, lots and lots of threads to take to the back and knot!!
After hours of concentration and tired eyes the text was complete.
One of the wonderful things about being a member of a group like the Contemporary Quilters West is the advice you gain from really experienced artists. Mandi Bainbridge suggested I try this technique to avoid the puckering I can get when piecing a small bird onto a lightly quilted backing. By using this material in a hoop I was able to minimise problems I had previously experienced.
Above, the bird partly stitched. Below, the finished bird stitched into place on the final piece. I still have the wire to stitch within all the letters and the birds feet.
It is time now to start planning the much larger piece based on the journey through many countries from South Africa to the United Kingdom. I am at the moment juggling grid size with letter numbers…..Its a challenge but great fun!
A limited edition Giclee print of ‘A Swallow’s Journey’ will be available soon on my Website shop.