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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Aviarius: Red, Red Robin: from one extreme to the other.

I've been incubating this project for about 3 weeks. As it will take up a bit of  2017 stitching time, a New Year's Eve introduction seems appropriate.
Each August the Embroiderers' Guild of SA participates in the SALA (South Australian Living Arts) Festival. In 2017 our theme is Aviarius - birds. The Guild has prepared some fabric blocks that members can buy, embroider, and submit for our SALA Exhibition. The fabric blocks are hand-dyed and feature either a seagull, a wren, a robin or a group of bird shapes.
At the time I bought my blocks there were only seagulls and robins available. I chose one of each. I could immediately see what I would do with the seagull, but the robin had me stumped. I could only see Christmas cards. I'd have preferred a cockatoo, magpie, kookaburra or galah.                                                                                                                                                  

Eventually I began to think of other contexts for robins and hit upon songs, which led me to When the red, red, robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along. The more I considered it, the more excited I became.  It is still, or course, not Australian. It does, however, have a history, is well known, open to interpretation and above all, optimistic. I could see possibilities for telling a story.
The next day I went to the Guild and bought 7 more robin blocks - all that were available - and one group block.
I backed each of these with wadding and a piece of old, soft sheeting. I couldn't resist experimenting with one of them using some wool roving and felting needles.
In the meantime, I went back to Batik Fabrics Online and ordered some amazing striped batik that was at that time available in 270cm widths. I figured I could use the different stripes to mount each of my blocks.

When the fabric arrived it was breathtaking - I couldn't wait to get started.
Within two days I had cut and stitched the borders.

I then had nine blocks, ready to be embroidered with the story of the song. I was also playing around with embroidering the music and words on each block.

At this point I saw the Authentic Adelaide Exhibition at the Adelaide Town Hall. Amongst the exhibits was a quilt with a significant section of words printed on it. I came home and searched for products that would enable me to print on to fabric with transparency between the letters. This was not easy - but I found a product on eBay which sounded promising. I paid for express post.
It worked a treat. It comes with either gloss or matte sheets. The matte sheets were indeed transparent and did not leave the surface shine that the gloss ones produced.

I had to juggle the position to avoid the darker parts of the fabric.

I now have nine panels to embroider. Each one will illustrate the words on its border. At this stage I intend to back each  block with the batik fabric, quilt the borders with Kantha-style running stitch and join them with long stripes from the same fabric. This could, however, change as I progress.

I rushed to finish my knitted shawl so that I could start stitching a robin panel. It called to me! The seagull might  have to wait.

I can at least laugh at my own about-turn. One day I was grumbling about stitching one panel, 24 hours later I had 9 panels, and three and a half metres of batik fabric on the way.

Two more days and I am experimenting with printing on the fabric.

I'm in the grip of an idea.

This is a great place to be on New Year's Eve.It looks as if  that large Exhibition bag I made will be put to use in 2017!


margaret said...

what a geat imagination you have this is going to be such a wonderful quilt, loving how you are printing onto the fabric too

Jillian said...

Thanks Margaret, I appreciate your confidence. The flip side of great imagination might be madness! I'm excited though.

Monica said...

That is so fun to run with inspiration when it strikes! This will be a wonderful project, with so many opportunities to improvise as you go. And personally, I love robins!

Jillian said...

I hope I love them too, Monica, by the time I finish this project! You are right on all counts - I'm taking your New Year's resolution to heart. The improvisation possibilities - indeed requirement - is at the heart of the fun.