At the end of last year I made a big decision to change my work situation to give me more time to stitch, and to develop my work in a new direction. I was not reckless enough to devote myself to my stitch work full time, but adjusted my work into what I enjoy and pays the bills, but also allows me some regular time and thinking space to be creative. So what to do. Finish all the quilts I am currently making, or start something new? Of course the answer was to work on a new project (while diligently ploughing away at the wip pile). I have always loved applique, and like the way it offers possibilities of being illustrative with fabric and thread, so the question was what theme would I explore.
Around the time I was thinking about how I could take my appliqué work further I picked up a 1971 facsimile edition of the 1889 book Memorable London Houses by Wilmot Harrison. The book is full of information such as how much was paid for houses, anecdotes about the people who lived and visited, and quotes from literature about the homes. I love the illustrations that are dotted through, and this led me onto a train of thought about dolls’ houses. I find these mini worlds so appealing. Life is messy, but in these mini words everything is ordered and just so. I thought about creating some work based on the outside of houses, especially as Harrison’s book made me think of how London homes have changed, but couldn’t stop thinking about what was behind the doors - what wallpaper was on the walls, pictures on the walls, how it smelt, what books were on the shelves. I love a story, and that is what happens behind closed doors and so the trail led to interiors.
The next stage was how to approach the work. I enjoy working from photos, so rather than sketching the rooms I decided to look at the technique I use for making motifs from photos, but to play around with this by collaging the room settings for images from interior magazines. This worked well, although took ages as I had a specific idea of what I was looking for. I needed photos that are taken straight on, and so this left me with about a tenth of each magazine that was usable. I also struggled to not read them as I flicked through - for example the red wine tap (yes, really!) I found in one magazine got me quite flustered. The first collage is below left. I was happy with it, but it felt like a sketch. The second one (below right) I was much happier with, and felt it sits better as a design.
From this collage I created line drawings, and then got stuck. How would they look best in fabric? Annoyingly the answer is to try it, so I am currently making up samples using hand embroidery, machine stitched embroidery and appliqué.. Here is the first one in progress. It is fused applique, and has just been layered ready for me to start stitching, then add more motifs. I am not sure where it is going, but for now I am happy to keep sewing.