Things are not going especially well for me at the moment. You might have noticed I’ve not been very present either here on the blog, or in the usual social media, in the last while. I’ve hit a few personal stumbling blocks in the last couple of months and it’s taking me a while to work through them. The worst result of this is that I have neither the energy or the motivation to sit at my machine and make some work. Ironically, if I do find the time to do this, it immediately picks me up, so it can only be a good thing to break the cycle.
Last week I came across an image of a cushion made using Pine Burr technique. I’ve seen the technique before, most impressively in the wonderful Sophie’s shop Karakol, and have been meaning to try my hand at it for a while now, but was a little put off by how tricky it looks. I also decided last week to make some space in my fabric wardrobe by clearing out my scraps stash and what better way to use scraps than in the pine burr. It was a good excuse to start rifling through my fabrics again, let the colours and the textures fire off a few sparks of creative electricity. I switched off the worrying and anxiety, put some Parks & Recreation on tv (if you don’t know it, check it out, Amy Poehler is a super star!) and as soon as I started sorting through the stash bag I immediately began to feel lighter.
I’m only leaning about the technique myself now, but from what I understand it has it’s origins in vintage African-American quilting traditions. It was considered something of a masterpiece and in the days before machines I imagine it was extremely time-consuming and intricate work. The advent of the machine definitely makes a lot of the traditional techniques that much more accessible to those of us who are time poor!
There are precious few tutorials online. In fact, I only found one decent one and when I emailed Sophie in Karakol to ask her about it, she recommended reading the same tutorial to get started! It’s a pretty good tutorial from a blog called Nifty Quilts and if you’re into the technique have a look at it here on her blog.
I decided to use all of my multi-coloured scraps, but didn’t want to make a loud overly bombarding quilt, so have sorted them into their colours and will make a rainbow/colour wheel style quilt instead. Also, I decided that instead of making lots of small circles and sewing them together to make the quilt, I’m going to make one large one. It’s a small lap/baby quilt in any case so I’m not too worried about the size of it. And if I run out of scraps before it’s big enough I’ll use linen to finish the outer circle. Ah linen, my favourite fabric!
One or two of the other (not-so-good) tutorials I read said that it’s a very tricky technique and not for beginners. However, when Sophie introduced the idea to me months ago she said the exact opposite! She teaches it to beginners in her workshops and it’s very accessible. It’s just sooooooo tedious. Cutting little squares, making little triangles, pinning then stitching slowly in a cirle… But it’s not difficult, I think. Anyway, now that I’ve started I’m a) totally addicted to the process and b) so absolutely proud of the already finished centre (see the pics below). It’s beautiful!! I couldn’t have asked for it to be nicer! Which has given me another lift in the last few days – I forget the powerful endorphins (or serotonin, I dunno, I’m not a neurologist…) that flood your body when you hold something that you consider beautiful in your hand and think ‘I made this’. The style might not be to everyone’s taste but the feeling of accomplishment is something wonderful, and is badly needed recently. More please!
So be prepared for more pictures! I won’t be doing too many of these style quilts I think because they’re too time consuming and I’d have to charge quite a lot for them because of that. But this one is for a special commission that I’ve been putting off for ages, so I’m happy to spend the time on it. But I’ll be taking a hep of photos of this one!
In other news, Brussels is great at this time of the year! Actually, I love it all year around, but right now there is so much going on! This weekend I have some family things planned but if I finish work at a reasonable hour this evening the Flagey Cultural centre close to my house is showing an old Kusturica film that I haven’t seen. I’ll try to get to that. If I miss it tonight I’ll try for Sunday night. There are heaps of great festivals, events, openings, exhibitions, everything on at the moment! You can see more info on Agenda.be which is a pretty good site for everthing going on in Brussels.
Also, plug, plug, plug – ETSY!!! Do it! Check it out!