Friday, 31 May 2019

Another Tantalizer

  Although I cannot yet most my Mary Pratt quilt, I thought that I would  at least show you a part of  it. I think it is going to take at least another week or so to finish, as I have vastly underestimated the time it is going to take to do all the hand stitching.

Remains of the Day

Right from the beginning I thought I would use this opportunity to see if I could depict glass in cloth.  I took this picture of the end of a bunch of tulips in a glass vase.

The process has made me really, really look at what is in the photo.  There were plenty of decisions along the way about the materials, fabrics and techniques to use.  Here is my offering.

Remains of the Day
The vase and stalks and leaves are appliqued fabric with a tiny bit of paint.  The tulip is my own embroidery design stitched out on my Bernina embroidery unit.  I may yet go in and add shadow to the stalks to make them more realistic.  But lesson learnt is: do not get excited and rush into a project until you are sure you have all the tools and materials you need.  I ran out of Bondaweb and so a lot of the edges are a bit whiskery.  Fusible would have stopped that.

(I have just got back from a meeting of my local art quilt group and the quilt needs another press but I was in a hurry to upload it and see all the other pieces.  I'm very impressed!)



Boy did this challenge take me on a roller coaster ride.  Loved it, now not working, about turn, that's better, oh no this won't do , I'm struggling, keep going , maybe now okay , to finally,  it will have to work!   I am not happy with the piece but I am satisfied.  Of our nearly 9 years with this group this has been the most difficult.   Not bad.

I have kept to keeping a slight home country link in my work.  I have not used any particular piece of hers other than using her kitchen/food theme. Poverty is a huge problem still in this country and most families have only one meal a day and that does not always include a protein.   One of the popular additives to their potatoes/ maize meal & veg dish is a can of Pilchards in tomato sauce.   This is one of the few things you may see stored in their cupboards or in a corner of the room.  Still not cheap as it sells for approx a pound a tin but it will feed quite a large family with the other foods I have mentioned .

So, here goes

The background is pieced and painted.  The tins are printed & attached using the T-shirt process.  For the quilting I divided the piece into 4 areas and stitched straight angular lines. I think the simplicity of it all was what caused the problems.

Mary Pratt - Fat fish on foil

Mary Pratt’s interpretation of ‘glassware’ paintings are amazing but I couldn’t see how I could express one of those in fabric. Then I found an unusual picture which really appealed to me and I knew that I could create it in fabric. Towards the end of April I was ready to ‘post’ my blog when, to my horror, I realized I had mistakenly chosen the work of an artist, Monika Wright! Mary Pratt had commented on this work and it had ended up amongst Mary’s collection in Google. This is where my mistake was made. 

So, here is that piece ‘off the record’ for you to enjoy.

At the beginning of May I re-started Mary Pratt’s ‘piece’. My title is: Fat fish on Foil. The fish was done using a self-dyed grey cotton fabric with organza overlay and coloured with oil pastels and then embroidered; finishing it off with an appropriate shell eye. After appliqueing the fish onto the background, I attached cut ‘shards’ in greys and whites to resemble foil and then used oil pastels to finish it off.

 After I had begun the Clown Trigger fish I found a small, framed piece of that same fish which I had done at least 10 years ago! I have included this picture.

Allison Moorcroft


Whilst researching this artist and her work I came across a blog written by someone who had been listening to a CBC interview speaking to our artist and the heading in the blog described her as:  Artist, Mother, Inspiration, Feminist of the timeless kind – creator, partner, parent, lover, adaptor, human being ….  

This encapsulated a time in her life where she was married and raising four children and therefore her focus was primarily on the one word that was not used i.e. Nuture.  I am grateful indeed to a friend Lenel who pointed this out to me and got me on track in this direction.

Her work does use a fair amount of other subjects apart from food and fruit, but I kept coming back to how beautifully she portrayed these everyday items, which must have been her focus at that time in her life, therefore I wanted to concentrate my piece on the word “nuture” in this instance.

I drew the whole piece out and then transferred it onto one piece of hand-dyed fabric and stitched the whole design out in gold thread.  I then used various paint mediums i.e. inktense blocks, fabric paint and oil paint sticks to give it some life which I hope gives some idea of how I interpreted her work in this instance.

Mary Pratt - a learning experience

Hi all
I must say, I found this one difficult. Whilst I like some of her paintings, I am not excited by jars of jam  or oven-ready salmon, and I struggled to find something to interpret. So, I am really sorry, but I reverted to a simple attempt at copying (not very well) one of her pieces.
I chose another portrait. This time Mary Pratt's daughter with her face covered in cold cream! This hyper-realistic painting did make me look twice, and I must say, Mary Pratt's skill in painting in this style is incredible. That I do admire.

Mary Pratt: Cold Cream, 1983

For my version I used thickened dye to paint a face similar to Mary Pratt's daughter onto white fabric. I then quilted it then used a mixture of white acrylic paint mixed with shaving foam and fabric medium to smear all over. It certainly is a sloppy mess to work with, but dries to an interesting textured 'mush'.
Was it successful? No.  But it was interesting, so I am glad I had the opportunity to try something different. Not everything works, but you never know until you try. 

Mary Pratt - Eggs

This is my tip of the hat to Mary Pratt's "Eggs in an Egg Crate" 1975.
I was delighted to read about Mary Pratt, one of our Canadian treasures. Her paintings really speak to me, and I was so pleased to come across a beautiful self portrait in Hamilton when I was last there. Apparently, these are quite rare

You can't make an egg artwork without cracking eggs! This was step one. I painted cotton batting to create the egg carton. and then appliqued the eggs.

I found Mary's story very sad. And very much a tale of the times. "At Mount Allison University, her teacher Lawren Harris Jr. informed her that there could only be one artist in a marriage, and she was not it. When she travelled to Glasgow School of Art with her husband, Christopher Pratt, she was denied enrolment due to her pregnancy, whereas he was admitted." How typical. She painted household objects and food because that's what she had as her subjects. The eggs were painted after making breakfast for her 4 children and husband. 

And here is Mary Pratt's most beautiful painting that captured my heart. How gorgeous, how glorious. A triumph of eggs.

Thursday, 30 May 2019


When I first viewed Mary's work I admired her ability to paint in such a realistic way ,catching the light reflections on any object she chose for her still life pictures . Trying to interpret these reflections with fabric seemed a task too difficult for  me so I scrolled through her work and came across a delightful painting called 'The Happy Garden' . instead of the flowers being the prominent feature I designed a background leaf pattern with flowers tucked in between . Next I used a variegated thread on the leaves when quilting it so that there was some light and shade . In the end I enjoyed making this gentle piece.
                                                        THE HAPPY GARDEN


                                                            My interpretation


Saturday, 25 May 2019


Big exhale - have been holding my breath as I was scared I was going to mess my piece up.  Thankfully I have reached the stage when I need to start quilting and strangely that is (hopefully!!!) going to be the easier job.  And yes, all those scraps are a kind of clue as to how detailed I have been working...