The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Hexagon project continued

In June I had just started a hexagon project and I gave you a glimpse of it's beginnings.  I was so inspired by the Brereton Bed Hangings and the fact that its maker, Anna Margetta Brereton came from Cardiganshire, near to the Jen Jones Quilt Centre, that I felt that I must do something to celebrate this discovery!  Thanks to Roger, Jen's husband, I have discovered a few more facts.  The house she lived in was destroyed by fire around 1900 and only the gates remain.  Such a shame, as the famous architect John Nash's name has been associated with and it was such a pretty place.  Its name had been changed too and this again made the research a bit more difficult! I find it poignant that the only way this was all brought to light was through the bed hangings.  The people and the house are no longer, but the patchwork remains to bring them to our attention now!

This project has been progressing slowly, far too slowly, but when I'm creating a new design I like to have pauses, then I can return afresh and review the situation!  Well that's my excuse anyway!

This is just the central area of the quilt, it will be built up with further borders is a more haphazard way. I want it to look as if someone has discovered a hexagon centre, then at a later date made it larger by adding random pieces.  This was done on so many quilts that I thought I would create my own two tier quilt.

Of course it is also a way to avoid making further hexagons which take an inordinate amount of fussing over!  A bit of fussy cutting is fine but I didn't want to turn this quilt in to a marathon event!

I am in the process of stitching the hexagon frames to the base fabric, the next stage is to herringbone the cut pieces which will take a little time.  The border also has to be stitched on, it is just tacked at the moment. I am so pleased to be using it as I have had in in my stash for many years and I suspect it's about the same age as the basket fabric.  Both are Liberty Country Cotton and that has long been discontinued!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The magic of Hill Top!

At this time of year, round about the middle of August, the light changes here in the UK and becomes softer and more golden.  It's a bittersweet happening because one knows that we are on the downward slope to winter.  Nevertheless is it very beautiful and one place lingers in my memory at this time, Hill Top the house Beatrix Potter bought with her first earnings from the Tale of Peter Rabbit!  She never actually lived there but kept is as an escape, furnished it with wonderful old country pieces and used it as a setting for many of her famous stories.

I wandered up this pathway in early September, on a beautiful golden day, a very long time ago now but I have never forgotten it.  It seemed as if I had the whole place to myself because it was late afternoon and all the visitors had gone. 

We were returning home from a conference in Edinburgh and I had managed to persuade my husband that an overnight stop in the Lake District would be a good idea!  He was a bit reluctant, because apart from being like a homing pigeon when he was on the return journey from anywhere, he knew that there must be an ulterior motive and indeed there was!

I had been reading Margaret Lane's biography of Beatrix Potter and was enthralled by her story, the restrictions of her life and how she overcame them and I wanted to see the land of Peter Rabbit, the village of Sawrey and its surrounding countryside where Beatrix eventually lived and farmed.

This is Castle Cottage, the house where she did live with her husband, it's just across the field from Hill Top.

Beatrix had a privileged but very restricted life with extremely dominant parents which prevented her from developing her talent.  Eventually she did make a breakthrough and her books became famous but she struggled hard on the way.  The recent film, though very entertaining, sanitised the story somewhat and wasn't nearly as good as one made for television in the 80s with Penelope Wilton playing Beatrix.  Here is the link for anyone interested! I haven't got a copy as am not sure if I can play it on my player - the price puts me off too!

If you do visit Hill Top, do as I did and leave it until late in the afternoon because it gets absolutely crowded earlier in the day. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The paintings of Valeraine Leblond

I bought a painting by the French artist, Valeraine Leblond way back in March when she had an exhibition at the Welsh Quilt Centre.  It has only just arrived as I was rather slow arranging delivery after the exhibition closed.

The above images are of the exhibition, Valeraine with Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mably.  When I arrived most had little red stickers on them.  I am pleased with the one I bought, but this is the one I initially wanted but it was already sold -

Nevertheless I am delighted with my purchase and at the moment it is propped up on the windowsill opposite my desk and I can look up from my computer screen and enjoy it.

I love Valeraine's work.  She is French, but lives in West Wales, speaks Welsh and has two little children, so a busy lady!  I haven't met her, but I follow her Facebook page and assume that she lives in a cottage near the beach, because these idyllic ingredients are to be seen in all her paintings which are painted on wood, much of which she gathers from the sea shore.

I love the little cottages, particularly the little terraced ones.  Not sure that I could fit all my possessions into one of them, but I can but dream!  Of course I particularly like the ones with quilts! Here are some of my favourites -

Aren't they delightful?  West Wales is a lovely place, but I'm not sure it is as lovely as in these pictures.  There are no unsightly intrusions that are so necessary to everyday life, they just make you wish that you could live in this simple way, tending gardens, hanging out washing, feeding the chickens!  Ah well, back to the real world.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Putting the new with the old!

Many old Medallion quilts look as if there is a time lag between the centre and their outer areas and this is very often the case. Maybe someone started a piece of patchwork or embroidery which never got finished - we all know about that don't we?  Then years later someone else comes along and decides that it would make a nice centre for a quilt and extends it. Sometimes the quilter herself will find something she made years ago and decide to use it - I have done this a few times!

Here is an intriguing example -

made by Anne James, who was born in 1796, and who lived at Aberelwyn Glandwr, on the Pembrokeshire /Carmarthenshire border.  In 1830 she married John Morse, who was a farmer and moved nearby to  Cefnpant, Llanboidy.  This is an area that has rich  Welsh quilting traditions and it is said that Ann was taught to quilt by her mother, Mary and that she made the central panel of hexagons when she was 14 years old.

Now we enter the realm of speculation!  Did Ann come across her early piece of  hexagon patchwork and decide to use it many years later, perhaps when she was preparing for her marriage?  We shall never know the whole story!

I love studying these quilts and speculating about their makers.  Of course one will never know the actual circumstances, but one can pick up quite a few clues about the social circumstances of the different quilters from their style and the quality of fabrics and of course fabric dating will give you an idea of the timescale.

This quilt is in the collection of Jen Jones and was dated 1820-25 at the one of the Quilters' Guild Documentation days and a plan of its wonderful quilting is on Page 80 of the book Quilt Treasurers.
It has recently been conserved and here are some pictures of  Catherine Vicic, the Conservator, finishing the process in the gallery at the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter.  These also show us a close up of the wonderful quilting.

The last picture is a reproduction the conservator made which will give anyone interested a good idea of the process of making a quilt.  This was part of her degree course at Camberwell College of Arts, where she gained a B.A in Textile Conservation using this lovely quilt as her practical project.

Now here is some news, this stunning quilt will be in next year's exhibition which is to be called (this piece of news is hot off the press) - "Early to Bed" and will feature quilts with a folk art element to them.

Hazel, who works with Jen, has sent me several images of quilts that might be included, which I may well be sharing with you soon!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Visiting the Quilt Museum in York

So long between posts, I have been under the weather and haven't been feeling up to posting, now trying to catch up with news.

Two weeks ago I  visited the Guild Quilt Museum in York, which has been open for a few years but this was my first long overdue visit!   I enjoyed it very much indeed and loved the hall and current exhibition, but for several reasons, I am not sure when I will be visiting again. We, who live on the west side of the UK and can't face an arduous drive across country on unfamiliar motorways, have to budget for a long, expensive train ride and an overnight stay. 

York is very crowded with tourists, they throng the streets, shops and cafes.  This makes for a lovely, lively atmosphere but for those of us who remember the York of old, it's a bit of a culture shock and takes getting used to.  I am told that it's only the central narrow streets that get crowded but nevertheless I didn't enjoy the experience of mass tourism.  Perhaps I should have avoided the summer, but I particularly wanted to see the current exhibition which is called "The Blossoming of Patchwork" and here is the link that will tell you all about it!

It's a period of quilt history that I am extremely interested in, so I made the effort to travel to York and fortunately Bridget Long who co-curated, happened to be there on the day we visited and took us around the exhibits.  It also was an opportunity to deliver my Charles and Diana Wedding Quilt which is to be in the next exhibition beginning in September.

The quilts were early and worth studying here are some -

This is a rare early crib quilt and I was interested to see that it was a block quilt, well actually a two block quilt, one fairly simple block, four with stars and the other made up of tiny 1 cm squares, made around 1800.
Panels of crewel embroidery are incorporated into this quilt dated 1800-1820, surrounded by frames of high quality furnishing fabrics. Sorry about the quality of the picture, it's the best I can do!
The now famous and much copied Mrs. Billings Coverlet. It's dated 1785 - 1805 and it was a thrill to see the original!
This coverlet has the date 1811 and S. Challans embroidered between the petals of the central flower.  It is made of printed dress cotton and furnishing fabrics and is mainly applique rather than piecing.
This is called the Sidmouth Quilt, not sure why but probably it was discovered in that Devon town.  It is dated 1800-1830.