Sunday, 18 December 2016


I am sometimes asked about my 'creative process' - the process of designing and then working on my pieces and I never really know how to respond. I have been thinking about this issue again as I work on my Patmos project. It still remains a mystery!

My starting point is people. As I often say - People Matter. All people, not just - as in the line in the song 'Colours of the Wind' - those "who look and think like you". I have then found further inspiration from what I know of the person or people I am making the piece for - or, as in 'Guantanamo', the people working on behalf of those being held in such inhuman conditions, such as Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve.

.'Guantanamo' by Louise Donovan (2014)

From those points of inspiration there then comes the graph paper, pens, rulers

and coloured crayons. Working on the plan takes time. I make notes in a book. I measure squares, oblongs and shapes, carefully colouring them in to get the overall effect. The notes in my planning book indicates that I need to cut  x number of squares of a certain size, y number of oblongs - and so on. And I then start on the actual piece.

Plan of Agrioivado Bay

And during the cutting out and sewing, the cage for the occasional safe-keeping of Trainee Perfect Quilters Companion - aka Ella Dog - provides a very useful storage shelf!

What happens next is the machining together and at this stage - no matter how carefully planned, measured, and cut - there is always one piece which is too small or too big. 'Too big' is not important - it can be cut to size but 'too small' is more problematic. Sometimes it's fine as there is enough fabric to cut another. When this is not the case, there is a need for further creative thought - or fudging! To my amazement I have never yet been dissatisfied with what the fudging has produced!

This happened with my Agriolivado piece.

'Agriolivado' in the making (2016)

The plan was altered as piecing progressed and I ended up with a finished top that was markedly more abstract than planned. I realised that my creation was closer in spirit and form to the naive painting that inspired it. My Alfred Wallis moment! This piece had developed a life of its own while in production!

And thus my Patmos project progresses. Five tops have have been completed. Sewn together, backed and pinned ready for quilting. The quilting on one has already started which delights me. I feel lost without some hand quilting as the rhythm and focus relaxes me - it has a meditative feel which no quilting machine could ever produce - however wonderful.

Quilting 'Hora by Night'

  The top that I hope will be ready for quilting before Christmas is proving especially challenging. I thought I had read somewhere how to use a traditional log cabin design to create a curved effect. But I could not find this in any of my reference books - so I created my own template block. This piece is going to represent the bougainvillea which covers the hotel we stay in and also many of the houses on Patmos

Bougainvillea growing in Hora.

And when it all feels too much I try to imagine myself sitting looking at the sunset at Hohlaka Bay

... a view which is the inspiration behind the piece below

'Sunset on Hohlaka Bay, Patmos'

This year has been unexpected and great in so many ways. I was talked into blogging and then found that I have enjoyed it more than I ever knew I would. It astonishes me that people are reading what I write and I have loved the comments - thank you. 2017 will see the completion of my Patmos project, more blogging and other work -  I am looking forward to it all. In the meantime - a cartoon that has made me laugh!

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