Wednesday, 31 August 2011

WIP a timely revisit.

Last night I'd just hit the 'post' button to send this post to the blog and I saw I had an email from Linda Gillard.  She wanted to put a textile picture on her website that was relevant to the plot in 'Untying the Knot' and wondered if I had anything suitable I wouldn't mind her using. It reminded me that after I'd read the advance copy I'd been inspired to start a little art panel, very much influenced and inspired by the work of Fay, a textile artist in 'Untying the Knot' and the story itself. 


I didn't ever finish it. I had all sorts of directions I wanted to take this little piece in.  In some ways I'm amazed I got this far with it. You see I make hundreds of textile pieces like this...all in my head.  The part of me that has to justify why I make something and then what I do with it and how to store it, stops me from creating more work in this style.  With a lap quilt, mug rug or bag I have something pretty and practical.  The aim of a piece like this is to tell a story. To use threads and textures to create a piece of art that has lots of hidden meanings.  It's not a place for neat stitchery and careful seams. It's a place to take risks, to try new techniques and break every rule I usually follow diligently in other items I make.


The base fabric is several large scraps of calico which I've over laid with strips of one of Chiefs old uniforms, some tartan quilting fabric (because the story is set in Scotland.) and a scrap of silk someone gave to me a long time ago left over from a hand made wedding dress. 

In 'Untying the Knot', the two main characters are divorced. I didn't want the fabric joined neatly. I wanted raw edges to convey that life isn't tidy and neat and sometimes it leaves you raw around the edges too!  I used fine permanent marker to write out some of the wedding vows on silk.

One of the major settings in the book is Tullibardine Tower the 16th century ruined tower house Magnus has decided to restore. It's as big a character as Fay and Magnus, so I wanted it to have a place in this panel too.  Made from hand dyed wool felt it stands on a green velvet hill.  Bits of the hill have been cut away to reveal the layer of chenille scraps and silk throwers waste below and some of the tartan.  I'm not going to explain the significance of this or the knotted threads in the centre because that's a real spoiler for the book! I've used quilted cotton with a metallic sparkle in it to create the idea of night around the tower - cutting the fabric in similar shapes to the pattern on the uniform dpm fabric.

Regular readers will know how I love my fabrics with text printed on them. I used some of my treasured 'Authentic' fabric by Sweetwater for Moda, as it seemed to fit in with the idea this is inspired from a story.  I chose the definition of 'Real' because despite this being a work of fiction it has a very real message about our servicemen (and I don't just mean those in the UK) and how many of them suffer from PTSD, often with devastating results for themselves and their family.  Also despite divorce the love between Magnus and Fay has remained real.


So that's just a little snapshot as to a WIP which I've now decided really needs to be finished. 

I sent Linda a very quick and not great snapshot last night (or was it stupid o'clock this morning?) to see if it was the sort of thing she had in mind (with the proviso no offence would be caused if it wasn't what she wanted or she just thought it was rubbish!)  She put it on her website straight away. You can find it here along with my blog review yesterday.  (I know,WOW!)

If you want to read more about what inspired Linda to write 'Untying the Knot', go to her website here.  You can find out more about her other books here too.

If you want to know more about PTSD do go the Combat Stress website here.  As a society we really owe it to our servicemen and women and their families to understand what this condition is about.


  1. That is so fantastic!!
    Well done - that's a smashing picture too x

  2. I have now also linked to this wonderful post on my website. (Thanks, Jan, for supplying me with all this high quality content for my website.)

    This artistic response to my own endeavours would have been wonderful for me anyway, but it is all the more wonderful because my first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was about an artistic collaboration in which a textile artist makes quilts in response to a collection of poems and the poet writes new poems in response to her textiles. They plan a joint exhibition called The Encumbrance of Words.

    Frankly, I always thought this idea strained credulity somewhat. But no.....

  3. Amazing! I haven't read the previous post so I'm off to do that now!

  4. What an interesting post Jan! I love what you are doing with this piece - it's so free and creative. And I have that exact tartan fabric - bought it years ago and still have a tiny amount!

  5. Wow! What a fab piece of textile art! And it fits perfectly with the book. Well done! Jxo


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