Thursday, 12 September 2013

Am Free Journal Quilt

The September theme for the Sketchbook Challenge is Houses and Hide-Aways. I had already made a house themed journal quilt when the theme was Urban Sketching back in 2012, which on the face of it is a very cheerful piece though I couldn't help noticing I gave it the title Uphill Struggle. I didn't want to repeat myself so started to think about why houses should be equated with being hide-aways. From there I ventured into ideas of how hide-aways can so easily turn into prisons, both literally and figuratively. We can be imprisoned by our own thoughts, conditioned by our upbringing and/or education, and thus become restricted by the cage of our mind. This brought me to cages in the more literal meaning of the word.
And the vague notion of a poem about cages floated into my head. I eventually pinned it down as lines in the poem To Althea, from Prison, by Richard Lovelace (1618-1657). And by the way, don't you just love that last name?! Mr. Lovelace was a courtier, soldier and gentleman poet who in 1642 presented the Kentish petition to Parliament. This was a Royalist document calling for the restoration of the rights of King Charles I. He was promptly imprisoned for this action.

Although he was eventually released he suffered another period of imprisonment and died in very reduced circumstances as a hopeless drunkard. His poem reads:

Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
that for a hermitage
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free

There are two more lines which I haven't used on the piece. They read:

Angels alone that soar above 
enjoy such liberty.

While still thinking about this and how amazing it is that someone living almost 4 centuries ago thought along the same lines as I did, I bought some artistic packing tape at the Crossing Borders exhibition in Peebles (from GraceInk Design) that featured bird cages and I then remembered I also have a cird cage stencil. 
After that my decisions about the piece were made. I used a piece of untreated canvas, primed it with gesso and used multiple inks and stencils to make the background, finishing with that bird stencil and black ink. The surface was sealed with clear gesso. After layering with wadding and a backing fabric I machine quilted the black cage lines, appliqued the large bird and the 3 small bird transparencies (stamp from Birds and Nests stamp set by Cavallini) and glued and sewed on the texts by hand.
I further embellished the journal quilt (sized 10" square) with hand stitching and beading as shown. The binding is part of a piece of cotton I used to mop up the inks and paints while producing the background.

3 comments:

Lenna Young Andrews said...

I love it all but the large bird you appliqued on makes this sing!

The Pied Pedlar said...

Wow I just love it

Terri said...

Oh so wonderful! What an expressive journal page. And your thoughts around it are very wise. I appreciate your words here.
Again, I really enjoyed reading how you came to create this one.
Hugs to you,
Terri

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