Before I went to New Zealand I booked two courses at Cowslip Workshops, something to look forward to when I arrived home. Shibori and indigo dyeing a real inspiration back in March and I knew the second one would be likewise, a two day workshop with textile artist Janet Bolton a few weeks ago.
From Janet's website...
"Janet Bolton composes textile pictures using the simplest of hand sewing techniques. Her inspiration comes from visual experience, memory, imagination – and sometimes from some quality inspired by the material itself. The placement of each element within the composition and the feeling this evokes being the important factor of each piece of work.
Janet has been on the Crafts Council selected index of makers since 1985, her work is in many private collections and in: The British Council Collection, The Crafts Council Permanent Collection and The Embroiderers Guild Museum Collection."
Six cards that I use as bookmarks, occasionally put some in a frame, risk one and glue it on the front of a special notebook. If I am slow-reading any book I hunt down the Janet Bolton snail. It is the only one that will do and becomes a gentle reminder that this reading lark is not a race, no extra points for reading more books this year than last year, slow and steady and enjoy.
Looking back I see it was 2008 when I 'discovered' Janet, contacted her for permission to use her pictures on here and wrote a blog post...
"At first glance these pictures seem a bit naive, slapdash, even a bit, well basic. Except look closely and see just how clever they are in their seeming simplicity. So often for us first-generation rotary cutters patchwork has become a precise, measured, symmetrical and very formal art. One millimetre out and we've thrown the whole project into disarray and we despair. When corners don't quite meet and triangles refuse to align we flip and fret over our mistakes.
Well actually I don't because perfectionism is not a word that sits comfortably with my craft efforts.
But there seems to be something incredibly freeing about Janet's pictures and I have fallen in love with them, nor do I think I could easily re-create them. Janet does workshops over at Cowslip and I shall get there one day because I should imagine they are huge fun."
Well it has only taken me eight years but I made it and it was more than huge fun, it was two days of slow, mindful stitching bliss, painting with fabric and threads. And you meet lovely like-minded people with whom the conversation ebbs and flows throughout the day. To my right a nurse who had just retired and was walking the south west coast path, on my left a lady who had travelled from France to be at the class. While we were there six quilters from the US were emailing to book places on Janet's next course at Cowslip.
How lucky am I to live twenty minutes away.
Janet is a wonderful teacher, engaging and attentive, full of encouragement and ideas whilst ensuring that everyone feels able to find their own voice in their work. I'd be deep in thought and there would be Janet, quietly at my shoulder, resolving an impasse of colour or placement with some suggestions...and I can only apologise that she burnt her hand not once but twice on my tiny little Clover pressing iron.
It is remarkably difficult to work in 'wonky' when your eye is trained in 'straight lines' and truth be told I now discover that I am not one for the overly abstract and was beginning to think I didn't really enjoy applique either. It was inevitable that my workshop piece would morph from chickens just like Janet's, through to dogs just like Janet's, thence to flowers just like Janet's before I eventually settled on trees just like Lynne's and everything suddenly clicked. There was a whole heap of cut up bits and pieces and a lot of unpicking before I realised that I needed to be doing something of my own that blended with the TexTithe project, eventually choosing a representation of the beautiful woods a few fields up behind the house (which I think you all know as well as we do by now).
I am also a terror for over-gilding the lily so I heeded Janet's advice not to be fearful of empty space and stopped at four lines of ploughed furrow and three birds. Incidentally the background fabric was a piece chopped off an enormous sheet of monogrammed antique (may the good Lord forgive me) French Metis (linen cotton mix) bought in Tavistock Market for £12. To add to the carnage I dunked the lily-white fabric in a bowl of nuclear-strength Yorkshire Tea to give it some patina. A tip from Janet...add some milk because the protein helps fix the dye, and I was pleased with the slightly mottled and uneven effect.
And I was right, it isn't as easy as it looks but I think I now have a starter for ten for a series of pictures that might accompany the TexTithe and will combine with the embroidery that I did on Caroline Zoob's workshop last year. So if Janet Bolton is exhibiting or teaching nearby I can recommend both her work and her classes highly, you will have a wonderful time.