I have come late to the world of quilting and sewing, but on retirement in 2019 from the NHS as a dietitian, I started to explore my love of art and art history, and attended workshops and courses in Asian art at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) as well as the Asian Art course on China, Korea and Japan offered by the V&A. Unfortunately, the V&A course was cancelled after 2 terms in March 2020, due to the Covid19 pandemic. I joined the Oriental Ceramics Society, and have benefited hugely from their series of excellent monthly lectures (now on Zoom). As well as covering ceramics and painting, the V&A course had lectures on textiles, which led me to experiment with Japanese and Korean textiles and techniques, such as boro and jogakbo.
The first quilt I made was a "Tribute to Sean Scully", finding the Japanese tsumugi cottons a perfect representation of his brushwork mixing. This was hand sewn, as I had never owned a sewing machine, nor did I know how to use one. But as I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and travelled with my family to visit relatives in Florida every summer, I knew of the American quilting tradition; many examples displayed on the road side as we drove through Tennessee and Georgia in the 1950s.
Many of my friends had been sewing since childhood, and gave me lots of encouragement and tips of the trade when I expressed an interest after retiring, and I was invited to join a local sewing group, the Half Moon Stitchers.
A surprise Christmas gift from my daughter of a sewing machine opened up a whole new world, and I haven't looked back!
Since that Christmas, 2020, I have been sewing quilts, scarfs, clothes, cushion covers, masks and scrub bags for the NHS, and trying to contribute blocks to any and all projects that come through our local group. My lockdown project has been the 125 blocks in Susan Briscoe's book, "Japanese Taupe Quilts", as I wanted to use up the fabric scraps from other projects. I hate the waste of even small scraps, so made a Louise Bourgeois soft fabric tower of cubes filled with scraps less than 1 inch square, like a giant shape stacker for my grandchildren. Other stray bits of cotton go into the compost heap!