As book/installation artist/writer turned textile artist, I now work almost exclusively with cloth – dyeing, printing, in fact, I enjoy a variety of surface design processes. I have to thank a friend for introducing me to the wonderful world of textile art. While recovering from a seriously debilitating episode of depression, my friend suggested that I sew. As a child, I loved fabric and spent many happy hours designing and making clothes for my dolls, then progressing, as a teenager, to making my own clothes. Aaaah, I remember well the orange trouser suit fashioned out of upholstery fabric … but I digress. I hadn’t sewed for many years but took on my friend’s challenge and when I sat happily piecing my little rectangles into squares, I felt an immediate reconnection with fabric and sewing. My friend lent me her sewing machine and ‘fed’ me scraps of her leftover fabrics which I cut into 2” x 2 1/2” rectangles and methodically stitched together. Slowly, a big pile of pieced squares grew. I randomly sewed the squares together and, suddenly, there was a quilt! Full of colour and pattern! I then quilted it (after a fashion!). After eight years, it is still on our bed today. Some of the seams have split and, overall, it has probably seen better days but I still love my ‘recovery’ quilt.
From there I bought a sewing machine, a couple of books and made a few more ‘scrappy’ quilts. It was at the first quilt show I attended that I saw an art quilt. Wow! Quilts as art and art as quilts! I was instantly hooked! My foray into the world of art quilts led me to my City and Guilds in Creative Quiltmaking. It was during my course that I learned to dye cloth. Another epiphany! I loved the textures and colour combinations I could create in cloth along with the serendipity of the process. From dyeing, I began to explore other surface design techniques and, suddenly, I was back where I started in the Fine Art printmaking world, only this time printing words and images on cloth – with the addition of stitch! Happy days! My transition from paper and books to cloth and quilts was complete.
Inspiration comes from the world around me – a splash of colour and/or a fascinating texture in nature; my Scottish heritage; a shape or symbol; song lyrics; a word; a story; and, of course, quotes. I devour quotes avidly and have a huge eclectic collection – I think I’m always on the lookout for that one, special, elusive, quote that will reveal life, its meaning, and provide me with exactly the maxim by which to live my life! Unlikely, I know, but I enjoy the chase! Don’t we all have a collection of such quotes??
A friend recently gave me this quote by Arthur Ashe:
Start where you are
Use what you’ve got
Do what you can
This quote is particularly pertinent to my life at the moment so I decided to use this as my springboard into the world of blogging. First post will reveal all ….
The name HeidiHandDyes arose from my need to find an interesting name for my Etsy online shop where I could sell my surplus fabric. Because I love to dye and print cloth, and produce far more than I will ever use, a couple of friends suggested that I sell it, so with their encouragement, HeidiHandDyes was ‘born’. Thanks – it worked out better than I could have imagined. I’m Muriel by the way, not Heidi. Heidi is my very special ‘old lady’ cat and was delighted to put her name to my first Etsy endeavours. HeidiHandDyes at Etsy is closed at present due to the wonderful result of having sold out of stock.