Friday, 21 September 2012

Background to Patchwork shoes

At the recent Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles meeting in September, we were lucky to have a demonstration of cyanotype (blueprint) by Barbara Gunter-Jones. Very appropriately, I can now share the work in progress images of Sheila Dunscombe's patchwork shoes which very effectively used this technique. This piece and the rest will be on show to the public again from Wednesday 19 September to Friday 26 October 2012 at the National Needlework Archive in Newbury.

This is the Slough Museum Handling collection box which inspired Sheila. It is a box of Victorian Dolls Clothes, including dresses, a corset and shoes. This was the most popular inspiration from the Handling Collection as it inspired Sheila, Sandy Snowden and Chris Day. A close up of the shoes is below.
These immediately gave Sheila a focus on shoes, as she remembered her great-grandmother's hand-sewn doll's shoes

Sheila also decided to use her Great Grandmother's patchwork coverlet and doilies, in the work. (above)
Digital negatives were made of a family group photo and Sheila's photo of the coverlet, here placed on treated fabric for making a cyanotype/'sun-print'.

 This is the preferred print with doilies, though rather dark

To highlight Alice and Sheila's grandfather she added a cut-out from what she originally thought was a poor print, but which is in fact exposed much better for the image.

Sheila notes that: "Incidentally - the reason I thought the 'cutout' print poor was because its left-hand third was very pale, due to an uneven treatment of the fabric. So I used the 'good' bit! A similar but lesser fault can actually be seen down left side of the dark/doily print used (later disguised with long fabric strip of bow). I do think it's strange how the two left figures only show up clearly in flash photos, not 'in the flesh'!"

The pattern for the 3-dimensional part of the design was based on Sheila's daughters first shoe. I love the way the connections in this piece go through five generations of her family from Sheila's Great Grandmother down to her daughter. It was made using patchwork cyanotype, polyester sateen-backed 'suede', and knitted copper-wire tubing.

A pin cushion was made to go inside the shoe. It was stuffed with gathered sheep's wool.

 Finally here is Sheila stitching the piece on to a canvas panel, and the finished work. A small bow is now on insole/heel, with embroidered initials "A H" (Alice Hanks). The "A" on pincushion echoes old pin-messages, using applique pins.


Thank you Sheila for sharing these photographs!