The Bloggerati challenge for March is to choose or have an artist allocated to you and bring it to life in QUILT form of our choice. It could be a mini quilt, block, table runner or a full quilt if feeling that ambitious.
I have no idea why I decided to join in with this challenge because I have never been interested in art as a subject, which might seem strange given my creative passion for quilting. I don’t understand all the different perspectives of the art world so I’m not going to try and explain them as I just don’t know enough to sound credible but, I do know what I like.
I was given the artist Van Gogh but I just couldn’t see what I could make from his work. I needed something to inspire me so I looked to the internet to see what I could find. My search led me to the work of Sonia Delaunay. Her background story sounded interesting and, the fact she was also influential in the textile world made good reading so, I asked the chief whip if I could swap!
I’m going to give you a brief timeline of her life and career and if you want to read more then you will find a source reference list at the end of the blog. I will get to my ‘quilting’ homage to her work so please read on.
Here is Sonia’s story:
Born Sara Elievna Stern in Odessa in 1885, she was the youngest of three children. At the age of seven she went to live with her maternal uncle, Henri Terk, in St Petersburg and adopted the name of Sonia Terk. She as well educated, learned to speak several languages and, although she considered herself Russian, she spent most of her cosmopolitan adult life in Paris, with significant periods of work and study in Spain, Portugal, Germany and Finland. Naturally, she was very much a big part of the artistic community from many parts of the world that made Paris the centre of the evolution of modern art. She was influenced by the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists.
It was in Paris where she met her husband, Robert Delaunay, and together they founded a version of cubism through their collective creative exploration of colour and form which was known as Simultanism but, dubbed by art critics as the Orphism art movement. One explanation for Simultanism is that it explores the interaction between colours and geometry and how it created a sense of depth and movement.
Shortly after their marriage in 1911, Sonia Delaunay made a patchwork quilt cover of pinks, creams, greens, maroon and black fabric in geometric shapes contrasted her new-born son’s crib. Sonia was quoted as saying,
“About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son (Charles), who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Ukrainian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings.” Delaunay, S. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/_Delaunay
The baby quilt is now in the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.
Sonia’s early work involved large scale paintings, one example from 1913 is shown below at Bal Bullier, a Paris Dance Hall. If you look closely you should be able to see figurative movements that appear as if they are dancing.
Sophie, herself, chose not to dance as she preferred to study their movements and how the colours changed depending on the contrasting colours and light. This influenced an added dimension to her art as she moved into the textile world and costume design.
In 1917, Sonia was commissioned to create garments for the Ballet Russes’ adaptation of Cleopatra. This became her income generation during the years of WW1. She quickly became renowned and sought after for her costume work in theatrical and film circles.
She also designed her own dresses; the one shown here was made in 1913 and has a modernist patchwork feel about it. This led to her being ‘commissioned’ by her friends to make some for them also making her art becoming wearable.
By the 1920s, she applied her dynamic technique of design and construction to needlework creations incorporating her geometric designs and bold colours that she had reflected in her earlier paintings. She quickly became a high fashion brand for the rich and famous and for the modern woman.
Her creativity knew no bounds; in her collection of embroidered poem dresses she began incorporating surrealist text on her garments.
By the 1930s, Delaunay’s creativity had evolved even further. Enabled by mass, mechanical production her visionary acumen aided her to explore new avenues for her work and artistry. This extended to interior design, designing fabrics, carpets, handbags, ready-to-wear work attire, ceramics and much, much more. She even had a matching coachwork on her Citroen B12 which you can see here
Sonia led a fascinating life and is known as one of the most visionary women in the art world despite the challenges that women faced with gender bias in the art world. She continued working at her craft in her later life after her work regained momentum from the 1950s, in particular, her artwork as you can see as shown below.
Incredibly, at age 79, she became only the second living artist ever to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre, and the first female artist to achieve that milestone. In 1975 Sonia was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor. From 1976, at the age of 91, inspired by her work from the 1920s, she developed a range of textiles, jewellery and tableware with French company Artcurial. She died aged 94, leaving a truly remarkable legacy.
So, what do I make to pay homage to this wonderful lady? I have a love of maths, bright, bold colours and geometric shapes and had already been exploring a design for a quilt incorporating these features so Sophie Delaunay’s work has been a pleasure to research. I didn’t want to make something completely new in her style, but a faithful representation of one of her paintings would be ideal. Although I have been quilting for about 4 years, I generally make things and give them away and usually, I would produce a pattern to share with others but, on this occasion, I decided just to make this for me and to share how easy it is to create your own if you wish.
I chose this untitled print dating back to 1969. It was approximately 16 inch by 21 inch and I loved the colours. You can see the Half Square Triangles (HSTs), triangles, squares, rectangles some curved pieces. They weren’t quite semi-circles, so I used an Orange Peel template for the curved pieces.
Looking through my fabric stash I could see that I had the colours needed, although I had to go with some patterned grey fabric and will need to buy some more bright yellow at some point.
I roughly calculated the size of the ‘quilt top’ and had a loose plan on how I would join it all together.
Out with my pencil and paper to check what would work; you can see from the scribbles I amended it a few times. Some of the pieces are offset so I needed to take that into account when making decisions about size of each block. Cutting the pieces was the next step and this was mainly squares and rectangles. The orange peel template was slightly smaller than needed so I just gave it a ¼ inch seam allowance to make it bigger. I also used some iron-on interfacing for these pieces.
I constructed the blue/grey HST and the larger grey/black HST which gave me 2 of each colour combination. I trimmed down one of the grey/black HSTs to the size needed for the second one, and I had a spare blue/grey left over.
Next, I joined up the columns as below. Good job I checked before the next step as I had not added the off-set triangle section to the bottom of the red strip on the left-hand side!
I placed and pinned the ‘orange peel’ pieces and appliqued around them with narrow zigzag stitch in complementary colours.
Next, join all three columns together and then the mini quilt top is done. I might add a black border frame before finishing it off with wadding and backing and quilt it on my Simply Sixteen long-arm machine before adding the binding.
If you’re brave and want to have a go at making your own creation, then check out this website for inspiration. There were sixty-six prints of her artwork when I accessed the site so there will be something there that you can make. http://www.williamweston.co.uk/artist/previous_stock/115
I really love this mini quilt, and if you are inspired to have a go at creating your own don’t forget to pop pictures for me to see on Twitter @carol_lorac11 or Instagram: quiltsewgo
Happy Sewing Everyone
Sources and References:
https://www.ideelart.com/magazine/sonia-delaunay accessed 06/02/21
https://www.minniemuse.com/articles/the-art-of/sonia-delaunay-textiles/ accessed 15/02/21
https://rz100arte.com/arte-para-ninos-sonia-delaunay/ accessed 02/02/21
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Delaunay accessed 02/02/21
http://www.williamweston.co.uk/artist/previous_stock/115 accessed 15/02/21