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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tea–bag trail by Susan Long

Contemporary textile art quilts are big news at the moment. This one, titled 'Tea-bag Trail' features tea dyeing, shibori and running stitch, based on the design concept of a journey by road map, through an Australian 
outback landscape. 

It was accepted for entry to Dare to Differ 2011, a contemporary quilt exhibition curated by the Quilters Guild of SA. Dare to 

Differ 2011, was open to all quilt makers resident in Australia. It was a juried selection. 

My design evolved, whilst experimenting with natural tea- dyeing and a shibori technique. I folded and tied with string, small packages of bleached calico that resembled tea-bags. In the tea dyeing process, some of the tea ran into the folds of the calico forming a grid-like pattern. 

This grid-pattern created the structure of a map. After laying out the tea-dyed calico and lining up the grid-pattern, I patched and pieced it together by hand, sewing through two layers with invisible stitches. Stitching through two or more layers of predominantly fibre was an entry requirement, to comply with the structure of a quilt. With a 2B pencil, I hand drew an imaginary section of an Australian outback road map, directly onto the calico. Strong diagonal and curving lines criss-cross my quilt landscape, adding perspective. The earthy and tonal colour variations of the tea dyeing, combined with the shibori, grid patterning and string resist, determined my colour palette: mono-chromatic (tones of warm and cool browns). 

DMC brand embroidery stranded and perle cotton threads were used throughout, along with running stitch for its strong mark making qualities. Other stitches included back stitch, stem stitch and couched thread. To complete the design, I added a focal point: a place where the eyes can rest before moving around the design. I embroidered a circle in stem stitch in the lower left hand side of the quilt. This was my focal point. The circle references a place or location situated on a map. The road map layer links journey and travel through an outback Australian landscape to destination Adelaide, South Australia.

For a visual artist (not a quilt maker), I felt a sense of achievement that my quilt, 'Tea-bag Trail' which began its journey based on experiments with natural tea dyeing and shibori and journey by map, was accepted for Dare to Differ, 2011, contemporary quilt exhibition. The exhibition ran from 30 September - 23 October, 2011, held at Gallery M Cultural Centre.

Susan Long graduated in 2009 with a (Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design) from Adelaide College of the Arts, Adelaide, S.A. This article was published in Embellish Magazine Issue No. 9. Her next exhibition 'House Special', mixed media works by Red House Group Inc. members, opened on 28 September at Gallery M, Marion Cultural Centre and runs until 21 October.


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