I love colour, pattern and texture, bold and subtle, regular and abstract. When did I start relating these ideas to textiles? From childhood I learned to sew, both decorative and practical items. Fabric and thread were constants in my life, doing embroidery and dressmaking then learning to crochet and make curtains (for the many houses Ive lived in). My first quilting was done in the early 1980s then creativity took a back seat as job (unrelated) and family took precedence.
More recently I’ve been exploring textile art in its many forms and my creative preferences are strengthening. So what am I? Quilter? Embroiderer? Patchworker? Stitcher? Textile Artist?
View Deborah’s Quilts
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Firth of Forth 2021
The Firths of Scotland are coastal structures not seen elsewhere in the British Isles. They bring sheltered, deep water to long stretches of coastline and have played a major part in the development of settlements, commerce and now leisure activities.
This view across the Firth of Forth from Lauriston Castle to Fife highlights the islands such as Inchcolm with its ancient abbey, and Inchmickery, with its First World War gun emplacements making it look like a battleship. Cramond Island can be reached on foot at low tide and is regularly visited by the RNLI, rescuing visitors who’ve not paid attention to the tidal flow!
Hand painted fabric for sea and sky, commercial fabric for the land.
Coastal Structures 2021
The coastline of Great Britain is over 11.000 miles long at mean high tide and encompasses a wealth of fascinating structures, from sand to rock, high and low, gentle and dangerous. Three structures featured here are found in the south-west of England where I have spent much time, the fourth close to my home by the Firth of Forth.
Mixture of hand painted and commercial fabric.
Purple Piecing 2021
This was made at and following a Zoom workshop with Australian quilt artist Lisa Walton.
This was my first attempt at this type of improvised design and make. Batik fabrics in a range of complementary colours were backed with Bondaweb. Strips of varying width and length were cut and bonded together with a ¼ inch overlap. They were then recut and bonded to make pleasing patterns in blocks up to about 9 inches roughly square. These were later assembled with the same ¼ inch overlap. No stitching at all. Simple curved lines were quilted at about 1inch intervals with toning, variegated thread once the quilt was layered up
Great fun to make.
Mullion Cove 2019
The photo which provided inspiration for this quilt was taken at Mullion Cove on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall in 2018
The quilt was made using a technique taught by Gloria Loughman at the Region 16 Quilters’ Guild Residential Weekend at Stirling in June 2019. The sea and sky are made from hand painted fabrics, cut into strips and reassembled to suitable effect. The land is made from a commercial fabric bonded onto black fabric to provide depth and perspective.
30″ x 20″
Round the Bend 2020
Created for the Contemporary Quilt Scotland exhibition ‘Direction’ at the Scottish Quilt Show. Originally for 2021 but postponed to 2022.
This path through woodland was inspired by my daily walks at an Edinburgh park during lockdown one in Spring 2020. The main structure of the woodland was planted in the late 19th Century to create a circular walk around a small private estate, now in the care of the City of Edinburgh council. I enjoyed following the path round the bends, each revealing new sights. Walking in nature helped to offset the disadvantages of being locked down.
Confetti piecing onto a fusible background with bonded applique.
Through the Arch 2021
Created for the Contemporary Quilt Scotland exhibition ‘Direction’ at the Scottish Quilt Show. Originally for 2021 but postponed to 2022.
Inspired by time spent on the Dorset Jurassic Coast, enjoying exposed rock strata patterns, especially in the iconic arch at Durdle Door.
Hand painted fabrics, pieced for the sea and sky. The rock strata were cut from one piece of light coloured fabric and raw edge bonded onto a darker background. Quilted with a variety of space dyed threads.
Poole Harbour in Dorset is the largest natural harbour in the British Isles. The water is mostly shallow, though a channel deep enough for large ships is dredged through the harbour to Poole Quay.
At low tide, huge areas of sand and mud banks emerge, their shapes changing over time. Salt marshes form a link between land and water. Wild life is abundant here and well protected by reserves.
To the South and West of the water is a varied rural landscape, the Isle of Purbeck. To the North lies the ancient town of Poole, now a thriving urban area.
This is a painted wholecloth, coloured and quilted to hint at the complexity of the sea and landscapes.
The warm water of the Gulf Stream or North Atlantic Drift moves from the Tropics towards Northern Europe bringing mild winter weather and ice-free coastlines. Without this ocean current North West Europe would experience winters similar to those in Eastern Siberia.
The strip-pieced background, embellished with sheer fabrics and decorative threads show the cool North Atlantic water. The confetti pieced feature covered with sheer fabric represents the ocean current, cooling as it travels northwards.
Reflect and Hope 2018
This quilt was made to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One which was a time of reflection for many, mourning for those whose lives were lost – represented by the ghostly ‘Tommy’. The tree represents the broken, damaged past, and the healthier future. The destruction of farmland disturbed the soil, producing poppies, now an iconic an item of remembrance. There was also hope for a better future in a time of huge social change.
26″ x 18″
Forth Sunset 2017
On the hottest day of early summer I took a photo of the scene across the Firth of Forth from Silverknowes, Edinburgh at sunset and used it as the inspiration for this quilt.
The quilt was made using the tiling technique taught by Gloria Loughman at the Region 16 Quilters’ Guild Residential Weekend at Stirling in June 2017. Commercial fabrics are ‘fussy cut’ into diamonds and narrow strips and bonded to the background.
24″ x 18″
Tumbling Blocks 2018
The visual illusions created by the Tumbling Blocks design fascinate me. I love hand sewing so I enjoyed slow hand piecing with no deadline. I also love the small floral prints that became available with the resurgence of quilting in the 1980’s. Made with the traditional English Paper Piecing technique. Machine quilted.
More than 1470 pieces, each diamond side 1.5”.
Won Gold in the Traditional section of the Scottish Quilt Show, Glasgow, 2018.
44” x 70”
Fantasy forest 2018
I was inspired by the unconventional landscapes created by Art Deco artists especially Clarice Cliff. I liked their use of alternative colours and shapes. I also studied stylised tree shapes in art from Ancient Egypt and India and let my imagination run riot. 36″x36″
Winter Tree 2018
Trees denuded of leaves demonstrate the complexity of their structures. I was inspired by the contorted shapes of winter trees in many favourite places, often seen with frost on the branches.
Winter light can be a beautiful combination of cool colours varying from bright to dark and give a strong setting for a bold tree. 20″x 60″
Hot Rocks 2017
The landscape of the Sonora Desert in Southwestern USA has been shaped by extremes of heat and absence of water. Massive blocks of terracotta coloured rocks make bold statements against a brilliant azure sky. The arid landscape is studded by bold shaped cacti. Many subtle shade variations exist in the horizontal rock strata and scrubby vegetation struggles to survive the intense, arid heat. The Saguaro Cactus is a bold, iconic example of a plant evolved to survive its environment. The skies, clear of clouds, often show the ‘con trails’ of high flying aircraft. 24″x40″
Timeless Tayside 2017
The landscape is superficially simple, hills and water, but every hillside is a detailed patchwork of infinitely varied slopes and land use, colours altering with the seasons. Loch Tay may appear smooth and calm but it reflects a constantly changing sky and contains abundant aquatic life, busy below the surface. In certain light the distant boundary between land and sky becomes difficult to discern. 24″x 40″
Carnival Parade 2016
The highlight of any carnival, rows of participants in brightly coloured costumes parade along a route on foot or on vehicles extravagantly festooned with coloured lights and decorations, the whole event accompanied by fireworks.
Made for the Theme Challenge at Glasgow SECC March 2016
24″ x 40″
Cool Curves 2014
Made for a Chinese Whispers Challenge with Thistle Quilters for the Loch Lomond Quilt Show 2014
Themes of movement and progression are explored within the cool colour spectrum. Vertical strips cut to proportions according to the beginning of the Fibonacci sequence hint at progression. I used curved horizontal seams and the silver ‘river’ echoed in quilting, couching and beading to explore movement.
‘Good said God’ 2013
My response to ‘Anne Bevan – Hills Woolcraft and Stone’ by George Mackay Brown at Pat Archibald’s Creative Journey Class.
My inspiration came from the idea of fire from within the earth, forming rocks which are the foundation of a landscape able to support farming and industry despite, or aided by, the effects of wind and sea on a northerly island.
The circles focus on the 4 elements – wind, sea, fire and folded hills. The centre is detailed, representing the complexity of that environment, whereas the outer circle reflects the ‘big picture’ and the strength of local occupations.
The extract from the poem is hand embroidered in dark navy blue using a simple back stitch to outline a Celtic style font (relevant to the Orcadian origin of the poem).
The sections in the circles were pieced in the Bargello method.
The bias cut silver rings were added like bindings then that circle appliquéd to the layer beneath.
Tools relevant to the trades referred to in the poem were quilted in outline and some had silver foil added using the Bondaweb method.
Other quilting in the circles reflected the elements.
Beads were added to detailed sea and wind sections.
Binding was added in dark navy blue, highlighted with silver piping.
Silver was used to give an impression of the brightness found in the islands due to reflections off the sea. 30″x 30″
Jurassic Borders 2015
Created for the ‘Crossing Borders’ exhibition with Pat Archibald’s Creative Journey
Soft sea bed sediment in Jurassic times crosses borders over millions of years to become hard rock strata above sea level. The rock strata become contorted by slow movements of the Earth’s crust. The coastline is the border between land and sea. The rock strata determine the strength and shape of that coastline which in turn determines the speed at which the sea crosses the border and changes it – creating cliffs, arches and sea stacks. Ammonites cross the life/death border – live creatures swimming in Jurassic seas die, sink to the sea bed and become fossils found in the rock strata.
Life Line – Home was where the heart is 2014
I looked at my past homes from a spatial perspective. An aerial photograph evokes memories of the immediate surroundings. The postcode and year are reminders of the wider area and my life there. Commercial fabrics with photo printed from Google Earth.
Completed for the Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt Challenge 2014
Messages from the Roof of the World 2015
Tibetan elements are denoted by colours seen in the prayer flags widely hung throughout the Himalayas. Messages of hope and support are transmitted across the mountains and valleys by strong winds which eventually cause the flags to disintegrate.
Elements and their representative colours are blue – sky, white – air, red – fire, green – water and yellow – earth. The colour order of flags is traditional, but symbols and print used on full sized flags are omitted to avoid offence by inaccuracy of representation on a small scale. Mountains are marked with couched threads and emphasised with quilting. Shading is created with water-based pigment.
Completed for the 2015 Contemporary Quilt Group Challenge – Elements
Old Town New Town Contrasts 2014
Made for the Region 16 Exhibition ‘Best of Scotland’ at the Loch Lomond Quilt Show 2014
As a Geographer I am fascinated by the contrasts in layout of the two iconic areas of Edinburgh. The Old Town has a random layout developed over centuries and determined by the shape of the land. The New Town, on flatter land, was planned in the 18th Century and has a regular rectangular layout.
The piecing and quilting was completed by machine, using purple and green – the colours of Scotland’s thistles. The black and white border features a Celtic style font to show many famous street names, lettered by hand with a fabric pen.
18″x 32″ each
Rainbow Diamonds 2012
Bargello style piecing in bright colours. Colour choice mine, design by Jan Hassard. Machine quilting of oval shapes to contrast with diamond piecing. Space dyed thread in bright colours used for the quilting.
43″ x 47″
Stained Glass and Spires 2015
Inspired by St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral The strong shapes of the Victorian Gothic spires (darkened by pollution) contrast with the bright delicate patterns in the modern, stained glass Millennium Window by Eduardo Paolozzi which is set within traditional stone arches.
The cathedral spires form a focal point in Edinburgh’s West End and cast large shadows over this part of the New Town.
The ‘stained glass’ has been hand painted and machine quilted, then mounted into dark fabric spires. These pieces were then machine appliqued onto a background of commercial fabric which has been machine quilted and hand painted in a design which echoes the ‘stained glass’.
Made for the Thistle Quilters 2015 Chairman’s Challenge – Auld Reekie
My interpretation of the theme ‘Reflections’ at Pat Archibald’s Creative Journey Class.
Reflection on the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. Mountains – dramatic peaks fading into the distance and dissolving into the sky. Rocks – strong, solid, barren. Rivers of water and ice – powerful sweeping curves. Lakes – reflective ribbons full of life. Forests – alive but fragile. 24″x 40″
This reflection on a village in the Derbyshire Peak District was completed after a class with Alicia Merrett at the Contemporary Quilt Group Winter School 2013.
Random piecing in bright colours represents buildings and roads surrounded by green open land and a river. Curved seams reflected the reality of lines in an ancient English village. A variety of free machine quilting patterns were used for different land uses.
23″ x 25″