I have always been drawn to graphic art.
Back in my art curating days I found myself petitioning my bosses to work on posters and children's illustrations, biscuit labels and woodcuts rather than oil paintings. I liked the distillation of images down to basic forms and the lack of bombast.
When I left the Hunterian I was in the middle of researching the work of a Scottish C20th wood type artist, Mary Viola Paterson, an adventurer and possible spy, who had been strongly influenced by the Provincetown printmakers of Cape Cod such as Blanche Lazell.
What I liked about these works of art was their simplicity, the plain blocks of colour, the humour.
It was these printmakers that I thought of when I came across these fabric panels earlier in the year. They are all panels cut from US flour sacks and illustrate nursery rhymes. Presumably a farmers wife had carefully cut them out and stored them to make a quilt.
This was a marketing technique - farmers wives would use the flour sack material to make quilts and clothes. By printing each sack with a series of images the farmer was more likely to buy more in a single purchase - it took 4-6 floral sacks to make a dress; I don't know how many nursery rhyme panels would be needed to make a quilt.
What struck me about the panels was how accomplished some of the designs were - this scene from There was a crooked man for example with its spotty deco tree and perfectly balanced red bridge, or the wonderful dotty pinny on the cow who jumped over the moon.
I wonder who drew the designs.
I pondered and pondered as to what I should make with these panels - they threatened to stay in the box of things I stash and never use "because they are too good".
Part of the problem was finding something to team with them - the panels are on thin material, peculiarly flat in its finishing which makes them very pictorial. They didn't seem to go with any of the textiles in my stash.
This week, kept inside by my cold, I decided to have a proper go at transforming them into something and got out all my materials into heaps on the kitchen table. It was very frustrating.
Though the panels are bright themselves, they are diminished by bright colours, they seem to weaken.
Then I thought of my bolt of wool gingham,and how black and white checkerboards were often used in posters and labels from the 1920s.
And it worked.
I mounted the panels onto cream wool flannel and then onto the gingham to give them some body and made cushions.
I think that they are really cheery - just the thing for a playroom or child's bedroom that you don't want to date.
It is the Green Gallery Christmas Fair in Buchlyvie this weekend - Sat and Sunday 10.30-4.00. It is my favourite of the fairs I do - the stalls are all lovely and there is an appreciation of art and craft amongst the visitors. Becky Walker who runs the gallery is a great host, the fair spills out of the gallery and into her home there is a warm welcome and lots of cake.
It is a place where I can take quirky one offs like these cushions.