Saturday, January 09, 2016

looking at birds in textile books

The Songbird Arriving  by Janet Bolton  6 x 4.5 inches

crossing the border by Janet Bolton  7 x 4.5 inches
If you haven't fixed on a subject, I suggest that your first picture be a bird.  It allows for incorporating plenty of your own ideas and there is a huge variety of possible bird images to choose from.  Collect pictures of birds and pick elements from several to make your own bird.  Janet Bolton.
the golden star by Janet Bolton  7 x 5.5 inches
The top three images in this post are by Janet Bolton.  Janet uses the simplest of body and wing shape and gives us birds with personality, each holding their own in space.  These three are from her newest book Fabric Pictures)
Eastbound by Ginny Smith  75 x 44 inches  2008
Ginny Smith is fearless in her approach to bird imagery.  Huge black birds made from dark fabrics fly across the bold yellow and blue plaid sky.  Folk art playful!  I visited Ginny's website  and was quite inspired by the many folk art expansions of traditional pieced quilt patterns.  Birds are part of our natural world.  They have innate compulsion.  G.Smith
The photos of both bird pieces (above) by Ginny Smith are from Quilt National catalogues (2009 and 2015).  She speaks further about why she chooses birds to work with in this video.
cuckoo by Nicola Henley   33 x 48 inches  1988
Nicola Henley's birds are made with print making techniques on cotton with hand stitch.  All three of hers are from my beloved copy of Art Textiles of the World Great Britain 
vultures by Nicola Henley 33 x 48 inches 1990
Nicola lives in Ireland and wrote in 1996 why she chooses to use birds in her artwork.  "Portraying birds is a way of drawing people into the work.  It gives the viewer a real intimacy.  Often at private view people will talk to me about birds before they;ll talk about the art.  I want to make work that people can relate to.
Ravens, Coolawn 57 x 74 inches 1995
Stars and ravens are a combination I enjoy - one so black and earthy the other so bright and infinite."  Nicola Henley.  If you visit her website, you will see that Nicola has continued to work with birds.

I recall a poem about a bird alighting on my shoulder, singing a song without words, a song without meaning, without asking or giving.  If you know this poem, can you please let me know if it is Rumi who wrote it?    Thank you.


  1. beautiful post, am in love with that last one Stars and Ravens by Nicola Henley, Wow!

  2. THANKS for sharing these! VERY NICE works!

  3. The other day I caught a wren which had become trapped inside and held it for the few seconds it took to free it. The amount of intense life that can be contained in such small, light bodies is astounding, plus they can fly. They are such great symbols for life, passion, beauty and freedom. I, too, especially like the ravens and stars.

  4. Judy, thank you for sharing these images. I could look at each one for a long time, but am particularly drawn to Janet Bolton's work. The simplicity of her work is compelling but it would be a mistake to think it merely "simple." How birds do fascinate us on so many levels.

  5. I agree Stephanie. Janet's work is uncanny in its ability to appear child-like and thrown together, but it takes a lot of work, thought, and an intuitive sense of design. Perhaps I'll edit the post to reflect this point. Thanks. x

  6. Judy--Your blog entries--and your work--inspire me. The birds are wonderful, and the folk art touching. Thank you

  7. Wish I knew the poem cause it sure seems to be the wordless song some of these birdey beauties would hum. Maybe my next Nancy project will be stitching her birds. (Or what look like birds to me.) Love your black birds, too, that fly around and around and around. . .

  8. wonderful post, I have been a fan of Janet Bolton since her first book was published
    i have some fabric that was buried in a box and thought it would make terrific birds, thank you for sharing the other artists also

  9. Wow, I really find Ginny's work free! thank you.

  10. That "Eastbound" is so powerful! It reminds me of a lunch walk the other day when there must have been 50 crows flying low, calling and making a racket when suddenly a Hawk began flying at one of them! They were all right over my head, about the height of a not too tall tree! It was wild! I really like the "Vulture" piece, I can feel the movement of them, just like I do around here. Thanks for this post :)

  11. What a wonderful post! I love birds. And Janet Bolton. I think I first saw her work around 1990, in a shop in Kent, Ct, and I was immediately smitten. Coulda-woulda-shoulda bought it when I had the chance. Your other artists are new to me and I love them all. Particularly taken by Ginny Smith's very commanding birds! Wow!

  12. love the ravens and stars... just magical...

  13. I am a big fan of Janet Bolton. A couple of years ago I flew to France just to do a workshop with her. Worth every penny.
    And I had her all to myself for a few hours on the train back to Paris!

  14. birds, those wonderful ones, can fly! maybe that's part of why we are friends with them, making images of them, holding them in our hearts. thank you for showing these artists and their seeing of birds.

  15. Ginny is a good friend and a true artist. Ginny can put together fabrics and play with scale and make it all work in the end. Amazing! And she is fun to be around!

  16. Oh, Henley's work is wonderful - thank you for introducing me to it.
    Is this possibly the poem you're looking for?


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx