Tuesday, December 05, 2017

the Ingrid Interview

Q When did you become interested in embroidery - or the textile arts?

A I became aware of world embroidery at age 25 when I was travelling in Great Britain.  I bought perle cotton, embroidery floss and a pattern book in a street market and worked on a linen sample, which I carried in my bike pannier over a period of months.  I also embroidered all the clothing i was wearing on this bike trip.  It was 1974.  I had been quilting since 1970

Q  What background do you bring to your interest?

A  Around the age of ten I learned to embroider by following stamped designs on pillowcases.  I remember loving this activity.  My mother helped me with some of the simple stitches.

When I was twelve I began sewing most of my own clothes.  Throughout high school I made the latest styles for myself such as flowered pants with solid co-ordinated jackets and zip up leather jumpers (made from upholstery fabrics).  I loved the challenge of creating them myself.  I wore these clothes to Expo 67 in Montreal when I was 16.

I also made a lot of Barbie doll clothes at that time for my younger sister's doll and was hired by several mothers to make wardrobes for their daughter's dolls.  These clothes were very imaginative and I used my mother's sewing scraps for them and very tiny buttons and trims that I found in the local Stedman's.  I also had success with my painting in high school and sold oil paintings to the teachers.

Q  How did you source your materials?

A   There were not many fabrics suitable for quilting in 1970 and I used recycled clothing in a variety of weights, as well as an old curtain to stitch my first quilt.  (which is probalby why it did not last).  For embroidery I used embroidery floss from the local five and dime.  When I was pregnant with my first child in 1978 I embroidered several blouses based on Eastern European designs adapted for maternity wear.  I did a lot of smocking and some embroidery for my baby Oona, born 1978.

Q  How did you source your designs?

I adapted sewing patterns and used embroidery designs I found in craft magazines.  I taught myself from diagrams and still have some of those maternity blouses.  I was also knitting and crocheting at the time and had a big collection of knitting magazines.

When Ned and I travelled through Western Europe in 1974 and 1975, a new magazine entitled Craft originated in Great Britain and was available on the Fort Frances newstands.  I asked my mother to collect them for me when we were gone (for over a year) and she did.  I still have those somewhere.

Q  Why did you pursue textile?

A  I think the main reason that I kept coming back to working with textiles is because I could fit it in with my life.  I had a passion for fine art and started painting with intent at the same time that I started having children in the late 70's.  However, embroidery, knitting and quilting could be picked up and put down again more easily and I found them satisfying and a great comfort.

I should also metnion that I began a fine arts degree in visual art in 1976.  I continued to work at this degree for nearly twenty more years, graduating in 1993.  My graduating exhibition was an embroidered quilt and a stitched paper installation in the form of a house.
Judy Martin in 2006 with her self-portrait quilt from 1985  (manitoulin expositor newspaper photo)
Q  How did your decisions impact your work?

A  Some decisions that I made during the 70's that had an impact on my work were:

1.  to have children (eventually we had four by 1987)
2.  to live in rural north-western Ontario (rainy River, thunder Bay, Kenora )   we moved to Manitolin Island in 1993
3.  to take a fine arts degree
4.  to have the ambition to make fine art

But this question is confusing as so many of life's decisions are made for you or happen along the way.  It takes a lot of will to be an artist of any type.

Q  What were your successes and what were your not so good results?

A  The 70's

In 1978 I made a lovely baby quilt for my dear friend Susan.  It was one of the first quilts I made.   It had a rocking horse appliqued and embroidered in the centre of a mass of triangles.  The colour scheme was red and white.   I made several more baby quilts during this time for my own children and also for my friends who were all having babies.

The 80's - I designed my first original quilt in 1982 and was really excited about it.  It was called Sleeping Giant and was an abstracted interpretation of a local landmark.  I remember being very excited to have such control over the arrangement of the geometric pieces and have them tell a narrative.  It was a break through. Before that I had made traditional quilts such as Bear's Pa,w, Dresden plate, Crown of Thorsns.

Another breakthrough came when I began dyeing my own cloth.  I started this after we moved to Kenora in the early 80's.

Another break throughs came in the 80's.  I stitched magazine papers into traditonal quilt designs and also family photographs which I arranged with seasonal fabrics.  I also began to use more and more embroidery in my quilts, and my piece entitled In the Centre of the Body is the Soul was made in 1996.  Every square in the central medallion is covered with dense chain stitch embroidery.

Q  What else can you tell me about your journey?

A  I spend time in the Textile Museum of Canada whenever I go to Toronto and over the years have been very much influenced by the world textiles on view there.  One year I saw large Indian embroideries that changed my life.  Covered with yellow, red, green and blue chain stitch, these hangings had such power and I felt such resonance when looking at them, that I knew I had to follow thorugh with this much hand stitch in my own work.  I've since taught myself some of the unique stitches used in Indian embroidery and have also studied African and Japanese dyed and stitched textiles.

A  Do you have images to help tell your story?

Q  Yes.  Lots.

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This interview happened ten years ago (2007).  I came across it when cleaning out a drawer.  I do not remember who Ingrid was - I think she may have been a student from a college in Sudbury who chose me as a subect for a project.  If you are reading my blog, Ingrid - please let me know either through a comment or email.

As I go through my shelves and boxes and come across the items mentioned in this post, such as the clothes I embroidered in Europe and the blouses I embroidered when expecting babies - I will post them.  I have saved some Barbie Doll clothes too -

This is the first post that I have ever done that has no images.

Judy Martin in 2007 with daughter Grace (Manitoulin Expositor photo)

5 comments:

  1. Strolling down memory lane...little gems emerge. Looking forward to seeing the clothes.

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  2. Judy, your hands and Grace’s hands intertwined as you both gaze at the work of art speaks volumes.
    Amazing interview—I am in awe at the way you so skillfully curate your own life.

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  3. isn't it amazing how 2007 is a long time ago now, love the old photos!

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  4. What an interesting interview, thanks for sharing this with us.

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  5. Friend,
    What a pleasure to learn more about you. Love and blessings to you.

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