Over a dozen quilts inspired by the river, already designed. A little while ago I started using the river Don in Sheffield as a source of inspiration. My research has turned up quite a few surprises and is almost complete.
How can a river inspire quilts? You might well ask. Well, the answer to that is everything can provide inspiration. Quilts inspired by the river for me has meant looking at shapes and trying to engage with a sense of the past, meaning in the landscape, what was and what is now.
The industry is all but disappearing with few traces left. I set out to interpret what the local river means to Sheffield and the other areas it flows through. Once the raison d’etre for the steel industry, the river is being transformed for residential and leisure use. It was residential use that brought me to this area. However, the past is what is inspiring my new quilts.
The rolling mills, the base of a watermill, furnaces. As a schoolgirl I visited Templeborough Steel Mills (now the site of Magna). It made an impression on me, the heat, the noise, the red hot steel being moulded into shape. I also visited the crucible steel making at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet many years ago.
Some of the old cutlery firms have been re-furbished to form residential apartments. The old Dixon firm is one of the best. There is only one complete cementation furnace left, out of hundreds and hundreds.
I shall be exploring new techniques and ways to interpret what I find. I am enjoying this work immensely. I want to record my feelings about the Sheffield I knew, the Sheffield that existed along the river before I was even born. First I look for shapes related to the images that have inspired me. I translate these into quilts, interpreting the design. Then it is all down to my cutting and piecing skills. Best get stitching.
Inspiration for quilters can be found anywhere and everywhere. The local landscape is always an excellent place to start when looking for inspiration for quilters. Your local landscape (unless you live in this location) may be different to mine, but you’ll find the inspiration you need if you just look.
You’ll be looking for inspiring views but also concentrating on shapes. Absolutely anything from the banal to the extraordinary can spark off the imagination. Be prepared to look anew, with fresh eyes and open your mind. If you are stuck for inspiration, take a look at my series of ebooks to get you going.
It is true that I have often wished to live somewhere more inspiring, but really my home city is proving to be full of inspiration, right on my doorstep. Take a look around and see what you can find.
I have already talked about one or two ideas I have had from the local landscape and that it is my wish to concentrate on the River Don. This week I walked further along the Don than ever before. I found the nearest ‘picturesque’ spot to the city centre.
I love all the bridges, most of them are from the 1800s. The ripples on the river. The plants along the riverside. The teams have been working hard to rid the river of invasive species. The trees on this part of the river are beautiful and there is a small nature reserve. Occasionally the route goes back to the road. In one spot, the brightly coloured Spiraea was aflame with orange.
What inspiration did I gather from my walk? I noted down patterns, shapes, reflections, a possible landscape quilt. Flora and fauna. I loved the fresh greens of the new leaves. Colours were gathered and recorded. I also made use of some of the photographs digitally, you can see below.
The wonderful thing about inspiration from a natural habitat such as a river or garden, is that it will change through the seasons. So you can keep returning and recording the changes. Until next time, keep quilting.