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Starry Landscapes And My Instagram

Hello and happy Wednesday!


Sad news: the comments still aren’t working around here, so it feels a bit lonely and like I’m talking to myself (actually, that’s nothing new!). Lack of conversation is the reason I didn’t post last week, but feel free to drop me a line while I try and sort the problem out. I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s change the subject before I start ranting!

Moving On

Fete‘, my latest finished quilt top, is still waiting for me to buy the wadding so in the mean time I’ve been faffing about with an old idea. Remember these stars from 2016? I made them when I was away camping on Exmoor last August (read more here and see some of the inspiring scenery).

English Paper Piecing - Joining Stars with Diamonds © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com All Rights Reserved

Exmoor Stars version 1 from 2016

Exmoor Stars

The beginnings of this patchwork reminded me of a night time walk on the moor when there was an incredible moon, magnificent clear skies and twinkling stars. Trouble is, I decided I didn’t like the patchwork (above) after all.

I think it’s something to do with the size of the diamonds (7cm) – and too much of the ‘dirty pink’ print, so I tried again.

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Exmoor Stars, version 2 with 5cm diamonds

I started fiddling about with it again recently and version 2 was born. This time I’m using 5cm diamonds.

Size Matters

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

2cm difference!

2cm makes a surprising difference, one that makes me much happier. The smaller size diamonds means I’ll have a bigger variety of scraps to use, although I’m going to stick to a fairly strict palette of blues/greenish-blues (bye bye dirty pink). Collecting enough blue scraps from other projects will take a while, but that’s not a problem because Exmoor Stars is a ‘Janie Day’ project!

‘A what project?’, you ask? ‘Janie Day’ is a weekly lunch date with an old friend, Janie. I hope that clears it up! We both bring along something to work on; Janie usually knits and I sew. Last year I worked on my Quilty365 circles, but this year I haven’t really got into a groove. Until Now.

English Paper Piecing For Lunch!

English Paper Piecing on the go sewing pouch. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

All ready to go

Everything I need for Exmoor Stars is all prepped, packed and ready to work on for a few months. I enjoyed getting a minimal kit together  – what do you have in yours? I have:

  • cheap thread snippers (don’t want to lose my favourite scissors)
  • a few dressmaker’s pin, sewing needles and a random quilting pin (sometimes handy for keeping things together)
  • tacking and sewing thread
  • basted diamonds
  • a few extra templates and cut diamonds – just in case I get really busy!

It all fits in a lightweight case that my friend Roz made for me, which is much easier to carry than plastic boxes – especially when you travel by bike as I do. This little case is smaller than some people’s wallets – and nowhere near as full, haha!

Free Templates

I experimented with a number of different size diamonds before I settled on the 5cm size and then I decided to draw up a ‘master sheet’ so that I could print off several at a time.

Drawing up an accurate template sheet takes a while, so I saved it as a pdf to share with you. Save the file or print off the sheet for a future project and photocopy or print as many sheets as you need.

If you’re new to Epp my tutorial for making 6 point stars will get you off to a good start!


I Love Instagram!

Fancy a chat? I try and post to Instagram (IG) every day and at the moment it’s the best place to find me until I get the comments sorted here. It’s such a friendly place and I love it far more than Facebook, Twitter and all the rest – where do you like to hang out? If you’ve got an IG account drop me a line and I’ll come and find you!

Walking On IG

I’ve done enough walking to make my legs fall off recently, in an effort to gear myself up for some strenuous hiking on the Cornish coast path this summer. Cornwall has 296 miles of coastline and I’ve done about 80 or so as a continuous line so far. My Instagram account’s full of pictures of the fantastic landscape I live in and this week I’ve been sharing landscape drawings I’ve done when I’ve been out about too.

Across The Valley. Brightly coloured pastel drawing by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across The Valley – Monday’s drawing on a local walk. I shared pictures of the drawing as I was working on it, as well as the finished article.

The Saint Michael’s Way

Fridays or Saturdays are ‘long walk days’ but I’m cutting the miles down to about 13 this weekend, which means I can travel further afield. I’m heading to St Ives on the north coast to walk the St Michael’s Way (part of the Compostela de Santiago), which finishes on the south coast at the iconic St Michael’s Mount.

St Michael's Mount from The Scillonian ferry. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © Stephanie Boon, 2014

St Michael’s Mount from The Scillonian ferry, 2014

Make sure you check out my IG for pictures and drawings along the way – there are some spectacular views.  The forecast is for overcast weather with strong winds, so it should be clear enough but I hope I don’t lose my drawings along the way!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Be Social today, but before I head off don’t forget you can email me anytime, until I get the darn comment form sorted out!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Losing Stitching Time To Sleep

Sunday. The one day of the week we deliberately slow down, put aside some time for slow stitching and quiet thoughts. It’s a lazy day for some, resting after a busy week, de-stressing.

My body de-stresses in the most inconvenient way possible and it takes no heed of my head and the things I want to get done. It sleeps for too long, 12 hour stretches or more. This might be ok if I could get to sleep by 10pm, but no, it’s more likely to be between 1 and 2 am. Invariably I wake up with a ‘dehydration headache’, and if not a fury then a deep irritation that I can’t shake off for the rest of the day. Losing an entire morning is, ironically, as stressful as the stress that makes me sleep in the first place.

I woke up at 1.30 this afternoon.

Time, life, slips by. Let it go. I’ll find it again in my Sunday stitches.

Plain Sewing Circles

Plain Sewing, a quilt top in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making patches for Plain Sewing. A reverse patch with reverse fabric and a reverse circle for needle turn appliqué

Plain Sewing Collages

Making a collage from stitched book pages and fabric. (The book is a 1940s needlework book). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

I’m working on a series of collage artworks alongside my Plain Sewing quilt top. Slow stitching is a big feature.

Making a collage from stitched book pages and fabric. (The book is a 1940s needlework book). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

The collage progresses. The black fabric and the transparent fabric are scraps from a childhood dress and the linen on the right is from one of Kim’s dad’s old suits. The book pages are from an old 1940s needlework book my mum gave me.

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching today. Kathy’s started a new project this week, taking one slow, steady stitch a day every day for a year. A reminder perhaps that if you look back over a long enough journey you’ll find you’ve moved forward more than you think.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com



#5WomenArtists I Couldn’t Live Without

#5WomenArtists is an online hashtag campaign in honour of Women’s History Month in the US. Apparently Women’s History Month is also celebrated in the UK, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything going on, other than in East London it seems.  #5womenartists is meant to highlight the fact that we’re still much more likely to be able to name 5 male artists than 5 female artists, which isn’t the least bit surprising. The hashtag campaign, organised by the US National Museum of Women In The Arts, hopes to help redress the balance and has got some big name US museums taking part. Something tells me there won’t be a watershed anytime soon though…

Still, if I can’t name #5womenartists pretty damn quick you have permission to shoot me! Here’s 5 then, off the top of my head:

Kathe Kollwitz self portrait http://linesandcolors.com/2006/06/17/kthe-kollwitz/

Kathe Kollwitz

Which ones did you know?

Now you try – tell us your 5 artists in the comments below!

Since that was so easy I think it’s only fair I take a few minutes to name #5womenartists that have been a big influence on the art I’ve made over the years. It’s funny to think about it, but women’s art has always been more important to me – not that I ever discriminated, it just happened that whenever I found something that moved me it was often made by a woman.

Here they are then, #5WomenArtists I couldn’t live without:

Image via: http://purakastiga.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/louise-bourgeois-radical-y-fascinante.html

Louise Bourgeois

If there are any artists in the list that you don’t know, I really recommend you follow the links and have a look at some of the incredible work they’ve produced. If you’re interested in art that incorporates textiles definitely take a look at Bourgeois and Emin – although they’re such ‘big names’ you’re probably already familiar with their work. Something I notice, looking at this very short list, is that they all make sculptural or installation art – I may have studied painting to begin with, but I’ve definitely gone in a different direction since then! What sort of art do you like best?

You might also enjoy these posts about women and gender (or men and gender!)

  • Why I Hated Sewing (published on International Women’s Day) – there are some wonderful stories being left in the comments, have a read with your morning coffee and join in the conversation.
  • Luke Haynes, Quilter: That Gender Question lots of discussion on this post too: do you think male quilters should get special treatment?

Have a lovely day and all being well I’ll catch you tomorrow for Slow Sunday Stitching (I can’t say I’m looking forward to this weekend too much: Kim wants help with his homework!!!).

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com



Art Studio: Unspoken

Unspoken is the title of a series of mail art pieces I made between 2007 and 2008. The art works were sent to another artist (and eventually returned) as part of an exchange.  All the artworks in this series are fairly small because it was sent through the mail. The piece I’m showing you today is probably one of the larger, more bulky items I sent.

I bought the wooden box in a second hand shop in Penzance; I think it was probably a cigar box or something similar (it doesn’t have a lock or a catch). When I bought it, it was empty inside and didn’t have any covering – I made the fabric covering that you can see now. You might notice a recurring theme going on: once again the fabric I’ve used in this piece is from a dress I wore when I was 10 years old (decidedly vintage now!).

Like Shards We Rise To The Surface

This is the title of this particular artwork. Come and have a look inside:

'Like Shards We rise to the Surface' Part of a mail art series 'Unspoken' © Stephanie Boon, 2008 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Small wooden box

'Like Shards We rise to the Surface' Part of a mail art series 'Unspoken' (Inside of a small wooden box covered padded with vintage black floral fabric, with white fabric and printed text 'like shards we rise to the surface' on white linen pinned to the inside of the lid. In the box is the broken head of a ceramic doll. The inside of the shards are covered in the black floral fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2008 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Inside (open box)

'Like Shards We rise to the Surface' Part of a mail art series 'Unspoken' (Inside of a small wooden box covered padded with vintage black floral fabric, with white fabric and printed text 'like shards we rise to the surface' on white linen pinned to the inside of the lid. In the box is the broken head of a ceramic doll. The inside of the shards are covered in the black floral fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2008 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail of the text pinned to the lid with dress-makers pins

'Like Shards We rise to the Surface' Part of a mail art series 'Unspoken' (Inside of a small wooden box covered padded with vintage black floral fabric, with white fabric and printed text 'like shards we rise to the surface' on white linen pinned to the inside of the lid. In the box is the broken head of a ceramic doll. The inside of the shards are covered in the black floral fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2008 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail: broken doll’s head

'Like Shards We rise to the Surface' Part of a mail art series 'Unspoken' (Inside of a small wooden box covered padded with vintage black floral fabric, with white fabric and printed text 'like shards we rise to the surface' on white linen pinned to the inside of the lid. In the box is the broken head of a ceramic doll. The inside of the shards are covered in the black floral fabric. © Stephanie Boon, 2008 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Details of the broken doll’s head

I don’t know whether you find it helpful when I explain a weird-looking piece that I’ve made and I’m conflicted as to whether I should or not! Art is a visual language, so really it shouldn’t need explaining with words. But then again, seeing it here as a two-dimensional photograph takes it completely out of context and you can’t touch it or see it from other angles…  I’ve just convinced myself haven’t I?!

This art work, I think, is intensely personal and universal at the same time.  I think that’s why it’s one of my favourites from more recent years. I don’t want to tell you how to think about it or interpret it, but I’m happy to give an insight into the sort of thoughts and things that were occupying me when I made it.

I was going through an intensely difficult episode of chronic depression at the time and therapy comes with the territory. This piece came out of explorations of childhood experiences, deep emotions, feeling broken and not knowing how to put it back together. Or even if it was worth putting back together. But it could be about any time of life really. Maybe it’s about getting inside your head and discovering what lies there untouched, buried and forgotten. Maybe it’s about keeping it all in a box. Maybe it’s about how fragile and easily broken we are. Perhaps the porcelain doll’s head represents an ideal, a kind of perfection that’s longed for but doesn’t (or can’t) exist.  I’ll leave you to ponder, maybe it will mean something entirely different to you?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick dip into my archive (aka my ‘under the bed box of art stuff’!), I’ll be back tomorrow for Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy’s Quilts and look forward to seeing you then. Enjoy the rest of the day.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com



Art Studio: Collage Art

Collage art has become an important medium for me. I use mixed media and often incorporate textiles, stitch, personal ephemera and text (I write most of the text, including the poetry, myself). Sometimes my collages include original drawings, like the piece below.

Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Full on Copper (front)

Full on Copper (December 2013) is made in a simple book format (although there aren’t many leaves inside) on hand made paper. When it’s closed it’s roughly 20cm x 16cm (8″ x 6.25″).

I love the textures and layers I can create with mixed media collage art, in both thought and surface. This one is really tactile and I think that’s why I like the smallish size: it fits in your hands perfectly.

On the front cover there’s some pasted text which reads ‘red’ (top left) and ‘stitch all round the slit for strength’ (under the fabric). You might be interested to know that the text is cut from a 1940’s book on needlecraft! (Don’t worry, it wasn’t in good condition!) I choose text that’s pertinent to my thoughts and the feelings I want to convey – and I can spend hours poring over a book until I find the right words. The book I used for this piece is itself important to me: it’s a needlework book that my mother gave me.  I could carry on describing it, but it is, after all, meant to speak for itself, so here it is, Full On Copper:

Full On Copper

An intense red light
seeps across the folds
of a half remembered landscape,
catching the eye as it glints
on the damp air.

Feelings of hope
for love and desire
ripple across the skin,
to hold and be held
is all there is.

You watch as the leaves fall
full on copper
and for one, sweet moment,
it seems it might be worth
the heartache of clinging on.

© Stephanie Boon, 2013


Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Front cover detail (turned 90 degrees). Includes a gouache painting of a dried leaf overlaid with transparent fabric and held down with hand stitching. The fabric is from a dress I wore as a 10 year old child. Text reads ‘stitch all around the slit for strength’.


Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Full on Copper (centre). On the left side is a manipulated image of a local wood in dappled sunlight. Other details below.


Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Centre (right leaf detail) – including a small original line drawing of a female nude and dried leaf under transparent fabric stitched down by hand (text reads ‘desired’)


Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The centre with the drawing folded back to fully reveal the poem and leaf on the right. The text on the left reads ‘autumn’, ‘the right colour’ and on the folded back drawing ‘legs towards you’. The full poem is written above and a detail shown in the collage below.


Full on Copper (mixed media collage art) Poem © Stephanie Boon, 2013 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Full On Copper (poem in the centre of the work – text also at the top of the page)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this one from the archives. I’m working on another small piece of collage art at the moment that has a similar aesthetic quality and I look forward to showing it to you when I finish it. I’ve got a  feeling it might become the first one of a new series.

Have a great start to the weekend everyone and see you tomorrow for Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy.

Until then, happy stitching

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Luke Haynes, Quilter: that gender question

The quilter Luke Haynes, has awakened a bee in my bonnet. I can hear the darn thing buzzing and it won’t go away until I’ve had a bit of a rant, but sometimes these bees are better out than in!  What am I in such a lather about? This:

While She Naps Podcast – Abby Glassenberg speaks to Luke Haynes (quilter)

It’s not Abby’s podcast that got me yelling at my laptop, it was a good listen, but Luke Haynes certainly did. I listened to it as I was making dinner and it made some interesting lighthearted talk. Until Abby got to asking him some more in depth questions about his practice. And then the gender question, amongst other things, got me really bloody irritated. Dinner was going to be a moody affair.

I wonder if the ‘gender issue’ matters to you?

It certainly matters to me, but if you’re not particularly interested you might prefer to read another article: this one might be more like an essay (and without many pictures). I hope you’ll stick with me though and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Why it Matters to Me

To me quilting is wrapped up in gender (excuse the pun!). We live in a patriarchal society and one of the things I love about quilting and stitch is that it’s not been dominated by men. As such this leaves us free to express ourselves as women, to express what it means to be female without feeling the need to conform to a male ideal of what that should be. It’s one of the very few areas in life where this is the case (that I’m aware of). I appreciate that men are and have been part of this tradition too, but they’re in a minority. Of course I welcome diversity, but what I don’t like is when a man comes into this tradition, uses his gender to his advantage to make a name for himself, because he can, and at the same time plays down this advantage and doesn’t want to be judged on it (more on that later).

Well, Luke Haynes, it’s time to face facts: you get the press you do because you’re male. The odds are already considerably stacked in your favour simply by dint of the fact that you were born with a penis. There are many women equally if not more talented that struggle to get any recognition at all.

My suspicion is that because this community likes to be seen as ‘nice’ no one has really challenged Luke Haynes’ views and the contradictions he makes. Well, let me begin…

Luke Haynes Answers the Gender Question

Inevitably Abby raised the question of gender in her podcast, of being a man in a woman’s world.  After the podcast Luke Haynes published a post on his blog “That Gender Question” or “The Elephant in the Room” where he explained his frustration with frequently being asked about it:

“I most often-if I can-use the question to wedge in some historical trivia about female empowerment that is implicit in the rise of the quilt in American history and how I am honored to learn from those masters who came before me, who just happened to be women.

Trivia? A poor choice of word. The definition of trivia reads: ‘details or ​information that are not ​important’ Cambridge Dictionary. I beg to differ that “female empowerment” is trivial, historical or not.

And, “Those masters who came before me, who just happened to be women.”  Excuse me? “just happened” to be women?  No Luke Haynes, we just happen to be half the population that was and still is oppressed by the other half of the population, which just happens to be male. We had no choice in the matter.

He goes on:

“Quilting was an ok pastime for women when their private times were governed.  Quilts were a commerce that was acceptable for women to create before they were legally allowed to hold jobs or property. These household objects amounted to a tangible expression of community and self-control that was devoid in some houses and in the lives of some humans.”

Really? An “ok pastime”, for who; the wives of wealthy men? These were women (as he acknowledges) with no financial independence, no property rights and (as he doesn’t acknowledge) no autonomy over their own bodies. Lest we forget there were thousands of women making quilts out of absolute necessity, otherwise they froze to death. I doubt they would have called it a pastime. Frankly, this statement trivialises the lives and struggles of those women. To brush this aside as something that doesn’t matter, that has no relevance for today is insulting.  There are women across the world that are still denied these rights, even in the west. (Forced marriages, no right to pregnancy terminations (even after rape)…)

He asks:

…let me not be defined by my gender! let me not have to create works that are a reflection of the single most obvious difference between me and the standard!!

Let me not be defined by my “otherness” but rather my “sameness”!!!” 

There is no “sameness” to be considered. “Let me not be defined by my gender” he says. Well, until he wants to use it to his advantage of course. In the podcast he says that

“because of it [being male] I really am able to really sit on some good marketing. Honestly, you know, you get a lot of shows out of it, you get a lot of press out of it.”

You don’t bloody say!!!! Nobody is saying that the work he creates has to be a reflection of the difference in our genders, but what I am saying is that he wants his cake AND he wants to eat it. He cannot on the one hand infer that his gender doesn’t matter, that he doesn’t want to be defined by it, and then on the other fully acknowledge that his gender has given him advantages the rest of us don’t have (because our gender is different). In my opinion:

He should stop bloody whinging.

His ‘poor little me’ post is irritating (to put it mildly) and insulting.

On the subject of Quilts as Fine Art

During the podcast Abby asked some interesting questions about defining quilts as fine art, what the difference is between fine art and a craft object.  I thought some of Luke Haynes answers were thoughtful and some rather flippant, like this one:

“If you want to make an art object you just made an art object, if you want to make a functional object you just made a craft object”

Thankfully, he did acknowledge that “there’s definitely big grey areas where you can craft an art object, but…” and then he went on to ruin it!

“the simple difference is intention, so I say if you want to say “I’m making an art object”, sign it on the front”

Really, that’s the only thing that makes something art? A signature on the front? I think the art world may beg to differ. It’s not just intent: it’s context. And I believe that good art is made in the context of understanding what came before and what else is going on around you. Luke Haynes knows this. You don’t remake an iconic American painting like Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World using an archetypal American craft unless you’re aware of the juxtaposition of the two and what it might say.  So why make such a glib statement?  Perhaps it’s meant to be encouraging?  The trouble is it isn’t, it’s just demeaning.

If you simply reduce the difference between art and craft to ‘intent’, doesn’t it follow that we shouldn’t consider the Gee’s Bend quilts as art because the quilter’s intention was simply to keep warm:

“I never dreamed that people would pay attention to her and Arcola’s quilts.
They were just making them to keep warm.”

Lola Saulsberry talking about her mother Deborah Pettway Young and sister Arcola Pettway, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

These quilts were unique in the field of the craft of quilt making, but someone decided to hang them in fine art institutions, which makes a very different statement. They’re no longer ‘just’ functional objects. We’ve removed the original intent (to keep warm), taken them out of one context and put them into another to be appraised on different merits. When they’re hanging in an art museum we’re probably not concerned whether they would keep us warm or not. In this environment they’re not venerated for the social stories they embody, but for a striking aesthetic not seen before in this medium.

Another point that irks me is that he didn’t once mention a female fine artist that has used quilt making as a medium. Is this because there are none, or because he just doesn’t want to acknowledge them – for fear that it might make him seem less unique?  If he’s a fine artist (which he claims) he most certainly would know about Tracey Emin and Louise Bourgeois, even if he didn’t know other artists that used quilt making to a lesser extent, like Kiki Smith or Sonia Delaunay for example. Unsurprisingly he did mention two male artists:

“Who do we hear about all day: Jeff Koons and Damian Hirst. They’re the biggest egos and personas in the art world” [referring to branding].

He didn’t mention Robert Rauschenberg who actually used quilts in his art, but hey ho.


In fact it’s this idea of branding and signing his work that seems rather egotistical to me:

“I’m a big proponent of standing by your work so I try to put my signature on the front, visible in some way to say “hey I’ve made this actively and I’ve made it for you to look at”…If you start to hide your signature and put it on the back you’re saying that what’s important is the work and less so the maker and I think it’s important to honour the maker.”

I would argue that it is the work that’s important. We “honour the maker” by regarding an artists’ entire body of work as her signature.  The intrinsic value of Tracey Emin or Damian Hirst’s work isn’t embodied in how large they write their name on the front of it. The only reason to do that is because you want it to be valued financially.

Abby asked “I wonder if you use your name sort of like a brand in that way?” [ie visibly on the front, all in capital letters: LUKE]. Luke replied:

“100%. It is branding. In the world of fine art it’s about narrative, you create a narrative, narrative sells objects…[and next, referring to Renaissance artists]: it’s about branding who is the best painter. [My signature is] …my artist’s persona.”

The Signature Question

Luke needs to read some more art history: Leonardo never signed a work; Michelangelo signed only one piece… Signatures began to emerge in the Renaissance often as simple monograms or were camouflaged in the image itself. The ‘rise of the signature’ was encouraged by and for commerce, not to ‘honour the maker’.  This short article on the Courtauld Institute’s blog has some fun and interesting insights into the subject.

Putting your name in big capital letters on the front of your quilt is about asserting your ego: it’s about differentiation. Which brings us back to gender: this assertion of the self feels particularly masculine to me. It seems to me that what he’s saying by doing this is: ‘ok, I’m a male making quilts and I’m going to leave you in no doubt that I’m male’. Why would you do that? Because you know that society doesn’t value (or at least undervalues) women. And in a paternalistic society it sure as hell doesn’t value you if you work within a field perceived as female and trivial.  (The assumption that you must be gay to do so speaks volumes.)

I also ask myself whether this apparently strong desire to be acknowledged as an artist (and I’m not saying he isn’t one) is to differentiate himself further in order to give more credence to what he does. There’s absolutely no doubt that the art world is structured by men, and to be accepted there (rather than in the world of quilt making) will not only give you more status and power, but more money to boot.


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Since I published this post there’s been a lot of discussion around the subject of gender and quilting here and on other blogs. I’m proud to have kicked off the debate. There’ve been some thoughtful and enlightening comments on both sides of the discussion – although none that have persuaded me gender doesn’t matter. It takes someone to stick their head above the parapet and call out hypocrisy where she sees it, and for that I’ve been vilified – even as far as suggesting I kill myself. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response and find I just can’t keep up with it and continue to do the other things that matter to me. I’m keen that the debate should continue here, as long as it’s not personal and no-one suggests they kill themselves or anyone else!, so I’m happy to leave the comments open, but sadly won’t be able to reply to them personally any more.

I’ve added links below to the other bloggers that have contributed to the debate, Stephanie Forsyth, Mollie Sparkles and Sam Hunter, along with all their commenters – they’re the first 3 in the list highlighted in bold. I hope you’ll give them a read and get a fair and rounded sense of the arguments, for and against.

Rest assured I’ll post more ‘opinion pieces’ in future – no amount of harassment will shut me up when I think there’s something valid to be aired!  I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s always room for debate and that you’ll welcome the opportunity to join in – thank you to everyone that’s taken part so far!

Further Reading

Final Thoughts

Patchwork reverse applique motif made after listening to a While She Naps podcast with Luke Haynes. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A small applique block that I made in response to issues the podcast raised for me.

I’ve debated (with myself!) whether I should post this article for a while now. I’ve wondered whether you’d be interested or even feel that this is the place for it. In the end I decided to stick my head above the parapet. No one seems to be addressing the issue of gender (note the lack of comments on both Abby’s podcast and Luke’s blog) and I feel strongly that it does matter. Perhaps the expression of my thoughts and opinions seem a little polemical because of that.

I hope that if anything I’ve at least persuaded you to have a listen to Abby’s While She Naps podcasts. She speaks with some great people who run creative businesses, both men and women, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – and maybe they’ll even get your hackles up too!


Thanks for reading.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social



Art Studio: The Wren – textile art

Dry Your Tears and We’ll Fly Away

Today I’m sharing a textile art work from the archive. This little piece of embroidery has been on my mind lately. I made it in about 2010 as part of a mail art project (where you exchange art work in the post with another artist), but the artist gave it back to me.  We exchanged pieces over several years and one day she returned everything I’d sent her (and wanted everything back that she’d sent me). I’m still not sure why, but I felt very hurt at the time. When I look at this body of work today I’m reminded of what a difficult time I was going through then. Some of the work is very intense.

Making Textile Art from Personal Ephemera

I made a number of textile art pieces as part of the project, but I think this one is my favourite.

wren handkerchief

Dry Your Tears and We’ll Fly Away

Dry your tears and we’ll fly away: it was something I wanted to do. White on white. Ghost-like.

The text and a little wren are hand embroidered onto a vintage linen handkerchief that my mum had given me a few years earlier. (I love textile art, any art really, that include pieces of personal history.)

Textile art on a vintage handkerchief: 'Dry Your Tears and We'll Fly Away' Wren embroidery with wren feather. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail of the hand stitched wren and wren feather

I was a bit obsessed with dead birds back when I made this piece and I particularly loved this little wren that I found.  It was so tiny and fragile, incredibly beautiful. Birds became a metaphor for so many things.

Textile art on a vintage handkerchief: 'Dry Your Tears and We'll Fly Away' Wren embroidery with wren feather. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail of satin stitched legs

I drew the bird directly on to the handkerchief in pencil and the text is my own handwriting. I wanted to keep the detail of the original embroidery in the corner of the handkerchief. The padded satin stitch and drawn thread work are beautifully stitched.  It always amazes me how much detail, thought and skill were put into something as everyday as this. Making it into a piece of textile art honours that in some way, I suppose.

Textile art on a vintage handkerchief: 'Dry Your Tears and We'll Fly Away' Wren embroidery with wren feather. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Original embroidery on the corner of the handkerchief

I stitched one of the wren’s tiny little feathers to the linen above the embroidery.  Lightweight, ethereal. Lost on the breeze.

Textile art on a vintage handkerchief: 'Dry Your Tears and We'll Fly Away' Wren embroidery with wren feather. © Stephanie Boon, 2010 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Wren feather stitched to the handkerchief

The bird has flown.
signature, Stephie x
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Art Studio – Evening Self Portrait


I stare intensely at my eyes and they stare blackly back at me. I can’t find who I am. Every time I sit to look there’s someone different looking back at me. Today is an anxious, de-feminised version of myself. I can never connect with what I see; never like what I see. Instead I try to capture what it is I feel.

Self portrait, pastel on paper (in A3 sketchbook) © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Pastel on Paper (A3 sketchbook) 6 November 2015

The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once. Winters J 1989, ‘Sexing the Cherry’, London, Vintage

Heavy rain’s lashing against my bedroom window and there’s a strong wind whipping about the lane outside. I’m still wide awake in the small hours (3am to be precise) and the world feels like a black and quiet place.  In the darkness and the emptiness I realise there’s no point of reference for who I am. Maybe when I draw self portraits this is what I’m grasping for, a point of reference. I’m not sure, but it’s a compelling idea at 3 in the morning.

Staring at yourself intently for an hour and a half, more, is probably more than most people ever do. It can be strangely calming. The running commentary in your head finally switches off and you just feel the chalk moving in your hand, your fingers rubbing it hard into the paper. It’s a physical experience. Your hand follows your eye. Your eye watches the way the light falls across your face, the way it changes with every slight tilt of the head. You just let go.

An Intense Self

I watched a BBC programme The Face of Britain on British self portraits this afternoon (on BBC iPlayer until 3rd December) with the art historian Simon Shama. It  coincides with an exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in London (until 4th January 2016). Shama was his usual engaging self, and the works he discussed particularly interesting, but something he said struck me as utterly wrong in the context of my own self portraits:

“They reveal that when an artist looks at themselves in the mirror it becomes the battleground between vanity and verity, flattery and truth.”

The artist looking in a mirror to drawing a self portrait © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Drawing a self portrait (it may end up in the bin because I over sprayed it with Spraymount and the paper became unworkable).

I don’t feel driven by any feelings of vanity or self flattery. Nothing could be further from my intentions. If there is a battle, often there is, it’s to discover who I am, to answer a question. Of course you want that to be the truth, but it’s more like trying to unearth the inside from what I see on the outside. But what’s on the inside feels consistently unknowable. All I can say for sure is that I feel things intensely. I’m an intense person. Maybe that shows in the drawings?

At any rate, I’m an intense person that’s gone down a rabbit hole. I’ll stop now before I go any further into the warren.

If you get the opportunity to see the programme or are lucky enough to get to the exhibition, I highly recommend it. It’s thought provoking, with some interesting work that you may not have seen before.

Back tomorrow for some sensible slow Sunday stitching with Kathy!
signature, Stephie x
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Art Studio – Sunset in Pastel

Sunset Over Kea Downs

'Sunset from Kea Downs' Fine Art Drawing, Pastel on Paper © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Sunset Over Kea Downs

I packed up my pastels in a rucksack earlier this week, tucked a few sheets of A3 paper and a sturdy board under my arm and headed out for a walk. I wasn’t planning on going far, 6 miles or so.  I had no plan at all really, just the feeling that I wanted to find somewhere to draw. I left home later than I intended and it wasn’t long before sunset.


I headed out along Kea Downs which gives far reaching views towards the hill of Carn Brea, a local landmark with a memorial to the mine owning Basset family on top.

Field of Maize near Chacewater © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Footpath across a field of maize

I usually carry an Ordnance Survey map with me, even on local walks: I like to find new paths or tracks to explore and you never know what gem you’ll find next. I didn’t need the map for a familiar footpath across a field of maize, but when it’s grown taller than me I sometimes think I’ll be lost in it forever. The path goes down into the village of Chacewater and I headed out again on the other side through unfamiliar, stony bridle tracks, consulting the map every so often to check my progress.

At the top of one particularly steep bridleway there was a spectacular view over the valley. It was scarred with the usual abandoned mine workings and waste that haunt the landscape across Cornwall.

Close to sunset at Creegbrawse, nr Chacewater. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

View across the valley

By now it was close to sunset, the sun was hanging low in the sky and cast a pinkish glow over the landscape, but I still hadn’t seen anything in particular I wanted to draw.  I sat down beside a metal farm gate and watched a small herd of cattle as they came towards me to check me out, probably expecting to be fed.  I sat for a while watching them, rubbing their soft heads which they shook away like a horse shakes off a fly with its tail.

I decided to head back home down another unexplored track and gave up hope of finding anything inspiring. But back on Kea Downs road, after the sun had dipped below the horizon, the sky turned into an incredible spectacle of changing pinks and reds, sometimes washed with golds, all with a rich purply darkness for a backdrop. I decided I had nothing to lose.

I scrambled up on top of a high hedge covered in thorny brambles and started drawing the sky. The colours shifted and changed quickly until darkness fell.  I carried on drawing until I couldn’t tell whether I was picking up a grey or purple chalk any more, then packed up and trudged home.

'Sunset from Kea Downs' Fine Art Drawing, Pastel on Paper © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Sunset Over Kea Downs

Coldness had fallen with the dark.

If you enjoyed this, why not read about one of my collage pieces next?

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com