I’ve been re- investigating some of the ancient marks found on Northumbrian rock art, most of which are made from a series of circular and linear patterns.  I’ve looked at these patterns many times over the years, thinking about how they would translate into stitch. This is not so much for the crone cloth, which is already planned and will take several years to make, but more perhaps for a new series of work. Combining simple designs with the direct-applique method of patchwork results in something like this:

The stitched panel measures something like 8″ x 10″ and is mounted on cream calico. I used small pieces of dupion silk, just laid on a foundation and held down with fairly dense running stitch in silk thread. The motif in red is hollow viscose ribbon stuffed with thick yarn and slightly ruched, couched down with cotton thread.

It always amazes me that such simple lines can be so expressive. Prehistoric art is something I return to periodically, in between other things, and here I am again with it. I like the paring down and simplifying, the stark image or line carved into rock. I wonder if we knew more when we had less.

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26 Responses to Sampling

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Well Karen, you won’t be surprised that I like your rock-art embroidery!!!!

  2. Chris Gray says:

    Now THAT is gorgeous!

    …those “cave people” certainly knew a thing or two didn’t they….. 🙂

  3. Penny B says:

    Gorgeous, Karen. I too love prehistoric art.

  4. arlee says:

    expressive without false effusiveness

  5. Loralei says:

    Gorgeous work.. Interestingly enough, I was recentlywondering myself how I could replicate some ancient marks on cloth… Though I would use different colours of cloth, machine stitching, and possibly some discharge paste.. There are some pretty amazing petroglyphs near here..

  6. I can recommend a book I just started last night, Stepping Stones: A Journey through the Ice Age caves of the Dordogne. The author has expertise in both art and anthropology, and some interesting things to say about early art.

  7. annie! says:

    very cool that you get inspiration from rock patterns – and then make it look as beautiful as nature itself!

  8. Henrietta says:

    beautiful translation of line. I think you are correct in thinking that simiplification is a far greater means of understanding. Admirable work. I also think it is good to have a big project and smaller ones going. It’s like stopping to pause and think about what you are doing. If you look on one think too long you forget where or how the begin lays. thank you.

    • Karen Turner says:

      Yes, I do like to have smaller things on the go when working on something larger. As you say, it allows for breathing space on both things.

  9. Jeannie says:

    Karen, your petroglyph (?) stitches are wonderful! I find it amazing that regardless of the continent you are on, you will find markings made by the ancients and how similar they are. I spent a great deal of time hiking the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the drawings there have been forever sketched in my mind. Beautiful work!

  10. Rachel says:

    It’s a fascinating idea, certainly. I’ll be interested to see where it takes you..

  11. beautiful stitching ❤

  12. l admire u Karen thinking about something that will take you years to complete. I am terrible because l need to finish things now!! My mind is like a butterfly flitting from one thing to another!! I ove stone/cave paintings. When l lived in Papua New Guinea, l met a few Aboriginal Australians who shared their Art with me. Two Papuans, two Aboriginals and myself worked together for 4 months on an Art project using local fabrics to make a quilt that was decorated with just marks and pictures but no actual words. A quilt that spoke to everyone no matter your language. great funx Lucky forward to seeing what this Crone quilt will look like…excitingxxlynda

    • Karen Turner says:

      I find Aboriginal art fascinating too, particularly in that it tells a very distinct story in the culture to which it belongs. Lucky you to have actually worked on something so genuine!

  13. tina says:

    I like this, especially the dense quilting..

  14. Jan Marriott says:

    I like that crunchy texture of the ribbon,

    • Karen Turner says:

      It can be difficult to find the right home for viscose ribbon, I find, but I do like to use it stuffed and ruched in this way. The resulting line has a very distinctive quality.

  15. Eileen Grimshaw says:

    Karen, your rock-art-inspired work is beautifully inspirational itself, and I admire your personal philosophy about perishability. Can you tell us the names of the Northumbrian sites you used for the motifs? Many thanks, Eileen

    • Karen Turner says:

      You can see some of these stones near Roughting Linn, near Doddington, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
      There is also a website that gives more information:
      Thanks for your visit, Eileen; hope this is helpful.

      • Eileen Grimshaw says:

        Many thanks, Karen. I visited Roughting Lynn about two years ago, after a day of heavy rain, but on arrival the sun blazed forth and the earth-fast boulder shone and dazzled with the magnificent squirls, spirals, circles, cuves and lines of the ancient rock art. A truly wonderful site. And your beautiful sewing does complete justice to pre-historic sites such as this. and gives people like me such pleasure so that we can appreciate your modern art.
        Thank you,

        • Karen Turner says:

          And thank you, Eileen. My husband visited Roughting Linn a few years ago and brought back many photographs. He has promised to take me with him next time! I love your phrase ‘the earth-fast boulder’, by the way.

  16. Els says:

    Looks just like a very old face !!!

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