In my research for this quilt I have discovered the rich tradition of beautiful hand embroidery created by Russian women over the centuries. I am particularly interested in the long embroidered ritual cloths known as Rushnyky (pronounced roosh-nee-key and written as рушник in Cyrillic charaters), which have an important role in Orthodox Christian practices, particularly the highly decorated type known as nabozhnyk, which are trimmed with lace and are heavily embroidered.
Photographs courtesy of Лобачев Владимир; Commons Wikimedia
There are many different types of these cloths - ranging from very plain to highly decorated and there is an excellent website, http://www.ukrainianmuseumdetroit.org/textiles/rushnyky.html which gives a lot of detail about the cultural and spiritual importance of these beautiful cloths.
I am presently exploring ideas for my quilt using patchwork and hand carved stamps to create a decorated cloth which will be the foundation of my quilt.
My first thoughts are to create a piece of cloth that I can stitch into later. Instead of stitching red thread to create the initial pattern (as on the rushnyky), I thought I would try to stamp red squares onto the fabric, in the same way cross stitch can create pattern. I looked at lots of Rushnyk cloths and identified some of the recurring patterns. Each region has its own traditional patterns, but I am not yet familiar enough with the regions or the patterns to know whether I am combining them appropriately.
I have sketched some ideas into my sketchbook and carved some very small pieces of lino with a few of the more simple patterns. These lino squares measure 2cm (just over 3/4 of an inch), so a lot of detail was out of the question. I have mounted them onto pieces of dowel to make them easier to manage.
I have been busy testing out the blocks on white cotton fabric with screen printing ink. The ink has a soft, buttery consistency, and dries quite quickly, but not so quickly as the ink dries on the block. It also leaves the fabric with a very soft hand. Keeping everything clean and stopping messy fingers is a challenge though!
I am feeling very positive about how this has gone so far - I have lots of ideas that are beginning to come together for the quilt, but I still have a lot more exploring to do. I will post more when I have developed my ideas further.
In the meantime I would love to hear how you develop your ideas for your quilts. Why not post a message in the comment section for other visitors to read? If you have a website or blog you can direct us there too.
Thanks for reading!