About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wearable art afternoon in Comox

Beautiful hot day next to the ocean. Wonderful creative women.

All eight of us squinting in the bright sunshine after the show.


I am enjoying the shade.

Look at the wonderful ocean scene behind me.

With our wonderful hostess.

My friend who invited me to join the group.

An imaginative use of fabric.

A wonderful cotton caftan.

A caftan inspired by Arizona.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New quilt in process

I am working to get a new quilt finished in time for the Denman Island Studio Art Tour.
It is based on my concept of Sandy Island, known locally as Tree Island.

Arial view of Tree Island, just north of Denman Island.
The central motif of the quilt has been free motion quilted.

The narrow bands around the central motif have been quilted with seaweed patterns.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dolly making

Wow, look at Material Obsession's "Diamond Dollies".

They are amazing, and with such clever use of printed fabrics fussy cut to simulate the hair part of the dollies.

I spent the day today working on my own larger dollies, wall hanging size. Not as successfully as the ones in the link above, but I did have fun. I particularly enjoyed working with curved seams for the legs - curvaceous are my dollie's legs!

The dollies that I worked on today.


A curvy dolly.

A dolly in a tempest.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quilting on my wall hangings

I have finished the free motion machine quilting on my latest wall hangings, and now I need to bind them.

"Cedar Forest"

"Forest Clearing"

Detail of "Forest Clearing"

Detail of "Forest Clearing"

Detail of "Sunlight on Water"

"Sunlight on Water"

Detail of "Cedar Forest"

Detail of "Cedar Forest"

Painting on Pickles Road

On Tuesday we painted at the Inner Island Nature Reserve on Pickles Road.

I choose to paint the Spirea douglasii that were in bloom alongside the marsh.



We all made one brush stroke on a painting that will be a gift for a member of our painting group who is having surgery.



Making roosters

The local affordable housing group asked for an "early bird" as a prize for an early bird draw. I decided that had to be a rooster. I found this pattern online, called "A Rooster to Crow About" http://www.sewing.org/html/rooster.html .

I made two, roosters one as a prototype and then another. I will give both for prizes. The pattern called for felt wrapped wire for legs, but other bird sewing websites that I visited said that it is almost impossible to get birds to stand up on wire legs. As I did not want to fiddle with wire, I decided to copy the legs and boots from my "Maggie Rabbit" pattern that I bought from aliciapaulson.com
http://aliciapaulson.com/products/miss-maggie-rabbit-softie-kit

My two roosters can either rest their rears on a basket, as I set them up for these photos, or sit splay legged. I do love their boots!






Saturday, July 5, 2014

Design Basics book and embroidery samplers

Thanks to Barb Mortell, my mentor, I now own a copy of Design Basics by David A. Lauer and Stephen Pentak. I am a self taught artist, so I am missing lots of basic art and design knowledge. Barb formally studied art and was kind enough, during our critique session of my first attempt at my Dolly With a Red Dress series, to recommend this classic art textbook.
She loaned me her personal copy, and I subsequently bought a used copy on AbeBooks. A new copy of the eighth edition of this book can cost about $130, but my nice, clean and only slightly loved copy of the sixth edition cost me under $10, including shipping. (Ditto the absolutely like-new copy of Art Cloth by Jane Dunnewold, which I ordered from Abebooks at the same time for under $20).
I have just started a careful read of Design Basics, but I am already engaged with the explanations of form and content, design and intent, unity and harmony, dependence on cultural background of the viewer, and so much more. My post-it notes are in full use; this is my first note under Doing and Redoing, "The doing step in the design process obviously involves continuous looking and thinking, yet more than one artist, writer or composer has observed that doing takes over with a life of its own".
Wow - that resonates with me - and maybe explains somewhat my obsession with handwork.

Now I want to try and use these new design insights. Hence I am working these embroidery samplers. I am not being too overt about the thought process, but I am trying to experiment with a balance of content and design where I draw recognizable flowers and leaves, in a harmonious design, versus some samplers of pure form where I draw an abstract design. I am realizing things about my own design aesthetic, such as that I like curving lines and not angular lines, that I like bright colours, and I like clean finishes.
Of course I am still a devotee of technique. I am definitely falling in love with embroidery on linen. It has become my favourite handwork in the evenings while I listen to audiobooks (currently enjoying the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope on Hoopla streaming audio, courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library). Of course that means that the hand pieced hexagons are languishing, but a goodly pile of ongoing projects is ever my habit, so on to these embroidery samplers.
In working on these samplers, trying out stitches and threads, my notes with regards to materials and techniques are:
- linen is lovely to stitch on, the best ever, but everyone knows that as needlework since antiquity has been done on linen;
- the fusible batting is rather bad, as the adhesive can be sticky on the needle, and is not needed with these small samplers;
- the osnaburg is good for a backing fabric, easy to needle through and to bury stitches.


I would really appreciate comments on how this is working. So, if any readers are out there, let me know what you think. Thanks!


The samplers in process. The upper and lower right, and lower left are abstract designs.

This sampler is complete. Design elements: centre point, symmetry, curved lines, shades of two complimentary colours.

Still working on this one. It is more complex than the design above. Design elements: centred on vertical axis, symmetrical, use of odd number of elements (3 flowers, 7 grasses), two sets of complimentary colours.

Still working on this one. Classic design of centred spiral. Adding echo line of french knots in tertiary colour.

Design drawn with a brown Frixion pen that will disappear when ironed. This is a free hand drawing of a centred, symmetrical design with an odd number of elements, 5, in the central motif.

The top three samplers are complete, the bottom two still in process.

I have not started on these last two samplers.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Appliqué and embroidery on linen - an original improvised design

Wow, the Alberta wedding was fun! Family time together is so amazing. Now I am crippled from dancing too much - oh I am getting old. Better to sit and sew. I am reviewing my ongoing projects now that I am back in the studio.

The first project that I have picked up is my linen appliqué and embroidery piece. It is improvised from some pieced ½" hexagon flowers and leaf shapes that I had left over from one of my Soupçon quilt along projects, some circles that I made because I wanted to try out my new templates, and a lovely rectangle of linen fabric left over from my Dragonfly wearable art costume. And of course all of the DMC embroidery floss that I keep buying because I love the colours.

The linen fabric is just lovely to work with and does not seem to crease no matter how much I crush it in my hand as I manipulate to do the embroidery. I am not using a hoop. I never do either for hand quilting or for embroidery as I just find hoops so irritating and limiting. I am very careful with my tension as I draw up my thread, and it seems to work fine. This linen has enough stability to be working wonderfully.

Appliqué complete and the embroidery design drawn with a Frixion pen. I started with the green pen but it was not showing up well, so I switched to the brown pen.

I love to free hand draw leaves.


Picture taken this morning of the embroidery of stems and leaves that I finished last evening. Please excuse my thumb in the photo. 

Detail of stems and leaves.