A breathtakingly beautiful crazy quilt made by Melbournian Robyne Melia has been sold for $70,000. Robyne spoke to the Into Craft team about her quilt and other crafty pursuits.
Tell us about your quilt: “The quilt took me 3,000 hours, over four years to complete and I developed many techniques over that time. I first displayed it at a show in 1996, just after it was finished, and the manager insisted that I name a price. Of course, fresh off the needle, I had no intention of ever selling it, but I arrived at a price that, with very modest wages for the day, reflected the time involved. In fact I originally had a tag of $80,000,” she explained.
“I wanted people who saw it to look again and maybe understand what they were looking at in terms of commitment and effort. The buyer’s father was one of Australia’s major art collectors and Melbourne’s Modern Art Gallery at Federation Square now houses his donated collection as a permanent gift to the state (The Ian Potter Gallery) – The Joseph Brown Collection.”
The full quilt is pictured above, left, details follow. Robyne added, “I really did put a lot of effort into it and have always been an advocate for asking a realistic price for our work. WE know how much we put in and how many generations of women (usually women) have made their homes beautiful and warm and developed amazing art and skill, without recognition from the wider community. We deserve it!” CLICK on each image for a larger view of the exquisite details in the quilt.
What inspires you? I collect vintage designs from everywhere! For example, for the crazy quilt I studied historic needlework, then went on to art books and decorative arts, building ornaments with Victorian carvings. I keep a stash of inspiration on file and have it at my fingertips when planning a new project. What are you working on now?“I have about 50 projects on the go. I’m having a knitting fad right now, I like exploring techniques such as Fair Isle and cabling.
“I’ve also been inspired by Korean wrapping cloth and I’m creating a wall-hanging with an oriental flavour. It’s similar to a wagga with a patchwork Log Cabin pattern but with a more ‘organic’ feel. I’m including fur from an old coat, shantung and vintage Japanese fabrics too. I call the work Browncloth, as that’s the dominating colour.
I make dresses from cards too, including a cat dress. “My daughter Ruby used to write stores, and they were really funny, so I’ve enlarged, traced and embroidered them to use as a backing for future wall hangings. “Also, I’m really excited to be teaching again soon at a beautiful vintage haberdashery store, l’uccello, in the Nicholas Building, Melbourne. I will have eight-session crazy quilt classes with lots of stitches and appliqué. I don’t use the more popular sew and flip crazy patchwork; my style is mostly appliqué. Students will learn my favourite stitches, how to apply blend and apply colour and embroidery stitches, implement new ideas and more.
What’s on the drawing board? Like most of us, I have a huge stash and plan to make a wagga for each of my children and grandchildren. I’d like to make more rag rugs this year too. I made one for my son’s 21st birthday using a pale blue boucle coat of my grandmother’s. I sat with the scissors poised for 10 minutes before I started cutting! I have a lot of my grandmother’s clothes and they’ll be perfect. My mum and grandma were both big sewers, and we, ‘the sewing trio’ would go shopping with my kids in tow, looking for bits and pieces for our current works in progress. While none of my children sew, I have a give year old granddaughter who is interested. There’s a lot of pressure on the little girl!” Pictured above: Robyns’ first embroidery