Vintage Textile Panels: Foundling Art

June 2011

Vintage Textile Panels: “Garden Cloth” series

Here is the latest work in my collection,  “Garden Cloth” . The current series is made with vintage textile panels, developed from a plain cloth and layered with print, paint, applique and stitch to create a new and vibrant textile.

 “Garden Cloth: Abundance” began its journey to new life as four vintage linen fragments, green-blue, which I first rust (eco) printed, then assembled into a whole panel. The panel was hand stitched extensively with gold and green vintage threads. These initial layers were followed by  flour-paste resist-printing in greens and reds. More stitching (free machine embroidery), then several layers of applied motifs cut from various vintage prints, including William Morris designs and Hawaiian bark cloth patterns. Yet more stitching , with areas of foiling stitched over, completed the textile. The finished panel was stretched over a custom canvas and framed in white painted wood.

( Click on the images below to see larger versions)

“Garden Cloth: Abundance”  (24″ x 52″)

-Mixed media textile: Rust printing, resist printing, applique, foiling, hand and machine embroidery.

Detail 1: “Garden Cloth: Abundance”

Detail 2: “Garden Cloth: Abundance”


A Second Spring for Vintage Textiles 2010

I am creating a series of vintage printed textile wall panels from my stash of fabrics collected over the years. Intrigued by the ” Pop Life: Art In A Material World” exhibit at the National Gallery in Ottawa in  summer 2010 ( showing the work of Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami et al) I am creating my own Pop Life textile show that aims to reinvent the vintage textiles in my collection. )   

Some textiles here on my blog are actually from that era’s designers (the 1960’s and 1970’s) while others look just like wannabes but could perhaps be the real thing…many simply represent the fads and fashions of the day – e.g., the 60’s Beatnik/Hippy love of embroideries, bright colours, bold design, etc.  

 I am reprising parts of my collection: “Mu-Mu” dresses become wall panels, coats become cushions, large printed blooms might be Marimekko’s own… Assembled into new forms are fragments as well as complete lengths of bark cloth, loud cottons, graphic prints, wax batiks and other ethnic textiles, printed with traditional designs or elaborately embroidered.   Some panels are constructed from whole cloth,  others are assembled from fragments of the same fabric and still others are a collage of various fabrics. 

The artistic challenge I have set myself is to make a pleasing design that highlights the textiles’ appealing aspects but which sometimes also subverts them.   To give all these vintage beauties their Second Spring, I interpret and interpolate, make allusions and inferences and use an unlimited palette to create a new textile treasure trove. 

Here’s to Stash Busting! 

1. Vintage Textile Panel: Tonga printed bark cloth

 Sila ‘o Tonga pattern 

This ethnic beauty is genuine bark cloth panel with a pedigree (link above). This cloth design is in the collection of the Textile Museum of Canada.  The curatorial essay says:

“An elaborate, multi-panel pattern often seen on Tongan bark-cloth is called Sila ‘o Tonga. It was devised at the time of the Second World War and represents the friendship of Tonga, Britain and the United States. The American eagle and the British lion are shown with Norfolk pines and the Tongan coat of arms. The pines, originally from nearby Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, line the approach to the Tongan royal palace and are shown with the sun, moon and stars. The Tongan coat of arms was devised in 1873 by the Reverend Shirley Baker, who was the Tongan king’s private counsellor. The motto translates as “God and Tonga are my inheritance.” The three stars represent the three main groups of islands in the Kingdom, and the dove with the olive branch represents an ideal of peace and unity.”

I can hardly believe this treasure had been in the sallyann!

 Some of the design elements in the panel: 

Norfolks pines with sun, moon and stars 


Not sure what this one is. It looks like a fringed textile, like a shawl. Not a hammock, surely?  


Norfolk Pine tree (the motif appears horizontal on the textile, as here) 


Dove of Peace Carrying an Olive  Branch 


The Tonga Coat of Arms: “God and Tonga is My Inheritance”. I like the Cross inside the Mogen David.


The American Eagle


2. Vintage Textile Panel : Pink Sixties  

These are pics of the work in progress. The fragments of the textile have been assembled and stitched together so far. Next is the stitching of the panel to a wool melton backcloth. Finally, the panel will be glued with archival glue to a high quality archival canvas  over stretcher bars. 

I did not have enough of the fabric to see what a full design repeat looked like. The source was a tiny dress, size 2 maybe, home made with oodles of pattern pieces. It was impossible to reassemble the printed design in its entirety. So I simply assembled the fragments in whatever way would fit a  large canvas. The original design has been well and truly subverted. Which I see as a metaphor for many aspects of life … 


 Vintage Textile Panel : Pink  Sixties.  Detail shots 

The design and colours in the panel are so spectacular that I took several detail shots of the newly arranged design elements.  Here are three: 

Detail 1 Pink Sixties  


Detail 2  Pink Sixties 


Detail 3  Pink Sixties 


3. Vintage Textile Panel : Marimekko Reprise In Blue 

This design looks like a knock-off of Scandi style but I love it – even if it is printed on cotton not typical of this genre.  I had enough fabric to make three wall panels and this is the last.  

Marimekko Reprise In Blue 20″ x 40″ Printed cotton 


4. Vintage Textile Panel: Lattice 

This textile is an assemblage from two sources:  a lattice print and an oversize bloom appliqued to the background. The flower resembles a  waterlily – maybe.  I enjoyed contrasting the scale in the two like-coloured prints.  If the flower is a waterlily, I like the incongruity of placing it on a garden lattice.  Out of its depth. 

 “Lattice”  30″ X 48″ . Printed cottons; applique. 


 5. Vintage Textile Panel: Marimekko Reprise In Orange 

A real Marimekko textile fragment came my way as a small cushion cover that I unpicked to make a larger panel. The colour is brilliant, eye-popping orangey-red printed with nature motifs in black. The cushion fabric had an   incomplete repeat of a Turkish-inspired traditional floral (including carnation) motif.  I completed the missing portion of the printedcarnation design  by embroidering the same motif  in red thread on a piece of added black fabric to reverse the background/print colours. 

Marimekko Reprise In Orange 16″ x 48″  

Cotton print with added embroidery. 


Detail (Marimekko Reprise In Orange) 




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