Embellished Art Quilts by Dal Botha
What a thrill it is to introduce my 5th Star of the Sew, Dal Botha. Little did I know just how much I was going to be blown away by the beauty, this talented and interesting Art Quilter has created. The more Art Quilts I see the more I am intrigued by them, how they are embellished and feel the urge to create my own. I am hoping that you will be inspired too once you have read this post.
Affiliate disclaimer: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
It was such a pleasure for me to spend time with Dal Botha in Pringle Bay and have the joy of getting to know her and see a selection of the beautiful, imaginative Embellished Art Quilts she has made. These are inspired by her experiences and the beautiful nature around her. She warmly welcomed me into her home to interview her about her journey as a quilter and the transition from quilting to Art Quilts. It is not often that I am speechless but I was so moved by the beauty of the quilts that tears came to my eyes and my speech deserted me. (Not for long, I might add, there were so many things I wanted to learn from Dal.)
Introduction to Quilting
These amazing quilts tell the journey of a woman who couldn’t sew at all until 27years ago, . She was asked by a friend in England to go with her to a quilting meeting as the friend wanted to learn to quilt. The bug bit, Dal was hooked on quilting from then on.
The first quilting she did was a sampler, all hand done. First piecing and then quilting it perfectly. All templates were hand-drawn with the quarter inch seams added on. She didn’t possess a sewing machine at that time. This was the start of lots of hand piecing and quilting done to a very particular standard.
Taking the next step
Next came the “Block a Month”, once again all hand sewn. She took them with her to work on while the children were busy with their swimming lessons and she drew quite a few interested on-lookers. They would question her as to what she was busy with and it was the building block to quite a few new friendships. What a way to break the ice in a new community. The family spent 4 very happy years in England and have many lasting friendships from that time.
Both Justin and Monique were born in Pretoria before all the moves. They attended school wherever they were at the time. The United Kingdom, Austria and South Africa. They attended University in South Africa and then continued on their own travels around the world.
Make or Break
Two friends Dal made in her time in England, hand pieced and quilted a quilt for Dal as a gift. This took them a year to complete and Dal was devastated when it was stolen during a house break-in when they returned to Pretoria. This was not the only quilt stolen. In a second burglary a quilt Dal was busy making for her son which had taken six months to piece and a year and a half to hand quilt, half-way through, was taken. This second burglary nearly put an end to Dal’s quilting journey.
Picking up the Threads
These dreadful losses nearly broke Dal’s spirit and the only way she could see to overcome this, was to begin again.
Fortunately, she had some of the fabric left and once again she got down to the hard, long job of lovingly cutting, and piecing the quilt together. The piecing of this quilt was done during their five and a half years in Singapore and then machine-quilted by Claire Wallace of Pretoria. She did a great job.
This is a stunning quilt made with so much love and dedication. It would have been such a dreadful waste of talent if Dal had simply given up. This could so easily have happened to a person without the resolve to get through this time of loss.
Gypsies on the Move
As you can gather, this family, due to Luke being with the Diplomatic Corps, lived a “Gypsy” lifestyle and moved around a lot. Dal is very interested in learning new languages which was a good thing as she had plenty of practice on their travels.
They began their married life in South Africa and had their two children, Justin and Monique in Pretoria before moving to England for four years, back to South Africa for two years, then on to Vienna for four and half years and back to Pretoria for three years. After that was a five and half year stint in Singapore and then back to Pretoria for another two years after which they retired to Pringle Bay.
This was all very hectic but a wonderful opportunity to source fabrics for her quilting in so many varied countries.
Although Dal has made traditional quilts on commission her heart is really in making beautiful embellished art quilts which reflect her many experiences and also the beauty that surrounds her. She doesn’t leave her house without her camera, especially when going on beach walks. The images she records often trigger an idea for a quilt. One of these quilts was made after a huge fire that come down the mountains around Pringle Bay as is entitled “River of Fire”.
You will see by the quilt titles how much nature inspires Dal in her art quilting.
- Falling Leaves
- African Sky
- Autumn Kaleidoscope
- Wacky Birds
- Fanciful Foam
- River of Fire
- Follow the Stars
Embellished Art Quilts – New Venture
Making Embellished Art Quilts is a relatively new venture for Dal. she began 8years ago feeling the need of a challenge, she believed she wasn’t arty enough to meet the challenge. Something clicked and she found herself enjoying it so much it has become her passion. She still says she finds this a struggle to put into practice. Fortunately, Dal has an Artist neighbour who helps to make her vision clearer when it comes to the artistic embellishments.
Dal is an accredited Quilting Judge having passed her exams but is now working towards her National Judging Certificate and is busy with her second thesis on Art Quilts.
A Thread Runs Through It
This isn’t the only big job she has on her hands at the moment but as the Hermanus Fynarts Exhibition is coming up very soon, from 8th to the seventeenth of June.
Dal is the Curator of the Exhibition, “Collaborative Relationships: A Thread Runs Through It”.
It was decided this year that, instead of having an exhibition of quilts on their own, a quilter would be paired with an artist. The pairs would collaborate on a theme and each produce a work depicting that theme. Hence the name, “Collaborative Relationships: A Thread Runs Through It.”
Another job Dal has at Fynarts is to see to the smooth running of the talks. She will meet the speakers and introduce them to the public, make sure the speakers have what they need and keep to the time given to them.
Needless to say, despite all Dal has to do, she is in the process of making a quilt and is paired with her artist friend.
Silk Thread Sculptured Bowls
Another very interesting art-form that Dal has pursued is the making of silk thread sculptured bowls. These are made of recycled sari silk from Nepal and Moroccan silk. She completed a course run by Elaine Barnard from Newcastle. They are so delicate and beautifully embellished with beads and simply glow even without a candle in the middle. So unusual.
These are the items Dal deems essential in her sewing room.
- Bernina Sewing Machine
- Rotary Cutter and Mat
- Small sharp scissors
- Light Box
- Classical music playing in the background (This is especially important to Dal)
I hope that after seeing all these gorgeous quilts and bowls, you will be as awestruck as I was.
It might even provoke you to try your hand at Embellished Art Quilting. There are many Quilting books available if there isn’t a Quilting Chapter in the town where you live.
Find Dal on Facebook or join the conversation in the comments below.