As Promised - New Finished Work

There are three stories and I am going to tell them - bear with me as the quilts are only intended to be the tip of the iceberg, a memento.

Jenny Bowker

My pieces for Collections started as work based on the things I own, and in these quilts I have featured things from Egypt.

I love my cluttered home, and every object has a story. Each is a starting point- it evokes a memory of people or places, maybe one specific time, or a long period of multiple visits. As I made the work it became important to include some of the people I loved in the city
of Cairo.

Hassan and the Glass

Hassan blows glass in a tiny room in the centre of a square opposite the Qaitbey Mosque in the City of the Dead in Cairo.


The room is overwhelmingly hot, even in Winter, and shelves around the room are packed with bright treasures. Colours are so vivid that they seem to trap the fire inside the glass. I went there often and each time I would buy some small pieces.



I wanted some sense of the ordered ranks of jewel-like glass in its silhouetted shapes, and the incredible heat of the room and that Hassan continually worked with. I worried that the quilt was too rigid as I started the racks of glass, but it seemed to improve as I started free-cutting elements of fire.

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I noticed that as he started to work with the molten glass, he focussed and became intent. I wanted that concentration and I wanted his face to be really strong.


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Ittayer - The Friday Market in the City of the Dead

Ittayer has a junk stall in the City of the Dead. It is not tidy - it
is grotty and cluttered and he rarely has things I actually wanted to
buy. He has a wonderful welcoming smile. I have a collection of old
keys, and a few locks, and hamzas - the hand-shaped protection against
the Jealous Eye.

I do not actually have an image of his stall - but I am using bits and pieces from many places.

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He has a marvelous relaxed smile and a joyous attitude yet he lives in one of the hardest places in Cairo.

He usually sells metals and I have found some treasures over the years.

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Abu Ali and the Gilded Chairs

Abu Ali is usually strikingly dressed in black and white in the area
where he carves and sells chairs.



He is guaranteed a living as this is one thing even the most wealthy Egyptians will spend money on. The chairs are gilded and covered in elaborate fabrics, silks and satins and flocked velvets. It is so strange to walk in the tiny overcrowded streets of the furniture areas and see, among the dirt, these chair frames gilded and glowing.



On this day I had arrived to bring him some photographs and found that
he was not well. The escort I gathered in asking for him took me to
his window and I handed up the photos. He was moved and thrilled to
get them, and this is when I took this photograph.



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Now you know what I have been doing for the last few months. I have been missing Egypt and have been working my fingers off trying to re-create some elements in my house.

I decided to blog these when I realised that none can really be competitive in the States. All are committed to the Collections for two years of travel. By then they are just too old for Houston and many large shows in the US.

So - you might as well see them.


Thanks from Alice

Alice has sent me a letter to put up for everyone. At the last count she had about 120 parcels. I will let her tell you.

This is her letter.

To Jenny and Scquilters and Friends,

We are presently renting a two bedroom house in Buxton (our own home having been destroyed by fire). The second bedroom is bursting at the seams with quilting fabrics and quilting accoutrements, everything from pins and needles to cutting boards, coffee cups and crayons. The room is overflowing, my heart is soothed and delighted by your kindness and notes of comfort and both Jan and I are overwhelmed by the gifts and your outpouring of care and concern.

Jan is still taking delivery of the parcels, and very kindly records each giver's name and gifts. I feel quite unable to reply to each so I am hoping all the girls in America, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, and England who have sent parcels will read this and know my thanks are plentiful and sincere.

My next task (when I finish unpacking) is to find a venue and invite interested quilters to come and partake of these gifts. We are hoping to be given space at the Marysville Golf Course, the clubhouse has been converted to a centre for community reconstruction.

Today I will send to "The Triangle News" a news item coving the story of your generosity hoping it will reach all the quilters and 'would-be' quilters in this area so devastated by the fires.

With much love and gratitude to Jenny and all who responded so warmly.

Alice, Buxton.


Alice and thanks, and a new piece

Alice has so far received a massive EIGHTY parcels. She is utterly blown away by your kindness and all the notes - you are just extraordinary people.

Thank you.

I have news too. I put an entry into the Bernina Friends competition for an 830 - and the CEO of Bernina International, Mr Claude Dreyer, has bought it before the judging.

I am so thrilled.

Below is the blurb,and some images.

You can make Anything on a Bernina - or Anywhere, or Anyone.


This is Mohamed Sa'ad in Cairo, Egypt. He is the caretaker of the
Mosque where he used to do the call to prayer as a muezzin. His voice
wore out and the
mosque is under repair and so he lives here with his wife and
daughter. The door behind him is stunning - dark wood and ornate
bronze and silver.

I wanted to make something special for Bernina as I owe them an
enormous debt of gratitude for help and support over the years. They
have lent me machines in locations all over the world - they have
flown me to classes all over the world. They even delivered a machine
to a hospital hostel for me when my daughter was badly burnt and I had
a quilting deadline.

I wanted something in my style as requested - and that was hard as my
style is pictorial and representational. I wanted something to
fascinate and hold people's gaze, and to pull them in for a closer
look. I wanted something with a different technique - the sort of
technique that might make people wonder how it was done. The 8 as a
theme was a problem and I am aware that I have not made this a theme
in the way that others will - but the stone walls have red numbers on
them for the buildings and though the mosque did not have a number -
it does now!

The quilt is made with cottons, some commercial and a few hand dyed,
the batting is Matilda's Own Wool Mix Batting, I used Mettler and
Signature threads, and silver foiled jersey.



Jenny Bowker


Firestorm in Victoria

I have just been on the phone.

First - I need to give a bit of background story. A very long time ago my mother remarried. I was grown and married, and so were my new stepfather's children, but our families met from time to time and I am fond of my step brothers and sisters.

Alice and her husband moved to a delightful wooded area in the hills of Buxton in Victoria. I am not giving their full names - Alice is proud and would not like to feel as if she was being given charity.

They set up fire systems, and as fires moved towards them they were ready to stay with their house to fight for it. It was the advice of a neighbour - a man who had a lot of bushfire experience - which made them move. He had cleared fields around his house where Alice and her husband had lots of tall trees - and he said they should get out as they would not have a hope of saving it.

They threw a few things into the car and headed for Marysville.

Now all Australians know that that town no longer exists. All but fifteen houses burnt to the ground. There are terrible and terrifying stories of bodies found and perhaps 100 people died there.

Alice and her husband realised that the town was unsafe - it was being evacuated - and drove just ahead of the fire to Alexandra to the next evacuation point.

It was days before they could get back to Buxton to see if they had a house - and everything was gone. Their tool shed is there so they have garden tools and a lawnmower - but no garden and no lawn.

Alice had started quilting quite recently - and the beautiful blue quilt she was making for her daughter has gone.

They have been offered some temporary accommodation and I am going to send her a machine I can spare at the moment, a rotary cutter and a ruler and mat. What she needs most is activity. I know how calming and fulfilling quilting can be - so I want to try to replace her fabrics so she can work on a quilt.

She was working in all shades of blues and pastels. My idea was to ask if my readers could spare a piece of fabric from their stashes to send it to her.

I would not post something like this without permission so I spoke to Jan, her sister in law and my other step-sister who is in contact with her.

Alice was thrilled with the idea. She does not want to feel like a charity so I am not asking for goods or clothes - only fabric and perhaps some quilt magazines with patterns. Her idea is that if she gets the offered house in Buxton she will start a group for the women there - and if she has some fabric she can share this with others. This means that all colours will be very welcome. I was really touched that she would immediately think of a way to share whatever might be sent.

At the moment she does not have an address so Jan is offering to receive packets for her and will take them to her as soon as she has a place to live.

The address is:

For Alice,
c/o Jan Stinear,
76 Prince Street,
Victoria 3931

Please be generous and send her a fat quarter or a nice piece of fabric - I love the idea of a phoenix quilt group, rising from the ashes.


A'tayer and the stall in the Friday Market of the City of the Dead, Cairo

I am quilting A'tayer. Almost done too - it takes additional time since I keep stopping to add the images in metal foiled jersey - that is really fun!

It is a biggish quilt - 1.3 metres across, and 2 metres long. Here are some teasers.


A'tayer's face.

Showing the gold hamzas beside him on one side...


And the weird Islamic Staff thing on the other - Sam owns this object.


More metal bits - did I say that A'tayer sells old metal junk - some collectable and some just junk Now and again however there is an absolute gem of an item!

This should just keep you hanging in until I can put up some finished quilts.

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