Saturday 1 February 2020

If wishes were horses ...

It's the first of the month and the reveal day for the next challenge of The Endeavourers Art Quilt group.

The theme for this quarter was "Wishes", well that certainly taxed my poor brain! Once again the hardest part of the quarterly challenge was actually coming up with something in my head that would fit the theme, the second hardest part is then trying to create what is in my head :)

Fortunately, in all of my musings on the theme of "Wishes" I came across this old Scottish proverb "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride". The saying was mentioned in a collection of Scottish rhymes and proverbs in 1721, although it had been around in a slightly different form since 1628! For some reason I could not get the saying out of my head so I had the idea for the theme all I had to do now was create it!

And here it is, my "Beggars would ride" quilt response to the Endeavourers Challenge.

The quilt backing is loosely based upon a Bargello arrangement with the greys of the town/city home of a beggar gradually becoming the greens of the countryside where horses can roam. The greens were quilted with fan shapes to represent the rolling hills, whilst the greys were quilted in a squarish grid pattern to represent cobblestones. The darker greys were more intensely quilted than the lighter ones.

The horse is appliqued with two shades of hand-dyed silk (sadly not dyed by me!). I used an outline from a colouring book for the shape as my drawing skills are definitely not that good. Sheer luck resulted in the dyed fabric on the head resembling an eye, as the supplier only had a small piece of the silk shade that I ordered so there wasn't enough fabric to allow for any fussy cutting!

I tried to create the mane with hand embroidery but couldn't get the flow right as you can see here, one thread was too spindly and more threads meant the fringe was clumpy (!), so eventually I tried free-form machine embroidery to get the look that I wanted. I also wanted the horse figure to seem more solid nearer the ground so the tail was created with some textured embroidery threads, which were couched down after the silk applique pieces were raw edge machine appliqued.

There is some evidence that registered beggars in Scotland around the time of the proverb may have worn "Beggars Badges" that granted them safe passage between parishes and the right to beg for alms.

My "Beggars Badges" were created from empty tea light holders and an empty soft drink can! The washed and dried metals were embossed and then die-cut before being stitched to the quilted background. I like to think too that in recycling these tins I am giving a small nod to the times I have chosen to represent :)

As ever these challenges take me in directions that I cannot predict but thoroughly enjoy whilst taking them!

Head on over to The Endeavourers to find out how the rest of my fellow Endeavourers have interpreted this theme, I am sure that you will be amazed, I always am!


  1. Amazing! I love the bits of recycled metal. I never would have imagined that's what you were going to do with the tealight holders :) I'm not sure where I would have come across that saying, but it's one I've known for a long time and you've represented it beautifully.

  2. I suspect my original comment here was lost in space. I have the Privacy Badger extension on my browser. When I got a new computer I forget to disable it when I visit blogs and comment. I just noticed it was still on yours. Gosh my comment was good. Wish I could remember what my First Reaction to your piece was. I like the pieced backing you created. I know I mentioned THAT! I also love the metal pieces that you stamped depicting wishes. I KNOW I mentioned THAT. I loved your piece.
    xx, Carol

  3. This is a great picture. I love the way your fabric and stitching choices work together and I think the metal buttons are amazing. I also really like the way you've drawn on history and created such a sense of time and place in your quilt.

  4. what wonderful imagination you have to have created this piece

  5. So very creative, Fiona!!! It's good to see the close up of how you achieved the town to the hills - as it should, looking at the whole piece it just works without actually seeing how you created it. Recycling to make the Beggars Badges is a special touch - no one would know how you made them if you didn't say. Love it!!!


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