My name is Ruth Keys. I studied Biochemistry and spent an industrial year at ICI at Alderley Park in Cheshire, where I met Sqeze and married him at the end of that year. I followed him – and his jobs – around England: Bristol where I did my PGCE, then Maidstone where I taught for a year at a large comprehensive school in Dartford (The Downs). From the UK we moved to Germany in 1980 for a couple of years and seem to have got stuck here for the moment. First Stuttgart where I taught English as a foreign language, then Munich where for nearly 2 years I worked at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry and then finally deciding if you can’t beat ’em join ’em, I retrained as a programmer and started my longest career to date in the IT world.
After working for a number of different software houses and consulting companies, I have been a freelance consultant in the area of quality management and software testing since 1999. You can find out more about that part of my life on my other web site.
I’m currently trying to decide what my 5th career should be. I think I’ve had enough of computers now – they still don’t understand me. It would be nice if I could turn my textile art into a money earner.
I collect cat names – for the pussy cats I’m going to share my home with when I retire (soon I hope) or work from home. Cats and quilting seem to go nicely together. The current list of cat names goes like this:
Boddington, Napoleon, Pixel, Smilla, George, …
Well it’s now November 2020 and much has changed. I am now finally retired and living on the South Coast of England. I still have no cats sharing my home as I love to travel. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put paid to that this year, but I am ever hopeful.
Wouldn’t it be unusual if I could say that I learnt my needle skills from my dad or my uncle? But like everyone else I was taught how to sew, knit, crochet, embroider and stitch needlepoint by my mum and my paternal grandmother. My quilts are the current manifestation of a lifetime interest in needlework. Making textile art is the creative counterpoint to my daytime job in the technical world and the chance to see tangible fruits of my labours.
Tessellations have always fascinated me. Whereas others doodle squiggles, I have always drawn tumbling blocks. Patchwork was the ideal medium to pursue this interest. I soon lost interest in merely reproducing traditional patterns and blocks and began my journey of discovery towards creating my own unique designs. Colour is an important design element of the quilts for me. I enjoy exploring the entire spectrum in my work, although bright clear colours predominate. I hand dye my own cotton fabrics and combine these with commercially printed fabrics. I machine quilt the pieces and see this as another layer of the design that must complement the fabric piecing.
I am making small quilts which are works of art rather than household objects. There are three areas I want to explore further: adding a third dimension through texture, incorporating other techniques such as weaving into the quilts, and adding surface embellishment such as hand embroidery and beading.
When people see my work, I’d like them to be attracted by the design and composition, find details to surprise and delight them, and on close inspection, appreciate the quality of workmanship that has gone into the creation of the quilt.
- Text on Textile 2011 – Words as Design, on tour with International Quilt Festival in Houston, Cincinnati and Long Beach (2011-2012), Use Your Eyes
- Text on Textile 2010, on tour with International Quilt Festival in Houston, Cincinnati and Long Beach (2010-2011), Colour Vortex
- Finalist in the Charles Henry Foyle Trust competition, Freedom exhibition at the Forge Mill Needle Museum, Redditch, UK (12 September – 25 October 2009), Mental Jail Break – Winner of the People’s Choice Award
Certificate in Design and Craft – Patchwork & Quilting 7922-03, The City & Guilds of London Institute (October 2007 – April 2010)