Archive for the ‘art quilt’ Category

“Storm Coming” – New Fiber Piece

Asian Fantasy

Asian Fantasy

I’m unearthing a lot of unfinished projects and pieces of fabrics that can be turned into small art quilts for Etsy, and I also came across a couple of digital pieces (like the above) that need reworking for an upcoming show. It is just amazing to me how productive I have been at getting new – and old – projects completed since we set up the new studio. Here’s pics of the new studio – taken right after we unpacked and stored, so things are cleaner than they are now after three weeks of solid work. Good north light, and lots of surface area.

Large marbling tray

Large marbling tray

Stored behind the door, along with mats and combs…..

Cutting table and storage

Cutting table and storage

This can be closed up for an air mattress on the floor for company.

Extra storage

Extra storage

Filled with fabrics and patterns and lots of other goodies….no longer used for clothes!

Bernina 1008 and sewing table

Bernina 1008 and sewing table

Sewing table for the last 15 years, lots of room to the left to support larger quilts….almost impossible to keep clean……

Additional sewing area

Additional sewing area

For the serger and decorative stitches on the Brother machine….

Storage cubbies

Storage cubbies

Happy as a clam, and now to the piece in progress….which is some leftover from another completed piece.

WIP – Storm A’Brewin’

Thread choices –

Thread choices - Storm A'Brewin '

Thread choices – Storm A’Brewin ‘

Didn’t use the blue – too much contrast, and not what I liked – ended up pulling out all the threads…one advantage of not checking the tension – easier to pull out.

Thread work

Thread work

 Finished project, available in Etsy. I needed to simplify the design – got caught up in following the patterns, so I ended up leaving the bottom corner free of stitching, so it looks like everything is approaching from the northwest.

Storm A'Brewin'

Storm A’Brewin’

Serged edges, mounted on wrapped canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Moving right along!!

More Random Ramblings…..

KathyNida Yes! One of my favorite art quilters actually does exist beyond a blog!!! Kathy NIda (long i, as I have been pronouncing it wrong all these many years) is an artist I have been following for well over a decade, and it’s not just because she uses our marbled fabrics in her art quilts. She is one seriously cool lady – and amazing teacher to boot. We finally were able to get together on our last trip to San Diego, as she was also on school break. What a fun two hours! Laughing, lamenting, giggling, telling stories, talking shop – a fabulous time was had by all. Even better, I got to see one of her works at Visions Art Museum, and by far the best in the exhibit, which I didn’t really care for, especially after having seen the exhibit of fiber at the Mingei (yes, Kathy, everyone is right – you MUST go see this show!). But it was so cool to see the actual art quilt up close and personal, as I am in awe of her technique. Here are a couple of photos shamelessly borrowed from her blog (kathynida.com).

Here’s the quilt being dried after a washing (something about pet hair….) – our fabric is the pavement. Second one is a closeup. I so loved seeing an actual quilt of hers, because her process is so intricate, and seeing in person how it all came together is fabulous.

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Now, about the exhibit at the Mingei at Balboa Park in San Diego – one of my favorite museums – the emphasis is on “every day objects,” and this time the exhibit was two brothers, William and Steven Ladd, who work with beads, fabric and boxes in developing labor intensive, meticulous and abstract work that expresses their shared memories of family life in Missouri. )from the website) While some of the work I didn’t “get,” I was in awe of their use of unusual materials. This is from their website, explaining their “towers.”

Towers
A Tower is a stack of approximately 24 hand sewn boxes placed into a specific configuration.  Towers are often constructed of fabric, found materials, and board.  Each box in the stack measures approximately 9” square and can be closed or open.  When all of the boxes are open, they are  laid out into a specific grid-like configuration.  Textiles and found objects are meticulously sewn into the boxes and often resemble organic structures such as trees.  The Tower originated as a convenient way to stack and store boxes of the brothers meticulously constructed objects.
Each Tower has a story attached to it that is rooted in Steven and William’s shared memories.  Volcano, 2008, explores memories of extreme exercise while sharing a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Explosive muscle building and marathon running evolved into forms that resemble volcanic structures.
Volcano, 2008
Archival board, fiber, beads, metal
Closed 13.25 x 19.875 x 18.875 in.
Open 39.75 x 19.875 x 8.5 in.
These are examples, and the top is a detail – needles, pins, metal ants, rolls tapes and biases….a feast for the eyes!
Ladd1
Ladd2
Ladd4
Ladd5
Ladd6

Day Nine on Road Trip……catching up…..

If you caught my Facebook post yesterday, you heard the story of the horrendous borde crossing at Niagara.

Oy, one for the travel nightmares. Awoke to a beautiful morning on the Upper Peninsula, great views as we went across the Macinac Bridge, lots of green forests…..and then…..yea, verily, on the eighth day it rained…and rained…but we drove out of it. Our plan was to go to Flint and then east through Canada to avoid going through Detroit….same mileage essentially…..but then the border crossing south of Niagra Falls…..three and one-half hours from end to end…and I am NOT exaggerating…..construction on Canadian side, two to one to. two and back again to one lane that hardly moved. Finally could see booths, and that was just the Canadian side…..an absolute crawl over the bridge (and I am ot fond of bridges…freaking out, thinking how I would escape if the bridge broke)…and then more single lane to two lanes to three lanes to four lanes…NONE of which moved. Oy….probably not going too far tomorrow until we recoup…..eating dinner at 8:30 PM, which is unheard of for us…and it’s still light out. Must be karma paying us back for a great yesterday………

Here are a few shots of crossing on the Mackinac Bridge.
Crossing Lake Michigan

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

..and the beginning of the traffic at the border crossing….

Border crossing

Border crossing

Now  back to the art museum…

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A fabulous sculpture outside the museum…can just see loads of kids climbing on it!

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Another outside sculpture…reminds me of one in Tucson, near the downtown public library.

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There were two coral sculptures inside the exhibit. This is one of them, talking about coral being the indicators of the health of a reef. This is all crochet….. The Branched Anemone Garden, Margaret and Christine Wertheim.

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Kathryn Spence uses “dirty, discarded pieces to indicate the invasion of the natural environment by human-produced garbage.”

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Leonardo Drew – “Number 162 is made from raw materials (wood, metal, paint, thumbtacks, paper, ink, graphite) that are manipulated and aged to suggest the passage of time and the cyclical nature of our existence.”

Even More from The Textile and Fiber Art List!

Oh, for an endless amount of money to spend on art! TAFA is like my own private store, and I WANT WANT WANT everything I see. Enjoy these new artists this week.

From Hana: “Weaving technology is the use of woolen thread on mesh canvas with the aid of a hook. The weaving in itself is accomplished in free flow on a direct path from the “picture in one’s mind” to the canvas, without a previously drawn sketch on paper or canvas. This type of work enables maximum spontaneity and allows for a free flow of mood and color within the framework of the subject on the one hand (desert landscape for example) but on the other hand, enables the carpet to evolve and “breathe” in the process of its creation. In addition to weaving wall carpets I also paint, mostly oil on canvas but I use other techniques as well. My paintings are strictly figurative and very different from my carpets. While the carpets essentially try to convey the mood of a landscape through the free and more abstract use of form and color the paintings are either portraits or still life scenes that emphasize the composition of the scene or the mood of the person in the portrait. The colors I use in the paintings are not as bright as those I use in the carpets and they have a more introvert and subdued nature.” Woolscapes

From Wil Opio Oguta :”Inspiration for the quilts I make comes from a variety of sources. It can be nature, an expression, a color or a material. For most of my quilts I use my own hand dyed fabric. My quilts can be very colorful or simply black and white. I work in a contemporary style, but have no objection at all to incorporating traditional blocks. Often I use raw edge appliqué, but don’t be surprised if I switch techniques for another quilt. I love working with fiber, but if the quilt wants/needs it, I add other materials to it. This can be bark, buttons, lutrador and paint. It all depends on what I feel is needed. For me, making art quilts is a way of expressing what I see, translating the world into fabric and fibers, emphasizing/focusing on what is important to me and to show you how I feel about it.” WilOpioOguta

From Kim Buchheit: “Kim is a designer and artist living and working in Grand Canyon National Park. Her love of felt is rooted in an affection for its understated beauty, a fondness for the old-world craft of felt-making, and the simple earth-and animal-friendly nature of the materials used in the process.” Wildly Woolly

From Wen Redmond: “I am quite passionate about my work. I continue to explore my chosen medium, fabric, to see what it can do, to stretch its perception as art medium. When I work, I encourage a collaborative process with spirit or my higher self, that mind-boggling principle of the universe. This process can also be called ‘flow’. When you are in this state of mind, the intuitive is tapped and the work can become more than the sum of it’s parts. I work out insights, inspirations, feelings and reactions to the outer world. Allowing time for these inspirations to percolate up from my unconscious is a vital part of my process. Each piece is wrought individually and is one of a kind. These include original photographs, artistically manipulated, printed on prepared fabrics and various textile substrates. The works can include painting, dying, stamping screen-printing, mono printing and other means of surface design. Among a variety of presentations, I created an innovative technique, Holographic Images, employing photographs on silk organza to create a unique 3-D effect. Layers peeled back reveal the source, the inspiration, and my mad desire to capture thoughts, dreams and the beauty of nature. ” Wen Redmond

From Salley Mavor: ” have had a life-long fascination with little things and needlework. Toward the end of art school, I rediscovered my childhood delight in sewing and creating miniature scenes. Leaving traditional illustration mediums behind, but still interested in narrative work, I taught myself stitching and fiber art techniques. For me, manipulating materials with my hands with a needle and thread was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush. I found that I could communicate my ideas more clearly this way and that my hands would direct me in a compelling way. My early pieces were soft sculpture, and then turned flatter, with raised figures and objects on a fabric background. I came up with the term “fabric relief” in 1982 to better describe my evolving technique. My 3-dimentional pictures resemble miniature, shallow stage sets, with scenery, props and characters telling a story. I embroider, wrap, appliqué and paint different materials and found objects to create scenes in relief, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric background. My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature, all stitched by hand. For the past 20 years, I’ve been working in the field of illustration, making artwork which is then photographed and printed in children’s books. The original fabric relief pictures have a second life when they are mounted and framed under glass in shadow boxes, ready to display as individual pieces. ” Wee Folk Studio

Top Ten Tuesday

Well, it has been a while, what with projects and a few days in San Diego. I have loads to work through on my blog list, so I am thinking there’s at least three posts here!

First up, from the 365 Project, some amazing photography yet again. In honor of beach time in San Diego……

Beach Sand by Michael Elliott

From the ArtBizBlog and Alyson Stanfield comes some organizing ideas. I just happened to see her Evernote mention, and I have just started using that on my iPad, so I want to go into this post more in depth….organizing lately has been off, to say the least!

Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA) does an auction of artwork every year as a fund raiser. This is the first year I have contributed a piece. One thing members are doing to promote the auction is doing 6-piece “collections” around a theme. I pleased to say my “Hotwired” has made it into two collections.

Here are a few more samples of SAQA collections, put together by Kathy York.

Here’s a quick video from Freida Anderson with some fusing tips, something I am just getting in to:

Jane LaFazio interviews Leslie Riley. I’ve admired both for a long time. Jane is a very successful water color, mixed media, and art quilter, and Leslie Riley is quite the motivator. Enjoy the interview!

Alisa Burke has a fabulous post on tools for sketchbooks and frequently asked questions. Lots of “I wants” in this list…it’s probably a good thing I don’t do a lot of sketching……

Thanks to Rachel of Rayela Art and The Textile and Fiber Art List, here’s a cool look at a new tool called PicMonkey for editing pictures easily. Rachel did some fun playing around with pictures of her own.

Here’s a wonderful sense of humor video from YouTube about European shopping bags. Some very clever designs!

A very “enterprising” story of a 10-year-old who has started her own sewing business. You go, Lizzy!

And finally, a piece of honesty and courage from an Eagle Scout from The Best Article Every Day.

Have a great week! Let me know what you find that’s cool.

New Work and Progress….

I have been participating in the Free Motion Challenge this year sponsored by SewCalGal, and it has done wonders for my quilting skills. Each month a different machine quilting instructor, and I now have a variety of patterns to use. Part of my goal for this second year of retirement is to complete some of the unfinished projects over the last few years. Now I feel like I have way more tools than just stippling. I am working on a quilt from Stripper’s Club of three years ago at my LQS (Quilter’s Market), and it is looking amazing. I anticipate being done by the end of the weekend, as the quilting really doesn’t take that long. I just need to take breaks every half hour or so since my neck and shoulders are tightening.

In spite of feeling pretty lethargic  over the last two months, I finished a small green color study, the June and July free motion lessons, completed the samples and wrote the pattern (which is now being tested by my new pattern testers), started work on my forest quilt, and completed a small piece called Desertscapes.

Desertscapes started as seven separate pieces that I knew would go together, but I wasn’t sure just how that would work. I just started with some free motion to accent the idea of geodes, as well as desert landscape. I loved the use of microstippling to mimic sand.

Here’s the finished piece, which already has a home. It looks so much better – and straighter – on the wall! Loved the way the marbled ribbon brought everything together.

Crazy? Maybe Yes, Maybe No……

So.

Crossroads.

Had dinner last night with a really good friend to discover she had a rough week, nearly turned upside-down. And her former boss has medical problems (like being the 179th case of an artery problem since 1745). All of a sudden my depression didn’t seem that all important. And I left dinner feeling hugely better and came home to hit the machine for an hour, making good progress on a new small piece.

This was the culmination of about a week of wondering if my art quilt had made it into a fairly prestigious show. Antsy for the whole week, as I knew all the decisions had been made, and I was wondering why we hadn’t heard anything. I was trying to stay positive, as I believe if we send negative thoughts out into the universe, we will be repaid with negativity. Hard to do when I already was 0 for 2 in submitting work this year. I kept thinking “third time’s the charm.”

At 4 PM I had the email. Not good news. Very nice rejection letter – I’ve had loads of those over the years, especially in writing. The very first fiber show I entered I was accepted in, and I think had I been able to keep up creating work without having to worry about a teaching load, I would be in better shape as an artist, with many more shows on the resume. But that was not to be. I looked at the accepted list, and it seemed like it wasn’t the same-ole same-ole list of people who always make it into shows. That was encouraging, at least. Out of 128 entries, 20 were accepted.

Once I heard that, instead of feeling better, I think I got a little angry. Had I known that so few pieces were going to be accepted, I really don’t think I would have entered and saved the 40 bucks. The odds are definitely against you with those numbers.

The thing is, I do think this piece is exceptional. It’s unlike anything I’ve done so far, and it certainly met the theme – I felt it did. Your reaction to the stigma of mental illness. Have suffered from depression and needing drugs to help me through the last years of teaching, I know how the brain can react in stress situations. It’s nothing we can see, but it’s there. So I chose to look at mental illness from a single brain cell that is misfiring. I thought in the overall collection of pieces this would be one very organic “don’t forget the brain’s role in all this” statement.

And let’s face it, no one is working with marbled fabrics like I am. I think I was able to show with this piece that you can a textile that isn’t often used and manipulate it into a statement. It seems like “different” is what art quilt shows are looking for, and this piece was quilted to emphasize the message, not quilted just for the sake of showing off quilting skills (which is what one quilt show seemed like that I attended – and this January show wasn’t an “art quilt” show).

So now it’s a case of really thinking through what I want to focus on for the next couple of years, while I still have the vision (literally) to create pieces. While working toward a specific show and deadline works for me, especially when I have to really think through the creation of a piece from idea to finished product, maybe it isn’t where I need to be. Bottom line, I want our business to make some money. That means more online product and outlets. Smaller quilt pieces are selling in my Etsy store, so I need to create more of those (and three are right now in the works). And I want to continue to learn and take classes, which isn’t possible when I’m trying to meet a lot of deadlines. I want my work in galleries, and I want to be able to travel and do some teaching of marbling. I need to take the time and think through new possibilities.

Which means that karma and the universe may be showing me why the piece was rejected (and maybe not……).

Without further ado, here’s the quilt in its online debut. “Misfiring Synapses,” 17 x 21 inches, unpolished red satin, black satin, Superior Threads, batting, cotton backing.

PS – may just have lined up my first gallery……

Thoughts for a Friday…..

Ack…..where did the week go? For the first time in three weeks, my list has sat unopened on the table. This started last Saturday night, I think as a result of staring at the computer for my first Tophatter auction, and consequently really wrenching my neck. Two chiropractic visits later on Monday, life was better, but it wasn’t until Wednesday after yoga that I really started to feel better. Three days of no work on my deadlines for fiber pieces, and I was beginning to panic.

Yet at the same time, I wasn’t worried about everything else on my full-page list, because there was really only one deadline that had to be made. And thanks to a lot of concentration on Wednesday afternoon and all day yesterday, my depression piece, “Misfiring Synapses,” is ready for photography and submission.

Am I pleased? Yes. It pretty much came out as I was picturing it in my mind. It has good depth, lots of layers, and definitely tells a story.  Here’s a close-up, with no full reveal until I know something about acceptance or not. I took a leap of faith with my entry to Visions. This one, however, is HUGE for me – very unlike anything I’ve done yet, and the whole process was very different. And…I’m looking to play with the “big girls” now, so we shall see what happens.

Lots of layers, lots of decisions as to thread. If you look at the center of the close-up, the red thread looks like it just breaks off – the idea of a misfired synapse in the brain. This is actually a Rainbow thread from Superior Threads. It has red, black, and purple, which works perfectly for this center neuron. I stayed with red unpolished satin for the rings, wanting the interior inflammation of the brain as we struggle with depression. The red fabrics are slightly different shades, with different patterns and quilting within them. I cut and layered each piece, finishing each edge with serging – again with a Superior Thread, this time a King Tut, as I didn’t want a shiny effect. I gotta tell ya, I never really paid much attention before to the effect thread would have on a fiber piece. The multi-toned gray was to look at the outer layer of the brain, with all its folds and ripples.

This probably should have been next Wednesday’s entry, for my work-in-progress, but it’s on my mind today as I think about photography and submission.

I have a couple of other self-imposed deadlines. I was going to enter another show, but I’ve decided to wait and see about these two current pieces making the rounds. One, I want to know where I stand, and two, entering shows is expensive, especially with shipping. So I will continue with the next mandala, and then that piece will be finished and in “the wings,” so to speak, if something else later summer looks good. Two, I want to do some simpler sewing/designing for myself, especially practicing the free motion quilting lessons. Two weekends ago I took apart one of the first quilts I actually finished and machine-quilted so that I can practice this month’s patterns. I don’t have to worry about hubby missing his quilt right now because it’s in the low 100s for temps already – and it’s not even summer in the desert.

I’m reading Dune by Frank Herbert. Never read it, and I am enjoying it. Then I have two Robin Hobbs to read, plus an ebook and a tutoring book to work on. My scheduling still seems overall to be working, as I am making progress on the many projects I have (not accounting for the lost days this week).

And…we’re in the midst of a local election in Tucson to replace Gabrielle Giffords’ seat, since she resigned. It’s ugly and annoying, with misleading adds on both sides. I’ve read about the “Fair Tax,” and I think in it’s purest form, it’s a good idea. But that’s not what is being presented by the Democrats. And the Republican challenger is trying to back away furiously from everything he said in 2010 in that nasty election. I’m at the point where protecting Social Security and Medicare are crucial to me. Saying you’ll protect them after you’ve called them “the biggest ponzi scheme in history” really makes me nervous.

Even on line it’s getting hard to get unbiased, well-researched and reported news. I keep looking back at various points in our history and wonder about the directions we are moving. A someone who is a baby boomer, who loves history and reads about it all the time, has been a union member for protection (and walked a picket line), and has a sense of service to this nation, I am appalled by what is happening in this country. We are Americans, and as such, we should be a leader in all things – health, welfare of our citizens, concern for the planet, and true proponents of the Bill of Rights for all. We should be better than water boarding, regardless of the claims of national security. We should be better than cutting education. We need to look at our programs systemically. If there’s medicare fraud, then go after the ones defrauding the system. Don’t do away, willy nilly, with the program.

So….my thoughts for the day…..from sewing to politics. Quite the rambling mind……

Have a great weekend!

Work in Progress Wednesday…..a Bump in the Road

….well, probably not a real bump, more like a slight detour in the development of this new piece. I am trying to represent depression as something that is hidden in the brain. I have a great center piece that looks like dendrites. I want to build around it in reds for the angst that comes with depression, and I was running into some issues with how to quilt the third piece. So I looked at the rest of the fabric pieces I had to see if anything looked like it would work better. Found a piece that will be fabulous, and it’s going to take a lot of quilting to make this piece really happen.

As I’m auditioning threads, hubby comes in for his opinion, and as I’m trying to explain what I want to attempt, he brings up some legitimate questions on construction. While this is an art quilt, it still needs to hang like a quilt in a gallery setting, so I have to keep that in mind. I’ve had issues when trying to construct “unusual” fiber pieces in the hanging, so I have learned to keep that more in mind.

We’re drawing back and forth on the ideas, and it finally occurs to me that I need to do a mock-up to see if this design is really going to work. If I can get it together, it should be pretty amazing. So that’s the task ahead of me tomorrow morning after marbling. It’ll set back the actual quilting a day or so, but next week looks pretty darn clear for work…..

With that in mind, it has been a productive week. I finished my commission for my yoga instructor. Did some minor beading to represent the little bits of water we have in the desert, hence the name “Desert Stream.” This is a smaller version, with a number of changes, from “The Shallows” piece. I’m quite partial to how the lichen looks in this piece….a lot of use of the reverse button on the sewing machine! My yoga lady LOVES it.

 

Along with this has been my auction piece for SAQA. It’s along the lines of the depression piece, but a whole lot more positive. It’s called “Hotwired.” It’s simple in execution, but I think pretty effective.

"Hotwired" 12 x 12 inches for the SAQA auction

Because there’s not enough deadline sin my life right now, I decided to take apart one of my first quilts to requilt for the May Free motion challenge. I love the pattern, and I think it would look good on this pretty masculine quilt for hubby. Boy, you can tell how old it is (15 years?) by the really lousy batting I used – what was CHEAP at the time. I’ll post pictures as it get finished. This is it with the binding already gone, and I am starting to take out the really awful straight-line quilting in the ditch…with invisible thread, no less, back when I didn’t really have a clue. Should look considerably better when finished.

NOw fort he other piece in progress, my piece on depression. I spent some time today actually trying a pattern from some old white fabric, pinning it up on the wall. It was an interesting process, as I usually just try things as I go along. This time I just wasn’t sure that was going to work, as there were a lot of issues I wanted addressed in this piece. Here’s the finished pattern – and now I have pattern pieces to use – a bonus I never considered.

 

 If I’d thought about it, it would have been in different colors……but I really like the shape – very organic, very like a brain. Here’s a reject piece of fabric, now available for another piece.

 It just wasn’t playing nicely with the other fabrics. Here’s one of the reds with the thread to remind you of the colors of a PET scan. The problem with this piece is going to be the photography – the red is showing pink, the black is showing red….not quite sure what I’m going to do, so I need to get it finished with time to spare for the final shots.

THis is a little better, but you can’t really make out the sheen of the thread.

So it’s been a busy week, and hopefully it will continue!

Gallery Walks and Artists…Oh My!

When we were on our trip to Seattle, we didn’t have a lot of time (coming or going) to do our favorite activity – browse galleries and talk to artists. When we went to Sedona this past weekend, it was high on our list, and we were not disappointed. First up was the Native American artists at the lookout at the top of Oak Creek Canyon. These artists are all certified by the Native Americans for Community Action, and the work is wonderful. We enjoy seeing the contemporary designs in jewelry that have a rich heritage behind them.

Overlook Program: A significant development for NACA was the establishment of a partnership with the United States Forest Service, Coconino National Forest for a project called the Oak Creek Vista Overlook project. Beginning in 1988, the Overlook Project is an economic development program that allows Native Americans artisans to sell their arts, crafts and jewelry at the prime tourist location. This program has grown in popularity and reputation each year. To date this year, 280 vendors have registered to sell their crafts. For many of the vendor, money made through the Overlook is their major source of income.

We bought a plate by a Navaho artist that depicts a wolf, one of hubby’s protective animals. While I love all the jewelry, I really don’t wear much – but I do so enjoy looking. And it was a gorgeous day on the rim, with a light breeze and absolutely gorgeous views.

From Stock Photo, Scott Prokop

We strolled the Hyatt galleries in Sedona, especially our favorite, Visions Art Gallery. The glass chandeliers are always spectacular.

www.ulladarni.com

One of my favorite artists is Alexei Butirskiy. You feel like you are in his paintings.

I also like Eyvind Earle. This is Crimson Eucalyptus.

The Lou DeSerio Gallery has wonderful photographs by both father and son. You need to spend some time looking at their work, especially of amazing Sedona.

We also spent some time at a small art fair in West Sedona. Gabriel and Jennifer Ayala had some really great copper sculptures. The copper weavings are quite interesting, and all completed by hand.

All-a-Glow Jewelry has some great wire work.

This was also Open Studios weekend in Sedona. On Sunday morning we visited two fiber artists, Margaret Anderson and Mary Fisher. Margaret’s work is luminous. She uses silk and cotton as a surface for paint, rather than canvas. She’s been in Visions, Dairy Barn, and Linda Seward’s book on art quilts.

Wildfire, Margaret Anderson

I’m saving the best for last…Mary Fisher’s studio. Check her amazing studio on tomorrow’s blog.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Oh my goodness, life is busy! We returned on Monday from StashFest, a benefit for the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum, with lots of new momentum and ideas for the business. I’ll be addressing some of the marketing issues and challenges in a later post. For right now, there are lots of new things in the works, as well as some current projects to finish.

We have two commissioned orders awaiting us. One has gone in the mail today to England, and the other is awaiting fabric and paint to arrive. On my walk this morning, I set myself the task to come up with what my “spring” and “summer” designs would look like for my seasons quilts. The marbled fabric is all ready to go, and I now have two specific designs in mind. This was a little trickier than fall and winter, because I still wanted to keep the log cabin basis for the new quilts. I’m hoping by the end of May to have the two new quilts finished and the pattern pretty much ready to go. Then I can consider the marketing for the kits.

I have a commissioned piece – a three-part triptych – that will pay for my yoga lessons, so I want to get that completed by this weekend. I have several small quilts that I am going to take apart and requilt, based on what I am learning with this year’s free motion quilting challenge. April’s lesson, about creating your own stencil, will solve my problem about wanting to do snowflakes for an old holiday quilt. I’m looking forward to trying this. The three quilts that I have requilted were all big hits at StashFest, as they were god examples of how marbled fabric can be used in traditional blocks. And I had LOADS of great feedback on how wonderful my quilting was. Yay me!

Now that I have installed Quilt Album software, I need to start putting in my quilts, especially since as I am traveling more, I can create an album to show at any time. This ties in to the portfolio we took with us to StashFest. We were able to show the article about us and the actual process through pictures, examples of Bernina garments that used our fabric, and other interesting patterns we had. The portfolio needs some updating….need to get that on the to-do list.

I really want to get to the DVD on quilting various marbling patterns. I need to perhaps start with just a couple of tutorials, and then let that determine where I go from there. As my quilting skills increase and improve, it will be interesting to see how that transfers to the marbled fabric.

Mainly I want to do a lot of sewing, designing, and quilting. So many ideas in my head! Hopefully next week there will be actual pictures to show……

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

 

Happy Pi Day! It’s the math nerd in me celebrating……no more having to plan special activities. Now back to regular blogging….(I started this on the iPad….)

Hmmmmm…..not sure if this is going to get any better….took me forever to log in, but I think I figured out what I was doing wrong…..now to get the pictures I want…..

That said, it has been pretty productive when it comes to fabric, even amidst the move. I finished my iPad cover with the feathers from the February free motion quilting challenge, and I’m really happy with it. In fact, at a birthday party last night, three of my friends want one and suggested I put them in my Etsy store. Something to consider idea when we return, as the Etsy store is disabled right now, as we are taking some of the product, with us to Seattle.

The front is a great big feather. I love the ideas people are posting, so I went with some Superior Rainbow and added some extra spines.

The Front

I added a small facing, and then added velcro to the inside in three different places to hold the cover closed.

Some things i would definitely change next time around, but overall, I LOVE it….never thought I would be able to do machine feathers!

Now for an update on Visions……I didn’t get in. Plain and simple. But….I’m okay with it, despite the fact that the very first show I ever got into was a fairly prestigious one. I know that the work is excellent; it’s some of the best I’ve done. And I have more ideas just ready to go. It just seems like the only way you get validation for your work is to get it in to major shows. I will keep making work, because that’s what I want to do.

If it weren’t too old (2003), this is what I would have entered: my absolute, favorite piece ever. I won’t sell this, because I’ll never be able to make another one. It is now on the wall in our new home, as we actually have wall space for it. This is part of the Gaia series, where I do weavings with strips of marbled fabric. This is Gaia 2: Beginnings, affectionately know around here as my Pele quilt.

My machine quilting skills have come along tremendously since that piece. The fabric of “The Shallows” was created about the same time, but it has just been in a drawer, waiting for the right time, which I figured was now.

Here’s the fabric at the beginning – it looks pretty bland.

It’s a pretty large piece of marbled fabric.

Making some early decisions on thread and backing. Everything was done with Superior Thread – Bottom Line in the bobbin, a mixture of King Tut and Rainbows and Art Studio for all the rocks and shading. (I never did take a pic of the back…..)

I knew how I wanted to start, but I wasn’t thrilled with how the fabric looked, after not seeing it for so many years. I thought in my mind it looked far more interesting. But I started anyway.

Already I could see improvement in texture, so I figured I would be okay. But I was worried about the green spots, which were originally designed to be some kind of leaf….now I was thinking lichen. I also wasn’t happy with the amount of white showing…needed to do something with that.

At this point I am becoming quite enthused with how things are shaping up…..but that’s a LOT of pebbles, and it took most of December to get the pebbles where I wanted them, without affecting the “veining” left from the marbling.

I was also starting to think about shading, which I guess is more thread painting than free motion. I consulted with my art mom to get advice on scientific shading, in which the light source always comes from the northwest. So I needed to start thinking about shading all those rocks…..at this point I became very aware that there are a LOT of rocks. YOu can see some of the beginning shading here.

So January hits and I’m aware of my deadline, knowing I need to leave time for photography. I’m shading, and doing pebbles, and thinking about trimming. About one-fourth of the right side is cut off, as the proportions seemed much better without it – and a lot fewer pebbles that had to be completed…. I needed to think through the lichen, and if you look closely at the detail, it’s shredded money – perfect texture!

And finally: The Shallows

It’s a far cry from the original fabric, and it is now proudly hanging in our new home.

Monday Marketing

 

 Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness…..and I could go on! What an amazing four days of art we just had….and we did quite a bit of marketing along the way. We just returend from Road 2 California – my first large quilt show since Market in 2003, and hubby’s first large quilt show. Two days of amazing quilts (photos to follow this week, after I get myself reoriented to basic life here….), plus a day at the Getty Museum – and coping with I-405….interesting experience there……

One of the best things I did in preparation for the show was bring three really great fat quarters with me, just in case someone was “interested” in seeing marbled fabric. One fat quarter went to the “quilt royalty” that was at the show, and one went to Susan Else, the guest artist – she will definitely have something different to use in her sculptures.

It was really helpful as we were looking at some of the cool tools to pull out the actual fabric and ask questions very specific to its use. This was particularly true at the Pellon booth, as we were talking we began to realize that if we are to take our fiber work to the next level, we need to seriously consider what is used in between the layers. We looked at embroidery machines, as I really would like to include some machine embroidery in the new pieces, and we had a fascinating discussion with the Brother people that could potentially lead to some licensing opportunities.

I collected a lot of business cards, as there was either a really interesting tool or embellishment I want to share. Hardly any book dealers, which is why I may need to consider Market this year or next. Speaking of books….I got home to about 300 emails, one of which was a request for photos to be in a book. That’s definitely a follow-through for this week. Renewed my Quilt Show membership so I can keep up with what’s happening in the field.

Interesting marketing observations. One company with really interesting hand-painted fabric doesn’t have a website. They only sell at shows. They don’t want to photograph fabric so people can see exactly what they are going to buy. I understand that; that’s precisely why there are some online venues that won’t take us, because they feel the need to photograph every piece of fabric. That’s why we sell on eBay and Etsy – what you see is what you get. We have a note on our ordering page on our website about why there aren’t pictures. We don’t get many orders off the website, but that’s okay, because we have other venues. No hand-marbled fabrics at the show, but there was a booth with commercial marbled fabric; nice line of fabric, much more subtle than what has been released by major companies in the last few years. Lots of quilts made up – using a stained glass approach – using the marbled fabric. Interesting to see.

Some booths had absolutely no information, beyond a business card with only an email. I tried making notes, but I figured there’s no way I’d be sharing that information. No web presence, and no pictures allowed to let people know what was available. Hopefully they make enough doing shows to make it worth their while. We couldn’t do that; the press of making fabric for our Seattle trip is enough.

It’s probably the most fun to put names and faces to cyber contacts and to ooh and aah at the gorgeous artwork. We went through the quilts twice, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and trying to find time to just enjoy the quality workmanship. I wouldnt have been able to take this amount of time had I not been retired…..

And after all that, as I was perusing and cleaning out emails, I stumbled across this older email that I hadn’t read, from resident web guru Suzan. I know there are more applications to marketing than meets the eye, but since we artists rely on our hands to make our art, this seems interesting food for thought. A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design.

Stay tuned – lots of pictures in the works!!!

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

So Where Am I as an Artist?

Ya know, I’m not really sure.  I have a few goals this year of entering a couple of shows, and a couple of proposals for galleries, but I keep wondering about the work I am doing. First of all, I really love the art that I am creating. I’ve had a love affair with fabric for years, and now that we are turning out some really great pieces with our marbling, I love it even more. But I feel like there’s a lot more.

The big change for me in how I looked at my fiber came when a quilting friend took a piece of marbled fabric and quilted it all over. I had secretly suspected there was a lot more I could do with embellishing the fabric, and Ellen showed me I was definitely on the right thinking track…it took me a year or so of playing with threads and the sewing machine and my ideas to create something that I really felt was good – and different.

I’ve written before about entering shows and getting rejected. Hey, it happens. It’s to be expected. Wjen I objectively look at work accepted into shows (like it’s really possible to be totally objective….), I am struck by how “quilty” the pieces are, even those billed as art quilts. I also can recognize styles and “names,” and I keep looking for something really different that pushes the boundaries of fiber as art. And then I always figure it’s just me and sour grapes.

Now here’s where I’m not sure just what it is I am trying to say. And this has been brought on by a post by Elizabeth Barton, an art quilter and artist and juror of art shows. “Quiltopee” was a post about a week ago that has me pondering. Here’s the beginning of her blog:

“Quilters often say they wish that “they” (critics, museums, galleries, collectors, the public) would recognize quilts as a mainstream art medium.  Other media, for example photography,  have developed to the extent that most museums now include  photographs in their collections and display them regularly.   So, why not quilts? At least part of the answer is that quilts have not developed from their early beginnings in anything like the way that other media have.”

I find this really intriguing. Art quilts seem to be the rage, and I see some pretty amazing ones. But I also see “art quilts” that seem to take everything that can be done with thread and fiber and machine quilting and throw it all together, just because you can. I subscribe to the philosophy that “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” Just because you can machine quilt something to within an inch of its life doesn’t mean that’s what your piece really needs. Yet those seem to be the quilts that are getting in to shows and winning awards.

Elizabeth continues: “Contemporary art is rich, diverse, and unpredictable.  While  painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and crafts are still popular,  new media  are more likely to be seen in contemporary art shows: film, video, audio, installation, performance, text, computers.  And media are frequently mixed.  It’s hot to use an “old” medium  in a new way: paintings that are pixilated, drawing with chocolate. But how many quilts have you seen made from chocolate? (though it’s a grand idea!).”

She goes on to say (and this is what really struck me): “But I’m afraid, and correct me if I’m wrong(!), we don’t see these kinds of things in quilts.  Quilters tend to stick very much to making quilts the way they were always made.  There’s nothing wrong in this, but that’s one reason why the contemporary fine art world is not very interested.  They’re not so interested in paintings made the traditional way either.”

Hmmmmm. I’m doing things with fiber and marbling – an unconventional marriage to begin with – and adding thread, additional painting, unusual hangings/display means. So much so that people who look at my work don’t know what to call it….”Is that supposed to be a quilt?”

Well, no. It’s art, it hangs on the wall. You can look at it, appreciate the subject matter, mayne think about how it was made. But how does it affect you? What do you see? Forget the “why isn’t it a regular quilt?” They don’t see any underlying message to the subject matter.

Elizabeth finishes with ” I think that the answers to questions as to why art critics arn’t interested in quilts are evident in both formal and content areas:  quilters don’t really want to stretch the medium to uncomfortable (if not breaking) lengths, nor do many of them want to address some of the contemporary issues evident in main stream art.  As I said before, neither good nor bad, but, rather, why!”

The small fiber piece I created in response to the Tucson shootings upset a few people. The subject matter was raw; it was created during the first week after the shootings that killed 6 and left 13 wounded. One snarky comment (anonymous, of course) in our local paper said, “Where was she with a quilt to wrap up Hitler? That would have saved some lives.”

As I’m writing this post, I’m also processing. The Art from the Heart website does contain art quilts – and other media –  with a message. They probably wouldn’t be accepted into any kind of art quilt show. But they are addressing contemporary issues. So am I ahead of myself? Am I pushing myself in other directions that the fiber world is ready for – the quilting world isn’t – and may never be?

I am really interested in your comments to this post, and Elizabeth’s ideas in general. You can see some of my earlier fiber work on our website. The more “message-driven work hasn’t made it up yet. One of my goals for the first half of the year……

 

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