September 24, 2008

Art Quilts XIII Acceptance

My Amanita muscaria has been accepted into Art Quilts XIII: Lucky Break, which runs Nov. 7 - Dec. 31 at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ. This is the first time I've entered this show, and I'm thrilled to be accepted, and to be in such good company. The gallery space looks fantastic, the kind of setting that can really showcase the work.

The center image in this work is from a digital photo taken while hiking in my beloved River Hills in southern Lancaster County. It's a gorgeous example of a maturing specimen of Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, a very deadly mushroom. I got all excited when we found it growing along a trail, and couldn't wait to use the image in a quilt.

There's a piece of commercial printed fabric just to the right of the image, which mimics the leaf litter the fungus was growing in, and a small piece of a handwoven Indian plaid in the upper right. All the other fabrics I handpainted with Setacolor transparent paints. There's some couched yarn, and hand beading with seed and bugle beads.

I think I was successful in capturing the atmosphere of the woods where I found it growing, and the vibrancy of the colors and patterns of the mushroom. Here's a detail:

You can see other quilts I've made using fungus imagery at my website.

September 20, 2008

All about Bamboo

A few years ago some neighbors planted some bamboo near our shared property line, presumably as a screen. I believe it is Arundinaria gigantea, a native bamboo that can grow in the southern parts of PA. It is certainly thriving here, and it's making me a bit nervous.....I anticipate some work will be involved in keeping it in check on my side of the line.

However invasive it may turn out to be, it is lovely. I had to trim some of it back today, so I seized the opportunity to make some cyanotypes with it. I had a sample pack of treated silks from Blueprints on Fabric that I've been saving for what turned out to be just this occasion, and had a lot of fun trying them out.
Below is a photo of one of the prints in progress, under glass. You can see the reflection of my zelkova tree, with it's similarly shaped, but smaller, leaves:

And here's a finished print: And another:
I made a variety of prints, in different sizes and with different exposures, some purposely left lighter, so that I will have a lot to work with when I get to the design phase of this project. I am very pleased with all the different textures of the silks, and will be ordering more of them to work with in the future. I made a cheat sheet of samples to help me keep track of what was what:

September 15, 2008

Catalpa Cyanotypes

The cyanotype gods were smiling on me yesterday. I had the time, I had the ideas, and the weather was perfect for it, hot and sunny and calm. I made a lot of prints for use in the catalpa quilt, using transparencies I prepared from digital pictures. Above you can see two of them printing--they are under glass, and you can see the reflection of my arms as I take the picture in the upper left.

Here's the resultant prints, after they been rinsed out, dried and pressed:

The images may look a bit abstract here, but I know where I am going with them--they will read differently in the context of the complete quilt top. They are nice and crisp, and the color is just good and rich. These are on a cotton sateen that I had custom treated by Blueprints on Fabric. I love her stock fabrics and use them often, but she also does a wonderful job of custom treating, and the hand and slight texture of the sateen is just what I wanted to convey the substance of the tree branches here.

September 14, 2008

PIQF Acceptance

I'm happy to announce that I will have two quilts going to the Pacific International Quilt Festival , Oct. 16-19 in Santa Clara, CA. Pictured above is Prickly Sow Thistle. I'm fascinated with thistles and they way they quickly colonize disturbed ground, in areas around construction sites and road improvements. The leaf shapes and flowers are distinctive and beautiful, the fluffy seed heads look very cool, and songbirds feast on the seeds. On the minus side, many of them (but not the prickly sow) are noxious weeds. I enjoyed making this quilt, but I did need to be mindful of the prickles when making the cyanotypes.

A detail of Prickly Sow Thistle:

Also going to PIQF is Reed Run:

I think the imagery on this quilt is really strong, but what the photograph can't capture completely is all the texture. The contrast between the shiny silks and the deep green wool at the bottom befuddles the camera, and it shows so much better in person, as does the beadwork.

It features pawpaw leaves, which are huge and tropical-looking. Once I was lucky enough to find ripe pawpaw fruit in the wild--it has a very unique taste and texture.

Here's a detail from Reed Run, showing part of the heliographic print done on a textured silk, embellished with hand embroidery and beadwork:

September 13, 2008

Hungry as a Bear

The change in the weather as fall approaches has aroused my culinary instincts. I've been making soups and baking bread and apple crisp. I dressed for the task a bit more casually then this chef, resplendent in his seersucker appliqued outfit and billowing embroidered apron and toque. His image livens up two corners of a vintage tablecloth I have, while his first cousin is on the opposing corners:

Why all the cooking and baking? Because this time of year, everyone is hungry as a bear:

This cheerful ursine, who walks softly and carries a really big spoon, is embroidered on an unfinished quilt block found at the flea market.

September 11, 2008

Pequea Creek Bridge Removal

We go hiking every chance we get in southern Lancaster County, and have crossed this bridge across the Pequea Creek countless times. It's a one lane bridge built in 1912, and this week it's coming down. Here you can see the iron bridge in the foreground, the arched railroad bridge behind it, and the creek flowing into the Susquehanna River, with the Safe Harbor dam and power plant in the background.

It's a picturesque bridge in a beautiful setting, and I've always enjoyed the mild trepidation experienced when driving across it. Today I learned that in the State rating system of 100 points, this one rates a 1! It's going to be replaced with a modern structure, not as picturesque but undoubtedly safer.

These pictures were taken this past weekend, a few days before demolition began. Local residents decorated the span with flags and balloons:

I like the angles in this picture, and the patterns of the rust:

Here's the view looking down through the floor (roadbed? platform?) of the bridge at the creek. It gives one pause....
Yesterday, workers used a crane to pick up the entire structure and move it to a parking lot, where it can be disassembled more readily. The local newspaper has coverage of the event, with video, here.

September 10, 2008

Mary Manahan's exhibit

The beautiful quilt above, Figs, is by my friend Mary Manahan. A retrospective of her work will be exhibited at The Queenstown Art Gallery, 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell, NJ, beginning this Saturday, September 13 through November 1st. Go if you get the chance, you will be amazed!

Opening Reception Saturday September
13th, 5:30 - 8:00
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9:30 - 5:30
Saturday 10:00 - 4:00
For More Information: 609.466.0817

September 9, 2008

At the Farmer's Market

If it's Tuesday, I've been to Roots Market (locally pronounced to rhyme with "puts"). This time of year there is an embarrassment of riches, with lots of summer produce still available and the fall fruits and veggies coming into season. I know I meet or exceed my recommended daily allowance of produce--it's all so good, and so reasonably priced, and I get the added pleasure of interacting with the farmers, that I buy a lot!

The colors and textures are an added bonus and a feast for the senses, as in the purple cabbage, above, and bunches of cockscomb flowers:

I love the intricate ruffles on these:

September 8, 2008

An Award at PNQE

The Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza was this past weekend, and I'm pleased to say that my Wood Poppy won a "Best Use of Color"award. It's particularly gratifying because when I finished this quilt and stepped back to review what I had wrought, my personal opinion of it was that I had got the colors just right. There's nothing extraneous there, and the balance of the elements and colors is just as I had envisioned it. I'm thrilled the judges saw the same thing and chose to recognize it!

I wrote a bit more about making Wood Poppy here.

My time at the show was limited this year, but as always I enjoyed the variety of work displayed. This show hosts quilts from the World Quilt Competition, and it's always interesting to see the what the quiltmaking gestalt abroad is. And congratulations to my friend Diane Doran--her beautiful Under the Rainbow took a third place. The complete list of winners is here.

September 7, 2008

More Catalpa Prints

The weather is spectacular, clear and dry and sunny, and I took advantage of it to make a couple of quick heliograhic prints. I'm using catalpa leaves I gathered some time ago. I don't usually use dried leaves, but when I gathered them conditions were not conducive, so it had to wait.

These are on silk twill, which has a bit more body than silk charmeuse, but still wicks the paint around in wonderful ways, and has a lovely sheen.

September 4, 2008

Fabulous Fiber

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to the opening reception of the Fabulous Fiber exhibit at The Monmouth Museum in Lincroft NJ. There I am, posing with my The Cul-de-Sac, and looking very happy! It is a wonderful exhibit, representing a wide variety of fiberarts, expertly chosen by jurors Joanie San Chirico and Geraldine Velasquez. The exhibit runs until September 21st--go if you get the chance!

The opening was well attended, and I had the opportunity to tell the story behind my quilt several times. I'm always interested to hear people's reactions to my work, and enjoy answering questions.

The best part of the evening, though, was meeting some of the other artists and hearing their stories. Below is Natalia Margulis, a Russian-born artist who does extraordinarily detailed embroideries rich with texture and color. Here she is with "Floating Oak Leaves":

Here is Joan Dreyer with her work "Mission Accomplished", one of two works she had in the show. My snapshot doesn't begin to do it justice--it's made from dental xrays, joined with stitches, and is really quite remarkable:
I also met Linda Friedman Schmidt, who has taken rug hooking as a medium to a new and unique place, using recycled clothing and plastic shopping bags, to create works with social commentary. Here she is posing with her "Plastic Fantastic Makeover":

Here is Jane F. Johnson with "The Breeding Blue Heron". Jane was a lot of fun to talk to, and her work is beautiful.

The evening went by far too quickly. It was so exciting to see such a variety of novel and creative and beautiful artwork; my pictures barely scratch the surface. I came away energized and full of renewed enthusiasm to get to work in the studio and see what happens!

My companion for the evening was the lovely and talented Mary Manahan, who is not only an art quilter and water colorist, but also a hostess extraordinaire, who navigated the wilds of Monmouth County and graciously gave me a place to rest my weary head that night. Thank you Mary!

September 1, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm back in the saddle, back on track, and back in the studio with the pedal to the metal, literally and figuratively. I spent the better part of the Labor Day weekend working, which seems appropriate, and finished the quilting and binding, etc., on Fireball. It finished out at 76" x 50", which is not the largest I've done, but still rather challenging to manuever under the machine for quilting.

At the end of a project I like to step back, look it over, and see if there's anything I would do differently. I'm very pleased with Fireball and wouldn't change a thing! It's a happy quilt, and a bright and energetic one, and I'm excited about sending it out into the world for other people to enjoy. I'll have official pictures up in a little while.....