August 29, 2013
As part of the SAQA Seasonal Palette exhibit, each artist made an Artist Journal about their creative process, materials, and techniques. The journals are an integral part of the exhibit and are displayed along with the quilts in the exhibit venues. Now many of the journals, including the one for my work, The Organic Landscape, are available as PDFs on the SAQA website here. The direct link to mine is here.
I am working my way through them, and they are absolutely fascinating and illuminating. If you wanted a crash course/master course in How to Create an Art Quilt, you could spend some time with these Journals and learn a tremendous amount. I love the way each artist approached making the Journal differently, just as each quilt is unique.
The Seasonal Palette exhibit will be at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, from September 12 through December 2, 2013. There’s also an excellent hardcover catalog available here.
For more about The Organic Landscape, you can track back my blog posts by clicking the Seasonal Palette tab on the blog header, or go here.
August 19, 2013
The fabric strips in four colorways from the previous post were sewn together. I use a flip and stitch method, onto a foundation of thin cotton muslin. The foundation stabilizes all the disparate weights of fabric I use, and I don’t have to worry about batting “bearding” through the lighter silks.
I add a strip, right side down onto the previous one, stitch through both strips onto the foundation fabric, flip it open, press it flat, add another one, and so on. I make several sets in each color, roughly 20” wide and three to four feet long, depending on how much of each I anticipate needing later on. I don’t measure or plan precisely, just go on intelligence guided by experience.
My aim is to try and piece the strips randomly, which is much, much harder than it sounds. The natural human inclination is to make a repeating pattern, so I take some pains to mix it up a bit while still getting a somewhat even distribution of light and dark values. It’s very deeply satisfying work.
Speaking of mixing things up, here’s an entirely gratuitous photo of an opossum, eating the cat food I put out for a stray. He was rattling around out there in the dark on the night I took the above pictures, so I had the camera at hand and got this capture before he shuffled off.
August 15, 2013
I made a flying trip to Pittsburgh on Saturday to experience the installation of the Knit the Bridge project. It was simply amazing on so many levels. The weather was warm but fine, thankfully, and volunteers were out in full force to work their shifts installing individual panels on the iconic Andy Warhol 7th Street Bridge. The level of dedication and organization that brought everything together for this moment is truly mind-blowing.
The hand crocheted and/or knitted panels were laid out along the walkway, ready to be secured with zip ties. Each metal panel of the bridge got a fiber panel on the inside and on the outside.
Once they were in place, the volunteers whipstitched them together with twine along all the edges.
While that was happening on the south side of the bridge, the north side was blocked off so that the rigging crews could use lifts to install the machine knitted panels on the high bridge supports.
These panels were first attached to construction fencing.
This is truly yarn bombing on a epic scale.
The panels were all geometric patterns--no imagery or graphics--but beyond that they varied wildly, according to the talents and desires of the people who made them.
Once the individual panels were in place, black knitting was added to cover the railings. This contrast added tremendously to the overall impact.
I could have spent all afternoon taking pictures of individual panels; there were so many interesting ones, and so many combinations of colors and textures.
I walked over the Rachel Carson 9th Street Bridge to get some distance shots. There were a lot of boaters on the river, and the whole experience had a very festive air. From here it reminded me a bit of maritime signal flags, as if there was a message there waiting to be decoded.
I then went to the other side, to the Roberto Clemente 6th Street Bridge, for another perspective of the installation-in-progress.
I’ve taken a lot of photos of all three bridges in the past using my fisheye lens, and had some more fun with it at the installation. (For previous bridge pictures, see the Pittsburgh album on my Flickr site--link in the right sidebar, or go here.)
It’s one thing to have a cool idea--hey kids, let’s yarn bomb a bridge!--but to actually make it happen is a whole ‘nother level of fiber art coolness. Kudos to the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh.
Check their Knit the Bridge Blog and /or Facebook page for lots more cool links and pictures. They are getting all kinds of wonderful and well deserved press.
This project is diametrically at the other end of the fiber art spectrum from my studio practice, where I work alone on one individual meticulously stitched piece at a time, but I found it tremendously inspiring. The installation will be up until September 7th, and I’m sure it will continue to delight and amaze the entire time.
Last but not least, many many thanks to project co-director Penny Mateer for doffing her hard hat and taking a few minutes from her hectic day to talk with me. Penny, it was wonderful to finally meet you in person!
August 7, 2013
Next it was time to pick the supporting fabrics for the patchwork. I love this part of the process; it’s fun and exciting. For this work I decided on four different colorways. Above are the pinks. I am often asked about fabric choices, so I will try to break this one down. From left to right I have a patterned textured silk, a French silk/cotton blend , a gold silk, two pink silks from Mysore, India, a artisan dyed mottled silk, and a striped silk cotton blend.
Next is the pale blue colorway. L-R is a pfd (prepared for dying) off-white silk with a satin strip, a silk stripe, a “shot” blue silk from Mysore, a heavy patterned silk cut from a men’s shirt, and a silk tweed that I hand painted. I seldom buy fabric specifically for a project, as I have a pretty good stash, but I will handpaint things as needed.
In the green colorway, there are two of my hand painted cottons (dried on a family heirloom mid-century modern lawn chair for the patterned effect), a finely woven wool, a silk-cotton small check, some pale olive silk from a woman’s suit (that is reading too peachy in this snapshot), a dark green twill cotton, two more hand painted cottons, and an artisan dyed mottled silk.
The dark colorway was my favorite to assemble. L-R is a check patterned black silk and a striped burgundy one, an artisan hand dye, a burgundy print from the 80’s, and two dressmaking scraps from the 40’s. I really wish you could all feel these scraps in person. They were probably purchased through a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogue, and my mother used them for dresses. The fabric is tightly and smoothly woven, from a very fine gauge cotton, and the hand of the fabric is marvelous. It would have been expected to hold up through countless wearings, washings, and ironings. I literally cannot find fabric this nice anywhere anymore, so I mete out what I have judiciously. The final fabric on the right is a shagbark from the 70’s. Again, it is very finely woven, and the stripes have these wonderful little nubs in them. I made myself a blouse from it, back in the day.
The fabric was all pressed and then I cut random width strips, all of similar lengths, to prepare for piecing.
At the last minute I added a few pale pinkish cotton floral prints into the blue set.
The contrast looks a bit garish in these last two at this point, but it will all work out ok once it is stitched, sliced, and stitched again. If it was all bland and matchy-matchy it would end up boring.
August 4, 2013
In the better late than never department, I want to acknowledge an article in the July/August 2013 edition of Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine that features a few images of my work. The article is “Echo Quilting” by the wonderful and talented Diane Rusin Doran, and it breaks down and explains everything you ever wanted and needed to know about this versatile and effective technique. The spread from the article above shows a detail from my Big Root Geranium, bottom left, and The Organic Landscape, top center. Other details on these pages are by the fabulous Nancy G. Cook; also included in the article is the work of the award winning quilter Cindy Seitz-Krug.
If you are not yet familiar with this magazine, use this as your motivation to get a copy and check it out. It’s always an excellent blend of beautiful, interesting quilts and information you can actually use.