June 18, 2015
At last, the reveal of my latest work, In Dreams I Learned to Swim.
It’s a large quilt, at 60” high x 80” wide, so it has a lot of presence when seen in person. For anyone living or traveling near Harrisburg, PA this summer, you can see it in a marvelous setting at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. It’s part of the prestigious Art of the State exhibit, opening on June 28th and running through September 13th. It’s an all-media show, and I’m very pleased to be a part of it again this year.
This work incorporates needlefelting with silk and wool on a separate, attached panel.
I made collagraph plates and printed them in a variety of colorways for the surrounding quilt.
The borders are also handpainted, and the entire work is heavily stitched to add texture and movement.
I hope you have enjoyed following along as I detailed this work in progress—you can review it by clicking “In Dreams I Learned to Swim” on the right sidebar, or by clicking here.
As always, thank you for reading and commenting.
June 17, 2015
After putting together the quilt top, I had some fun making the backing. I buy white cotton sateen by the bolt, as I like heft and the feel of it.
I seamed a big piece of it, then laid it down on a tarp outside. I flung paint around in a whirlpool design, then hit it with the hose.
As it dried in the sun, the paint migrated and blended in marvelous patterns. It’s a small indulgence, as the back will not generally been seen in an art quilt, but it made me happy while I was layering, basting, and quilting it. It’s a huge quilt, so there was a lot of quilting and it took a considerable amount of time. I break it down into sections and and work from the inside out to the borders, doing it all on a home sewing machine (as opposed to a larger, longarm machine). I enjoy the process and find it transformative.
Up next – the big reveal!
June 16, 2015
I used my collagraph plates and the large Gelli plate to make prints onto cotton sateen in a variety of colorways. I hadn’t particularly planned for it to be this vibrant, but that’s how it worked out as I went along.
As I spent time arranging and rearranging the prints on the design wall, I spent a lot of time working out the compositional aspects of it all. I spent even more time working out my motivation for making this work, as that’s the truly important part. It’s vital for me to know what it is I’m expressing; it’s not just a design exercise.
The story goes like this: when I was a girl, I never learned to swim. It was a not a particularly valued skill in my family, and was not a part of the cultural expectations and narrative I was being raised to fulfill. I learned as a young adult, but I am a bit awkward at it, and have to limit myself to swimming in very safe situations. It’s a minor thing, really, in the grand scheme of life’s rich tapestry, but I suppose on some level I feel the sting of a missed opportunity, for swimming began to enter my dreams about the River.
Swimming in the Susquehanna can be dangerous for the strongest and most experienced of athletes. Despite its often calm surface appearance, it is riddled with tricky undercurrents. But in my dreams I a glide powerfully along, riding out the currents and admiring the landscape, the master of all I survey.
It’s a large concept, and needed a large canvas to fully express it. After settling on the arrangement of the prints, I hand painted and printed more fabrics, including silk noil, to extend the narrative.
June 15, 2015
While I was working on the needlefelted center panel, I was also devising the prints that would make up the supporting quilt. I gathered a lot of bits and pieces and glued them onto mat board to make collagraph plates.
My main focus for the plates was to capture the movement of the Susquehanna River through the surrounding landscape of wooded hills and farmland.
June 14, 2015
I’ve got a new addition to my River Series. It began, once again, as an adventure in needlefelting. The center portion of the panel is comprised of lots of wool roving, along with slivers and scraps of wool and silk.
Surrounding the river are segments of silk and wool fabrics, some of which I’ve had for a long time. I was stalled and had this hanging on the design wall for weeks, until I hacked out the pink silk print from an old skirt, and then the whole design came alive. The bits of purple print were cut from a silk scarf I brought back from India in the 70’s. It felt good to have found just the right moment and project to finally use it. After the fabrics were laid down and felted to the base, I added more roving and couched threads to add definition.
Above is the view of the back of the panel at this stage, which is always interesting.
More to come. And as always, thanks for reading and commenting.
I am happy to announce that Jack in the Pulpit has been accepted for the AQS Quiltweek exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 12 ‐ 15, 2015, at DeVos Place Convention Center.
This large and intricate art quilt was previously at the AQS Quiltweek in Lancaster, PA, where it won an award. See my previous blog post here.
I’m grateful to the AQS organization and the individuals involved in making my work, and the art form at large, so accessible to the public.
Update - Jack in the Pulpit won a third place award in its category at this event.
June 11, 2015
I’ve been experimenting again with Jacquard Solar Fast as a printmaking medium. I worked with it last year, making prints of my Kousa dogwood. (You can read about it here.) A few months ago I got a new supply of the product (see disclaimer below), and have been waiting until the weather and the garden were both cooperative to try it out.
In this set of pictures I’m working with the color Red, which comes out of the bottle as a medium pink tone. It’s a new formulation, and does not have the ammonia odor of the product I used last year—in fact, it had no discernible odor at all. I used a sponge brush to spread it on pfd (prepared for dyeing) cotton broadcloth. I arranged a flowering branch from my Kousa on it, and held it in place with a few strategic small pins.
Above is the print as it was being exposed to sunlight, under a sheet of glass. It was a bright, sunny day, and I used an exposure of about 15 minutes, which worked out well. I used too much product, probably because I am accustomed to slathering a certain amount of paint when I make heliographic prints, and had a bit of condensation form under the glass. The resultant minor splotchiness in the solid areas of the print bothers me not a jot, as I feel like the variation adds interest. As I continued to make more prints I used less product, followed the instructions (ahem) and blotted away any excess.
Above is the print after exposure, after removing the branch, and before washing. Solar Fast needs to be washed out completely, so that the areas that were not masked do not develop color later. Directions for all of this can be found on the Jacquard website. Below is the finished print. I’m very happy with it.
Here is a similar print made with the color Purple. All of the colors I’ve tried have been just excellent, very rich and vibrant. The other aspect I really appreciate about Solar Fast is the ability to feather it out around the edges. I really like the effect and anticipate leaving some of the brush work visible when I later crop and stitch the print. I had a fun afternoon of printmaking, and am thinking about other ways to use this process and this product. I hope to bump this Kousa quilt up a bit further in the queue awaiting my attention. The prints are wonderful and deserve to be showcased.
Disclaimer: A Jacquard representative contacted me and generously offered to supply me with some samples of Solar Fast to experiment with. I accepted the offer, with no strings attached. Aside from the product I received no compensation, and my experiments and opinions are my own.