Thursday, May 5, 2016

Art Quilt Elements 5 -- raw edges

Two of my favorite quilts from AQE are similar in three ways: first, they're somewhat representational in nature (although not realistic); second, they're made mostly in raw-edge applique; and third, they're by artists whose work I have been following and loving for a while.

Dinah Sargeant, Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts (detail below)

I first saw Sargeant's work in Quilt National many years ago, back when I was pretty hung up on fine craftsmanship and meticulous piecing, and remember that I was amazed and impressed by the power of her loose, painterly style.  I wasn't sure what was going on in the picture except that it seemed to be guys floating around in spacesuits, and it was magical.  She's not a regular on the quilt show circuit, at least the shows that I keep track of, but her work shows up occasionally and is always wonderful.

This quilt, the largest in the show at 58 x 128", suffered from patchy lighting, but nevertheless has great presence, with mysterious figures of humans and dogs emerging from pink and blue clouds. Some of the imagery is painted; some is appliqued.  In places the stitching is dense; in others it's sparse.  I wanted to spend more time reading this piece and admiring Sargeant's vision.

Lorie McCown, Twins (detail below)

You might think that the conceit of using clothing shapes to represent people would be too cute by half, but McCown somehow imbues her dresses (and in this quilt, coveralls too) with some seriousness.  Hand stitching makes the stylized heads of the twins and a web of lines emanating from one's heart, and records many of the comments that twins have undoubtedly heard thousands of times: "do you finish each other's sentences?" "are you two twins?"  The outer border of vintage patchwork (or perhaps it just looks like vintage) adds a nice down-home touch.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Art Quilt Elements 4 -- maps

I took a break from my reporting on Art Quilt Elements, the show at the Wayne Art Center in Philadelphia, but last week I was out and about and was confronted in person by a faithful blog reader who demanded that I get back to unfinished business and show something besides pieced quilts!  I will do my best, although as I reviewed my images I realize that I did a lousy job of documenting the show.  We arrived late, thanks to a transportation mishap, then too busy talking with people instead of practicing photojournalism, and then my camera ran out of juice as I was making one last pass around the room to get photos.  So if you need more info you'll have to buy the catalog.  You can also see the quilts here; the images are small but the color is excellent.

But today, here are two quilts that were complementary of each other, both of them maps with a body of water as the focal point.

Alicia Merrett, Port at Dusk Diptych (detail below)

My camera being crabby; imagine that the purple background in the detail shot is the same lovely blue as in the full view.  But the show shows the interesting mix of piecing and applique, both raw edge and turned-under.

I've always had a thing for maps, both real and artistic.  Last week while I was visiting a friend I had the chance to look at not one but two books about maps made by artists, and was reminded of the vast range of approaches that can be used and still clearly be mapmaking.

Ayn Hanna, LineScape  #31 (Pelican Lakes) (detail below)

I believe this gorgeous quilt has no machine piecing, just applique and reverse applique, plus paint and hand stitching and a wide range of fabrics.  It's rich in texture (by contrast to the much flatter effect in Merrett's quilt) and more subdued in palette.

I admit that my eye is usually drawn first to the machine piecing, since that's my personal style, but more and more I admire hand stitching and enjoy seeing the ways it is integrated with machine stitching.  For instance, check out the long horizontal gray embroidery threads in the detail shot above.  They were laid down in long lines, interrupted by some fancy counted-thread work that made little crosses, then stitched over with machine quilting, which held the threads somewhat in place.  A surprisingly complex effect that rewards close viewing.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Poster child!

What a nice surprise -- I'm the poster child (oops, I mean the postcard child) for the SDA exhibit at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn NY.

In case you can't read the tiny type, this is my set of knotted sculptures called "Unspooled."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Photo suite 213 -- thinking about flags

No, it's neither Flag Day nor Memorial Day, but I've been working on flag quilts and they're on my mind!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Opening the mystery package

A few years ago, my dear friend and fiber art pal Joanne Weis went to Tuscany on vacation, and bought a mystery package at a Sunday flea market for a couple of euros.  The woman who sold it to her thought it was a roll of old linen, but it had been neatly sewed up so Joanne bought it pretty much sight unseen.  She brought it home and put it away, and just recently came upon it and decided it was high time she opened the package and saw what was inside.

She decided this needed to be a ceremonial occasion, so she brought it to our fiber art support group.  First we surveyed the package and heard the story.

Then we noticed how neatly the roll had been sewed together, and the tiny brown cross-stitched motif on the roll.

Joanne cut the stitches and undid the roll.

We measured it -- about nine and a quarter yards.  It had brown spots on the first foot or so but was creamy white on the inside of the roll.

Best of all, Joanne gave me a piece to use in my next flag quilt.  If I can stand to machine stitch all over it; maybe I'll have to keep out a bit for hand-stitching.

What a find to come across such a treasure in a faraway place, and how nice it is to have fiber friends who appreciate it to share the moment with.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Flag quilt progress report

I'm nearing completion on my first flag quilt, and got it to the point where I could hang it on the wall. Which is easier said than done, since it's almost 100 inches long and the ceiling in my studio is almost 84 inches tall.  Fortunately I have a display space in my front hallway, with a rod right at the ceiling and a wall that extends down the stairway to the nether regions.  So I was able to put the quilt up and see what it looks like.

It looks very imposing, but it doesn't hang straight.  The right-most white stripe bows toward the left, which forces the middle red stripe to double up on itself.

I am not opposed to this quilt hanging wonky; in fact, it fits with my conceptual theme of going wrong, but this just looks like accidental wonk, not deliberate wonk.  The latter I would embrace; the former I have to fix.  So when I get back from my road trip next week the quilt is coming off the wall and back to the sewing machine.

I'm going to cut a wedge out of that wonky white stripe and hike it up so it will hang closer to vertical.  Then I'll put it back on the wall and see how the right-hand red stripe feels about its relationship to the revised white stripe.  Maybe I'll have to either take up some of the extra height of the right-hand red stripe, or re-stitch it to the white.  I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I already LOVE this piece and think I'm going to love it even more when it gets tweaked!