Thursday, January 31, 2019

A little stitched house

My gallery is having an all-member theme show in April and I have been trying to figure out what to make.  The theme is "home" and the organizer had lots of philosophical thoughts about how we are supposed to contemplate the true meaning of "home."  I find myself turning off when asked to contemplate the true meaning of anything, so I am just trying to come up with something that will kinda sorta have to do with "home" and not be too cutesy or precious.

So what to do.  My first thought was to make some more refugee quilt people and stick them under the interstate bridge to represent the homeless people that we have way too many of.  But I realized that I would have to build an interstate bridge for them to live under, and that would get pretty involved, since I am not a woodworker.  I also realized that while I am personally concerned about homeless people, I didn't particularly want this to become a subject for my art.  (I am personally concerned about a lot of things that I don't want to become subjects for my art, and I don't feel a bit guilty about that.  Your art practice has to be a lot more selective and focused than your personal political agenda.)

My second thought was to riff on the stitched pyramids that I made a couple of years ago.  These were so heavily stitched that they took on structural integrity and were able to stand by themselves, a theme that I have been exploring in various ways.  After I finished the five pyramids below, I thought I would continue with different shapes and thought I might equip them with doors or awnings or other architectural features.  But I had never gotten around to this.

I have written many times about how I will respond to theme challenges only by making something that was already on my to-do list, and adding doors to pyramids qualified.  So I made a little house with a little door that opened.

Here's a picture of the heavily stitched house, complete with door:

Although I had made a carefully measured template for the house, I was unhappily surprised at how some of the segments got distorted with the heavy stitching.  In particular, the left-hand house side developed a droop at the lower left, and the door ended up bigger than the opening it was cut from.  The sides of the roof also weren't exactly the same length as the sides of the house they had to be connected to.

When I stitched the pyramids together it made absolutely no difference whether the sides ended up exactly the same length.  I was happy to leave half of the seam unstitched.  But that approach wouldn't do for a house.

So I had to do a fair amount of remedial sewing by hand to get everything put together.  Some roofs ended up with an overhang, and all of the walls ended up with bulges.  But in the end, everything fit together.

I still don't know whether this piece is too cutesy for the gallery, or too glib and superficial, or too lacking in artistic substance.  But at least it's finished.


  1. Dear Kathy,
    It is now ayear or so that I follw your blog. An very often I have to chuckle, as today, when you describe your dislike for dictated "themes".
    At the same time, you make me thinking about a lot of themes... One is your post about calling yourself an artist versus calling yourself a Quilter. It touches quite a lot of aspects, also in my life. I am very sure not to be an artist, maybe a craftsperson. I make usable things, and I try to make them not too ugly, that is it.
    One of the reasons I did not react before, is that English is not my native language. But now I try to comment more often, as you asked a few posts ago.
    I like very much the color of the roof of your house, but am not sure I would like to live in it; warm and cosy, but no windows!
    Friendly greetings from Amsterdam.

  2. I appreciate this "I am personally concerned about a lot of things that I don't want to become subjects for my art, and I don't feel a bit guilty about that. Your art practice has to be a lot more selective and focused than your personal political agenda." So much. So so much. This is something I struggle with and as always, I find your clear statements enlightening in unexpected ways. As for your houses, I actually think the little pyramids seem pretty house-y and home-y in a non-cutesy way. Obviously make more little houses if you wish, but you might also consider making more tetrahedra, since they seem to come together better and at least IMO would fit the theme.

  3. I like the pyramid houses, I bought my house 2 years ago, I often think of it in terms of how I use the rooms inside. The outside shape fluctuates in my mind, sometimes some rooms are larger and some smaller than their physical size. When the weather is rough my house wraps around me and the cats. I also dislike putting some issues in my artwork , the issues become distracting, and I find I try to play to a larger audience than I am comfortable with. thanks for bringing this up.

  4. Some themes are fun to create with but others I feel like I'm either hitting a brick wall or swimming in the ocean!! Tell me to quilt a song and I'm happy!!

  5. You give new meaning to the concept of tiny homes. Impressive!

    Our Southern Fiber Artists has a challenge of the concept of home and the color gold. I made a fabric book about my 1 pound eight ounce grandchild coming home from the hospital after 4 months of extreme care! We have our unveiling tomorrow, and I will be so interested to see how everyone else has interpreted the theme.