Eleanor Levie HomeAboutEditorial ServicesBooksGallerySpeaker TopicsWorkshopsRetail ShopsFree StuffLInks Contact Me

Inspiring Quilting: Elly's blog to boost your creative IQ

Y Inspiration

November 30th, 2016

Why inspiration?

Inspiration is food for the soul. And everyone has her own personal tastes in what appeals and satisfies.

We quilters go to guild meetings, quilt shows, and look at books and magazines for inspiration.

We art quilters are often inspired by the work of other quilters.

I confess, I am so NOT inspired by art quilts that are jaw-dropping stunning, and look like they took hundreds of hours. I gaze lovingly at those but they just make me want to “close up shop” and get back to guaranteed productivity like weeding and scouring bathrooms.

Nope, I’m inspired by work that simply charms. I feel very lucky when I find such a maker who teaches and thereby generously shares her ideas and techniques.

Like Deborah boscherteveningclimb-3Boschert. She hasn’t been quilting forever, but she’s constantly pursuing her craft, and yet her work never looks labored. Or overly complicated. It hits you where you live: in the worlds of nature and of small, domestic comforts. I so enjoy her website: http://deborahsstudio.com/.  There, you can sign up for her delicious newsletter, Three Bits of Inspiration. Additionally (a 4th bit?) I just ordered Deborah’s new book, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint & Stitch, which is sure to provide me with lots of inspiration, and as many at-home workshops as I sit down to do. Deborah uses trees, flowers, skies, circles, and ladders frequently in her work–all aspirational symbolism, right? She also returns frequently to those embroidered strokes she has called her beloved Ys.

 

As I traveled through Europe last month, I kept recalling her art quilts. Why do you think that is?

A very old building in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

A very old building in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

y-wind1

Wind turbines in Jutland, in Denmark

I really don’t understand why the Y element resonates. Maybe it calls to mind Yearnings. Or, on the bright side, Yes, Yaaay, Yipee, Yummy, and Young-at heart. And I don’t really get just why a multiplicity of Ys, wisely positioned, add texture and balance so enchantingly.  But they do!

Under the influence, I found myself borrowing Deborah’s motif to the current work, a little quilt art postcard:

middleearthmother-early

middleearthmotherys

y-stitch1 y-stitch2

y-stitch3

 

 

 

 

 

middleearthmotherelevie

middleearthmothersideview

 

Here’s the piece, called Middle Earth Mother, in a shadowbox frame, for a show called Understory, opening at the Da Vinci Art Alliance, in South Philly tomorrow.

Pssst— Here’s a link to my free how-to’s for mounting art quilt postcards.

Here’s my artist’s statement:

Fingerprint, X-ray, and strata–cutwork through quilted layers: we are in, of, and on the earth to do good.

Which brings me back to the why–and the importance of inspiration. Because it goes hand in hand with aspiration. The wish to be better, to do better, to create better. Yes? What inspires YOU? How does such inspiration transpire into your work? Do leave a comment before I expire!

 

Leave a Reply

The Invention of Wings, from a quilter’s POV

November 19th, 2016

HarrietPowers-1

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd, is a wonderful book for lovers of literature, history, and quilts. The author explains:

“I was inspired by the quilts of Harriet Powers, who was born into slavery in 1837 in Georgia. She used West African applique technique and designs to tell stories, mostly about Biblical events, legends, and astronomical occurrences. Each of the squares on her two surviving quilts is a masterpiece of art and narration. After viewing her quilt in the archives of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., it seemed more than plausible to me that many enslaved women, who were forbidden to read and write, would have devised subversive ways to voice themselves, to keep their memories alive, and to preserve their African heritage.

“In the novel, Charlotte is the Grimke’s rebellious and accomplished seamstress, and I envisioned her using needle and cloth the way others use paper and pen, attempting to set down the events of her life in a single quilt. She appliques it with strange, beautiful images—slaves flying through the air, spirit trees with their trunks wrapped in red thread—but she also sews violent and painful images of her punishments and loss. The quilt in the novel is meant to be more than a warm blanket or a nice piece of handiwork. It is Charlotte’s story. As Handful says, ‘Mauma had sewed where she came from, who she was, what she loved, the things she’d suffered and the things she hoped. She’d found a way to tell it.’

“Above all, I wanted Charlotte’s story quilt to speak about the deep need we have to make meaning out of what befalls us. I wanted it to suggest how important it is to take the broken, painful, and discarded fragments of our lives and piece them into something whole. There can be healing, and power, too, in giving expression to what’s inside of us, in having our voices heard and our pain witnessed. As writer Isak Dinesen put it, “All sorrows can be borne if we put them in a story or tell a story about them.”

Bet many of you will agree that putting sorrows — and joys — and deep feelings — and memories — into quilts can be equally therapeutic.

 

Leave a Reply

My Choice Nine Patch

November 5th, 2016

“In the nineteenth century, quiltmaking was often the only socially acceptable way for a woman to express her political views.” This was the way that the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum introduced their call for entries for the show that just opened at their new venue in Golden, Colorado: Patchwork Pundits Take On Politics

Now, this is a daring topic. When I visit quilt guilds around the country, the general understanding is that politics and religion are off the table. I have found that traditional quilters, who make up the majority of quilt guilds, tend to be politically conservative. Similarly, they strive to follow the rules of quilting, seeking well balanced, well-executed, beautiful patterns and palettes.

Art quilters, on the other hand, are expected to embed their compositions with deeply held concepts and ideas—often progressive and sometimes provocative, and to choose techniques and materials that are in keeping with the ideas expressed.

I was lucky enough to be juried into this exhibit at the RMQM, with a small quilt–only about 14″ square, that I made many years ago. It’s that most traditional of quilt blocks: the Nine Patch, but I threw in some curves, some imagery, and some unusual materials–including two pennies minted in 1973, to represent my two cents’ worth.

Choice Nine-Patch

Choice Nine-Patch

My statement, in the form of verse, expresses my hope that Roe v. Wade doesn’t get reversed:

Respectfully, this little Nine Patch references “The Nine,”

That highest court in all the land, the real Supremes, or SCOTUS.

The one case they decided almost all can call to mind—

The case that still stirs up debates that we can’t help but notice.

Check out the sac of little pearls–fish eggs, you know, Roe.

Wade in, and then explore the depths of privacy and choice,

Should women self-determine their own fates and families?

My stance is clear, as I hereby give cloth and thread my voice.

My little art quilt was made 14 years ago, but the struggle for reproductive choice, as decided by the Supreme Court in 1973, has never abated. Roe v. Wade hangs on by a thread. It seems to me to be the number one defining issue of this election, both for the presidency and for the Senate that advises and consents on the president’s judiciary nominations.

In any case (except a Court case), this “patchwork pundit” is proud to have my politics hanging on the walls of the RMQM.

 

5 Responses to “My Choice Nine Patch”

  1. Mireya Taylor says:

    You forgot to include tears and money signs in your nine patch.

    • Eleanor says:

      Oh, as that watery environment shows, there are always tears and a human cost in the very difficult decision that must remain a woman’s to make, with the help of her doctor, family, and possibly spiritual guide.

  2. Ellen says:

    I love the quilt and what it represents. As always, you have a great twist on words, such as the roe in the fish. Your work are like small environments – you can explore and find all kinds of treasures.

  3. Congratulations. Wonderful quilt, makes a point as well as being lovely and fascinating.

Leave a Reply

More from Connected by Stitch

October 24th, 2016

Sharing today some of the more sophisticated, inspiring pieces at the show. Apologies that the photography is not up to par, but google these artists and see more of their work on their websites.

dscn0857

Cindy Friedman discusses this quartet (quadriptych?), like much of her work, a mirrored shadow-play. I always wanna shadow Cindy in her studio!

dscn0859

Marty Ressler created a paean to the oldest tree in America. Found objects and unusual colors grow along the bark.

dscn0855

Sara Mika of Mock Pie Studio Art Quilts cooked up another view of tree-hugging…and one of the most colorful pieces.

dscn0895

Elizabeth Bennett gave up using lots of little shapes to go in a new direction. Very modern, just enough hand-quilting in lines that playfully balance and complement.

lizdanish2

Elizabeth Danish put the inexpressible sadness of a flood that took many family lives into this piece, and into the moving statement she delivered.

paula-swett

Lots of interesting techniques in this piece by Paula Swett. I sure want to know more…

susanleonard1

Susan Leonard often works in series of circles in squares, exquisitely, perfectly rendered…and she generously divulged the secrets of her techniques.

dscn0875

A second Susan Leonard piece is called School Daze, as its plaids reminded her of what she (and we all) wore…

dscn0856

Made with silk ribbons cut from vintage Japanese kimonos. Elena Stokes is great at flow, no?

dscn0863

Patricia Kennedy-Zafred transfered vintage photos from the old west onto feedsack bags.

dscn0865

I covet this vividly, visually textural diptych by Donna Albert, with images of bamboo stalks at the center of each. What’s the feminine form of the adjective masterful?

6 Responses to “More from Connected by Stitch”

  1. So inspiring! Kinda makes me want to take up quilting.Thanks for sharing–you are somewhat mistressful yourself. (grin)

    • Eleanor says:

      Keep up the weaving, but think about stitching together all those trimmed pieces, or simply couch or applique them over a ready-made jacket so it expresses your aesthetic. I still love my Bonnie Tarses wrapped threads pin, woven padded box, colorful cards…

  2. Elena Stokes says:

    Hi Eleanor, thanks for including me and my work in your post! Actually, it’s made with remnants of old silk saris from India that have been torn into strips. Though, I am wearing a Japanese hoari, similar to a kimono. So much gorgeous silk, so little time!

  3. Thanks Elly! Just a note that the piece you are showing is comprised of silkscreened images on hand dyed fabric. The other quilt had images silkscreened on old vintage feed sacks. The images are from the Farm Security Administration collection taken in the 1930’s, courtesy of the Library of Congress. Great work in this exhibition!

Leave a Reply

Swimming with the Big Fish

October 23rd, 2016

I’m flummoxed but grateful that my piece, Swimming Upstream, was juried into the show, Connected by Stitch, the first Pennsylvania regional show by the international Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) at The Gallery at Penn College for the next 6 weeks. And I feel privileged to be among some mighty fine fabric artists.

at-gallery2

 

Let me share just a few of my faves in this show. I loved this little underwater paradise, a colorful, crocheted coral reef on a bed of quilting. It’s by Stacey Hortner. She’s since made this in monochromatic beiges, to express her concern over the bleaching of coral reefs, due to the massive amounts of CO2 mankind has imposed.

dscn0898

dscn0902

Another fun piece, with a message, is this one by Peggy Hracho. It’s got an abundance of felting, embroidery, quilting. The little girl is exhorted to “go for it,” i.e., touch the art quilt–something most quilt venues don’t allow.

dscn0879

dscn0903

 

dscn0906

Very exciting for departing from the usual shape and look of a quilt, is by Meredith Re Grimsley. It’s a life-size self portrait, painted and quilted, remarking on the fact that the dress no longer fits; the artist now occupies a different place in her work and in her life.

dscn0861

Finally, before I hit the sack, gotta launch one more photo, a ship by Meredith Eachus Armstrong. Fabric and wood, sculpture more than quilt. dscn0901

This Meredith, more than any other Meredith or any other person, is responsible for making this wonderful show happen. Kudos to her, from me and everyone who agrees that non-traditional contemporary quilt art really floats our boat.

4 Responses to “Swimming with the Big Fish”

  1. peggy hracho says:

    Thanks for the shout out Elly!!
    It was a fun day, and the show looks great.
    So nice to meet you.

  2. Congratulations, Eleanor, I love your piece, and thanks for sharing all the other fantastic pieces, too. That one with the girl stroking the quilt is so brilliant!

  3. Ellen says:

    Ellie, your work is wonderful. Can you explain what the meaning behind the piece is? I only ask because your work is always more than what you see. Many layers, literally and figuratively.

Leave a Reply

Swimming Upstream

October 23rd, 2016

swimgupstreamel

I am a bottom feeder who cannot pass up a slab of rusted metal in the street, the cardboard wrapper for some fancy smoked salmon, texture and patina. I have a box of such hard found pieces. I also have an accordion folder and loose piles of fancy papers, tear sheets, beautiful calendar pages…thank you, Sammie Moshenberg! Thank you, Barbara Adler for that glittery packaging from smoked salmon! From the time I was a girl, I collected my father’s lithography samples from when he worked for a printing company.

The obvious thing to my mind is to combine papers and metals into a collage. But I challenged myself to make unrelated materials play together. One way to do that was to use color—salmon and it’s color complement, light blue—as a way to breed the hard with the soft. Some of the papers had been given  a wash of paint, obliterating a clutter of text and integrating them into a cohesive grouping.

I thought the rusted metal held secrets, and history, and I looked to fabrics with not just color coordination but also unfathomable text and visual texture, to continue that narrative of mystery. Thank you, Lonni Rossi! I quilted them to provide a more stable background, and connected by stitch the ephemera, the old and new papers, with the cotton fabrics. Unsure of where I was going, I arranged and rearranged the composition, and when I thought I was close, I still had challenges of mounting the disparate pieces for durability of display, deciding to pull it over stretcher strips, screw spacer strips to support and elevate the metal piece, and camouflaging the screws with spirals of copper wire.

I was definitely swimming upstream, my title for the piece…. like the salmon, expecting only to get screwed by the all difficulties, and die in the end, that is, to have this project end up in the trash.

But on the other hand, I wasn’t floundering. The work had a nice flow to it, and I never felt I was fighting the current. Maybe that’s because my art quilting has not followed a single direction, despite my deep respect for artists who work in a series. I’m not a serious artist, and I can’t take my work or myself all that seriously. But I have to say, finding connections of line, and a balance of shapes is a very satisfying exercise for me. Perhaps, after all, this mixed media piece may not be a one-off; I just may return to the river where hard and soft textures and disparate elements combine. I’m not fishing for compliments, but I sure welcome feedback!

swimups-detail

 

Leave a Reply

Frames of Mind and Matter

August 31st, 2016

Having fun working small. As in, postcard size. And yeah, I’ve backed one with paper, wrote a message, and posted it to our son in Denmark. Postage was $1.33, by the way. Course, it’s been two weeks, and he still hasn’t gotten it…or at least, true to form, hasn’t communicated that he has, nor has he been directly in touch at all (hint hint).

Other postcard-size quilted minis, I’ve set into a shadowbox frame. Amazing how a little postcard is suddenly transformed into a small work of art! How-to’s are easy to understand and cheap—just like me! See them on my website’s Free & Fun link, here.

The two that follow are part of a gallery show, Summer Orbits, in a studio above the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Philly: Galactic Donuts, and Life, Mapped Out.

galactic-donutsDSCN8220

Life,Mapped-Out

 

DSCN8209

A black and metallic fabric swatch with gingko and character felt Japanese, so I named this piece Asian Pear. It resides alongside many other pears, the subject matter of art I’ve collected by various painters and photographers.  It’s the pear as body shape, natch. Just like me!

AsianPear

 

DSCN8200

5 Responses to “Frames of Mind and Matter”

  1. Sally K. Field says:

    Really like what you’ve done with small quilts. I have a few that would probably be enhanced by framing. Something to think about–probably in the depths of winter! Sally

  2. Thanks,
    Yours look GREAT! Maybe next winter I’ll try mounting some of mine?

  3. If you’ve got a few frames on hand, and some unsuccessful quilt projects you’re willing to cut up, you’ll always have some wonderful gifts at the ready…for about the same amount of time you’d spend shopping, and a whole lot more fun!

  4. Lucinda says:

    IKEA has a 20″ x 20″ frame in black or white that has a built in shadow box of about 1 1/4″. With glass and a Matt and wire for hanging for less than $15. It is simple and very clean lined, so it does not take away from the art. To mount artwork get a stylis from an art supply store, it is a 2 1/2″ needle set in wood in the ceramic tools section. For $2 or less sew your fiber work about every 4″ with a matching thread. Center your artwork on a mattboard. Put a can of tomatoes on it, or two to keep it from moving, poke a small hole through both artwork and Matt from the top, draw threaded needle up from underneath, move Matt to edge of the table and hang side you are working on off table, then put second stitch 1/8″ away from first, bring thread down and knot and you are ready to move to next stitch. Don’t cut thread, just go on back of Matt approximately 4″.

    If the artwork is 10″ I would put a stitch in each corner and then if it was flat, I would put one in the middle. If it is wavy I would put two stitches in at approx. 3 1/4″ and 6 3/4″. You can usually stretch uneven quilts and make them squarer with the tip of the needle. This method makes the art remove able without damage, unlike glue. The back of your fingernail on the holes will make them disappear. Taught to me by a textile department restorer from the metropolitan museum, NYC.

Leave a Reply

Cut-Ups for Quilt-Art

August 22nd, 2016

Here’s one piece of fabric from the painting play-date I described last month:

DSCN7806

 

I hated the result. But that doesn’t mean certain areas didn’t have potential. I cut up sections I liked, and fused them to Peltex–thick interfacing. The kind I had featured fusible on both sides, but I only adhered to one side, protecting my ironing surface from the other side with a Teflon pressing sheet.

Then, I mined for gold: went through my scrap stash of mostly silks and silky fabrics for collage candidates in warm colors and light, medium, and dark accents. When I found a piece that played well with my painted background, I pressed fusible web to the back, and without measuring, I scissors-cut strips and rectangles. Auditioned some arrangements. Fused the scraps in place. Quilted to make the compositions more cohesive. Couched cord or chenille yarn around the edges for a finish.

Center-of-Gravity

               Center of Gravity, 13″x 7″

galactic-donuts

Galactic Donuts, 6″x 4″

Those painted backgrounds are pretty well covered up, I confess. Can you find the areas of the painted fabric at the top that I used for each piece?

Leave a Reply

Painting Play-Date

August 4th, 2016

DSCN7799

After winning, at a charity auction, a week at a large, lake-side house in Delaware, I invited a bunch of friends to come and play. On one of those mornings, three women answered the call to make art. I brought fabric, paints, brushes, a couple of brayers,  a Gelli art printing plate, and a mess of empty plastic containers, jars, and lids. I demo’ed what I’d learned about monoprinting:

Dab bits or globs of of acrylic paint on the Gelli plate, and roll it out with a brayer. Brush on dots or drag lines with the tip of the brush handle as the spirit moves you. Then, flip the plate onto fabric (I started with an orange print), and roll over it with a second, clean brayer.

DSCN7802

DSCN7803

Lift it up, and see what you’ve got. Add more monoprints alongside or on top. Add dots and dashes and lines of paint.

DSCN7815

 

 

 

DSCN7821

Below, check out part of another piece I belabored. I really wasn’t thrilled with anything I made. No matter! For me, this is just a start…I’ll cut up painted pieces for sections of an art quilt, or make art quilt postcards, adding other scraps, plus lots of decorative stitches.

crop

What really gets me jazzed is how my buddies, all monoprinting novices, absolutely, positively surpassed me in creating much more successful art pieces. And came up with techniques of their own that I never would have discovered.

Claire dared to use the same swirly-print fabric, but with a fun, folk-arty flair:

DSCN7809

This intuitive Alaskan also used the Gelli plate to pick up excess paint from her fabric, then turned the plate 90 degrees and rolled over the brayer to deposit perpendicular patterns. Claire shows off one side, then the other. Which do you like best?

DSCN7784DSCN7788

DSCN7791

 
DSCN7790

Meanwhile, Barbara of Bucks County, PA channeled Monet. I loved how she used clear plastic containers to alternate with the Gelli plate for monoprinting.

DSCN7785  DSCN7817DSCN7789

DSCN7795

DSCN7811

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Dr. Marjorie of Narberth, PA mainlined a thoroughly modern, expressionist vibe, a la Miro, or Braque:

DSCN7786DSCN7805

 

 

Again, we found that the paint that leaked onto the back of the fabric had a simpler, more compelling design. Serendipity goes a long way!

DSCN7813

dscn7810
Another Marjorie experiment with a fabric that already has a strong print.

 

 

 

 

 

Monoprinting can be fairly monotoned, but is never monotonous. Printing over and over with the underside of a clear plastic container leads to a powerful abstract statement.

DSCN7797DSCN7818

 

 

 

DSCN7804

Many thanks to Miss Peggy, for taking over the photographing, given that our hands were full of paint!

Working with paints and various tools makes for lots of trading brushes and plastic lid paint palettes…and lots of mess. All the better to find a buddy or two or three to share the setting up, cleaning up, and fun. Can’t wait for the next play-date!

 

 

6 Responses to “Painting Play-Date”

  1. Looks like you had fun, with lovely results! Now I want to paint something!

  2. Diane says:

    That swirly print base fabric is to dye for. I would love some of that, do you still have the selvedge, can you read the manufacturer, the model name, anything????

    I buy white-on-white fabric when I find it and it makes the most miraculous deconstructed screen prints.

    Thanks for sharing the fun.

    Diane

    • Probably got it at Jo-Ann’s, in a remnant bin…or on a bolt. It’s indoor-outdoor fabric, like (if not) Sunbrella or Solarium. Doubt it’s still around, and really, it doesn’t absorb dye or paint as cotton would.

Leave a Reply

What’s new is Oldham, Todd Oldham

June 14th, 2016

1

All of Everything refers to the many materials, styles and themes that Todd Oldham used to put into his fashion. It is the name of the show, the first major exhibition to focus on the exuberant style and playful aesthetic of Todd Oldham’s runway opus of the 1990s. I just saw it at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum; it’s there until Sept. 11.

Some glimpses that us quilters will love…that is, IF you’re into All of Everything, and everything but the kitchen sink in your fashion!

Patchwork

Different types of fabrics and patterns in the coats above and below, and in the mock-up with glued wool that was photographed and used for a print.

DSCN6827

 

DSCN6821

Patchwork with Woven Ribbons

DSCN6799

Embroidery

DSCN6800

DSCN6802

DSCN6795

 

DSCN6790

Button Embellishment

DSCN6873

DSCN6874

 

 

 

 

Beading, Quilting

DSCN6812

Knitting, Lacing, Surface Design, & Beading

DSCN6876

 

DSCN6809

This last pièce de irresistance was the culmination of a class Oldham taught at RISD in 2014. Except for this collaboration, it has been 14 or 15 years since he’s designed fashion. In the years since, he’s been putting All of Everything into interior design, kid-crafts, and other follies for Target, Old Navy, La-Z-Boy, Escada, movies, and TV. Check out his home here!

13OLDHAM-slide-TAJ3-facebookJumbo

One Response to “What’s new is Oldham, Todd Oldham”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this fascinating and fun exhibit with us!!! Wonderful eye-candy!

Leave a Reply