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

Threads of Resistance, in the cloth!

September 16th, 2018

At the same time I launched United We Quilt, a group of fabric artists called the Artists Circle Alliance put out a call for entry to Threads of Resistance.

The two shows are sisters–both expressing deep concerns for the character, policies, and actions of the Trump administration.

UWQ has been, from the beginning, strictly a digital gallery–and if you’re reading this, do consider submitting a work of your own. The only deadline is when democracy has been restored. Every day the president gives us something else to provoke anger and concern and inspire speaking up for justice, with words, deeds, and art. I’m proud of the capacity and accessibility of UWQ for doing justice to each work and its maker.

ToR, however, was designed as a traveling show. No doubt it has involved a huge investment; the managing of finances, insurance policies, and storage; negotiations and legal contracts with venues and insurance agencies; transportation coordination; and answering to the needs of everyone who submitted work and everyone involved in showing the work. The political theme made this show exponentially more time-consuming and risky. In fact, several venues were cancelled and one was shortened…I can’t help thinking it was because the booking was arranged before the producers understood how subversively “in your face” some of the content was; I assume they caved to complaints.

Yesterday, I got to see ToR at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza. It was one among many exhibitions and competitions of quilts eliciting oohs and aahs over extraordinarily gorgeous workmanship, composition, brilliance or graphic power. Signs on the ends of the aisles of this exhibit clarified a disclaimer.

And yes, the Mancuso team that manages PNQE received complaints about gratuitous nudity, use of expletives, and anger expressed in, of all things, a quilt.

BUT. No doubt about it, ToR attracted the most attention, had the biggest crowds, and garnered the most lingering views, cell-phone photography, and conversation of anything in the cavernous exposition halls. I think many viewers were not used to seeing statement art quilts. And I give them, the often apolitical, traditional quilters a lot of credit for taking it all in and responding enthusiastically to many of the works.

I have poured over this website, and I hope you will, too. Links at the top of ThreadsofResistance.org take you to “Traveling exhibit”–those juried into the show. Even the biggest quilt shows will have space limitations for each of their exhibits, and the Artist’s Circle Alliance choose between 50 and 60 pieces–about one-tenth of the works that were submitted. However, to their credit, they decided to have every single piece that came in put on their website, under the link “The Artwork.”

Take as much time on the website as you can. Of course, as with all quilts, art quilts– really, art in any medium, an image can’t hold a candle to seeing a piece in all its tactile glory…even if you can’t touch it. What I can do here on my blog is share views of pieces that are beyond anything you can get online…let you look closely and peek under, as I did with the help of a white-glove lady.

Let’s start with this one:

Equal means Equal by Jessica Levitt

I read the artist’s statement “This quilt was created to be carried as a protest sign for The Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.” I thought holding a quilt high in a large crowd probably meant that the back of the piece must hold some interest. And indeed it did. 

A stunning favorite of mine is Seeking Refuge by Do Palma. It’s a heart-rending response to the ongoing refugee crisis. I love how the artist used silk screen, printing and stenciling on fabric to silhouette long lines of people forced to flee. Even more, I loved how a sheer overlay added depth, obfuscation, and clouded views of these people who are forced to live in the shadows. When the delicate overlay was carefully lifted by a white-glove lady, I was able to photograph the under layer.

On the other extreme to graphic power is a really soft, subtle piece in the exhibit called There’s Something Between Us, by Heidi A. Parkes. You can see it in its entirety here. But you cannot appreciate it from a small image, nor from the statement on the site:  

“In recent years, my mother’s politics have shifted, and she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to discuss her politics with my brother or me. This election has been deeply troubling, and has raised ethical questions that I cannot shrug off as ‘just politics.’ It has created a tangible discomfort in our relationship.”

No, you have to look closely at this pale, highly textural work, and be aware that the artist has embroidered text over a  curtain that her mother made, and then hand quilted it. It takes time to discern the phrases, such as, “My mother voted for a man who bragged about nonconsensually groping young women like me”….. “If we can’t talk about this, how can we talk about anything?”…. “Grandma says never talk politics with family.”

If it’s curtains for honest conversations with loved ones, could it be curtains for democracy? Not when we stay informed, stay vigilant, speak up, persist, resist. As these artists and the Artists Circle Alliance have done.

I don’t want the curtain to drop on this exhibit.

I know the PNQE is the next to last stop for ToR. Maybe the artists are looking forward to getting their pieces back, even though these are not artworks that most of us want in our living rooms when mom or grandma come to visit. I would also put forth that individually, these are masterpieces, but all together, this show is an important piece of history. How I wish that George Soros, George Clooney, or George Stephanopoulos will purchase the show in its entirety and donate it to a museum as a permanent collection or one that gets mounted from time to time. Like Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. It’s that good, and it’s that worth preserving.

In the meantime, permit me another shout-out to United We Quilt: Sewing Justice. If Threads of Resistance inspires you to make quilt art as a protest against the Trump administration, or as a celebration of what patriotism ought to look like, we’re eager to show your work, in the most democratic way possible: No jurying. No size restrictions. No packing. No shipping. No entry fees. No censoring. No deadline. How ’bout it?

 

5 Responses to “Threads of Resistance, in the cloth!”

  1. Thank you for this review. I have a triptych in the online exhibit; it is a commentary on the disintegration of civility, which I find so very troubling both in the U.S. and globally, as it shuts down discourse about those things that matter most and are so very difficult (to whit: ‘There’s Something Between Us’). As I live a long way from where ToR is/was being shown, I’m not able to see any of the pieces up close, so I appreciate any opportunity to see and read reviews of those who *have* been able to do so. 🙂

    • Thanks for writing. Would be honored if you would submit your Disintegration triptyck to UnitedWeQuilt.com—and any other work you’ve done –your work is so fabulous–but to be truly appreciated, deserves to be accompanied by the artist’s statement. And I am really proud that our website provides that with the piece, and also a detail shot or two, date and dimensions and where you’re from and a link to your website or instagram. IMHO, really does your work justice. And while I have your attention, I admire your advocacy speaking out in various ways on behalf of patients and caregivers. With our president, we’re not just losing public civility, we’re in danger of losing our health care and the safety nets protecting those with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid, and more. We’ll all be joining you in Canada!

  2. There is another art quilt exhibition in progress that is also speaking up. It is titled “Things that Matter” made by 31 fiber artists who joined together as A Coalition of Artists with Purpose specifically to create the show. They have used their individual talents to say they believe THIS thing, this idea, this place, this part of our world is important and should not be forgotten or undefended when at risk from intolerance, ignorance, indifference, or greed.
    It’s preview was at Visions Art Museum in San Diego last spring. It’s full premiere is at Visions Gallery in Chandler Arizona November 8, 2018 – January 6, 2019. Then it will be in St. George Utah March 23 – July 6, 2019.
    As yet there is no online venue, but a catalog is for purchase at Amazon. I hope your readers have an opportunity to see this stunning exhibition.

    • Eleanor says:

      Sounds amazing! Good to know.

    • I should also add, Sandra, that #1, I love your work–Chasm, Silver Birch Grove, Blackbird (Have you ever done a poteet, or tweet theme?)…in SAQA shows, your name and work come up frequently. Do consider submitting Chasm to UnitedWeQuilt.com, and to urge your sister artists in Things That Matter to do the same with any and all relevent work. A good opportunity, in my humble opinion, to pair detail shots, contact info, artist statements, and more with the work, and allows for that world-wide exposure on the web. Oh, and visit me whenever you’re in Philly!

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Shelter

September 7th, 2018

A fascinating exhibit opened this week at the Da Vinci Art Alliance here in Philly, and it i. a collaborative exhibition with Philadelphia Sculptors. Sculpture–or at least 3-D media of any kind was the requirement, addressing the theme of “shelter.” The theme of refugees and immigration resonated with many of the artists, and a number of them used their work to present a shared desire to create a safe haven for people fleeing unsafe environments. Perfectly appropriate for a show in Philadelphia, a sanctuary city with an ongoing battle against Immigration and Customs Enforcers, or ICE.

Nothing in the show was quilted in the traditional sense, but there was a lot of soft sculpture as homey, enveloping, forgiving, resilient. Well, then again, there was this quilted bathrobe, a vintage piece augmented with text in felt, thread, and paint by Carole Loeffler.

 

  

The largest piece was “Buddha’s Sustainable Shelter” by Chanthaphone Rajavong, who stands beside his tower. He gave me a peek into the underlying structure–all recycled cardboard. Can I say how much I covet a dress with a woven newsprint bodice and tiers of plastic bags? But I only committed to getting on my hands and knees to photograph the painted pillow inside this shelter.

Artist Cindy Lu also used recyclables for her pieces: emergency mylar blankets. She poses in front of her very large beaded map, called, simply, “Home.” Opposite that work is an intimate patchwork and crochet grouping, called “Play.”

   

On the very small-scale front were two groupings by Chelsea Nader. They are intaglio prints on linen. ” Where she told me” features a miniature living room vignette, and “Open your doors and take down your walls” has two doors.

   

Gotta admit, my favorite pieces–and the hubby’s as well, were by Dumpster Diver Ellen Benson. Her “Friendship Circle Divas” (at the top of this post and below, with Benson) and her “For Every Bird a Nest” take the idea of shelter straight to the personal and endearing.

As I mentioned, none of these works are quilts in any traditional sense. Nevertheless, the use of fabric and thread, of layers and soft, tactile textures and dimensionality does hie back to quilts as a part of our heritage and legacy as bedcovers, as security blankets, as protection against the cold. How does your work fit the theme shelter?

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From Photo to Fabric

September 1st, 2018

Two weeks before the Disperse Dyeing on synthetics workshop at Lisa “Dippy Dyes” Reber’s house, I was invited to send in photos for transferring. So I went through recent vacation photos, architectural landscapes I’d shot in Riga, Latvia. I wanted my fabric transfers to be correctly displayed, so I flipped them to the mirror image and sent them in as Lisa requested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa directed us to send our images right to Fine Balance Imaging Studios–which is located in Langley, on Whidbey Island. I have fond memories of vacationing on this charming island, a short boat ride away from Seattle, WA. Kudos for this top quality firm locating in a place where quality of life is so high. Anyhoo, their site says:

If your files are anywhere up to 20MB or so, please send us an email at theprintstudio@gmail.com your file as an attachment and instructions for your job. We’ll follow up with you within 24 hours to verify your request and provide a timeline and estimate.

Gmail user? You can send any size file through email – it will automatically upload to Google Drive and send us a link!

Alternately, Dropbox is a great free service we highly recommend that is easy to use. Upload your file and send us a link via email. [Maybe box.net will also work!]

Please do email us and let us know you’ve sent a file, and specify what you would like for your order.

At the workshop, Lisa passed out the large sheets of paper that were imprinted with pigments made for synthetic fabrics. Presumably, you could ask FBI Studios to use the pigment that was right for natural fabrics, too. Here’s Kerry, my classmate, cutting her pictures into individual transfer sheets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos were placed on fabrics, with right sides together, within the hot press. I began, using a poly-cotton broadcloth supplied by Lisa. Excellent saturation and detail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I experimented with my own unusual fabrics. Below, two photos transferred onto a piece of polyester chiffon that is embroidered with little leaves or feathers. Under that, two photos transferred onto a peach polyester moire.

Here are transfers to a sheer pinkish polyester.

 

I think these will make ethereal overlays to abstract compositions which allude to the ghosts of my family members who lived in Riga and walked the same streets I did. Some were tradesmen, involved in manufacturing of paints and turpentine, so I believe they would approve.

 

 

 

 

One Response to “From Photo to Fabric”

  1. Hi Eleanor! Thanks so much for the lovely write-ups! It was wonderful experimenting with and on you, that is, teaching!
    Just to clarify, the inks used at Fine Balance Imaging are only for synthetic fabrics. For natural fabrics, try Spoonflower!
    Besides recuperating, Miriam and I are in touch several times a week, planning the next adventures with disperse dyes!

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I Dyed and Went to Fabric Heaven

September 1st, 2018

See the work I’m doing here?

Brushing on “cool black” dye over painted and crayoned paper. Check out my last two posts here and here to find out why. My choice of dyes were squirted into ice cube tray compartments, because you only need a little. Each dye is identified with a green masking-tape tag, because really, the look of the dye is rarely telling.

The right half is the transfer of my workings onto satin polyester fabric. Then I printed a second time, resulting in the quieter colors of the left half.

 

 

 

 

 

I preferred the poly cotton–more like the natural fabrics I use in my art quilts and craft pieces (table runners, pillow covers, tote bags, etc.). Here are two printings from one crayon-and-dye sketch, but with extra dye brushed on to bridge the gap between them.

 

 

 

 

I was big into circles, and printing twice, with the second aligned. Inadvertently, I made myself a bodacious bra, huh?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last one shows a lapse back into traditional territory–a landscape. But even like the scribblings of the other experiments, this will probably be cut up and used as components of an abstract art quilt. Although, with all my circles, I can’t help but think toward Drunkard’s Path patchwork. In any case, I found these sips and gulps of disperse dyeing quite intoxicating.

 

 

One Response to “I Dyed and Went to Fabric Heaven”

  1. Love the bodacious bra. My husband gave me a college shirt with two giant basketballs located similarly. I only sleep in it. Aside from that, your circles are great!

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Dyeing to introduce you…

August 31st, 2018

At the workshop mid August, I learned so much from the trials–almost all successful! Just a few tribulations!–of my sister classmates. Although they experimented with lots of surface textures a la Lisa “Dippy Dyes” Reber, I’m going to share what we did using Miriam Jacobs’ techniques, which I am absolutely jazzed about. As Miriam showed us (see my last post) we worked on paper, first with fabric crayons. We placed textures under the paper and then made rubbings, adding lines or marks as desired. Day one, I worked alongside Janet, who is making a rubbing. Then, we painted  thick, liquid dyes on top. When we were done, we carried the paper and a piece of synthetic fabric over to the hot press. Kind of like using a sandwich press, but bigger, heavier, and tight enough to make the thinnest croque monsieur you can imagine. Lisa sets hers at 345 degrees and times the transfer for 29 seconds. Miriam sets hers for a little cooler, and a little longer.

   

The biggest surprise is the Voila! moment, when you get to see exactly what color that dye produced. It’s not always obvious from the paper, that’s for sure. Check out these examples from Grace, with paper and resulting fabric:

Janet quickly mastered ghosting: reprinting with softer and softer effects. Kerry was very diverse in disperse dyeing, but here’s her crayon and dye work.

   

Diana went bold, and produced a prodigious amount of work. “Hot off the press,” so to speak, she’s already ordered all the tools and supplies she needs to keep going.   

   

Next post, I’ll share my work.

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Dyeing to introduce you…”

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Delight in the Dispersal of Dyes

August 21st, 2018

A mind-blowing bevy of techniques filled a two day workshop I took last weekend. Disperse Dyes on Synthetic Fabrics was going to be taught by two accomplished specialists, each with her own extensive repertoire. Held at the home of Lisa “Dippy-Dyes” Reber in quaint little Red Hill, PA, Lisa shared her methods for mottling, sun-printing, salt sprinkling, chain- and tube-wrapping, scrunching, photo-transfer and more. She shared her supplies–tools and liquid dyes which we could choose, referencing her thoughtfully painted chart of colors, tints, and hues.

At the same venue, Miriam Jacobs–formerly known as Mert, or Mertle the Turtle Fabric Arts, won over our attention to how she creates complex cloth, packing on a myriad of techniques including crayon drawing and rubbing, dye-painting, dye scraping, paper scrunching, heat-pressing, ghost-printing, and juxtaposing.

  

Glorious, jaw-dropping gorgeousness. In the next post, I’ll show you what my talented classmates did…and the wealth of surface designs on various fabrics that will doubtless fill my fall with quilting projects. Stay tuned.

5 Responses to “Delight in the Dispersal of Dyes”

  1. Miriam Jacobs says:

    Elly – these photos and commentary are FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND WORDS!!!! Lisa and I had a blast with all of you at the workshop and we’re hoping to do it again.

    All my best,

    Miriam (Mert)

  2. That looks like a blast, and the results are terrific!

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Rooftop Renderings

July 30th, 2018

A1

Using patterns traced from my blown-up photo [see previous two posts], I chose
colors fairly reminiscent of the scene. Fabric pieces were backed with fusible web, and adhered to a dark brown fabric. In a freer mood/mode of working, I repeated the design with some bolder, more contemporary choices of fabric, more to my liking.

B1

I cut out the rooftop silhouette leaving a slim margin showing, and then I was ready to audition some skies and windowpanes. Aimed to jazz up my milder rendering:

A2

A3

A4

A5

And then, I dressed/addressed my wilder version…

B2

 

B3

B4

Gonna sleep on these before committing. Always thrilled to get YOUR reactions…What’s working from your point of view?

5 Responses to “Rooftop Renderings”

  1. I love A-3 and B-3 – the sky making a big bold statement!

  2. Donna Laing says:

    I love A1 and A5. Beautiful.

  3. Catherine says:

    A2 and B4

  4. Karyn Levie says:

    Love A-3,A-5, B-3

  5. Eleanor says:

    Grateful to have your perceptive outlooks! I was ready to do the deep blue A and strong fuchsia B dot sky backgrounds, for a cohesive, paired diptych. But–based heavily on Cathy Perlmutter’s comment, I now think it far better to follow the potential strength of each assemblage, and to depart further from reality for the sake of visual texture, and dare I say it, art.

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Rooftop in Riga

July 26th, 2018

You voted, so I devoted myself to working from this photo, the view around 9:30 p.m. outside our apartment in Riga’s Old Town. First, I gotta get my left brain in gear. Yup, at this point, I’ll try to stay true to the photo…And then, we’ll see what happens…

To make a pattern, I print the photo full page, first in color, then in black and white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut out the main area of design. Go over the lines in pencil. Blow up each quadrant 400% and tape the pieces together.

I’ll letter each shape, and cut out a duplicate shape, for a template. Tonight I’ll go through my stash of fabrics and pick my palette…Stay tuned!

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Cityscapes!

July 24th, 2018

Just returned from a trip to Prague (Czech Republic), Riga (Latvia), Tallin (Estonia), and Helsinki (Finland). Yes, the husband and our son, who joined us, like to see it all, do it all, czech it all off. I found the old cities, pattern-play of rooftops, and angled light and shadows well past 9 p.m. captivating. Here are the photos, city by city, that may inspire quilt art to come!

Prague:

A.

Riga, out our apartment window, with a close-up (only slightly photo-edited!) as the sun set:

B.

C.

D.

E.

F.

Tallin:

G.

H.

I.

Helsinki:

J.

K.

L.

Which photo, A-L, should I choose for my next composition? If you vote, I’ll start building!

10 Responses to “Cityscapes!”

  1. Carl Harrington says:

    C or D

  2. Kristi Napoleon says:

    C

  3. Hard to choose. But I still liked G or L

  4. Heidi says:

    Looks like a great trip. C for quilt art, but B for a photo that commands attention.

  5. I love B (angels coming), C (peaceful, perfect still life) and L(very unusual). I can’t choose just one!

  6. Liz says:

    I vote for C. It has a lot of interesting light and great he possibly of frames within frames.

  7. Marty Miner says:

    No doubt about it “C”, first choice.
    “L”, second choice.

  8. livingston says:

    I like B, C, D and F. and F would be my first choice.

  9. Roxane says:

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    I like C best with D as a pretty close second

  10. Vivian says:

    C with L next

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I Fell for Collage

June 8th, 2018

Took a class with Deborah Fell from Monday to Friday last week at Quilt & Surface Design Symposium (QSDS) at the Columbus College of Art and Design. It was divine. A return to a community of artists who get off on fabric, who are passionate about purposeful creativity, generous in sharing what they know and what they have in their stash.

Deborah calls this 5-day class “Three Sisters”–Raw edge applique, foundation piecing (which isn’t piecing at all, it’s collage on a foundation fabric), and mark-making, i.e., slow, hand-stitching or quilting. My goals were to get away from the large opus magna I’ve been laboring over, and free myself up with a less is more approach. I also sought freedom from high concept, but aspired to put ambiguity into my work, so viewers might enjoy interpreting my work as they wish.

Above was my board by the end of the day Monday. Below, that’s me showing my work on Friday…as you may be able to tell, I had worked on each “textile sketch” with varying degrees of success.

No matter. I stretched, I grew, I stayed up late working in the classroom, I met my goals…some of the time, at least. Oh, and I had so much fun, with the best broads, who gave me support, interesting scraps, the loan of key tools, and unbelievably rewarding friendship, sharing their life and art stories.

Here are some of the pearls of wisdom Deborah Fell dispensed:

Embrace imperfiction.

I can quilt 10 stitches to the inch, but I don’t want to.

I was normal once. I didn’t like it.

Doubt is part of the creative process.

Think outside the block.

Plus, favorite quotes she included:

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.–Pablo Picasso

Textiles have been a form of art, communication, survival, seduction, spirituality, expression, and community throughout history for all humankind on Planet Earth. — Elaine Lipson

Now for some close-ups of my work. Each one is still in process, and most vary from 15″-20″ on the longest side:

  

Hope to complete them all this summer, in among more pressing demands. Criticism always welcome!

 

 

 

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