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

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Bodil Gardner’s Ladies

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

“I’m just a simple housewife,” she asserts, when I ask Bodil Gardner, if she calls herself a fabric artist or an art quilter. In fact, she is an international star of the quilt world beloved for her disarming, quirky masterpieces. “I just make my pictures, she says.” Her modesty is typically Danish.

As she explains on the website her husband, Peter put together for her, “I have not had any artistic training and was brought up to be the practical one in a creative family, which needed to get the washing-up done. Are my pictures art or not? The question is frequently asked. For me, it doesn’t matter what they are. I make them for my own sake, hoping all the same that you will also like them.”

I have invited myself over, finding myself in her vicinity when the husband and I are visiting our son and his wife in Aarhus, Denmark. My daughter-in-law, Bev, volunteers to drive me over to the suburb of the city, where Bodil and Peter live. “Drive up the road through the garden,” are her emailed instructions, which turn out to be quite the understatement.

As you can tell, Bodil and her husband live up to their surname, Gardner. Like Peter, the garden style is English, transplanted and intermixed with Danish determination. The warmer seasons are mainly for gardening; winter is when Bodil devotes herself to working on “her pictures.” Playing with colors and patterns are the common source of joy.

Bodil doesn’t have a “studio,” and when we visited, we sat at a dining table where she served us homemade apple crumble, with danishes and chocolates and tea. We brought a bottle of red wine, and a packet of various fabric prints. An old, portable sewing machine under its cover sits on the shelf behind the table, and there’s a jumble of fabric scraps on a trunk beside Peter’s computer table. Otherwise, no sign of a work space. Past a large archway, you’re in the sitting room, where appliquéd pillows and patchwork command the lower planes, and books and photos fill the walls from floor to ceiling.

After dessert and far-ranging discussion, Bodil displays some of her pieces the same way she composes them: on the floor.

Lots and lots of delightfully funky portraits. Like Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon, Bodil points out, each one has a unique personality. Fabulous hairstyles, flower accents, funky colors. Friends bring her fabric, and she uses what she has. No fusible web for her. She chooses from her assortment of scraps, cuts each piece freehand, assembles elements as she goes on larger background pieces, pins pieces to secure them in place temporarily. Only when she is satisfied with the entire composition does she moves to the sewing machine to satin-stitch over all the raw edges. Quilting and finishing details are minimal. Larger works elaborate on women at home, of generations, taking tea, counting sheep, gentle pets, and children, either confident or shy.

It’s easy to recognize a Bodil Gardner art quilt, isn’t it? And to feel the warmth and friendliness, and yes, a bit of zaniness embodied in each and every one. Far from quilt shops, shows, classes, she retains her own signature style, and doesn’t travel far, so relatively few students can learn from her way of working and her genius for face values, so to speak. Pamela Allen of Canada got her to join the Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA), and Peter Gardner encourages his wife to respond to more of their calls for entry. Her work has been showcased in many top-drawer, juried exhibitions, within and outside of Denmark. But in many cases, a juror chooses a cohesive collection of sophisticated abstract and painterly tour-de-forces; Bodil’s pictorials stick out as being too different, and so don’t make the cut. That was the case when Bodil entered the piece below for the SAQA show for which the theme was Tranquility. Her reclining woman with cat, book, and teacup didn’t make it into the exhibit….yet SAQA saw fit to feature the piece on the cover of their magazine.

There’s not a whit of pretentiousness in these portraits of wise, nurturing women. I can easily imagine each one a sort of self-portrait…the alter ego of their maker. There are probably hundreds of them, a treasure trove of joyful folk art, with many more to come from from Bodil Gardner.

Topsy-Turvy

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Do you remember topsy-turvy dolls? A bit like a Pushmepullyou from the story of Dr. Dolittle.

Do little, however, is rarely my modus operandi…quite the opposite, I tend to go overboard. So when–a long time ago, I took a class from one of the top dollmakers in the world, Elinor Peace Bailey, I didn’t make a doll from one of her kits. I didn’t make a doll…I made a topsy turvy doll. Here’s the basic body:

Here’s the Sun’s sun-dress, made today from a pillowcase that my grandmother had, and the Moon’s nightshirt:

   

Takes me back to my girlhood. I never played with dolls, but I made dolls and made costumes for them.

Always nice to have a reason to finish a project. This topsy turvy doll is headed–pun intended–to a baby who is the sun, moon, and stars to her family. Only hope the dog doesn’t chew it up before she can enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serging Ahead

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

My mother taught me to sew my own clothing when I was in 4th grade. (Thanks, Ma!) For the very first time in 55 years, the insides of a garment don’t look quite so wrong. I bought a used Baby Lock serger a few years back, struggled with it, put it away, took a class on serging, put it away, and finally brought it out to use. My inspiration–er, task-master, was some gorgeous hand-blocked fabric from the now-out-of-business Textile Workshop, some smart, dotted linen purchased at a SAQA conference last year, and Pattern #11212 from the Cutting Line Designs, by Louise Cutting. Warning: Directions include tips and tricks for really fastidious finishing. And for once, the Queen of the Quick & Dirty, aka yours truly, did due diligence, and serged all the raw edges, then topstitched them, first from the inside, then from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mixed features from both View A (collar) and View B (longer length, pockets). I included a buttonhole tab, using bright African fabrics, but the jacket ended up bigger than I expected, so I ditched the tab in exchange for a belt. Until I grow into it, which seems highly likely.  Or even more likely, give it to a larger  person who can carry off the fullness. And then, I’ll add that tab back in…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And oh yeah, because this blog is about quilting, check out the collar. A soft interfacing used for firmness provided the middle layer for free-motion-quilting, following the chain-link lines of the batik fabric.

 

Art = Play

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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      The Contemporary Arts Center –a highlight of a long weekend in Cincinnati, was as fun for my almost 4-year old great nephew as it was for his mom, my DH, and me.  An ultra-colorful and creative current exhibit is titled, “Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? Painting, Parody & Disguise.” Defining the Parody part, curator Michael Stillion mentions, “Taking serious art not so serious and making it hilariously serious.” With that insanely in mind, Zachary Herrmann describes his installation, with its special appeal for us young and old viewers, using other opposing concepts, so that “cultural cues, symbols, and sensual stimulation…project into a more loosely structured space where fictions about beauty and repulsion, violence and humor, mortality, transparency, and psychology are at play.”

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detail,fools-houseMark Fox, A Fool’s House Fulfilled–A broomstick — among lots of debris–is a clue as to the scale. P1012102

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Upstairs at CAC is the UnMuseum. There, Casey Millard’s character, Shark Girl, is not having a good day. She hides behind a shark head, because that is the animal she feels like. What animal do you feel like? I am a clingy Labrador retriever, Marcie is a kangaroo mother, and Norman is a curious little monkey.

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Ryan Mulligan created the most beautiful, free-play putt-putt course–no clubs; you use your feet to guide balls into holes…or send them down the clever chutes…or maybe you simply roll around in the balls like a little Ikea ballroom. It’s called The Dinosaur Says Moo.

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I think I’m ready to be more playful with my quilting…how about you?

 

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Moms

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Just in time for Mother’s Day! I’m sharing 3 of my fav art quilts on the subject (plus, one of my own).

“The Stove / Empress” by Susan Shie, 1999.  48”x 74”. An art quilt in her Kitchen Tarot series.  Lucky, as she’s affectionately known, describes her piece: “Here  the Stove is a big, warm, nurturing Mama of love and feminity! There are real “lucky” bottlecaps along the stove’s front, as well as many moonstones embellishing its surface.  The stove clock is a coffee can lid, and the burners are CDs. The stove control knobs are some kind of weird Indian things that resemble shisha mirrors.”

Pamela Allen works her usual magic with enchanting Picasso-esque faces, found objects, and a tap on the funny bone. This piece, “Single Parent Family,” looks back as her hard-working mom returned to Pamela and her sister, latch-key kids at a time when it wasn’t frowned upon.

 

We can all relate to the domestic crises Moms and other female heads of households face, as illustrated in this quilt by Pauline Saltzman. The title of the quilt says it all; it’s called:  All Stressed Out…No One to Choke…So I Might as Well Eat.”

Here’s a quilt I made for my mother:  A tribute to her as a potter and a Torah scholar. The Hebrew is a verse from Jeremiah, which says,

And if the vessel (s)he was making was spoiled,

as happens to clay in the potter’s hands,

(s)he would make it into another vessel,

such as the potter saw fit to make.

Jeremiah 18:4

My mother always says, if a project isn’t going well, I can always mush it down into a lump and start again.  And we quilters, if we’re not happy with our quilts, maybe we can make like the potter and cut them up and turn them into something different, right? or maybe there’s a mother- in-law or a daughter-in-law we’re not so fond of ? Well then, we can give it to them!

I love to endow such wacky folk wisdom in my presentations to guilds. Think about bringing me in next April or May for my “Not Just for Mother’s Day”    presentation. I wear an “I Love Lucy” get-up that ensures the laughs outweigh the tears of  nostalgia.

But as for this year–today in fact, Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!