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

Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Art in Flowers, the Phila. Flower Show, Part 2

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Although the Philadelphia Flower Show 2017 has vacated its enormous stage at the Convention Center, it is still the receiving bouquets for a master work. With Holland as the theme, classic Dutch artists were heralded with recognition of their signature styles as interpreted in flowers.

Piet Mondrian was everywhere. Especially in floral arrangements that echoed his structured compositions and primary colors.

 

 

Quilters will see the work of Mondrian as an easy homage rendered in bright fabric, with black lattices à la stained glass appliqué. Gardeners will note that you don’t need to build vertical wall arrangements. Here, arrangers imagined the artist’s “Piet à terre” using planters that might have come straight out of Ikea, with paint added.

I LOVE it when quilters or floral designers use great art as inspiration. Check out these renditions of famous masterpieces by Rembrandt and Van Gogh:

Note to self: Pursue interesting scale and proportion in fabric and gardening compositions!

Hope you enjoyed this vicarious trip to the Flower Show!

Holland! aka Philadelphia Flower Show ’17 (Part 1)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The best Flower Show ever! Which could be because it featured tulips, windmills, bicycles, wooden shoes, canals, tiles, and art. Could also be because there were NO crowds—snow, sleet, and ice kept them away.

Here’s the entranceway:

Bikes were EVERYWHERE, as they are in the Netherlands. We learned on a recent trip that in Amsterdam, if not all of Holland, there are 1.8 bikes to every human. They are so eco-smart. And the air is  oh-so clean. And the use of bike parts was oh-so clever.

I really don’t do “pretty”

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

As usual, it was a class–long ago–that started me on a new art quilt. In Lesson 2 of About Style, Pamela Allen assigned us online students to “cut various long skinny shapes out of different fabrics and ‘grow’ your plant in the same way Nature does.”

Rather than “grow” a tree from my imagination, as Pamela does, I relied on photos I took on a trip to Lisbon, when the jacarandas were blooming gorgeous.

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Started with a background on a quilt sandwich, anticipating a small art quilt:

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Next, I brought in the trunk for a pretzel-like tree, with a bunch of lavender prints:

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“Grew” the tree with other, similarly colored fabrics in various shades and tints:

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Oh, this could be a really pretty picture, a la my photo. I could balance the lower left side with flowering shrubbery.

But then I remembered: I don’t really do “pretty.”

#1, there are so many fabulous art quilters who take “pretty” to levels I could never dream of.

#2, “pretty” can be pretty boring.

Around this time, my sister Carolyn was shopping for a new car. As a wife, she had always deferred to her husband’s choices in this department. As a widow with a new-found sense of her capabilities for research and decision-making, and within short order, she she walked into her local Honda dealership, test-drove, and bought a Honda Accord.

So, in accordance with those trees that grew in a high-trafficked, urban setting, and with tremendous pride in my sister’s taste and independence, I slapped a Honda under the jacaranda. And made my getaway from “pretty.”

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Stay tuned to see how this art quilt is going, and growing. As always, comments are much appreciated.

 

Give me a hand…

Friday, July 31st, 2015

KitchenHamsa (2)

Seems I have a hamsa series going. Often called the Hand of Miriam by Jews, or the Hand of Fatimah by Muslims, this middle-eastern symbol features three fingers and two thumbs. Don’t ask me why. A good luck charm, it’s said to ward off the evil eye…cast by those who would be envious of what good fortune you may have. Lots of folks wear a hamsa as a talisman around their necks. But since bad luck can occur right at home, frequently in the form of cooking disasters, I recommend a household hamsa —especially in the kitchen. Done in foil-lined, plasticized packaging like coffee bags and tea bag envelopes, the resulting art can be wiped clean of cooking grease, sprays from spills, dust and grime. I teach this class as a workshop for trash-stash quilting, using the sample shown above, or for a westernized version, the hand-in-heart motif below.

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Hand-in-Heart folk art, by Eleanor Levie, 2015, approx. 8″ x 10″

 

First time I ventured into hamsa territory was for a 2011 Quilt Alliance challenge; lots of shiny packaging made it impossible for this amateur photographer to capture a good representation.

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Tahrir Square, by Eleanor Levie, 2011, 16″ x 16″

Recently, I answered another challenge with Eyes Wide Open as the theme. Right away, I thought of a hamsa with an eye, done out off coffee and tea bag packaging to reference the caffeine that literally opens my eyes, and the need to reduce and recycle that informs my trash stash quilting. Two other inspirations guided my creative pathway. First was  an article in the Summer SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc.) Journal referencing the keynote speaker at the SAQA annual conference. Namita Gupta Wiggers is an art historian, and director and co-founder of Critical Craft Forum. She pushed for art quilts to take a place of power. Art in and of itself, instead of simply as a reference to the older, more traditional form of a bed covering. To do that, she encouraged breaking out of the rectilinear picture plane, and redefining the medium through the use of materials other than cloth. Hmmmm.

Another inspiration from a few years back was Pamela Allen’s Black-Eyed Susan art quilt, where plastic doll eyes peeped out from the centers of a bouquet of blooms.

Thus was born my Black-Eyed Susan Hamsa!

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Securing top layers to bottom layer of black felt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Couching satin cord over felt edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black-Eyed Susan Hamsa, by Eleanor Levie, 2015, 14″ x 24″ ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Carl Harrington, who is angling to get out of the photo business!

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Whoop-TEA-doo! It’s Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

In honor of Mother Earth, I just added a new piece to my ReUSE series.

 

tea rose-detail

 

I don’t know how long I’ve been stalking the idea of a Tea Roses piece, that is, roses made out of tea bag envelopes. Last year, I took lots and lots of pictures at a rose garden in Florida. Then, meaning to get rid of one horrid picture of me, I mistakenly deleted all my shots. That’ll teach me to put on my glasses when reviewing my shots!

Starting again, I found a photo of a yellow rose that I cannot now find–I think it is one of Sammie Moshenberg’s lovely images. I traced the picture, numbered the pieces, and prepared to do a cut and glue sort of applique with tea bag envelopes.

 

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tracing

 

The “kit” of materials I assembled sat by the TV for months. Turned out this method that was waaaay too complicated for me. I’m more of a slap-dash kind of quilter.

Last week, an online quilt class taught by the extraordinary Pamela Allen of Canada featured an assignment for a fantasy fabric garden. That was the impetus to go back to my Tea Rose project once again, and substitute my trash stash for fabric prints to dash off some flowers. Following the lead of my sister students, I cut petals freehand, and worked in rounds. In this series, I simply adhere shapes with glue-stick over patchwork. White bags that once held ground coffee gave me bigger pieces and a quiet background, too.  I cultivated plots of assorted tea bag and coffee packaging to sort of fence in my garden.

 

tea rose 1

 

Due to the foil-lined packaging that holds a crease, I was able to fold back some of the petals like a real flower. But even with the silver backing peeking up, the flower heads looked too dense, and the petals weren’t readable as separate shapes.

Back to the drawing board, I tried out an open design, like an arts & crafts style stencil or stained glass design.

 

tea rose 2

 

Better! Then on to layering over woolfelt (wool and rayon blend), preshrunk for a thick, sherpa-like quality.  Quick quilting and trimming with passementerie and ball fringe gets everything sown so I can reap the rewards before Earth Day ends!

 

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My garden is a bit messy, and even though the bottom edge is angled, the whole thing should still hang straight and true. Not the case, not even close. But as they say, DONE is better than perfect.

Hope everything’s coming up roses for you! And that you ReUSE, RECYCLE, and REPURPOSE trash or found objects to REDUCE your carbon footprint. Oh, and RECONSIDER the many ways of creating quilted art!

 

 

Painting with Flowers

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Be still my heart, when one art form or expression is interpreted in a different form, and the1cassat-duo results bring honor to both:

*A religious prayer  as expressed in classic east Indian dance

*The myth of Pygmalion, where a sculptor falls for his creation, as expressed in the musical, My Fair Lady

*American blues, gospel, and work songs translated into the opera, Porgy and Bess

 

So you can imagine my rapture when the husband and I went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for PAFA in Bloom. Floral designers were challenged to do an homage to a work of art, and the result was exhibited beside it.

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Baby on Mother’s Arm, Mary Cassatt, 1891

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Linda Lord, Gloucester, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Skaters, Gari Melchers, ca. 1892
Kristie Lynn Borchick, Allentown, PA

 

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Girl in a Plaid Scarf, Susan Macdowell Eakins, ca. 1880-1885
Michael Haschak, Philadelphia, PA

 

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Warning, Jimmy Ernst, 1960
Dierdre Gross, Medford NJ

9JeffMarket

Jefferson Market, John Sloan, 1917
Carol English, Cranford, NJ

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North Shore, Charles Prendergast, 1939
Cathy Hozack, Philadelphia, PA

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Promenade, Maurice Prendergast, ca. 1915-1918
Darcie Garcia, Allentown, PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos, John Vanderlyn, 1809-1814

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peicha Chang and Rachel Berkowitz, Philadelphia, PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on!

There were more than 40 such pairings, with wide ranges of interpretation, from the literal–like the ship of orchids paired with a tall ships scene, to the metaphorical, like a Peaceable Kingdom interpreted with a variety of flowers, from the very raggy and wild to the tight and symmetrical.

Is this not exciting stuff?!!

Similarly exciting is the wonderful online class I’m taking with the extraordinary quilt/folk artist Pamela Allen of Canada. The first lesson asked us to translate a celebrated painting. No, not in flowers, but as a fabric “sketch.” Like many of my classmates, I chose a piece from that exuberant colorist, Henri Matisse. This one is called Anemones in a Chinese Vase, and it’s from the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art:

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 Here is my fabric sketch, tweaked in just the right way by Pamela:

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And here I’ve used the same fabrics to translate another lively scene–the wine and seder plate at our Passover celebration.

SederPlate,revised

 

Hope this blog post has sparked your creativity, encouraging you to find a fine art masterpiece that inspires you to “paint” with flowers or fabric.

 

Simply Flowers

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

There were dozens of dazzling, grand-scale arrangements at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year:

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Of course the aromas and the views of these wow’ems from all sides add a whole lot to the horticultural spectacle…sometimes to the point of stimuli overload.

Maybe that’s what makes me gravitate to the small, simple designs. Call me a minimalist, but I defy you not to fall in love with the following charmers. Just one type of flower–and fairly common, affordable ones at that:

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Add just one more floral element, twigs, a leaf…

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This next one’s gigantic, but it’s only roses and pussy willow, inspired by a future installation at Storm King Arts Center:

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A pairing of two common houseplants…but a closer look  reveals a very uncommon placement of buds at the base of the philodendron (?) leaf. Can anyone id either of these plants for me?

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By now, you’ve got me pegged as a sucker for singular simplicity. It’s always been that way, I think, even guiding the choices of quilt designs I’ve put into my books.  My “Ttableleaf-rev (2)able Leaf,” from Skinny Quilts & Table Runners, shows how just one  leaf can be quite striking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Skinny Quilts & Table Runners II, check out how Jane Davila’s appliqued “Las Hojas” or  Frieda Anderson’s pieced “Blushing Aspens” make one type of leaf in multiple dance across the background.

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C-37 BlushingAspens

Or how about a single type of flower, like “Wisteria Lane,” by Melinda Bula, or “The Dahlia is a Diva,” by Julie Popa of Sunflower Hill ?

C-29-Dahlia   C-48WisteriaLane

After working for months on a big, spectacular, multi-block queen size bed quilt or tour-de-force wall hanging, who wouldn’t want the simplicity of a skinny slice of a project, one with just a fewer patterns, ease of assembly, a chance to just dip into a playful, new technique. But what is it about simplicity that makes a design, whether with florals or fabrics, cause our emotions to burst into bloom?

Tell me your thoughts about simplicity or florals in quilts or whatever this blog post inspires you to write in the comment box below. You could be the lucky winner of autographed copies of both Skinny Quilts & Table Runners and Skinny Quilts & Table Runners II!  The Philadelphia Flower Show runs thru Sunday, March 10, and I’ll choose a winner from among the comments at the end of that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art-i-culture

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Horticulture inspired by the arts–that’s the theme of  the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show.

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Picture frames invite you to see the floral designs as art forms.

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At its most exciting (for me), the floral arrangements immediately call to mind the work of specific celebrated artists. For example, spheres of blooms may appear as  Seuss-ical celestial systems. But step directly in front of the frame, and Wassily Kandinsky is in the room.

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Bet you can guess whose work inspired the following vignettes…

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For some reason, I’m not quite sure why, the priceless fine art masterpieces cannot be exhibited alongside the arty horticulture. I do think that showing printed images of signature artworks would help folks make the parallels, give this show many teachable moments, and make fine art accessible to a new crop of viewers! After all, you might go Mmmm at these compositions, but the satisfaction is so much greater if you are familiar with Mondrian, Monet, Matisse, and Magritte.

So how great is it when the actual painting that inspired the floral design can be and IS exhibited alongside it. Paintings by students at PAFA–the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts have mood and color palettes picked up by the floral designer. Sooo cool.

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As always, I loved being at the Philadelphia Flower Show–especially just after yet another snowfall and with wind chill temperatures dipping down to the ridiculous.

In a future blog post, I hope to point up with my pics how floral designers in this show successfully use the elements of art: color, texture, line, rhythm, balance, unity, and so on.

But I can’t sign off ’til I touch on quilting! Don’t wanna get into that timeworn debate of quilts as art vs. craft. Except to opine that taking a traditional craft form and infusing it with all the elements of art takes it to a different realm. Whether your palette is paint, or flowers, or fabric, all you need is inspiration!

Do add your comment! I’d love to hear how ART is at the heART of what you do, and if you draw on fine art as inspiration for your quilting.

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Let us all praise purple

Friday, December 6th, 2013

On last night’s Project Runway All Stars, the challenge was to give Marge Simpson a new dress—for the very first time!—to wear on a date night out with Homer. The purple color of the winning dress was the perfect complement to blue hair and yellow skin. And the designer, Irina Shabayeva recognized Marge’s cute figure and comfort level in featuring a strapless dress that showed some leg and could be belted or left to fully swirl.

I adore purple for the way it partners with yellow, chartreuse, and yes, even orange. Purple represents royalty, piety, the pathway for bridging Republican Red and Democratic Blue. The Purple Heart is given for courage. And purple grapes can ferment so deliciously. The Beatles have their White Album. Here’s my Paean to Purple:

News flash! The fashion and decorating color experts just announced ORCHID as the color for 2014. Close enough.

Leave a comment, telling me how you prize The Color Purple in your quilting. I’ll award a bag of scintillating scraps from my stash of purple fabrics to the one whose comment most captures my imagination or tickles my fancy. Friday the 13th at 12 noon (EST) is your thriller-diller deadline. Don’t think pink. Think purple.

PS–I just put together the purple prize. Some pieces are indeed large scraps, but others are 2 yards. Total is more than 8 yards. Worth winning, wouldn’t you say?

purple prize