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

Archive for the ‘Art + Quilt’ Category

My Choice Nine Patch

Saturday, 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.

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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.

 

More from Connected by Stitch

Monday, 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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

Swimming with the Big Fish

Sunday, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Swimming Upstream

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

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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!

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Frames of Mind and Matter

Wednesday, 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.

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Life,Mapped-Out

 

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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!

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Cut-Ups for Quilt-Art

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

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

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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.

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               Center of Gravity, 13″x 7″

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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?

Painting Play-Date

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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?

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

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.

 

Diaspora in 3-D

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

It took a phenomenal exhibit to move me back to blogging mode–after months of merely Facebooking (sigh).

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Out of Africa: Primal Diaspora, by Buff McAllister; Crossings II, by Sandy Gregg; and Generation 2500, by Barbara Schneider

 

Stories of Migration is a joint venture by SAQA–Studio Art Quilters Assoc. and the Textile Museum, now housed at GW University in DC.  It takes the concept of diaspora, and moves it far beyond the traditional dispersal of Jews following the destruction of the Temple. From the Greek–a scattering or sowing of seeds, it now covers any body of people living outside their homeland. Psychological and evocative reactions and political ramifications are powerful. But because movement and geography, or space, are inherent to this theme, I am moved to share with you just a few pieces that go beyond the art quilt on the wall and take less usual positions.

Above, that big ball is a rolled up strip, 300 yards long, with overlapping hand-prints to depict the people and the journey of homo sapiens over 2500 generations.

Below are three shots of an installation piece by Sara P. Rockinger. She is interested in how “global social issues intersect, overlap, and become stitched together through shared human experience.” Handmade clothing from different cultures are molded and stiffened. Video projections allow the viewer (i.e., me) to become part of the experience, called In/Visible.

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Jane Dunnewold is a favorite artist of mine, working in fabric, paper, and lots of surface treatments. Taking a vintage quilt and handmade and vintage papers, she has used collage and weaving, added spackle and gold leaf to rework the idea of a soft covering for a bed into a symbol of transition and paradox. The title, “Receptacles of Memory,” can be applied to a great number of the pieces in this exhibit.

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I’ve also followed the evolution of Susan Else from quilter of bed quilts to art quilts to fabric sculpture. Above and below is her “Crossing Points.” She explains that decades of injury and counter-injury and outside interests catch people up in a web where they have nothing to lose by leaving.

This piece sits beneath a site-specific installation by Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, called “Undocumented Border Flowers.” Underwood was invited to submit work, as were other celebrated artists (Faith Ringgold is another one). The rest of the artists were juried in.
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More human-scaled, and perhaps more accessible, is this wonderful evocation of what it is to be an urban nomad. Kristin La Flamme has made a shopping cart over into a village, using fabrics from army uniforms, yarn, floss, and bungie cords. It’s called, “Home is Where the Army Sends Us.”

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Hoping this blog post sends YOU to see this exhibit before it closes Sept. 4. And, if you’re still reading, I have a copy of the exhibit catalog to send to someone. Share your personal migration story in the comment box below. Not much room, I know, so try to use fewer than 50 words.  I’ll pick one that particularly inspires me and mail you out this full-color collection showing all the pieces in the exhibit.

Let It Flow

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

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Ahoy there, mateys! Just picking up from my posts of June 29 and July 1. Seems like I row row row my boat, get off of it, get back to it, and row some more. Isn’t that how everyone courses through their bigger projects?

Please excuse the metaphors, if they don’t float your boat. Always thinking of my son and his fiancee as they about halfway through their one-year trip sailing the Great American Loop, which you can read about on their blog, sailbatic.al.

To refresh everyone’s memory, including my own, the wind beneath my sails is a challenge from Quilts for Change, titled Water Is Life. See this post for info, and this post for my launch of the project.

The weavings came together, with lighter and darker sections cut in curves and overlapped, as shown above. Then, I added stream of consciousness phrases with free-motion script:

  • Justice
  • transparent governance
  • wellsprings of knowledge
  • flow of info
  • ponder policies
  • unclouded judgement
  • funding streams
  • wo/mandates
  • fathom the depths

After that, some dense quilting in wavy lines. Then appliques to lighten some areas, tone down others, add interest and contrast and texture.

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The finishing was a whole ‘nuther trip around the bend. One rust binding all around wasn’t enough, so that became an inset with a pieced binding.

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Still not enough. So I auditioned several different sizes and colors of rickrack. Aqua, white, yellow, blue and gold…

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Opted for a yellow green to add light to the whole. Or, as a mutiny against spending more time and angst over this piece. (I’m ready to set sail on a new project.)

Yes, after months, I have finally reached the shore and completed my art quilt today! And submitted images, a bio and a statement.

Title: Let It Flow

Water is a deeply complex issue, swirling with interwoven challenges of safety, security, social justice, and access.

Only transparently clear, progressive, democratic governance can ensure a good flow of information and funding streams.

As the traditional water gatherers who understand what is best for their communities, women deserve a place in discussions and decision-making. When mandates become “womandates,” results are life-affirming.

 

Done! And 9 days before the deadline: a record for this captain of last-minute industry. Making art and quilts is usually a lonely, isolated journey, so comments and constructive criticism are always very welcome! 

Let-It-Flow,ELevie – Version 2