Archive for September, 2015

My quilters guild, Quiltessence Quilters, presented me with quite a challenge last week.

Mary, conducting the program, instructed us to each bring one yard of ugly fabric from our stash to the meeting.

We then sat around the tables in a big circle, with our ugly fabric and a pair of scissors. She said: cut the first piece, kept half, and pass half, to the music. We repeated until we had varying sizes of ugly fabrics, down to a scrap about 2 x 3”.  I won’t try to describe Mary dancing to the music, or our general amusement at how many ways we could mess up these simple directions!

At the end I stared down at my pile of ugly fabric scraps.  I took them home.

They haunted me. What on earth could I do with them? There was no purple or much orange! I can hardly make a piece without them. It was OK to add other fabrics for the challenge, but we had to use something of ALL of the scrappy pieces.

I had in mind a scene looking north from our home, which I’d done several versions of.

The light green and darker green weren’t a problem.  The light tan one worked quite well actually, as well as the darker tan. I used the trees and a few yellow parts from the corny rural scene. For the “Chinese” print I used the reverse side in the sky. The geometric earth toned piece worked OK in parts of the foreground. The yellow piece with the DNA or chains (I’m not sure what they are) worked OK for the tops of the corn stalks.

The biggest problems were the “Patriots” red piece, and a blue flowered one. I ended up using the Patriots red for flowers that should have been a more muted purplish red, and the blue flowers in the background purple mountains.

Here is the final product I came up with, along with my reference photo, and a picture of the ugly scraps. I added found objects, including pieces from an 1890 atlas I am coming to depend upon, and bits of lottery tickets, which seem to be becoming my signature.

Lottery tickets carry so much emotion. People get all excited about winning.  Then they get equally disappointed, and just toss the tickets away, wasting all that color! I like to retrieve them and make use of the color and textures.

Once the quilt was done, it felt very good to toss the remainder of those ugly scraps away!

Like a used lottery ticket to someone else I guess.

September 14 x 15.5

Martha Ressler, September, Studio Art Quilt, 14 x 15.5 inches. Fabrics, papers and found objects.

Looking North from our house.

Reference photo for “September.” I did a sketch too, but it was a simple line drawing, and did not reproduce well. I have to do both — some kind of a sketch to remind myself what I saw, and a photo to remind me of the colors.

ugly fabric challenge

The pile of ugly scraps I was left with after the musical chairs scrappy game. Notice some are very small: the dark tan and yellow piece with the chains (?) on it. Those I got near the end. I could have actually used more of each. Down with that Patriots fabric!

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Some months ago I was contacted by a man I didn’t know. Let’s call him Brett. He was inviting many Pittsburgh area artists to make a portrait of his friend, let’s call him John. John had been having a rough go of it, and Brett’s idea was to curate a large exhibition of portraits, all of John.

Brett was well spoken in his email, and the lead time was sufficient, and the venue for the final exhibit was known to me, and attractive.

Even though I’d moved away from Pittsburgh, I said yes, I’m in.  I liked the originality and generosity of the concept.

I made my art quilt, based on a photo Brett provided. Interestingly, I recognized the background, even though it was blurred. I’d walked by that spot many many times.

Last Saturday I delivered the final product to Brett for safekeeping until the exhibit, which is in 2016.

Here is the artwork, entitled “John of Lawrenceville.” And a picture of Brett and his family when they visited my booth at Fair in the Park to pick up the work.

Here are wafting good spirits and kindness back to Brett and John, and all other artists who have chosen to participate in this project.

Martha Ressler, Studio Art Quilt, John of Lawrenceville, 16.5" x 20" Fabrics, papers, and found objects.

Martha Ressler, Studio Art Quilt, John of Lawrenceville, 16.5″ x 20″ Fabrics, papers, and found objects.

John of Lawrenceville Studio Art Quilt, fabric, papers, and found objects. 16.5 x 20.5-detail

Martha Ressler, Studio Art Quilt, John of Lawrenceville, Detail. 2015, Fabrics, papers and found objects.

"John of Lawrenceville," art quilt by Martha Ressler, Brett, and his family.

“John of Lawrenceville,” art quilt by Martha Ressler, Brett, and his family.

I made a tee shirt quilt.

It was a commission, for which I charged a flat hourly rate.

I didn’t consider it art.

A grandmother was having it made for her granddaughter, a sorority girl.

All of the tee shirts were Greek — “good times” radiated from the fabric..

My own memories flooded back to me.

The year was 1966.

I was recruited to a sorority by a kind, studious girl from my hometown.

At first I was glad to belong.

But the next year a beautiful Black girl tested the waters and wanted to pledge.

The chapter was interested, at first.

But National intervened.

I protested to my president.

She said there was nothing she could do.

I must meet with a National Representative.

I made the appointment. I prepared myself.

I thought I could change things.

My arguments were sound.

Times were changing, the Black girl was perfect.

I was a member in good standing. Didn’t my opinion count?

No, it did not.

I said “I resign.”

She said, you can’t. You pledged for life.

I did?

You can become inactive.

I did so. But that was lame.

I felt dirty. Ashamed.

That sorority pin stayed in the bottom of my drawer for years.

Until I finally threw it out.

Detail of Tee Shirt Quilt.

Detail of Tee Shirt Quilt.