Posts Tagged ‘art quilt’

The smiling figures in this lighthearted moment on our trip to South Africa belie the tragedy embedded in this place. They are seated in front of the High Court Annex in Cape Town, where South Africans had to report annually to be classified as members of one of seven “races.” Our guide, seated on the right, relayed how his own family had been split up by this cruel, subjective process. He is joined on the left by one of our tour group members, a young doctor from Atlanta.

In the past, as persons of color, they would have been violating the South African laws of Apartheid, a system of rigid segregation and oppression of the non-white population. African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and the Apartheid laws were abolished in mid-1991, pending the historical first multiracial election in 1994, when Mandela was elected President of South Africa. Today the “whites only” bench remains as a historical reminder that Apartheid has been tossed into the ashcan of history.

I was involved in the international fight to free Nelson Mandela and end apartheid in the late 1980’s, and sewed my collection of political buttons from that time into the quilt.

Today, though Apartheid has been destroyed, South Africa is one of the most economically unequal country in the world. The fight for equality continues as it does elsewhere, including the United States.

The rest of the piece tells the story of our visit to South Africa. The Bushveld, at the top, is where we enjoyed a safari. Nelson Mandela’s prison cell and the quarry where he and other political prisoners toiled, fabrics I bought there, South African money and Jackass Penguins and other animals we saw are among the other items in the design.

This piece was created for an invitational show of art quilts called “Things That Matter,” which will preview next year.  It is 60″ wide by 37.5″ tall.

The photo of the figures was provided by Jay Ressler.

 

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I would like to take a moment to celebrate the conclusion of my most recent class: Raw Edge Applique at The Arts Barn in Schuylkill Haven, PA. First of all, owner Deb Cooper and Education Director Joanne Cosentino were so gracious and accommodating from beginning to end, even providing snacks for the students during class. I am very grateful to them.

There were 4 students.  Even that small number kept me busy every moment. They were good humored, smart, and cooperative. I loved to see when they “got it!” Some examples of comments, this from an experienced traditional quilter, “This is so much more freeing than making all the little squares!”  “Wow, what a difference it makes when you’ve quilted the piece”

I provided little thumbnail sketches they could use for composition ideas.  Two used them, one made her own composition, and one took hers from my Quilt National 2015 Catalog. She said she kept coming back to “Infinity” by Elena Stokes, and ended up nearly copying that. (on a much smaller scale, with different fabrics.) I hope Elena takes that as a compliment!

The one composition “rule” I impart to beginning students is to avoid the center of a piece. You are trying to keep the eye moving. Use the “rule of thirds,” or at least don’t put an eye catcher in the center!

I brought in two sewing machines, one set up with a walking foot for straight line quilting, and one for free motion.  I didn’t want them to get hung up on fancy quilting techniques for an introductory class.  We only had two 3-hour sessions. Near the end I changed the free motion machine to straight stitch so they could finish the bindings.

They worked in small sizes.  I cut muslin for the substrates approximately 12 x 16″ with batting to match. I had two ironing stations set up, which also worked well. I teach using Mistyfuse, and each student got about 2 yards of it to work with.

I began the class by showing pictures of Art Quilts, and also explaining the relationship between traditional quilts and art quilts, and where raw edge applique fits into the later category. I brought in some of my own pieces, and gave brief demonstrations at various points: how to start, squaring and trimming, quilting, and binding.  I had instructions available for both “facing to the back” and quarter inch binding.  Everyone chose to use the “facing to the back” method.

I also gave color suggestions, using a color wheel.  You can’t go wrong with complimentary colors!

My own take-away is that two 3-hour classes is the very least time needed to start to learn this method. More time would have been better.  But everyone almost finished their work, or is prepared to finish it at home.

 

 

 

Art Plus Gallery has been cooperating with Saylor House, an interior design company in Wyomissing for a year now, to display works of the artist-members of Art Plus Gallery (of which I am one.)

I went to pick up my piece, Stone House in the Valley, to take it to it’s next show location, Studio B in Boyertown. The show there opens this Friday, Oct 21, entitled Til Death Do Us Art 2016.

stone-house-in-the-valley-in-placeI really liked they way they had it displayed, with monochrome furnishing that went beautifully with the tones of the art quilt.

Had to share, and give thanks!

We enjoy watching our Goldfinches all summer long. They grab onto a long flower stem in our wildflower meadow and swing back and forth, like in their own private amusement park. As autumn approaches, they lose their bright yellow coloring. It takes energy to maintain that color for breeding season.

It’s like when you come home and put on your comfortable clothes!

A while ago my husband, Jay Ressler, who is also an artist, made a beautiful photographic composition called The Sunflower King. The finch sits grandly atop a bent and gnarly sunflower, well past its prime. In the background are layered love letters from Henry VII to Anne Boleyn, and another texture layer.

I decided to make an art quilt inspired by The Sunflower King. Actually I made two.

The largest one is called Summer’s End, 25.25 x 19.5”

The smaller is called My Little Finch, and is 12.5 x 10”

Here they all are.

I’ve been working on a series that is all surface design. My concentration has been on making my found objects and papers completely integral to the piece.  The art quilts in this series are not representational, yet not completely abstract.  There is an “all-over” composition.

They start with the substrate — vintage feed and seed bags, or for some,  old linen table wear. The feel of these things is important to me. I love linen table cloths because of the subtle design woven into the fabric itself. And my collection of feed and seed bags, a gift from my cousin — they were her mother’s collection — is dear to me.

I also rusted these fabrics for an increased look of aging.

The sepia toned photos I found hanging carelessly in a McDonald’s restaurant somewhere on the Outer Banks. They were not credited. I took some photos of them, and had them printed on silk (Spoonflower.com). The seagull photos were taken by Jay Ressler, and are used with permission. (also printed on fabric.)

I took my husband to Ocracoke, NC for our vacation this year.  It had more meaning for me than an ordinary beach trip. I’d enjoyed summers there as a kid, but hadn’t been back in 51 years.  My memories glowed with the warmth of a setting sun on a pristine beach.

Luckily the charm of Ocracoke (the last in the string of islands off the coast of North Carolina) remains intact.  The village has sprouted new restaurants — delicious food, and no chains! — and there are fewer working fishermen, but it’s still a National Seashore, with Rangers to teach about nature.  And the beaches have the finest sand, and are clean and not commercialized. People meander around on bicycles or golf carts. You can still stay in a quaint cottage, and buy fresh fish daily in the Village.

This piece, called “Banked Memories” is about the mingling of memories and today’s reality.

 

I was thrilled to be included in the SAQA show that just opened at the Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, Ontario, My Corner of the World.

Here is the review of the show in the Stratford Beacon Herald

http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/2016/05/22/my-corner-of-the-world-attracts-artists-from-across-canada-and-around-the-globe-to-exhibit-at-stratford-perth-museum

The piece that was accepted was the view from my studio in Pittsburgh, PA. I walked those streets, and gazed from my studio window so much, I truly felt that those alleys and old factories were my corner of the world. It is called “Evening in Steel Valley.”

My world has changed since then to one of fields rather than factories.  But the truth is that you can take the girl out of the city, but you can never completely take the city out of the girl.

evening in steel valley21x26.5small

 

I work in a series by natural inclination.  After I’ve finished a piece, it makes sense to me to keep going with an idea as long as it still interests me. I see if there is a variation that I want to try, a different technique, or just push an idea a little further.

But after listening to a lecture by Kathleen Loomis at the recent SAQA Conference (Studio Art Quilt Associates) on this topic, I picked up on something new to me.

She posed the question: how many series to do you work on at once?

And — oops — I had thought I had to finish (exhaust) a series before starting something new.  It felt, well, disloyal to an idea to leave it hanging to pursue a new one.

Now, since I understand that it’s “OK” to work on more than one series, I’m doing just that.

Here are three pieces I just finished.

The first one, “The Right to Arm Bears” is the upteenth in a series I started in January of combining photos of objects in my environment to create imaginary landscapes — often humorous ones.

The second one is maybe the third in a series of “old wood,” inspired by our humble wood pile here on the farm. There are more to come of these for sure.

And the third one is the first of a series of using bits of plastic toys. There are so many at the flea market I visit every week.  Perhaps they were once loved, but are now discarded. I’m thinking of the series as “throw away nation.” And my thoughts also drift to the waste of human lives, not just tons of plastic, due to racism or wars. Hey — I do have a serious side, but don’t tell anyone!