Nick Cave – Treasures From Tchotkes

I caught the recent Nick Cave exhibit (Nick Cave: Feat.) at the Akron Art Museum on its next to last day. Much to my surprise, I was won over by his sparkly, glittery, tawdry junk shop filled pieces. It’s too bad I missed the community performances held as part of the exhibit.

The work on display seemed to fall into three categories: stationary 3D wall and floor pieces, sound suits which Cave wears for performances, and whole room installations. The work was created from 2010 to 2019. A video made for the exhibit showed Cave shopping for tchotkes at thrift stores, the construction of some pieces by a small army of workers, and clips of performances.

This detail of a large wall sculpture highlights the ceramic birds Cave likes to use. The base is a crocheted afghan, over which several layers of stuff are mounted. Cave said he uses bird statues because they were viewed as art in his childhood home.
Detail of metal tin lids from a sound suit.
Sound suit covered with thousands of buttons. Workers do the sewing.
Another sound suit that features bowls made with plastic beads and large safety pins. Such bowls were popular with crafters a while ago.
Room installation of painted bamboo curtains. I found the images showed up more clearly in photos than in person.

Here’s what Cave said about his work:

This work speaks to craft but exceeds the notion of craft. The materials allow people to connect personally, because we can all identify with objects that have surrounded us in our homes at some point. In that way, the work can be nostalgic, and there’s that moment when you realize you’re in a shared language with the people around you. The found objects bring out all kinds of personal history. They also raise the question of how we honor domestic crafts like crochet and needlepoint, which are becoming less and less a part of our day-to-day lives. I like celebrating these practices and things that have traditionally brought beauty into our lives.

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Filed under Inspiration, Commentary, Exhibits

On The Bias

To my surprise I’ve completed the top for “It’s Not All Black and White.” Design and construction were relatively pain-free, and I still had two feet of black bias tape left. I started with 20 yards. I see more bias tape projects in my future.

Early days when I was arranging my blocks. The green strips to the right were meant to go between the blocks, but they didn’t work.
Sewn together top that measures about 38 by 53 inches.

Of course I have to develop a quilting plan, but I do have the backing fabric, thanks to thrift store shopping.

Old Alexander Henry fabric. I got 6+ yards for $4.

While I’m bragging on my thrift store finds, here are a few others – 3 yards of wool for $4 and two men’s shirts for $4 each. The striped shirt is a silk/rayon blend.

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Filed under In Process

The Bluprint Blues

Recently I had my first experience with Bluprint, the new Craftsy, after succumbing to a special three month subscription offer. My rationale was I could take the bias applique tape class by Latifah Saafir I had my eye on and I could get a coupon for one “forever” class.

I took the class and decided I liked it enough to own it “forever.” My troubles began when I tried to redeem my coupon, which expires at the end of June. I followed the instructions given but couldn’t find the class I wanted listed. So I emailed Bluprint and was told that they’d look into it.

Here’s the final response:

Anne (Bluprint)
May 28, 8:13 AM MDT
Thanks for your patience! That class is exclusive to your subscription and not available as an own forever class. We do have lots of really wonderful quilting classes available to own forever here – 
Quilt Own Forever Classes

I’ll be sure to let our team know that you’d love to see that class available in the future!

What the….? What does “exclusive to your subscription” mean? Nowhere did I see mentioned that only some classes were eligible as “own forever.” I scrutinized the perks of a Bluprint subscription, and came up only with ” Own-Forever Class Credits to add your favorite class(es) to your Library to access forever, even if you cancel your subscription in the future.” My response to Anne was “I think BluPrint needs to be clearer about what classes are NOT eligible as “own forever.” I certainly took all the verbiage I read to mean they all were. Nowhere did I find mention that some were not.” Anne responded that she’d pass my feedback “along to the management team.”

I recall reading about new arrangements with instructors, and can understand if an instructor elects not to have his/her class eligible for forever status. However, I think that information should be noted with the class material. Didn’t happen with my class.

Instead the Bluprint user gets lots of touchy-feely guff about how much you’ll love Bluprint, promotional emails, and nags to rate interactions with the help personnel. Initial responses begin, “Hi, my name is (fill in first name) and I’m here to help.” Totally fake, in my opinion. I know, it’s all scripted.

I intend to cancel my subscription as nothing’s been added that appeals to me. What I’ve watched aside from Saafir’s class seemed fluff. While I addressed the kerfluffle over emails to Bluprint teachers before, here’s Cheryl Arkison’s opinion on the matter. She was a Craftsy teacher.

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Filed under Snark

My Quilt National Pilgrimage

Every odd year the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, hosts the prestigious juried show Quilt National. Since I live in Ohio I try to get to Athens to see it. Last weekend was my chosen time.

I arrived for the show’s opening, which featured short talks many of the artists gave about their work. It made for a crowd, but I loved hearing about the thoughts behind the works. Some artists talked in abstractions; others cried.

How did I think this show compared with previous ones? It seemed solidly in the middle, with a heavy emphasis on abstract work. Craftsmanship quality was good and there was a mix of previously shown artists with new ones. I don’t recall any wildly offbeat pieces or any that I felt didn’t belong there. On the other hand, while I admired many of the works, there were few I had an emotional response to.

Lots of: piecing, solid colors, parallel line quilting.

A bit of: experiments with quilt shapes (one was like a gathered curtain, another was separate tubes of bound cloth,) social statements (women’s rights and the wall,) use of digital design.

Little of: representational art, photographs, multi-media (i.e., over painting), dense showy quilting, unconventional materials.

Following are photos I took that are clear enough to publish. There were many other works I wanted to capture, but crowds made that difficult.

“Agitation” by Helen Geglio is made of old shirts found in an attic. Geglio said they still smelled of bleach. She noted how laborious laundry used to be and said a woman invented permanent press.
Margaret Black’s “Curb Appeal 17” is large and shows how black and white can anchor a piece.
Anna Brown’s “Ebb and Flow” represents kelp. The bits of lime green sure catch the eye.
Susan Callahan’s “Stove Top” is based on photographs printed on fabric and then painted. It turns out she’s a chef.
Carson Converse’s piece is subtle and represents the antithesis of her day job.
Chris Edmonds’ “Grasslands: Winter Approaches” is the piece most likely to be praised by my husband.
Eleanor McCain had the largest piece, all mounted on a very long rod. She demonstrated how you can easily shift which part shows..
“Backyard” is taken from Barbara Oliver Hartman’s rear yard. She named the tree on the right Ginger.
Detail from Jill Kerttula’s “Gingko Street” that shows how she augments her photos with fabrics and stitches. The shadow at the bottom is my hand. Her take on QN is here.
Margarita Korioth carefully planned her work on her computer, and created fabric from newspapers in 3 languages that represent her background.
Cecile Trentini’s “Shadow Alchemy” is made of cyanotypes of a wildly diverse group of objects.
Isabell Wiessler’s “Horizonte VI” is based on a photo, but made more abstract with paint and stitch.
Here is Anne Wu talking about her “Shi Sha Square on Square.” There’s lots of bling in each square and there are lots of squares.

I was glad I had the chance to see some rock stars of the quilting world – Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Betty Busby, Jean Wells Keenan, Eleanor McCain, Sheila Frampton Cooper, to name a few. I even had lunch with two of the artists. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with the pieces themselves. For one of the show juror’s takes and lots more photos, check out Judy Kirpich’s post. You can see the award winners here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

Next, Please

After many years of making quilts I find myself in a strange position. Right now I have only two unquilted tops, and one of those I may change, so that leaves just one. As for UFOs, none come to mind though maybe one or two small ones lurk hidden in the bottom of a drawer.

So I have no excuse not to get cracking on new designs. The time has come to work up all those drawings and inspirational photos I’ve saved. I’m starting with a photo of a puzzle by Rex Ray that I saved many years ago. A recent BluPrint class on bias tape applique by Latifah Saafir jogged my memory of that photo, and I decided to develop a mash up of that puzzle and bias tape.

Rex Ray Rallenta puzzle

First, I pulled together a pile of fabric possibilities because, for me, fabric almost always comes first. I wanted to use black and white prints for the curved shapes, with black bias tape edges, and backgrounds in bold solids.

Then, I developed a rough sketch from the Rex Ray puzzle and some rough dimensions for the blocks.

Next came practicing the bias tape technique. I had already signed up for a discounted trial of BluPrint so I could watch Latifah Saafir’s class on bias tape applique. Her technique seemed sensible so I tried it out on a sample block.

Let me note here that I dislike BluPrint as I’m constantly bombarded with ads that encourage me to purchase stuff from them, there’s no interaction possible with the instructors (you could chat with the instructors and fellow students on Craftsy, see this link about this), and the bias tape applique class isn’t listed as one of the “own forever” classes. I have an email in to BluPrint about that.

Latifaah has you begin stitching the bias tape on the inside edge using a zipper foot and moving your needle position. The cupping of the outer edge is supposed to happen. That gets fixed with lots of steam and ironing.
I’ve added an inner shape and more bias tape. I don’t like the shapes or the line you can see on the bias tape where the edges don’t quite meet. And let’s not talk about the fabrics. But that’s why you do a practice piece.

It seems I’m capable of using this technique and I think it has possibilities for my design, so all I need is yards of black bias tape and some shapes. Then, the fun of matching up my fabrics will begin.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process, Inspiration, Project Ideas

From Above

Every artist deals with perspective – low horizon, high horizon, eye level, at an angle, etc. Despite my misgivings about our digital age, advances in technology have given us ways to see landscape differently.

Kevin Krautgartner’s work shows what happens when a drone is put to work by a photographer on a journey. Krautgartner positioned a drone 150 meters above his car and set it to take pictures.

He’s also done a series of glacier rivers from above, many of which would make beautiful fabric. I see Spoonflower has a special on a new cotton fabric, but I don’t think I can get permission from the photographer in time to take advantage of it.

Krautgartner has made a beautiful aerial film of the Faroe Islands https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=180&v=0PikhFKyQqU. Warning, it’s not for people afraid of heights.

Krautgartner, who was born and lives in Germany, has a degree in photography and graphic design, and has won several photography awards. He sells copies of his photographs on his website in several sizes, printed on a variety of materials including metal and acrylic glass.

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Filed under Inspiration

A Change of Perspective

Last week I subjected you to umpteen iterations of layouts for “Arches.” I know, I’m the only one who saw much difference among all the versions. This week I’d like to present my final layout and thank all of you who made such helpful comments. They guided me to the version I will quilt.

It turned out I simply needed to make the width the long side, which changes how the parts relate to each other. I also added a turquoise strip along the bottom with a few narrow strip insertions.

Monty Don’s program (one of those sweetly earnest British reality TV shows featuring “Britain’s favorite gardener”) on French gardens may have subconsciously influenced me. All the gardens had geometrically pruned hedges and espaliered trees. The tall, narrow pairs of mirror image curves remind me of that rigorously trimmed French greenery. Not my taste in gardens, but I like it in a quilt.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting