Finishes in September

Amid a lot of local travel I managed to finish three serious quilts, including hanging sleeves. I don’t count pillows, table runners and the like as serious work, though they can take more time than I expect.

In order of completion, “Wayside Weeds” and “Nebula” preceded “Redlined.” I had to laugh at how different these three pieces are from each other. So much for developing a coherent voice. I’ll show them so you can see what I mean.

“Wayside Weeds” is based on prints I made using Thermofax screens. I constructed dividers with tubes of handpainted fabric attached to other painted/dyed fabric plus the last bit of McKenna Ryan fabric I had, and sewed the dividers between the printed sections. I had fun playing with different lengths.

“Redlined” is an abstract design I made based on a photograph of a sideboard. After I added the red fabric I decided it reminded me of a real estate map that showed redlined areas, the poorer neighborhoods where mortgages are considered risky and are difficult to obtain. I also used red thread in the quilting. It’s made with commercial fabric and finished with a single fold binding.

“Nebula” is a mashup of an art quilt group UFO challenge and scraps left over from theatrical costumes. I used photos of several nebula as inspiration. Thank you NASA. The black mottled background is from the challenge. Most of the sheer and sparkly bits are from costumes. I added some black sheers from my stash. All the fabric piece edges are raw. Many of the pieces are held in place with Misty Fuse with stitching on top. I sewed on a skewed border and faced it. In the right light it twinkles.

As for those other projects, I made a table runner from old left over blocks as a hostess gift for my husband to give to his landlady in Mexico. He’s in Puebla doing an intensive Spanish course. Luckily, the recent earthquake didn’t affect him.

While I still have tops to quilt, I’ve cleared out many of my incomplete projects. I anticipate a dearth of finishes for a few months as I work on a large (for me) piece that will use many of my blue and blue/green fabrics

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

10 responses to “Finishes in September

  1. It seems your comment on “developing a coherent voice” has touched us all! It is an idea I will spend time considering. This morning I stood in my dining room and looked at 3 very different quilts of mine. Two are hung on walls and one is thrown over the stair railing (waiting for binding.) Two more are hung in the living room and have little in common with the first 3. Still I think for someone who knows what I do, they are probably all recognizably mine.

    Does the maker need a coherent voice? Or does the object/work/art need one? If a quilt should have a story (regardless of who is able to hear or read it,) the story should have coherence, should make sense. hmm… more to think about…

    But I’d love to hear more from you, perhaps in another post, about “voice.” What do you think about it?

    • I’ll ponder artistic voice in a future post. Interesting distinction between the artistic voice of the maker and the work itself. I found recently that others can recognize my work quickly from a pile of 28 small pieces. I’ve been trundling around a trunk show of very small works (8×10″) made by SAQA members who live in Ohio. When I presented the show to my traditional guild, friends asked “did you make this one?” while holding one I had made. Your work is often recognizable because they’re medallions (duh) and because your color choices may start traditional, but usually have surprise twists that enhance the piece.

  2. I think your work displays technical virtuosity and a restless, curious passion to try out different approaches. Sometimes I think this idea of an artistic “voice” just leads to an artist almost plagiarizing themselves. What an interesting and compelling set of works!

    • I’ll have to add “restless, curious passion to try out different approaches” to my artist statement, when I get around to writing one. Yes, I do seem to have artistic ADD, in that I find it hard/boring to repeat something I’ve already done. I know some artists turn out 20 pieces with very minor changes, but I am always eager for the next new thing. Any series I’ve attempted usually founder at the fourth one. Artistic voice is as slippery as an eel to define

  3. Barbara

    These three pieces may not evince a clear voice but your work taken as a whole, definitely has a voice. There is a recognizable aesthetic in your choice and use of color, your preference for certain lines and angles, the moods you convey. I think the concept of voice can be misconstrued, it is not necessary that you work in series or explore one aspect to death but, I think, rather an outlook, I way of seeing the world and interpreting it in a consistent and cohesive manner.

  4. Jane

    I like each of your pieces, Joanna. I read your note about voice and took a walk to ponder it. I came back and saw TextileRanger’s comment. As I have continued my early journey in the art quilt world I have struggled with the idea of “voice” vs. getting caught in a trap of sameness or predictable results. I like the image as “conductor” better than my thoughts while walking this morning, that I don’t so much have a voice as I have the clamor of an entire orchestra warming up. Perhaps I could see my quilt results, so far, at least, as not so much discordant, as lacking coherence at first glance (listen) until I allow myself to hear the little voices that do, at some point, make a beautiful whole. Thanks as always for sharing and giving me something to think about.

    • You have much more philosophical thoughts on your walk than I do. To keep on with Gwen’s conductor analogy, the conductor, who’s in charge, seeks to interpret a musical work through blending all sections of the orchestra into a coherent whole, and to elicit the best performance possible from each player. And so does a maker of original quilts. To me the most important first step is to clarify what I want each piece to say or be (I distinguish between the two as I seldom make message quilts.) It’s taken me a while to realize the need for that in any serious piece. I also believe in messing around with no goal in mind in what I call sketches. Sometimes they evolve into something more, but more often they give me a chance to try something with low risk or to scratch an artistic itch.

  5. I like them all! Sometimes I think the concept of limiting your choices in order to achieve a recognizable voice is overrated. Famous singers sing all kinds of songs, and famous conductors lead others in playing all kinds of music. Maybe you are more of a “conductor” of various themes and techniques.

    • What a great rejoinder! As a friend said to me yesterday, it may be that if you’re making work to sell, you need to produce something that’s recognizably by X. Otherwise, make work that pleases you.

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