Category Archives: Art quilts

Artistic Endeavors – Interpretive Maps

Lately I’ve been exploring maps as artistic interpretations of a place or idea because a group I belong to has a map quilt challenge this year. My thinking, which was running along prosaic geographic paths, was transformed by Diane Savona’s map creations. She says,”[Maps] can also teach history. They can be used to hold stories and feelings about a place.”

One of Savona’s earliest map works was Hometown Perceptions.

“A young man told me that he is afraid to go into neighboring Paterson, which has a mostly African-American population. I’m a middle-aged woman, and feel no such danger. This map explores our subconscious feelings and prejudices, the perceptions we develop about our homes and our neighbors. Most of the materials were obtained at local garage sales.”

Static 1 was Savona’s response to a trip to India.

“In ancient castles in India, royal women could only view the outside world through carved stone grills called jali. While traveling through India in an enormous white bus, I felt that I was also getting a very limited view of this amazing country. Returning home, I printed a pattern using images of tour bus windows. This cloth was set over wool, cut into and sewn to create a textile jali over images of India, printed on cloth.”

In Hurricane New Orleans Savona used locks and keys, the symbols of a secure dwelling.

“Based on a map of the Chalmette section of New Orleans. There are actual keys embedded under the cloth. Other sections have discharged images of keys and locks.”

Finally, Savona’s response to the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

“During a month in Hiroshima, I spent many days ‘beachcombing’ the river edges at low tide. I found ceramic shards, electronic bits…and glass fused by the blast 70 years ago. ( I checked with the museum: it is permissible to take these items). This map shows a section of the city nearest to the blast epicenter, with the rivers forming long black verticals, crossed by connecting white bridges.”

I hope you look at Savona’s other work as well. I’ve just started reading her blog, where she talks about her processes. Talk about thinking outside the box.

For more creative, often non-fabric, maps check out cARTography.

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Effervescence

The last of my bullseye quilts is now complete, and I like to think it’s the best of the bunch. If nothing else, it had the longest maturation time of any.

Here’s the final Bullseye Bubbles (25.5 by 33.5 inches.)

Once the green organza additions began, I felt the need for more bubbles, this time in purple, and spent much time rearranging all those shapes.

After I had them all fused down I worked on a quilting design. I printed a photo of my top in B&W and put a clear page divider over it. Then, I used a dry erase marker to try out quilting designs. Talk about high tech!

Did I make changes? You bet. I needed more bubbles, so I quilted them after I had finished the swirly bits. Are they lovely, round, even bubbles? No, not even close. But that didn’t stop me from adding more.

I’m over bullseyes for a while, but I’ve learned never to say never.

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Artistic Endeavors – Protest in Art

Art has been used for many ends, including social criticism.  Honore Daumier, George Grosz, Francesco Goya and William Hogarth are a few of the well known artists who addressed their times through their art.  Graphic Witness, a website devoted to social commentary through graphic imagery from about 1900 on, has some lesser known examples.

Council of War – Daumier

Pillars of Society George Grosz

In these politically fraught and divided times even quilters are using their medium for social comment. The protest quilts exhibited at the recent QuiltCon as I understand it, weren’t part of an organized exhibit, but reflected the views of their individual makers. These quilts addressed women’s rights, guns, incarceration, racism, police brutality, and many other flash point issues.

I have mixed feelings about such quilts in that I look for artistic qualities in how the message is conveyed. Some are heartfelt but I don’t think they’re aesthetically pleasing. I am indeed a snob. Here are a few I felt were effective in combining art and message.

Jessica Wohl White America

Liz Havartine She Was Warned

Juli Smith B4U

Karen Maple Black, Brown and White in Orange

Miriam Coffey The F Word

For a more traditional approach to a social commentary quilt, check out what Love Those Hands At Home is making. And bear in mind that not all social commentary quilts are social protests.

Lucinda Ward Honstain The Reconciliation Quilt (1867)

 

 

 

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The Denim (And Other Old Stuff) Challenge

One of the good (and bad) aspects of art quilt groups is their love of challenges. It’s good to have a starting point for a piece, but I find it can distract me from more long term work. If I have a choice between analyzing and fixing what went wrong on an existing piece and plunging into a new piece, guess which I pick.

At first I wasn’t going to join a recent challenge to use denim and/or old shirts in a piece. I had already used my husband’s shirts (with his permission) to make Shirtsleeves, and I didn’t have any all cotton old jeans.

Then, my husband asked if I could use a pair of his old jeans and a shirt. It was kismet, so I began my challenge piece under the influence of Rayna Gillman’s latest book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.

I saw that I didn’t have enough denim, but did have damask tablecloths and napkins I had dyed shades of blue.  More kismet. I decided on 6 inch squares as my background, and fused lightweight interfacing to the damask before I cut it. If you don’t stabilize it, the damask will stretch out of shape.

I loved how the denim look changed depending on which side I put up.

Next, I began to slash the squares diagonally and sew strips onto the larger piece. At this point I decided to finish each square with the smaller piece I had cut off. I liked how it made the center small diamonds see-through.

Rayna’s version fills the centers with color, but I thought more color might be too distracting for mine as the background was already different colors. I think my version looks quite different, which shows how versatile some loose guidelines can be for improv work.

The top is done, named (Damask and Denim,) and just needs quilting inspiration.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

The Thread From H-E-Double-L

My nemesis was lurking in my threads box waiting for the day I would need a glittery silver thread.  That day arrived when I chose a galaxy for a Chinese Year of the Dog quilt challenge. I’ve never owned a dog so I don’t have a burning desire to capture my fur person in fabric. I’m OK with dogs, but don’t turn to mush over them.

Instead, I decided to do an outline of the Canus Major constellation, which contains Sirius, the dog star.  I FMQed glittery synthetic black organza to a piece of navy cotton, and then outlined the constellation using my mother’s tracing wheel and paper.

The constellation of Canis Major and nearby open clusters and nebulas.

My problems began at this point. I wanted to use a silver metallic thread over the outline, but had only a Sulky thread called Holoshimmer in the right color. Since I didn’t see this challenge piece as a work of art I had no intention of buying additional supplies. Holoshimmer it was.

Even after following the helpful hints on the Sulky website I had issues with the thread. I was using a jeans stitch to outline the constellation and that went OK except for one thread wrap-around that broke the thread. The real issues started with the zigzag edge stitching. Despite the vertical thread stand, stitching slowly, and 50 weight bobbin thread; the Holoshimmer insisted on wrapping itself around all the openings on my machine, causing the thread to break many times. I finally ended up hand feeding it through my tension discs to remove tangles. Never have I been so glad to see the starting point of a stitch line. The spool of thread is now in the trash.

Everything after that was anticlimactic. I sorted through my Swarovski crystals to find appropriate colors and sizes. and glued them on for the stars in Canus Major. Because the piece is so small I made a backing for it out of a painting experiment. I found that my Decor bond had lost most of its adhesiveness. I didn’t think it was that old. My mother’s tracing paper from the 1960s held up much better.

Finally, I stitched the black part to the backing at the corners. My plan to sew on some fabric stars was thwarted when I couldn’t find them. I know they’re in my sewing room … somewhere.

At this point I declared “Siriusly” done.

 

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First Finishes of 2018

Frigid temperatures have discouraged me from gadding about, so I’ve been busy in my work room and have two finishes to show for it. You’ve seen them before in their unfinished states, but I trust they are now done, or done enough to suit me.

“Not Quite Nancy” is the last of my Nancy series. It took a lot of time to quilt as I decided to do crossed curving lines a half inch apart. Never again.

I decided I like it best with a horizontal orientation. It’s not my favorite of the series even though its boldness is in my wheelhouse.

Another series carryover from 2017 is “Bloodshot Bullseyes,” one of my three responses to an Ohio SAQA challenge. I created eight curved piecing quarter squares with scraps and sewed them to felt.

The ribbon on the sides has been lurking in my trims box for a few years, so I was delighted to put it to work. I also did a bit of beading in the bullseye centers. Beading is right up there with dainty embroidery in my most disliked embellishments list. That is, I dislike doing them. When other people do them well they’re lovely.

I have at least two more tops to quilt (more of the bullseye series) before I can really dig into new work. In the meantime I’ll be working to improve my photography skills or at least my equipment. I’m waiting on the lights now.

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Target Practice

The Ohio chapter of SAQA was inspired by the exhibit, “Circular Abstractions,” to start a bullseye quilt challenge.  I poked around to see if I could find anything about the history of the bullseye block, but have come up empty.

See the source image

Not to worry. I think you’ll get the idea without any words.

The chapter is holding online meetings to discuss approaches and even an in-person sewing afternoon to work on our projects.

I decided to build some bulleyes first and worry about their placement later. A rummage through my scraps piles gave me enough material for two different approaches.

One is based on Jane LaFazio’s Recycled Circles, a method featured in “Cloth Paper Scissors” magazine [March 2009 issue].

With this technique you machine quilt a 12 inch quilt sandwich, cut it in quarters, and then fuse on scrappy curves. The idea is to make each quarter unique. You machine or hand stitch the fused curves down, and add as many embellishments as you like. You can zigzag sew the quarters together or treat them however you like. I chose to keep spaces between the quarters.

The machined stitched part of Bloodshot Bullseyes is done and I’m starting a lot of hand stitching. The quarter squares are zigzag stitched to red felt, and each fabric arc is sewn down with decorative machine stitches.

For my second approach I constructed crazy pieced pentagons with light and dark rings. Most feature blue and blue/green fabrics as I seem to have lots of those colors in my scraps. The shapes are angular rather than rounded, but I think they convey the idea of a bullseye.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I had enough pentagons (and a few hexagons) to create two pieces. My attempts to put them all into one looked  too cluttered. Rather than piece the pentagons to the background, I decided to machine sew each down to  the background fabric. I’ll cut out the fabric behind them to reduce bulk. That’s happened already with the composition below.

My second crazy bulleye is still in flux.

I predict the final version will look different than this. Already I’m contemplating sheer overlays and playing with shape placement. I’m thinking of quilting pentagons with heavy thread to continue the theme.  Unless I radically change my plan, each pentagon piece should finish around 30 by 36 inches.

Both approaches have given me lots of quality time with my scraps collection, and a chance to feel virtuous as I use some of it up.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process