Category Archives: Art quilts

Artist As Quiltmaker Show

Last weekend I met up with other Ohio SAQA members in Oberlin, Ohio, to see Artist as Quiltmaker XVIII.  The show, hosted every two years by the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA,) presented a good overview of styles in art quilting.

FAVA’s banner promises it’s not your grandmother’s quilt show and the show delivers. Some of the pieces are exquisitely crafted and would please the most demanding of show judges. Others are more, er, experimental, in nature.

I noticed more use of digital images this year, usually highly edited and blended seamlessly with other elements.

Jill Kerttula’s “Boundless” combines an edited digital photo with various commercial fabrics, couching, slashing, and hand and machine quilting.

Anna Chupa’s “Pieces Petals Leaves and Eaves: Bellevue Park” blends layers of digital house photos with kaleidoscope like repeating images of some architectural features like windows. You could take it as a fireworks display above rows of houses.

Wen Redmond’s “Cormorant’s Perch” melds different interpretations of one photo with different fabrics.

Margaret Abramshe’s “Nan” is based on a photo of the artist’s mother taken in the late 1950s-early 1960s. After manipulation, the photo was digitally printed on whole cloth and painted with various media.

There were several abstract pieces, such as Gerry Spilka’s “Red Jive,” one of the larger pieces at 91 by 49 inches.

I don’t know whether to consider Liz Kuny’s “Troublemaker” as abstract or as an errant strip falling off an ironing board or shelf. As always, Kuny’s workmanship is impeccable.

“Two Quilts” by MJ Daines is just that, separated by about four feet. It took me a while to figure out how to view this work. They are meant to go with each other.

On a more whimsical note, Holly Cole’s “Warthog Memory” (detail) commemorates a troupe of warthogs that cut through the artist’s campsite in Africa. They are drawn on organza and layered over hand dyed fabric. The only quilting I could find was in the ditch stitching around the organza panel.

Susan Fletcher Conaway’s “I Felt A Connection” obviously references a traditional quilt block, but she chose to outline the block with string, raveled threads and strips from tee shirts, for the most part. A few of the diamonds are carefully hand appliqued. Most of the fabrics are cut up old textiles.

Maggie Dillon’s “Poppy Picnic” is based on a vintage image and uses batiks in a fabric collage. The technique appears popular in art quilting circles, and several teachers offer courses.

One final note about the show – the prices the artists placed on their work. They ranged from $450 to $14,000.

If you’re in the area and want to see the show you have until July 29. There’s lots more to see beyond what I’ve shown.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

A Map Quest

Here and there I’ve alluded to my long term project that involves research and planning. It’s the opposite of improv. I think it’s far enough along now I can share it, or at least what I’ve done so far.

An art quilt group I belong to set a map quilt as this year’s challenge, inspired by Valerie Goodwin’s book, “Art Quilt Maps.” I reviewed her book a few years ago. Our quilts are to be no larger than 20 by 20 inches, and no smaller than 12 by 12 inches. I’ve already broken that guideline as my piece is shaping up to be about 20 by 28 inches.

My subject is the Ohio and Erie Canal through Summit County, Ohio. Why? Because the current Towpath Trail that I walk on every week follows the canal’s towpath. Here’s a subway map type rendering of the trail.

The canal was constructed in 1827. Canal building fever struck New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states in the early 1800s as a way to open up the region for trade. The Ohio and Erie Canal was part of a system of connected canals to link the Ohio River with Lake Erie ports. A disastrous flood in 1913 finished off the canal. It had long before been superseded by railroads, but was still used for transporting coal.

I began my project with a map of the towpath and Cuyahoga River, mottled green fabrics and a piece of crinoline. I sewed the green fabrics together for my base on the crinoline, and traced the towpath and river onto separate light green fabric. I dabbed green paint onto that fabric to make it look more like a topographic map. My plan is to embroider over the lines and possibly do some embroidery on the edges to integrate this large piece with the base.

Next, I searched out historic photos of the canal. Luckily the Summit Memory Project and the wonders of Google Images provided some.  As with many historic photos, some have damaged areas, and some were digitized at a very small size – about 1.5 by 3 inches. The photographic skill levels were casual, at best. I persevered and came up with some that showed the canal in operation, stores and businesses along the canal, and the 1913 flood. I also took photos of display maps at the Mustill Store in Akron, and explored the Cascade Locks.

Once I ran the photos through PhotoShop Elements to adjust size and clarity, I had to print them on fabric. I decided to go with black and white as almost all were that way to begin with. The hard part was choosing how to print them. I ended up buying silk organza sheets and inkjet transfer paper.  The organza printed well and will allow me to get a soft translucent quality. The transfer paper, which I chose because I didn’t want a white fabric background, printed well, but I had problems with the heat setting. The paper backing didn’t peel off smoothly and I had to reprint some transfers. Also, the finish is very plastic-y and will be ruined if you put an iron near it. Your iron won’t be in good shape, either. But, I got the natural linen background I wanted.

I played with layout possibilities for months, beginning with paper copies of my photos. I want to show the canal’s history, but don’t want a school poster board effect. The layout has changed since this mockup that combines fabric and paper photos.

I will work with overlapping fabrics, transparent effects, and embroidery to make it more arty. I plan to have the quilting be the current road network in the map area, and am considering outlining parts of the photos with stitching. After looking at Valerie Goodwin’s latest art quilt maps, I yearn for the ability to laser cut fabric.

 

19 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

A Sense of Completion

I’ve gotten two pieces across the finish line in June and one is almost there. You’ve seen the two in various stages, but here’s the reveals.

“Sur La Table” features many bits of cloth I’ve messed around with over the years. It’s named for the two tablecloths that are the base for many of the squares. The greens are from a gradation dyeing I did, while the border is dyed linen. In fact, the only all commercial fabric in it is the Grunge I used for the flange and binding. The backing is a sheet someone gave me, with the hanging sleeve made from the hem of the sheet.

“Sunset on Main” is now mounted to a pre-stretched canvas, for better or worse. It’s ineligible for most quilt shows, but sometimes you just need to do things differently.

The third piece that sidled into being is “Primary Directive,” an improv work based on already sewn together bits. It needs a facing, which will probably wait until July. The stripey print is one of my fave fabrics – “Everglades” by Alexander Henry. A few years back you’d see this fabric used in at least one quilt at every show.

Aside from taking apart a quilt I’m not satisfied with, I now have no excuse not to work on my canal map quilt. I think I have a path forward, but I’ll see how the embroidery goes before I call it all over but the sewing.

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

A Landscape Experiment

Back in 2016 I used a phone to take this photo of a downtown Akron intersection, drew up a sketch from it, and then did nothing with it.

I resurrected the sketch when I saw an announcement for a juried local art show called Against The Sky. While I haven’t had luck getting into all media shows, I thought I’d make up my work and then decide whether to enter it.

Luckily I had bought the perfect piece of hand painted fabric for a sunset, which I combined with simplified outlines of the buildings in the photo. I adapted the technique Heather Dubreuil uses for her cityscapes. She outlines buildings and architectural details with black thread by drawing her design on a Sulky heat-away product. She uses the drawing to place fabrics underneath, fuses the fabrics, and then stitches the lines on the iron-away product over everything. She tears away the product after stitching.

Instead, I drew a line design, made freezer paper templates from the design to cut out fused fabric, fused the fabric on my background sky and pavement, and then traced the line design on the Sulky product (I had purchased a package at a quilt show) and stitched over it. Because my fabrics were dark, I used a dark gray thread.

Sketch as line drawing.

Freezer paper templates before cutting out.

Thread color trials. I went with the dark gray that’s on the bottom.

Start of stitching over Sulky product.

Despite the product instructions NOT to use a permanent marker, that’s what I ended up using as wash away markers wouldn’t leave a mark. I was able to tear away most of the plastic so there was little to remove with heat.

I may glue the quilted top to a pre-stretched canvas with black painted edges. Maybe that will make it more appealing to a juror.

Final (before edge finishing) on stretched canvas.

 

 

22 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

Pentimento

A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. (Wikipedia)

I have no idea how common it is for quilters to rework their quilts, but I decided to redo one abstract landscape mixed media piece I made in 2016. It’s made partly with fabric and partly with painted tissue paper coated with gel medium. There’s no batting; it’s quilted onto rayon/wool felt.

“Golden” was the last piece I made as part of my master class with Elizabeth Barton. Her comments were:  “Love the sense of light in this one too…but be careful dividing the picture plane in two….perhaps consider adding another section on the left?  it feels like it “drops off” a bit there.  I usually suggest cropping but this time I think a little more would be a better solution – and we’d have more!  the colors of the abstracted landscape are really beautiful…and  the textures..
actually when you get a little added on the left, you might consider cropping the top v.v. slightly….just so you get as much depth in the middle as possible.”

I began by attempting to create a new section for the left side, but found nothing that worked after about a week of frustration. Then, I thought I’d make the left side smaller by cutting off a chunk and adding it to the right side. I also added a strip of tissue paper fabric to give a crisp vertical line, and cut off about 3 inches from the top.

To finish it off I created a binding on three sides using Sue Bleiweiss’ almost no sew technique.

The results? I like it better than the original, but I wish I hadn’t cut off so much from the top. Oh well, too late now. That piece has become part of what I created from my unsuccessful attempts to make a new left side. It’s not quite done, but close I think.

 

13 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

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.

14 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Inspiration

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.

13 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects