Last Friday night my husband and I attended the opening reception for a landscape art show called Against The Sky because my “Sunset On Main” was juried into the show. I was glad my piece overcame the attitude that a quilt can’t be art, though my piece was indeed the only fiber art in the show.
After I checked out all the other work in the show and had some lively conversations about my work, the show awards were announced by the show’s juror. He began with the honorable mentions, which I thought maybe I had a shot at. No joy there. Then third and second place works were announced and I thought it was enough to get into the show.
My jaw hit the floor when the juror awarded first place to “Sunset On Main.” There was some talk about how a craft can become art, but I was too stupified to take in all the speech.
Here are the few photos I took at the show. The crowd didn’t seem to be taking pictures, so I snuck in just a bit of smart phone photography.
As you can see, there was lots of photography in the show; I’d say about half of the 69 works.
And what do I get as first place winner? – a certificate and a little sticker by my work. It’s a start.
For some months I’ve been preoccupied with my canal map project. I’m relieved to report that it’s done, hanging sleeve and all.
It was made for a map quilt challenge, and was supposed to be no larger than 20 by 20 inches. That didn’t happen as canals are long and skinny. My piece is more like 19 by 29 inches.
I tried to depict the story of the Ohio and Erie Canal over time through part of Summit County, Ohio, from the Cuyahoga-Summit County line to just north of downtown Akron. The canal was much longer, beginning at Lake Erie and continuing south to the Ohio River.
The blue embroidered line that runs the length of my quilt represents the Cuyahoga River, and the red line the canal. The short red lines mark the canal locks. The brown lines show the current roads in the area, one of the transportation systems that has superseded canals. They are also the quilting lines. The map at the top left outlines the area my map covers.
Continuing down the left side, a photo printed on silk organza shows a typical canal boat being hauled by horses. The period photo was taken near the Ira lock, for those of you familiar with the area.
The next photos on the left show a lock that remains today, and some of the devastation wrought by the 1913 flood that wiped out the canal for good. The picture was taken on North Howard Street in Akron, Ohio.
Continuing on the right side, the top photo shows a group posed outside the Mustill Store in Akron. It was a store and butcher shop that served the canal boats, and has been restored. The photo beneath the store shows boats lined up to enter a lock.
Many mills, such as the Moody and Thomas Mill in Pensinsula, Ohio, at lock 29, were developed to take advantage of the canal. The photograph I used was damaged, but shows a typical grist mill.
The final picture shows the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal for March 26, 1913. Akron was one of many Ohio cities flooded.
“When Akron’s east reservoir gave way, some thought it had been dynamited. Water roared over the gates of the canal locks to a depth of eight feet, making them impossible to open. Lock 1 in Akron held back 9 miles of water. Canal cities were warned by those on horseback to evacuate the area. John Henry Vance, a B.F. Goodrich engineer, used dynamite to blast open the lock gates. The water crushed gate after gate, ripping the clay lining off the banks of the canal, as it rushed north to Peninsula and Boston.” (http://akron.com/akron-ohio-entertainment-news.asp?aID=18840)
This quilt represents a lot of compromises as I tried to be historically accurate yet create an artistically pleasing work. The graphics gave me trouble as I searched for historic photos that were interesting, clear, and of high enough quality to survive being printed on fabric.
I tried to blend the photos with the background using embroidery, which also serves as part of the quilting. I would have preferred to arrange the photos close to the points where they were taken, but space constraints got in the way. I won’t bore you with my adventures printing on fabric.
Would I change things? Absolutely, but I have no plans to return to the canal except as a hiker. I suggest this site if you have a burning thirst for more information on individual canal locks.
A while ago I blogged about a silk piece based on a tissue paper design I made for use with organza. Because the design features stylized curves I thought the design had an art nouveau flavor, but the flamboyance of the finished work led me to call it Rococo.
I had the quilting done by Janice Kiser, a local longarm quilter who has an affinity for curves. Here are details of her quilting.
The batting is wool, which gives a 3D effect to the petals. Rococo finished at 30 by 35 inches, and has a faced edge.
I’m surprised at the amount of silk fabric I still have, so I need to design more projects for it. While I love its sheen, I find it a bit finicky and in need of backing before sewing with it.
Over the years I’ve built up a pile of pieces that just didn’t work even though I had finished them. When I cleaned out my drawers recently I applied the FAT (file, act, toss) guide to decide their fate. Some I pitched (i.e., put in the to be cut up drawer, ) some I just put back, and some I reworked.
Here’s the before and after for some of the revisions.
I toned down the red/orange/golds in the upper left with two layers of green tulle and did more quilting. I added more lines to the right side, and carried through a line in the upper middle. I think it’s improved, but not perfect.
Z Is For Zoom Before:
Z Is For Zoom After:
The colors on Z never photograph the way they are, though the first photo is truer. I decided to break up the long horizontal lines with rolled on fabric ink. I’m thinking of adding more hand stitching to emphasize the new lines, but can’t work out colors.
7 Years of Bad Luck Before:
7 Years of Bad Luck After:
I really went to town on changing this one as I found it unwieldy. First a dye bath, then stamping with fabric ink. Now I’m thinking of cutting off the top bit, or maybe cutting out an irregular circle and facing it.
Stupendous Stitching Before (and after):
I created this practice piece in the Craftsy course Stupendous Stitching back in 2012. It sat in the drawer since then, even though I bound it. I decided the shape bothered me so I shortened it by cutting off the top bit, and adding new binding on the cut edge. I like it better now.
I find it educational to figure out what’s wrong with a piece and try to improve it. Some pieces can’t be improved without redoing them; but many can be dyed, painted, printed on, and cut up. If the amendments don’t work, all I’m out is some time.
After I finished quilting “All Decked Out” I decided to try another way to sew on an edge facing. Most methods leave you with lumpy corners. However, Jean Wells gives a way to face your quilt in her book, “Journey to Inspired Art Quilting,” that keeps extra fabric out of the corners.
You sew together the ends of 2 to 3 inch strips to form a frame that you sew onto the edges of your quilt. The tricky part is getting the frame to match the dimensions exactly.
After you sew around the edges you turn back 1/4 inch on the loose part of the frame. To make this easier, you leave 1/4 inch unsewn on the strip joining seams. You then turn the facing, press the edge a lot, and hand sew the facing down.
As the picture above shows, I did a lot of quilting, which doesn’t show that much on the front.
For those of you who don’t remember this quilt, it’s one of two I created from squares of surface design experiments. The center is an embroidered paint stick rubbing of a glass salad plate. The salmon colored squares are sun prints from crocheted doilies. The blue with white swoops and dots I made in by screen printing with thickened dye. The multi-color sort of pink-purple squares are fabric created from scraps, cheesecloth, and stencil prints. The solid pinkish squares are hand dyed fabrics. The border is made from a Spoonflower printed photo of my deck, run through a filter and done as a mirror image. I did throw in some Marcia Derse fabric in four squares.
I quilted it with variegated 40 weight cotton thread, sort of following the curves of the swoops.
Despite my preoccupation with canals, I made a few non-related pieces in June and July. Both are improv based and on the small side.
The first is “Primary Directive,” which I showed before. It’s now quilted and faced.
The detail shot shows I quilted it mostly with straight lines, with a few zigzags thrown in.
Once I began sorting a long neglected bag of scraps culled at a workshop, I decided to go raw – raw edges that is. “Mining Copper” is the result. I layered fusible fleece onto muslin and sewed down strips and bits of fabric with machine decorative stitches. Then I sewed on some ribbons and mylar I had deformed with an iron and painted. Finally, I sewed and tied on zinc washers I had painted a while ago. The resulting color scheme led me to the name.
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.