Category Archives: Inspiration

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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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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Missing Gwen

Not many quilt artists span the quilting world from traditional to modern and minimalist in their work. Gwen Marston did. She took her cues from the traditional folk art quilts she studied, but breathed new life into the form.

Two weeks before her death I looked at her book, “A Common Thread,” that shows over 60 quilts Gwen made and selected for this volume. It contains few words, just photo after photo of quilts made from 1976 to 2015. Here are my favorites.

So playful with the exuberant center panel and curved borders, and then the sawtooth edge
Love the casual placement of the berry clusters and the idiosyncratic roundness of the wreaths.
Those pops of turquoise and the one orange dagger!
Utterly simple, in fabrics I don’t like, yet there’s such movement in the strings.
This quilt captures stillness, and the hand quilting is sophisticated in its simplicity.

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Filed under Books, Commentary, Inspiration

Fiberlicious

Every other year northeast Ohio is treated to a Focus: Fiber show, co-sponsored by the Textile Arts Alliance (TAA) and the Kent State University Museum. Since 2019 is an “on” year, I joined other art quilters on a tour of the museum’s latest show.

As always, the word fiber encompasses a wide array of materials, as the photos below show. Before I forget, let me mention the artists’ reception for the show will be next Thursday, March 21, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the museum.

The works above are made of conventional materials – yarn, thread, cloth, wire. Others in the show venture further afield to electric cords and metal. As always with unconventional materials, I’m left wondering if a work was chosen for its differentness or its artistic merit. You can judge for yourself if you catch this exhibit, which is up until July 28, 2019.

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Artistic Endeavors – Excellence in Fibers 2017

As a quilter I sometimes forget that the world of fiber encompasses much more than a three layer fabric sandwich. Fiber Art Network, a subscription organization for “artists, collectors, enthusiasts, and leaders in the fiber art and textiles community,” presented a juried exhibition called Excellence in Fibers 2017 that’s full of unexpected and intriguing ways to create fiber art. I don’t claim to understand it all, but I like seeing a variety of approaches.

Here are a few selections that caught my eye. I deliberately didn’t select pieces I could identify as quilts, though many are in the exhibition.

Betty Busby, Wing

Emily Jan, Apologue

Mariko Kusomoto, Garden Mosaic

Ruth Marchese, Space in Time

Annette Heully, Interconnected

The Fiber Art Network website also offers some videos and galleries of previous Excellence in Fibers shows.

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Artistic Endeavors – Art Forms of Nature

When I came across Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur plates published in 1904 I felt such an affinity for all the curves.

According to Wikipedia, Haeckel

was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and Protista.

Besides all that, he dabbled in philosophy, penning a work called “The Riddle of the Universe.” Only in that time period could such disciplines have co-existed in one person. But wait, there’s more. He was also an artist, producing 100 detailed sketches of animals and sea creatures that were translated from sketch to print by lithographer Adolf Giltsch and published in Kunstformen der Natur. The images influenced several artists associated with the Art Nouveau movement.

Haeckel is yet another distinguished person I’ve never heard of before, but he has been memorialized in place names. “In the United States, Mount Haeckel, a 13,418 ft (4,090 m) summit in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, overlooking the Evolution Basin, is named in his honour, as is another Mount Haeckel, a 2,941 m (9,649 ft) summit in New Zealand; and the asteroid 12323 Haeckel.” (Wikipedia)

Here are a few of his drawings that are a bit spikier. To me they resemble drawings of science fiction universes done by someone on hallucinogens.

 

 

 

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