Some Pigs

I wanted to share some of the Year of the Pig creations made by members of my art group. Our individual styles shine through clearly.

Cindy’s work shows off her eclectic large fabric collection in her hole in the barn work. She added nails in the barn siding with silver paint. As always, she put a skull into the piece.

Charlotte took inspiration from central American designs for her hand embroidered pig. She’s getting back to hand work, and said she enjoyed making it.

Joan was inspired by the three little pigs and referenced the Chinese aspect of our challenge with chopsticks.

I call my finished piece “Some Pig” in honor of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. It’s attached to a black canvas with glue dots. I hope I don’t need to ever take it off.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Another Use For Silk

A member of my art quilt group clued me in to yet another way to use silk fabrics, especially men’s ties. She found a tutorial by Linda Heines, who uses neck ties to dye silk scarves. The key is to use all silk.

I had to try this technique as I had old ties and various silk scraps. Linda arranges her materials carefully to create attractive scarves. Since I wasn’t making scarves I got a bit experimental with my combinations.

The technique is easy. You layer your ties/scraps on a piece of silk, such as a scarf, and wrap it all around a dowel to make a tube. After securing the tube with string, rubber bands, etc., you remove the dowel and boil the tube in a big pot (not used for food) for 25 to 30 minutes. Linda adds vinegar to the water, but I tried boiling with and without it, and didn’t see any difference. Maybe it helps the silk retain the color.

After your bundle cools, unwrap it and see what you got. Here’s what I got.

For me the big advantage of this technique is I already have all the needed materials. Also, there’s no dye to rinse out. I rinsed all the fabrics once they were boiled and had little bleeding. The big disadvantage is it’s hard to control your results. If you’re willing to live with whatever you get, then you may enjoy trying it.

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Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Two Come Home, Another Goes Out

Forgive me if I treat my quilts as my children. I like to send them out into the world, to be viewed (and enjoyed I hope) by others. Last week “In The Clouds” came back to me after three years on tour with SAQA’s “Concrete & Grassland” exhibit.

“In The Clouds” is hanging on the far left at the Festival of Quilts in England.

In The Clouds

It traveled to China, Ireland, and England with the exhibit. It’s too bad I couldn’t go with it.

Another work that came home this week was “Sur La Table” which was in a regional art show. It was one of two fiber works in the show. The rest were paintings, prints, photographs and 3D works.

“Rococo” is the latest work I sent out. It will be exhibited at the Mid-Atlantic Festival of Quilts in Hampton, Virginia, from February 28 to March 3. I’ll have it back by mid-March, a mere month after I mailed it.

Why do I exhibit my work? If I spend lots of time designing, making and finishing a piece that I think turns out well I enjoy the ego boost (I’m being honest here) of having it chosen for public display. Many of my pieces I wouldn’t consider submitting. They’re too idiosyncratic, derivative, or off in some way. Of course, pieces I love others don’t; and pieces I shrug at others think are great. I’m still trying to get “Mean Streets” shown somewhere.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects, Exhibits

Immersive Art

The typical art museum or gallery experience involves walking the perimeter of a room, looking at 2D objects on the walls. Occasionally, there may be a 3D piece, placed so you can walk around it. But what if you were totally surrounded by and immersed in the art and had to wend a path through it?

In the past few months I’ve found a few such art works online. Some have videos that show how the installations were created. They gave a hint at what it must be like to experience the installations.

Talking Continents” by Jaume Plensa started me on this path. His upcoming exhibition at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, includes 19 stainless-steel orbs, each composed of die-cut letters and symbols from nine languages, which suspend from the ceiling to form bulging clouds topped with figures. The letters and symbols are arranged in no particular order for symbolic reasons.

Then I found Antony Gormley’s “Domain Field.” This multi-piece work consists of 287 sculptures in its total form. Volunteers aged from two to eighty-five years were molded in plaster by teams of specially trained staff. These molds were then used to construct the individual sculptures by welding the steel elements together inside each mold. Each piece was constructed from stainless steel bars in eight different lengths. Google Arts and Culture has a slide show of the work’s development.

In contrast to metal sculpture, red thread is the medium used by Japanese artist Chihara Shiota. Her 2018 London, England, exhibit, “Me Somewhere Else” filled a large room with crisscrossed strands of red yarn suspended from the ceiling, forming sacs and hanging strings that rise from a pair of feet. You can get a feel for the size of the installation in this video.

The video that accompanies Shiota’s work, “Uncertain Journey” shows a bit of the construction process, that takes many people and lots of warehouse type lifts. After the exhibit ends, the string is cut, and the artist says it now exists in the memories of people who saw it.

I have mixed feelings about such art, having been raised with the idea that “art belongs on a wall to be gazed at from a distance.” The only immersive installation I’ve been in was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, and even there you’re viewing the work from a fixed viewpoint. Perhaps outdoor sculpture gardens give such an immersive effect. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation near Dumfries, Scotland, comes close to a controlled integration of garden and sculpture. Too bad it’s open only one day a year.

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Oink!

Many possible art quilt subjects have occurred to me, but none ever involved pigs. That gap has been remedied by a prompt from my art quilt group. Since 2019 is the Year of the Pig (or Boar) by Chinese tradition, our challenge is to feature one in a piece.

According to this website:

“Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite.

Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.”

While I don’t find pigs attractive creatures, I love the notion of pigs with wings, as in the derisory phrase “when pigs fly.” Of course I did an internet image search on flying pigs (freely available for use) and rediscovered the flying pigs outdoor sculpture at Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point Park. The sculptures commemorate the city’s history as Porkopolis and as a port. The pigs perch atop riverboat smokestacks. My husband was born in Cincinnati, so the deal was sealed.

I chose a photo of one pig, enlarged it, and traced it onto Pellon 830, a nonwoven material.

Since a flying pig is fantasy, I elected to use acid trip colors as I filled in my outline. In an alternate universe skies may be magenta purple and pigs may be golden orange with purple wings.

I originally planned to do fused applique, but then I considered how tedious it would be to cut out little shapes and stick them where I wanted them on a piece this small, 8.5 by 11 inches. Instead, Inktense pencils and Fabrico markers were easier and more fun. I added the gold ball because I thought my pig looked like it was ready to play volleyball, with its front trotters in the air.

I have two weeks to do the quilting and finishing touches before the reveal.

Linking up to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

In case you think quilt creation for me is all beer and skittles, I want to take you behind the curtain and share my latest humbling quilting experience. I haven’t done such a bad job in years. I’m embarrassed to reveal my ineptitude, but I want to make a clean breast of it. Maybe we can laugh about it, sometime.

In December I showed you “Deep Purple,” an improv created quilt top and asked your advice about how to finish it. The advice you sent was helpful, and I used it to complete the top.

Recently, I started to quilt this piece, and what began as an improv quilting design devolved into a royal mess. First, I decided to quilt edge to edge with purple thread, following some of the angled pieced lines. Then, when I saw all the intriguing shapes those lines created, I decided to quilt the shapes separately – in a different color thread.

The chartreuse thread I chose went well with the main non-purple color in my quilt, but I didn’t have as much of the thread as I thought. I placed an order for more, but it would take a week to arrive. So, I quilted only three rounds in each shape with chartreuse, and filled in the rest with my purple thread. Oh, I also decided to change the quilting direction to just parallel lines. The process of yanking the quilt through my sewing machine’s harp with each round was hard on my machine and my arms.

When I changed to parallel lines I decided to use my machine’s automatic tie-off feature so I wouldn’t have to hand knot and bury hundreds of thread ends. I’ve done this before and have gotten by with it. However, the purple thread I was using on the top and bottom stood out blindingly on the yellow-green backing fabric.

Because the shapes were so awkward, I had to start and stop my quilting lines however I could. I did switch to a lighter bobbin thread once I saw what was happening. The change helped a bit, but the thread barf balls still show up well. At this point I wasn’t open to ripping out and starting over.

Usually I steam press the daylights out of my tops to get them flat. However, “Deep Purple” has velveteen, which marks badly when steam pressed, so it was lightly pressed. Despite pinning, parts of the top were looser than others and the fabrics were different thicknesses, so the fabric scooched up along the bias lines I was quilting. The result was sheering and tiny pleats. I did redo some of the worst. Yes, I used a walking foot.

Right now this mess hangs over a banister, awaiting some sort of edge finish. Like me, it looks OK from a distance in dim lighting. Up close it’s another story.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

Why Didn’t I Think Of That

The gullibility of sophisticates in NYC never ceases to amaze me. The NY Times‘ Sunday Styles Section had a writeup about Naomi Mishkin, an artist and “budding fashion designer whose work frequently takes everyday objects and subverts them with a clever, feminist-skewed twist.” One of her pieces “took a traditional dress form and remodeled it after her own torso, complete with a slight paunch and sagging shoulders.” Gosh, it turns out my grandmother had art in her sewing room.

My favorite creations by Ms Miskin are a scarf made of fabric that looks like a cutting mat, and a white cotton shirt with an iron burn scorched on its front. That’s right, the shirt, called Bad Wife Shirt, is scorched with a vintage British iron. The limited edition shirt can be yours for a mere $180. That’s wrong on so many levels, starting with Bad Wife.

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