Segmented Designs

May 4th, 2016

Three years ago in the Denver Botanic Gardens I took this pic of this lovely path in one part of the garden, printed it out and have had it up on my pinboard on and off for ages, feeling I had ‘to do something’ about it.

mosaic path DBG blog

Mosaic style pathway, Denver Botanic Gardens.

More recently I’ve discovered fabulous installation hangings by Christine Mauersperger whose simple stitch designs I’ve always loved, and buzzing around somewhere in the depths for several years has been some of the work by Olga de Amaral one of whose beautiful hangings stopped me in my tracks in the foyer of the Hotel Santa Clara, Cartagena, Colombia.

On the weekend I found some bits of metallic finished leather that were surplus to several pieces I made in the Tracks series.  Well, I ‘found’ them when the biodegraded bag they were in fell to bits in my hands and they cascaded to the floor.  In the Tracks quilts, leather pieces were laboriously hand stitched from behind to the base fabric, which was then quilted.  It was hard on the hands and won’t do anything more that way.  For some reason just then a lightbulb came on – leather snipped into bits and machined onto base fabric could make a mosaic-like surface.

Mosaic quilt blog

12″ quilt for SAQA Online Auction September 2016.       Full view left, detail right.

Heartened by a quick sample below, R,  I did a 12″ square piece for the SAQA Auction – above, full view L and detail R.

While working on that I had other ideas, and today fiddled a bit with slivers of mylar-backed ripstop nylon- left side of this pic –

Mosaic samples blog

Samples – mylar/nylon left,   metallic leather right

I bought several metres of this mylar/nylon, about 150cm wide, @$2/m, in the cheapo fabric zone of Santiago de Chile, several years ago, mainly because I can’t resist glitter and would have bought gold, too, if they’d had it, and also I guess because it was a cheap challenge.  The piece I have in mind will make a slight dent in it, and I could also use the mylar as a base fabric…goodness, I’ll have that stuff used up in no time!

An Eye Catching Fence

April 24th, 2016

Returning from the annual Anzac Day observance this morning, we drove along Mar Antarctico, Punta Gorda, a street we haven’t taken for many years.  Looking lovely and lush (its been raining  off and mostly on for the last ten days) with many trees showing autumn colours, we took our time and eventually parked near a property wall I’d never noticed before.

pelicans punta gorda bog

These fantastic pelicans really caught my eye. So much nicer and more elegant than the lions people tend to have on fences and beside entrances.  As you can see in the photo, the garden behind that is pretty bushy and apart from not being able to see much though the foliage, a serious Alsatian dog inside the gate really discouraged us from trying to see more.  What little we could see looked very interesting; and if anyone knows who lives there I’d love to see inside sometime!  As we were returning to our parked car the security guy who patrols that block slowly rode by to check us out. Funnily enough as I returned to our front gate after walking the dog just now. a very respectable seeming, grandfatherly, fellow was outside looking up at the house next door.  Ours is the middle of a triplex –  so I stopped outside our gate and we got chatting for a few minutes about the architects and so on.  I told him I didn’t think any were for sale, but if he was really interested to contact our local real estate people or drop a note in the letterbox some time. Perhaps I should go back and do the same !

Browsing With Pinterest – Richard McVetis

April 20th, 2016

When you find an artist whose work you like in Pinterest, not only can you pin/collect that image, but you can then search online sources for further information in statements, blogs and other writings about that person, exploring their art in some depth as you might if visiting their exhibition in a gallery, or better still talking with them in person.  A few weeks ago, while browsing through someone’s mark making site, my eye was taken by an image of a single one of Richard McVetis textile cubes, 6cm x 6cm x 6cm.

richard mcvetis units of time 3

I don’t  know which little cube is which, but I can tell you that each is identified by the number of hours and minutes it took to make, as in  ’25:17 ‘, which I made up, not having a detailed title+image list to hand.  It’s an interesting way of naming/identifying things, and I wish I’d thought of it. Like all craftsmen, I’m sure Richard has often been confronted by this question from people looking his work (and I don’t think they can help it) They’ll open a conversation with ” So how long did that take to make?”  In my experience, whatever the answer, this is nearly always followed by some version of  “I don’t know where you find the patience….”   signifying some degree of awe from someone who hasn’t the skill (or thinks they haven’t) and can’t imagine planning and completing such a project themselves.

richard mcvetis units of time 1

I found Richard had done a bunch of these, covered with cream wool worked with really fine embroidery in black thread.  Through these cubes, collectively titled Units of Time , he explores the passage of time and works “to visualise and make time (,)sic  a tactile and tangible object.”  

richard mcvetis units of time 2

To get the obvious gee whizz technical details out of the way, Richard’s stitches are so fine that, whatever his age (I’m presuming mid 30’s) surely he must have really good, strong lighting focused onto his work.  I’ll bet he uses an Ott light or chest mounted magnifier, possibly needs reading glasses, and maybe all of the above.  There’s nothing fancy about his stitches – they’re plain and simple; the glorious straight stitch (as I call it) predominating, and together with seed stitch and french knots, these appear to form the bulk of what I have seen in his work.  In this group image, the stitching on the centre cube is breathtakingly fine seed stitches, possibly including a few tiny french knots – and the same texture appears to be here  I adore french knots clustered for texture, but I don’t think I’ll ever again refer to anything of mine as ‘encrusted’ with them.  Spattered, maybe.  

The fine black stitchery on white works like a fine marker pen ‘drawing’ onto paper, imbuing his work with a very graphic quality. Richard expands on the significance of this cream background in an interview published on the blog of London’s Flow Gallery to introduce his recent exhibition there  (09/2016)   As you follow the links to commentary and statements about his work, you begin to understand the importance to Richard of the repetitive process of hand stitching, and the element of slight variation that comes from this process of endlessly repeated routine steps.  As every embroiderer knows, when you put your work down and return to resume stitching later, it takes a little while to get back into the same rhythm you had earlier – and the resulting slight differences may not be apparent until much later.

As I write, Richard is part way through an artist residency in Iceland,  and a few days ago his first journal post from this temporary location included photos and initial observations, and some insight into what he plans there.

Images supplied and reproduced courtesy Richard McVetis.
(“Units of Time”  won a Juror’s Award in the prestigious Craft Forms 2015 International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Crafts,  Wayne Art Center, PA,  01/2016)




Lines – Seams Just Waiting to Happen 2

April 5th, 2016


THE  most basic knitting stitch and probably the first one learned by everyone is garter stitch.

knitting garter stitch blog


lines garter st blog

In a recent post,  the first of several on this theme, I showed how the lines in a newspaper ad featuring  part of head and shoulders of a man wearing a heavy knitted sweater inspired one of my wall quilts.  Since I made Waterweave twenty years ago, I’ve had it lurking in the back of my mind that garter stitch is a wonderful pattern  of line and shape to explore,.  I can’t think why its taken so long, but perhaps I needed to make the Bungle Bungles quilts for this notion to move forward again.  So I’m going to take time today to play with this basic linear pattern and see where it might lead.

While posting this garter stitch diagram, I remembered my first art quilt, Ancient Expressions 1   I cropped this segment from what back in 1988 was an excellent quality 35mm slide image, so its a bit grainy.  I’ve always had my work photographed using a good photographer using the best technology available at the time, but the quilt sold from the 1989 exhibition “Expressions in Quilting ” so I’ve never been able to have it re-photographed in digital format.


Ancient Expressions 1 pattern detail blog

On the horizontal bands of AE 1, I used linear quilting patterns from drawings I found in  a book on the ancient Anasazi people of  America’s Southwest.  We lived in Denver for a yew years in the late ’80s, and came to know that region of the USA well, including the wonderful petroglyphic sites, ancient village ruins and some of the history of the now disappeared Anasazi people.  Almost without thinking I used characteristic patterns and imagery from the Southwest in that series of quilts,  just like everyone else did and still does.  Patterns developed in different cultures and regions of the world for are found on rock, ceramic, metal, wood, leather and fabric surfaces.  They have much in common, and we recognise them as man-made marks even if no one around today is absolutely sure of their significance.  But bearing in mind the issue of cultural misappropriation, today I might not make some of that series in quite the same way. Anyway, looking back over a couple of decades, I see that appealing arc shape repeatedly popping up in my work in various ways.

As I’ve said before – a line is a seam waiting to happen.

Browsing With Pinterest …Lanny Bergner

March 26th, 2016

This morning I was looking at an image Pinterest thought I might like, and instantly became an keen fan of very exciting North American mixed media artist, Lanny Bergner   ‘Mixed media’ barely covers what he does, though.

Using a wide repertoire of techniques common to many textile and fibre arts  – coiling, hand stitch, fraying, twisting, wrapping, gluing and knotting, to produce his works, Bergner employs bronze, brass, aluminum and stainless steel screening (meshes), wire, silicone, monofilament and glass frit (knowing nothing about glass I had to look up that word, frit)   Bergner’s work clearly falls within textile and fibre arts, but depend on an essential characteristic of these man-made materials – their inherent self supporting rigidity.

Working from organic life inspirations, and using just a few simple tools – metal snips, pliers and more recently a blowtorch – the artist is able to produce semi-sheer organic looking vessels and grid constructions that require no internal construction supports and layers.  It is exciting to me that many of the living things that have inspired Bergner’s art are fairly ephemeral or fragile, but despite using the harsh raw materials he does, he can still imbue his works with such fleeting, delicate organic qualities.

The results are beautiful, and hardly surprisingly words used about his art include ‘ethereal’ and ‘sheer’.  I have the impression of  light, almost diaphanous forms, and yet if I were privileged to handle a piece (and my fingers are itching) I’m sure I’d find it heavier than I expected – which is not to say ‘heavy’, but nowhere near so lightweight as silk organza or stiff tulle suggested by these images –

Lanny Bergner 3 Circling panels blog

Lanny Bergner, “Circling”  2010,   26″ x 82″ x 4″.  Bronze mesh, silicone, glass frit.


Lanny Bergner _blog Angular

Lanny Bergner  “Angular”  2011,   17″ x 20″ x 16″.  Bronze mesh, linen thread.


His bio contains this wonderful statement “My aim is to bring the natural/artificial and man/nature together into an assemblage of forms that appear to have grown into being. I love the natural world and am constantly inspired by its beauty and varieties of form. This, in combination with my fears, quirks and joys, results in work that celebrates the mystery and wonder of it all”.  Note to self,  I must work on a statement upgrade.

Images supplied courtesy Snyderman-Works Galleries Philadelphia PA



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