Browsing with Pinterest

November 13th, 2018

Every day Pinterest emails pics of things it thinks I might like, but all this stuff barely involves humans, it’s just clever algorithms that work out from what you look at online what else you might like to see.  It’s often wrong or a bit wide of the mark, but when ‘they’ get it right, as today, it is wonderful.

Through Pinterest I discovered the work of Anna Santinello

Woven wire sculpture  (c) Anna Santinello

How exhilarating it must be to construct such a large sculpture from the inside out, having the organic shape curl around you as it goes.  Santinello says: “I represent life as comprised between two doors: birth and death. That is why my sculptures are broken off, with bodies seeming to crumble. Building, starting to destroy, to be and not to be, in our life we, like the blind, are unable to grasp its meaning if we lack any reference point.”  Hence the wonderful frayed edge, visible in many of her other sculptures and installations.

Untitled, woven copper and iron wire, 26 x 28 x 20cm.  (c) Anna Santinello.

Edges, or lack of them, can be very powerful points in a composition.

Santinello’s website contains a very thought provoking artist statement, bringing to mind things I see the same way – as in “It is the work leading you….. a final result slowly taking its shape in a complicated plot of matter, at the same time soft and so resistant. Coming out of the mere strength of my hands.”  The medium and technique enables a total change of scale without compromising any of her ideas:

Woven silver wire jewellery  (c) Anna Santinello

When you visit her website, and be sure to scroll down on every page, because on first visit to the jewellery page for example, I had no idea that by scrolling beyond the first line of images in a slide show, I would find collections of her jewellery grouped by year. When you look at all of them you’ll be struck as I was at the blend of light femininity in the symbols in her designs, but also the lacy textile like look of the woven wire.  It’s easy to forget these are not made of thread but of wire.  They appear to be lacy ‘textiles, and I’d love to handle some.

Woven silver wire neck piece 2004.  (c)Anna Santinello.

My thanks to Anna Santinello who granted permission to use her images in this post.

UFO Or Sample, Terminology Or State Of Mind?

November 6th, 2018

We’re  nearing the end of the year 2018, and though it’s a bit early to be thinking about the life-changing New Year Resolution just yet, another thing I tend to do as the Spring moves into Summer is a bit of tidying and a bit of chucking out, though really, if I’m honest it’s more like just moving stuff about a bit.  My summer clothes and winter clothes certainly do need to be swapped between cupboards, and any day now would be good.  But in the sewing room (I think it’s a bit pretentious to call it ‘my studio’) I tend to declutter my pin board and put away all samply-UFO things that I’ve really stopped ‘seeing’ and thinking about.

We artists all know some perfectly valid reasons why you can lose a sense of excitement over a project, and at such times the smartest thing mental health thing to do is call it a ‘Sample’ and put it wherever your samples go.  Mine go in a large opaque shopping bag.  I really don’t have many UFOs precisely because I do make samples to explore design or technique.  But once every few years, I jump right into a project, then have second thoughts.  At that time I decide the UFO is a ‘False Start’, and put that in the samples bag, too.

Now, if the UFO has become a rather advanced and possibly large project of fabric thread and you’re deciding to abandon it, I advise you be honest with yourself, suppress any guilt feelings, and select one of these options.  First, you could start referring to it as an ‘Ongoing Project’ as you put it aside for a while – but this does come with the implication that work has merely paused, not stopped.

If that is not true. or if it has been paused for so long that you know you have really abandoned it, you could consider cutting the UFO into dog-basket sized pieces, back each with some cosy flannel and edge with a machine sewn binding.  This is something useful for the family pets or gifts for your friends’ dogs.  Cats, too, like quilty mats, and you might find one of these useful in training a young cat where it is permitted to drape itself in your home and to help it develop a sense of its own special place.  (Key word ‘might’)  With a multiple UFO problem, you could make up a whole batch and donate them to your local animal rescue centre….getting rid of the UFOs and your guilt in one fell swoop.

Finally, I have heard of some makers cutting up their ‘false starts’ or advanced samples and using them in other, new, quilts.  I think that is an extreme and unsatisfactory solution, because the influence of the failed false start will always be there, enabling continued denial and showing that to some extent the sample/false start is controlling the maker.

Oh, and the pic above – just a snippet of a small sample of something which didn’t actually go further, as many samples don’t.




Browsing With Pinterest

November 4th, 2018

Lately I’ve noticed something that might have always been there, but now I’ve noticed it, it erks me a bit: when you click on an image to have a closer look, you get this message – ‘Tried this Pin? Add a photo to show how it went.’ and there’s a button to click to add your photo ‘of this pin.’  The message might just as well have said ‘Have a go at copying this and let us see how successful you were’.  Of course there are no instructions or list of materials, and all artists who display their work understand that imitation/copying does happen, and can often be regarded as the sincerest form of flattery.  But such actual encouragement to copy is a bit annoying.

Arcs in the Bungle Bungles series


This morning my eye was caught by a red and cream abstract work of the German multimedia artist Sati Zech on Pinterest.   There are many images of her art online, and I loved the way she repeats particular organic shapes, especially the arcs, quarter circles or approximations of, elongated arc-like shapes that I have often used myself.   I went to her website and found her to be a very gifted multimedia artist and teacher. Her own media include paper, fabric, plastic, paint and found objects – and probably anything else she sees that grabs her imagination.  There is a lot of information on her website, but the closest thing to artist statements are her master class workshop descriptions; from which it is clear her focus when teaching is the basics of design which the student can achieve using any medium and any technique –  sculpture, sewing, photography and accessing a wide range of materials.  How stimulating it would be to be in such a class.


Another Discovery

October 27th, 2018

 Mirage 1, 2005.    75 x 100cm                     Oscuro, 2002.   122cm  x 100cm.


These two small wall quilts date from early 2002.   Looking through archived images this morning I found the one on the right, and though I remembered it, and occasionally come across it in the deepest recesses of my storage area.  For a while I couldn’t remember what on earth I called it, but eventually I did, and I now believe the illustrated catalogue to be complete.  The key word is ‘believe’, leaving some wiggle room for another discovery.

Mirage 1 was really just a sample to see how fine I could go with a wavy line approach, and gently waving lines like these have characterised my technique ever since.  It’s no great art work, but a little piece I love and usually take to any technical workshop that includes freehand piecing.  I had just been inspired by the new appearance of very finely pieced works by well known Australian artist and friend, Margery Goodall, which has since become a signature element in her textile art.  The title reflects the shimmering quality of a mirage.

Oscuro also has little artistic merit, but is another piece I needed to make.  The arcs of colour which began appearing in my work several years before seemed appropriate for those unforgettable images of rolling, falling, clouds of smoke, ash, all manner of debris, that filled our minds following New York’s Twin Towers attack in 2001.  The barely visible machine quilted pattern is of same-colour grey arcs over the entire quilt.  Oscuro is spanish for dark.

A Long-Remembered Artwork

October 2nd, 2018

Over 10 years ago I took a workshop on the history and construction of the bojagi, traditional Korean wrapping cloths, with the popular teacher Chungie Lee.  Being ‘blocks’ oriented, I really took an interest in the traditional assembly techniques used for bojagi; and indeed a great deal of the workshop time was spent on them.  In recent times these textiles have enjoyed a lot of attention, as artists either duplicate them and use them as they were meant to be used, as wall art or some great backlit installations

In a fairly recent post, I mused over the difficulties of hanging sheer works, Still holding some reservations there.  Referring to one of the works I made following that workshop, I realised the whole thing was technically far more complicated than it needed to be.  I don’t know that I’ll make any more 100% sheer quilts, but I like the use of sheer overlays and the effects that are possible.

Today I’ve worked with sheer black over solid black, trapping bright coloured ribbons I bought several years ago in an exotic place and couldn’t work out what the heck to do with them when I got home – a common experience to foreign travelling fibre and textile enthusiasts.   Those ribbons have been on my mind for a while, and a dramatic art quilt I saw about 30 years ago in Denver gallery, (no photo or catalogue) has never left my mind, becoming in one way the inspirational touchpoint for this small experimental work.



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