Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Moth Buffet

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

So I finished my wool quilt, named it “Moth Buffet”, drafted up the brief statement needed, re-read all the directions one last time, and sent in my entry with fingers X.

Detail from front of “Moth Buffet”; bits of wool fabric and sliced up knitting samples were placed inside the triangles, rather than at the junction points.

One of the entry requirements is that what’s visible on each side of the quilt must be at least 60% wool. I was pretty sure that by making the hanging sleeve out of the black coat fabric (70% wool) ensures the back side complies, but to be quite certain I added a couple of ~15cm black patches to the larger red (50%wool) sections. It’s an unusual layout for me, I know – but remember, both black and red fabrics came from unpicking two old wool coats, and the back is patched together from the most useful of what I had left.

Reverse side of “Moth Buffet”, 2023, 81cm x 86cm

It was quite fun to do, and I felt a bit naughty to be chopping into knitted woollen fabric. In my first post on this project I considered the role of wool in my background and why the mentality of “… but I don’t work with wool” had to be conquered.

All these samples are natural coloured pure 100% Merino wool, produced here in UY.

When I was given those knitted samples, my first reaction was to unravel some of one and crochet or knit some elements to use on the work. However, my arthritic hands and lack of practice these last 30+ years soon made it obvious that approach would be needless torture. My needles these days are large hand sewing or machine ones, depending on the task at hand, and so I took a deep breath and cut into one knitted sample. The results were so exciting, the fabric unravelled beautifully, and there was no going back.

Unravelling this sample to knit, I abandoned that idea after just a few rows – but found the yarn easily separated out into 6 fine strands, and those turned out to be marvellous to stitch with.

Quilt National 23 Opens Today!

Friday, May 26th, 2023

The Quilt National 23 exhibition opens today, Friday 26th May, and although I will not be present at the opening, my quilt “Abstract Landscape Textures” will hang with some very good company there:

Abstract Landscape Textures 2021 95 x 190cm , 36” x 75”
There’s a lot of hand stitching but there was a pandemic on …
I used over half a reel of this gorgeous light gold metallic thread …

I offer all my fellow exhibitors congratulations of being selected for this important exhibition, and to whoever’s announced as the award winners – congratulations! I look forward to hearing who those people are, and seeing their works in the catalogue.

Virtual Slide Lecture – Influences and Timetracks

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

My regular readers will know that the most important ongoing influence in my art has been landscape, in various ways that have evolved over time.  I assembled this collage image for a pre-pandemic class on advanced freehand patchwork, and as an example of how ‘landscape’ provides inspiration for an art quilt, this one is perfect.  The Dairy Barn Athens OH chose the image to promote an online slide lecture I will present on June 29th.  For more information and registration, visit the Dairy Barn’s website “Timetracks-a-guide-to-exploring-influences” in their summer Quilt National Workshops series.

You could go back to the beginning of this blog early in 2005 and read all the way through from then to now, and you’d have some idea of how and why my art has developed the way it has… but you could also register for this presentation. This talk is an opportunity to present a survey of my art, and thank goodness I’ve always had a good photographic record taken of it: 🙂

Quoting from the Dairy Barn website: “Quilt National ‘23 exhibiting artist, Alison Schwabe, presents a slide lecture and Q&A, on the process of personal artistic development. Alison details how personal influences, combined with evolving techniques, can be developed into impactful themes for one’s own artwork. Landscape and geographic change have been the starting point of Alison’s creative practice for over five decades.

In addition to showing my own work with reference to particular inspirations and influences, the evening will be a learning opportunity, too: “In this lecture, participants will learn how to identify, observe and record their own sources of inspiration to translate into artworks. Alison will share specific fiber arts techniques, focusing on the importance of adaptation and exploration of materials, to best serve the chosen theme. The Q&A portion of this event will allow participants to get specific insights into the challenges and successes of long-lasting conceptual designs.

I look forward to sharing personal insights into how my life has influenced my art, and hope the that evening audience will include you.

Major Decision Points, 2

Sunday, April 30th, 2023

Photos taken over the past couple of days show rapid progress has been made since I just took a couple of key decisions. With these wool coat fabrics, I’ve never had the intention of binding, hemming or facing even with cotton, as any of them would be too clunky, and buttonholing too much of a ‘blanket’ cliche suggesting a connection I didn’t want viewers to focus on, in the same way as if I’d included belt loops, collars, pockets and buttonholes they would have made it clear this fabric had a previous life as a coat or jacket. I didn’t even want it to say ‘this had a previous life’ of any kind at all.

Somewhere along the way I decided to make what appeared to be moth damage as the edge finish for this work.

Left – the last few threads of the quilting mesh grid pattern to finish off and darn in. On the right – a bit of the motheaten treatment at one corner, and I’m loving it.

The main question now is whether to put a woolly element at each grid intersection, or to park some in the triangular shapes – and if so, every triangle, the ones sitting base down point up, or some random distribution?

The large stitch quilting is done with one of the strands of the knitting wool – they easily separated out, and are quite strong enough for the job.

I’ve done enough on this today and it seems a good idea to sleep on it; but whatever I decide to add will need to be placed before I attach the sleeve to the back. I also think I’ll put either some black squares or some knit patches on the back in places, too, to ensure the 60% minimum wool composition on both front and back is beyond question. The minimum perimeter measurement is 300cm, and the work exceeds that comfortably, so that’s OK.

Major Decision Points

Friday, April 28th, 2023

A lot of my work is improvisational, and I find I need to keep an eye open for that point, which might come up unexpectedly early, when it suddenly becomes clear that I’ve done enough – that I’ve completed all I wanted to convey with a work and it’s done, bar the finishing off. Quite unexpectedly the other day I realised that enough squares, 49, have been stitched, and although the grid was basted envisaging all 225 squares would be filled in, I think it’s more powerful to stop, hand quilt and edge it, not necessarily in that order.

Using neon green over the yellow green strips, and black over the dark green/blue strips increases the dimensionality.

There are other times when I need to stop thinking around the subject and just start!    Burdening my mind for days has been the fear of how the hand stitched triangular mesh I’ve had in mind for the front will look on the black/red back side of the quilt. I just haven’t been able to consider any other possibility than this particular mesh pattern, and realised that it needed to be stitched first before I place some bits of knitted samples that I’ve been playing around with. I’ll probably add some small red pieces, but I might audition metallic leather, too, as the work progresses.  But for various reasons to do with construction, I determined the stitched mesh grid needs to go into place first, and that’s what’s been bothering me. I’ve been mentally going round and round, over, under and through, because as you probably know, the quilting’s usually the last process before finishing off and adding the sleeve .

So this morning I stopped mentally dithering, threaded up a fresh needle with one of the wool threads and just started stitching – big, freehand stitched lines, across the front from side to side:

The two wool fabrics are thick enough to not need any batting, and I found that the stitches I’ve done hardly appear on the back after all – this is so different from working in cotton! In this photo, the back edge has been folded over onto the front – to show the stitches on each side. The tip of the needle is at one stitch on the red – they hardly show at all – but I may add a few little black bits to the red on the back and now feel much more free about all that, too.

What an interesting challenge this work has turned out to be.

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