Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Planning -My Way

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Quilters talk a lot about how they plan – and planning comes in different styles and levels of intensity, if that’s a phrase I can use here.  Many now use computer programs that manipulate photos,  draw lines and shapes, insert colour or fabrics,  putting together images to produce prints on fabric via home printers or printers in the university departments where they study/work  then do more processes (print, paint, machine and hand stitch, applique, cutting  holes, whatever) on top of that.  Others draw up large cartoons, cut each piece out and use these as patterns for areas in the piece they’re working on – an ancient, low tech, but tried and true way of developing a design.   Some keep photos, drawings, writings  and quotations all organised together in a visial diary, and I’ve seen some incredible albums that are themselves works of art.    And plenty of others keep little bits of paper floating around, backs of envelopes, paper serviettes, or tiny notebooks that tuck into their purses alongside the little digital camera.    This is more me – I always have at least a pencil and a scrap of paper if not an actual note book or camera with me.  Photos I download regularly, but the bits of paper… well, sometimes they turn up months later in a pocket or handbag I haven’t used in a while. 

Many years ago after recognising this weak link in the ideas chain, my son gave me for christmas or my birthday – they’re the same week – a fabric covered blank paged book about A4 size, urging me to keep my design ideas in it.  I have fairly consistently done so and now  it’s about 2/3 used, always in pencil so I can erase if necessary, which I don’t often do, as I think ideas should stand even if they aren’t quite ‘right’ in their form.  Occasionally I look back, finding the original ideas that led to particular quilts that sometimes I didn’t visualise as such at the time; so for example for each time I have been in Quilt National I can find the germs of those ideas there though the quilt doesn’t look like the original pencil ‘sketch’.   There are ideas I didn’t use at the time I noted them, but what I have diagrammed and written is enough to build on later.   Sometimes I go back and write a note on a page/diagram like “this led to Mission Beach , april 1995”   

Anyway, I thought I’d share something of the early design process as I know it, with these  two unrelated pages being fairly typical:

Hmm - it's been a while - this page goes back over 4 years.... and perhaps I didn't make quite enough notation to help me remember what the heck I was thinking about when I made these jottings! However, I did do them and one small piece did come from part of this page, and I think there are interesting ideas whether they bring back what was originally on my mind, or not! They're sort of short hand I understand. Diagrams and lists.

This work doesn't actually exist, but the notes are part of the shorthand about a lot of my recent work. My textile art is often designed on a grid base - that structure common to tradtional and non-traditional quiltanking, the zone if you like that I like to explore. My materieals are often anything but traditional - for example the Tracks series.

In another post some time I’ll relate a couple of diagrams to actual works, such as “Ora Banda” and “Mission Beach”  I’ll posssibly even show you the one wonderful drawing that I just cannot work out how on earth to put together!  I’m pretty good with piecing, even if I do say so myself – a line in my design book  is a seam waiting to happen – but this one has defeated me.  Stay tuned.

Leather Factory Visit

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008


A couple of days ago my friend Virginia arranged for us to go and visit a leather processing factory managed by someone she knows. Over the phone the employee she liaised with there was really fairly convinced that there would be little of interest there for me, as the leather they produce is all ‘very thick’ and she felt I’d not be wanting any of it.

As Virginia passed this back to me, I could tell she felt that could be so, too, and I had to remind her that well as she thinks she knows me, and thinks she knows my work, she really could not interpret what I’d find ‘interesting’. When browsing in a shop or a market, and asked what I am looking for, my answer is generally a polite form of “I’ll know it when I see it”. Sometimes there is a particular thing in my mind’s eye, but so often a material sparks an idea, and so it proved this time.

One of several the company, Zenda, operates in different countries, this factory is on the northern outskirts of Montevideo. http://www.zendaleather.com/ As modern as tomorrow, it’s huge. Which is hardly suprising considering the huge amount of beef that is raised here for local and export markets. As the animals graze on natural pastures and are gently moved around by men on horseback (gauchos) in a relaxed unhurried fashion, it is hardly suprising that it is oh-so-tender, and full of real flavour. Everyone who comes here remarks on the meat, and although prices are rising like everywhere else, the market price is controlled and so meat is reasonably affordable. And the very top cuts are still priced far lower than the equivalent cuts in Aus or USA markets.

The admin section was really like visiting a modern upscale mall, with a clearly architect designed interior of modern materials, soft neutral colours, sand blasted glass partitions, brushed metals and leather of course. The reception area, meeting and conference rooms featured some large paintings of one of our favourite local artists, Donner, on the walls. It is all so drop dead modern and gorgeous I could live there. I’d love to have taken snaps but didn’t like to as we swept through to the lower floor of the processing plant itself.

There, racks and racks, holding thousands of hides in various stages of processing were set out through a huge area, which was well lit, with exhaust fans operating everywhere over the processing areas, and barely a speck of dust on the floor. Very organised, efficient and orderly. We went over to a spot where there were many different hides folded and stacked showing a variety of colours and finishes, including some interesting stamped textures that really looked like the reptile skins they weren’t. Several there caught my imagination and so I bought these two whole hides, they don’t do offcuts – the usual order from furniture or clothing manufactures is multiples of 100 hides. The company even offers a cutting and sewing service to a client’s requirements, presumably as long as you’re talking grand scale – airplane seats for example.

The upper leather pictured has a bronze metallic finish, and of course, is right up my street emotionally speaking. A coat out of it would be fabulous! but I will use it in my art.
The lower piece reminded me of crazed ceramic, and is clearly the result of some chemical treatment which stopped just short of one leg corner, so I have shown the edge of that to give you a bit more of an idea: the pewtery metallic finish is intriguing. This is very inspiring, and I know there will be somewhere I will even use just this edge, too, although it’s only about 20cm long. I’ll blog with pics when I start to use it.

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