Every few years I sign up for a workshop with a good teacher, knowing that it will bring something fresh to my art, and provide new inspiration. Last January I was thinking this would be one of those years, had found several potentially interesting workshop announcements, preparing to sign up once we started making travel plans to visit the offsprings in USA or, later in the year, go to Australia for a while to find a place to settle ourselves back there. The last workshop I took as a student was more than 7 years ago, so I was feeling overdue for such a treat. But of course the pandemic shot all that to pieces.
By way of compensation, I signed up for an online stitch course, The Stitch Club, organised by TextileArtist.org and am so glad I did. Great teachers roll out new online week-long and now 2-week workshops, supported by online video tutorials, inspirational links, Q&A sessions during and after the w/s, and members-only FB page for discussion. If you can’t actually be in a residential summer school or symposium workshop, this must be the next best thing. Obviously the teachers were briefed to prepare projects needing only simple tools and common materials that stitchers are likely to have at home or can easily get hold of in this pandemic. Many teachers are focusing on including recycled and salvaged textiles. This week’s course by Clarissa Callesen is very much based on those principles. this is one of the best so far, and is reminding me of some 3D forms I made decades ago, of which this one is perhaps the best of all:
Much of what is now termed mixed media technically fits into the concept of an ‘art quilt’ as defined by SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates: “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.” and indeed, a number of artists are now showing 3D work, though the logistics of touring exhibitions mostly precludes those 3D works. After years of quiltmaking, soft sculpture has retreated to the back of my mind, but Clarissa’s video reminded me of a very satisfying 3D moment in 1987: for a community project I produced a soft sculpture model of the famous Golden Eagle Nugget , which was found in 1931 near the mining town of Kalgoorlie in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia.
The Patchwork Pollies and the Goldfingers Embroiderers were invited to participate in a nationwide project to produce double sided quilts to form a large portiere exhibition at the entrance to the touring Australian Bicentennial Exhibition 88. As construction proceeded, our letter ‘H’ was formed by blocks of crazy patchwork, the embroidering of which enabled many people in the community to do a few stitches on work days held for that. For the reverse side we decided on a traditional quilt format of a medallion in the centre sourrounded by strips/rays of goldfields colours. Sewing those strips of fabric together in work days was another avenue for communityh involvement. It was suggested the medallion should feature something very central to the region. I don’t remember who suggested a nugget, but I certainly offered to make one somehow and agreed to free machine embroider some local motifs on the orange-brown goldfields soil of the nugget’s background. That nugget was to be added only after the quilt construction and quilting was all finished, and, typical me, despite having several months to produce that nugget, I really only tackled it about a week before it was due! By that time, we were preparing to leave town and relocate to the other side of the world, meaning our household goods including my fabrics and sewing machine would soon be all packed up 😮 Of course I’d been thinking about it, but with all the other things going on in my life, I’d serially procrastinated until, finally, with just a few days left before the deadline, I focused, sat down and made it. These photos were taken at the official handover the very day before we flew out of town.
So this morning I’m heading upstairs to select some materials and follow her suggestions of forms to start her assignment. I’ve already put the washing through and have absolutely nothing else scheduled for the rest of today!