Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

UFO Or Sample, Terminology Or State Of Mind?

Tuesday, 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.

 

 

 

Do Art Quilts Belong in Quilt Shows?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

People love quilt shows, and flock to them whether in a regional agricultural show or a major city or state gallery.   No matter the source of inspiration or the pattern used, producing any quilt requires a certain amount of creativity and perspiration.  Despite the similarity of tools, many of the processes, and many of the raw materials used to produce all the different kinds of layered textiles, it’s a mistake to assess them as equals in every way.  Carrots and radishes, quilts and art quilts, yes they are alike, but different.

It’s over two decades since quilt show organisers began including art quilt sections in their events.  Years ago when I still belonged to a traditional quilt guild, as a known art quilt maker I felt it was important to participate by entering the guild’s annual show when for the first time it offered an art quilt section in the annual members’ quilt show.  A contemporary quiltmaking subgroup of the guild had formed a couple of years earlier, and there was enthusiastic interest in experimenting with techniques, materials and ideas beyond the range of traditional quiltmaking.  The entry form asked for the inspiration source for the quilt design – so I submitted a photo I’d taken of a ceiling in some caves nearby, and handed over my quilt, La Cueva (spanish for The Cave)  In quilt shows, the quilters expect and usually get some kind of technical comment back from judges, though this is not the case in art quilt exhibitions.  My quilt came back after the exhibition with a judge’s comment along the lines of  –   ‘The wavy lines are most distracting’.

La Cueva (The Cave)   1998         150cm x 130cm

Hmmm … the photo I took of the cave ceiling with roots and stalactites hanging down was the inspiration for the repeat units I combined to make the quilt.  That dismissive comment highlighted to me that the person chosen to judge the art quilts was not seeing these works as ‘originally designed art’ and really did not understand the difference between an art quilt and a functional bed or wall quilt from a traditional design or commercial pattern.

So the answer to my question is, no, I don’t think art quilts have a place in quilt shows.  Many textile artists differ with that view (for valid reasons to do with their own practice and marketing) but eventually it’s a personal choice about where to have your work seen, and sometimes a difficult decision.

Art Quilting In Uruguay

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

I’ll be speaking on this topic a couple of times over the next few weeks – in Colorado on monday 21st August, at the monthly meeting of the Front Range Contemporary Quilters, (a fabulous group I belonged to when we lived in CO) and to the delegates at the Ozquilt Conference dinner in Launceston Tasmania, on saturday September 9th.

I will be showing and commenting on work of talented Uruguayan mixed media textile artists such as Lilian Madfes who unfortunately does not have her own website.  However you can start here and search for other references to her online.   From an exhibition of Lilian’s work in 2011, this piece, about 75cm sq, really fits within the definition of an ‘art quilt’ – at least two layers of fabric or something that serves as a fabric, held together by stitching or something that functions as stitch.  Not here, but in the US, I have seen layers of fabric held together with stapling and even pinned with dresssmaking pins; in each case very pertinent to the theme of the work of art in which they were used.

 

Making Dots – Samples

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

During the last 2 years some of my works have had the added surface design element of painted dots. These were applied by hand, using a cut-off paintbrush, but it could easily have been a cut off green twig as used by various peoples who use dots as a signature element of their painted designs, including Aboriginal Australians.  However applied, no one has a lock hold on the use of dots, so I don’t feel there is a problem with my using them in this way around my own original design shapes.

Last time I was in the USA I was thrilled to find some plastic bottles with applicator tops that I really thought would revolutionise, ie streamline, my application of dots of paint on the designs in which I wanted to use them, and happily paid a few dollars for a set of 6.  As always when trying something new or different, I did a sample.  In the next photo, paint and cut-off brush are placed near the applicators containing thick and thin versions of gold paint, and the sample piece on which I used both paints.  The result on the 6″ square of black featuring pieced-in colours, and easily show that  (1) either I need a lot more practice using the applicator bottles, both thick and thin paints, or (2) I need to go back to using the sawn-off brush to apply paint such dots in future 🙂

In the past couple of weeks I have viewed s0me TextileArtist.org videos, with the following take-away points that I totally agree with.  To develop one’s vocabulary of textile art techniques, a would-be artist needs to focus on experimenting to discover possible variations, no matter how limited the range of  techniques or stitches that person knows.  Making samples to ‘see what happens’ is vitally important – this is one of my soapbox topics! 

The key person in  TextileArtist.org is Sue Stone, who studied with the legendary Constance Howard for several years, and that influence shows.  I feel it myself, as I count myself fortunate to have been in a 4-day workshop taught by this now deceased, legendary, British embroiderer, in the Outback Australian mining town of Mout Isa, where I lived at the time.  It was either 1979 or 1978, a long time ago.  How we came to get her to stop over for a few days on her round-Australia teaching tour, owes a lot to Ailsa Bray, the intrepid secretary of the local embroiderers’ group in that town at the time.  Having snagged the booking, Ailsa asked the tour organisers “When the flight arrives, how will we know which passenger she is?”  The answer, delivered with a slight chuckle was “She’ll be the only passenger with green hair.”…and so it proved to be!  Amazing for the times; but once we had been in her presence a few hours, we all forgot about the colour of her hair and found ourselves totally focused on all that his amazing woman could teach us.  Her influence stays with me still, absolutely.

Mexican Craftsmanship On Show

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Here in Montevideo one of my favourite museums is the Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indigena,  or Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art.

http://www.mapi.uy/informacion_de_interes.html     

It’s on Calle 25 Mayo in the Cuidad Vieja.  The permanent exhibitions are always fascinating and I always learn something new.  Definitely a must-visit if you’re coming here to Montevideo.

They also have exciting temporary/visiting exhibitions, and on at the moment until 4/4, with the possibility of extension – is a visiting exhibition of superb Mexican artisanship,  Grandes Maestros del Art Populare Mexicano,  which I enjoyed last week.  Just as in other parts of the world, hand crafted art is constantly under threat of extinction from mass produced stuff, and people are becoming less aware of the importance of traditional crafts. This project and touring exhibition is designed to help promote and preserve the traditions in danger of being lost to younger generations.

I have travelled a little in northern and central Mexico, and have a sister who for nearly 40 years has lived in the extreme south of New Mexico US.   That location has allowed a great deal of travel  across the border down the years, and given her opportunity she has never resisted to collect a large quantity of very fine examples of Mexican folk art.  Mexican ceramics, textiles, wordwork,  cut and textured tin, glassware and clothing are in use in and and decorate her genuine traditional adobe mud brick home in the Rio Grande Valley.  She would love this collection, and many of the pieces in this fantastic exhibition are of crafts and art that I  have met before.   But others were new to me – like this incredible candle wax sculptured altar

Mexican art 6 blog

approx 1m w x  90cm h which was displayed in a rather cold air-conditioned room for  obvious reasons!  (It was a pretty hot early march day)

 

Mexican art 1 blog

Mexican art 2 blog

This 2.5m x 2m hand embroidered cloth could be used on bed, wall or table.  I have a couple of huipils in this technique, plus some small mats and a table runner.

 

On one wall was hanging a group of different weavings, all in lovely colours and very skillful .  I show the edging of this shawl or scarf  for its featured fringing and feathers – quite beautiful.

Mexican art 3 blog

 

Embossed and cut metal sheeting is used a lot  for frames  and light fittings, and this one around a mirror is superb:

Mexican art 4 blog

 

From Oaxaca comes  wonderful hand painted wooden items particularly animals birds insect and fish, of which these are the largest examples I’ve seen.  We have some nice pieces at home in Australia, too, but they are much smaller.  The spotted cat-like creature, jaguar perhaps, is about 80cm long x 35cm high.

Mexican art 5 blog

 

 

The beautiful ceramic candelabra itself is perhaps 60cm tall and the candles add another 20cm approx.  Talk about intricate, delicate and downright fragile – heavens’ knows what the bill for packing and transporting this stuff was!!

Mexican art 7  blog

 

And, finally, some Day of The Dead ceramic figurines at a funeral …

Mexican art 8  blog

 

Apart from my delight at seeing this beautifully hand crafted art work and so much of it – 600 pieces – the wonderful thing about the exhibition is that it is here in Montevideo.  If you’re coming soon, or live here, take an hour or  two to enjoy it:  http://www.mapi.uy/informacion_de_interes.html

 

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