Posts Tagged ‘Gramado 2019’

Sweat Of The Sun,Tears Of The Moon

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

In the 80’s several friends tried to get me involved in quilting, but I resisted, saying I didn’t have time, which was true at that time – creative embroidery, stitch, was more important to me. I’d had attended several fabulous workshops by inspiring teachers, and was using stitch (hand and fme) with paint and found objects to express my interests in landscape. I was invited to have my first solo exhibition, Sunburnt Textures in 1987; and at the end of that year we relocated to USA for a while. Through a new neighbour, Carol, I finally met traditional American geometric patchwork, an intense affair that dominated a large part of my life for a couple of years. However, that ended amicably enough when I was introduced to improvisational piecing, IP, and I haven’t looked looked back since.

I still carry several enduring marks I’d call influences rather than scars, the most obvious being use of repeated units of surface decoration (traditional ‘blocks’) in an overall design of rows. Other artists who share my love of grids include a favourite, Agnes Martin, Guillermo Kitka, James Sienna, Sol Lewitt, Sean Scully and Chung-Im Kim, about whom I wrote http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=4419

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The first sample, on the left was a quick demo to show artist friend Lillian how easy IP is. Excited by this little sample, after she left I made a few more. However, a particular technique doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘a work of art’, and those samples sat on my wall for nearly a year. I gave them regular, thoughtful attention, but nothing clicked until after I’d watched the 2017 eclipse of the sun in Colorado.

Staying with our daughter Anna in Greeley CO at the time, in an area expecting to be in about 80% partial darkness, and with UNC classes cancelled for the day, the obvious thing to do was organise an eclipse party with fellow UNC grad students.

All food and drinks had sun-related labelling, and my personal favourite were the eclipse eggs. Later a pizza was served with a partial eclipse of black olives on a cheese background …

Even in the C21 in a modern civilisation, that silence of birds and animals which descends as light disappears or fades at the wrong time of day feels strange, eerie, truly awesome. To the ancients on all continents, eclipses of the sun and the moon, and the transit of comets and planets across the sky, and their regular appearances on different cycles, were mysterious and sometimes fearsome events, often a pretty handy tie-in to primitive religious beliefs. I remembered a TV documentary Sweat of The Sun,Tears Of The Moon seen 30+ years ago, and this brain activity led to my 125cm x 60cm diptych by that name. It will be at the 2019 Quilt Festival in Gramado Brasil in the masters(teachers) exhibition: because of course, that is where I will be teaching in 3 weeks’ time.

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Sweat Of The Sun, Tears Of The Moon diptych, 125cm x 60cm

Lines = Seams = Lines

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Interesting marks, lines and shapes are all around us. I find plenty of them inspirational, providing as they do ideas for my quilted textile art. To me, the patterns made by lines are more important than the colours I end up working with. Line and shape come first, followed by colour and texture, which I rank together.

The joining of pieces of fabric patches, along lines or seams makes patchwork. In the 90s I learned how to make patchwork freehand, and it has remained my favourite surface design technique. It’s not difficult, just a totally different way of working compared with traditional patchwork. It’s made without using pattern pieces or making measurements, though rulers and quilters’ shapes are optional – there are always options. Basically, you just cut and sew as you go, often one seam at a time, following the few technical guidelines to produce an individual design in a nice flat quilt top ready for quilting by hand or machine.

Working this way is known in the quilting world as improvisational quiltmaking, and is widely used today in art quilts and in Modern Quiltmaking, which has become a big thing in the last decade or so. Google improvisational patchwork, and you’ll find many examples. The Modern Quilt Movement attracts many improv makers, and that whole group of quilters work in light bright colours with lots of white or other pale neutrals, and heavily machine quilt their quilts.

However, the technique itself can be applied to whatever colours you love working with. It’s one of my pet aversions to see photos of a group of students from a class all holding up something the same thing as the person standing next to them; so for that reason I don’t provide fabric kits. I have students make their own fabric selections at home before coming to the workshop with fabrics they love. I suggest that about half a pillow case of fabrics is more than enough to work with in a one day 6 hour workshop, where much time can be better used if those fabric choices have been made before class.

I’ll be teaching two classes on this technique next month at the 22nd International Festival of Patchwork, Gramado, Brasil. Whether teaching this technique and its finer points to beginners or advanced students, my goal is always to show how they can use it to piece together their own pattern of lines they’ve found somewhere. Quite a number of my quilts will be there at the festival, on exhibition and as class samples. I’m sure some students will copy one of those patterns using their own fabrics, which is fine, because just by doing that they will be learning a great deal. But I’d like everyone to go away knowing that they can diagram up some simple lines for themselves, choose some fabrics, and start cutting and sewing to develop their own ideas.

Using a simple photo editing program on the computer, scan a shell, crop sections of the pattern, then play with colour ideas. Someone always says they can’t draw, but no one has to!

Quiet But Busy

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Here is this year’s 12″ donation quilt for the annual SAQA Benefit Auction , in which I participate every year. The auction money raised helps fund the programs and activities of the Studio Art Quilt Associates organisation, many of which I find very worthwhile. I’ve been a member for many years, and as my geographic location prevents me from being hands on at events, contributing to the annual auction is something I can do from afar.

Ebb&Flow #30, subtitled ‘Crotons’ after a FB friend’s comment on the colours.

Although I have not made anything new since mailing that in at the end of April, I have been pretty busy. I mentioned earlier I’ve been invited to teach at Gramado this coming September, and apart from learning some basic Brasilian portuguese, I’ve spent quite a bit of time revamping the beginner and advanced freehand (improvisational) workshops that I’ll be teaching, with help from my wonderful portuguese teacher Moira Riccetto Blanco, who is learning a great deal about improvisational patchwork along the way! Of course, I’ll be demonstrating the basic construction steps. But I will also have powerpoints for each class that cover/reprise those basic techniques, with some ideas sources, along with references to my own work. Moira’s watching that my very brief captions make sense. The PPPs will be shown either on demand or in a loop once everyone gets sewing – it all depends. Bearing in mind that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that I enjoy assembling PPPs, this has all been very absorbing.

In addition to being invited to teach, I am being featured as a master quilter through an exhibition of 12 of my own quilts. So, of course I expect some people will want to talk to me about them, and I’d like my answers to make some sense 🙂

As each class is only 6 hours, I don’t want students to be laboriously taking notes, instead I want them to be learning by doing. I know people usually love to start to make something and if possible finish it in such workshops, and while ‘finish’ might not be possible in such a short time, I’m sure everyone would rather sew than take notes! I myself have no trouble listing a few key words and doing a quick diagram, but not everyone can manage that while they’re listening or watching.

The beginners’ class is on day 1, and the advanced class is on day 3. On every day, the festival program will feature many workshops, and demonstrations, plus exhibitions and the razzle dazzle of a vendors’ mall featuring new fabrics, books, notions and demos. I myself could be blown away as ‘they’ tell me Brasilian fabrics are marvellous. Each student will receive brief aide memoire notes of the workshop in their own language (portuguese, spanish or english) with pics and/or diagrams of what was covered. Wanting to inspire with the thought that undulating lines are everywhere in nature, I collaged a set of sand ripples with my 2008 SAQA auction quilt, which came out as a really lovely background to some very brief text –

Sand ripples + the image of my 2008 SAQA auction quilt turned on its side. The natural world is full of undulating lines that can form unique patchwork designs.

Gramado, Brasil, In September!

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Recently I was delighted to receive an invitation to teach at The International Festival of Quilt and Patchwork in Gramado, Brasil, the largest such event in South America. Although I have never been to it during the 20+ years it has been running, some of my quilts have gone there for exhibition. I always love teaching people my way of making patchwork without using patterns; that freehand organic-looking patchwork, which since the late 80s has become something of a contemporary tradition, spurred on in part by the Modern Quilt Movement.

When we went to live in Denver Colorado, a neighbour took me along to a local quilt guild meeting, I took some construction classes in american patchwork, joined a bee, and became hooked. While I was there, that great american quiltmaker, Nancy Crow, came to Colorado to teach a 4-day workshop on colour and design in quilt making. At the beginning of her workshop she taught us lay aside our rulers and pins and work freehand as a faster way to get through all the exercises we needed work through. It can be used to add strips and inserts, organic wavy, circular and arc shapes, all of which can add complexity to a design. Though I’ve modified some of her directions, and developed skills and ways of working beyond what she taught us, basically I’ve been piecing this way for about 30 years now, and am always happy to pass on what I know. The one-day classes will be:

(1) beginner improvisational patchwork, learning the basics to enable this level of freehand piecing:

Improvisational piecing beginners learn how to achieve such repeat units.

(2) advanced improvisational piecing, where students learn more complicated levels of making patchwork freehand:

Advanced improvisational piecers learn how to achieve such repeated units in their own designs

I have started taking lessons in Portuguese with view to being able to do the commentary to my demos in the language most students will be speaking !!

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