Posts Tagged ‘grids’

Grids: My Go-to Design Layout

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Landscape shapes and textures feature in my art in repeated units of abstract patterns in fabric, thread and other materials, and grids remain an enduring influence of my early, but brief period of making traditional patchwork quilts when I first went to the USA in 1987.

In early 2021, I made this small 60cm x 40cm piece, Sunburnt Country, which was selected into Australia Wide 7 and is currently in Paducah, KY with that touring collection.

Sunburnt Country 60cm x 40xm 2022. Australia Wide 7 collection.

This work seemed to bring my focus back to grids, which I’ve used since as the framework for several recent small works, including this tiny little 6″ x 8″ piece for the Spotlight Auction at the forthcoming SAQA virtual conference. April 27th to May 7th.

2022 Spotlight Auction. ~1.5cm sq. Myla squares, neon yellow nylon thread
Detail, Untitled. Triangles encased in plastic 5cm plastic squares, on grey, hand quilting,
Detail, untitled, 9 Patch; fused squares ~1.5cm

I have in mind something much larger now, of between 1.5 m- 1.75m, but I’m not really sure how large it will turn out. Anyway, I’m currently auditioning treatments for the surface design:

Fused squares ~1.5cm, metallic gold thread in several configurations.

I feel this work will be about restoring order (grid) and calm through colour (soft, earthy shades) and precious values as represented by the metallic glitter always denotes ‘preciousness’ to me, though of course, “…all that glitters is not gold”.

After The 100 Day Thing

Saturday, November 13th, 2021

It ended on Wednesday 10th, though I had made and posted my final 3 samples the weekend before, so essentially, by the monday I was free and keen to start something new. This photo shows the whole collection of 100 mis-matched ‘drink coasters’ ūüôā

The whole 100 drink coasters collection – stored in great recycled food boxes.

I have quite a bit of sheer fabric that has always lured me to experiment, but I’ve made only a handful of sheer/transparent works. My stash of sheers is mostly black, white, cream and taupe nylon organzas, but there are some coloured silk organzas, too, left over from a Chungie Lee workshop I took at Fibreswest years ago.

Many modern watercolour paintings (eg Laura Crane) have struck me with their likeness to layered organza, so I fused a few bits of nylon organza, fiddling with that concept, and I like the idea of thread trapped under or between layers of sheer fabrics. I’ll play more with that sometime, but it didn’t all gel enough to take me into a new work using it, not just yet, anyway.

A bit grainy, but fiddling with layering sheer fabric and some thread trapped under it.
A few of my personal favourites

Sifting through my sample collection just decidng where to focus, I realised that the little square surrounded by stitch with a cross stitch in the middle was something that made quite a few appearances in the last couple of weeks of the challenge. I have always had a thing for grids, rigid or more informal; and repeat motifs laid out in grids are the stuff of traditional patchwork. I carry them forward in the way that every artist is influenced by everything they’re seen, done and made before. I only had a short time in the world of traditional quilt making, but that influence is very strong to me. The little repeated square made less plain with added stitched borders and a cross in the middle has become something of a personal motif, and it was telling me ‘do something with it, so I began this new work yesterday.

Detail of new work in progress – fused silk on cream cotton, polyester thread.

These squares are rhythmic and fairly quick to do, and I’m sure I won’t run out of the thread I’m using, as there must still be at least 1400+m on the cone. They’re about ~1.5cm, and at this scale on cream, the metallic thread I thought I’d use just wasn’t powerful enough. I auditioned all my neon threads, and I’m happy with this orange, which is adding a gorgeous cast where I’ve sewn, and that will increase when I get into the quilting. I’m liking how it adds texture that doesn’t flatten down even when ironed – it’s a thick thread, of the kind of gauge used for heavy duty outdoor upholstery, back packs and luggage – and being polyester it’s quite springy. Of course, I bought it for being neon orange.

When I’m further along, I’ll show some detail of what I plan to go with these groups of squares. I never show full views of works in progress, nor of finished ones, either, until they’ve been exhibited and/or sold. I’m feeling very excited about this new direction – an interesting development from the last 3+ months spent in exploring through sample making.

Eye-Opening Grids

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Browsing online recently, I discovered the beautiful textile art of Canadian artist Chung-Im Kim .

Born in South Korea, and for nearly three decades resident in Canada, Chung-Im’s art interestingly and successfully blends her cultural past with her cultural present. Traditional Korean bojagi are some of the cultural roots to which Chung-Im periodically returns for inspirational refreshment; and in one body of work these well-known traditional textiles have become canvases for print and stitch compositions.¬† But it is her dimensional, sculptural work with felt that blew me away, with alluring titles of groups of work in her portfolio – pre-grids, grids, free grids, living geometry and miniatures.

Felt is made from a large variety of natural, synthetic fibres and blended fibres, with wool felt considered to be one of the oldest textiles in human history.¬† Late last year I wrote of¬†an interesting exhibition¬†by some international feltmakers in the textile biennial here in Montevideo, and though I have found and bought some beautifully crafted felt things down the years, I’ve still never seen anyone actually making felt, and have never seriously considered it as a ‘raw material’ for my own art, though I am aware of artists such as Rebecca Howdeshell¬†US,¬† Siv Goransson¬†UY and Australian Nancy Ballesteros.

Chung-Im describes her materials and process as industrial felt screen printed with digitally engineered images, which she presumably cuts into, and then assembles¬†the remaining pieces by hand, for which see this image.¬† So I googled ‘industrial’ felt, and now understand ‘felt’ to be a huge field, more varied than I’d ever thought about, and of large scale manufacturing of felted fibres of various kinds and blends with industrial applications including carpet underlays and gaskets for use in some machinery. The most interesting site I spent time on provides sizes of pre-cut and rolled felt from small custom shapes, various page-sized sheets up to huge rolls of various widths and thicknesses, depending on the buyer’s requirements.¬† I immediately began developing a mental list of ‘buyer’s requirements’ to ask about, and it almost makes me want to ditch my woven fabrics and clear studio space for some industrial felt supplies … No, I doubt I’d take such a radical step, but some ideas a percolating, and as I do have some small pieces of craft felt around, some time I might paint, monoprint or stencil something on it of my own design, or look into getting something printed, as a canvas for embroidery, perhaps.¬† Felt as a non-fraying material with some body or stiffness is inspiring…but I digress.

These works really opened my eyes to the potential of ‘grids’, and to the realisation that I may have been interpreting ‘grids’ too narrowly, despite several posts on the subject,¬†like this one¬†.¬† ¬†Isohyets, topographical maps, aerial photos, erosion patterns, in fact all kinds of contour lines associated with diagrams, maps and charts all come flooding into my mind when viewing these works.

Chung-Im Kim, dawn,  2012,   71 x 60 x 6 inches.  Image artist supplied.

Chung-Im Kim, nalgae,  2012,  43 x 44 x 5 inches.  Image artist supplied.
Chung-Im Kim,  baekya,  2009, 46 x 47 x 4 inches.  Image artist supplied.

These and many more works on her website show inspiration from landscape shapes and patterns of surface textures.

Another interesting group of work is titled¬†‘living geometry’¬†, containing pieces which I initially thought could have been filed with ‘free grids’, because all their grids are certainly irregular.¬† However, on further reflection, I realised the difference in concept is that¬†these¬†pieces appear to be growing right out of a surface in a very organic way, suggesting they are alive.

The combination of smooth, printable surface and stiffness that lends itself to sculptural goals, reminded me of the wool felt sculpture/garment exhibited by heather Brezo Alcoceba of Spain, which I mentioned in the post of 14/11/2017 last.  (scroll well down)  In this pop-over shoulder cape kind of garment, the wearability of which was not immediately obvious, it now occurs to me that that very 3D surface has a strong connection to the idea of irregular grids.

I’d like to thank Chung-Im Kim for supplying images and giving permission to use them in this article.

 

Arcs Are Everywhere, Take 2

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Yes, they are everywhere around us ,  and I love the technical fit with the freehand cutting and piecing I use in many of my quilted textile statements.

Lately I’ve used strong bright colours with black particularly, and just felt I needed to go into something soft and neutral – signifying mood change or looking for balance, perhaps?¬† ¬†And lo and behold, last month New Zealand friend Doris MacGibbon arrived with a gift of some lovely fabrics I might very well have chosen myself if I’d been anywhere near a fabric shop that stocks such things – not in Montevideo in a million years, I think.¬† Several fabrics made me think of wintery beaches in various places – too cold for sunbathers and swimmers, and perhaps windy, like lots of memories of Greens Beach, northern Tasmania, or this selection from the Falkland Islands trip I took a few years back:

Confession: I did not realise I had ‘breaking wave action’ until I took these photos of the pieced top!

 

Try Improvisational or Freehand Piecing!

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I’ve written before about freehand pieced work, including this article¬†working from the scrap bag¬†¬† ¬†This morning, looking around in my photos for something else, I was diverted by a sequence of photos I took last year while making this small piece for my friend Suzie.¬† I formed this collage to take some of mystery out of this kind of piecing known as ‘improvisational piecing’.¬† It’s a construction technique widely used by makers of ‘art quilts’ and Modern Quilts, too.

Suzie’s Quilt 30cm x 30cm.
Top left, centre and lower right – cut and remove an approx 1-2cm swathe.¬† Lower left – finished quilt; upper right shows pencil diagram and a strip insert pinned into place.¬† The tighter the curve, the more pins I use – just my way – there’s no ‘correct’ way.

Do a very basic pencil diagram if necessary (upper right),¬† audition some fabrics, start cutting and begin sewing.¬† No templates, no exacting measurements, and the result is a very organic look.¬† Improvisational piecing begins with simple steps, and the basics can be found¬†here¬† ¬†If you want to try it at home sometime, thoroughly read through my 2 page notes first, then follow the easy instructions.¬† If you need any help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact me at alison@alisonschwabe.com

Working without pattern pieces is very liberating; it’s a worry-free way to construct quilt tops.¬† In my Memories¬†and Ebb&Flow¬† galleries you’ll find many examples of works pieced this way; and I often use freehand piecing with grids constructed using rulers and different size quilters’ squares and triangles.¬† Honestly, anything goes, as it’s up to you how you use this technique.¬† By all means, pay good money and go to a workshop run by someone teaching this technique, which is fun, but if geographical isolation or financial challenges get in your way, you really can learn it by yourself at home.¬† You’ll find it in books and magazines, as well as online, but I don’t advise starting out by watching online demos. There are so many out there with different emphases, often by people more focused on selling you their book, that you may well become confused in a very short time.¬† ¬†I just looked at some, and found them all rather fussy, very precise and careful.¬† This is not what it’s about – it’s carefree, organic looking and meant to be very non-traditional in every way.¬† Using my basic illustrated notes, try working through the suggested few samples, while remembering that

  1. there is no correct way to do this kind of patchwork
  2. the only correct result is a flat one
  3. start out bigger than you want to end up
  4. resist the urges to trim as you go – save it till all piecing is done.

Feel free to use pins, marker pen or pencil reference points right on the cut edges which will be enclosed in the seam anyway¬† – use whatever you find that works for you.¬† When you’ve worked out how to do it and can repeat good results with practice, then if you will, spend a bit of time browsing some demos, but I think you’ll find you don’t need them.¬† Improvisational piecing has become a contemporary tradition, something to be shared in the time honoured way that traditions are passed along from one generation to the next.¬† So, what are you waiting for?

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