Posts Tagged ‘grids’

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?

Browsing With Pinterest

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Every day Pinterest sends images of things it thinks I might like.  Because I can so easily become totally absorbed and lose hours happily wandering through images, following links one after the other, I rarely take time to browse.  It’s worse than Facebook.  So I clicked on a page of enticing images headed ‘stitch’, and found myself looking at a page of pics on which was one work I knew I’d seen before, by Cordula Kagemann and as it turned out, had saved in my own board Lines and Shapes, though I’d never gone to her website.  What magnificent work, collaging with cut paper and some fabric. Textile friends in Australia, note that she will be teaching there in October of this year.  Her cutout paper overlays feature various shaped holes and overlocking rings – my mind asked could you call this paper ‘lace’?

Holes and lace have been part of my inspiration for some time: http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=2620  and I still have this little leather sample on my board after about 10 years  – suede bonded onto unbleached calico/muslin, and to me this is definitely all about the holes… and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Snippets and samples of holes in leather and fabric … ? lace

The surface design snippet below is part of a 12|”x12″ quilt first bought in a SAQA Benefit Auction some years back, of gold leather triangles with holes punched from it sewn to a black background with gold machine stitching forming the grid. This week it was auctioned among a collector’s pieces which were donated to the organisation to benefit SAQA a second time, and I am thrilled to hear an Australian collector it.  I never gave it a title, but with hindsight perhaps I could have called it Black Holes on Gold Triangles …

A question I’ve had in mind before is this – what is the most important part of ‘lace’ – is it the holes, or whatever it is that surrounds the holes?

Grids + Texture = Inspiration?

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

When something like these two surfaces grabs me, I always take a closeup of the texture.  Not that I want to recreate it in fabric, but I am recording my admiration in this ‘visual diary’, and possibly in time I will find inspiration in some aspect of it.  These obviously already appealed in terms of grid layout and texture.  There are more fabulous door examples here, and a few of some old safes and strongboxes here.

Left:  Gate in city wall, Cairo                  Right: Safe in Cabildo, Montevideo

When we saw this fabulous  C19 safe in the recently restored original Montevideo Cabildo on the Plaza Matriz, it reminded me of the fabulously textured reinforced door I snapped in Egypt 10 years ago.  Check out the keyhole in the centre of the detail (lower right) Some day when I have time (to wait around) I’m going back to inquire if anyone has the key to this old safe – as I’m sure that it too is a work of art, and I’d love to see it.  Momentarily inspired, I just googled ancient keys – and my goodness,  there are some beauties there.  I could spend hours more wandering via the keyboard, but not today.

 

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