Posts Tagged ‘grids’

Repeat Units in Grids

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

This morning I was reading a lovely catalogue I bought on Pacific tapa cloth  when I was in Auckland 10+ years ago.  I was shocked to find I’d never even dipped into it, and feel a bit less ignorant now than I was at breakfast time.  Lots of the photos feature designs on grids.  There are hundreds of islands in Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia where it is made, and tapas from the main islands show enormous differences in patterning and in painting or printing techniques, sometimes combined. One pattern from the island of Niue caught my eye and I diagrammed the content inside the squares.  The patterning over in adjoining squares is my doodling…

If I have a grid/block unit in mind, I’ll diagram it out on one of the sheets of paper I’ve printed off with approx 5cm squares especially for this, and always have some handy; after all I do love grids and when you look around, so do lots of other people too; the artist Agnes Martin for example, said  ‘When I first made a grid, I happened to be thinking of trees, and then a grid came into my mind and I thought it represented innocence, and I still do, and so I painted it, and then I was satisfied.  I thought ‘This is my vision’.  I can’t claim to have had such a lightning bolt experience, but I have definitely been influenced by learning traditional American geometric patchwork back in the late 80s, before I veered off into the original and non traditional.  About 20 years ago I was given a catalogue of an Agnes Martin exhibition in Madrid, with text in spanish and english – by someone here in Uruguay who was able to see how important grids were to me.  The paintings in that show included many of her grids and lines, most in the soft colours from the New Mexico desert she favoured, and I fell in love with her work.  

I also diagram out more complex things in the pages of a nice cloth covered sketchbook given me by my creative son many years ago – it’s approaching full, but there is another to hand.  I sometimes go back and carefully look at the pages from years ago – occasionally I have another go at ideas in ways I’d never have done when I first drew them up.  It’s an interesting record – not always dated or strictly chronological either, but today I thought I’d enlarge on the first two diagrams that are top and centre of the page, and did diagram #3 dating it.  I know to ‘do something’ with it I’d need to consider the lines and their shapes more carefully, and I think the resulting units need to be bigger than I’m enjoying working with at the moment (units of ~8cm finished) so scale’s a problem.   So I’ll leave it sitting there on the page – I might never use it, just as I haven’t #2 and #1, but this is definitely not a waste of time as my mind will be on it in the background and something quite unexpected might emerge the next time I look through that book 🙂

 

 

 

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.

 

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: