Posts Tagged ‘hand stitch’

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.

 

Mark Making And Mending

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

On textile artist Maeve Coulter’s textile art page is a brief paragraph on her techniques, another on the themes and ideas in her art, plus this single line: “I was raised in a household where fabric was revered, rescued and reused.”  This comment is a common thread running through statements by many textile artists, fabric artists, art quilters, whatever each of us calls ourselves.  The presence of fabric or cloth in our lives is acknowledged, and we tend to revere it at some level for its importance from cradle to grave. It’s frequently expressed in terms of saving, rescuing, repurposing, upcycling, reusing and recycling garments and other cloth items.  The western world has lost a lot of the ‘make do and mend’ concept, and our garbage tips and landfills bulge as  huge environmental problem grows daily.

I’m a classic Baby Boomer, and all the mothers of other kids I knew used fabrics carefully, sewing garments with generous seam and hem allowances that allowed them to be handed down and along to other families where they could be taken up, let out, lengthened or shortened.   For a garment to successfully endure all these phases, the fabric needed to be the best quality  possible, and in home sewing for kids especially it has always been false economy to go for cheap fabric.  Our mothers were stay at home mums, as even though they might have worked during the men’s absence fighting WWII, most of those jobs were handed back to men as they returned home.  Clothes rationing lasted in Australia until the early 50s, so our mothers had the motivation and the time to invest in the whole process of sewing, mending and repurposing fabric things.  Plus they mended things to make them last longer.

Straight stitches commonly feature in mending – for example a 3-corner tear

I’ve noticed artists who can claim their work uses all recycled materials enjoy a subtle extra merit, eco brownie points, making the work somehow more worthy because only recycled materials were used.  Google “recycled clothes” for example, you’ll find many pics of inspiring projects from recycled materials, it’s big business.  I guess I might be part way there, as I don’t cut into new fabric if I have suitable coloured/printed/textured scraps or offcuts I can use in my improvisational constructions.  Occasionally I cut up an old garment, but I tend to give away intact clothes I’ve worn a lot or outgrown that still have some use in them.  To go all the way would be to scour op shops and markets, but, to be honest, I have no inclination to regularly do those rounds or hoard bundles of fabrics from used clothes.  I have a close friend who acquires mended fabric whatevers by various means – clothes, sheets, blankets, you name it, she has it somewhere.  The interior of her house has all this wonderful fabric stuff, much of it backed by interesting stories, but you can barely find a place to sit down.  I just do not want to get on that bandwagon  🙂

 

Looking Back a Bit …

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

To rediscover this excellent scan of what is my first intentionally made ‘art quilt’ last week was a thrill (the original is a 2×2 transparency, back in the filing cabinet in Perth – remember those?).  This is ‘Ancient Expressions’, so named because I  thought  that would help it be juried into an exhibition,”Expressions in Quilting”, Barrington IL 1989.  Whether it would have made it without that little push, I don’t know, but it did get in and sold from the exhibition.  If anyone knows who has this quilt I’d love to hear where it is.  I was never informed of the buyer, and didn’t think to press for that detail at the time 🙂

Ancient Expressions I,  1988.      114cm x 102cm

This success really focused me on making my own designs in layered textiles; and further, it led to a series which became the Ancient Expressions series (I- XIV)  Each quilt has an element of landscape in the design, and all celebrate the ancients’ connection with their landscapes, expressed in the patterns they painted or carved on those surfaces. Two or three were OMG flops, but on the whole they are still works I’m proud of.

 

Detail of the hands – it’s not a grainy photo, I sprayed paint over ironed-on freezer paper cut-outs of my own hand shapes. But the paint seeped under the edges in places, and my initial reaction was that my experiment failed, as I had been going to embroider using the hands and paint as kind of templates (which on reflection would have been boring probably) but when a fellow embroiderer said  ‘You could put it in a quilt …’ I looked with fresh eyes and realised its potential, made the quilt and went on exploring the potential of this theme in the series, some of which are  pictured below:

 

Left to Right –   #XII                       # I                          #X                        #IX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Left to Right –    #XII                 #XIV                         #VI                         #II

Discovering A Long Forgotten Work

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

This morning by chance I found a photo of a long forgotten quilt from 2006-2008:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also in the file I found a photo of half of it mounted in a frame – so clearly I had chopped it down and sold or given the pieces away, which I don’t remember just now; but whatever happened to those, I might have been a bit hasty in chopping it down 🙂 as I now really like it …  It’s from an era in which I applied a lot of leather pieces to quilts, the best known of which, Timetracks 1″, middle lower row, was in Quilt National 07.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many feature holes punched through leather units as part of the design, but these myriads of little holes are out of the question now given the arthritis in my hands.  The detail uppper left is Timetracks 3, one of several I made using leather for this repeat unit I have so often used. In my mind it’s a bare-bones diagram of erosion at work, one that has become important to me as the umbrella metaphor for passage of time change in all of Life itself. Interestingly there were also work-in-progress pics with my untitled discovery, so I include these partly as a belated documentation effort, but also to remind you of how my embroidery informs much of what I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love stitch constructions on detached warps – aka needleweaving, and in 2007 blogged about these two pieces, Behind the Scenes 1 & 2,  from 1987.

 

A Shared Taste? Not Really …

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Pinterest this morning sent this email:   “Alison – meet X!  They say great minds Pin alike. And we just found someone who shares your taste in Pins. Follow their boards to discover more Pins you love!”  I’m about to be disparaging about her pinning, and as I don’t know her, but have two friends with the same name, I’ll just stick to “X”

First up, this person has set up 111 boards to pin her 13,000+ saved images onto.  My experience is that anything over about 30 boards is a red flag, as I typically find such a pinner’s selections are of a ‘pin everything’ approach, and it becomes time consuming and sometimes confusing to sift through.  I’ll back out quickly from such a time waster.  I have no idea how I’d keep track of thousands of pins in hundreds of boards, as I’ve only saved 450 images or so over several years.  I’ve found more rapport with pinners who seem to carefully choose whether to pin or not, and whether something is important to their ideas collections.  I believe it is definitely a case of ‘Less is more’.   Having a huge number of boards somehow seems the equivalent to the groups of  holiday travellers on organised guided tours.  We’ve all seen them, no matter where we live.  All the passengers on the bus are from the same foreign country, they hurriedly alight, take masses of pics of each other standing in front of whatever view/building/monument/large sign is behind them, and then quickly clamber back on board for the next whistle stop on their tour.  Pinterest for some people is clearly the same kind of hurried ‘travel’ in the field of ideas.

Secondly, on X’s page this morning, I scrolled and a few lines down found a board labelled “Kantha Stitch Style Fibre Arts”.  Several years ago I attended Dorothy Caldwell’s wonderful workshop on mark making with reference to Kantha , so thought I was in for a treat.  Kantha is not a technique, it’s a style of embroidery from W. Bengal India that uses running straight stitches to form patterns and fill shapes of  flowers, birds, animals and scenes of everyday life that are meaningful to the maker and her community. 

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

From my workshop with Dorothy Caldwell; I chose a kangaroo shape to stitch a 10cm sq. kantha-style stitchery

In the west, with the growing popularity of hand stitch, ‘Kantha’ is one of the trendy hand stitch buzzwords, and while technically it is ‘merely’ a running or straight stitch worked into all kinds of patterns, the scale and potential of Kantha work within its cultural context is rich, often complicated and overall glorious. (see the above link or google Kantha images)  On X’s page however, faced with lots of hand stitchery of many different kinds, I saw nothing ‘kantha’ before pulling out at about image #50 or so.  There were however some mixed media hand stitched textiles, most of which featured some pattern darned areas; and it became clear as I looked further into X’s boards, with “Kantha style 2”, and “kantha 3” listed lower down, that X equates Kantha with pattern darning.  I know, dear reader, that might seem a bit nit picky, but there we are – that’s me.  I am a bit pedantic on things I know a thing or two about.  There were other gems in the boards in X’s boards titles –   “tea bag fibre art” 🙂   “safety pin fibre art” for heavens’ sakes, and, well as I said, 13000+ pins under 111 titles.  I guess I was overwhelmed at what this represents in terms of time spent looking at, collecting and saving images of other people’s work and inspirations.

We all know social media run on algorithms based on how we use those media sites.  They’re often enough totally wrong, but we put up with that for the other benefits we enjoy by being part of them.  Today Pinterest got it quite wrong when it told me that X and I are an exact match – but that’s ok – I’ve vented and will be back on Pinterest again in a few days’ time, prolly.

 

 

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: