Posts Tagged ‘hand stitch’

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.

 

 

Tetrahedrons In Transit

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

All three pieces I entered in Wangaratta Art Gallery’s Petite Miniature Textiles Biennial Exhibition 2016 were accepted, and I’m happy to say are now on their way to Australia.  The Exhibition opens on June 4th and runs through until 17th July.   All entries had to be within 30cm x 30cm x 30cm.  I love miniature textile works and would love to see this popular biennial show.  If you’re in the northern Victoria area over that time, you can go to http://www.wangaratta.vic.gov.au/recreation-leisure/art-gallery/visiting-gallery.asp for gallery times and other information.

Wave blog

‘Wave’  2016.   18cm x 18cm x 18cm x 15cm.  Soft sculpture.

FairyBread blog

‘Fairy Bread’  2016.  18cm x 18cm x 18cm x 15cm.  Soft sculpture.

Morse blog
‘Morse’  2016.  18cm x 18cm x 18cm x 15cm.  Soft Sculpture.

How did I come up with their names?  That’s always fun and is sometimes a challenge.  Any Aussie will get the Fairy Bread one – non-pareils, aka in Aus as “100’s and 1000’s” are sprinkled over thin slices of buttered fresh bread cut into triangles – a mandatory item on any kid’s birthday party menu.  When I took these pieces to my wonderful photographer, Eduardo Baldizan, I hadn’t yet named the other two, and he used ‘Wave’ and ‘Morse’ to identify the pics of each one when sorting their files – and I loved those choices, so they stayed.

With the three pieces, each18cm x 18cn x 18cm x 15cm, plus the weight of the box and paper to stop them rattling around, the total weight of the parcel was only 0.4kg   They’re light as a feather.  My regular followers recall I blogged about their development first here, then and finally.  Others made since these have been in colours other than cream – and the other day it occurred to me it might be a good idea to Scotchguard (r)  these, so I hope that helps to keep them pristine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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