Posts Tagged ‘strip patterns’

Tracks And Marks

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

 

 

Almost no one currently alive will ever find themselves in a landscape of any kind where they could be 100% sure no human has ever been, although on a deserted beach or a windswept landscape stretching into the distance, if you ignore the sometimes subtle tracks ahead, squint your eyes and forget your recent flight, bus, train hike, bike or boat trip that got you there, it may just be possible to imagine you are the first human to ever set foot on that landscape …

Though it took me years to actually name a group of works ‘Tracks’, I know that landscape shapes, colours and textures are all track marks left by Mother Nature on those surfaces.  Modern Man, too, has left many complicated marks – fences, pipelines, railways, roads, power lines, canals, airports and ports, marshalling yards, to say nothing of small towns and vast cities with horizontal mazes of streets, bridges and roads, and multilevel vertical mazes of human habitation –  really, the tracks of human activity are everywhere.  Though I have focused more on the patterning on artifacts and drawn images on rocks, cliffs, cave walls and open plains, the ‘tracks’ made by Man on landscapes are not limited to the ancient ones that I’ve always found so awe inspiring, intriguing as those are.

In the design of my quilt, New Directions, 2000, the multitude of lines from every direction represent the paths and tracks of human migration onto our continent in the last 60,000 years.  I have just read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu  which details the agricultural practices of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal people.  Until now, having grown up in Tasmania, and lived overseas for many years, I’d never heard of extensive fish traps on the great inland river systems, and the extensive areas planted with grains on the open plains, many of which were seen by the colonists but dismissed by settlers and farmers with European farming practice backgrounds.  Ignorant of the sustainable land management practices the indigenous people had practised for thousands of years, they dismissively assumed they were not civilised enough to have devised such systems.  This fascinating book has me thinking more about tracks and pathways.

Element of Intermittency

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Though there does not seem to be such a word, there should be, and it would be built from intermittent the same way that the word intimate gives rise to intimacy.  (I’ve just become hooked by Scrabble online, I’m a bit word conscious anyway but constantly amazed by what is and is not allowed as a word.)   In a few years’ time maybe you’ll look back and say you read it first right here on Alison’s blog; but regardless, I’m hereby declaring intermittency to be an element of discontinuity between lines and shapes in my Ebb&Flow works, the statement for which is “Series Concept – Nothing stays the same for ever.  With age, we recognise and understand the ebb and flow of people, places and fortune throughout our lives.”

I’ve been exploring this theme for over a decade. Mostly I deliberately construct the intermittencies; sometimes they’re accidental or seem so.  Beautiful shapes stop suddenly, perhaps connected by lines of stitching to where they resume elsewhere in the work, but they can also remain totally unconnected to anything.  Doesn’t Life itself have patches of that same thing, of intermittency, of abrupt discontinuity as various features of Life come and go, ebb and flow?  No, not your own life?  Well mine has certainly been characterised by serial intermittencies in the geographical and cultural senses.  We’ve had many moves, and the 12 years in this house is the longest time I’ve lived anywhere in my entire life.

Jottings And Inspirations

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

I opened an almost-forgotten folder today, which led me down memory lane for a while, skimming through some writings by various members of a writer’s group I belonged to here some years ago.  I found fictional and autobiographical stories, and some poems including a couple of prayers; there was even a ‘Chapter 2’ of a book someone was apparently writing though I doubt it was ever completed, and there was no name on it.

Wanting to improve our writing skills, Pamela, Gerry, Mutt, Bertha, Sonya, Doris and I met regularly to discuss and critique material we’d each worked on in the preceding fortnight.  Among other things, Gerry Fairless (dec.) wrote An Appreciation in 2002 about our group which includes the following lines:  “A common aim – the urge to write/Brings us together, to excite/Each other and ourselves of  course/With our creative talent and resource.” Not brilliant perhaps, but certainly heartfelt.

One of the writings I re-read today was a poem by the late Mutt Gordon Fearing expressing her gratitude on having the gift of being able to paint.  It reminded me to stand in front of this little watercolour of hers that I pass by every day and love – “Thank you Lord for such a gift/May love of nature never cease./And whoever owns my works/Can feel in them your joy and peace.”

Watercolour Still Life, by Montevideo artist, Mutt Gordon Firing (dec.)

I have several of her watercolours, as I have always loved that medium.  Indeed, the first piece of art I ever bought was a landscape in watercolours when I was about 8 years of age.

And what  did I write and put forward to this group?  At that time I was writing short pieces for our children on early memories of my  own life, so they might understand the kind of mother they have 😉 and other articles on some of our family adventures and travels that included them.  I have been thinking I need to do more in this vein, and the grandkids, aged 15-21, are now old enough to be on the distribution list, too.  I’ve been a bit distracted from this purpose but feel ready to re-focus, and I’m no longer needing to write the great Australian novel – for me, I think short stories may be more ‘me’.

On what was apparently my first day as a member of the group, I asked the girls to critique a workshop description I was submitting to a conference organiser.  I sent it out by email to each member and each member came to the meeting with their comments on their printout.  My written introduction included “…but first, I need to come up with a snappy title: any of these?  I work a lot with lists for names of quilts, articles designs and so on, listing everything, serious or trivial, and letting them eliminate themselves one by one.”    I still use this method to come up with titles. Some of my better ideas included:

  • Scrap Quilts for Everyone,
  • New Fashioned Scrap Quilts,
  • Scraps of Skill (Required)
  • New Lives For Old Scraps
  • Tomorrow’s Traditions Today,
  • Cuttings From The Sewing Room Floor,
  • Today’s Scraps Tomorrow’s Heirlooms,
  • Scraps of Quality
  • Skillful Scraps,
  • Old Scraps New Quilts
  • Say It With Scraps,
  • Conceptual Scraps,
  • and I finally chose Hot Quilts From Cold Scraps, a workshop I have successfully taught many times now.

New Directions, 2000,  96cm  x  84cm

It was doubly pleasant to share some of these blasts from the past with former member Doris MacGibbon, who just happens to be visiting from New Zealand this week and staying here with her husband.  We’re all having a ball, talking all the time of course and covering so much ground  face to face 🙂

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?

Ebb & Flow #26

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

It’s uncharacteristically over the top early for me, but today I finished my donation to the 2018 SAQA Benefit Auction in September – and the call for entries doesn’t even open until February!   I’ll mention it again closer to the time.  This also means that my catalogue of quilts ius up to date.

Ebb & Flow 26    2018,  12″x 12″.  2018 SAQA Benefit Auction

The annual auction of these 12″ squares raises funds to assist in the promotion of quilted textile art known as art quilts.  I’ve been collected but I myself have never collected them, yet I’ve seen some lovely groups of them recently in a couple of homes.  I always make mine with a hanging sleeve attached that can easily be removed if the piece is to be framed or mounted on a canvas covered stretcher frame, as many collectors display them.

 

 

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