Posts Tagged ‘wandering strip piecing’

Natural and Man Made Tracks

Friday, September 28th, 2018

I remember taking this wonderful pic of many Man-made tracks criss-crossing the foreground in the Egyptian Black Desert  SSW of Cairo over 10 years ago.  Other timetracks, the worn down mountains surrounded by the fine sand deserts have been shaped principally by wind erosion.

The human bootprint I cropped out of this lovely pic would have told you these are very tiny little ‘cliffs’ in fine sand, photographed on our local beach just a few metres above the edge of the outgoing tide.  So, this time the erosional force is water, also indicated by the fine pattern of wiggly lines which are tracks of tiny little bivalves that burrow into the wet sand as the tide retreats.  I always feel I’d like to do something with the lines on this surface – well, make that something more – although this next image is a quilt,  New Directions, made many years before I saw the  pattern on the beach.

In “New Directions” (each square 12cm) the lines and arrows represent people coming to our ancient continent from all directions over its entire  human history.  The black/tan signifies the original immigrants, the Aboriginal people, who crossed the land bridges from Asia, at least 60,000 years ago.

 

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.

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?

Rediscovered, 2011

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The illustrated catalogue I have just done of my works showed up a couple of gaps in my documenting, as although I thought I’d finished it, I just came across a photo of this piece, which I finished in 2011 just as a dear friend was leaving the country for South Africa and wanted to buy it.  So though it is in the Ebb&Flow series, and I didn’t remember to list it at the time, I have done so now.

Untitled, 2011, 60cm x 25cm  approx

At that time I was including burned synthetic fabric ‘lace’ in many of my works, and this one features plain black against black nylon organza, then the glittery layer lies behind five segments of pieced fabric – from memory each of these was quilted, but I’m sure Bradley will let me know some time. I really like how the lines in these five sections flow, and this piece is on my mind today.

Do Art Quilts Belong in Quilt Shows?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

People love quilt shows, and flock to them whether in a regional agricultural show or a major city or state gallery.   No matter the source of inspiration or the pattern used, producing any quilt requires a certain amount of creativity and perspiration.  Despite the similarity of tools, many of the processes, and many of the raw materials used to produce all the different kinds of layered textiles, it’s a mistake to assess them as equals in every way.  Carrots and radishes, quilts and art quilts, yes they are alike, but different.

It’s over two decades since quilt show organisers began including art quilt sections in their events.  Years ago when I still belonged to a traditional quilt guild, as a known art quilt maker I felt it was important to participate by entering the guild’s annual show when for the first time it offered an art quilt section in the annual members’ quilt show.  A contemporary quiltmaking subgroup of the guild had formed a couple of years earlier, and there was enthusiastic interest in experimenting with techniques, materials and ideas beyond the range of traditional quiltmaking.  The entry form asked for the inspiration source for the quilt design – so I submitted a photo I’d taken of a ceiling in some caves nearby, and handed over my quilt, La Cueva (spanish for The Cave)  In quilt shows, the quilters expect and usually get some kind of technical comment back from judges, though this is not the case in art quilt exhibitions.  My quilt came back after the exhibition with a judge’s comment along the lines of  –   ‘The wavy lines are most distracting’.

La Cueva (The Cave)   1998         150cm x 130cm

Hmmm … the photo I took of the cave ceiling with roots and stalactites hanging down was the inspiration for the repeat units I combined to make the quilt.  That dismissive comment highlighted to me that the person chosen to judge the art quilts was not seeing these works as ‘originally designed art’ and really did not understand the difference between an art quilt and a functional bed or wall quilt from a traditional design or commercial pattern.

So the answer to my question is, no, I don’t think art quilts have a place in quilt shows.  Many textile artists differ with that view (for valid reasons to do with their own practice and marketing) but eventually it’s a personal choice about where to have your work seen, and sometimes a difficult decision.

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