2023 SAQA Spotlight Auction Donation

January 14th, 2023

Every year an organisation I belong to, Studio Art Quilt Associates, or SAQA, has a conference during which donated small quilted textile pieces submitted by members are auctioned in what they call the Spotlight Auction. These pieces are small, 6″ x 8″ so in my opinion are not large enough to call ‘a quilt’… and as I usually regard this small creation as something of an experiment that might lead onto use in a major work, I think of these things as samples, and that’s certainly how I describe them on the customs documentation!

Ebb&Flow 30, 2023. 8″x6″, SAQA Spotlight Auction 2023. Hand stitched, quilt-as-you-go raw edge applique. The zigzag edges will be covered by card matte showing only 4.5″ x 6.5″

This week I took a morning to make my spotlight piece, and used the exercise as a sample to try out an intriguing fabric I couldn’t resist buying at a JoAnn’s fabric shop somewhere in my trip to the US late last year. I’ve photographed what I made against the background of this interesting fabric – a very fine polyester knit, stretchy, silver-ish but appearing as if it has an oil slick all over it. .. it’s absolutely lovely fabric, I feel every square centimetre is precious.

Such experiments teach me much about the handling characteristics of unusual materials, and in this case, the cut edge tends to roll just a little – as you can see with a couple of cut edges on the left side of the pic. Then hand oversewing fine strips over a very low loft batting in a quilt-as-you-go technique, even using a hoop to make sure I didn’t pull it tight, etc, it tends to sit in such a way as to look solid 3D. My followers know I just love glitter, and I’m happy to no longer need to get hold of some mylar just now, or to save the sachets that my favourite tea bags come in ­čÖé which provided the glitter for last year’s Spotlight piece. I have warned the collector that particular glittery material is not really robust and any tension could case the glitter to split a bit, but knowing the collector personally, I doubt that that will ever happen.

2022 SAQA Spotlight piece. Untitled: mylar squares over stitched with neon green thread.

In these auctions people don’t need to attend the conference to place a bid – the pieces go online sometime in the next few weeks, and are also presented for live viewing at the conference. Each is covered with a matting board showing an area of 4.5″ x 6.5″, and that whole assembly in a sealed cellophane bag. I’ll post the link to the whole lot of this year’s offerings here when they go online.

Scraps of Inspiration 4

January 9th, 2023

Progress is being made, as it seems by completing the top 2 rows now, I am nearly halfway through the process of adding the strips of colour

which I talked about in the previous post.

I did a little sample of the idea I mentioned at the end of that post of a triangular mesh with ‘things’ at the points of intersection of the dotted/quilting lines. Reviewing and considering this, it’s a chicken or the egg kind of question – do I stitch the lines in first than place whatever ‘thing’ I decide at the intersection points, or do I stitch or fuse the ‘things’ in place (and I love the tiny triangles) and then stitch between them? And will the stitching lines be quilting, ie done once the whole piece is layered, or will I make those part of the surface design and do some form of quilting in another operation altogether, closer to the end?

Well there’s no rush for decision making here, as I still have plenty of triangles on which to add bands of colour. A FB friend commented yesterday that the triangles as per the top photo look look lively and happy. I’m glad to hear such a comment – and that feeds into my thinking about the title for this work.

Scraps Of Inspiration 3

January 4th, 2023

Triangles are one of the most basic primal shapes. It’s hard to say which one is my favourite out of square, circle and triangle, but for the moment let me say I’m on a triangle jag ­čÖé or should I say ‘another’ triangle streak.

The following is a slice of detail of a scrap quilt I made for us in 2009 without any intention to exhibit it, because even then it wasn’t innovative, but looking back it might be said to be Modern at least. It was also something I needed to do for my love of triangles and improvisational piecing. I had it machine quilted with a lovely ginko leaf pattern by a Colorado longarm quilter whose name escapes me now, unfortunately.

Ebb & Flow Scrap 2009, detail. Triangles ~6″ side.

So a few weeks ago I had another compulsion to feature interrupted triangle shapes. This time I used hand appliqued stripes of strips that I’ve assembled and begun using in the last month or so (see recent posts) And though I love regular grids, I made this one irregular while still suggesting organisation.

Rough cut stripes of strips – see previous posts – machine basted into place
The left side triangles show hand stitched strips which I’m trimming a bit where necessary as I go.

At this point I’m thinking about the background, those dark spaces. They need to to be patterned either by wavy horizontal-ish lines linking and/or echoing the stripy strips or the texture could echo ‘the triangle’ shape itself. I’m considering a hand quilted mesh of dotted meandering lines forming irregular triangular patterns – and will need to do a sample of course. Where those lines intersect I’d put either a dot or a tiny triangle of some kind…. and at this point I declare my admiration for the beautiful stitch-like paintings of Australian artist Shane Drinkwater which I know are influencing how I see this work moving forwards.

The triangular shapes pinned into place, ready to be basted into position.

Scraps Of Inspiration 2

December 31st, 2022

Browsing on Instagram recently, a comment by a fellow mixed media artist, Sarah Shoot, @sarahshootmixed that ‘red with turquoise is always fantastic’ grabbed my attention. I have some super strong red fabric and many scraps and oddments in turquoise blue/green shades. I rushed to those scrap bags for bits to scatter on it – and she was right, it really is a highly dynamic colour combination.

I had set aside a small piece of this brilliant red on which to applique some triangle shapes in reds and orange-reds for my 2023 SAQA Auction 12″x12″ piece, which I normally put together at this time of year, and it’s often a sample, a model, or a tryout for a bigger project. But at this point I decided to abandon that colour scheme, and those triangles will be fine for something else. I’ll get to a small red+turquoise piece for the SAQA Auction soon – once I’ve reached the quilting stage on this larger work I’m busy on at present:

The triangles are now all stitched on, and I’m ready to start placing the strips of stripes, or stripes of strips, whatever ­čÖé basting them down and finally deciding on which style of stitching and which threads to use. It will be eventually quilted, too, somehow, and I still need to decide whether or not to use a thin batting between the front and back layers. I feel some sample making coming up perhaps, as I don’t want this to be too puffy, and these days 2 layers stitched together is fine in the art quilt world – though of course it isn’t in the more traditional quilting world.

Lift The Sky Project Piece

December 17th, 2022

On the website https://liftthesky.com/home the project information begins with this paragraph: Lift the Sky is a project designed to create community, and inspire thought and action. Artworks created as messages for the world powered by the desire to offer visions of hope about what the world can be. Artists and others are creating their messages as artwork which are then attached to one another to create long panels which hang from above (sky). These panels will be seen as installations in public spaces, museums, galleries and anywhere imaginable” In one of the many newsletters I receive regularly, this project caught my attention as being something positive in the world that is so dark in many places today. A vertical panel of calico/muslin, 18″ x 24″ could be decorated using any any materials in any techniques to present participating artist’s messages to the world.

I have a bunch of positive mantras that I often think about and quote – such as “People who never achieve anything never make a mess” or “Waste not, want not”, “Make do and mend”, and I chose this last one because somehow it fits with much of the community attitude here in Uruguay that seems stronger than where I’ve lived in USA and many parts of Australia…. and also harks back to how my parents’ generation lived through and served in World War II, and their parents coped with life during Great Depression. Mum referred to my generation, the baby boomers, as the “throw away generation”, but she’s been gone for nearly 40 years now, so she hadn’t seen anything compared to the way society discards stuff these days, whether broken or worn out, or not. Mike and I once went to a fabulous exhibition of mended objects in Paris about which I blogged at the time (October 2007) which had the central theme that people around the world repair things because they have great value in our daily lives. We all know examples, though, of things that are frequently discarded not because they’re worn out, but often because there’s a new model, or something has gone out of fashion – phones and clothing especially stand out. Another side of the world’s waste problem is that getting something repaired is often either impossible because of compartmentalised components for example, or because to fix something is often more expensive than just going out and buying a new whatever. Recently I had to buy a new printer because the one I had could not be repaired. The new one was only US$90.00 (and in this country imported goods are expensive) If the repair guy had been able to repair it, time and parts would probably have cost that at least, anyway. This goes totally against the grain of how I was brought up. Anyway, all of that is the back story to why I chose “Make do & mend” as my message.

My regular readers will know that my previous post was about the pieced fabric scraps that I was already assembling for a new project. When I wrote that, I hadn’t formed the idea that I’d use some of those strips for this project, and indeed, hadn’t even decided anything beyond expressing interest. A few days ago I decided to cut and use a few strip groups to form the words of my message; so I pencilled out the large words on the fabric then fused groups of strips onto them following the pencil lines. I hand stitched over the edges using the technique of raw edge applique I’m currently drawn to; added a few scattered patches and the border strips; signed my name and now I’m organising someone to take it up to the USA to post it up there to get to California by January 5th. As I already had plenty of strip groups, I estimate it’s taken a total of about 15 hours to put together, including about an hour to unpick and re-do about half of my machine embroidered surname ­čÖé Unpicking free machine embroidery is hell, tedious even. But once you know it really is necessary, it requires careful, steady patience.

#lifttheskyproject panel, 18″ x 24″ 2022. Pieced fabric strips cut into strips and hand appliqued (raw edged)

I’ve always been a mender, and every now and then, when a garment is completely past any further mending I tear it up to add it to the supply of household cleaning cloths. Our leather shoes were mended and if we outgrew them before they totally wore out, they were handed down. There is dignity, I think in mending clothing – the idea being do it as well as possible of course, but then to wear the well-mended garment with pride. These days there’s a fashion genre known as ‘shabby chic’ and adherents of that ‘style’ wear and use visibly mended and or about-to-be-mended things. With the pandemic came huge uncertainty about when we might ever go into a clothes shop again, and I boldly patched a favourite, very moth-holed, wool jumper with printed fabrics and contrasting thread; and interestingly recently met another fibre artist here who did the same thing with his wool cardigan, although his patches were embroidered with filling stitches in very noticeable colours.

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