Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Aposematism In Fiber Art

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

In the natural world, bright colour combinations frequently warn of of some kind of danger – a brightly coloured animal can be poisonous in some way or being able to counter attack dangerously, or appear to be able to do so. Most animals have the instinct to stay away from such warnings for self protection. I knew this, but thought I should just check to see what Wikipedia says – and OMG I love Wikipedia! It can be the most amazing way of learning the most surprising, interesting, things. I found there’s a word for this phenomenon – aposematism, and found this etymological note “The term aposematism was coined by the English zoologist Edward Bagnall Poulton in his 1890 book The Colours of Animals. He based the term on the Ancient Greek words ἀπό apo “away” and σῆμα sēma “sign”, referring to signs that warn other animals away.”

Pandemic Pattern 4, 6″ x 8″, sample. Polyester fabric and thread, leather shapes.

Really too small a piece of textile art to be named, it is more a sample within this series, really. Having photographed for the record, I’ll send it to this year’s SAQA Spotlight Auction at the April SAQA conference. The finished piece only has to be only 6″ x 8″ and they’ll mount each in a cardboard mount in a cellophane bag showing only 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. Small purple leather circles, sueded side up (stronger brighter colour) have been sewn down onto flouro green fabric, using really bright flouro red/orange thread. Under the electron microscope everything appears only in shades of grey, and the usually bright colours we see in all kinds of representations of the corona virus module that causes Covid-19 are all added by the artist or technician in control of the image to make them clearer to viewers.

Tiny Landscapes Topstitching Done

Monday, January 18th, 2021
Little landscapes, topstitched.

I estimate that the fabric scraps selection, cutting, bonding and topstitching has taken at least an hour for each of the 24 landscapes. From here there is probably another hour’s work on each one, hand drawing certain motifs and patterns, and what I’ve decided to do about the edges. It’s conceivable I might mess at least one up and need to replace that segment …

So for the next couple of days I’ll be thinking about the necessary quilting, and how I’m going to treat the border of the quilt. I’m about 1/3 way through an absorbing book, Isobel Wilkerson’s “Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents” on how concepts of caste and racism in the USA stretch right back to the earliest colonists. Just as well it’s long, I have hours to go.

Tiny Landscapes Continued

Saturday, January 16th, 2021
L – sample for bonded landscapes
R- sample of abandoned pieced units, see previous post.

Since starting afresh with my Aussie landscapes, in the last three days I’ve spent many hours bonding fiddly little segments of 24 little landscapes into place on their black background. (The stitching is a temporary guide to placement in the grid layout.) Each landscape is approx 7cm x 7cm, and tweezers and patience were absolutely essential! This morning I’ll start stitching them all down before moving to the next stage of hand drawn details.

Three segmented landscapes ~7cm x 7cm; bonded to black.

With a black background, I’m no longer sure that “Girt By Sea” is an appropriate title. Of course, I might end up bonding or stitching something watery on the black, so that’s still a possibility, but all depends on how it goes from here.

I generally mull over title possibilities as I work. I know what I want my art to say, and believe a good title is the only statement a piece needs. I haven’t looked at the entry form yet, but there’s probably a required statement, which is never a bother for me. So I’ve begun a list of other possible titles, so far noting words and phrases from certain Dorothy MacKellar and Caroline J Carleton poems. I’m sure I’ll know the perfect one when I see it beside the completed work.

Girt By Sea – Tiny Landscapes, Continued

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Silly me. I was on a roll with my 60cm x 40cm entry piece for the Oceania Distance and Diversity cal, and well into the business of stitching my chosen Aussie motifs by hand; but I allowed myself to just get little bit of a start on my next Pandemic Pattern piece and as a result lost my concentration. Christmas and New Year came and went before I focused on it again… and when I picked it up to resume a few days ago, I saw lots of things ‘wrong’ with it – things I no longer like about it, and additionally, and in the meantime a new approach had taken root. Reluctantly I abandoned it and with determination decided to start again from scratch.

As I worked on a little landscape design in Richard McVetis’ workshop, it occurred to me that I could have fused all those little landscape pieces rather than piece them, setting them slightly apart so that some of the background shows through.

10cm x 10cm landscape, done in Richard McVetis StitchClub workshop, 2020.

I reasoned it wouldn’t take long to start again, so I abandoned what I’d already done and made a new sample using this approach, left, including some possible edge markings that I still haven’t finally decided on. Just this bit of experimenting tells me I’ll have a result I’ll be happier with. and it has to be soon – entries close at the end of January 🙂

Sample left – variety of markings at edges and hand drawn motifs. The landscape on the right is one from the abandoned work.
  • There are some fabrics steeping in a strong tea bath to dull their bright whiteness.
  • I’ve sprayed some new sky fabric
  • The background will now be black instead of blue.
  • I’ve checked my range of marker pens online for fastness and suitability for fabric.
  • I decided to hand draw the detail motifs I want.

Pandemic Pattern 3’s on hold while I wait for more thread which was gobbled up far faster than I expected, and I need much more to complete the rather large plan I have, as I’m definitely not going to make the work smaller.

Long Term Trends And Influences

Monday, January 4th, 2021

It’s always interesting to look back occasionally and see how things including my views, issues and fashions/fads have changed. In April 2005 I wrote on this blog “When Is A Quilt Not A Quilt?”, raising an issue I still have a problem with: that there seems to be no lower size limit for an object to be called ‘a quilt’.

When a piece of quilted textile is so small as 1″ / 2.5cm inchies or 6′ x 4″/15cm x 10cm postcard quilts, to me it feels ridiculous to refer to that as ‘a quilt’, considering all the images associated with that word. Even the 7″x9″ samples SAQA periodically gathers up from members as a useful technical resource are hardly ‘quilts’, either. I feel as strongly about it now as I did back in April 2005 when I wrote that post. follow those links and you’ll find masses of these tiny textile units, many quite wonderful. Inchies and postcard quilts are often swapped in the mail by afficionados.

I’m not talking about miniature quilts, those technically amazing and often exquisite little textiles, as they are a legitimate thing. Despite my strongly held views and less than a year after venting on it, I allowed myself to be sucked into a postcard swap between members of a small group of Aussie and Kiwi textile artists I belonged to. There are fads and fashions in every area of fabric and textile art.

In 2006 I made these 10 cards and mailed one to every participating member of the group, but it seems art quilt makers weren’t so diligent as the more traditional quilters (who probably still meticulously carry out such swaps) as I only received 3 or 4 back. I’m not sure what happened to them, but they probably went into a drawer in my Australian sewing room which is still all packed and in storage as I write.

Postcards in a 2006 swap between some art quilt makers. Machine appliqued black or gold leather on each, and machine quilted. Approx 6″ x 4″.

In 2008 website underwent a total redesign, part of which was incorporating my blog to where it is today. A few of the earliest posts did not survive the move intact, but I found the photo for the 2006 post, and I love these long forgotten little pieces. The 10th postcard is pictured separately, because apparently after photographing them and placing them in the addressed envelopes, I found I was one short – so hurriedly made another, photographed that and managed to get them all to the post office down the street just before closing time. I’ve always been a bit of a last minute wonder.

Though colour ways and design units are different for each, they show

  • A design motif/unit I’ve used repeatedly over 20+ years
  • I’ve used leather in surface designs for 20+ years
  • Blocks/repeat units in grids are an enduring influence from traditional patchwork on my textile art
  • I think this was the last artist swap thing took I joined or was invited to take part in, which is fine by me 🙂
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