08 Jul

Juan’s Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table

The Sliced Quilt I organized with the internet group Texies (we’re far more active in our closed Yahoo group than the blog leads one to believe) is finished and will soon be on display in England at Festival of Quilts.
We entered it into the juried Quilt 2008 contest because, even if it was not chosen, it could still be hung in the open Group Quilts category. It’s a good quilt and it was worth the effort to see if it would be chosen.

It wasn’t chosen.

I’m not disappointed though, because the reality of this quilt is that it is most definitely a group project. I think it will be perfectly placed in the group category, and maybe it will even find some other “sliced” friends.

Juan's Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table

“Juan’s Fruit Salad on a Sliced Table” 2008
by eight members of Texies, left to right, top to bottom: Kristin La Flamme,
Cordula Klöfkorn, Edith Blaurock, Christiane Kühr, Erika Beetz, Birgit Friese, Susanne Neuhauser, and Elke Kollender.

While we were working on this, discussion was raging on some internet lists about copying other artists’ work. Arguments ranged from “copying the masters has long been a teaching tool,” to “a true artist needs only to look inward for inspiration.” Of course, issues of copyright raised their ugly head too.

Here’s what I was thinking when we embarked on this project:

First and foremost, I was curious about how an image could be translated into fabric. It is fascinating how differently eight (or eighty for that matter) people can interpret the same source material. I see the same thing in traditional quilting — eight quilts using the same pattern (such as a Bear Paw or Whig’s Retreat) and layout (on point, straight rows, etc) can look very different depending on fabrics chosen, quilting technique and pattern, and embellishments added or not.

We considered using a photograph taken by one of the group members as our source image, but agreed on two points that using an existing painting as our inspiration was the preferable route.

  • Point one is that an existing painting would be “neutral ground.” No one could begrudge another in the group for providing an unbalanced composition, colors that clash, boring subject matter, etc. Nor would any one of us have more ownership of the finished quilt than the others.
  • Point two was that recognizability would work in our favor. If the viewing audience was familiar with the original painting, then our individual textile interpretations would stand out all the more.

I found a sampling of paintings that have stood the test of art textbook- and poster manufacturer-time and presented the group with a half dozen works, ranging from the Dutch Masters through the Impressionists to Modern Art, that had enough of an overall composition that no one quilter would be shorted visual material. We voted and Juan Gris won. Consequently, we did not choose to interpret “Pears and Grapes on a Table” because we lacked artistic vision, we chose it because it supported our initial reason for embarking on this project. That of seeing what we could each do with fabric.

As for copyright issues, I do not claim to be an expert in this matter. In fact, I personally run from legalese as much as possible. However, I understand that copyright laws exist mainly to protect against copies of works that might be mistaken as the original thing and to ensure that proceeds gained go to the creator or rightful owner of said works.

To that end, this is not a reproduction of a Juan Gris painting. We do not want anyone to think that this is a Juan Gris painting. We do not even want to mislead anyone into thinking that Juan Gris made this quilt. Nor are we trying to convince anyone that the Texies created this composition out of our own imaginations. No, this is a fabric interpretation of a Juan Gris painting. That’s why we pay homage to him in the title. I hope that it is obvious to all viewers that there is no tomfoolery going on here.

I attempted to contact the current owner of the original painting, but only came up with a foundation in the name of the people who’s names were credited on several online sources. The foundation said that they did not own the painting and did not know who did, but if they DID own it they would see no copyright issues with our interpretation even if we wished to show it in public. If we wanted to show a photographic reproduction of the original next to our interpretation, then we might have issues and would probably need to credit the current owners and/or whoever made the reproduction. But our quilt in and of itself did not seem to pose a threat to any copyrights.

Americans who have researched current copyright issues might get their shackles up if I have wrongly interpreted the spirit of the law, but bear in mind: of the eight quilters who worked on this project, only one is American. One is Swiss and six are German. Seven sections of the quilt were created in Germany and one was created in Switzerland. Nothing was actually created in America. Juan Gris was Spanish, and I presume the original painting resides in Spain. So even if I had a deep knowledge of American copyright law, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t apply word for word to this project. I’m just saying all this based on topics in the online discussions I’ve been listening in to. We intend no offense — just the opposite — we are indebted to Juan Gris for creating a beautiful painting that has inspired us to push our artistic skills as far as we can, and that brought us together for some good, creative camaraderie.

After Festival is over, we will pass the quilt around the group so everyone can enjoy it, and then eventually donate it to a charitable cause. I’m happy to be able to share our quilt with a wider audience as well through it’s display in Birmingham. Maybe others will be inspired to embark on interesting group projects too.

20 Mar

Nom Nom 2

I’m finishing projects right and left! Nom, nom, nom, finished projects — tasty!

This one is a little one:

Sock Monster Money Holder

Zavi went to a birthday party and needed a little something to hold the cash we were giving (the recipient and her friend are saving up money to buy a little house for the garden their families co-own). I had bookmarked this sock monster tutorial from 13th Street Studio. Add a miniscule garden rake and it’s perfect. I would however suggest using adult, or at least big kid, socks — little kid socks make a tiny monster.

I’ve also finished sewing together all the Sliced Quilt parts for the Texies project I organized. I’m not going to show it though, because we want to send it The Festival of Quilts in August. They have no rules against previously published works, but I thought it would be more fun to leave a little something to anticipation. (I still have to sew on the sleeve today.)
Sliced Quilt Back

I’ve also finished two 12 x 12 Community quilts. I am beginning to love the small format. I thought I was done, but then had a brainwave a few days later and went ahead and tried it out. I’m not sure if I like it any better than the first one, but I’m glad I at least tried it. I’ll post my results at the end of the month.

I’m also done with my Quilted Chaos (local group) “Log Cabin With a Twist” challenge quilt. We’re showing them off tonight so I’ll post about that one later (ha ha, no peeking Deborah in Heidelberg!).

14 Jan

Sliced Quilt piece: check

After a slow begining, (can’t be helped, I was on vacation ;-)) Start Fresh January is finally underway. Yesterday I finished my section to the Sliced Quilt that was to be finished at the end of 2007. I’m now putting the Sliced Quilt assembly aside for a bit while I finish two other projects with looming deadlines. I’m OK with that since I don’t need to send in any paperwork for Festival of Quilts until about May. (I’m not going to wait THAT long to sew the sections together though.)

My section of the Texies Sliced Quilt

I blocked it yesterday and am very pleased with the results. My initial idea was to use a running stitch (often called Kantha after traditional Bengalese stitching) with black perl cotton for the shadows. Oddly, I had a hard time finding the what I wanted and went with some lovely, thin, Danish thread intended for fine cross stitch. It took a lot of stitches, but looked good. However, as I worked the piece I didn’t like how puffy the non-stitched areas were, so I added stranded embroidery floss that I had on hand in the colored areas. Somewhere along the way, I finally found a perl cotton, but it was much heavier than the other threads I was using. A voice inside told me to just go ahead and throw it on top for the deeper shadows. I’m glad I did because, even though I didn’t use much, it adds a nice dimension and did help the blacks go blacker.
Detail of Kantha-esque stitching

08 Jan

Pieces Parts

Painting by Juan Gris

Juan Gris
Pears and Grapes on a Table 1913

Sliced Quilt parts

Interpretation by Texies

First row, from left: Kristin, Cordula, Edith, and Christiane. Second row, from left: Erika, Birgit, Susanne, and Elke. 

Here they are — all the Texies Sliced Quilt project parts. Mine still needs some more stitching since I don’t like how poofy the non-shadow parts look. When I finish my part all I need to do is sew them all together and bind it. We’re thinking about sending it to Quilt Festival in Birmingham, UK. The deadline isn’t until May, so I don’t see any problems. As I had hoped, everyone has interpreted their part a bit differently and there’s a nice variety of techniques. One of my favorite parts is how the commercial fabric Erika used for the wood in the lower left corner has a very similar color and feel to Edith’s oil stick version in the lower right corner.

Some of my other favorite bits:

Cordula‘s use of plaid fabric for the woven seat:

Cordula's part

Edith’s shiny green silk:

Edith's part

Christiane‘s hand quilting:

Christiane's part

Erika’s luminous knife and wood” fabric:

Erika's part

Birgit‘s ultra-dimensional cloth:

Birgit's part

Susanne‘s excellent machine quilting:

Susanne's part

Elke’s text:

Elke's Part

24 Nov

Two Steps Forward

It’s been a while since I posted progress on the Sliced Quilt project I’ve been doing with the German online group, Texies. At first I suggested we take two months to do it, but everyone else said, “no, we need more time.” Guess who needed no less than three months just to get around to starting? Yup, I guess I have no concept about what I’ve got on my plate.

Anyways, my part started with simple patchwork and a bit of appliqué, and now I’m stitching the shadows and modeling as my evening hand-work project (the Lone Star is my daytime machine project).

Sliced Quilt WIP -- my part

A few days ago, Erika sent me her finished section. Wow, it’s completely different from mine. That’s the great part about this project. Now I’m very excited to see everyone else’s sections. I can’t wait to see all the variety!

Sliced Quilt WIP --Erika's part

She used a combination of piecing, appliqué, machine needle-felting, and a bit of melted organza. Every black is a little different. I love the “wood” fabric, which doesn’t look like wood at all, and yet it’s says “I’m the wooden part” without a doubt.

Out of sheer serendipity, our two pieces go next to each other. Here’s a taste of what the quilt will look like when all the parts are sewn together. My shadows on the bottom will eventually line up as nicely with hers as the tiles do.

Sliced Quilt WIP

03 Nov

It’s as Obvious as the Nose on My Face

Sliced Quilt WIP

Do you know when you have an idea in your mind of how you want something to be, but then you just can’t make it come out your hands? Yeah, I’m there right now.

This is my section for the Sliced Quilt project I’m doing with an online group I belong to, Texies. My plan is to have the basic shapes pieced and then to do all the shading with embroidery stitches, Kantha-style. I made freezer paper templates of all the pieces and figured that I could just sew them together using lots of pins and the freezer paper as guides. It worked fine for the straight lines and gentle curves, but it just wasn’t working for the tight curves like the red spotty piece to the upper left. This is why Cynthia England’s and Ruth McDowell’s techniques require one to re-draw shapes to simplify them. But I didn’t want to add more seams to the picture because to me, it’s not about the construction, but about the eventual embroidery. So, in a fit of frustration, I layered a few pieces and sewed them together with a small zig-zag stitch. It worked great. Perfect fit, no awkward curves. But I really don’t like zig-zag showing on top of a quilt. Don’t ask me why. There are zillions of quilters out there who have embraced the monofilament and the small zig-zag, and make wonderful work, but I’m not one of them. Even with matching red thread, it’s just not what I was aiming for. It dawned on me later today that if I can’t piece it and I don’t like the look of machine appliqué, then why don’t I just hand appliqué it? I could still use the freezer paper templates, even though they’d get crinkled as I hold the work. That’s not so bad, is it? Why did I not think of this at the beginning?

24 Jul

Two Quick Links

Time is short today, but I have two links to share.

First, my SAQA “One Foot Square” donation quilt goes to auction today — along with all the other gems on pages three and four. Feel free to tell any friends looking for interesting artwork to go check out the auction.

Second, the Texies Sliced Quilt “starter packs” are starting to arrive at their destinations. Christiane has already blogged her part, so I won’t bore everyone with basicly the same info. I may have said before that my piece is mostly red though. I don’t get any of the cool script to work with that Christiane got.

20 Jul

The Next Step

I spat out a bunch of German words in the last post which mean a lot to me, and probably not much to anyone else (except my German friends/readers). Yet another word is Schultüte, which is a big cone which Kindergarteners get at the end of their last year — before they start First Grade. The cone is filled with sweets and school supplies. Kindergarten in Germany is most like a combination of Preschool and Kindergarten in the United States, so kids are there between three and four years. Kindergarten is for play, socialization, gross and fine motor skills, language building, etc, but unlike in the US, it is not for learning to read and write. Therefore, the transition to First Grade is a milestone and a big fuss is always made. Last night, Katja had a big sleepover in Kindergarten with all the other kids who will start “School” in September, and this morning we had a celebration with gifts for the teachers, and most importantly, the Schultüten for the kids! For the grandmothers, here’s Katja and her Schultüte:


I’m moving on too (although not nearly as monumental a move). I’ve got all the instructions and cartoons ready for the Texies Sliced Quilt project. I hope to get these in the mail to all the participants Monday at the latest. Then I need to contemplate how I will do my section — which appears to be draped red fabric.

Sliced Quilt preparation