31 Dec

Knit Night

I Heart Aran Sweater
Knit Night is on Wednesdays and now that I’ve amassed a pretty nice collection of hand knits, I think share them here “in situ.” I finished this I Heart Aran sweater just in time to wear during our coldest months. I was looking for something that I could swap out with the Sweatshirt Sweater I knit last year — and wore nearly every day from December through February. I admired this sweater on another Knit Night pal and with her assurance that it was a straightforward knit, I requested appropriate yarn last Christmas and started knitting in October. Yesterday’s maiden voyage proved this will be the perfect addition to my winter sweater wardrobe.

I Heart Aran Sweater
The sweater close up. Here’s the Ravelry link to my project, and to the pattern from Tanis Fiber Arts.

I Heart Aran Sweater
I loved knitting this neck. It was so satisfying to pick up all the stitches and see the pretty ribbing grow, and to have it all turn out so neatly. Sewing knitting used to scare me. Now it doesn’t. Kitchener stitch is another story.

29 Dec

It’s That Time of Year

As the year draws to a close I find myself getting all ambitious about what I hope to accomplish and organize in the new year. Here’s last year’s list, and the year before. 2009 was a good post, balancing out the previous year’s angst one. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to feel this way in the spring when everything is bursting forth and being born, but I guess it’s a kind of clean slate after a busy birthdays to Halloween to Thanksgiving to birthday to Christmas run combined with new calendar year. January is typically quiet for me, and quiet leads to contemplation.

Americana VII web

So, what’s up for 2015?

Just sitting here writing this reminds me that I’d like to post more. Facebook has admittedly leached my sharing energy and I’m afraid I post there and rarely elaborate over here. I’d like to adjust that balance. I’m also on the verge of updating my website. Nothing big (I hope), but the current framework isn’t working well for me as I have an overflowing list of art that needs to be added to my online gallery and the gallery isn’t cooperating.

I’ll still be working on artwork ideas started in 2014. That flow from one year to the next never changes. I keep thinking I need to assign myself a more rigid work schedule. I could probably just start with less time online.

2015 is the year I’d like to improve my art marketing strategy. A newsletter may be in my future.

I will actively seek art venues for my work as opposed to quilt venues. Not to say I’m abandoning the latter, I just think I may have more audience in the former. I’d like to make “Craft the Internet” happen. I will admit that I have no idea where to start with all of this and that it scares and overwhelms me.

I’d like to have Modern Military Quilts (custom quilts made from customer’s uniforms) ready to launch when we settle on the left coast in the fall.

Yes, we’re moving this summer. This is scary too because we’re planning on buying a house for the very first time. I’m 49 years old and I’ve never bought a house. I am so ready though.

I’m still attending life drawing group. One of the ideas I’d like to pursue is to recreate some of my drawings in fabric and thread. Another idea is to institute Figure Drawing Fridays in which I post the fruits of Thursday’s session. That could get me posting more regularly.

I’ve been feeling the urge to paint/draw patterns. I’m very inspired by what Lisa Congdon has been posting on Instagram from her sketchbook and I readily admit the desire to copy the idea of those full, lush, pages. I also miss the sketchbook work I was doing when I took Melly Testa’s online art journaling class. I feel like I could revisit my tropical designs and quilt pattern ideas in a more casual, painterly way, filling sketchbook pages. It couldn’t do it daily, but maybe weekly. That might be a good way to get back to blogging more regularly. Last year’s daily self portraits only lasted three months though, so I’m not sure the staying power of this lark.

Speaking of regular posts, I was rather proud of myself yesterday when I realized that my new sweater dress was the same colors as a scarf I recently completed and together they made quite the fetching outfit. I had a fleeting thought of posting a hand knit each week as an ensemble, especially since I just finished a lovely aran sweater. Ha, I try to focus my blog and my message, but I just can’t escape my myriad interests and the schizophrenic posts they create!

And finally, that daily list I’ve been making? I stopped making it the last two weeks and I was completely discombobulated. I’m reading Art Inc by Lisa Congdon and she suggests a daily or weekly to-do list. It’s also the mainstay of “Getting Things Done.” The list stays.

11 Dec

On Finding One’s Audience

Zeitgeist web

I love this quilt. I think it’s funny, I think it’s snarky, I think it’s topical, and I think it’s well made. I am proud of it.

So now what? As an artist I kind of feel like my work is a conversation, so it’s not really complete until someone besides me has a response to it. I very much want this giant cat to go out into the world and talk to people.

Zeitgeist is my “fan art” inspired by the Grumpy Cat internet meme. I combined the cat with the styling of Louis Wain, a Victorian era illustrator who’s large eyed cats and zany patterned backgrounds were thought to be an expression of his mental illness. To me the combination of Grumpy Cat’s pessimism and Wain’s schizophrenia perfectly expressed the current mood of the US. To embody this in a quilt large enough to wrap one’s self in further pushed the wackiness of the concept. Yes, comfort yourself with your crazy cynicism.

My first impulse was to submit it to IQF Houston’s annual World of Beauty show in 2013. The Houston show responds well to representational, bright and bold work. Besides, between Quilt Market and Quilt Festival, that’s a lot of eyes on any quilt in the show and that’s a great conversation. Unfortunately, I paid a long arm quilter to quilt Zeitgeist which means it was work for hire and thus disqualified from entering.

So, I settled for the New England Quilt Festival and Pacific International Quilt shows. They were OK, but not really who I thought my target audience was. These were, in general, not the crowd to get excited about an internet inspired, bold fabric using, subtle commentary kind of quilt. Mostly, I think people wondered if this was just a portrait of my cat.

For the sake of contrast and to introduce it to a different audience, I entered Zeitgeist into Art Quilt Elements 2013. Based on the types of work that usually get in, I was pretty amazed that the quilt was even accepted. That piece had no business being at Art Quilt Elements given what is normally accepted and awarded prizes, and yet it won Best of Show. It was the connection to current culture that spoke to the jurors. Yet I wouldn’t have guessed that it would win anything when I entered it.

All along though, I was waiting for the call for entries for the 2015 QuiltCon (biennial) show. The Modern Quilt movement that puts on the show blossomed online. It markets itself to the youthful quilter or at least the quilter with a “fresh” aesthetic. Bold prints are popular amongst many Modern Quilters. Their quilts are meant to be used, not to go on the wall — though there’s plenty that are wall sized. And while I don’t believe that Zeitgeist exemplifies Modern Quilting (and that’s why it was rejected from the Modern Quilt Showcase in Houston), I did believe that the internet surfing, meme generating, bold pattern using, hip, younger show-goers at QuiltCon would understand and appreciate my quilt. I thought that could be an audience that would get excited about it and talk with it.

I’ve been processing the rejection from QuiltCon for a few hours now, and the thing that really sticks out to me is just how hard it can be to find one’s audience. I’m not emotionally crushed, just kind of baffled as to where and how I should be showing my work in this vein. My friend Lorie tells me I’m fishing in the wrong stream. I need to look at the Art world. My work may be grounded in the quilt tradition, but the quilt tradition in any of it’s guises is not my audience. I’ve been mulling over the idea of a “Craft the Internet” show. I admit that I’m scared and apprehensive to put on a curator’s hat and do the work required to create a show, but maybe that’s the way to get my work into spaces where it can converse with an appropriate audience.

08 Dec

It’s Snowballing

The end product might be beautiful, but The Arts are tough. There are a million ways that artists make ends meet, but when it comes right down to it, there appears to be a disconnect in American culture between appreciation for, and actual support of, the arts. Or maybe there’s no disconnect at all. Sometimes I think that the majority of Americans just don’t value the arts period. That’s another discussion though. What I am interested in sharing is the seeming plethora of public peeks behind the scenes and how they expose just how hard it is to make art and make a living at the same time.

First, I read this article by Jack Conte of Pomplamoose about what it takes for a mid-level band to tour, and why they’d do it at a loss.

That was followed up by this post which unfortunately had to defend the first because apparently treating one’s contractors fairly for their work, while expected in the corporate world, is seen as superfluous in the art world since doing work you love and doing work for money should somehow be mutually exclusive. And because apparently supplementing your income with tie-ins and intertwined companies is bad (though it’s perfectly OK for Martha Stewart’s empire).

And then this exploded the web: Revolva, the Hula Hoop Dancer that stood up to Oprah.

And was quickly followed by this one about what exposure does or doesn’t pay for by DIY Doyenne, including her insightful quote as to why:

There is a perception that if you make a living from your creative talents, you are doing it for fun, you know, you’re not really serious. There is a shocking lack of value placed on creativity.

Which then leads us into the Slate article about how we say we want you to think outside of the box but really, we can’t handle the boat being rocked. But again, that’s another discussion.

Closer to home, these discussions reminded me of the brouhaha that erupted within the quilt world a few years ago: Mollie Sparkles’ No Value Does Not Equal Free part one, and part two. (And be sure to follow his related links to the We are Sew Worth It blog posts.)

More recently this post by Abby Glassenberg that confirmed what I had suspected about fabric companies. Browse her site for lots of good, informative craft and sewing related articles.

I don’t have any answers, nor do I expect sweeping change. I just noticed that there seems to be a snowballing of explaining the nitty gritty. And the more information we know, the more appropriate choices we, as individuals, can make. Knowledge is power.

04 Dec

Fiber Art for a Cause

I am proud to be one of 100 fiber artists invited to participate in Virginia Spiegel’s Fiber Art for a Cause.

1 Day – 100 Artists – 100 Patrons – $10,000
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Opens 10 a.m. Central

How The Fundraiser Works

The first 100 people to contact Virginia beginning at 10 a.m. Central on February 4th will be given a link to donate $100 directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause. Each donor will receive an artwork from one of the 100 generous and talented artists participating. Assignments of artwork will be made using a random number generator. This is a great chance to collect a piece of art from one of 100 exciting fiber artists. As a patron, you could win a piece from me, or one of my talented friends like Natalya Aikens, Deborah Boschert, Gerrie Congdon, Diane Doran, Terry Grant, Karen Rips, Terri Stegmiller, and Vivien Zepf, or my favorites like Pamela Allen, Linda Colsh, or Susie Monday and so so many more!  

Questions? See all the details at VFFAC The 100.

Special Note: Our goal of $10,000 will make Fiberart For A Cause’s donations to the American Cancer Society a nice even one-quarter of a million dollars.

02 Dec

Homes for the Baby Quilts

I got my quilting into high gear last week and finished three baby quilts in time to send them off to the Quilt Study Center in Nebraska to be donated to the People’s City Mission. They need quilts of all sizes and styles so it seemed like a super match for my happy little quilts. I hope they will help keep some kids warm this winter.

 

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And guess what, no puckers! I have had issues in the past, but this time I starched the backings and used spray baste for the back (but not the top). The biggest factor was probably that I was using cotton backing instead of puffier wool though, so I’ll have to try wool again before proclaiming victory over the pucker, but for now I’m happy.

 

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