This is not a potholder. It is my donation to the SAQA trunk show. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing one of the SAQA traveling trunk shows, and I have to say, it’s a great way to introduce the breadth of art quilting to any group. A trunk is a large mailable container filled with 51 tiny art quilts mounted and protected so they are easy to pass around and get a really good look at. My donation is in Trunk C. These trunks are great for SAQA regional groups, critique groups, and for quilt or textile guilds in general. Information to rent a trunk show is on the SAQA website.
I am happy to finally be able to share this quilt, “Selfie: a portrait of the artist as her stash.” It was made for, and has been accepted into, the Dinner@8 Artist’s 2014 exhibit “Reflection.” The exhibit is an annual one that shows at the Festival of quilts in Houston and is curated by Leslie Jennison and Jamie Fingal.
I began this project not really knowing if it would work. I have several other things in the works that I didn’t want to take time away from unless it was for a good cause, and I just didn’t know if I could pull this off. But, I liked the idea of playing off the popularity of a Selfie as a modern self portrait, and the idea of my peculiar fabric stash being a reflection of myself. I shared a few peeks early in the process on Facebook, but here’s how it all came together.
I took a lot of photos of myself (with my phone, of course), in the car, in the mirror, with the phone turned toward me… Duck lips were mandatory.
Next, I cropped the best photos and tried several degrees of pixellation in Adobe Photoshop. I ran these by my trusted friends who helped me decide which was most easily recognizable as a selfie. The photo on the left won, but those squares represent 2″ blocks which were definitely too big. Even 1″ squares on the right were too big for the facial details.
Once committed to the project, I spent four days cutting strips from each fabric in my stash and sorting them by value. I’ve been contemplating making a scrappy Trip Around The World quilt with my whole stash, so I cut with that secondary project in mind (no, I haven’t gotten to it yet).
I took lots of photos with my phone along the way, turning them black and white to check my accuracy. I put the strips in bags marked with corresponding value numbers to keep everything sorted and tidy.
What makes this portrait special is that I’m a fabric omnivore. The concept wouldn’t be the same in all solids, batiks, or natural colored hand dyes. I had to cross my fingers and hope that it would still read as a portrait even if the fabrics were this wacky combination of hand dyes, reproduction prints, novelty prints, florals, Kaffe Fasset favorites, and whatever else that makes up my stash.
My road map was a grid I made in Adobe Illustrator. I decided to use 1/2″ squares for the facial details, 1′ squares for most of the quilt, and 2″ squares for the distorted foreground area and flat background. I assigned a value to each pixel in my photo which would correspond to a bag of strips of the same value. Initially I thought I could pick one strip randomly from the appropriate bag and make this a kind of charm quilt as well. As it turned out, once I got going, it helped to use warm and cool colors strategically, keeping generally to green eyes, red lips, brown hair, and so on. And, while large, my stash isn’t large enough, so I had to use many fabrics several times.
And here it is as I built the face. I had a grid on my design board, but I didn’t include seam allowances, which rendered it pretty useless.
I chose to quilt the piece very simply as I wanted all the pixels to have equal importance. I didn’t want to try any overworked thread painting or end up with a nose that stuck out. This is all about the fabric.
I am so pleased with the final quilt! It was a great relief to see that my initial idea actually did work, and having it chosen amongst all the other fine art quilts for the show is good validation. Please, visit the blogs of the other accepted artists and look forward to posts on the Dinner@8 blog in the coming months. Maybe we’ll even see each other in person or in the cloth in Houston this fall.
If I had a newsletter, this month’s issue would proudly announce that in addition to Zeitgeist winning best of show at Art Quilt Elements (see previous posts), I have sold several artworks recently!
The first is “Staufen Vineyard,” a little landscape that I love. It reminds me of a lovely weekend with friends in a picturesque German town. We returned with my dad a few years later and had an equally lovely time.
The buyer is a friend of my sister in law’s and she also has a connection to the town of Staufen. This was a Christmas present to herself.
The second was a trade. After showing my work in the New Members exhibit at McGuffey Art Center here in town, one of the other artists offered a trade. We swapped one of my wall quilts for one of her wood block prints. I still need to frame hers, but I love this kind of barter!
Finally, my most recent sale was to a collector who found my work via, drum roll please, Pinterest!
For all the Sturm und Dramm over Pinterest, I have come to the realization that it is here to stay, that it is good organic marketing, and that I should embrace the future that is increasingly online.
Speaking of the future online, I think there could be an entire separate conversation about marketing, online presence, social media, attracting collectors and enthusiasts, and keeping work fresh versus keeping work secret as a means to those ends. My experience of late is leaning towards embracing social media. I have things I’d like to show peeks of to let people who like my work know that yes, I’ve been busy, and yes, it’s more than just knitting.
On the secret side, I have a piece that has been accepted into the SAQA regional show Tarnish, so I’m looking forward to unveiling that soon.
I have a piece that was rejected for a book project, but will remain secret until the book is published as it still has a part in the greater event. I have another piece that I’ve been keeping secret because I’d like to enter it into Quilt National, but now an even better opportunity may have arisen, so I could be sharing that soon. There are a few other pieces in secret limbo too.
And, I’ve got two secret pieces that were part of another book project, and that book is out so I can finally share — come back tomorrow for my blog post and giveaway for Lynn Krawczyk’s wonderful book, Intentional Printing! Yippee!
The weekend actually started on Wednesday afternoon when my mom and I packed up a large portion of my Army Wife Series, and all it’s accompanying and borrowed display gear, and drove to Yorktown, VA so we wouldn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn on Thursday. Besides, my friend JoAnne, who, in typical Army wife fashion, I had met in Hawai’i and will now keep in touch with whenever our paths cross, is a wonderful hostess.
Our occasion was a Joint Services Luncheon at Ft Eustis, VA. The speaker was Tanya Biank, so JoAnne, who was on the organizing committee, suggested my artwork as a compatible display. I enjoyed the opportunity to share my work with an audience who might not normally take the time to see it in a gallery, yet would very much identify with it.
I enjoyed talking to many of the ladies and sold a few catalogs and card sets. It was a lot better than letting the artwork sit in my dark closet. On a whim I brought my Square credit card reader which I had never used. It was so convenient to have on hand!
The main event though, was for my mom and I to spend two days in the Philadelphia area to attend the Art Quilt Elements opening night reception and related Saturday events. My Grumpy Cat inspired quilt, Zeitgeist, was in the show and I thought it would be a fun outing for us to go see it, to visit another gallery or two, maybe a few Philly sights, and hear the juror/artists talks.
I knew my cat was huge, especially since someone noted when it was hanging at my local McGuffey Art Center that it was seven feet tall, but I kind of assumed it would look normal sized in Wayne Art Center’s large gallery and surrounded by other large art quilts. Wow! It stood out as huge from the moment you walk in the entrance.
But the REALLY BIG surprise was that Zeitgeist won Best in Show! I was flabbergasted. I absolutely love the quilt, but I was even surprised that it was accepted into AQE. It doesn’t really look like what comes to mind when one thinks Art Quilt show, and it definitely wasn’t what I assumed would be considered prize-winning.
I floated for the rest of the evening. I texted and FaceBooked with my friends and family, and let Sara Wood, who long arm quilted the beast know the good news.
We had Saturday morning free, so I decided we needed to see the fiber art mecca, Snyderman-Works Gallery. Their Fiber Biennial had just started and so the gallery was filled with a wide variety of top-notch fiber work. I took a few photos, but really, one needs to check out the much better photos at Snyderman-Works’ website or the individual artists’ websites. Aside from the wonderful artwork, I really, really enjoyed that everyone at the gallery was friendly, informative, and readily available. Frank was our docent without hovering too much, and I even had a chance to chat for a bit with the founder, Ruth. Everyone was warm and charming. I wish I had a million dollars so I could support the gallery and the artists they feature.
My favorite may have been Richard Saja’s work. I’d seen it online before and it really does stand up in person. So quirky, so well executed, and so unique. I loved the red hair on this lady:
Scenes from a Marriage (detail) by Richard Saja
I also liked the work of Norma Minkowitz. One piece upstairs was frieze- or headstone-like with bird-ish forms and downstairs was this piece entitled Compound, which tells the story of the capture (and killing) of Osama Bin-Laden. The work is knit and then stiffened with resin, which intrigued me since I’ve been knitting a lot lately. It was at once cozy and hard.
Petal Edge (detail) by Piper Shepard. I’m always attracted to cut paper art.
There were several vessels by Pamela Becker, like this one entitled At The Sea. They were exquisitely made, and the contrast in sheen between the linen and the rayon threads she uses is subtle and elegant. The patterning and surprise flowers in the bottoms of the bowls was beautiful too.
After Snyderman-Works, we walked over to Independence Hall, but didn’t have time for a tour or the Liberty Bell. It was nice to see the historic neighborhood though and Independence park.
Our next stop was the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to see some funky work by Caroline Lathan-Steifel.
After Snyderman-Works, this was kind of a let-down. It was so crafty in comparison. But I did like the way the viewer could interact with the pieces by walking around them or looking through them, often at another piece. With fabric being a wrapping, enveloping media, I think we should be thinking more in terms of installation work.
The rest of the afternoon was back at Wayne Art Center to hear the jurors’ comments about some of the works, and to give the artists present a chance to give a little insight too. I’ll save that for another post though since this is pretty long.
Sunday’s drive home was punctuated by a stop at Historic Savage Mill, MD for the annual Homespun Yarn Party where I helped my friend Elisabeth sell her wonderful color changing yarn. Long day, but she appreciated the help, and I had fun being surrounded by yarn goodness. My mom and I came home with beautiful scarf pins and a skein of Elisabeth’s yarn to make next year’s Christmas present for my mom.
I dawdled through November and December thinking that I had all the time in the world to everything that I wanted to do. Then January came and suddenly the time between now and March seems like a blip! I’ve got lots of things in progress, and finally some that I can cross off my list.
Last year, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the SAQA Trunk Shows at a local DC/MD/WV regional meeting. It was inspiring and educational to see so many members’ textile work up close and in the cloth. The variety was wonderful. The end of this month is the due date for submissions to the 2014 Trunk Show and I decided that I needed to participate. I have a hard time working so small (all pieces must be 7″ x 10″), and we often lament that people see such small works as “nice potholders,” (I admit myself to seeing small work not as quilts but as textile art that happens to have some layers). Anyway, I got my snark on and riffed off Magritte’s “Treachery of Images.”
I’ve also been invited to participate in an upcoming art and ecology project at McGuffey Art Center utilizing recycled/upcycled materials.
Using plastic bags, I made yarn (more properly, “plarn”) and knit up a wing/cape thing for someone in the participating dance troupe to wear.
I’m thinking that I’d also like to make a fish trap to display since plastic’s effect on waterways is a big theme of the show. Hopefully I’ll have time to make one.
First though, I’m off to work on a submission for our regional show in conjunction with the upcoming SAQA conference. It feels good to be done with these projects though, and to be pleased with how they turned out.
I’ve been blogging in my head again. After my flag dissection, I meant to blog about the rest of my dad’s and my trip to DC. It was to be an essay in shuttered monuments. That blog post has passed though. The curious can see the photos on my Flickr stream, along with yarns I’ve been collecting and knitting up. There’s some figure drawings there too, because I’m still attending the weekly group at McGuffey.
I’m still working on this too. For the last three days, I’ve written on my to-do list that I’d finish the piecing, but it’s just not going that fast.
I thought today would be the day, but no, I still have 7 more rows to stitch, and then the whole thing to press. Maybe tomorrow.
So, I’m working on a new piece and it requires lots of 2.5″ squares. If anyone remembers making Watercolor Quilts at least a decade ago, the key to keeping all your little squares in order was to fuse them to a gridded backing, then fold between the rows or columns and sew. I’m doing the same, and I thought that it might be a good idea to go the extra step and cut those folds open so that I could press my seams open for less bulk.
Yuck! It looks so sloppy, and it was such a pain to press open without melting the interfacing. I only did four rows and then I decided that it was a bad idea and I’d take tidy bulk over less seam integrity and plain old ugly (even though it would be hidden inside the quilt and no one would ever see it).
On the other side a few circles got caught in the seams. With just a few horizontal seams sewn and the circles appliquéd by hand, it will be easy to take off the offending circles and reposition them. But, the combination of the chopped circles and the sloppy back just ticked me off the night I sewed them and all of a sudden I completely lost momentum on the project. Silly, I know. At least I knew enough to walk away. I slept on it and things looked perfectly surmountable in the morning. I’m taking a short break to make a costume for my daughter (and loving that I can sew together a pretty profi looking skirt and blouse) and I will be back at the little squares soon with renewed enthusiasm.
SAQA’s annual benefit auction is here! Actually, it’s been going on for two weeks now, and has done a super job of raising thousands of dollars for it’s exhibition program so that people all over the US and the world can see more, and more variety of, art quilts. My piece is on page 3b and is up for bidding this week. The price goes down each day, but don’t wait too long or your favorite may already be gone. I have my eyes on one each year, but the ones I like never last long enough to get to my budget. Oh well, more money for exhibits, and I definitely appreciate the opportunity to see and participate in those!
So go check it out!