08 Nov

Houston Quilt Festival 2014 (Part 1)

It’s a little hard to explain or wrap up Quilt Festival. It’s big and overwhelming, and I think it’s different for everyone. The first year I attended, it was mostly about curiosity, and a little bit to thank sponsors for supporting my husband’s IBOL project to get sewing supplies to women in Iraq. I was completely overwhelmed and definitely had the feeling that everyone else knew what was going on and I was clueless. The second time I attended was when Twelve by Twelve, the online quilt challenge group i belonged to, had a special exhibit. I had a home base at the exhibit and a bunch of good friends to experience the show with. It was much more fun and I know I got a lot more out of the experience. This year, I went for three reasons: one, I have a piece in this year’s Dinner@8 special exhibit and I wanted to experience being part of that group of ladies; two, it was a great excuse to visit my bestie Deborah and spend time with her; and three, I’m at a point in my “career” where making contacts is important to moving forward and Houston is a good place for that (though I suspect Market is better than Festival, but I’ll take what I can get).

 

IQF Ruby Jubilee exhibit of red and white quilts

 

2014 is/was Quilts Inc’s 40th Anniversary so they celebrated with a Ruby Jubilee. Overall I was super impressed with the look of the show. I think there was great use of vertical space and an unexpected variety in ways of exhibiting work. As soon as Market opened a week before Festival, it seemed everyone was posting photos of the dramatic vortex of red and white quilts. I was curious as to whether it was part of the Infinite Variety show that had been in New York a few years ago, or not. Info at the show confirmed that this collection was very much inspired by Infinite Variety.

Impressive display of red and white quilts

 

I’m not entirely sure what this photo exhibit was about. It may just have been to fill some space and/or show that quilting is worldwide. What I did like was that it was floor to ceiling. All that use of vertical space broke up the rows and rows of eye level quilts in a nice, and surprisingly unobtrusive way.

IQF Houston 2014

 

The Tristan Boutis was probably the most inspired exhibit I saw. A boutis is a french style of quilting with only two layers stitched together and stuffing in select spots to accentuate the design. This is a reproduction of a historic boutis showing the story of the knight Tristan. I love the way the glowing display highlights the construction of the textile.

Tristan Boutis

 

There were a few other plinths too. As a viewer, it was very engaging to be able to see things at eye level, but also to look up and down and way up.

I was impressed by the variety of ways quilts were exhibited

 

Here’s one side of the Dinner@8 exhibit with my friends Deborah and Sarah discussing the work. The colors story on this wall was gorgeous.

Dinner@8

 

Much fun was had taking selfies in front of my Dinner@8 quilt, Selfie. I was so excited to see “the Donnas” and Cheryl from the Hawaii Quilt guild. Here’s Donna E and I with my quilt.

Houston Donna

 

Deborah and I participated in The Quilt Alliance’s Save Our Stories project and filmed three minute interviews with our quilts. She talked about her piece in the Festival of Art Quilts: Home exhibit and I brought my pop art Zeitgeist to hang just for the interview.

Me and my Zeitgeist

 

Open Studios is a nice place to rest one’s feet and pick up a few tips and tricks. Betty Busby has charmed a big group of ladies with her paintstick on silk technique (and her bubbly personality, of course). I seem to run into Betty everywhere and it’s always a joy.

Houston Betty OS

 

In addition to the exhibits and the Open Studios, Houston is all about the vendors. I am sorry to say that I did not budget my time appropriately (maybe my wallet isn’t so sorry) and I did not get the chance to do any of the shopping I wanted to do. I actually had a list of fabrics and threads to check out. I did stop by Aurifil’s promotional booth and won a few spools at their gaming tables. Good fun — these guys know how to maximize promotion. I also took the opportunity to talk long arm options with a half dozen sewing machine vendors. I’m not ready to invest, but it may be the answer to the project I’m brewing.

Gaming for Thread

 

Of course, the socializing is a big part of the experience, and this year I went with the intention of matching names of people whose work I admire and their real-life selves. Dinner with Deborah, Chawne, and Sarah was so much fun. Not only did we have intelligent and interesting conversation, but we’re compatible on the goofiness scale too. here’s where we see that we all share the ability to roll our tongues.

Houston Silly

 

After Quilt Festival, Deborah and I continued on to La Grange, Texas to the Texas Quilt Museum to see an exhibit from the John Walsh collection. The trip was sooooooooo worth changing my flight and making the detour. John Walsh is the preeminent art quilt collector of the day and I have admired many of the works in his collection. Just about every art quilt I’ve ever looked up to as where I would like to be on my path is owned by John Walsh. It was great to see these pieces in the cloth. Some were surprising in the details and construction that one just can’t tell from a photo. All of them stood up to in person inspection. My favorite was New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer (a new name and quilt to me), and Deborah’s was Tim Harding’s Surf Swimmers (deft use of simple folded and stitched bits of fabric to evoke water scenes).

Houston TQM

 

 

After the Quilt Museum, we continued on to San Antonio where we watched Deborah’s daughter’s high school band compete. It was quite the spectacle and they won silver in the state championships. All in All I had a fantastic five days in Texas and I definitely look forward to my next fiber art adventure with friends. My next post will be about some of the quilts I saw and liked at the show.

 

26 Sep

Quilting Arts!

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The October/November issue is in stores now, and I have not one, but two pieces in it! QA gave Dinner@8 Artists a nice write up and features seven of the 33 pieces in the show. My Selfie was one of the seven. I’m pleased that they included a detail photo as well as the overall piece since my quilt is so much about the myriad fabrics that make it up. I went to the framing store to pick up some artwork today, and one of the ladies there is also a fiber artist. She had already read this issue of QA and recognized my work. We talked about the piece a bit, and she hadn’t realized that it included a square from every fabric in my stash. I was VERY brief with my statement, so maybe I should have written more. Or maybe all those fabrics will be a secret to uncover while enjoying the patchwork.

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The exhibit will debut at the Houston quilt show in October/November. I plan on going with my friend Deborah and am looking forward to not only talking to people about the show, but meeting other quilt artists whose work I admire. I love putting names to faces, so if you’re going to Houston too, let me know.

As an extra added bonus, one of the “Breast Pockets” I made for Melanie Testa’s project is featured in the magazine too (as are pockets by friends Natalya and Vivien)

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And if that’s not enough, yet another friend, Lorie, is a featured artist in the same issue! Obviously, this issue is a must-buy, collectors item.

14 May

Dinner@8 Artists Exhibit 2014

LaflammeSelfiesm

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.

Selfie test

 

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.

 

Selfie 1 pix2Selfie test 1

 

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.

 

Stash strips

 

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).

 

Stash grid bw

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.

 

Stash crazies

 

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.

 

Selfie Grid WIP

 

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.

 

Selfie WIP

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.