Friday, June 26, 2015

Today in Art

Today's the day.  I just posted my two latest completed pieces of art in the quilt gallery section of this blog.

 This one is Eastham Low Tide IV

This is Eastham Low Tide, Transfigured.

I use the word "transfigured" in the title of the second one because, in it, the sky is reflected on the sand, and thus the sand is transfigured as a reflection of heaven.

The media are Pebeo Setacolor watercolors and Derwent Inktense Pencils, both applied to pima cotton which is then layered with batting and backing, and finally quilted.  These are whole cloth quilts, which means that they are each made of one single piece of fabric, rather than many pieces sewn together.

I worked on these over the winter, last winter, and the act of creating them got me through those short bleak days.

As always, the natural beauty of Cape Cod is my living inspiration.  These two pieces both depict the patterns of the water and sand at low tide.  These are about the fourth and fifth such art quilts I've painted and quilted, and the beauty of the Cape is such that I'm nowhere near finished yet.

In fact, I'm at the Cape as I write this, just finishing up a two-week vacation. And as today started as a rainy day, not a good one for outdoor activities, Joe and I decided to do something we've never done before in all our Cape vacations:  visit the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis.

It was an inspiring visit because I got to see how accomplished artists render the glorious landscapes of this place. Of course, I couldn't take photos of any of the works that so impressed me, but I could, and did, buy this book:

...and in it some images that I hope will inspire me as I digest the experiences of this vacation.  Here are a couple of them, and as you can see, I'm not the world's best photographer:

This is Autumn Reflections, oil on canvas by Tom Steinmann.

This is Glowing Red, oil on linen by Matthew Schulz
This is Province Lands, oil on canvas by Ann Packard
The contemplation of these landscapes has given me the boost I needed to continue work on this piece, which I brought here to the Cape with me so I could work on it.

It's an image of one of the Pamet trails, in the Truro part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.  It's already been needle felted and wet felted and now is being embellished with hand embroidery.  The materials are silk gauze, wool roving, and pearl cotton embroidery thread.   My inspiration comes from my many, many walks on this trail, which leads to a pristine isolated ocean beach.  In it, I try to convey a sense of mystery, even of the sublime.

I'm planning to hang this piece as part of Seeking a Path, my upcoming solo show at the Clare Gallery of St. Patrick  and St. Anthony Church in Hartford, scheduled for November 2015.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weird from Weird

Have you ever heard the expression Deaf from Deaf ?  Carny from Carny?  I got the first from Andrew Solomon and the second from Stephen King, but in both cases the expressions refer to someone who is a second generation of a category such as carnival worker.  I suppose you could say lefty from lefty, redhead from redhead, and smarty-pants from smarty-pants, too, if you were so inclined.

How about weird from weird?  My newest piece, Tree Spirit, could be called that.  Look at the weird image that inspired it:

This is a root growing out of a hole in the base of a tree growing along Trout Brook, a watercourse near my home in West Hartford, Connecticut.  With its knoblike head, jutting chin, multiple tentacles, and simian crouch, it reminded me of a creature from a fantasy universe, like those created by  JRR Tolkien or JK Rowling.  Capitalizing on that weirdness, I used all kinds of textile arts to create this piece, based on that image:

Here are a couple of closeups:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scrap Happy: An apron for the budding chef in my life

"What am I going to do with these scraps?" I wondered after finishing a recent project.

Then,  somebody mentioned that a little girl in my life

 ...could use an apron in her own size, because  she likes to cook...

...AND that her favorite color is orange.

A new project was born:  turning those scraps into an apron with the same chevron design I just used:

For a pattern, I could  copy one of the many child-size aprons still living in this house.  You never know when you're going to need one.

I used this one, a gift to one of my daughters from a friend in England.

With a chalk pencil, I traced its outlines onto another piece of fabric:
...then I started sewing those orange strips down onto that fabric, and this is what the apron-to-be looked like at one early stage:

Today I finished it, and here are the results:

Next stop:  Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York,

This kind of traditional piecing is relatively non-challenging and therefore relaxing.  This apron is one of two more traditional quilting projects I'm working on right now, for a pause between more challenging and scary work.  I'm loving it!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Birth of a Banner

The Unitarian Society of Hartford is about to welcome and install two new ministers, Reverends Cathy and Heather Rion Starr, to inspire and lead our congregation.

Are we excited?

I feel like I'm living out that old song, "For Me and My Gal"

Everybody's been knowin'
To a wedding they're goin'
And for weeks they've been sewing,
Every Susy and Sal.

I for one have been sewing for weeks if not months.  I'm part of a team that's been brainstorming and constructing a new banner to hang in our chancel to honor this occasion.

Last fall, Reverends Cathy and Heather started us off with some ideas:  Bright colors…rays of light into the sanctuary…something incorporating the energetic thrust of the building…many paths to a common purpose.

With those thoughts in mind, we brainstormed designs that met those criteria, and after much discussion and debate, we decided to take our inspiration from this image, a liturgical banner which one of us found online:

 Using a piece of graph paper, one of us re-imagined this image as a pattern.

That design was enlarged, courtesy of Staples, to a full-size pattern approximately 60 inches high by 40 wide. 

We designed the individual rays in collaboration with one another, and with an eye toward the Reverends' chosen colors.  Then each of us took responsibility for constructing one or more of the rays.  Reflecting the philosophical diversity of our congregation,  no two are alike.  

By January 2015, we were pinning and pondering, pondering and pinning:

Meanwhile, one of our team quietly began construction of a pair of liturgical stoles which we'll bestow on the Reverends during the installation.  In contemplation of this bestowal of stoles, I composed the following deathless rhyme:

Stole bestowal.
Bestowal of stoles.
What, oh what, oh what are our roles?


In March, we reserved space at Sew Inspired, a Simsbury, Connecticut quilt shop, and started getting those rays ready to be sewn onto the quilt top, aka the background:

Once they were sewn down, we were ready to layer front of the banner with batting and backing,  then quilt it.  We decided that, as a banner and not a bed quilt, this piece did not need batting for warmth.  We used batting nevertheless in the expectation that it would give the banner extra body and integrity.


The central image takes its inspiration from the dramatic ceiling of our chancel:

...and its rays are constructed of a fabric with a wood grain look.

 After the banner was quilted, we were ready to apply the binding.  This required a lot of hand sewing, and some of us enjoyed each others company with an informal sewing bee in the USH library on April 15:

Ann Laporte-Bryan and Maggie Greene

Kathie Ferguson and Maggie Greene


At the other end of the same library table, Tina Davies set up her sewing machine and got to work on the stoles:


As with the banner, the stoles have also enjoyed a little hand-sewing collaboration.  Do we artistes know how to have fun or WHAT?

 The banner is so new that as of this writing it hasn’t even sat for its official portrait yet.  But here are 3 preliminary, partial shots:


It reflects not only the energetic upward thrust of our building but also the philosophical diversity of our congregation and of the Unitarian-Universalist denomination as a whole: Coming from our individual stories, we unite in our intentions to honor the individual worth and dignity of every person, support one another in our spiritual quests, and respect the interdependent web of existence, of which we are all a part.

And the process of its design and construction demonstrated the power of community and collaboration.

That's all well and good, but meanwhile, what are we going to do with all these scraps?