Friday, July 30, 2010

Adding a Sleeve to a Quilt

So, the quilt is done and you would like to have it hang - either on your wall or perhaps in a show. Since I rejoined the world of quilting five or six years ago, I have discovered that hanging a quilt is an art in itself, particularly in the realm of art quilts. For this post though, let's keep it simple.  If you are thinking of entering your latest work in a quilt show, there is a good likelihood that one of the requirements will be a placing a sleeve on its back.

One of the best and simplest descriptions that I have found for how to construct and add a sleeve to the back of a quilt is in Gloria Hansen's blog. Rather than recreating the wheel here, please check out her post. I have used the technique she demonstrates (the photos are invaluable!) many times for quilts both big and small and am totally pleased with the results.

What I particularly like about this sleeve is that an allowance is made for the thickness of the hanging rod. This means the top of the quilt is more likely to hang flat, rather than be slightly bowed by the hanging rod. You can see that extra allowance in the sideways photo of a completed sleeve below. The sleeve is also nicely finished - why not have the back look as neat as the front!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elena Gonzales Ruiz, Master Weaver

On a recent visit to the Aspen, CO area, I met Elena Gonzales Ruiz. Elena weaves in the tradition of the Zapotec Indians of Southern Mexico. The Zapotecs had a long tradition of weaving by the time the Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

Elena spends her summers introducing visitors to her weaving at Toklat, a special center under the guardianship of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

As you can see from these photos, the colors in her work are stunning. The dyes use the cochinilla insect which lives on the Nopal cactus. The insects are dried and left in the sun for a week before being ground up and used to create dyes. The darker red in the blanket in the first photo is the natural color of the insect dye.

Elena lives in the village of Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico when she is not weaving at Toklat. You can reach her via email.

For more information on the Zapotec Indians, try this link. I also found more about Elena's family and the village at this site. You might recognize Elena in some of the photos with her full name, Magdalena.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Code Talkers

Yesterday we visited the Ganondagan Historic Site in Victor, NY to hear a Navajo Code Talker speak.  I happen to be working on a caricature art quilt at the moment on democracy in action. Perhaps this made the experience all the more special. The 86 year old Navajo, Bill Toledo, was escorted to the speaking platform by a host of representatives from various tribes that had served in the US military.  A Marine color guard stood at attention throughout Bill's hour long speech.

The Code Talkers created a code during WWII out of their native language that was used successfully through out the Pacific arena. The Navajo who served as Code Talkers were able to convey information to troops in 30 seconds that had previously taken 30 minutes to code. This meant getting help in operations quickly where needed and saved many lives.  The code was never broken.

Bill stood quietly telling his audience the story of his involvement. He told us facts and let us do the interpreting - a bit like displaying a quilt and letting others take away their own meaning. Simple statements such as 'we lost 33% of our division in that operation' made it clear that he and his fellow Code Talkers lived through much and were true heroes. Only about 50 of these men are still alive today. It is a gift to be able to hear one relate firsthand about a most amazing contribution. It was equally touching to be in the presence of the many veterans in the audience who snapped to attention almost instinctively when the flag was paraded. It is good to be reminded that we have many heroes in our midst and appreciate that they are all ordinary people who chose extraordinary action in a time of need.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inspiration from Kyoto

Some shapes and colors from a trip I took to Kyoto.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Darn the Turtle

(Nick is in the lower right square.)
It all started with a turtle. While reverse appliquing the final of a series of turtles, I nicked the underlying cloth. Just slightly. My internal dialog raged...No one would notice...It was tiny...I was keeping it anyway..

I didn't really want to cut another turtle. I paced for a bit and stepped back to grasp the bigger picture of what was going on. (Amazing how my conflict resolution training of stepping back to get perspective applies to turtles and beyond. :) )

The bigger issue wasn't the turtle, of course. Check out this photo of the background that five turtles were going to be journeying across. Notice anything? Check out the border in the corners.

In sewing the outside blocks, I had messed up the pattern. I didn't realize it until I had placed some cut outs of turtles on the background and taken a photo. (Lesson: Photos are not only a great way to step back and get perspective on a design but also to catch silly errors.)

That first problem had happened back in June. I had rationalized my way into letting it go and continued to cutting out the turtles. I wasn't thrilled but I had been really good at rationalizing in June. But, now it was July and I had another error - actually far smaller than the first - but big enough to  cause me to step back and look at the real conflict.

The truth was that I didn't really want to make an imperfect quilt, even for myself. If no one else ever noticed the errors, I would know they were there.  I didn't really want this quilt to be a reminder of my many imperfections. I wanted to smile every time I saw it - why else would you decide to put a groups of turtles crossing your quilt?

The answer was clear. It was fine that I didn't want to cut out another turtle right now. I had a bigger issue to address. I really needed to be tearing out that border. Then I could deal with the turtle issue. And, that's what I did.

Now I am smiling at myself and my background. Doesn't it look great!

PS. Yes, eventually I cut another turtle too.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nancy Crow Exhibit at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center

This weekend my husband and I drove over to Auburn, NY to see the Nancy Crow Exhibit at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center. The exhibit program describes Nancy as one "among a select group of great American artists who have made their mark by elevating a time honored traditional craft to that of fine art." 

How true that statement is. As I walked through the galleries of Nancy's works, I realized, from across a room, that I was viewing them as I would paintings or other works of art. Only when I got up close did I begin to view and appreciate them as quilts.

I decided to go see the exhibit not just because I have heard so much about Nancy Crow from fellow quilters.  I was particularly drawn to her as I read some of her blog entries.

Two quotes, in particular, caught my eye:
But there are always two things happening in my art: the visual influences and an emotional underlay. All my work has a very strong emotional underlay which I don’t necessarily write up or let people know about.  
I’m 66 and I have made a decision and promise to myself that my work is going to keep growing and changing. I’m not interested in plateauing and doing the same thing. As long as I’m physically able, that’s my promise to myself. Perhaps this will mean exploring certain techniques in depth, perhaps not.  
I feel strongly that, for me, there needs to be an emotional component in creating any quilt or art piece. And, I appreciate that it is not essential to share that with others - leaving viewers the option to have their own emotional interpretation of my work.  Her second quote excites me as I identify and embrace the idea that we are never too old to explore and learn and try new techniques and ways.

The exhibit itself showcases 57 of Nancy's quilts including a few of her early pieced quilts as a contrast to her more recent work. It is a stunning exhibit that I wish all quilters could have the opportunity to see.

Friday, July 16, 2010

One of Those Days (Weeks)

Well, I arrived home full of energy and ideas for my art work. But, this turned out to be one of those weeks when things didn't go quite as planned. A planned change in computers has taken far more time than I expected. So, my sewing machine has sat fairly quiet for the week.

However, I do have some beautiful photos to share from my trip.

 Aren't the colors fascinating in this flower? I think it might be a Columbine - I was hiking in the Rockies when I took the photo - but I have never seen a center like this before.
 The lines in this Aspen leaf also fascinated me.

And, finally, catching the dew drop on this last flower.

All reminders to me of the beauty in details if we take the time to breathe and see. 

I hope that none of you have had as hectic a week as me :) but, if you did, it is most definitely time to slow down and enjoy the scenery. 

Next week I hope to share the steps I went through to create a stamped overlay for one of my art pieces. And, perhaps a few more photos.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Arrival

I arrived home to a new metre of dyed fabric from Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven in Australia.  I came across a reference to Lisa and her fabrics in a SAQA discussion about a year ago. I decided to try some of her fabric and found it worked extremely well for me. Both my Rice Fields and Homeless art pieces use primarily Lisa's fabrics. Lisa has a Metre Club where you receive a metre of dyed fabric every month. I am amazed at how her pieces inspire me to create.

Isn't this new piece wonderfully mysterious? I never know for sure what will be arriving in the mail. Some of the metres run an entire gamut of colors. Others are more monochromatic, like this one. I can't wait to create something with this piece. I am immediately thinking of the sea..... Will keep you posted!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog. This is a new endeavor for me and I hope it will evolve into a place to share ideas, techniques, and what is happening with my art work. As I begin to post in the next few days, I welcome your comments!