Culture on the Gulf

To go with its upscale reputation, Naples, Florida, sports an impressive art museum/performance center that houses the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum. My husband chauffeured me from Fort Myers to the museum so I could soak in more southwest Florida art. Unlike the collection of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota which features walls of European Madonnas, saints, and portraits bought in quantity; the Baker Museum has a more contemporary collection with many Mexican and American artists. The work is also more scaled for display in a modern private home.

I enjoyed browsing the permanent collection as well as special exhibits, especially one called Ocean Gleaning by Pam Longobardi. The museum is small enough you won’t suffer visual fatigue, yet diverse enough you can discover gems in each room. Too often I find smaller museums feel compelled to have third rate work by big name artists like Picasso rather than first rate work by lesser known figures. The Baker Museum has a few Chihuly sculptures that aren’t his best in my opinion, but the charm of other works make up for them.

Here are some works that caught my eye. Each photo is followed by the museum’s description. Be warned, there’s lots of photos.

And that’s not all. There are two additional galleries in the performance center with interesting cyanotype prints by Noelle Mason and wall sized charcoal drawings by Gonzalo Fuenmayor.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point, I offer the sunrise art we enjoyed on our trip north.

I am linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Getting Warmer

Just after Christmas my husband and I headed south to Fort Myers, Florida, for a stay at my brother in law’s condo. After enduring lots of traffic bottlenecks (no, not that one in Virginia thank goodness) we arrived to temperatures in the mid 70s and mostly sun.

I brought a few projects with me, including my long running felted wool embroidery, but I’m spending more time walking in SHORT SLEEVES and totally ignoring any inclination to find a fabric store.

Four of the circles I’ve begun embroidering.

So, the beach

Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs

The Ringling Museum in Sarasota (go here for links to the collection)

Museum courtyard
View of Sarasota Bay from the 8,000 square foot terrace of Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling’s palatial home

One advantage Florida has is year round locally grown vegetables. We went to Southern Fresh Farm for hydroponically grown tomatoes and lettuce. While there we sampled beers from the Crazy Dingo, conveniently located next door. I had to get a photo of this visual pun.

Because we drove I was able to pack my portable sewing machine and a bag of scrap strips, including already sewn together strips. After lots of mindless sewing I’ve composed four large log cabin blocks in yellow, blue, gold/brown, and red/orange. I have a vague idea of combining them into one, but that will wait until I’m back home.

The strip rows are sewn but are not joined together yet. The center is an orphan block.
One joy of working with scraps is remembering when I first used the fabrics. The middle of this one is cotton stamped with bleach and then stitched.

Most likely we are driving back to chilly Ohio as you read this. Next week I’ll tell you about another art museum I visited, and anything else we’ve done besides stuffing our faces with Gulf shrimp.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday. This week I learned that tangents are shapes that touch or connect in a way that is visually bothersome.

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Gwen Marston’s “Minimal Quiltmaking”

Since I’m on vacation I’m republishing a post from 2014. I did meet Gwen in California and can say she was shyly elf-like.

Original Post:

Gwen Marston has been recognized for many decades as an influential quiltmaker. She developed her style early in her career or, as art quilters like to say, found her voice. Amish and what I call primitive quilts have been huge influences on her work. She quilts much of her work by hand.

Gwen’s most recent focus is minimal quilts. These are featured in her latest book, Minimal Quiltmaking. This is a process oriented book that articulates an approach to quilt design, not a quilt pattern book.

By minimal Gwen means quilts that have been stripped to their essence – sparse shapes done in solid colors. She divides her chapters into hard edge, minimal color, and art inspired quilts.  While she features many of her own quilts, she also gives space to quilts made by others in a minimal style.  This is helpful as it shows other quilt personalities.

Gwen’s process is partly intuitive, but not improvisational. She often begins with a traditional basic form – medallion, log cabin, strippy – and builds from there. She also uses pencil and fabric sketches. While she may begin with a plan, she believes one should remain open to opportunities that present themselves during the construction process.

As Gwen points out, designing a minimal quilt is hard, and it gets harder when you set limits such as using only one color or only pale neutrals.

gwenmarston Minimal in NeutralsMinimal in Neutrals by Gwen Marston

gwenmarston TurquoiseTurquoise by Gwen Marston

In the two quilts above, you can really see the difference in texture created by hand quilting versus machine quilting.  The neutrals one was hand quilted, and I just want to run my hands over it. You can see how much hand quilting adds to the piece below as well. I can’t believe I’d be advocating hand quilting, since I do only machine quilting, but there it is.

gwenmarston Medallion IIMedallion II by Gwen Marston

Minimal Purple Kristin ShieldsMinimal Purple by Kristin Shields (above) is an example of a hard edged quilt that combines hand and machine quilting. That may be the way I end up going on some quilts I have in process.

To get to the bottom line, is this book worth spending $24.95? The answer may depend on where you are in your quilting journey and what inspirational resources you already have. If you don’t have many, the photos are well worth the money. And if you want examples of stunning hand quilting, you’ll want the book for the last chapter alone. If you already have lots of quilt calendars that feature glorious old quilts or books of Amish quilts, you may want to borrow rather than buy this book, though I hope you’ll have the chance to spend some time browsing through it.

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Neotraditional

I’m wrapping up 2021 with a throwback to tradition. What makes it neotraditional is the leaves, developed from a photo I edited and had printed by Spoonflower.

Untitled, about 32 by 40 inches

Each leaf is framed with solids from my stash, and hand dyed linen from the theater costume shop. The outer borders are Marcia Derse fabric. The binding is made from her fabric as well. Since I took the photos I’ve blocked the quilt to remove waviness.

Detail

I used three shades of red and a brownish gray to quilt swoopy curves meant to suggest wind blown leaves. The back is truly nontraditional, as I used hunks of very different fabrics that have spent far too long sitting in the drawer. I had planned to use the left stripe for binding, and it did finish the edges of a few quilts. Now, however, I mostly face the edges. The middle fabric could be used for measuring, in a pinch. The right fabric is by Paula Nadelstern and just shouted “look at me” too much for easy use.

Back

For some reason I’ve been struggling to name this one. Possibilities I’ve considered include Sycamore, Found On The Path, and Ode to Autumn. There’s no hurry, as I won’t be entering it in any shows. My husband will be thankful there’s a quilt around the house he can “get.”

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More Ironed Collage

Apparently I was overly enthusiastic in coating magazine pages with gloss medium for ironed collages. I had lots of colorful pages left so I created a few more collages, using the technique I mentioned earlier from Gerald Brommer’s book, “Collage Techniques.” This time of year around the winter solstice I need all the brightness I can get.

I combined a fashion photo shoot (I have no idea why only the women’s feet show) with rugs, desert scenes, and bits of ads.
Stamped brown bag and painted scraps joined bits from outdoor clothing ads to form a rocky terrain.
An Armani ad with a quilt by Eleanor McCain, a travel photo, and bits left from other collages.

And I still have a few bits left, though my inspiration will have quite a stretch to make anything coherent from them. I realize some of you may think I’ve already reached incoherence in the above work.

Why make these? I find them helpful exercises in composition as colors and some shapes are predetermined. They also help me learn to step away from the original photo subjects to create a new context. Finally, they scratch my scrap itch, only with paper.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under collage, Completed Projects, Techniques

Out Of The Woods

As the sands in the hourglass that is 2021 run through to the bottom I want to finish a few pieces that have been in the fabric closet. So of course I began a new piece and finished it, jumping the queue on those pieces waiting so patiently. I promise to quilt one of them by December 31.

This early morning view from my kitchen window spoke to me, so I used it to give focus to my pink piece as the birds I originally thought to use weren’t working. I talk about it in the linked post.

I don’t make these colors up, you know.

That got translated into the following:

“If You Go Into The Woods Today” 24 inches wide by 34.5 inches high

I quilted it with a walking foot and free motion. Here’s the back for you folks who like that sort of thing. My backs are not works of beauty. The best I’ll say about them is I bury the thread ends. I use whatever bobbin thread color helps the front.

I’ve been using up large fabric scraps for backs, so they have been getting weird.

I hope to have more finished (well, quilted) work by the end of the year. I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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I’m Now Post Modern

For many years I’ve been a member of The Modern Quilt Guild, and was part of a now defunct local modern quilt group. I’ve watched a movement that began about 2009 go national in a big way; capture the quilt book and fabric markets; and launch many teaching, fabric and pattern design careers.

For a long time I was enthusiastic about this alternative to traditional quilting groups and made many quilts that to me had a modern aesthetic. I was always a bit puzzled about the exact definition of a modern quilt, which seems to have morphed a bit over time, as the definition expanded to include neo-traditional efforts. At first modern quilts were made of solid colors almost exclusively. Then, prints were added to the mix, especially after modern fabric lines were produced. Early modern quilts were often wonky. Nowadays, engineered precision is a hallmark of some modern quilts.

A big feature of the MQG is the annual QuiltCon. I gather there were over 2,000 quilts entered into the 2022 juried show. That means many, many “sorry, but” emails went out recently. I received one of them. Here’s my reject, “Calliope.”

Previous years’ rejects include:

“Arches”
“Not Quite Nancy”

The quilts selected for the 2022 show had better be great, as many of the quilts shown on Instagram under the #quiltconrejects hashtag are show-worthy to my eyes. I was surprised to learn that some quilters submitted up to 10 entries. Obviously I’m an amateur with my one measly entry.

Shapeshifting almost always comes about in a new movement as it matures. However, I’m at the point of wondering what are the differences between traditional and modern quilt groups, besides the kinds of fabric prints used and age ranges of participants. Both kinds of local guilds seem to have similar structures and activities; and books, magazines, teachers, notions, patterns, etc., geared to their interests.

For this discussion I want to separate modern quilting from the organization called the Modern Quilt Guild. I have learned much from early advocates of modern quilting, and had hopes that the MQG would be different from previous quilting organizations. Alas, I find that professionalization and marketing are increasingly important elements of the MQG. The freshness, the “wow, check this out,” seem overwhelmed with the marketing of stuff.

I have not found recent offerings on The Modern Quilt Guild website useful. Lots of patterns and basic sewing videos are featured. I understand this is what many members want. The number of webinars seems to have decreased, though a recent one on zippers was interesting. While the MQG is listed as a participant in the Textile Talks series, it has offered fewer programs than other groups. Of the 78 Textile Talks listed on YouTube, none are sponsored by the MQG. I find this disheartening, given the size of the organization compared with other more active Textile Talks participants like SAQA and the Quilt Alliance.

The proverbial straw? The day after I received my “sorry” email another one arrived announcing an annual dues increase. Talk about bad timing! I had kept up my membership so I would be eligible to enter QuiltCon. Since being juried in seems an unlikely event, I see little reason to continue as a member of the MQG.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on modern quilting. It does mean I’m out of sync with what the MQG offers. I think that over time I’ve integrated modern quilting with art quilting, and my focus is more on the art side. Of course I’ll check out the quilts on display at QuiltCon, and admire the many wonderful works, but I am bowing out of the modern quilting organization.

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A Peek Into My Past

Some art quilters seem to spring fully formed from the head of Nancy Crow (this makes sense only if you know Greek mythology.) Others have inched their way to the art part of quilting. I am definitely in the latter group. I was reminded of this fact as I sorted through photos of my old, pre-2014 quilts. Almost all were based on patterns, though I recall only one that came with already chosen fabric.

Since I had the photos up I thought I’d give you a show of my work before I became an “artist.” Most of the quilts shown below have been given away, so I can’t take better pictures of those that weren’t well photographed. Thank heavens for photo editing software.

Since making a bed quilt is a rite of passage, here are two I made. Both spent time on my bed, though not at the same time.

Made in 1989, this is still on my bed. I paid someone to hand quilt it.
I got the scrap quilt bug early. This one dates to about 2000.

I made a wall hanging to match the bed quilt above.

Donated for an auction.

I will try to present the rest of this special virtual exhibit in order of creation, but sometimes there was quite a gap between piecing and quilting.

From Mary Ellen Hopkins’ “It’s Okay To Sit On My Quilt.” I still love this quilt, especially all the different solid navies I used. Who knew there could be such variety. My fellow guild members were horrified.
One of the few flower quilts I’ve made came from a magazine pattern. The odd angle is because it hangs in a stairwell.
The most precisely pieced quilt I ever made. It was done in a Quilt University class called Press for Success. I dislike the color palette – too drab.
My first fused applique quilt, from a magazine. The bottom right umbrella was my touch. Also my first time quilting with invisible thread. Not pretty.
Farmer’s Daughter pattern made from family fabrics mixed with new.
Yet another magazine pattern, and very pastel for me. Major problems with alignment of blocks and quilting tension. I would have ripped out the stitching but it was so small. It needs much more quilting. The border was my idea.
I took a class on tumbling blocks and made this weird quilt. It was good practice in making a variegated background.
A Carol Doak paper pieced pattern I made up as a guild fundraiser. I cheated on the lighthouse with a striped fabric.
“Spooling Around” was made from a magazine pattern, again, and used a fat quarter batik pack. It hung above my work desk for a few years. I sure did like variegated rickrack.

The total absence of hand turned applique reflects my aversion to it. It takes far too long. I skipped other quilting rites of passage as well – no sampler quilt, no hand quilting, no red work or other embroidery, no quilted vest, no pumpkin and Santa wall hangings, etc. I see my color palette has remained constant. So has my love of scrappy quilts. I also see baby steps towards doing my own thing, with tweaks to patterns and unusual (sometimes downright odd) color/pattern combinations.

in 2008 I designed and made a piece I called My First Art Quilt.

I must have thought braid and bias strips were a must in an art quilt.

I continued to work in both traditional and nontraditional styles for a few more years, and still will not turn up my nose at a really good pattern, though I may take a few liberties.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Thankful for Leftovers

Over the years I have received many arts and crafts leftovers – fabric, thread, paper, paint, frames, patterns, books, quilting rulers, etc. This Thanksgiving I’d like to thank the donors, and especially three people who have given me a lot of goodies.

First, Penny has generously shared any collage bounty that’s come her way – papers, wallpaper samples, and less than perfect monoprints she’s made. She’s also given me lots of fabric, plus other crafting supplies. Some of the fabrics can be seen on the fronts and backs of my quilts. I’ve used her castoff monoprints in many collages. The wallpaper samples are great for rubbing textures, backgrounds, and even holiday cards.

Monoprint rejects and torn magazine pages
Cut up monoprints, stitched together
Cut up wallpaper mixed with monoprints and other remnants, sewed onto a wallpaper sample

Then, Felice, a talented embroiderer and quilter, gifted me large scrap bags of felted wool, left over from her many quilts. The scraps have spoiled me for hand stitching. I don’t want to work with anything else. Many of the scraps are in an incomplete project, but I’ve used a few in mixed media pieces. As a bonus, many pieces already had fusing on the back.

A paper/fabric experiment
Organza and felt scraps stitched together with Sulky water soluble stabilizer

Finally, all my glittery fabric desires have been fulfilled by Jasen, the costume designer at Weathervane Playhouse, where I volunteer. Occasionally he’ll save leftover hand dyed fabric for me as well. In return, I’ve made him art quilts that used his fabrics.

“Nebula” used many scraps from “The Little Mermaid” costumes
“Disco Woks” is made almost totally of costume shop scraps.

Many others have shared their bits and bobs with me through give away tables at quilters’ meetings, online giveaways, or “here, would you like to have this?” casual conversations. I have been inspired by and used much of the bounty, and have in turn shared stuff that I know I won’t use. Still, my fabric/textile closet is full, and then there’s the chest of drawers that’s also full of fabric.

My thanks to all of you.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Out of Left Field

Mid-2021 I wrote down a rough list of possible projects: Sail – Greece, turquoise circles, unknown family, and pink prints. I finished the first two and began the third, which left the enigmatic pink prints. At some point during lockdown I played with coloring fabric and color catcher scraps with high flow quinacridone magenta acrylic paint. (Warning, it has the fluidity of milk and moves just as fast when spilled.) Some I stenciled with Payne’s grey paint. On others I printed birds from a thermofax screen. They joined my pile of experiments.

Rather than come to grips with the puzzle of how to combine photos and fabric for my unknown family pieces, I decided it was time to play with pink. I really wanted to use the birds, which were printed on synthetic satin. Up on the design wall went my bits. I decided to add warm browns for trees as the stencil was of tree branches.

From the base of pink and trees I added more scraps and came up with this. It seemed I had lots of tree trunks in my future.

I realized that fusing was the way to go for the number of trees I had in mind, so I sewed together a base with chunks joined by gentle curves. I also added more tree branch stenciling to the sky and combined two large scraps in the upper left.

To add variety I added three house shapes and a large sun. I can’t claim credit for that idea as I saw a treed landscape painting that was given focus by a large orb, and thought the same could work for me. I was still trying to fit those birds in.

Finally I had to face the reality that the birds weren’t suited to the piece as it developed, so they are back on the shelf.

I’ve added a few lighter branches, but this is pretty much as it is.

Quilting has begun, and the pink prints have become “If You Go Into the Woods Today.”

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process