For several years I’ve been a member of an informal art quilt group called Contemporary Cloth Artists (CoCA.) Until this spring we met monthly to share our latest work, take classes together, and set various challenge topics. Now our meetings are suspended indefinitely, and I worry they won’t resume. I know some groups have kept in touch through Zoom and other online meeting tools, but our members aren’t inclined that way.
I was reminded of the variety of challenges our group has set over the years as I sorted through my finished work. Here’s my responses to many of them.
When I began this post I didn’t realize how much work I’ve done that’s come out of this group. I think there’s still more, but my notes are scattered as are my photos. I hope you’ve had the pleasure of belonging to a group of like minded quilters and will continue to have that pleasure in the future.
This week my Jane Davies class didn’t involve paint or paste, just cropping our collages. My fingernails thank me. Here’s what I posted to my class.
I’m showing only a few of the many cropping variations I tried. Some collages just didn’t look well cropped; others didn’t need it in my opinion. I felt that my collages with a mix of simple and complex shapes made for more interesting crops.
I used the cropping tools I’ve marked for cutting fabric motifs, which is why my photos show numbers and tick marks on the mat board edges. The reverse sides are too mucked up to use.
The collage below worked for close cropping. I ended up cropping out most of the white space.
The following group begins with the original collage, then works through five croppings. I like the lower right one the least as I’m drawn to diagonals and the lines in that one are mostly vertical. You can see how day and night affect the temperature of my lighting.
The next group also begins with the original collage. I find the first cropping to be least interesting, probably because it’s so close to the original.
Finally, I wondered what would happen if I extended the negative space to allow for highly angled cropping. I kept trying crops that didn’t work because I ran off the edges of my collages. (And some of those were my favorites.) The following two crops add more white space beyond the original collage edges. I think this could be useful if I wanted to base a larger composition on one of these crops. I would extend some of the shapes into the white area.
I can see using several of my collages as the basis for larger work, a great ready-made starting point for further what-ifs, and maybe the basis for a series.
It’s been a while since I posted links to stories/videos/sites I found interesting. It’s so inspiring to hear artists talk about their work and how they’ve dealt with technical hurdles. Besides, I have more time for such listening and viewing nowadays.
I’ll start off with a link to a recent regional SAQA show I had two pieces in. I like to view work done by artists who aren’t always featured in the big shows like Quilt National. Unfortunately, the pandemic restrictions really cut down the potential audience for this show, which was mounted at a performing arts center.
I was wowed by the featured work of three paper artists in a recent Textile Talk.
Another video I watched with interest was Nancy Crow discussing her monoprinting with Carolyn Ducey of the International Quilt Museum. It took me aback to hear Nancy say her first 100 monoprints were awful and essentially trashed.
Thanks to technology whole series of interviews with quilt artists have been recorded. I’ve enjoyed Lisa Walton’s Quilt Stories, and just watched her interview with Sue Benner about two self portraits. Sue has lots to say about creative problem solving.
Some artists release videos of their work processes. For some short, quirky, informal takes on how he makes his work, check out Joe Cunningham’s Quilt Report.
Please let me know if you’ve found other sites/videos, etc., that could help make us feel we’re still part of an artistic community.
Maybe this whole Covid thing is messing with my attitude towards making quilts. I just can’t handle a blank design wall, so the minute one top is sewn together and off the wall I begin a new design project. These aren’t carefully planned and thought through projects, but made by slapping up whatever I find in my scraps, especially my sewn together bits.
My latest project, “Pieces of My Quilts,” is made of 264 2 inch scrap squares plus vanilla colored organic cotton that has the loveliest hand. I don’t usually count pieces, beads, buttons, or whatever; but I did count the squares since I am on a mission to use them up. For over 10 years I cut 2, 2.5, and 3 inch squares from leftover fabrics at the end of projects and stored them by color. Blame Bonnie Hunter. I found a sucker recipient for my larger squares, but still had all those 2 inch ones. At least 150 are left.
It wasn’t planned, but I detect a bias towards purple.
The plan, such as it is, is based on a quilt by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr that I saw on Instagram. Theirs uses much larger blocks.
I had fun choosing the backing from new fabric I bought. It, too, feels silky smooth, which seems usual with Art Gallery products.
I hope that I won’t show you yet another newly made quilt next week. I need to get back to my collages and their negative spaces. I’m cropping 20 mini collages now and will then enhance them with lines, etc. The medium is different but the concepts are the same.
In parallel with my fabric activities, I have been taking another Jane Davies online course called Mini Collage. Both activities call on color theory and experimentation with color adjacency, but with Jane’s class I get to mix all my own colors rather than choose from my scrap bins.
I won’t bore you with photos of my painted papers. Suffice it to say we were to mix white and black paint with hues, and develop a range of color values. Some of my fellow classmates painted hundreds of papers in glorious colors. Mine were more modest. Many of us had trouble with streaks in our painted surfaces. Some (not me) painted over our papers to get rid of the streaks.
Once I had a large pile of painted papers I cut out shapes and positioned them so they would relate to each other in an interesting fashion. I was to balance light and dark neutrals, brights, and lighter colors in my arrangements. We were encouraged to do several. Here’s my personal best.
Next, I got to actually glue paper down, in many, many three (no more, no less) shape collages on 4.5 by 6 inch pieces of bristol board. The instructions said to do at least 20 and more was better.
I am struggling with getting my papers to lie smoothly, despite copious amounts of matte medium and lots of finger smoothing. I’ve done five so far. I did find that I could smooth out wrinkles with my iron.
Some of my classmates have done 30 already, and theirs are so much more interesting than mine. It’s all part of the learning process, right? I know, I know. Comparison is the thief of joy.
If you’ve been making quilted objects for a while you’ve probably built up a pile of sewn together orphan bits. They may have been surplus to the final project, made as trials, cut off from tops because they just didn’t work, or built up from smaller bits. If you say you don’t have such a pile you are either in denial or ruthless in pitching anything left over from a project.
As I cleared out unwanted stuff from my creating space I reviewed my saved bits and bobs, tossed some stuff, and set out to use as much of the remainder as I could. I ended up with three quilt tops.
“I Like Red” was the first and most difficult to make because my remainders had strong personalities and different styles. If you’ve ever tried to make a coherent quilt from blocks donated by several makers you are familiar with my problem. When I didn’t like an effect I simply fused another piece of fabric down rather than rip seams.
“Dreaming of Spring” is built around leftover simplified tree blocks I made some years ago. I made more trees and put together a soft palette that included lovely painted lavender fabric. I used dyed damask and hand painted and printed cloth as well. Now that I see it on the screen I may make more changes.
“High Summer” allowed me to use painted pole wrapped shibori fabric, plus a dyed damask napkin and a few pieces of Marcia Derse fabric. It’s still a work in progress so it may change.
After I began these tops I read a blog post by Maria Shell about her Kitchen Sink Quilting workshop, which she is offering online. It’s all about using leftovers. Well, I’ve often been self-taught.
Mine are certainly not serious art quilts, but they allowed me to make “someday I’ll use this” happen. And my orphans have found families. They’ve even fought with each other, just like most families.