Monthly Archives: February 2021

Line Mastery

As part of my January lines challenge I viewed work I admired by artists ranging from the renowned Paul Klee to textile designer Lucienne Day. I’ll be showing the second part of my January lines challenge soon, but first I want to share work I looked at for inspiration.

I consider Paul Klee a master of line as he uses it so many different ways. The handbill below shows his thick line technique that echoes Arabic writing to me.

Paul Klee “The Comedians”

Lucienne Day was a British textile designer whose work epitomized mid century interior design. I believe these designs are still available. If they look familiar I suspect it’s because many current designers have done work that is curiously similar.

Selection of Lucienne Day’s textile designs
Closeup of Lucienne Day’s Dandelion design
Good study for effects of solid and dashed lines

While Matisse is often praised for his use of color, the sketches below show how well he used sinuous line.

A Matisse collage

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was an architect and interior designer whose renowned stained glass and rose designs use line decoratively and functionally.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Willow Tearoom doors

Thick, thin; solid, dashed; curved, angular – the combinations seem endless, as do the ways to mark lines. Matisse even used the gaps between pieces of paper. That’s an approach I didn’t try, and I really need to add it to my lines toolbox.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Unconventional and Unexpected Indeed

Thanks to the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, Iowa, I learned about the quilt collection of Roderick Kiracofe and his book “Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000.” Through Ohio’s interlibrary loan program I was able to borrow a copy, a good thing as Amazon has only one copy left in hardcover for $494.99 and five other book sources (including the author) say they’re sold out. I see there may be a new printing, so my fingers are crossed. You can buy it as an ebook, but my bargain basement Kindle is black and white only.

The book’s essays are better than the usual quilting book essays, but the real stars are the quilts. Most are from Kiracofe’s collection and represent his personal tastes. These are not the sort you’re likely to see at guild meetings. They are not pretty, they do not follow patterns, they are way off the reservation, and I love so many of them.

Here’s a baker’s dozen of my favorites, photographed from the book.

As with many of the book’s quilts, the maker is unknown. I love the light yellow and the gingham.
I love the seafoam green circles in the upper left, and the tan printed fabric strip at the lower right.
The turquoise vertical strips anchor the busy-ness of the squares.
You’d think the bold white and red print used in sashing would be too much, but it unifies and works well with the bold solid sashings.
The curves really move your eye, and then turn back in the last right column.
The unevenness of the string piecing transcends the block format.
I love the touches of red-orange at the upper left, lower right, and left end of the middle white propeller shaped piece. Gwen Marston made some quilts that look similar.
The pompoms used as ties unify and soften all the polyester knit fabrics.
What 9 patch wonkiness, yet the maker included two conventional 9 patches as if to say, I can make them regular but my way is more fun. The bold red, white, gray, and black fabric used diagonally carries your eye through it all.
The brown and dark green fabrics remove any pastel taint.
Not your usual grandmother’s flower garden. Check out the two red hexagons in the upper right orange.
Sparing use of brick red and yellows gives zing but doesn’t overwhelm.
The book’s caption says these are furnishing fabrics. The stripes and diagonal patterns make my eyes happy.

I only wish the makers of these wonders could have been recognized and compensated for their vision, but most of their names were lost long before Kiracofe bought them.

I am linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Books

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Is a piece of art ever truly finished? I recall that the movie “Mr. Turner” showed J. M. W. Turner adding a touch of red to one of his paintings while it hung at an exhibition. My work bears absolutely no comparison to Turner’s, but I do succumb to the urge to make changes after a work is supposedly done.

All the time I spend at home due to Covid and winter has led me to reorganize my stored quilts. As I look at them I find I just have to revise some I thought I could improve with relative ease.

“Broken Glass” was made in 2014 in response to a tour of a glass making firm. It’s meant to be colorful and recall the huge tubs full of glass pieces awaiting reuse. However, the multicolored ribbon I used in the center area competed with all the other color. I knocked back the brightness with dark purple Inktense paint.


“A Real Fake” is even older, 2011, and was made for a guild challenge. At the time I decided to use a dark green border strip on the left to suggest a wallpaper border, but now I see it distracts attention from the window.

The strip I cut off is on the left, and the binding is clipped down for resewing. I was and am proud of the window, which I made from hand drawn freezer paper templates.

“My Brain on Xmas,” circa 2015, is another loud multi-colored piece that began with a peculiar scrap of fabric that featured a temple dog.

Temple dog is lower center.

After I took the photo above I added a ton of machine and hand stitching – far too much. I wasn’t willing to rip that out, but I decided the dog had to go. The round crocheted doily is a better match to the brain. It’s still OTT, but has a bit more holiday spirit.

A cyanotype printed circle was fused on and stitched around. It covered some quilting, but so what.

Do you ever do a retrospective of your oeuvre and try to see how it could be improved? Do you revise? If so, at what point?

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

Paper and Thread

What if I could have the fun of creating art with paper without the gluey mess? Last month I took David Owen HastingsStitched Paper Collage online class in the hope of finding an answer. As a result, I now have a method to create paper compositions that’s easy and non-sticky. It allows me to create simple work quickly, yet has the potential for larger, more complex pieces. And, it gives me an outlet to use all the magazine pages and monotype print oopsies I’ve collected.

Supplies are simple: sewing machine, thread, paper to cut up, and backing paper. The last can even be cut up brown paper bags. David adds refinements to help you line up your cut up papers, which can be as small as half an inch wide. Once you do one or two basic pieces to get the method down, you can take the approach wherever you like. One caution is you can’t stitch too much on the paper as it will tear. And you can’t rip out stitches for the same reason.

Here are my first pieces, done on a paper bag.

I made the center one last. Each is 6 by 6 inches.

In the days after the workshop I cranked out several 6 by 6 inch pieces, using some of the monotype discards given to me by a friend.

My parts piles.
I love using the curved bits.
I got surrealistic with magazine ads.
Here I used wallpaper samples.
A combination of papers.

If you’re wondering about the dangling threads, they are a design choice. David likes his to dangle. You can also pull them to the back and tape them down so they don’t show.

I gather you can join several smaller pieces with archival tape to create a larger composition. That’s where I hope to go next with this technique.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Techniques