It’s hard to say goodbye to a friend who is moving many hours away. I know, it could be much further away, with visits possible only by cross country or ocean trek. Still, the easy spontaneity of living a mere 20 minutes from each other will be gone.
Since we are both arty types of course we gave each other handmade farewell gifts. I created (with the help of Shutterfly) a book of my friend’s photos she had shared with me. In return she created a mixed media piece she called “Expecting to Fly.”
And it was accompanied by a handmade card.
Thank heavens email and Instagram make it easily possible to continue to share our artistic journeys. Alas, they aren’t so good for seeing shows in person and talking over each piece. I’ll miss you P.
Each year the National Collage Society holds a small format members’ exhibition. Since the the exhibit of eighty-six 4 by 6 inch works was held at Summit ArtSpace in Akron, I made a point of going to it. At first it seemed out of scale to walk into a large room with one horizontal line of very small works on three walls, but you forgot that once you drew closer to the pieces. I was amazed at the detail the artists packed into such small real estate.
While almost all the works merited close examination, here are the ones that really caught my eye.
Speaking for myself, it’s much easier to work at small scale with paper than with fabric, unless you’re only fusing. And that’s essentially collage with fabric. Now, that’s a thought – a paper-fabric collage using Mistyfuse. I’m sure many have already tried that, but it’s a new idea to me. I certainly have plenty of paper and fabric scraps to use.
I have a name in mind early on for most of the fabric work I create. But not always. I am sewing down facing on the latest piece I quilted and still haven’t come up with a good name.
It is the love child of two earlier quilts, “Vertigo” and “Staircase.” The latter isn’t quilted yet, but is next in my queue.
I’ve thought of Split pea leftovers, Which way, and Thataway; but none really grabs me. So, I ask for your suggestions in hopes that fresh eyes will discern better possibilities. I can’t promise to choose one of your ideas, but I can promise new ideas will lead to a fitting title.
Today’s topic came to me as I wandered the aisles of my local Village Discount thrift store looking for bargains. Once I got over my surprise that used bras were on offer, I checked out the men’s extra large shirts. There’s lots of material in a $2 cotton dress shirt.
I didn’t go home with any shirts, but I did remember Sue Benner’s piece made with shirt cuffs which I saw at Quilt National 2017.
Sue shops in thrift stores, and even finds uses for garment parts like shoulder pads. If you were around in the 1980s you may recall that most women’s clothing had big foam pads sewn into the shoulders.
It was a short step from that memory to a trawl for other fiber artists who work with cast off clothing. SAQA Journal helped me along with an article (2022, Vol. 32, No. 1) about Susan Avishai, who transforms shirt collars, cuffs, and other parts to often ethereal work.
Denim is a favorite clothing material to recycle. I’ve written earlier about Ian Berry, and have always loved the Gee’s Bend quilts made from old jeans.
A new to me artist, Jim Arendt, said that he simply asks people for their old jeans, and hasn’t bought materials in some time.
You can enjoy his talk on rules for creating art on YouTube.
While the artists above cut up clothing, their work doesn’t feature paint on surfaces. Los Angeles based Aiko Hachisuka prints and paints on second hand clothing she bundles together in large foam stuffed lumps which the art world calls soft sculptures. I’m not a big fan of her work, but I’m intrigued with her way to use discarded clothing.
I have done my small bit to repurpose clothing in work like Damask and Denim and Shirtsleeves.
My husband tells me we have a coupon worth 50% off at Village Discount, so maybe a return visit is in the works once I figure out a project made with men’s shirts.
The past week I’ve dabbled in quite a mix of projects and techniques, probably revealing I’m a Jill of all work but mistress of none. (I don’t get the they/them thing, so I went the old fashioned route. Though I could say I contain multitudes and use they/them.) Since I often work on more than one project at a time, sometimes they all mature at once.
My Spoonflower printed trees and wall fabric has been sewn together and I’m now experimenting with different embroidery stitches and threads to enhance the tree area. The printed fabric is less intensely colored than the hand painted and dyed fabrics, so I want to bring it out more. Right now it’s called “Along Portage Path.”
I pulled out an unquilted top and finished it through the hanging sleeve stage. Put on your sunglasses at it’s bright.
I returned to “The Memory Jar,” an old project I was never satisfied with and added paint and oil pastels. Now it better expresses my intention to show the breakdown of memories with age, but I’m still not wild about it.
Not to ignore my paper projects, I sewed several small collages onto a large printed piece of sewing stabilizer, and tried to mesh them into a coherent whole. I ended up changing the look of most of the original collages. This was a great way to reinforce the lesson that nothing should be viewed as too precious to change.
Finally, I finished up a magazine image collage that emphasizes a subdued color palette. I will most likely make a few more changes in a week or so, as a distraction from any other project I’m stuck on.