Category Archives: Commentary

Another Side of Textiles

While I use textiles mostly in fiber art, I love seeing how other people use textiles in garments. Recently I had the chance to ooh and ah at fashions from bygone eras at the Kent State University museum. That museum, which focuses on fashion and textiles, is showing exhibits of 1940s and 1980s fashions. As an unexpected bonus, I also enjoyed an exhibit on southern African fashion.

The 1940s exhibit covered all sorts of clothing: military, nursing, and scouting uniforms; bathing suits; undergarments; women’s day wear; accessories; and gorgeous ball gowns and wedding dresses. Designers represented include Dior, Adrian, Hattie Carnegie, Sophie Gimbel, Charles James, Claire McCardell, and Valentina. I spent some time admiring the period shoes, gloves, and hats. I have dim memories of my mother’s glove collection, and know that everyone wore hats in that era thanks to the movies. Here’s my choice for knockout dress. It’s cunningly engineered, and is by Charles James.

The 1980s exhibit included lots of evening wear, with a few day wear pieces intermingled. Yes, there were big shoulders and some very “Dallas” pieces, but many have stood the test of time well. The big find for me in this exhibit was the work of Zandra Rhodes, a British designer very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. I was spoiled for choice, but here are my top picks.

As I said, the southern African fashion exhibit was a surprise bonus. The Namibian and South African designers blend textiles associated with Africa with western style textiles to create a unique style. A few pieces were quite beige, but most channeled the colors in a roll of Life Savers.

I found additional photos of this exhibit here.

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Around Here Week 20

I like trees so much I’m featuring another one this week, or at least its shadow. I want to wallow in the glorious green of the grass. You can only get that color in the 64 crayon box. In winter the ground is under ice as its flooded and turned into an ice skating pond.

I thought I could cut out the shadow in organza and layer it on pieced or painted green cloth; maybe two layers of shadow as one is crisper than the other.

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Bewitched But Bewildered

I’ve read a lot of quilting books over the decades. I’ve looked at books on patterns, techniques, and design; plus picture books of quilt collections. I’m not a novice at extracting sense from such books.

However, my attempts to understand Wen Redmond‘s “Digital Fiber Art” have foundered. It’s as if I signed up for intermediate Spanish, thinking the six words I already knew would be adequate preparation. Instead, I’m catching the sense of about one sentence out of seven.

Redmond’s forte is printing digital imagery on fabric, paper, and other more unconventional surfaces. She assumes, rightly so, that her readers will know their way around Photoshop or other photo editing software. After all, the book’s title includes the word digital. I’m a novice there, though I have grand plans to take a course.

Where she loses me is there’s no overall step by step instructions or any supply list. I desperately need an introductory chapter that says here’s what I’ll cover, here’s what you need to get started, and here’s some fancy stuff to try. I now know something about the importance of pre-coats and post-coats but I have a hard time putting that information into context. I haven’t a clue about what kinds of fabric work best with this approach – she mentions organza, canvas, duck, cotton, but says nothing about the pros and cons of each. I’d also like to know how basic I can go with the raw materials and still have the potential for a decent outcome.

Even if I understood all aspects of the process, I gather printing my own digital fabrics would be costly. Redmond herself uses an Epson Stylus Photo printer. That will set you back at least $300. The various pre-coats and other supplies run $25 per bottle, if you want to prep your own fabric.  Cotton pre-treated fabric starts at about $83 for a 17 by 35 inch piece. Then there’s the pigment ink, which costs about $20-25 per cartridge. You can see how the costs could mount up. Mind you, Redmond isn’t shopping at Joann’s or Michael’s, but is buying professional grade materials.

There are copious examples of her work and some of the steps that went into each piece. They are great illustrations of the fertility of her imagination but I got confused. I never figured out if some of the interesting base effects shown are meant to be photographed and digitally manipulated, or be a substrate to be printed on.

Redmond is obviously expert at these techniques and produces some amazing art. However, for me her book is like watching a slide show at warp speed with no context. I keep wanting to say, back up a minute. Until I get more digital editing expertise under my belt and am willing to invest $1000 or so, this book will be borrowed from a library and not purchased. I need to start at digital fiber art for dummies.

However, I do recommend this book if you just want to take in some lovely eye candy. I think you could dumb down some of the ideas for printing on a humble inkjet printer, but just don’t expect the results to look like Redmond’s.

Trees Singing – Wen Redmond

Amazements of Tender Reflections – Wen Redmond

 

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Random Bits From My Inbox

You know those websites or articles you come across and think, people might be interested in that? Here are the ones I’ve been saving up.

First, I came across this article directed initially at textile artists, though it speaks to all kinds of artists. I recognize my own tendency toward being a technique junkie. The lesson here is learn to do a few things very well in a way that serves your art. I’ve been sharing this one with the groups I belong to. Thanks to Ellen Luckett Baker for bringing this to my attention.

Ellen also drew my attention to the website for Sewn Together, an exhibition of Alabama quilts. I enjoy the site’s pairing of vintage and more contemporary quilts, and the historical perspective on the quilts shown. I’m sure it was great to visit the exhibition, but the archival information adds so much. You can learn about the work of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which co-sponsored the exhibition. There’s even a curated Spotify playlist of Alabama musicians who represent a wide variety of musical styles from the period when the quilts were made.

Next, I came across a series of YouTube videos put together by Craftsy called The Midnight Quilt Show. Angela Walters is the refreshingly breezy host of these videos that show her putting together some fairly basic quilt patterns. Angela’s essential tools include popcorn, chocolate, and wine. The mistakes stay in. You may recognize some of them. I did find my heretofore hidden inner quilt police coming out when Angela didn’t press before sewing. Ditto her use of a ruler that was way too short. But it sure beats those deathly earnest quilting shows that are guaranteed insomnia cures.

For visual candy here’s a collection of spiral staircase photography by Nancy Da Campo, all in Barcelona. The We and The Color website is a great resource for striking photography.

If you’re interested in printing your own fabric or purchasing fabric custom designed by others, then check out the new Spoonflower digital catalog. Lots of ideas there for creating wallpaper, clothing, baby items, and home dec.

Finally, here’s a slide show of the SAQA Two by Twenty exhibit now touring with the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo. I recently represented SAQA at the Cleveland, Ohio, stop of the expo. (That means I chatted with viewers about the show and promoted the organization.) It was great to see how much even very traditional quilters enjoyed the work displayed. Some may have gotten the push to venture into original work. Really, folks, it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw.

Here’s one of my favorites from the exhibit, Everglades by Deda Maldonado.

 

 

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Happy April 1

I usually ignore Poisson D’Avril jokes, but can’t resist passing along this “ad” I received today from Dharma Trading.

Website Voice Recognition Enabled!

Set up your voice recognition by speaking the following words loudly and clearly to your computer to form a baseline: Rumplestiltskin, Onomatopoeia, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, sham-a-lam-a-ding-dong. Finally, to confirm set up of voice control, please state, “I love Dharma Trading!” Based on your tone and the sincerity detected by the system, the website will take your verbal order, lament your lack of true love for Dharma, or not speak to you again until you figure out what you did wrong (Pro-Tip: it’s not WHAT you said, but HOW you said it). We’ll include an at-home Dhar-Mama device for all future orders.

DharMama

On Sale This Month

Yarn Catastrophe
New Products
Tie-Dye VR Goggles
Dehydrated Water
Chamele-Color
Featured Artists
Dating App
Fire and Ice Dyeing
Trisha Myhome
Seriously, Click Here!
Become a Featured Artist
Facebook
Pinterest

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Around Here Week 11

I’m surely not about to show a photo of my daffodils right now. The poor things look like poster children for lost hopes. Instead, here’s a photo I took last week of a retaining wall by my driveway. I thought it had quite a two color modern vibe, with the regular dollops of white on top of the bricks, and an asymmetric pattern. My favorite element is the ruffly band of snow on the left bottom edge.

And happy first day of spring.

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The Girls Hit The Road

While I was creating their seaside environment the girls got bored and went on a road trip. They were shopping for a forever home and wanted to see what was on offer on my walls.

Since they were in the neighborhood, their first stop was a piece in progress on my second design wall. At first they thought they had stumbled into MOMA and wondered how that happened. When no one made them buy an expensive ticket they realized that they weren’t at MOMA but inside a creation from my scrap bins.

girls-go-cubist

After getting lost in black and yellow corridors that led nowhere the girls escaped and decided to try another floor. When they saw fish they thought maybe their seaside dream had become real, but swimming with the fishes wasn’t what they had in mind, so they surfaced and headed back upstairs.

girls-take-a-dive

Some time had passed since they last saw their design wall. The girls were thrilled to notice a new landscape with sky, a beach, and an ocean. There were even fluffy clouds in the sky. Since their feet were hot and tired from all those steps they waded into the water and wiggled their toes in the sand.

girls-at-seaI thought the girls were finally happy, but now they keep asking me what they’re supposed to be looking at. And could there be more waves. Sigh.

 

 

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process