Category Archives: Commentary

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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Filed under Books, Commentary

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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Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

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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Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

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

New Projects For The New Year

Besides my carry forwards from 2016 I have new projects to work on in 2017. Only one has a deadline so I have lots of rope with which to hang myself.

The project with a deadline is for my traditional quilt guild. Typically we have a challenge due each year in March to celebrate our Founders Day. This year’s features songs by the Beatles. We signed up for a song from a list. No more than four people could choose the same song. I had no competition for my choice, “Paperback Writer.”

My plan is to recreate the cover of a pulpy paperback. The research will be fun, as such covers often feature dames in deshabille, guns, and square jawed PIs. I just hope we won’t be called on to sing our choices. Here’s a few of my inspiration book covers. I do hope George F. Worts is a pen name.

kill-me-a-little 01-octavus-roy-cohen-theres-always-time-to-die-i-love-you-again-pop-lib050 overboard

Another, much more open ended project is to print/paint/stitch on the silk screen prints I made with thickened dye. The first layers need more, so I hope subsequent layers will improve them.

As a corollary to that project, at the end of May I plan to take a course from Sue Benner at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. This will be five days of dye painting and printing. To quote: “Bold and expressive use of Procion MX dyes is the goal of this workshop. Sue teaches her layered painterly approach using direct application, mono-printing, and various other techniques. Emphasis is also placed on developing sophisticated color combinations, using interesting tools, along with adding touches of metallic and opaque fabric paints.”

That’s right, no sewing machine, all fabric creation; and a trip to the 2017 Quilt National exhibit thrown in.

I may also make up some of the sketches I did for my master class. Which sketches may be a function of the fabrics I create. After all, I’ll want to take them out for a spin.

Among the possibilities are:

jmm-september-sketch3-resized

Elizabeth suggested I darken the road in the background and make the other background colors paler, especially the browns, so they aren’t the darkest values. I found subtlety is difficult with crayons.

nov-jmm-sketch-3-resized

Here Elizabeth suggested I crop the image to make it less symmetrical and use subtle color changes so it isn’t matchy-matchy. She really doesn’t seem to care for symmetrical designs.

april-jmm-sketch-2a-resizedThe only advice here was to make sure the water is on a flat plane. It would be the last piece in my salt marsh series, and would represent summer.

jmmoctobersketch3

Elizabeth liked this dominant color sketch which I would work up in blacks, whites, and grays for an urban feel.

The only other project I have in mind is a vest made of various silks I’ve collected. I have a loose fitting, lined pattern, but need to figure out which silks to back with interfacing. Some of the pieces are quite thin. It will be like doing a crazy quilt. Wow, I haven’t sewn any clothing for myself in decades.

Do you have any plans, quilt-wise, for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

A Scrappy New Year

For 2017 I’ve been mulling over the advisability of a recurring project. Some quilters embroider a weekly leaf, while others do a daily sketch or photo. It’s a way to keep one’s hand in, creatively, and to have a project that can be completed quickly or is portable.

I’ve thought about a weekly collage, as I’ve been collecting pictures from magazines. I’ve also thought about a weekly shape created from my small scraps boxes. To clarify, I have boxes for large and small scraps. These are separate from my fabric strips boxes. Almost all my scraps are roughly sorted by color and size. Some of you may know Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s 15 minutes of play approach to making new fabric from scraps. No pressure, just sew.

To try out a scrappy regular project I spent the day after New Years sewing small scrap bits together. My session was supposed to last only about 30 minutes, but I didn’t come up for air until 4 hours had passed. And that took me only through my black and yellow scraps.

yellow-scrapstrash

Here are my yellow scraps sorted by value and the scraps I finally was able to part with in the trash.

yellow-and-blackI started in separate black and yellow color groups, but then began to combine them. I have nothing in mind, but will replenish my parts department.

I can see where such a side project could take over all my time unless I exercise much self discipline. It’s all the fun and none of the headaches of patchwork. Have any of you tried such daily/weekly tasks?

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Filed under Commentary, In Process, Inspiration