Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Auction Finds

I had a good day at the local junk auction this week.  I came home with three sewing machines, though not anything greatly desirable.  These machines are robust but lower end models, not the machines that I look for as a collector who uses her collection.  This bunch will be serviced and donated to a group that works with abused and homeless girls.  The girls are taught sewing as a part of a therapy course, and each girl gets to keep the machine that she learns on.  I’m all for any program that gets any youngsters into making something.

I also bought this:

An unfinished hand sewn quilt top made with lots of different strips of 1930s printed feed sack cloth.  As much as I rant against looking at the backs of contemporary quilts, I must say, this one warrants study of the back.

The underside is a collection of more print scraps, and plain feed sacks.  This quilt top begs so many questions.  The obvious, who made it, and where?  Why was so much time spent on what is here, to leave it unfinished?  It also came with several loose stars, and two quarter stars.  Those little pieces will go into a collage.  I want to do something with the part top that preserves its integrity, but I have no desire to attempt to continue the pattern.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Last Two Vending Stints This Year

I was going to discuss the finishing of the purple collage, but I foolishly sent it off to the upcoming Mutton Hill quilt show without getting pictures of it.  So, that will happen later this month when I get it back.

Speaking of the Mutton Hill quilt show, I will be a vendor there, if you are in Ohio, please come out and see the show.  Better yet, buy some beautiful fabric.  I will have my hand dyed fabric of course, and I have recently purchased some great collections of vintage hankies and silk men's ties for fabric collage and crazy quilts.  These will be available along with other fun embellishing items.  I will be presenting a vendor demo each day on using vintage textiles, and I am also giving a presentation on the SAQA art quilt trunk show and SAQA Ohio's Art Quilt Gems. 

The Mutton Hill show is October 13-14, at the John S. Knight Center, 77 East Mill Street, Akron, OH.  Friday hours are 10-6, Saturday from 10-5.  Admission is $10, well worth the price for the quilts you will see and the vendors.

My last venue for the year is the Valley Quilt Guild show, October 20-21 at the First United Methodist Church, 1725 North Wooster Ave., Dover OH.  Friday 10-5, Saturday 10-3, admission $5. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Giant Pumpkins!

I have slipped farther behind, trying to finish two quilts for the upcoming Mutton Hill Quilt Show.  One of the entries is the purple collage that I blogged about earlier in the year.  With three days left before I have to deliver it to the show, I am still not sure that it is going to turn out OK.  More thoughts on that later in the week...

With all that I am trying to accomplish, I lost a day last week because I HAD to go to the Barnesville, OH Pumpkin Festival to see this:
A 2,150 pound pumpkin!  It is a state record, and so far the biggest pumpkin on record in the world for 2017.  I do not regret going to the Festival, not at all!  I recommend exploring odd festivals in your region, there is always something to learn.  I have been working on ways to incorporate small town pride into my artwork.  A few solid ideas have emerged, I just need to get working on making them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Auction Wins and Losses

Astonishingly, my sickly, blight-stricken tomato plants are continuing to produce beautiful fruit.  I've been canning more sauce for the winter, while gazing out at a goldenrod, Joe-Pye-Weed and ironweed filled meadow that will have to wait for another year to be simmered with silk and wool to create lovely colors.

I slipped out to the local junk auction last night, and came home with some more vintage damask linens to dye.  I was outbid on a handful of lovely doilies and a generous fat quarter of vintage bark cloth.  I have my limits on bidding, and even though I really wanted the doilies and bark cloth more than anything else on my list last night, I did not want to pay much.  I keep getting outbid or just making dumb decisions on bark cloth and vintage printed feed sack cloth.  Twice in the last three years, I have found a large box of uncut feed sacks, only to leave each auction before they even started because I didn't want to sit through half a day for one box of stuff.  Of course, the boxes might have gone for far more then I could have paid, I don't know.

So here are five things I really want to find in the waning auction season this year:

1. Bark cloth
2. Feed sacks
3. Wooden ironing boards
4. Elna model 50 sewing machine (the "Grasshopper")
5. A really good deal!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

One More on the Meaning of Abstract Art

I've been simmering about the disconnect between abstract art and ascribed meanings for a while now.  So, at work today, I was stunned to discover a wonderful new children's book on that very topic: Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin (Carolrhoda Books / Lerner Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, 2017).  The book is about a creative boy who makes many drawings of concepts, emotions and sounds, but no one sees in his drawings what he feels, until one day, he meets a girl who understands his drawings.

The tale still acknowledges a chasm between (collectively) Art and People.  I absolutely agree that no one has to like everything they see as a viewer and no artist will ever make a piece that everyone loves.  That is fine.  What I wish we would all work on is being more nurturing of creativity within ourselves, along with realizing that good art is a lot closer to our everyday lives than we realize, and that it does not have to be about anything.  My own fabric collages are a fine example of this; I do not ascribe any meaning to them, they are simply a product of my desire to make something and to have something lovely within my walls.

Image and design copyright 2017, RPS
Please do not copy or repost elsewhere

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Gap Between Art and the Viewer

I'm not intentionally trying to stir up trouble here, but this is something that needs to be addressed by the art world.  There is a huge gap between the fine art world and the general public.  I have never been comfortable with art that has to be explained to the viewer, but in many examples, there has to be some sort of explanation given for the artwork.  As I have experienced not only at the most recent Quilt National and in numerous art galleries and museums, I often still fail to see what I am supposed to see.  Especially with contemporary art.

What am I missing? Is it just me that has this problem?

Is this art or just a busted-up piano?

Yes, it is just a busted-up piano, but I like the shapes that the parts create, and it could be an interesting abstract composition in an art quilt (or some other media).  However, if I translate this image into my own art, should I try to assign more meaning to the finished work?  Would the average person catch that it is a reference to a line in a Tom Waits song*?  Probably not.

What are your criteria for "good" art?  Why do you make art?  Is art a valid form of communication?  Should it be a form of communication?  What would it take to get more people into art museums, and to local art fairs to buy art?

*If you are curious, the song is Cold, Cold Ground ("The piano is firewood, Times Square is a dream /
I find we'll lay down together in the cold cold ground").  Then there is the quandary of figuring out what the song means...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quilt National 2017

As I mentioned earlier, I visited the biennial Quilt National show earlier this summer.  This was the third trip to QN for me.  The first show I attended in 2013 was incredibly inspiring for me, and I was astounded by the variety of techniques and pleased with the blend of representational images and abstract constructions.  The next QN that I went to in 2015 fell short of that excitement and energy that I felt from 2013, but I still think the variety was there (a crucial element to me for an art quilt show).
The Dairy Barn, Athens, OH, home of Quilt National

This year, I left feeling rather confused.  I didn't feel that there was much variety in overall techniques.  After viewing the quilts and studying the catalog for a few days after, my confusion only worsened.  There were many quilts in this year's show in which I am struggling to see what the artists want me to see.  What am I missing?

More on Friday...