Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Learning from Mini Quilts

Yikes, last week just slipped away from me.  I have a good excuse, I was excited about the first session of an art journaling class at a nearby small art museum.  More about that on Thursday.

I was also frantically working on an idea that I have since let up on.  My idea was to make an 8" by 10" art quilt each week for a year.  I thought of this halfway through January, and since I have four pieced tops from last fall, I thought that I could get four of the minis done by February 1.  Here are the first two, still not quite finished:
Image and design copyright RPS

And the second pair, still nothing done other than the piecing:
Image and design copyright RPS

The first two are a bit of a disaster in the way of quality.  I did not sew all of the trims to the top before I pillowcase bound it, leaving some floppy ends, and they are a bit lumpy, as I did not quilt them enough before binding.  I am still struggling with how to put the three layers of an art quilt together and embellish it without having the back look like a knotted mess, or not have any stitching through all three layers.

While  I am not going to attempt one mini quilt a week anymore, I will keep working on a long series of minis.  I'm giving two evenings a week to this adventure, and I am not going to fret if I don't finish a quilt in two sessions.  Maybe I will finish some in that time allotment.  What is most important to me in this project is getting better with technique and process.  In order to improve any skill, you have to work at it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Learning a New Skill

There's nothing like learning a new art or craft skill to get oneself re-energized about being creative.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take a paper making class at a nearby art museum.  Here is the result:

The procedure was much simpler that I though it would be, and though I do need a few special pieces of equipment, I think I'd like to make some of my own paper once in a while.  I should be able to have a frame made easily, and I could use the screen off of the discarded patio door that is now part of a garden fence.  Everything else I need, I have around here somewhere.  The potential to have specific colors to match a project is a plus, and I am intrigued by adding plant matter to the pulp for visual texture.  I am already contemplating how to dye the paper pulp with the powder dyes and plant dyes that I use.

The paper is still not dry, but I think I will have no problem sewing through it.  I've already played with adding paper to my fabric collages, and these pieces are destined for future sewing projects.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Scrapbooks and Ephemera, Conclusion

Hopefully, I have enlightened my readers about two fascinating collectors, Theodore Langstroth and Joseph Cornell.  I have good reasons for spending so much time on them in this textile art blog.  First, the odd subject-specific scrapbooks and dossiers are perfect illustrations of how one can find creative inspiration just about anywhere.  If you are looking for ideas, consider things that you love and look at what you have chosen to surround yourself with at home.  Make a list of people, living or not, whom you would find interesting to meet.  What countries fascinate you, what regions of your own country interest you?  What is your town known for?  What has been forgotten about it that people might want to know?  What mundane objects in your life deserve more attention?
Memories of past road trips, before interstates.  There is an art quilt idea here...

I know that not everyone is a collector of stuff.  Many of us want to get rid of stuff.  This leads to another reason why I profiled Langstroth and Cornell.  I'm beginning to believe that a good bit of what we throw in the trash, someone might be in need or want of elsewhere.  I am constantly amazed at the prices some people pay for things at the junk auction that I would have tossed out.  Yes, a lot of trash is just trash, but I wonder how much money gets thrown away each week in the way of objects that others would pay to have.  Not only am I thinking of the cultural heritage that is being thrown out, but potential aesthetic creation.  As I have described before, I use re-purposed vintage textiles in my dyeing and fabric collages.  I'm working on some craft workshop ideas where I work that will re-purpose select trash items, so this whole theme is on my mind quite a bit.  I could go on and on with this, but I should work on securing some compact discs that no longer play.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

That Purple Collage, Yet Again

If you get anything out of this ongoing series on this fabric collage, it is that art work usually does not happen overnight.  This is one factor in why good art is seemingly pricey.  This particular piece however, I'm not sure would fall into the category of good art, not yet, and maybe not ever!

I decided to add decorative stitching around the edges of the fabric pieces.  The first image below is a detail before I started the hand stitching, the next one is after.

The stitching adds a lot, doesn't it?  This pair of images is also a good illustration of how different lighting affects something.  The first image is in natural light, the second was taken with flash.

My next step is to join the collage to the three layer back, and quilt them together.  I am thinking ahead for once, and trying to decide how much more I should add to this collage.  I could add more fancy yarns:

How about more trim and some doilies?

I am going for a heavily textured creation, though I don't want to completely cover the lovely purple napkin that serves as the base.

Where will it end?  I don't know yet...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Scrapbooks and Ephemera, Part Three

Information on Cornell from: Joseph Cornell/Marcel Duchamp… In Resonance, Menil Foundation, Houston, TX, 1998.

Joseph Cornell (1903-1972), having no formal art training, could be considered an outsider artist.  He produced three dimensional mixed media collages that were encased in wooden boxes (usually glass fronted).  During his active years as an artist, he found success in the Dada and Surrealism movements beginning in the 1930s, and collaborated with Marcel Duchamp, among other elite art world associations.  I’ll admit to being strongly influenced not only by Cornell’s collage/assemblage artwork, but also by his vast collections of ephemera.  Check out some of his artwork here and here, and read on.

Cornell amassed quantities of images, printed matter and personal notes on numerous subjects of interest to him: 19th century advertising, ballet dancers, movie stars, literature, music, etc.  He referred to his subject collections as "dossiers."  Some of this material ended up in his collages, much of it did not, languishing in his home until being preserved as the Joseph Cornell Study Center at the National Museum of American Art (Washington DC).
One of my own Cornell-inspired dossiers

These personal collections assembled by Cornell were generated out of his own interests, probably not with any intent of them becoming a research source.  Cornell kept his ephemera collections relatively organized, but they were not pasted into scrapbooks, as the material was intended for use in collages.  In a way, the excess material and the finished collages themselves were scrapbooks in a different physical form. 

I started amassing my own files of notes, clippings and images before I ever knew of Cornell, but after discovering his collecting methods, I of course kept going.  I keep a limit on things, as I want to have a presentable living area!  Some of the things for which I have my own “dossiers” include: vintage sewing machine advertising, rare horse breeds, Euclid Beach Park, Route 66, and yes, even Joseph Cornell.

Next Tuesday, I’ll connect the dots on how Langstroth and Cornell relate to being more creative.  My next post on Thursday will return to the purple collage.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Little Things in Life

I got quite sidetracked by the New Year's preparations and celebration, though we celebrate rather quietly compared to most - a weekend with family, lots of food, and doing things we enjoy.  For me, that included sewing, of course.  Some progress was made on the fabric collage that I've been discussing, it will reappear next week.  Today, I have just a short list of five things that I like.

1. My Elna Model 50 sewing machine, from 1951.

2. the "Anvil Chorus," from Verdi's Il Trovatore

3. Peanut Whirligig cookies (homemade)

4. Fiesta Ware colors

5. The Cretan stitch

Find delight in what you have around you.