Friday, July 29, 2011

In the Absence of Fiber Arts Magazine

I know many of us have been lamenting the loss of Fiber Arts to economics.  It's a shame to learn that there's not enough demand in the market to support a publication that was well-written, educational without being pedantic, with good photography.   

Along with the SAQA Journal (for which I have a special fondness, of course), I urge you to take a look at the Surface Design Journal.  Published by the Surface Design Association (SDA), the Surface Design Journal is a quarterly publication distributed to SDA members.  The small print under the title of each journal says it all: "creative exploration of fiber and fabric".  This may be a perfect fit for those trying to inform themselves of artwork outside our "quilt" niche.

The Summer 2011 Journal focuses on paper and books.  I've had a rare opportunity this morning to sit quietly for a bit and read undisturbed.  I've found what I've read so far fascinating.  Editor Patricia Malarcher notes in her editorial many fabric artists began working with paper in the 1960's and 70's as paper making saw a resurgence during that time.  Who knew?  Further evidence, I guess, that one art form can inform another.  I've also read interesting articles about starting papermaking in Ghana, how Mary Hark came to create her paper artwork that has "quilt-like structure", and about joomchi, a Korean papermaking tradition.  I haven't read the whole issue yet, but I'm going to set aside time later today to do so.  I have lots to learn.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going to California Without Me

Yesterday, my husband flew with our youngest daughter to California.  He has business to conduct out there and she is going to be backpacking, hiking, and kayaking in various wilds of the state with a small group.  I'm so happy for her; this is going to be such a great experience. 

Because they're going to be traveling about, my daughter will only be able to get mail once during her two week trip.  Care packages can't be sent (no fun wrestling a mountain lion over chocolate chip cookies), but letters are welcome.  I've sent off three postcards.  One is a souvenir from the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit viewed on Thursday.  While there were some things that would have made her uncomfortable to see, I'm sure the flower dress, Sarabande, would have been one of her favorites.  (There will be more on the exhibit at a later date, after I have had time to thoroughly absorb my impressions and what I've learned through the catalog.)  The other two are quick fabric cards made using a combination of patterns available in A Forest of Quilts, by Terrie Kralik.  These aren't typical of what I do, but having something already drawn cut down on production time and I didn't have a lot to spare -- as a result, they were a perfect fit.

Now, off to finish some chores, then to the studio to work.  I'm hoping to share some thoughts on a new direction soon (tried and true, but new for me).

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The Twelve x Twelve Group is hosting orange in their last color play challenge.  I love orange.  I literally have piles and piles of orange fabrics.  I take lots of pictures featuring orange, especially of poppies.  BUT, I don't think I've ever made a quilt with orange as the predominant color.  What's that about?  I wonder why.  Do any of you have colors that you love that don't make their way into your artwork?  If so, why do you suppose it is?

Some photos of orange.....


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Something New on my Design Wall

I've been away from my studio for weeks (maybe even months) and I was a bit nervous about getting back into things.  I started to pick out fabrics for a piece I'm making for a Fiber Revolution exhibition; good work, but not what I was in the mood for.  Instead, I picked up a TAP transfer that's been languishing on my wall and started to pick through fabrics to go with it.  Lo and behold, the ugliest -- and I do mean the ugliest -- fabric ever was actually a pretty good fit.  I screenprinted this very ugly fabric at a studio workshop with Rayna Gillman.  It's not her fault at all; I mixed and muddied my colors.  But somehow, it seems to fit the mood and feel of what I'd like to do.  I haven't pieced it all together yet, but I like the direction this is going.  What do you think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back from Nationals

We are back from Nationals and starting to get back into the swing of things.  Actually, we were back yesterday, but I spent the day just trying to make our home civilized again; cleaning out the refrigerator after I've been gone for almost a week can be a very scary job.  In any event, it was a tiring, but very exciting, Nationals.  The girls danced beautifully and had a marvelous time for their first year going.

In the end, their large group lyrical dance placed 3rd in their division (11-12 year old, advanced); their small group jazz and open dances tied for second; and, their small group lyrical dance came in first, not only in their division, but overall!

Here's a photo of  their small group lyrical dance, "Two Birds", choreographed by Jennifer Parsley, taken earlier in the year.

"Two Birds", choreographed by Jennifer Parsley; performed by Breaking Ground Dance Junior Company; photo credit NRG

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heading to Dance Nationals

I don't know if I'll have time to post during the next week.  I'm off in an hour or so, to take my youngest daughter to her national dance competition.  Yikes!

Dancing to "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar; solo choreographed by Gina Mazzarella; photo by NRG


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thoughts on Quilt National 2011 Book

Quilt National 2011; Lark Books;;  ISBN 978-1-60059-799-2
I just read my Quilt National 2011: The Best of Contemporary Quilts book, showcasing each of the quilts in the current QN exhibit.  I was so excited to see it, not only because I wasn't able to attend the opening, but also because a number of Fiber Revolution members were juried in.  I'm so excited for my fellow Revolutionaries!
The book has two implied sections: the written portion which includes an introduction and the jurors' statements, followed by the section with images of each of the quilts, accompanied by the artist statements.  I read the first part with interest, especially the jurors' statements.  I was particularly taken by Pauline Verbeek-Cowart's statement for its brutal honesty. She admitted to having a predisposition about what she was expecting to see among the entries.  She's not a quilter, but a weaver, and came to the jurying process with a bias based on her experience in her field.  She wrote, "New tools allow us to do things that were not possible before...It is not so much the idea that new tools are better, because often they are not, but they entice us to ask questions and stimulate us to think of new ways to create and express our interests.  I viewed the more than 1,000 entries with this mindset the first time around and I was initially disappointed.  Not a single entry in my opinion represented that leap into new territory, or challenged conventional notions of the medium and stood as a radical new approach."

That gave me pause.  So I went back to the QN website to see what their expectations are for entries and it states the following:

"The work must possess the basic structural characteristics of a quilt. It must be predominantly fabric or fabric-like material and must be composed of at least two full and distinct layers (a face layer and a backing layer). The face layer may be described by any or a combination of the following terms: pieced, appliqu├ęd, whole cloth, stitch/fused to a foundation. The face and backing layers must be held together by hand- or machine-made functional quilting stitches or other elements that pierce all layers and are distributed throughout the surface of the work. At least some of these stitches or elements should be visible on the back of the work. As an alternative, the work may be a modular construction (an assemblage of smaller quilts). Each individual module, however, must meet the above structural criteria."
Well, in my opinion, that description means that pieces appropriate for QN are going to continue to be fiber-based and, somehow, tangibly derivative (whether through appearance or structure) from the traditions of quilting.  I'm not sure that, while this definition stands, there will be any large number of submissions that will push the envelope in terms of materials (such as recycled bottle caps as the base for the work) or technique (such as adding LED lights).  But Pauline's opinion, as an "outsider", is very thought-provoking.  I don't know how I'll respond to it -- I'll probably continue working as I do since that's how my voice speaks -- but I think I will question what I do more.

Based on what I've seen in the book, I think the three jurors did a magnificent job of choosing the pieces for this year's exhibition.  Of course, nothing can compare to seeing the pieces in person, but I think that, through the book, we can get a good sense of the mastery on display.  I loved reading each of the artist's statements.  I looked through the book three times before I felt I could stop.  First I just looked at the pictures.  Then I read the whole book, start to finish.  Then I looked through it again, backwards.  I really, really, really wish I could see these pieces up close and personal.  For example, just how close are the quilting lines in Judy Kirpich's and Lisa Call's pieces? Is there texture in Katherine K. Allen's painted surface besides the stitching?  What does the stitching look like in Helene Davis' piece?

And this leads me to my one criticism of the book.  As Pauline said, "...most fiber does not translate well, nor is fully represented, in digital form.....If stitching, piecing, texture, or a special surface treatment are crucial elements in a quilt, they have to be visible in the detail shot."  I couldn't agree more and wish that Lark Books had taken note of that sentiment.  I understand that this is meant to be a cocktail art book and, as such, is supposed to be a visual treat with a high-end feel -- hence the hard cover.  However, in my opinion, much of the beauty in our art form comes from the texture created by the artist.  I would prefer that Lark use a format enabling us to see detail photos of all the pieces, not just those for which there was extra space on the page.  For example, I would have loved to see a detail of Sue Cavanaugh's, Ori-Kume 20 piece, the winner of the Lynn Goodwin Borgman Award for Surface Design.  Unfortunately, the page couldn't accommodate a detail shot.  Too bad.  I'd be willing to trade a hard cover for more pages in a volume containing detail pictures from all the quilts.  (If you do want to see excellent pictures of the exhibit, along with some thought-provoking text, visit Kathy Loomis' blog.  She wrote an eleven-part series on her impressions on the exhibit, especially interesting since she's an exhibitor as well. She also reviews other shows and shares her thoughts on art in general.  I'm a big fan.)

Lest you think otherwise, I consider the book money well spent.  I'm sure I'll linger over it for many hours to come and force my children to linger over it, too.  And some day, I hope to get to see the exhibit myself.  But first, I'm going up to my studio to ask myself thoughtful questions about what I'm creating.