Saturday, April 23, 2011


Sewing & Quilting
Mom gave me The Complete Photo Guide to Textile Art for Easter, and the same day I received in the mail 2 back issues of Art Quilting Studio. The ideas that are pictured in them are very inspiring. Some things I cannot wait to try. I think I've come up with how to make the art quilt for the Hawai'ian fabric I bought nearly 4 years ago, too. I believe I need to practice some more on smaller scales first, though, before I tackle something that large.

I love that I'm getting positive feedback on the first little quilt I did. I love that the new one I'm working on is coming together so well. I do wish I was a little more confident; I still mostly feel like I don't have a clue. It's good that I learn best by doing, and that I am doing, and not just thinking and daydreaming. I have enough ideas, and enough enthusiasm, to keep me busy for a while. And all that work will give me plenty of practice, and chances to become more proficient and confident...

Which will also help, I hope, with the art dolls I want to make so much. I think part of the issue with the first little pass I made was the use of too many dissimilar fabrics that don't want to piece together neatly. If I stick to a woven cotton (even a cotton blend) I think I'll be ok. I also think I need to do a main "sheet" of piecework to cut my doll body from, rather than trying to get pieces to conform to the pattern. Perhaps I'll make my daughter's doll using some of the textile altering techniques in my books and magazines as an experimental palette. Paint, dye, stamp, resist, marbling... *grin* I need more white fabric! (But I'm probably getting ahead of myself again.)

Gardening & Photography
A lot of my photos have come from my own or friends' gardens. Sadly, when we moved, I left behind an established (small) flower bed that I was quite fond of. The new house has weedy, sad, very neglected beds that I hope to turn into wonderful inspiring gardens soon. Getting perennials isn't cheap though, so this year I'll jumpstart the process using seed mixtures, containing both annual and perennial seeds. Hopefully those will be successful and I can get back to my camera later in the summer, but until then I need to see what the local area has to offer in terms of preserves, parks and trails. And I can always pester the neighbors for their flowers, or maybe drive out to the Chicago Botanic Garden (a mere 45 minutes away).

My passions have a way of feeding each other. One thing sparks another, which distracts my attention from a third thing, and pretty soon I've gotten so far afield, it's hard to know how I got to where I am. This sort of short-attention-span art tends to leave me with a lot of UFOs, but I also learn so much by experimenting with new things. It's hard to be upset with the destination, when the journey has been so entertaining.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Personal Struggle with Symmetry

I have a confession: I love the messy asymmetry many artists achieve in their chosen media - and I cannot make myself do it. When I collaged a small piece of furniture, it's probably the closest I've come to "random" but it doesn't have the "messiness" I admire in others. And I struggled with it, and the mosaic top.

I'm not sure if it's an inability to quit while I'm ahead (adding one more element and ruining the thing) or if it's that too much randomness is disquieting. Symmetry, regularity, predictability... these things are soothing. Asymmetry, randomness, unpredictability... it's exciting, vibrant, fluid. Does that mean I am boring and stagnant??

I was never a good math student; numbers confound me even now. Geometry, however, that was pretty clear and easy. Long proofs (where I would prove every single thing in a diagram when I only needed to find the proof to solve the question) were actually kinda fun... and confounded my geometry teacher, who had to wade through all the information to see if I'd proven what I was supposed to. (An added bonus, that. Sorry, Mr. Shafer, I really couldn't help myself.) I remember him telling us through our algebra and geometry classes that math was essential to our lives. Well he was a math teacher, of course he believed that. But I'm finding that math is really a huge part of what I do with my art, even though I don't intend it to be.

The quilts I've been working on have a single large central focal piece, with four smaller things in the corners. But would the world end if I put that focal piece off-center, or *gasp* off-kilter? If the entire piece is dynamic and fluid and exciting, wouldn't that take the focus off the centerpiece, from which I've built the rest of it? Undoubtedly, I'm overthinking the whole thing, but I'm reasonably certain that this will be a learning experience, both in technique, and personally.

Edited: More photos of the sides.

The bits and pieces on the sides are torn scrapbook paper, postage stamps, mulberry paper, dictionary definitions, artificial greenery and flowers, molded resin pieces, recycled greeting cards, colored transparent plastic discs, adhesive rhinestones, etc.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Finished Art Quilt

There. It's finished -- tagged, priced, and in the gallery. Hopefully someone will think it's awesome and buy it.

I had a great deal of fun with this, even as I sweated the details. I want to do more. But I also have this burning desire to make art dolls, using the same sort of elements, including my own Shattered Photos. The tiny little doll in the lower right corner of this one was so much fun. And she was so simple: I just freehanded the outline of the body (almost a peapod shape) and stuffed her. The face is recycled paper, pulped and molded, painted with nail polish, with burlap hair. Twig arms, and a tree painted on her torso with craft paints.

The dolls I want to make are inspired by one I bought in Canada. I don't want to replicate that artist's work, but jump off with my own ideas from hers. I don't want someone to look at my doll and see her work, I want them to see mine. More specifically, I want them to see the kaleidoscopic patterns of my altered photos and how they blend seamlessly into another medium. Or that's the plan anyway.

The art quilt was fun, and I already have ideas in my head for the next ones - and the base chosen with specific photos in mind. But it's a flat deal, really, 3-D elements notwithstanding. The dolls are going to have round bases so they'll stand on their own without support (thinking about weighting the bottoms with little sandbags), and round bases means that the front and back pieces must go all the way around -- less "play," more math. (C = π x d) So... on a 4-inch diameter base, the bottom edges of the front and back pieces need to be about 6.5 inches across (with the seam allowance) to make the needed circumference of 12.6 inches, and then however tall she will be. I've dug through my scrap stash for material I can use for my first experiment. I think I'll make the first one to give to my daughter, using images of her own face and hair in place of the molded paper. I think she'll get a kick out of that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Art Quilting?

I've got my photos in a gallery/gift shop, and I'm working on adding other, different things to my inventory. I'm making a small art quilt, using an iron-on transfer of one of the shattered photos, fat quarters, and some other stuff... some of that "stuff" yet to be determined, but one thing will be a nifty little art doll who will hold the haiku I wrote for the piece, stamped onto a copper tag. It's going to be awesome.
I hope.

Mostly, I'm looking at this new creative outlet combining my love of photos with mixed media. But there's also an element of exploration, expansion, experimentation, and excitement. I'm trying to get it done in time for the next "meet the artists" night - Friday, 5 days from now. I've several more planned (sorta) in my head, and I am hoping the process goes smoothly once I get the hang of what I'm doing. Trouble is, I don't know what I'm doing.

My sewing skills are pretty basic, and this is my second art quilt; the first I gave to a friend with love, and hope she enjoys it, simple as it is. I'm trying to let myself forget even spacing, parallel lines, and perfect symmetry, but it's not easy. I've been looking at what other artists are up to, but their vision isn't mine, so it's hard to find inspiration outside of the vague images in my head. I'll figure it out, or I'll get frustrated and quit. It's going pretty well so far, though, so I think I'm on the right track.