Last weekend was the annual conference hosted by Studio Art Quilt Associates in San Antonio Texas.
For those who have not been in San Antonio recently, the city will be celebrating a 300 year history. Not that you would even guess with all the ‘300’s in shrub plantings, street signage, and mentioned at least twice in any conversation with a local resident.
This conference moves about the country; I’ve been to ones in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Denver with each one progressively more polished and informative.
For me, driving to San Antonio meant a lovely day driving in the Hill country outskirts and stopping for the requisite spring time photo of bluebonnets. I didn’t find the large masses but at a truck stop in Luling I managed to get a nice photo or two. And of course, there are more wildflowers than just the bluebonnets.
San Antonio is not my favorite city to drive around in but I timed my arrival to early afternoon on a week day. Traffic was minimal but parking spaces were at a premium. The hotel offered valet parking only and the attendant claimed he was expert in standards but I only allow a very small number of people the privilege of driving my truck.
It is easy to hear me coming with that diesel reverberating in all that concrete but I managed to find a nice spot, hauled my belongings to the hotel lobby and checked in. I admired the lobby–a bank in earlier years—with art deco motifs on the elevator doors, the cornices, and a fabulous stained glass window featuring the Alamo.
A RiverWalk cruise was the adventure of the evening–I took a few photos but then decided I would just enjoy the view.
Frugality has a reason but then there is a point of just too much.
I’m talking about all those bits of fabric I trim away as I work on a piece of fiber artwork–too small to be even called a scrap or to save as useful–but yet I do save them. You can see how they can pile up as I work–until I can no longer see my pins or scissors and concede to putting them away—in a ziplock bag sorted by project.
My work usually has several layers–not including backing and substrate for work–think background, mid ground and foreground–and each must be complete in itself and compositionally solid. WordPress does not like that particular word and I’m sure I just made it up but it makes sense to me. As does my work progress.
One of my art teachers was a weaver. For her everything was done before she approached the loom. The piece built from the bottom up–there were no layers that were unforeseen or unplanned. Weft might change but once woven there was no more composition to occur. This might be similar to a traditional quilt–pattern chosen, fabric chosen, pieces constructed and final quilting–ie finishing. My work is much more like a painting with so many layers each with their own design and enriching the layer beneath.
What is it about nice large orange five gallon buckets that is so inspirational?
I have more than a few of them–but I use three of them to accomplish dyeing.
Holus Bolus decided to make Swing Coats from some Bamboo fleece fabric. Bamboo is incredibly soft—and incredibly heavy when wet. We employed my mixed dye with play sand technique. The dye particles tend to cling to the sand until it is released by the washing soda on the fabric. I have several drop sheets that have seen many episodes of dye/screen printing/shibori/painting–in general art messiness.
We decided to make the coats first so we could tell where the dye would go–including the hats and then dipped into washing soda, spread them out on the dropcloths and sprinkled dye. They had to set for about two hours or so–then they were rinsed, the sand shaken off, and into the washing machine.
The results were quite colorful–I don’t have photos of the end product but we will be wearing them at Houston Quilt festival this November.
and just so you know–I did spend quite a bit of time sewing while there—sewed up all these double 9 patches while I was there and that swing coat and then maybe one or two other projects as well. This was my work station.
For the past few months the local fiber artist group has been working on three projects–a friendship exchange in which we each make a block according to the owner’s specifications each month and pass to the next person in line, a color study using a coloring book image initially and now a log cabin block, and finally a small piece made from a word prompt.
We each submitted a word for the prompt box–and each meeting I draw one out for the next meeting. Our first prompt was ‘Scraps’ following by “holiday” and then ‘Tranquility’. I chose an image shot on Tranquility Bay looking at the earth rising over the horizon. I have chosen to work only in black and white with small touches of color–just one color added to each piece. Others completed their pieces also as landscapes. It was a fun exercise and we are all thinking hard about the next word”Bridge”.
More photos are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Blog/Blog-2018/
I am always intrigued by the challenge and adventure of constructing something using a set of criteria set by someone else.
This is a block I made for a friend as part of a monthly block swap. Her theme was ‘Poppies’. I was not the first one in the line-up and as I looked at all the lovely hand-appliqued poppies, I knew i could not compete. However, I could piece.
I had collected several pods from some self-sowing poppies in Colorado. The end was a fascinating shape—and I tried to reproduce it here in fabric. Alas, my skills were not up to piecing 32 spokes–I managed 20. The top background is a painted piece of fabric from some distnat workshop and the green is a commercial dragonfly batik.
Now I have a new project to contemplate—birds–as we passed along our work-bags and boxes last Saturday.
Claiming ownership of one’s work–signing a letter, a painting by more than just a style..is it important?
In the past I had settled for a plain jane type label,..a bit of muslin ironed to freezer paper, words traced from a print-out using a nice font, edges turned under and then the label sewn to the back in the lower right corner.
Sometimes I pieced the label into the back–when people were announcing a lot of quilt thievery. After surveying my rising stack of completed pieces, and thinking through what I really enjoy –I like the making–not the having–I began making fancier labels.
Although this label is for a quilt I did not make–I did contribute to its making–I used part of the fabrics in the front design, printed the words out using a hand-writing font–my hand-writing is not so neat–traced the words onto the muslin and then finished all the edges.
This quilt is a donation quilt for our local guild–and will be on display at our local quilt show in April.
And I keep all those print-outs in a special binder–if only I added sizes to the print-out I would have a ready reference to each year’s endeavors.
I know a lot of people who like to skip breakfast for what seem to me flimsy excuses–no time, don’t like the traditional breakfast items, trying to lose weight, not hungry at that time and so forth. However, I think I must be largely hobbit as I like to have several breakfasts in one day.
Featured here is second breakfast–a home-grown grapefruit–why is it that the fruit/vegetable you pick or your friend picks is so much better than even the stuff you can get at farmer’s market?
On to the task of the day—counting the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) trunk show pieces and packing them away to fly away to New Jersey for their next showing. There were 58 pieces all about 8 by 10 encased in a clear protective envelope and mounted on black tag board. The local art quilt group had admired them earlier but I got one last look at the lovelies.
Off they went to the FEDEX outpost and I got home in time for third breakfast (no photo–sorry)
A dear friend of mine passed away in 2017. She was a quilter and particularly fond of patriotic themes. She and I frequently sat together at a quilting bee meeting and always had a ready smile. She was always game for most things I asked–including the day that I took photos of her hands–well-worn, arthritic, and emblematic of so much life lived and loved for a photographic assignment.
We sat together one meeting while the next group project was displayed–it was a beautiful quilt with lots of hexagon flowers, vines, leaves–so intricate and made from Aunt Gracie type reproduction fabric. Each member was to contribute half a dozen hexagon flowers–Barbara said she didn’t want to do it–those hexagons were too small for her–and I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t have that kind of fabric—. So we came up with a compromise–I would do her hexies if she would give me the fabric.
That quilt is still underway; and I am sure it will be gorgeous. I wanted to honor her memory with this small piece–about 15 by 15; backed by one of her patriotic fabric scraps, the hexies are from her fabrics–but a larger size than those I made for that quilt. It is destined to go to her husband–another dear friend.
With an abundance of beeswax I decided I wanted to try batik. I read through several books on batik—and then used a cute little crockpot to heat up the wax and apply it to cotton fabric. My favorite tool was an old potato masher I found at an antique store for 50 cents.
Then I wanted to try crackle–a traditional aspect of batik involving fine lines in a random pattern–usually in black. So I soaked the fabric in the wax, twisted it up and then put it in the freezer. Beeswax does not crackle as well as paraffin or soy but I thought I give it a try.
Next is removing that wax. I tried ironing it with an abundance of newsprint paper—but the resulting fabric was still quite stiff–smelled like honey–but too stiff to be called fabric.
Off to the restaurant supply store to buy a large soup kettle–and a sieve to fit inside—that sieve didn’t work but suspending the fabric with a bit of chicken wire over the top did.
Here is the result of my first batik efforts. The piece on the most left has been dyed twice.
Some years ago I was in a surface design college level class with much younger students. They were not the tidiest of creatures–and left yogurt cups of liquid dye or dye paste when they had finished their project. None of them seemed to know how to wash up or clean up after themselves either–and I found myself cleaning the counter-tops and re-washing the equipment so it would be dye-free for the next user—-all on Sunday mornings after church–which meant I was in the lab by myself.
I had prepped a piece of muslin with alginate–thus stiffening it and making it like a piece of very nice water-color paper. There were several fairly full cups of liquid dye sitting near the sink to be cleaned up—I used them to paint this image—using as inspiration a photo I had taken earlier of three little girls waiting for their much older sister after a football game.
After painting it–I steamed it–and then rinsed out the alginate. It then sat in a to-do pile for a long time–
Now it is finished except for stretching it on a frame. I used felt as the stabilizer and decided I did not like it—too slippery—so it’s back to a decorator cotton or my favorite –non-waled corduroy.
Here is the original painted piece…
and now the completed piece…