One of the most challenging things about art is taking its formal portrait.
I’ve tried enlisting local photographers leaving them with explicit instructions only to have images returned with clothespins fastening the piece on a wire–a sleeve was attached to the top; pieces shot at an angle; no detail shots.
That being a failure, I tried pinning the piece to my design boards–covered with gray felt. Then there was the problem of distance from the piece.
I tried hanging the piece on my front porch from hooks and a wire strung through the sleeve. Although I started with not a wisp of wind setting things up; by the time I was ready to push the button on the camera; gale force winds ruffled the edges of the piece.
My next effort including buying two sets of stands and a black photographic drape. This works well except on dark rainy days; additional lighting casts awkward shadows. And I was still limited by size.
And so, this is my next iteration for larger pieces. I hung two sets of brackets on the side of the shed; hung a drape leftover from a quilt show; set up the tripod–remembering the clamp for the camera.
Success for the smaller piece.
Excited by my success, I hung up the next piece. It was too long!
Up on the ladder I went, and moved the closet poles up next to each other.
However, I have a still larger one to photo today. I will be moving those brackets up about six inches.
Thanks to the Pixeladies, I know enough photoshop to crop and re-color, rotate, and resize the images.
Perhaps it is Wisconsin vernacular that the ‘ex’ was always dropped from the word ‘experiment. Adults and school-aged students and even the teachers used this pronunciation. I have tried to erase some of the short-cuts and mispronunciations in my speech patterns but occasionally something will creep in that gives my origin away.
However, that does not imply I do not continue to ‘spearment with various techniques. Instead of throwing them into a box for my descendants to sort through and wonder what I was thinking, I transform them into note-book covers.
One of my sons, I was going to say the engineer—but all three are engineers–one chemical and two mechanical—kept notes and drawings of his inventions in a marble notebook. Then at a party I ended up with a door prize of a fiber covered notebook—and thus began my journey of covering marble notebooks with bits left over from projects, or a workshop piece supposed to be a full quilt–but I was quickly sure I did not want to continue work on that project.
Here are my three latest completed notebooks. One is a wool applique on linen project, the other two are left over bits from a full size quilt with a chickadee on one and a brown creeper on the other.
I have more bits and pieces to transform into covers; they are a good project for those days in which I really don’t want to start something new but want to play around with fabric and thread and color.
Every morning–except Sunday I sit and do the daily crossword puzzle and the Seven Little Word Scramble. My day just doesn’t seem complete or ready to begin until I do. Unless the clues in the Seven Little Words include names of celebrities I don’t know, I can run through it fairly quickly.
But then on Saturday, there was a stumper—-a funnel shaped strainer used in cooking.
I had one of those. It was my mother’s. She used it to strain elderberries to make jelly; and tomatoes to make tomato juice. It has a metal stand and a wooden pestle. It was our job to squish the tomatoes or the berries–although the elderberries had an additional muslin sleeve as the seeds were quite small. I used it to strain my very first batch of honey.
And then double or triple disaster—there were two celebrity names as clues–one was Tevye’s oldest daughter’s name–I could look that one up but then there was the last name of someone I didn’t know.
I had to wait until yesterday morning to find out.
Chinois—taken from the French word for China–and represents the cone shaped hats they wear in the fields.
So while I was waiting anxiously to find out the proper name for that funnel shaped thing we called a strainer, I worked on some donation blocks and three donation quilts for a quilt guild and a local charity.
The workmanship on these quilt tops was not perfect; not even mediocre in some–but they are now ready to be handed out.
I did the best I could with these tops–perhaps I should have dismantled them, tossed out the poor quality fabric, replaced with nice fabric–but then the gift of the original giver would be diminished.
And after I finished those tops, I bound a piece inspired by a painting by Gustave Caillebrote named ‘The Orange Trees’.
Valentine’s Day fell during the iconography workshop and we (Jeanelle and I), decided we wanted to give a small token of our appreciation to the wonderful ladies who fed us quite royally during our workshop.
This meant we had to take a trip to Walmart for ‘supplies’. While there we walked through rows of huge bins filled with stuffed creatures–a pink teddy bear six feet tall, a green stegasaurus four feet long, and then there was the Llama!
It was huge. It had nose hairs.
And I was sure Jeanelle needed it to ride shotgun in her little car that can’t carry much more than her purse in the backseat.
We resisted temptation.
But when I got home, I decided I would make a smaller version of that llama, one for Jeanelle and one for the Spotlight Auction held at SAQA’s annual convention.
I found a photo of an Apricot Llama, used the background fabric of some I had bought in San Francisco many years ago; hand-embroidered details, hand-quilted, and then bound Jeanelle’s.
By the time this is posted, Jeanelle’s Apricot will be able to preside over her sewing room/studio or ride shotgun in her little car.
Once a month, I write up the doings of the BAFA group–a fiber art critique group that falls under the broad umbrella of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association). The group does not have any membership requirements other than to show up, learn, and do the work. It has been vastly more successful than I had ever dreamed it would be and I am immensely proud of the work these folks have produced and the conversations regarding art and critique beyond ‘how nice!” or “cute” or “pretty”.
Like any group of people there are decided opinions about certain things such as religion and politics. Along with another member, I attended the icon workshop and produced an icon. Instead of attaching the photo to the write-up for the month, I am including it here for those who wish to see the completed piece.
While I am not ashamed or embarrassed or any way denying my particular stance on this subject, I am not willing to shove it into the face of others who may not have the same view as myself. It is a piece of artwork, one I worked on for several days using an unfamiliar medium. I could see many parallels in the manner of working to what I do with fabric.
My friend and I have challenged ourselves to continue working both in this media, to explore it a bit more, to understand more of the history, and perhaps to explore a more contemporary version both in the media and in textiles.
Or this may be a series of one.
Life is meant for exploration.
My mother was a quilter and left me quite a few unfinished projects along with her fabric—lots of rust and turquoise==my least favorite colors. I’ve been working on finishing the little pieces as baby quilts for her great-grandchildren–but it has been slow-going.
There were quilt tops for each grandchild to be given on the occasion of their wedding–I have four left–two handed out this year.
And then there was this piece.
She had a class of quilting students–and together they decided they wanted to make a smallish wall quilt commemorating the establishment of Prairie du Chien–I think—I really don’t remember what event they were focused on—but here it is—-
I put it on that UFO list I talked about yesterday—and wouldn’t you know it–but it was number three and the number that was drawn for the month of January.
I had hoped it wouldn’t be the very first month—but here it is—and I’ll have to figure out how I want to finish it—and then take it to the new library in town and see if they have a place to hang it.
After getting stuck in the snow, requiring a pull-out by a neighbor, I managed to drive VERY slowly down the road and unload my baskets of fabric, sewing machine, and accoutrements. Two fellow students were already there–sewing away. The other students were all staying at the Inn next door and I almost wished I had done the same as it was a two minute walk from their door to the Studio.
Two Fox Cabins was very cozy and it allowed a nice walk to and from and not too far away from Alys’ restaurant where we had our evening meal.
Everyone worked really hard, two on Rhapsody variations–I was jealous of their work, and two worked on individual pieces they had designed in large part prior to arrival.
I had planned on doing a series of dawn images but changed to using some images from my father’s tools and bits and bobs. Initially I put them all on the same background but decided I liked them better separated.
One of the daily events was spying the mule deer that wandered about town like regular citizens. And everyday a trip to Charlies was needed to pick up a fresh cinnamon roll or other breakfast treat. Charlie’s is a general store with notices regarding lost dogs, upcoming events, sales of various sorts and any sort of announcement that is needed to make things work in a small town.
I’ve been working away on my Gammill (Vivian) longarm quilting machine for some time now. But the stack of tops to be quilted never seems to diminish. Maybe they multiply when I am not looking.
I did finish an Art quilt—to be used as the under-quilt of two figures. I’ve been experimenting with a different method to allow dense stitching on the figures with simpler stitching on the background. For a piece to hang correctly, it must be evenly stitched throughout—and to add details and shading and coloration with thread instead of patching together shades of fabric means the entire piece must have the same amount of stitching—-or the figures constructed separately and then applied to the piece.
I’ve gotten fond of the matchstick type quilting in vogue with the Modern Quilt Guild movement, it is quite simple, very effective, but does take a bit of time. I added some running stitches by hand to the background of this piece.
After I take a piece off the frame, I load the backing, batting, and the top for the next project in line. Then I have no excuses to not work when I go to spend time with Vivian.
For whatever reason, I do not prefer mirrors or personal photos; in life-drawing class I always chose the back or the side back of the model. But a self portrait is a time-honored artistic project and the last assignment for the Fiber Art Group I started was a self portrait.
I pulled out the last two self portraits–one clearly my back with my signature and the other my back while holding my great niece. Now this one–is of my hands–poised at my sewing machine which seems to function as part of me.
These are the preliminary photos–I am still working on the actual piece–with a few other projects having bubbled to the top as priority.
If I hadn’t been so lazy as to not retrieve my tripod from my truck, it would have been a much easier project to take these photos—and my photoshop skills are not the best—but they are adequate enough for my purposes.