Friday, November 16, 2007

Journal Quilt at Houston

On display at Houston, with nearly 400 others. 11th photo from the top, second row.

And now...I should do something else. It's been two months.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Saturday Night's Already for Dyeing

9-step gradation between Avocado (which I remember being much ickier than the green I got...) and Rich Brown. I thought I stirred these enough, but the brown is still really separated, exposing chunks of green instead of a mixed color.

Something completely different--not a gradation at all. Started each cup with the same amount of Bright Yellow and then "contaminated" it with a few grains of nine different dyes (they are actually much brighter than this picture; either the tungsten light or the flash makes them look dull). The deep green was Navy Blue; that will be fun to do a gradation of in a few weeks when I have a free day.

And finally, leftover dye in a ziploc bag, rapidly becoming my favorite part of the whole exercise.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday Night Bright Yellow

...and Rich Brown.

First, the 1:1 ratio of yellow and brown. I stirred these guys more than the last set, really.

Second, the 2:1 ratio of yellow and brown.

Finally, leftover dye thrown into a ziploc bag. The Rich Brown strikes and separates into greenish, orange, and yellow very quickly. I like this piece, except for the spots of undissolved red.

Was going to do a Green Bay/Door County area shop-hop today (it is GORGEOUS outside) but instead spent the entire November art budget on more PFD and Synthrapol, even though I think I'm on the road the next five or six weekends.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Journal Quilt unveiled

Since the International Quilt Festival opened in Houston today, I can show my finished Journal Quilt.

I was quite pleased with it six weeks ago. Now I can see things I wish I did differently. But it's an actual rectangle, this was just a quick photo before I sent it off.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday was a good day to dye

9-step gradations.

Yes. 9 steps. I donated my copy of Dyeing to Quilt to a library book sale a few years ago; I did the math a couple of times and came up with 7 or 9 steps every time, never wasn't until after I lined everything up for the photos that I realized I could have left out the equal-parts mixture, Mixture 0, because it doesn't seem to be visually different than Mixture 1 or Mixture -1.

They're quite mottled, because I stuffed the fabric in 16-oz Solo cups for low-water immersion.

First: Equal ratio of Chocolate Brown (from Dharma) and Golden Yellow. Would be interesting to repeat this gradation with a 1:2 ratio of brown to yellow to get a more subtle shift, or to repeat again with half as much dye powder. Would also be interesting to use a little more liquid and stir more often, to keep the brown from separating into components (the middle pieces have red and green areas).

Second: Equal ratio of Scarlet and Clear Yellow. Again, would be interesting to repeat with a 1:2 ratio, or even a 1:4 ratio of red to yellow. And I could probably leave out the middle three pieces.

Some experimenting...I had big jars of "Bronze" and "Camel" dye that I ordered in 1999 and probably never used. Since dyes change over time, I gave them a test run. When I first pulled them out of the dryer, they weren't very compelling, but after I ironed them, they grew on me. In person, they're not as warm as they appear in the photo, they're greenish. Might do a one-color gradation with either of them, using more liquid and stirring frequently.

Finally, threw half my brown discharged fabric in with the leftover yellows. Better, but these are still throw-away experiments. Who knows what I'll do to them next!

I placed an order for more dyes, and I think I forgot Chocolate Brown, Golden Yellow, and Scarlet (I ordered mostly black and blues). I know I should learn to mix all of those colors from the four primaries, but I like the accidental discovery aspect of it all. And I'm lazy.

I do want to try to get some foresty greens, to go with the brilliant oranges.

Personal bitching: I have no idea how I ended up with such a brutal social life. I've had some mandatory event every night since I got back from Vermont, and this weekend I have to go to Iowa for my nephew's birthday. All I really want to do is dye fabric, now that I have everything set up. There is not enough time to support myself AND have friends and family AND make crappy amateur art. Pick any two.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shelburne Museum

Bryan took me to Vermont last weekend. We visited friends in Bristol and Sunday we went to the Shelburne Museum. They had four quilt exhibits.

The "Amish quilts" weren't anything special. Most of them were "Amish patterns" made with prints by non-Amish women. Boring. The "contemporary Vermont quilts" were a mixed bag (and the very famous quilters had lent them quilts that were ten years old or more). Apparently none of them impressed me enough to take pictures.

The dozen or so late 19th and early 20th century quilts from the permanent collection that were on display were nice. Very brown and pink. I was most impressed by the display system.

I did enjoy the exhibition of quilts by Rosie Lee Tompkins (Effie Mae Howard). They made me want to go make something right then and there.

And yet, they irritated me in the same way the Gee's Bend quilts did--if any Midwestern pale-skinned woman of the same age and economic status made crooked quilts with icky used fabrics and big stitches, they'd be used as dog blankets, not considered fine art.

But there's something very compelling about the lamé.

(I'm probably irritated because I haven't done anything interesting since the bleach experiments, and no free time in sight.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fun With Bleach, Part 2

Switched to a gel cleaner with bleach. First, an orange sausage. Smeared the gel all over it and let it sit about three hours.

Rinsed it and removed the rubber bands before soaking it in the anti-chlor.

Also did some stamping with the gel. I love this camera--from three feet away I can see the weave of the fabric.

The gel dripped more than I would have liked.

I imagine I'll overdye the brown piece with yellow if I want to use it for something.


Fun With Bleach, part 1:

Red fabric, tied with rubber bands. I expected to get red circles surrounded by a paler ground--like tie-dye, only reverse. I poured liquid bleach over the whole mess, stirred it around a little bit until I liked the color on the exposed bits, rinsed it with tap water, and then put it in a solution of approx 1 gal water and approx 1 oz anti-chlor (bottle said 1 tsp would remove chlorine from 10 gal of water...I have no idea how much anti-chlor I actually needed) and let it sit there for an hour or so before I removed the rubber bands.

Here's what I actually got: pale circles surrounded by a darker ground. A couple of red splotches, but you'd never know this fabric was bleached just from looking at it.

Theory: liquid bleach got under the rubber bands, but the anti-chlor didn't, allowing the bleach to work longer under the ties than it did on the exposed fabric. I soaked the untied fabric in anti-chlor solution, just in case.

It's kind of a creepy melon color, not the pale pink I got on the test strip, but I used a pen with thickened bleach for the test, so that result didn't surprise me.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Whitefish Dunes SP

Took a road trip yesterday. I have some ideas now.

Stopped at Hobby Lobby in Sheboygan and brought home a half-yard remanant of 'silk hopsacking' for $2 (originally $22/yard). Didn't even realize it was silk; liked the color and texture, at the price figured it was synthetic but would make a good background for something sometime.... Silk is better. I can add it to my bin of reclaimed Goodwill silk and undyed silk PFD.

Friday, September 21, 2007

So. Um. Now what?

I mailed my Journal Quilt this morning.

This would be a really good time to start something new, except I can't think of anything to start.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Wrote out my statement for my Journal Quilt tonight so tomorrow I can take it to Kinkos. The quilt has been done for a couple of weeks, but I hate writing about stuff I make, so I waited until the second-last possible minute (gotta get the whole thing stitched and in the mail before Friday). I mean, no one reads this blog, so I can babble on and on and on here, but there will be actual people looking at the JQs at Houston. I feel like a fraud talking about myself like I've done something important. It looks cooler than anything I've done, but it looks silly and childish next to some of the earlier quilts published in Creative Quilting. Which is pretty much why I dropped out of the JQ Project the first two times I signed up.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Spent most of the last 10 days fulfilling social obligations and being sick instead of making stuff.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happiness is Poniatowski

1) Finished the border on the Journal Quilt. I don't think I'll have time to redo the sequins on the Lombardi Trophy. Going to put the sleeve on it and send it to Houston, thus completing my fiber art goal for the year.

2) Instead of cleaning my apartment for my parents dropping in this weekend (where did all these books come from???), I spent today working on my Lines and Shapes lessons.

3) Saturday I drove to the confluence of 90°W and 45°N. I was exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole AND exactly halfway between the Prime Meridian and International Date Line.

Snoopy came with me so I could prove I was really there.

Had lunch in Wausau at a brewpub called the Hereford and Hops--a confluence of beer and steak.

Stopped at quilt shops in Wausau and Dorchester for a little gratuitious stash enhancement.

Also stopped at Rib Mountain to see rocks that are over 1.5 billion years old. And a toad.

Sometimes it's nice to drive 550 miles for no good reason.

Monday, August 27, 2007


1) I keep forgetting to blog about fabric- and art-related books (I think the cat orders books while I'm at work. In the mail today was Textiles, 10th Edition, by Sara Kadolph, one of my professors at ISU. I used the 9th ed. when I took and later taught the intro to textile science class there, but it disappeared about four moves ago. I liked having it on hand to look up words/concepts I might not remember...I can't believe it's been six years since I dropped out, I'm forgetting information at an alarming rate. The latest is full-color and very very bright, which is a little distracting, but it's nice to have it back.

2) Total lunar eclipse tomorrow morning. Moonset in Milwaukee is at 6:16 a.m. CDT, so the moon will be in fully eclipse as it sets.

It's raining, so I might end up going back to bed after a quick peek outside.

3) I'm taking Lily Kerns' Lines and Shapes class at QuiltUniversity. It started Saturday. I forgot to print this week's worksheet today--must remember tomorrow!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Something else COMPLETELY different

LaSalle hood ornament
Originally uploaded by heatherradish
Beautiful day, but after rain and severe storms 9 out of the past 10 days, heading out to the woods was 100% out of the question. So I went down to the lakefront (still had to slog through ankle-deep mud...) for the Masterpiece Style and Speed Showcase.

Never really been into cars, other than my fascination with the Duesenbergs (German-Iowan engineers who later lived in Indianapolis...know anyone like that?), but it's been a couple of weeks months since the last time I went out taking pictures that might inspire me to make art.

I had a surprisingly good time looking at the chrome and styling, comparing different model years, listening to people talk about restorations. The old touring cars were gorgeous!! The 70s muscle cars were less interesting, but still striking in bright colors and lined up against the backdrop of the lake.

I dumped all the pictures to Flickr, minus the obvious out-of-focus shots. I'll be more discriminating in the future, but my friends who like "performance" cars will want to look at the engines.

I should try new things more often.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And now for something completely different

Fused a bunch of scraps together...oh several months ago, under sparkly red tulle.

Free-motion quilting for the first time in at least three years. The machine purred; the human was wobbly. I got caught up watching the needle and not where it goes next, so it's jerky. But a lot better than I expected, at least on the squiggle. The spiral needs practice.

The red thread didn't show up at all on the front (I don't understand why I was surprised by this), so I did it again with yellow-orange.

I think I originally intended a black or black-and-red wide binding. I also intended to embellish with black alphabet beads and slivers of "printer barf" painted red, to symbolize /dev/null, but I might just leave it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pissarro/Impressionism thoughts

Finally saw the Pissarro exhibition at the MAM on Thursday, with Pam-from-work. She knows a lot about classical music and was able to talk about the changes in music happening during the time period covered by the exhibit, so it was worth holding off until I could find someone to drag with me. And she bought dinner. *grin*

It was a good exhibition. I went into it with an open mind, and I've upgraded my opinion of Impressionism from "annoying" to "neutral".

1) I liked the chronological display of paintings. Recently I've been fascinated with how artists evolve (or don't...) over time. Also really liked seeing how painting with others changed Pissarro's work.

2) The qualities of light at different times of day and in different seasons. Half of my photographs show this, but getting it on canvas, from life, is very impressive. I enjoyed comparing the same views at different times of year.

3) I'm also a sucker for landscapes with smokestacks. All my best Indiana Dunes photographs feature the NIPSCO cooling tower looming just outside the park boundaries. So I really liked the paintings of the distillary along the Oise, of which I can't seem to find images of online.

4) I bought a postcard of Jallais Hill, Pontoise because the composition reminded me of Grant Wood. Chronologically, that's backwards--Wood's Iowa landscapes were painted several decades later--but since I'm learning art history on my own in a very piecemeal fashion, that's how it goes. It's a terrible reproduction, too dark.

Other stuff:
1) I don't know enough about 19th century European history. Sweet sassy molassy, my "formal education", minus engineering school, was pathetic.
2) I need to do some freshman-year color-mixing exercises with paint so I'm not just working from the jars when I paint fabric.
3) This bit where you can order a reproduction oil painting of famous paintings online for $100 annoys me. I know $100 American is unbelievable money for the people cranking these out--probably Russia, they're not big on the Berne Convention--but puh-leeze. If you can't afford to drop millions for the real thing, no one's going to think less of you for hanging a print over your couch. If you MUST have paint, pick up an original by someone local who'll be happy for the support, and you won't look like such a poser.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Long day at the sweatshop

After attaching approximately 36 sq inches of clear sequins to the journal quilt, I realize I should have used the silver hologram sequins. *cry* Going to finish the rest of it and change the sequins if I have time. I'm going to finish this thing and mail it to Houston before the deadline.

Also, instead of transferring outlines of letters to the quilt and sewing the sequins onto the lines, I transferred outlines of letters onto a piece of "machine quilting pattern paper" I found in the sewing room, with the intention of sewing the sequins on through it and peeling the paper out. Unfortunately, the sequins are spaced further apart than machine quilting stitches, so the paper isn't perforating as closely and isn't coming off easily at all. I'll have to try something else for the curvy lines of sequins in the borders.

Last night I listened to Bob Uecker call the Brewers game while I stitched; so far today I've watched a season of Waiting for God, a season of Red Dwarf, and now I think it's time for something a little less serious.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Hours and hours of TV to watch while I encrust things with sequins--everything interesting gets replayed at least once. :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sewing machine is back. The tension still seems weird, or maybe I've forgotten how it's supposed to be.

I could go nuts here. What I really want is a spool cap...

Someone has gnawed on my copy of Harriet Hargrave's "Heirloom Machine Quilting."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Funny how I can go six weeks without going in the sewing room, but as soon as I drop off the machine for a week I get all angsty.

In a crappy mood; had to drive out to Brookfield, which takes FREAKING FOREVER from Glendale any road you take, and I'll have to go out next Saturday. For an authorized service center it was Brookfield or Manitowoc; it might have been faster to drive the 75 mi north. Certainly would have been more pleasant!

Monday, July 30, 2007

That's where the tall corn grows

Drove to Iowa with Bryan this past weekend for my class reunion *waves*. Stayed in Ames at the Gateway, where we saw a quilt by Priscilla Kepner Sage, my fiber studio professor back at the turn of the century, in the lobby.

Then we met my folks downtown, where we randomly found that Kimberly Baxter-Packwood, a classmate in that studio, had opened a physical storefront for The Prairie Fibers Co. on Main Street (!!). I was very impressed--all kinds of hand-dyed and uncolored fibers and fabric, a wet studio/classroom back behind the counter, and several finished pieces on the walls.
She had all the wool 30% off, but I ended up getting some packets of silk dyed with her natural dies and a bunch of silk cocoons (with the worms still inside).

Serendiptious quiltiness, and procrastination fodder for the Journal Quilt. After I took Bryan to the airport this afternoon I finished the machine stitching to the point I can start encrusting with sequins. I think there's something wrong with my machine--it won't sew a stitch of a consistent length; if I don't push the fabric through the stitches are barely a millimeter long (yes, the feed dogs are up). Maybe I'll just buy a better machine....

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Progress on the Journal Quilt is slow...

Do I have to credit him as a contributor? He's more of an inhibitor...

(that's the back; did a little machine stitching tonight)

Old-school sausage race

Spending a lot of summer evenings at Miller eating bratwurst instead of making stuff. But the snow will fly soon enough!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Artists are not for the masses.

About a week ago, there was discussion e-mail list about quilt art...about how everyone who wants to make or view art needs to learn to read and write graduate-level philosophy/political science/feminist studies critiques, because "that's the language of art." So much for ordinary people--art is not for them.

Browsing around today, I find an article by the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts:

Most American artists, intellectuals and academics have lost their ability to converse with the rest of society. We have become wonderfully expert in talking to one another, but we have become almost invisible and inaudible in the general culture.

This mutual estrangement has had enormous cultural, social and political consequences.

Read the whole thing. I don't agree with some of the politics of it--government shouldn't force people who want to watch basketball to watch ballet instead--but the part about pretentious intellectual artists elite-ing themselves right out of national cultural relevance? Oh yeah.

I expect this explains Thomas Kinkade, too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Machine quilting is more fun after a couple of Spotted Cows.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Yes, I'm trying to figure it out.

It's raining.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


My dedicated assistant. His favorite place to lurk--whether I'm there or not--is under the ironing board.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I think I've finally worked through my binding problems/frustration. I made three placemats (there's a fourth but I ran out of fabric) with mitered binding. Only had to take the first one apart twice before I got it right; the third I seem to have nailed on the first try.

Now for the excitement of whipstitching the binding to the backs. :P Need more TV on DVD...

Next up: Mitered border strips. I plan to run through some practice pieces--maybe pillows?--with borders the width of my Journal Quilt borders so it's automatic when I attach them for real.

I guess that's my over-arching goal this year: basic workmanship. It's not something I paid much heed to 5-8 years ago when I was making a lot of pieces, and after three years of machine sewing hiatus seems like a good time to pick it up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Marvin Harrison sequined flag!

History here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I should not try to paint images of human beings onto fabric.

Pictures when it dries...maybe. I started my 2007 Journal Quilt tonight; I have to check the rules to see if I can post pics of it in progress.

Not any further on the mitering, either, which is what I really want down cold for the Journal Quilt. It seems so f-ing simple! Why don't my fingers work!?!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Work in Progress--Marvin

Side borders complete, except for corners. That's two weeks' worth of progress (the blue is three complete seasons of Red Dwarf). I need to find a faster hobby.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

There aren't really enough expletives to cover mitered bindings.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Art and Taste

Wow. It’s been over five years since I first read Paul Graham’s essay “Taste for Makers.” I think that was the first time I ever saw the connections between math/science/engineering and art. Well, back when there were still aesthetic standards for art. I came across the essay again today rather accidentally, but it was good! I'm all fired-up again like I was five years ago.

Speaking of aesthetics and taste, a more recent Graham essay explains "How Art Can Be Good."

Thinking on this bit:

Most adults looking at art worry that if they don't like what they're supposed to, they'll be thought uncultured. This doesn't just affect what they claim to like; they actually make themselves like things they're supposed to.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Another art quote

A whole essay, actually, by Roger Kimball in The New Criterion, entitled "Why the art world is a disaster"

Money graf:
Since skill is no longer necessary to practice art successfully, the only things left are 1) appropriate subject matter (paradoxically, the more inappropriate the better) and 2) the right politics.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Art quote

People who think of videos as an art form are probably the same people who think Cabbage Patch Dolls are a revolutionary form of soft sculpture.

-- Frank Zappa

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Work in Progress

I think I painted this picture of Marvin Harrison in 2004. Maybe early 2005. It was after I went to quilt camp in Indy, at least. It's been hanging on a corkboard ever since.

Vodou flags (drapo) are often sequined around a lithograph of the saint associated with the lwa being honored.


Above, how it looked approximately four weeks ago. I added the football because I didn't like the way the hand looked, and I added the horseshoe for balance.

To the right, how it looks as of last night. I haven't been keeping track of how many hours I've spent on it because it would probably depress me; I only work on it while I watch TV (I'm now well into the fifth season of Babylon 5 and I have no idea what I'm going to watch this weekend). It's escapism. For a few hours I can hide in geometry, thread tangles, and a fictional universe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More block prints

Used a lot of the lessons learned with the circuit-board designs--no straight lines or tight angles. The green paint was a little runnier and easier to work with, too.

No idea what I will do with these.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I have Photoshop!

Now I just need to learn to use it more effectively.

Today makes one year we have been in Milwaukee.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My assistant is evil.

The Cat has been chewing on my Teflon press sheet. It's full of teethmarks and dozens of little holes. I knew he likes to lick Ziploc bags and chew on fast food wrappers, but this is new. And $15-ish to replace. Nothing is as expensive as a free kitten...

Can't get Photoshop installed on the new computer, so new photos will have to wait. I made some new block prints last night; they're very blotchy. The paint wicked through the polyester satin so I threw those prints out--was a 43-cent remnant I grabbed Saturday for experimentation.

No, I don't know what I'm going to do with the stack of block prints on cotton.

(Saturday I was looking for discontinued Atlanta Braves cotton fabric for my sister to make a dress for my niece. Didn't find any, but I did buy myself a couple of yards of new Iowa State fabric. Iowa State fabric! On this side of the Mississippi!!!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Frustrated as hell

Sat in front of the computer all day. I want to make stuff, but I don't have any ideas.

How do I make ideas?!?!?!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My computer is dead. Long live my computer!

A couple of weeks ago the dysfunctional power supply on my computer melted through the case, finally convincing me I couldn't put off replacing it any longer. So when I finally finish installing everything, I should be able to post photos again.

More importantly, I should be able to purchase a printer and begin using it to print photos and words onto fabric as well as printing out templates I can draw around.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I'm considering taking Pamela Allen's class at this retreat in Michigan. I'd get to take three days off work and ride the car-ferry. I could bring Bryan for an extra $225, and he could fish when I'm in class. Plus, that's the bye week, so I wouldn't miss any football. :) I'm going to think about it for a week; I have a lot of other travel I want to do and finite money.

But I think it would be good for me. I like her work, but mostly I like her thinking.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I completed another sequined flag, a little bit smaller than the last. Also...very boring. About halfway through, I realized it would be right at home in the "decorative accessories" department of Hobby Lobby, except those are lovingly hand-stitched in a sweatshop in China instead of a recliner in Milwaukee (and minus the 1% genuine FUZZ fuzz that characterizes all my work). So I didn't photograph it before I sent it as a gift to one of those people who like everything I make because I made it--I love them but I think I'd benefit from a critical eye every now and then.

I also found my serious-scholarship book on Vodou flags--history, ceremonial use, popular symbolism employed, major lwa, important artists of the 1990s. I have some ideas for better construction and better presentation of my own symbolism (radishes, black cats--why not?).

Still struggling with the making stuff vs. social life vs. spending time in nature vs. housekeeping vs. getting sufficient sleep, and still struggling with Good Ideas for Stuff to Make. I've been journaling and doodling and Good Ideas remain elusive. The boring sequined flag was useful in that it gave me something to do without obsessing over design, but nothing bubbled up during the respite.

In high school, I used to have all my good ideas while mowing the lawn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hexagonamania explained?

Maybe I'm just homesick...Cassini Images Bizarre Hexagon on Saturn

Still trying to generate some new ideas. I think I'm working on old, boring, labor intensive projects to avoid the possibility of a new project being bad/ugly/dumb/etc, but that's a little too much introspection for happy hour.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Radish Voodoo Flag

Did an archaeological excavation of the spare room last month and found this amongst the unfinished objects. Radish made of sequins...I believe I started it in 2003 after seeing an exhibit of voodoo flags and other Haitian beaded and sequined objects at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. (It was a blind date. Going to the art center was a good call. Unfortunately, the only other interesting thing the guy brought to the date was that he played high school football with Dallas Clark's older brother, and I was too old to be impressed by high school football.... I digress. I liked the sequins...)

Took a month to finish it. I think if I make another voodoo flag, I'll leave the binding un-sequined. I'd probably use uniformly-sized sequins, too. I do like the subtle effect of the yellow print showing through the irridescent's a little hard to see on this picture but it's obvious in person.

I should probably start making stuff that isn't cartoony radishes. Grow a little bit...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hexagonamania update

I did a count last night, and I've completed 81 of 138 "flowers", or approximately 58%. 46 of them have been joined together, or approximately 32%. Percentages do not include whatever I'm going to do with the border (haven't decided yet).

I'm not sure if this means I'm watching too much TV or not enough TV (I'm definitely not spending enough time in airports, which is the other time I work on this one). But it might only take five or six years to finish, instead of the rest of my life.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Block print experiments

Starting to make some art again.

For Yule, my best friend Chele gave me a wooden block used to print resist for South Carolina indigo dyeing. I suddenly felt like doing a little block printing. The arrival of the latest Quilting Arts in the mail with an article on block printing was serendipitous or synchronous or something...

I designed a block based on printed circuit boards, because I am a geek. Spent Saturday carving and only cut myself three times.

I think maybe this would have been a better design for screen printing; it's too detailed.

First try was with a metallic paint; it didn't transfer very well. The best print was on a scrap of cheap muslin that I'd been using to wipe paint off of brushes. D'oh! I'll have to use a transparent wash to cover some of that up.

Tonight I made a few prints with a normal pink paint, and they look a little better. Here they are drying on my studio wall.

That's my main man Marvin on that bulletin board. We're going to the Super Bowl. :) I expect to be making some art about that, especially after we win.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gee's Bend Quilts

I went to see the Gee's Bend quilts at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Dec 30 with my boyfriend Bryan.

With a very few exceptions, I found the vintage fabrics more interesting than the finished quilts, and the very early quilts more interesting than the contemporary (2000 and later; after the quilters were "discovered"). You could tell when they realized that people were comparing their quilts to "modern art" and "African heritage" and they decided to start making their quilts look like modern art and kente cloth.

At the risk of being decried as a racist or a "wingnut," I'm pretty sure the only reason these quilts are getting the attention they've been getting for the past five years is because the quilters are the descendants of former slaves. I say this because most of what I saw hanging on the walls at the museum I've seen in dozens of antique malls and garage sales around the rural Midwest--recycled materials, big sloppy stitches, utility over design--and no one will ever claim that in 1940, Loretta Whitebread from central Illinois was working toward any sort of aesthetic transcending her subsistence existence. No one will ever hang Loretta Whitebread's rectangles of polyester double-knit on the wall and talk about their cultural significance with a straight face. It seems like the "soft bigotry of low expectations" to consider such lowly quilts high art because the makers are black when you wouldn't look at them twice if the makers were white; are the perceived benefits of "inclusiveness" enough to justify throwing out the standards? And if so, can my crappy quilts be high art?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

One difference I did notice is that Loretta Whitebread tends to break up large fields of intense colors into little bits surrounded by white, and the Gee's Bend ladies weren't afraid to put the scarlet next to the evergreen. From a material history viewpoint, you can study the quilts to determine some differences between Gee's Bend society and rural Illinois society. But I still don't buy that either of them are art.