Monday, January 16, 2017

What is this stuff?

Cleaning out my studio I'm finding a lot of mystery stuff.  A lot of it I realize that I don't want or need, and put it in the grab bag bag.  At least I know what it is.  But I am totally in the dark about this big bag.

Think dozens and dozens of absorbent sheets, kind of like disposable diapers, maybe a half-inch thick, of a shape and size that must be suited for something but I can't imagine it.  Somebody must have given them to me thinking that they would be useful for some phase of fiber art, and I must have agreed, but ??????

Does anybody out there know what these things are?  How would one use them in fiber art?  How would one use them in non-fiber art?  If I wanted to give them away, who would use them?

All suggestions gratefully accepted.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My favorite things 3

Starting in the late 1950s my father went to Canada frequently on business, and he liked to bring home souvenirs.  Not tacky refrigerator magnets, but Inuit soapstone sculptures, an art form that he discovered early on.

At the time I thought this was a traditional folk art, but have learned more recently that the first peoples hardly ever carved in stone until 1949.  At that time the Canadian government decided to encourage the production of artwork among natives who no longer followed the old subsistence lifestyle.  While they had traditionally carved ivory, bone and antlers, now they were steered toward soapstone, which was found in the Arctic.  (Interestingly, some of the Inuit artists are importing their soapstone from Brazil.)

Dad bought sculptures of varying sizes, the largest being about the size of a shoebox, but mostly little things that would happily sit in your palm. Three of the pieces that I was given at the time or subsequently inherited are faces or masks, but most are animals of one sort or another.

Carvings done before 1990 are now called "vintage," so I guess my little trove might even be valuable if I ever needed to part with it.  Meanwhile, they live on a little glass shelf within reach of my place at the dining room table.  Isaac likes to rearrange and play with them and I like to think of them keeping me company while I sit and eat or read.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

All my flags flying

Here are the "installation views" of my flags on display at Pyro Gallery through February 18.

We'll be having a gallery talk at 12:30 on Saturday, January 14.  If you're in the vicinity, drop in and visit!

Memorial Day 
at left, More Equal Than Others; at right, Fading


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Amy's quilt

I wrote yesterday about Amy Pabst, who has been corresponding with me for some time about her fine-line quilt in progress.  Shortly before Christmas she wrote to say she had made a bunch of modules, and to ask for advice about how to join them.  I gave her a couple of hints, and decided that it might be a good idea to write a more extensive tutorial to share with everybody.

I mainly thought this might be a help to Amy, but I moved too slowly.  Once this woman decides to sew, stand back!

Here's what her design wall looked like on December 3:

On December 16:

And here's her quilt top, finished on December 22:

Although it's not apparent in the full view, all of her white fabrics are striped (some are white-on-white).  The full quilt measures 63 x 70 inches.

I think this is a beautiful quilt!  It reminds me of a couple of my own quilts, which isn't surprising because Amy used them as models.  And I think I own and have used several of the same red stripe fabrics.

After she finished, Amy wrote:  "I was very surprised at how well everything fit together. I had to do a little fiddling, adding and trimming here and there, but for the most part everything ended up a good fit by what seemed like pure chance.....  I love working with small pieces, but normally I paper piece and plan and calculate everything to exact measurements. The free style construction of this quilt was brand new to me and very refreshing after all the rigid perfection of paper piecing."

Amy, I'm so glad that you made this quilt, and that you like the improvisational approach. Yes, it is a very different way to work, with very little advance planning and certainly no exact measurements, and yes, it is refreshing!  Thanks so much for sharing your photos, and I hope we'll get another look when it's all quilted.

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year's resolutions

OK, if I haven't convinced you to take up daily art for 2017, or make a huge striped quilt with fine-line piecing, what ARE you going to do to perk up your artistic life in the new year?

Here's another suggestion -- learn Photoshop, or if you already allegedly know it, relearn what you once knew and have forgotten because you haven't used it in way too long a time.  (If your copy is Photoshop Elements 9, I'm talking to you!)

Time for my periodic unpaid testimonial to the Pixeladies, Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt, who taught me everything I know about Photoshop and thus enabled me to do all kinds of things that have come in handy, such as this banner for the Pyro Gallery website which I whipped out two weeks ago (yes, that's my flag quilt on the right).

I've written a lot about my experiences in their two online classes -- click here for my posts.

Kris and Deb are starting a new cycle of classes later this month and I guarantee you'll not only learn plenty but have fun.  And they're not very expensive either.  I've dabbled in various online learning approaches, ranging from college credit on down, and by far this is the best-organized and best-supported platform I've ever seen.

As I've said before, these women are not my sisters-in-law and they're not paying me a kickback for referring students.  I'm just a very satisfied customer who thinks you might become another one.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My favorite things 2

My parents each had one brother, but my dad's brother drowned at age 19 and my mom's brother for some reason became semi-estranged from the family and moved to California, which might as well have been on the other side of the earth.  The concept of "uncle" was exotic to me -- yes, there was Uncle Irv, whom I met in person once for an evening when I was 7 or 8, but he wasn't really a part of my life.


Uncle Irv did send presents once in a while, and one of them, a wooden Japanese doll, is still in my office, standing in the window to keep watch.  I suspect it was made in Japan after the war.  It's well made; the head turns a bit on the neck but in 60 years has never gotten wobbly or fallen off.  The brushwork of facial features and floral motifs is delicate and beautiful.  I don't know what it says on the bottom; perhaps the artist's signature?

Why have I kept it so close all these years?  I think it has less to do with my desire for family connection (my sibs and I kind of liked being an isolated nuclear family: no tiresome big family gatherings, no cousins for rivals, much more adult attention for us) than with a taste for sophistication.  Living in small white-bread Michigan towns didn't offer much diversity or excitement, but Japan ---         Japan was even more cosmopolitan, foreign, faraway, thrilling than Berkeley!   What kind of a wide world was out there, anyway?

As time went by I got to see a whole lot of that wide world, including Japan, where I'd wanted to visit since childhood.  Did Uncle Irv's Christmas present kindle that desire?