Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Update of Everything

For some reason, I decided that today I would finally update my blog. Despite my initial enthusiasm, I've been a little neglectful of my blogging duties. Frankly, I feel really far behind, so it may take me a couple of days before I'm all caught up. Oh well.
I'm posting this image not because it's my most recent, but mostly because I want to tell you about a cool tool I've recently come across.
It all started when I went to the Gee's Bend exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston. This was probably back in July. Anyway, I'd actually seen other parts of the Gee's Bend collection at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC. Needless to say, the show was terrific. What wowed me almost as much as the quilts was an activity the museum had put together for kids once they'd viewed the quilts. In a room at the end of the exhibit, the staff had set out small pieces of foam core about 5 or so inches square and an amazing array of colored vinyl tape in a variety of widths. They challenged the kids to design their own "Gee's Bend" blocks. My daughter, Abi, and I braved what seemed to be hordes of folks enthusiastically creating foam core squares.
Being an art teacher to both kids and adults, I'm always on the lookout for fresh ideas. I thought this would be a fabulous way to introduce the concept of designing an improvisational quilt block, but without the stress of having no sketch or "template" once it was time to piece that block in fabric. I asked one of the docents about the tape and he said they had ordered it from www.identi-tape.com. I felt frankly gleeful when I got on that site. So many colors, in so many widths, and a variety of textures too. Oh boy!
When my shipment of tapes arrived, I made several "sketches" with the tape and picked one of those images to render in fabric. I was so jazzed about this tape that I proposed a class, geared towards adults, at The Art Pad. I intentionally limited my color palette and used my hand-dyed cottons to construct the top. When I started machine quilting it, the piece reminded me of the images painted by the Ndebele tribe of South Africa. I wanted the quilting to be very obvious and graphic so I used dark thread on the lighter fabrics and light threads in the dark areas. I also added some "eye" beads I bought at the International Quilt Festival in Houston a couple of years ago. I chose to bind the quilt with white fabric because I felt that would enhance its Ndebele art quality.

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