Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lucinda's Textiles

One of the cool things about books is the way you can return to them and discover new things in even the most well-loved volume. That's definitely true of novels and biographies, but I think it's also the case with art books. Over the years, I've amassed a fair number of books. Some of these are books that survey a particular era or movement in art, others are how-to books. But, my favorite kind of art book has got to be one that features an artist or a group of artists and discusses their work and inspirations.
Several years ago(probably 15 or so), I purchased The Passionate Quilter by a British quilt artist, Michele Walker, that featured a variety of up and coming English quilters. Among them are some ladies who's names are pretty well known today, Janet Bolton,Pauline Burbidge, and Deidre Amsden. Also mentioned were several quilters who I haven't heard about since coming across their bios in this book. Nonetheless, the book is packed with beautiful quilts and interesting stories about their makers. One artist who particularly struck me was a woman named Lucinda Gane.
She made these amazing mosaic quilts using the traditional English paper piecing method. Her quilts were, however, not based on standard patterns, but inspired by African kente cloth or Monet's paintings of the gardens at Giverny.
What I've always loved about these quilts is the way they read as textiles rather than quilts. I understand that quilts are textiles, so that's kind of a ridiculous thing to say, but these pieces feel more like kilim rugs than they do patchwork, and I find that so amazing. A lot of the quilts I've made have striven to achieve that same feeling, to be woven together rather than patched.For me, making these kinds of images has always relied heavily on my hand dyed and batiked fabric. Unlike Lucinda, I don't seem to be able to do it with commercial fabric. I get so drawn to all the pretty patterns, I can't seem to focus on making textiles. I always end up with patchwork, which is not necessarily a bad thing( another problem:too many loves). Lately, I've been creating more patterned batiks with the hope of cutting them up and piecing into "textiles".
I can't believe I'm actually posting an image of this second work in progress. It's barely started, but I have a good feeling about it. It's the same feeling I had when I first started my Twinkle quilt. I sensed it would work out well.

On a related and sad note: I was googling Lucinda's name today to find out what she's been up to and if she's made any fabulous quilts lately, when I learned that she died of cancer in 2005. She was also a relatively well known British actress, having appeared both on the stage and on television. I was certainly saddened to hear that she was gone.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Week in Review

So,I'm reviewing the week, which is good because I semi-committed to making that a regular feature. But, my recap can't reference any other blog entries this week because I didn't post at all this week. And I wasn't even on vacation.
I did add some fabric to my shop and will probably add some more this afternoon.I also made this bag. It's just like the bag I made Abi before we went to Mexico. This time, I made the body of the bag with some of my full circle batik fabric and the handles with a Denyse Schmidt print.Here's a view of the interior of the tote.And another pillow.
I added all these goodies to my shop and have plans to make more. There's something inspiring about maintaining my little slice of the internet marketplace. I think my enthusiasm might be contagious, because Abi has asked me if she could sell some of her softies in my shop. I'll be adding those soon. Who knows? Maybe they'll be part of my week in review next time?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Week in Review

OK. This is the second time I've posted a week in review, which, in my world, practically makes it a tradition. I don't want to commit to a weekly review because, the minute I do, that will be the death knell of the entire idea. It seems like the viability of an idea is greatly reduced by verbalizing it. Why is that? And am I the only one who suffers from this syndrome?
Anyway, here's my week in review, as we say in Hebrew, bli neder(meaning: without committing to anything).I started this pillow before I left for Mexico.
I used some much loved fabric and buttons for the back.Another twinkle pillow, this time in more muted tones.Except for the back.I also made more of my E block fabric. I'm planning on adding it to my store , but I haven't taken enough pictures yet. Maybe in next week's review, I'll have more shots of this and other fabric. Bli neder, of course.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

San Miguel: Part 2: Soledad's dolls

We met a lot of interesting people in San Miguel. The place is really the most amazing mix of people. It has a huge number of ex-pat Americans. Many of these folks move to San Miguel to enjoy their retirement, but a fair number of artists relocate there for the ambiance that comes with living in a city populated with like-minded creative people. Also, there are two large art schools in San Miguel, so opportunities to earn money through teaching abound.
Several of us took classes while in San Miguel. I've already told you about my photography class, but others took classes in cooking, paper mache, salsa dancing, etc. It was through one of our fellow travelers' encounter with an American who taught a paper mache workshop that we learned about an amazing woman and her beautiful dolls.
Lisa Simms is a jewelry and sculpture artist who has transplanted herself to San Miguel and, along with creating and teaching, has opened a gallery. The gallery is located in her fun and eclectic house in the center of town.
Her kitchen walls are painted a fabulous salmon red and covered with dolls.
Many, if not most, of these dolls were created by a woman named Soledad. Lisa talked about how when she first saw these dolls, she was struck by how different they were from others she had seen. Then she told us this incredible story of how Soledad is a poor, simple woman who crafts these dolls in hopes of earning a few pesos to support her ailing husband. She also mentioned that, despite her own hardships, whenever Soledad brings a new collection of dolls for Lisa to sell in her gallery, all that concerns her is how Lisa is fairing as a single woman and what Lisa might need. Lisa detailed how these dolls are made out of donated bits and scraps and that Soledad oftentimes makes dolls with missing limbs or other obvious defects because that too is part of her reality. Lisa even showed us a journal of sorts that one woman made about the dolls that she purchased from Soledad and their( her and the dolls) adventures upon returning to the U.S.
Needless to say, I was incredibly moved by Lisa's story of Soledad and even asked if I could mail her fabric for her dolls. Unfortunately, Lisa said that the post in Mexico is so unreliable that it's unlikely the package would arrive undisturbed. I did, however, want to support Soledad's efforts and her art. So, I purchased two dolls.
Now I begin my own adventure with Soledad's creations.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What I did on my summer vacation: part 1

I'm back and I can't say enough about what a fabulous time I had.
We traveled by bus(yes, bus) overnight to San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel is in central Mexico, in the mountains. It's an old city and the Mexican government has worked hard to preserve the authenticity of the city. This means incredibly narrow, cobblestoned streets and traditional architecture. It's really an amazing city to just wander around in.
San Miguel is also home to vast number of artists, many of whom offer classes and workshops. While we were there and not horseback riding, swimming, eating, or shopping, I took a one day photography workshop with Jo Brenzo. This class focused on basics which, frankly, I thought I knew, but actually didn't. She taught us about exposure compensation, focus lock, white balance and all sorts of other aspects of shooting pictures and manipulating them with photoshop. The class was primarily lecture, but we were sent out on a few assignments.These photos are a sampling of the ones I took when we were practicing the concept of focus lock. We were instructed to utilize focus lock and take pictures of circles. Circles! I love circles.
We were also given assignments that encouraged us to use our newly acquired knowledge of exposure compensation( basically overriding the exposure your camera thinks it needs in a particular light setting) and white balance( understanding the color of the light you're shooting in). I had been looking forward to this workshop as I enjoy using my camera and want to have a better understanding of how it works and how to manipulate it. I'm planning on continuing my photography education now that I've returned and am looking for another, lengthier class to take. Hopefully, what I've already learned will translate into better pictures to post. Hasta Luego!