Monday, October 20, 2014

Freedom flag

back of textile

  - flag made of some of the fabrics in this post  ,  and this post  , including the tea-dyed  remnants of my old bedspread   

"Oh freedom"-  Aaron Neville.  
from the album-- I Know I've Been Changed

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From the kitchen to Istanbul--scraps of fabrics, scraps of ideas PLUS Daniel Gordon and Mickalene Thomas

This is a textile I made from my pile of small scraps --silk, old curtains, wool, velvet, corduroy, old bedspread-- all sewed onto a piece of tea-dyed burlap,

 ...which I then cut into pieces and arranged on yellow burlap-- I like the slashy effect.
The process is self generative: arranging/ attaching/ cutting,  then rearranging/ attaching/ cutting.  It could go on and on, yielding infinite itererations.  Nothing is predetermined, I have no idea of the outcome when I begin.

Here are the same pieces on black wool, looking something like an intersection in a city plan. I could sew them on in this configuration, then cut that textile into pieces which would make yet another new textile. It'a an endless path.


... looking around this week at artists' work that focuses on color, shape and patterns, like the still lifes of  Daniel Gordon

and the landscapes of  Mickalene Thomas  


a photo my niece took in Istanbul this summer....

from which I put together this preliminary"sketch" using cutouts from the screen in her picture. The blue patterned cotton is from India,

one of a set of swatches brought to a friend by her husband who was travelling there in the 1980's.

This project is a new experience for me in that it's "about" something-- a collection of friends' and family relationships and experiences; a husband thinking of his wife when he's away from home, a young person traveling alone for the first time. It's about how we capture memories of our experiences with images and objects.  It's inclusive.

And in contrast to the burlap strips, it's an intentional process, at least partially predetermined from the outset.  I wanted to make something personal for my niece as a college graduation gift, something that includes a piece of her life,  so I suggested using one of her photos to make a textile. Graphically I like what I'm seeing in the mock-up, but am not that excited about cutting pieces from a template.
I wonder about the literalness of this particular interpretation and how comfortable I am with that.

It is however, a gift, and since my niece really likes the mock-up, and I like the photo and that it captures her vision,  I'll continue to work with it and see what happens.  I'm very curious to see what comes out.

A last note about this process-- judging by how much I've just written, there seem to be a lot of words attached to it.  I'm getting tired of words, just wanting to focus more on making things rather than meaning, to pursue the not-quite  ineffable ,  because that's too grand a word.


made with random scraps: 1950-60's pink cotton chrysanthemum fabric from my grandmother Catherine,  brown basket-weave 1950's upholstery fabric, various 1980's woven gray cottons (my sister's pants scraps). The leopard is a 1990's upholstery scrap from a friend's office/library.  Other fabrics include upholstery samples, wool and silk.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bird hop

Secretary bird pillow made as a 50th anniversary gift for some good friends of mine.

The inset materials include tea-dyed burlap, cotton scraps left from my sister's 1980's pajama pants, and a fabric swatch from Mrs. Blume, a decorator friend of my grandmother c. 1960-70.
The top and bottom of the frame is made of Woolrich wool,  and the floral sides are cut from a French wool tapestry sample from the '90's.

Upon arriving at its new home, the bird hopped Goldilocks-style from chair to chair trying to find the right fit. This one is tres cool but more anatomically suited to a human than a bird...

... good color and the 1970's tubular acrylic is hip, but it's a little too small.

                        This one is great if you're in a tweedy mood.

Home at last under an Ellsworth Kelly print -- appropriate considering Kelly spent a lot of time as a child bird-watching on a reservoir near his home.  My friends are also avid bird watchers and naturalists, so everything has come together nicely.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Edge-strip pillow complete.  The lines of flickering colors and textures makes me think of music-- an Anni Albers  textile design for an acoustical theater curtain I saw years ago at the  Corcoran  comes to mind. Couldn't find a picture of the exact textile but below are some examples of her work.

I've been thinking about my creative process and how it seems to parallel the somewhat scattered nature of the textiles I'm making.  This past week I took lots of photos so that I could review, see, really see how ideas evolve and progress-- not judging, just observing.

I found an image of the painting in the photo above-- artist unattributed?--while looking through my card collection, loved the colors, and pulled together a palette of materials based on the painting.

That lead to a couple of color-block variations- in the photo above, I like the painterly area where the  two reds come together on the right.

...the black fabric is cut from old wrap skirt.

Ball gowns and Brutalism

Shifting to softer colors, I pinned together this collage using 1960's woven beige curtain fabric, a scrap from a floral linen pillow sham, pieces of the 1920-30's tea-dyed bedspread, one of my mom's old shirts, and watery green taffeta-- a scrap from one of her formal party dresses -1950's?

There's even a strip of sheer tulle attached to what may have been the hem.


                          That's my mom on the right with my two aunts in dresses most likely sewn by my grandmother.
So far it's all feminine and sweet, but while I was moving the overlapping blocky shapes of fabric around, I thought about Brutalist architecture and Paul Rudolph 's concrete Art and Architecture building at Yale  ,shown below in the original 1960's rendering.

Ball gowns and Brutalism? really? When architecture, art, and design collide with family history, it can be kind of disorienting, even overwhelming. Observing how they coalesce, however, makes the process interesting, surprising, and sometimes even kind of funny--it did make me laugh when I realized that delicate floral prints and monumental concrete megaliths had come together in a single work.
Paul Rudolph would not approve, I think...

                                 ...but then the students did try to burn his building down....

Returning to color-- I was looking through a Milton Avery book, and came across this painting which prompted an exploration of  fabric layers and shapes using a piece of crinkled polyester chiffon given to me by friend. Although polyester falls outside of my usual palette of natural-fiber fabrics, I think it has possibilities...

         It's interesting how relatively flat, dark and light shapes can imply dimension; I find myself once again thinking of architecture, planes, shade, shadow and surface...

-- ideas illustrated by yet another image of Rudolph's Yale Art and Architecture building, in this beautiful photo by Chris Mottalini. 

and this painting by Serge Poliakoff

...taking a break from the conceptual and turning to more practical matters...

              .... my dad (right) and his friend Melvin un-hardwired  my mom's old Singer from the cabinet so I can take it in for a long overdue professional tune-up.

           ...noting which wires go where.  I hope I'm up to doing electrical projects (or the equivalent) when I'm 86.

As I was scrounging around in the yet-to-be-gone-through stash of fabrics, I came across this pillow that matches my grandmother's curtain fabric (and a shadow that matches the cat.)

Tears in the cover reveal mattress ticking used as the pillow slipcover.  Like the idea.

I considered framing the velvety "bricks"  with the curtain fabric, and while I like the idea of walls and gardens, don't like so much this combination....kind of surreal and maybe a little creepy?

Staying with the "brick" idea, I made this block,  using my the old tea-dyed bedspread and an open-weave cotton.

Outside while I'm taking pictures, shadows fall across it and I wonder about that as an idea for applique.

Meanwhile, Tillycat chases a passing lizard up a tree, kind of like my mind chasing passing ideas.

Back inside I use some of the blocks I've made to mock-up a flag -- think about freedom, autonomy, ships, sailing, and the World Book Encyclopedia pictures of flags I stared at as a child.

which brings me around to minimalist use of line and color

and   Brice Marden's   paintings of the 1970's.

Getting back to work I've completed--- I set up four of the "strip" pillow covers in my studio.  It's a collection, and it makes me quite happy.