Saturday, April 20, 2013

1960's quilts-- memory and association

I have very specific memories and associations linked with fabric; it's inclusive in the way I experience textiles. Recently I took pictures of the fabrics in a couple of quilts my mom made in the sixties.  She would have called them "nothing special" quilts, meaning they were made for everyday use-- simple 9-square blocks put together with no particular plan. It's interesting for me to see what I was looking at on a daily basis growing up, and think about how that's shaped my love of fabric and prints.
Case and point, the black and white fabric above is a good example of the "handpainted" prints popular in the fifties, like the Eduardo Paolozzi textiles below.

Something about this fabric with bicycles,

rocking chairs

and teapots-- random objects floating through gray squares-- reminded me of the things flying by the window in Dorothy's dream in the Wizard of Oz.

(you can watch it here  if the video doesn't come up)

These scream men's shirts from the fifties.

These remind me of the seashore and sailing.

Geometrics are paired with florals

 ..these medallions and hand-painted greenery brought to mind

the basil I planted recently, which is flourishing just like Lisabetta's in Boccaccio's Decameron.

Day IV, Novella 5.
Lisabetta’s brothers slay her lover: he appears to her in a dream, and shews her where he is buried: she privily disinters the head, and sets it in a pot of basil, whereon she daily weeps a great while. The pot being taken from her by her brothers, she dies, not long after. more of the story here

This is William Holman Hunt's painting of Keat's version of the story.
Unlike Lisabetta, I credit the health of my plant to Miracle Gro soil, not to my lover's head buried in the pot.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Patterns gone awry and aright and all over the wall

....and what's wrong with this picture?
Earlier in the week I was working out the top half of the robe pattern, trying a couple of different versions of sleeves,  and basted one on upside down.  I immediately thought of having to hold my arm over my head all the time just to wear the robe, then I started thinking about how we try so hard to change our bodies to fit fashion, and then I wandered way off track into Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities" territory and  imagined a city of people whose bodies have mutated to accommodate the shoddiness of the garment industry.
That was about as far down that path as I cared to wander.

... paths, brains, wandering is a diagram of the map our brain makes to locate ourselves in space-- for example, to remember where your car is in a parking lot.

Here's Neil Burgess explaining the idea in this TED talk 

Here is how is how we span space in steel.  Looks familiar. The structure itself is a construction of the force diagram as it appears in a physics book.

...close enough, anyway.  The point is that the same pattern that holds up the physical world around us is also inside of us, tracking where we are and where we've been.

This is an example of  a typical Islamic decorative motif.  Our aesthetic preference for complex triangulated geometry looks an awful lot like what our brain is doing when we're making a mental note of where the car is parked. Amazing.