Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rock pillow and beyond

Rock pillow  made with recycled fabrics--
green woven cotton 1960's curtain, light blue  1960's cotton canvas shower curtain.  Other fabrics include tea-dyed burlap, Italian linen, and silk.
The yellow burlap and orange silk  edge strips  are trimmed from the Istanbul textile

trimming the pillow front:

and playing with the edgestrips
-- the leftovers from one project generate ideas for the next:



Usually Tillycat joins my photo-shoots, but today she took refuge from the cold wind in a plant container.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Points of departure

A mock-up for a pillow made of new and vintage fabrics-- the idea of layers that meet in the center was inspired by this rock which comes from a rock collection my sister made when she was twelve. She's a geologist now, and I'm making the pillow for her; I like that the design has a personal connection to her.

My first pass at the design was more starburst-y.
I decided to simplify it after I completed and trimmed....

.... this wall hanging I made for my niece . I cut a wide piece of fabric off the left side  (orange silk and yellow burlap), and liked it so much that I decided to organize the pillow design around it.  You can see in the first photo that it's one of the cross-bars ... a good example of how projects can overlap and influence each other.


A close examination of the wall hanging reveals lots of possible designs within the overall design, any one of which would make a great pillow.  These  cropped views, which in reality are only about 3"x3", could definitely work at a much larger scale.

So a project which started with a fairly literal (for me anyway) interpretation of this photo my niece took in Istanbul has yielded a wealth of materials, both physically in the form of leftover fabric,  and conceptually in design ideas for future projects.

From past to present...

I've been looking through some slides I took 30 years ago in Europe which have been stored away for years, and came across this courtyard view in Milan, taken from the kitchen window of a good friend's apartment.

As soon as I saw it,  I was astonished to recognize the loose organization of lines and textures around a central, choppy, irregularly-angled shape of the bird's nest pillow  -- a testament to the catalog of visual references we retain in our unconscious which emerge in the most surprising ways.  It's no wonder that that kitchen has staked out a space in my head. I spent a lot of time there, staring out the window, laughing with my friends and listening to their stories, and learning about and eating a lot of good food.

Day for Night Shirt.... adapting a pattern (in progress)

I'm working on adapting the design of this linen shirt made by a company called Matchpoint. I have a couple of these and enjoy wearing them so much I decided to make my own using two different linens.

It kind of reminds me of the dress my great Aunt Myrta is wearing in this photo.  The buttons I'm using for the shirt are vintage grey mother-of-pearl from her collection  

I call it the "Day for Night" shirt because it reminds me of an old-fashioned nightshirt, and because I would like my daytime, waking life to be as creatively articulate as my nighttime, dreaming life. There's also the expression "day for night" which refers to film scenes shot during the day with a special filter to make it appear as if it's night.... an idea that jives with my desire to blur the lines between my dreaming and waking life. 

... back to making the shirt--- first I worked out the front tucks, designed a  neckband, and then added vertical seams in the darker linen which contrast the direction of the pinstripes.  I'm waiting to cut the armholes and side seams until last-- will add in some in-seam side pockets which the original shirts don't have.  Love pockets.

The back has a yoke--the pale center line is the exposed selvage- 
and a long vertical pleat.....

which brought to mind this  runnel at the Salk Institute designed by Louis Kahn ...speaking of pictures embedded in one's memory-- the giant projected slide images from Prof Rodriguez's Architecture 101 obviously have carved out a place in mine.

Clothes and making things

A friend of mine and I frequently have conversations about clothes and what they communicate. Lately I've been thinking that I want my clothes to say,  "I'm ready to make pillows or pies, anytime, anywhere."

Pear pomegranate pies from this NYT recipe  .... served warm with sea-salt caramel ice-cream,
so yummy I must have been dreaming.

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.