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 party dresses.  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.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New work, thinking of Howard Hogkin

Just finished this pillow made of assorted fabric, old and new, including a blue canvas 1960's shower curtain and digital print silk leftover from my scarf .  -(click to enlarge)

The burlap strip-construction reminds me of the hay bales in the pastures around here; looking at this photo I realize how much beige and black are part of my visual world.

... also thinking of Howard Hodgkin 's
"frame" paintings in which the painting is both inside of the frame and is the frame at the same time.


Unlike a painting hung on the wall, you can turn a pillow and look at in different directions...

...and along can come a cat to sharpen her claws (but she didn't frighten the photographer away).

The black center is cut from strips sewn onto an old sheet.  While I was making it,  I was thinking that it's kind of like I'm making my own pigments, but with fabric instead of paint.

I liked it so much that I made a couple of more blocks with different fabrics, thinking of construction-- stone walls, bricks, or the wood siding I see around here every day

This one is made with green woven cotton 1960's curtains-- exposed seams and all-- that hung in our den when I was growing up.  

This is a current photo, courtesy of Google maps, of the house in New Iberia, Lousiana where we lived when I was little.  It looks exactly as I remember it from the mid-1960's.  What strikes me is how green it is, tropical bayou climate and all... 

Other new works....

This pillow was made as a birthday gift for a friend of mine-- tea-dyed burlap, my old 1920-30's tea-dyed cotton bedspread that I replaced last summer , and a classic (possibly Larsen??) textile in the center. It was mailed last week from here in central Texas to my friend in Florida, but somehow ended up making a detour to Anchorage, as in Alaska??, courtesy of USPS.  Hope the baked goods I sent with it survived the adventure.

This one is made of edge-strips-- some trimmed off the bird's nest pillow
Leftovers of leftovers-- a self-generative process.

When I added the block of yellow, I was thinking of grounds of color, specifically the classic Getz/Gilberto album covers with the artwork of Olga Albizu

....a big hit with  Tillycat