Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's all very strange!

Unconventional materials?  They all very strange and alien to me. I do not use unusual materials in my quilts.  I use hand-dyed cottons, in particular cotton sateens, and I use specific palettes for consistency, each palette dyed by a different specialist artist.  I have my own hand-dyed palette as well, although I do very little dyeing myself. I like consistency!

I have really been scratching my head as to what I could use as unconventional materials. I have stacks of paints which I haven’t used, and other odd materials such as Evolon and Lutradur, which I collected with the idea of using them, but haven’t.  Some of them are still in their original packaging.

I have one or two ideas about what I may do, which actually do appeal to me.  But new ideas and methods require some experimentation, rather than slapping odd things together, to meet a deadline.

I’m just too busy in July and August – the busiest months this year - with shows to attend, lots of teaching, a jurying process, a couple of trips abroad, and making one quite big quilt and several small pieces, for forthcoming exhibitions in the Autumn, with deadlines in September – not to mention it is school holidays, so I help look after the grandchildren.  Experimentation requires a mindset which is related to availability of time and mental space. Which in fact is something I have planned to do later in the autumn.

I suppose I am giving notice that I am very unlikely to make the end of August deadline for Challenge 3…. Sorry about that!  But better late, and good, than never, or bad.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I remember the first time I saw an art quilt: I was inspired.

I remember the first time I was asked to join an art quilt group: I was honored.

I remember the first time I attended a "stash swap" with art quilters: I was shocked.

Art Quilters are scavengers! I was offered old clothes, leftover nests of thread, domino pieces, sequin waste. Of course I gathered it right up! I was new, everything was interesting and I wanted to try every technique imaginable.

Except, I didn't.

I continued to acquire strange items, but somehow never used them. I guess my comfort zone is cotton! None-the-less, I still have quite the collection of unconventional materials crowding my closet. Now I'm the scavenger.

So this cycle, Betty's unconventional fabric challenge has given me a chance to haul out old clothes and upholstery scraps and challenge myself to do what I one time aspired to. I figure it's a win-win proposition: I stretch beyond my norm AND I get to clean my closet. What could be better?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


from Amy Barickman
Betty's challenge - Unconventional Materials - has me thinking about conventional in general.  It seems like quilts evolved from the unconventional - sewing old shirts and feedbags and scrap materials into a functional quilt.
All sorts of clothing items seem to be recycled into quilts - some historically, like denim, some more contemporary like neckties
from a Sharee design
and t-shirts - most of which seem pretty conventional now, but probably were outside the box at one time…..
by Margie Mitchell
Selvages show up.  You can recycle all sorts of things…..I'm trying to think of something "new" to recycle.
from Carla Barrett
This one is brilliant - Stephen Sollins recycles papers.  Below is a detail from a piece made of used envelopes.

untitled (Correspondence), detail
from Stephen Sollins

* click on artist's name to see more

And when you wander over into garments, oh, the possibilities are endless!  This is luggage and insoles from shoes!
from World of Wearable Art
* click on caption for more information from the website

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Accepting Changes

by Lin Hsin-Chen

I love Betty’s suggestion of using unconventional materials. It’s something I'm always trying to do, but I didn’t have enough courage to take the challenge. I look forward to taking this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.

©The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Toru Kogure
Stomacher, 1760s - bouillonné silk satin, chenille threads
I am skilled in creating with commercial cottons. I like the patterns and colors on them, and I love to make them become lovely works by sewing.

©The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Toru Kogure
Round gown - taffeta, sequins, tassel ornamentation

During my stay in Portland for SAQA conference this year, I visited a museum. There was an exhibition about costume of the 18th and 19th century. The materials and techniques caught my eye. I look forward to changing my use of materials in this challenge.

©The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Toru Kogure
Petticoat, early 18th century - silk taffeta ribbons, silk satin