Danger Lurks in Your Studio!

Sticks

Disclaimer: if stories about blood make you faint, read no further in this post. There is danger lurking in your studio … things that will jump out and attack you!
Most of us are familiar … sometimes too familiar … with the usual hazards … needles, scissors, rotary blades. If you haven’t been stabbed or cut at least once in creating a major work, you’re lucky. I have a friend who had to go to emergency because she sewed through her finger. And another had to leave a class early because she lopped off the end of her finger with a rotary blade. Ouch!
We all have gory stories about things that have happened in the course of creating our work. Well, I have one more, rather unique one to add to the collection. I was recently attacked by a plastic ruler – one of those 12 ½-inch clear (and expensive) ones by a well-known manufacture
First of all you have to keep in mind that this probably won’t happen to astute artists as you are, but I’m rather a Klotz. I also have very thin skin and have sheared it off of my leg before … and at an art quilt meeting, as some of you will remember.
The ruler was sitting on the floor propped up against one of the legs of my sewing table. I was using it to measure as I machine quilted a piece. I turned in my chair apparently catching my leg on the corner of the ruler and slashed a right angle cut on my leg. Blood all over the place, fortunately not on my work though for just a minute I was tempted to use it to stop the flow. I yelled for my husband. He was upstairs watching a ball game on TV, actually dozing. By the time he responded, there was blood in several places on my studio carpet, and the Kleenex box was empty.
Several bandages later my leg was bound, and I was propped up on the couch with it elevated and a non-lethal book to read. My leg is now in the process of healing. I’ve¬¬ even done some more quilting on the piece but with a cloth measuring tape instead of the plastic ruler.
The moral to this saga is:
Yes, we work with sharp tools;
Yes, we should be cautious; and
Yes, we should have a first aid kit in our studio … in addition to a large box of Kleenex.

Fandango

Fandango
25″h x 25″w

But on to safer things: If you’re in downtown Tacoma, be sure to stop by the American Art Company to see the Twelfth Northwest Contemporary Quilt Invitational which runs through October 4. The gallery, at 1126 Broadway Plaza is open Tuesday – Friday 10-5:30 and Saturday 10-5. There’s a favorite Thai restaurant right across the street. I have three pieces in the exhibit … Fandango, Walking Sticks and Stick with Me, the latter two from my Sticks series. You’ll also find work by other Pacific Northwest artists. You can also find information and photos from the show on the website – http://www.americanartco.com
Keep making art … and keep safe!

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“Sticks” – 2 Successes, 1 Failure

Sticks

I’ve missed chatting with you, but I’m not going to list excuses. We all have them,  and – I hope – you’re here to share what I’ve been doing in the studio. One side note – my husband and I spent the month of April in Australia visiting family and touring. Will the beauty – and friendliness – of this country influence my work? That is yet to be seen.

In the meantime there’s activity in my “Sticks” series. As I mentioned, this series originated from a Nancy Crow workshop in 2011. In the 2012 workshop I did Nancy’s new exercises but continued in the same series. The result is three new Sticks.

The quilt tops I do in workshops are never finished products – far from it! They are learning tools that sometimes – in this case, two out of three – become new works. Two of the exercises I brought home, took apart, inserted new colors and reconfigured before I was satisfied with them. Here are the results, as yet unnamed. Suggestions are welcome.

Sticks 6 What I did on this one was add some lines and lighten colors in the center, which was rather muddled.

 

 

 On this one the lines were originally black on the left (yellow) slide. I changed them so that it brought some of the colors from the right into the left side.

 

So what happened to the third sticks exercise? I chose to work with smaller shapes – or perhaps that was the assignment, I don’t recall. I also decided to work in a relatively neutral palate. Why do I challenge myself and, after much frustration, come out with zilch? Do you ever do that?

I cut hundreds of 3-inch squares in neutrals, slashed them diagonally, inserted a neutral strip in the middle and sewed them together. Here are the stacks: When I started putting them up on the wall, I started arranging the squares, which after piecing were irregular rectangles. I put them together as light, medium and dark in an all-over pattern resembling chopsticks. Aha! A name – Chop-ed Sticks.

Then I started to sew them together. Ack! The squares – cut and pieced improvisationally – looked good on the wall, but sewing them together was awful. The edges didn’t match; none of them were the same size. I know how to fix that in larger pieces, but these were so small it became frustrating. I decided the only way was to trim the blocks to a common size – 2 ½ inches wide by 3 inches tall.

When I put them up on the wall, they fit easily together, but something was definitely wrong. They were too structured! They weren’t “me!” I took them all down, put them in a bag and relegated them to the UFO basket. I didn’t have a pity party, Jeanette, but I did eat chocolate.

When we fail, it isn’t satisfying. But when we fail, we often learn a lesson about ourselves. I like to work with larger pieces of fabric. I don’t like to work in “blocks.” I like to work improvisationally. I don’t like to match my points and have everything even. Did I know this before? Of course! Every once in awhile I just have to prove it to myself … again. Here’s to more successes and fewer failures … for all of us!

Back to “Sticks”

Sticks

Last May I told you about a project on which I was working that I call “Sticks.” It evolved from a workshop I took in March from Nancy Crow titled “Lines, Curves, Shapes, Figure Ground.” I reported on two quilt-tops, and since then I have completed three more. So, here’s catching you up on “Sticks”:

Sticks #3 was influenced by a possible title, “Stick Around.” I had planned on putting a circle in the middle of the piece. Then some patterning in the background led me to making two circular cuts. It worked, but I can’t find a real purpose in the cuts.

For Sticks #4, I decided to leave the color of the sticks in the same fabrics and vary the values of the background pieces. I felt this was more successful but still needs some refinement.

Sticks #5 was influenced by a small Xerox copy of a painting in the Portland Art Museum that Sticks - #5 - inspirationwas given to me by my friend Toni. I was getting bored working with the same design and thought a new one might give me – and the piece – more energy. I cut the entire background into shapes – also new – and pinned them on my design wall. They hung there for about two months while “life” got in the way.

About three weeks ago I got back to the project. Originally I pinned up the sticks in shades of neutrals, but it wasn’t right. My love of color made me switch, and I think it worked. It, like the others, is a “sketch.” I plan on designing more “Sticks” and experimenting and refining as I work.

Prior to Christmas I made seven pieced, leather pillows. The leather came from samples given to me by my friend, Mary Z. It was a project filled with learning, frustration and finally success. I won’t go into the details, but I’m happy to share with you if you’re interested in sewing on leather.

I currently have quilts hanging in two branches of the Vancouver Regional Library. “Africa Goes Crazy,” from 1994 is at the Battle Ground Library as part of an exhibit by the Battle Ground Art Association. “InCircle” is hanging in the entry to the Three Creeks Library. I urge you to consider libraries as possible venues for your work. They may not sell, but it’s better than having them rolled up in your studio.

InCircle Africa Goes Crazy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have two large quilts featured in “New Works,” the January exhibition at Art on the Boulevard in Vancouver, WA. “Canyon Dancers” (53”w x 66”h)Canyon Dancers is inspired by a visit to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Water drips down the canyon walls forming, with a little imagination, tall figures that resemble Indian dancers. “Black Mesa Landscape” (45”w x 51”h) is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1930 oil painting, “Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II.” Both are machine pieced and quilted from my hand-dyed fabrics.

Black Canyon Landscape

Coming up – trips to Hawaii and to Australia to visit family – and I’m sure both will inspire future work.