Ardyth Davis has been included in the Quilt National at least six times and won their Award of Excellence in 1985, but Davis does not call her work "quilts", but rather goes for the more general term: "fiber constructions". Davis work features lush color and sensual textures, which come together to create a surface that is hypnotic and inviting.
Davis begining was in graphic design. A segment of Davis' artist statement reads: "I like color, particularly all the subtle gradations obtained when mixing and intermixing dyes and paints. I work with color gradations instead of color patterns because my primary interest is in texture, which is s likely to be obscured by patterning.
I began to make pleated silk quilts as a way of integrating color and texture in a larger format, one that would be faster to execute than knotting. The surface of my work has become more complex over the years, and my current work has a tightly pleated and manipulated surface, sometimes with stitching lines added before the pleating process."
image: detail; Reef 2/ Blue; Painted, Pleated, Stitched Silk by Ardyth Davis
Making Sense of Stabilizers from Threads magazine, lots of answers on the types of stabliziers for machine embroidery.
"Designed to support, or even replace, fabric under the stress of dense and multi-directional machine stitching, stabilizers can be applied in many ways, but are usually used in conjunction with an embroidery hoop to hold fabric as flat and inflexibly as possible. But while the number and variety of new or improved stabilizers continues to grow, there are still only four basic types of stabilizers to choose from. I'll describe each type and its basic uses, provide brand names and sources for current examples, and offer tips on getting the best results with each type. "
Also see Threads' table Stabilizers at a Glance. This table contains information on: Used for; Best used on; Comes in; Removal.
Linda Miller - miniature embroideries. "Working from the Colour Factory Studios and Gallery in Winchester, Hampshire, UK which was set up in 1985 with fellow artist Jenny Muncaster, Linda Miller makes one-off, framed and unframed machine embroideries using an industrial Bernina 950 sewing machine. She embroiders onto a heavyweight cotton using a wide selection of rayon, silk, and metallic threads." These are charming, lighthearted small embroideries. Actually the size ranges from small to tiny. Tiny size embroideries being 4 cm X 4 cm (or roughly 1-1/2 inches square). Small embroideries measure more in the range of 30 X 30 cm (or roughly 12" square).
Her subject matter focuses on lighthearted whimsey. All of her people smile; all of her animals gambol through the grass. While the subject may be amusing, the composition and color are very well planned and effective. Miller understands perfectly the use of shapes and forms as design agents. Trees and hills become abstract compositional masses, focusing the eye motion and direction and creating a stage set for her figurative actions. Miller's works are delightful.
image: Forest Pig Racing 29 x 42cm by Linda Miller
Therese May is a self taught quilter who has let restrictions on neatness pass her right by. Instead she has focused on the energy and expression of quilting. Her pieces are heavily embellished, almost folk art-like, though she admits an early influence of Andy Warhol.
In an interview with Quilters’ S.O.S. Project, May states: "I got my degree in art in painting and then I got married and had these two little kids and I just started sewing a lot and before I knew it I was making pictures with the fabric. And I've always been really talented, you know, in art but I was a housewife. I wasn't thinking about an art career or anything like that. I just thought I was having a good time with fabric." Eureka - the reason that we all should be creating art!
May's pieces are surprising large, given the intensity of the embellishment. Her page of works for sale at her website shows her small works at 19" X 22". Her larger pieces measure out to be 92" X 50". (She doesn't list the weight on any.) A video clip at Do It Yourself (click the media link) has a short interview with May and lots of images of her at work, fearlessly painting directly on the quilt surface.
image: "CUP-O-WURMS", 60"X65" by Therese May
Embroidered Comic Book Samplers by Mark Newport,art professor at Arizona State University, poke fun at both male and female stereotypes. Newport's recent show at the Greg Kucera Gallery utilized comic book cover as a theme, examining the silliness of the macho hero stereotype. Newport begins with a literal translation of the "found comic book cover"; select areas of the cover are then enriched with heavily textural knotted needlework. Earlier work by the artist includes beaded football trading cards and beaded Desert Storm trading cards.
Part of the irony is the juxtaposition of pubescent-boy iconography with a traditional woman's handicraft. It reeks of pop art, Andy Warhol and soup cans. The images are in-your-face, but why not? It's a big breath of fresh air after the traditional saccharine floral embroideries.
image: Sampler: Batman Poster Child For Crime, 2003 by Mark Newport
Quilt National touring schedule
For Christmas, I received "Quilt National 2003; The Best of Contemporary Quilts". It's a gorgeous book with excellent photographs and succinct commentary (by the artist) on each piece. At the back of the book, I was delighted to read the show itinerary and discover that it will be near me! The bad news is that the show is being divided into three parts (A, B, & C). So the best I can hope to do is see 2/3 of the show in two trips. Schedule is as follows
1/17/04 - 4/4/04: Asheville, NC; Southern Highland Craft Guild (A)
4/1/04 - 4/4/04: Lancaster, PA; Quilters' Heritage Celebration (C)
5/7/04 - 8/15/04: Abingdon, VA; William King Regional Art Center (B)
6/3/04 - 9/12/04: Delray Beach, FL;Cornell Museum of Art and History (A)
9/11/04 - 10/16/04: Bloomingdale, IL; Bloomingdale Park District Museum (B)
3/31/05 - 4/3/05: Lancaster, PA; Quilters' Heritage Celebration (A&B)
Robin Cowley: Textile Art Quilts The description on her homepage says it all: "Robin Cowley is a San Francisco Bay Area artist whose background includes studies in art history, drawing and painting as well as a love of fabrics. Her textiles combine color and space in an abstract manner. An accomplished gardenmaker, her source materials include the colors and textures in nature, avant garde architecture and views of outer space and the planets. A serious artist, her work nevertheless engages viewers with humor and lightness." Beautiful colorfield work! Great line work in the stitching.
image: A New Beginning by Robin Cowley
In the article Fiberarts Magazine > The Digital Quilt, Michael James describes the the technological changes to quiltmaking with the advent of digital tools, such as computer aided design and photo manipulation software, combined with the ability to print directly on the fabric with a photographic clarity.
James states that these new technologies open up "new frontier for quilt artists." Yet at the same time he reflects, "I've given a lot of thought to the implications that sophisticated technologies such as those embodied in this equipment and software hold relative to my practice as a quiltmaker. The capacity to place imagery on fabric is virtually unlimited. Almost anything that the imagination can conceive, combined with the facility offered by layering, transparency, tiling, color reduction, filtering, and other digital options, as well as photography and all that this medium brings to visual expression, is doable. This aforementioned facility doesn't come easily, but once the basics of the CAD programs are mastered, experimentation will open endless avenues for creative exploration. The danger is that this work can easily become facile, leading to vapid or predictable photo montages with little meaning or emotional resonance. This is a problem not unique to digital quilts, of course. It's a concern in any medium and with any materials or processes."
The article, from the Nov./Dec. 2003 issue of Fiberarts, is well illustrated with examples of contemporary printed textiles by James, Patricia Mink, Vincent Gil Vargas Quevedo and Caryl Bryer Fallert.
Salley Mavor has combined a number of traditions and techniques to come up with a form of fiber illustration that it both warm and comforting. Her acorn dolls are reminiscent of the handicrafts traditions that Waldorf Schools around the world pursue with their students. But she has taken these simple dolls and used them to create story illustrations using what she has labelled "fabric relief technique".
image: Fabric Relief Illustration from "In the Heart" by Salley Mavor
Her page, Behind the Scenes: A Photo Album - Salley Mavor, at work reveals some of the creation process behind the dollmaking. Mavor describes the creation process, " To make a book, each picture starts as a clear, vivid scene in my head. I do not know exactly how the pictures will unfold and it will go through many steps to get from the imagined to the finished product. I start by working out a rough layout in small thumbnail sketches. They are blown up on a copier to full book size and made into a dummy to show the editor. She then checks to see that the content of the layout works with the text and that there is enough room for the type. After making any necessary changes to the layout, and with the trust of my editor, I start work on the fabric relief pictures. Each illustration requires about a month of hand sewing, so it takes more than a year to complete all of the pages. The original fabric relief pictures are then photographed and used as illustrations in the printed book."
Mavor recently published a book, Felt Wee Folk that describes the process of creating miniature felt images.
Michael James is a quilt artist who can engender rage in a quilting discussion group, just with the drop of a quote. He seems to be a man who does not mince his words, making him all the more fascinating and powerful as an artist; especially as an artist pushing the boundaries of the textile design world. The PBS site, Century of Quilts features an interview with Michael James where he describes his passion for quilting and creating. A collection of his older pieces are available at the Revere Collections site. Unfortunately all of the detail image links are broken. A larger quilt image, displaying his colorplay linear stripes is available at the Renwick. His current works involve the use of digitally manipulated photographs printed onto
fabric using a wide bodied printer.
Anthony Green and Mary Cozens-Walker
are a British husband and wife artist team. They are both painters, at the simplest description, but then their work goes far beyond any categorization. Green makes three dimensional paintings. Cozens-Walker does multimedia creations that employ stitching, textiles, painting and lots more. Her approach involves a colorful energy to create portraits and tableaus of domesticity gone askew.
My favorite image on the web from the show is "Compact Lovers", a series of portraits created in found compact cases. Unfortunately no detail is given about the work - which artist created it - or what materials did they use. So, in my imagination, these are delicately stitched portraits of former lovers, now consigned to waxing away in some drawer full of forgotten letters. Maybe art is better on the web? Or at least it forces interactive imaginings.
More work mixed media work by Mary Cozens-Walker can be seen on the web at the Boundary Gallery.
image:Compact Lovers by Mary Cozens-Walker
Thread Color Chart: Sulky Rayon This is a necessity if you are doing much free motion embroidery. Sulky is my favorite thread. It seems to break less than the other brands, and is just less temperamental in general. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom, there are the luscious variegated and multicolored threads.
Nancy Lee Wragg produces wonderfully textural felted pieces that she embellishes with embroidery. Her simplest works are Christmas (or everyday) ornaments. Her more elaborate pieces have intricate images created of wool, which is then felted and embroidered. Her color pallette is subdued, almost earthy colors, brightened with a periwinkle blue and stark black to provide contrast and interest. Her work makes belting appear to be the logical extension of art quilting - a medium where you can fully manipulate the fiber.
image: 'Tea Garden I' by Nancy Lee Wragg
Encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery has just been released by Chrysalis Books. The publisher's website has some great excerpts of the book - 7 pdfs that give a look at 14 pages of the book. The writing is insightful, with a level of detail on each subject that gives the beginnings for many experiments. Here is an excerpt from the entry on velvet:
"It is necessary to take certain precautions when stitching velvet. If the stitching is worked directly into the velvet surface, it will be lost in the pile, so to ensure that this does not happen, a topping fabric can be used. A fine cold water vanishing fabric placed on top of the velvet will ensure that the stitching does not bed into the surface. The topping can be washed away afterwards. This method of keeping the stitching from being lost into the surface of a fabric can also be used for towelling and corded fabrics."
The book appears to be arranged, as the title would suggest, as an encyclopedic work, with the entries being ordered alphabetically rather than as a series of tutorials. The would seem to make it of immense advantage both for garnering inspiration and as a reference to be kept on the work table. The images are detailed and varied - lots of work is shown from a variety of artists. This book is going at the top of my book wishlist!
image: Encyclopedia of Machine Embroidery by Val Holmes
Laura Breitman creates fantastically intricate photo-realistic collages using tiny snippets of fabric. This article by the Smithsonian Magazine describes her technique: "Breitman positions thousands of bits of cloth—from slivers to two-inch squares—onto her canvas, like so many overlapping brushstrokes. To get the variegated colors and graduated shades of light and dark just right, she often bleaches, dyes or block prints the fabric.... When a picture is complete, Breitman applies a matte varnish, which gives it a more uniform texture."
image: Green Path by Laura Breitman
Update: 11/23/04 - I received a note from Laura Breitman today. She simply says: "I am removed my presence from the internet because of a new direction I am taking." So, you can no longer view her work on the internet, but a new direction is always exciting.
Paper Snowflakes in the winter are wonderful, especially living somewhere that doesn't get much snow. The only trick to making beautiful paper snowflakes is to fold the paper correctly before cutting. Martha Stewart gives tasteful directions on how to fold the paper into the correct sixths to get those cool flakes. If snowflakes becomes an overwhelming theme, Martha even has directions for making crystal bead and wire snowflakes to sparkle in the windows. The MSH site gives some great picture of the beaded snowflakes, but not such great directions (other than 'buy my kits'). Here's a clear set of directions; you provide the beads and wire.
To keep things fiber related - how about cutting some snowflakes out of white fabric (fleece) and creating a blizzard?