Inspiration may come readily to some, but others need a jump start - a workshop to get them thinking in new directions and exploring new ideas. The Guide to Art & Craft Workshops hosts a listings of workshops around the world for up to two years in advance. You can search by date, location or art media. There are many, many pages of listings, so don't stop after the first page.
The fibers workshop listings brought several tantalizing opportunities to light:
Knocknara Ireland - image from pdphoto.org
"With no human editors and no regulation, 10x10 is open and free, raw and fresh, and consequently a unique way of following world events. In 10x10, we respond instinctively to patterns in the grid, visual indicators of relevance. When we see a frequently repeated image, we know its important. When we see a picture of a movie star next to a picture of dead bodies, we understand the extremes that exist in our world. Scanning a grid of pictures can be more intuitive than reading headlines, for it lets the news come to life, and everything feels a bit less distant, a bit closer to heart, and maybe, if we're lucky, gives us pause to think."
The paragraph above is from the 10x10 Project, an experiment in understanding the news and world events. It is automatically updated hourly, with images drawn from internet news sources. There are 100 images each hour, placed in a 10 by 10 grid, "ranked in order of importance, reading left to right, top to bottom. Along the right edge of the screen are listed the corresponding top 100 words, one for each image. Moving your mouse across the images enlarges the corresponding word. Clicking on a photo brings up the related headlines, which are links to the articles.
Since 10x10 is completely generated by a computer, it is possible to endless debate the linkages and associations. In relation to art and the fiber art world, this brings up comparisons to other photo montages, such those by Robert Silvers and David Hockney.
I apologize for the long silence. It was the holidays. I went to DC and Baltimore and had a wonderful time! The most fun was to be had at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. I have been hearing about this place for years, but nothing prepared me for the sheer delight enclosed in this museum. I have never laughed so much in a museum before. There were also many thought-provoking and heart-rending pieces - as well as pieces that were just purely astonishing.
The Baltimore Sun describes the variety of the work, "..the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) has been designated by Congress as America's national museum and educational center for self-taught art. The AVAM's working philosophy is that while anyone can create art, only a small reserve of those creators are visionary. Many of the self-taught artists are farmers and other rural inhabitants who choose not to mix much with society. Painting is a part of the self-taught artist's medium, but many use materials such as matches, glue, paper plates, crayons, metals, machinery parts and even unraveled thread from wash cloths."
I missed seeing works from the rotating permanent collection by Chapel Hill artist/hero Clyde Jones as well as the embroideries by Myrellen. Baltimore Sun on Myrellen's work, "One of my favorites, housed in the permanent collection, is a jacket titled "Myrellen's Coat." Myrellen used bed sheets and threads from rags to embroider while she was institutionalized. The stitches tell her life story, visually and verbally. Years later, Myrellen received new drug treatments and electro-convulsive therapy and denied she had ever constructed the garment."
An apparently very old bobbin & bobbin case came into my possession today, by way of our local charity thrift shop. It was so beautiful that I couldn't pass it up. But now that it is home with me, I am wondering what exactly it is. It's quite heavy and very beautiful. It says ELDREDGEE on the side. Anyone have any ideas?
I have enabled the "comment feature" if anyone would care to post their thoughts. You do have to sign in with your email. I apologize for the inconvenience and I promise not to do anything with anyone's email information. This is just a precaution to keep spammers out. For awhile, there were lots of offers coming to the blog about getting bigger, richer, etc.
You are once again welcome to make comments on this or any future entry. Note you will have to register to be able to leave a comment. This allows the dialogue to happen without the spam, etc.
Please share your thoughts and passions.
Too weird not to be true: Exploding Knitting Needles! "Paula Lalish, a longtime Marrowstone Island resident returning home from Port Angeles on Aug. 1 in her Ford Aerostar, was quietly knitting a sweater alongside her husband, Greg, as he drove. Suddenly, a sound as loud as a gunshot rang out inside the car..... 'The cause of your exploding knitting needle was probably a buildup of static electricity resulting from friction of two diverse materials, i.e., plastic and aluminum, exacerbated by the generation of yet more static by the vehicle (the cause of most travel sickness and the reason why many vehicles have an earth strip connecting the rear of the vehicle with the ground). This explanation comes from a former quality control engineer, toolmaker and steel worker, Sheffield, England." The article comes complete with a photo of the afflicted needle.
Today is a double-play in blog entries. I am leaving tomorrow for a week in the mountains - fresh air, hiking and sleeping by a waterfall. This should be paradise!
Swoon, a New York graffiti artist talks to the New York Times about what she loves about creating street art. This is a short Flash slideshow that demonstrates how street art can be a dynamic influence on the community.
Street art is an outgrowth of the graffiti movement of the 1980s. While graffitists wer using spray paint to create huge abstract images and lettering, the contemporary street art is more delibrate, controlled, considered. The accompanying NY Times article focuses on the street art movement. The techniques run the gamut: "At one end of the spectrum are doodles, icons and designs, often drawn or printed on stickers, a medium that allows for pre-strike preparation at home and quick, furtive execution in public.
Others are using more complicated art techniques, such as the meticulous printing and paperwork preferred by Swoon, ceramics, lithography, silk screening, painting , leathersmithing and woodworking. Some have even used welding torches, notably the once-ubiquitous New York graffiti writer known as Revs, who has installed three-dimensional versions of his stylized name, or "tag," around the city. Darius (also known by his graffiti tag, Verbs) and Downey, a Brooklyn tandem now living in London, turn old street signs into sculptures or small billboards for provocative messages and reinstall them, often in the plain light of day. "We're using the city against itself," Downey, 23, said in a recent interview."
Why do they do it? For the best of all reasons in creating art: "to reawaken a sense of wonder about one's environment."
Gammablablog features an interview with Swoon and lots of photos of her work.
Images by Swoon - originally photographed by Michael Natale of Gammablablog.
I regret to report that I am turning off the "comments" feature for this blog until I can some up with a better way of managing it. I've been spending time each day deleting the 3-5 spam 'comments' that accrue. If you have a comment, please send an email. I'd be delighted to hear from you all.
The Washington Post has an article about the new Pandamaniacs "art" bears that are popping up all over Washington DC. What they have to say is not good, optimistic or cheery. But I think that there are some parallels between their criticism of fun art and what we are willing to accept as fun art in the quilt world.
A quick quote from the article: "A few weekends back, most of the newly decorated pandas sat gathered in an empty office building in Southwest Washington, pending their stampede across our cityscape. There was "Paisley Panda," covered in psychedelic swirls... There was -- no kidding -- a panda reworked to look like a chocolate-dipped "strawbeary." Not one of these beasts or any of their brethren reminded me -- even vaguely, even in passing -- of the kinds of things I've been asked to look at in art galleries and museums across the country, or around the world, made by artists working now or in the far or recent past. They don't link up to the kinds of creative challenges significant artists have to face and overcome. They're not about artistic innovation, or about addressing real issues in the world or in the history of art."
Here's some insights from the art intelligencia in DC:
""Art in public spaces need not be dull and 'official.' It can be delightful, even fun. But I am not convinced that painting tourist-style images of Washington on inflated teddy bears is either challenging or inspirational as art -- more like panda-ing to the public."
-- Julian Raby, director of the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler art galleries
"Here we have world-class museums putting shows together, and they might get a footnote compared to the attention the pandas get. . . . I look at them and think, 'These are for the kids.' What's missing in Washington is public art that can have a serious philosophical dialogue with the community."
-- Robin Rose,leading Washington painter "
I have never lived in a city when one of these public art-animal programs was going on, but they do seem delightful, and they do engage the public and sell books, posters and little china figurines. All of which is good. But this article brings up a point - couldn't we do public art (or art quilts) that do both: make one feel good and challenge the intellect at the same time?
Oddly enough, just before reading this article, I had been reading an old review of a Chicago Funk school exhibit at the Corcoran. Fun? yes! Thought-provoking? yes! What can we learn here? When, as fiber artists, do we begin to have our "serious philosophical dialogue with the community"?
Also, PAQA-S has a new and improved email list. The list is open to anyone who is interested in art quilting, fiber arts, art cloth and art garments (not just paqa-s members).:email list page
(Disclaimer: I am the admin for both the PAQA-S web site and their email list)
On April 24, AQATS is offering the following surface design demonstrations for $15.00 half day or $30.00 full day:
Nontraditional Materials :: Amy Orr
Silk Screening :: Wendy Osterweil
Painting, Stenciling, :: Stamping Lonni Rossi
Creating 3D Effects Rita : : Burnstein
Shibori Dying :: Susan Brandon
Machine Quilting :: Cindy Friedman
Computer Printing :: Marion Mackey
Realism in Machine Embroidery :: B.J. Adams
I wish Philadelphia were closer!
A new fiber blog: Sundancers, Wild Women and DreamWeavers. Cheryl Rae, creator, describes it as "a weblog of contemporary textiles, fiberart and techniques, embroidery, fiber-related arts, soft sculpture..." Lots of intriguing stuff to ponder over a cup of coffee, including a link to a silk felting resource.
Quilting in America Survey 2003 reveals the Profile Of A Dedicated Quilter (do you fit the pattern?):
58 years old
Well educated (76% attended college)
Affluent ($80, 397 HH income)
Spend on average $1,934 per year on quilting
Quilting for an average of 12.3 years
Purchased an average of 100.7 yards of fabric at a cost of $772.40
Purchased an average of 5.5 quilting books with an average price of $21.80 per book
Subscribed or read an average of 4.2 magazines
25% purchased a new machine spending $1,811
note* The survey was commissioned by International Quilt Market & Festival (divisions of Quilts, Inc.) and Quilters Newsletter Magazine (a division of Primedia). The research was conducted by independent firms NFO Research, Inc. and Abacus Custom Research, Inc..
Almost every quilting email list seems to have a regular stream of questions about how to set up a web site and how to sell art online. My advice (rather prejudiced - I do design web sites for a living, so I am opinionated on this) is that you should hire someone whose web design work you admire.
An amateur-looking web site can make any art look bad. A great website will make the art shine. A well designed web site should be minimal in design and let the viewer focus on your artwork. I know that many folks cannot afford a web designer or they just want to do it themselves.
Carolyn Vehslage's article, How to Open an Online Gallery has some basic information for those of you who feel ready to take the plunge. Using her own site, clv quilts Vehslage examines the ways that a web site can strengthen an artist's public exposure. She also addresses the need to keep your site current and allotting time for regular maintenance.
If you read her article and find that you are still of a mind to design your own web site, the next step would be to learn seriously about web site design issues. For this there is nothing better than the Yale Web Style Guide, which is free online or inexpensive at your local bookstore. It is not a quick read, but it covers many design issues that are applicable far beyond the web. Read it - it's good for you! And it's doubly good for anyone who may use your future web site.
In The First Rule Of The Quilting Society, the Onion, a national satire magazine has taken on quilting, through the input of columnist, "Mrs. Bert K. Verdon. Helen to my friends." Most of the articles in the Onion seem to be written by and for 20 something males. But this one isn't. In fact, from my experience, I would say that it was written by someone who has been to a quilting guild meeting or two, and knows how to use all of the weapons of mass assemblage.
For those of you who are guild/society regulars, Mrs. Bert K. Verdon gives this advice: "But some of you may still be wondering what drove you to this place, this mutually supportive environment where our raw, primal passion for patterning, cutting, piecing, and stitching has found a home, an oasis where our pent-up natural instinct to nurture explodes in a frenzy of furious, estrogen-fueled bonding. I see an awful lot of new faces in the crowd tonight, and that means one thing: Some of you little old biddies haven't been observing the first two rules of the quilting society. So, for the benefit of you rookies in the room: The first rule of the quilting society is: You don't talk about the quilting society."
Here's hoping that Helen will write more about the secrets of quilting!
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?