Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nick Cave Exhibit

Took a quick jaunt to Seattle this weekend to see the Nick Cave exhibit before it leaves.

The Seattle Art Museum has a wonderful exhibit of his Soundsuits on display until June 5. I've never seen anything like them. I like to scour thrift stores for items to use, but he takes it to a whole new level, making suits out of embroidered or sequined bits from clothing, doilies, rag rugs, old sweaters and afghans, toys, even ceramic birds. I couldn't take pictures, so these are from the web. Not all of these pieces are in the show, but there are plenty more that are very similar.

Some of the suits appear almost menacing, some like a spiritual totem, and most are highly celebratory. He has a wild imagination and it's a fun exhibit. I highly recommend it if you are in the Seattle area.

Seattle is a gorgeous city and I always find lots of inspiration there.

Beautiful decay at The Center for Wooden Boats:

A great, creepy sticker:

In a store window, lanterns made of torn strips of fabric and trims wrapped around a wire frame:

And I love the graphic quality of this wool and silk pillow in the art museum gift shop. May have to play around with one of those.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Retreat Weekend

This weekend was Portland Art Collective's spring retreat. 21 of us headed to Menucha on the Columbia River Gorge for a weekend full of art, food, laughter, rest and lots of inspiration.

The grounds of Menucha were at their springtime peak with lilacs and rhododendrons in full bloom.
A great variety of moss to be found in the woods:

And even some garden art tucked in:

Here is some of the group hard at work. No telling what the others were up to.

Didn't get good pictures of all the great projects going on, but here's a little sampling.
Jill worked on intricate paper dolls:

Sandy's watercolors:

Suzanne's soldered charms:

Z'anne's zentangles:
Diane's paper birds in their early stages:

Cynthia's fiber necklaces:

Lorraine's journals:

Tammy's fabulous fiber garden:

Tory's crown:

And I worked on hand stitching prayer flags. I'll show more of these later.

It was a great weekend with laughter that brought me to tears a number of times. Always the mark of a perfect retreat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tutorial--Easy raw edge reverse applique

I like the embedded quality of reverse applique found in molas, but have no desire to finish off all those little edges, so I've been playing around with some raw edge methods.

I did this a while back following Beryl Taylor's instructions in Cloth, Paper, Scissors. You can read more about it here.

I like the results, but there were several things I didn't like about the method. 1. It wastes a lot of fabric. One tiny crescent that shows on the front requires a large square of fabric that gets cut away. 2. It produces a bulky final piece that is difficult to hand stitch on.

So I started looking for a way to get the same effect minus the bulk and waste and came up with this easy method.

1. Place fabric pieces on top of very lightweight iron-on interfacing and fuse them together with the right side of the fabric up. Try to butt the fabrics together as much as possible, avoid overlapping them, but a little overlap won't hurt.

2. Place your cover fabric (in this case the purple that shows in the final piece but doesn't show here) on top of the colored squares and flip over. (Pin the cover fabric on if you need to.)

3. With the interfacing side up, stitch your design using a straight machine stitch. You can easily see where the fabric changes, so can design accordingly.

4. Flip right side up and cut away the cover fabric between the stitching lines, making sure you don't cut through the background fabric. The piece is very light weight so you can easily add handstitching.

Seems like there are lots of possibilities with this method. I'd love to see what you do with it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Thrill of Natural History

Nothing inspires me more than the treasures from Africa, South America and the Pacific Islands. Some of these were from sections of the Met, others from The Natural History Museum in NYC.

I always collect interesting faces and figures:

And my heart skips every time I see intricate detail work as on this neckpiece.

Or this cording:

I also visited the Natural History Museum at Harvard. Lots of great patterns:

And I love this fringe treatment:

And wonderfully intricate molas:

I filled up my journal on my trip, but most pages are quicky collage bits of things I want to remember.

Only had time for the occasional quick sketch:

Thanks to a three hour delay in Chicago, I was able to finish all the little pillows I took along for stitching on the plane. They will probably be turned into wall hangings like these. These little pillows are the perfect traveling project because they are all self-contained, no little stray bits of fabric to deal with-- a needle, thread, scissors and I'm ready to go.

That's the end of my travels for now. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Loads of Art Inspiration

New York is always full of great exhibits, but I really feel like I hit the jackpot this time. So many interesting things were going on, here are just a few of the pieces that jumped out at me.

Museum of Arts and Design had a fabulous exhibit called the Global Africa Project where contemporary artists did works inspired by African art.

This wonderful improvisational quilt was done by Siddhi Women's Quilting Co-op.

This gorgeous beadwork is part of a headpiece. Some of the beads are tiny rolled paper beads, no bigger than 1/4" in diameter.

I usually enjoy the American Folk Art Museum, but this time they had a traditional quilt show going on. Nice pieces, but not exactly inspiring.

I did fall in love with this pompom piece in the gift shop.

And this found object angel in the doorway.

And I was thrilled beyond words to catch the Maira Kalman show at the Jewish Museum. I've loved her paintings for some time, so it was great to see them in person. The show also contained a number of textiles she did for people like Isaac Mizrahi--wonderful pieces covered in line drawings. And a display of her children's books and some of her wacky collections, including a collection of onion rings. The guard told my husband that she comes in frequently and has a fabulous sense of humor. No surprise.

On a very different note, this display grabbed me at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Done by Michael Aschenbrenner, it was a whole wall of his "Damaged Bone Series." He is a Vietnam vet and made this piece in response to his experience. It was beautiful and disturbing. Bones are made of glass and splinted or wrapped together.

I was also very lucky to catch the SOFA (Sculptural Object and Functional Art) show in NYC. They usually have one in Chicago and one in NYC each year, but are now adding one in Santa Fe too. It was full of highly original, exquisitely crafted items. I couldn't take pictures, but I did find some wonderful artists that are worth checking out. Krista Harris for abstract painting, Kay Khan for heavily embroidered textile vessels, and Marian Bijlenga for wall hangings made out of dyed fish scales. Really.

I also really liked quilts by Daphne Taylor at the Contemporary Quilt Art Gallery.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts was another fabulous spot. They had a mind blowing Dale Chihuly exhibit going on. I've seen exhibits of his work before, but this was the best, a retrospective of all his major ideas.

The glass ceilings--this one like a coral garden where you would find a few treasures like a mermaid here and there:

The chandeliers:
As much as I love his over-the-top blasts of shapes and colors, these simple lavendar reeds on birch trees really captured me. They filled a whole room:

I'm really happy that so many museums are including fashion these days. BMFA had a Scaasi
collection, including many pieces he designed for Barbra Streisand and Natalie Wood, a little blast of the elegant side of the 60s.