Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Story In the Work

I was asked about my motivation behind the 725 series and the short answer is a poem I had written years ago...a poem that is part of a manuscript of poems based on my family's mythology/genealogy.  The long answer which I'm going to flush out more here because I'm borrowing an adage from a friend's poem that says "tell them so I'll know".


First, it starts with my love, love, love for processes that alter the surface of the fabric, you name it, I want it close at hand and available in my workshop so that I can work spontaneous with ideas.  The second thing, and I can't really say that it happens in a consecutive order like I'm laying out here, but for now, I'll say the second thing, was asking myself how I can make what I do look like me, say my name, come from my heart...a yearning to make my complex cloth speak beyond just techniques used.

Back in the winter I had a poetry reading and inspite of not having any new work in a long while, the process really opened me up and took me higher (hello sly stone).  Most of the poems where from the manuscript I mentioned and I feel it is my strongest set of work and I then pondered how I could reflect that sense of intimacy and energy in my quilt.  I was already armed with the insight of how excited I became whenever viewing quilts with text, especially text that was slightly obscured, hidden.  This is where the idea enters to align my poems with my quilts.

725 West Saint Catherine street was the home my great Uncle M.C. purchased for his mother, my great grandmother around 1945ish or so.  It was the first house I entered after my birth and it was a place I practically lived due to my parents both working either 2 jobs or lots of overtime until they purchased their own home when I was five.  My great-grandmother didn't pass on until I was in my mid-20s and her and her home where major presences in my development.  I wrote a poem entitled 725 West Saint Catherine after I took my 2 oldest children then 14 and 5 by the house to photograph it and to explain to them what it meant in my life.  The poem became the backdrop on the cloth.  I hand wrote stanzas as the first layer and then with consecutive layers I tried to strategically keep areas open for certain words to peep through.

The circles as layers are representative of wholeness, history and time as fluid.  The lines crossing through the circles represent oppositional energy that compliments and enhances and gives power to the personal and the collective sense of identity.  It is my attempt to make sankofa (an Akan concept that translate to looking back to go forward) a visual experience.

I initially saw them as very large pieces, larger than anything I've ever made.  But because I found myself with the emotional attachment that I have with the poem, the energy and connection, I wanted to work out all the symbols and design and techniques out on smaller pieces first. 


I'm placing the binding on them this week and finished one yesterday while at the eye doctor.  I gave a brief show and tell right there in the waiting room after several women wanted to see and touch. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a little working and a little out and about this week

Bruh Dirt's perspective did improve the pieces.



But I'm loosing the borders.  They aren't needed.  They appear too oppositional to what is going on in the panels.  I will place a binding on them to stop the eyes from wondering out and away and then I'm finished with these for the moment.  Next week I'll start on the ones I really love in this series but will not put show them until I've completed them.



I didn't go to my workshop yesterday and I'm leaning toward not going today.  Yesterday I felt the urge to be out and about and under the expansiveness of the sky.  A friend of a friend has opened up a resale shop and yesterday we stopped .  It was concluded that I'm currently dealing with a chair fetish.  I found two great bright orange jacquard covered chairs that I wanted to bring home (read but no space to put them).  But here is the front of Bob's store on East Broadway.  Broadway is the main artery of the "original" Louisville running from Shawnee Park (an Olmstead designed park) in the west to Cave Hill Cemetaryat the east. 


I wished I had taken photos inside but once I stepped in I was trying to take it all in and was sooo in oooh and ahhh mode. 

Another stop was a place I've been eyeing for over 20 years wanting to go in and never have until yesterday.  Its on the corner on a busy curvy side street in a residential area.  In the past I would say I'm going to stop in there one day...yesterday was my one day.  It is a small grocer named Burger's that is jammed packed with unique food stuff catering to the gourmet cook.  It still continues to deliver groceries as my friend informed me who had used them a long time ago for her mother.


I purchased some tomatoes for Italian sandwiches we're having today, also, a Cuban lime cola...but I'll be back.  I kinda felt like my great grandmother, perusing aisles like I was in a museum.  I get so tired of eating the same things and this is a good place to go for new ideas for the table.  One of my favorite radio shows is The Splendid vicariously because I've never prepared a recipe from that show.

The last stop on being out and about was chillin' out at Heine Brothers

DSCN3470  A locally owned coffee house where I purchase my coffee for home also.  I love doing my part to Keep Louisville Weird.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Turning Pages


Sampling watercolours


pencil sketch


pencil sketch


outline drawing from a photo of my grandmother Lizzie

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Everything must change

NO, I did not go to Baer Fabrics today!  The annoucement caught me off guard just as it did a great number of people.  Two days ago it was annouced that a Louisville institution, a corner stone in downtown Louisville, a textile legacy, and a major stop for all fabric lovers far and wide, that Baer's Fabrics, after 103 years, would be closing its doors for the last time at 5:30 today.  The employees also find out two days ago.  Its so hard to believe and was difficult to accept.  As far as I know they are the only authorized Bernina dealership.  I doubt that very much if anything was discounted and financially the timing was totally off for me, otherwise I would have sought out some of their exquisite silks.  The reality hasn't had time to settle in but I know it will the next time I pass by the building.  The rumour is that no one else in the family wanted to take it over.  Just as everything surrounding the building it will more than likely be swallowed up into expensive high rise lofts. 


This is the photo taken off their website.  What you do not see is the parking lot on the left and the seperate entrance to the commercial division.

I hear George Benson in my head singing Everything Must Change.




Quilting Still Life


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just me talking out loud in a very long post.

 Upfromsumdirt thinks the piece in the previous post is a very interesting background in need of a focal point.  Entertaining the possibility that he might be right, then I'm in that zone where creating complex cloth is the purpose and reason for the art and it can stand alone.  The quilter in me replies, "But there is that design element where the whole piece is the focus".  This stance will require more from the viewer and I'm reminded of a quote, to paraphrase, by Toni Morrison saying she doesn't write for lazy readers.  But (again) I slightly shared his view even before he criticqued it which led me to the decision to screen the numbers enlarged to cover about a third of the surface.  I'm undedcided about screening the numbers on...I've since thought about using a transfer technique or printing the numbers in organza and fusing them on.  Because I'm still undecided I moved on to the companion piece:


Again using a neon thread...the neon threads I first saw on a quilt last spring when I was in a 2 day workshop with Hollis Chatelain in Berea.  I thought then, "I'll never use those" but at a local thread sale I lost my mind and said "just in case" and about 5-6  colours came home with me.  This is my first time using them and am looking forward to exploring more with them.


When I'm in my workshop I use my portable oxygen that I carry in a shoulder bag with a 5ft or 7ft tube and as a result, my shoulder is beginning to avoid any future problems I asked the provider about the coverage and cost of a 2nd stationary tank since I'm there 3-4 days each week.  The provider called on Tuesday and said its doable and it is also a courtesy free of charge!!!!!!!!!!!!  I thought I was going to pass out right there on the phone from joy and shock.  The larger stationary tank will allow for a very very long tube (as long as I need it to be) to move around more freely.  The only reason I can think that it is free may have something to do with me being in what Medicaid calls "catastrophe" status due to my out of pocket expenses...but I'm not going to think about it beyond this and just rejoice in the blessings!  The tank will come tomorrow.


With the larger oxygen being at my workshop I want to aim for a 4-5 day week.  In order to help absorb the additional cost in gas I'm thinking about cutting up the piece in this post above and the piece in previous post in to 4"x6" and 5"x7" to sell from my languishing postcard blog (see sidebar).  When I'm there I really aim to work 5 hours which actually means I'm there much longer.  I take breaks for routine breathing treatments, snacking, lunch, and socializing with my parents, nieces, and my son and daughter who are sometimes in tow.  Oh, and don't let me sit in the comfy chair.  I suspect there is some kind of poppy dust embedded in the fabric because of the tranquility that I experience as soon as I plop my butt down in it...a tranquility that sometimes leads to 2-3 hour naps with some very lucid dreaming.


And speaking of my comfy chair, here is my latest craigslist find that cost me the same as 2 fast food meals only this is more healthier ;)



And how about this little gem for 50 cents at a garage sale: 



My official "rediscover my city" vacation started this week spurred on by something I saw on tv about how the development of highways caused economic downturns of towns and I thought about how we also loose touch with neighborhoods in our own cities because of taking the expressways.  I started with going to the old water tower that houses a gallery and the Louisville Visual Arts Association.  River City Fiber Artists have a vibrant....really vibrant show there which multiplied my reasons for starting here:


The old water tower is the white structure and the cobble stoned building on the left is one of the actual water processing facilities.


At the River's Edge is the name of the exhibit for the River City Fiber Artists that consist of Juanita Yeager, Valerie White, Joanne Weiss, Pat Dariff, Marty Plager and Kathleen Loomis.

The exhibit is a visual high.

While there, have lunch on the lawn by the river.




Friday, July 11, 2008


Earlier in the year I upgraded my Typepad membership with the intent of centralizing my blogs.  I wanted 2 other blogs for my photo imagery and another for showcasing my finished quilts for marketing.   An upgrade was also going to allow me to customize my headings but after months at the upgrade level the extra 40 bucks just hasn't been worth it.  Hopefully Typepad will know to delete my other 2 blogs and not this one since I wasn't asked at the time I downgraded a minute ago.  My new set up for photo images is now on wordpress at eyepiece: an amateur takes aim.  I'm looking at free website hosts or nearly free for a website, specifically Homestead and EasySite and Google.

Yesterday I started quilting on another of the smaller pieces in the 725 series:


I'm working my way up in size with the hope that once I get to the 3 largest pieces, everything in my head and heart and hands will be conveyed into the quilt.  While we where away last week I started with hand embroidery which turned out to be a waste of time.  When I returned home I viewed it through the red plastic that comes with the 3-in-1 colour wheel only to see the value was the same as the background.  The red pebble quilting was fmq and adds a subtle change in value and the neon green thread blings.  I used the circle attachment for the larger circles.  The neon green thread lines float over the other layers so well-Yea for color theory!

What I forgot to anticipate was shrinkage caused by quilting and now I see the piece as too narrow.  To solve this problem I'm considering one of the following:

  1. cut it down in size
  2. remove the top and bottom border
  3. change the orientation from vertical to horizontal
  4. attach the 2 other panels which poses a new challenge for me as I've never attached panels that where already quilted.

DSCN3352 DSCN3359

The other issue is whether to screen "725" over the piece or screen just one digit per panel since this piece has 2 other companions.  I'll have the weekend to think it over but if you have any suggestions before Monday, comeback and leave a comment or email me


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Newport Aquarium 2008

Every couple of years we seem to find ourselves at the Newport Aquarium...we seem to never tire of it and we've been going as a family since the kids were in elementary school and then we maintained an annual membership because we went so frequently.  I was surprised that Mo and Ade wanted to return.  Peter took these photos as I decided not to lug the camera around this time.







Some of the most unique creatures can be found among nature, uh?!


Monday, July 7, 2008


Unlocking the doors, opening the windows, and dusting off the blog is re-opened for some fun and reflection. 

We're back and as typical, the time away was too short and the daily grind of responsibilities was waiting on us when we returned.  It didn't really hit me until the drive home yesterday that I had missed a whole week of not being in my workshop.  What was I working on when I left it?  The details where fuzzy and even after I got there this morning I piddled and procrastinated for about 3 hours until I decided to just jump off the cliff and warm up by doing some free motion quilting.  Why does practice always go smoother than the actual quilting on a piece I care about?   I forgot to use the sew slip which I know helps me.  The quilted cat tails at the bottom aren't as smooth as I'd like them to be but I'll continue with this design on the others so hopefully I'll show some improvement by the time I get to the last one in the series.   But this one is near-done...just trying to visualize with a binding or binding free.  If binding free then I think it needs to be framed which is the same purpose as a binding so I'm leaning in that direction...any opinions?


I practiced taking quality photos of my quilts today.  I'm still getting slanted work but will keep trying to get the lense positioned in the center of the quilts.