Art Prints

 

Like many of you, I’ve been feeling frustrated with the state of our country, so I channeled my frustration productively and designed some art prints for my society6 shop. It was refreshing to design prints instead of fabric and I experimented with a more bold, linear style. Resist!

 

Threads of Resistance

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Threads of Resistance is a powerful fiber art exhibition that addresses current issues of gender, race, and politics, demonstrating the continued relevance of quilts as political art. It’s on view now at the New England Quilt Museum and will be traveling across the country (see the full schedule here). I look forward to seeing the show in Atlanta in March. You can order the catalog here. Power to the quilters!

Bauhaus Weaving

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Michiko Yamawaki at the loom, 1930-1932, photograph by Hajo Rose.

I’ve been reading Bauhaus Weaving Theory, which is a fascinating look at the women of the Bauhaus. Women were relegated to the lowest status and assigned to the weaving house, yet they experimented, innovated, and wrote about their work to create a theoretical framework for weaving. Just as the Bauhaus reacted to modern industrialization of the twentieth century, the contemporary craft movement still struggles to define handmade.

Etsy uses the terms “hand-altered” or “hand-assembled” to distinguish the things that are handmade from beginning to end from those that may have mass-produced components. So perhaps you grow your own cotton and spin it into thread, weave it into fabric, dye it with natural dyes made from your vegetable garden, then hand sew it into a finished piece. That’s truly handmade, yet incredibly impractical. Although I am wary of irresponsible manufacturing, I think we should take advantage of technology. Obviously machines can weave fabric much faster than a traditional loom.

Jacquard Wall Hanging - "5 Chöre" (5 Choirs)

5 Chöre” (5 Choirs) Jacquard Wall Hanging by Gunta Stölzl, 1928.

For years, I’ve struggled with the notion of being a commercial artist. The designs are meant to appeal to a wide audience and yet fabric is malleable, transformed by the end user. It’s this very flexibility of fabric that makes it unique in the world of surface design. Rather than designing plates or chairs, whose end use is clear and predetermined, fabric by the bolt is ready to be cut and made into your clothing, bags, curtains, pillows, or whatever you choose. The consumer is the final creator. I love seeing people make unique, unexpected things with my fabric designs.

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Study for jacquard weaving by Anni Albers, 1926.

In this regard, fabric design is merely one element of the finished product. The fabric started in the dirt, was grown from cotton and flax, was met by many hands and machines along the way, transported over the ocean, and has ended up on your cutting table. When we consider the process from beginning to end, we can appreciate our global interconnectedness and strive to be more responsible consumers.

Perhaps I’ve been too much in my head the last few months and need to just make things instead. My daughter was having an ice skating lesson the other day (with the outside temperature around 100 degrees) and she said that she sometimes starts thinking about why she’s there, wondering what it all means, then another voice tells her to just skate. She’s a pretty deep eleven-year-old, by the way. We should probably all listen to that voice that tells us to think less and just skate.

Links:

The crafts, understood as conventions of treating material, introduce another factor: traditions of operation which embody set laws. This may be helpful in one direction, as a frame for work. But these rules may also evoke a challenge. They are revokable, for they are set by man. They may provoke us to test ourselves against them. But always they provide a discipline which balances the hubris of creative ecstasy.

Anni Albers, Work with Material, 1938.

Gunta Stölzl, Weaving at the Bauhaus, 1926.

Etsy’s definition of Handmade.

Video of Fabric Manufacturing Process.

Auction Projects

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This year, I’m again working on my daughter’s elementary school auction project. We decided to make a flower mandala, so I designed this to be made with almost 400 children. I made each grade a ring of the mandala (PP-6th grade), so there was math involved. Boo. Each grade is using a different technique on a square piece of paper, then we’re cutting the shapes and mounting them to the white background, which will then be framed. The finished piece will be around 36″ square, so the pieces are pretty tiny. Anyone want to offer framing services? Really.

The kids are doing watercolor with salt, collage and painted paper, styrofoam printing, pastel and watercolor relief, tissue paper collage, zentangle, and cross-hatching. Luckily, our school art teacher makes the art with the kids so all I have to do is assemble the piece. I hope to have the piece ready in a couple of days. Fingers crossed.

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Tiny Houses

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We just finished up our all-school auction project. Last year I made a quilt with the kids, with the children each dyeing a piece of fabric. I paper pieced that quilt and it took many, many hours. So this year, we decided to try an art project instead. Since I’d always wanted to make a quilt of little houses, we decided to make a project with tiny wooden houses, each cut from balsa wood in varying shapes. The finished piece is 36″ x 48″, so each house had to be around 2″ wide and tall to allow 386 houses to fit on the wooden background.

Once I’d cut the houses, I passed them along to our school art teacher Kelley, who had each grade use a different technique to design their houses. Techniques included Pollack splatter painting for the youngest kids, Kandinsky houses with pastels for pre-K, Mondrian houses for kindergarten, plus pointillism, tissue paper overlays, paper mosaics, acrylic and sharpie, and black and white Zentangles. Some of the houses were representational and some abstract. Kelley did an amazing job with the kids and we were both surprised at how much detail they were able to get on these small houses. Then I painted the background with acrylic paint, glued each house on with wood glue and varnished the finished piece. I think that all of the individual and unique houses coming together in one project is such a sweet metaphor for our school community.

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