Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Old Map, New Map

I've been thinking about maps and quilts for years. As a geologist I created maps and cross sections, working to illuminate topography, reservoir limits and potential hazards. My dad loved them, too. We'd collect USGS quadrangle maps for every vacation to locate hiking trails and points of interest. {Our vacations were always in to wilderness.} Then we'd visit AAA for road maps. He had us navigate along the route. These are the kinds of maps that most interest me.

I do have an old quilt that could be considered a map quilt {or a pictorial quilt} recording the many visits we made to my sister. Summer, spring and winter but rarely in the fall with so many school activities.

Tucking the kids in the car in their pjs early in the morning meant a good four hours head start. Regular stops. Then turning off the highway up a one lane asphalt road that quickly turned to dirt. Over the bridge, around the curve, and there we were. At last.

The Road to my Sister's House

This was one of the first quilts posted on my blog. Part map, part story, part memory, all the love I feel for my family.

My newest idea is piecing those skinny strips. Will they look like roads? I made my first very small practice one but I've been thinking about them for a while.

Angled parkway cutting city streets
Rather than black, I'm choosing white for streets. They need strong contrast with the land/houses. I'm good at lining up 90 degree intersections but need some more practice with the angled streets.

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color wrote a salute to John McCain that I wholeheartedly support. America is less with the loss of this great man.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Spending Coins and a Question

Wink at the Moon for Neil Armstrong tonight, the anniversary of his passing. The human race cooperated to advance science when man first walked on the moon. Respectfully working together lifted us all to new levels of achievement. Surely we can do it again to resolve issues closer to home.

Since there were still a bunch of Coins and Coin strips cluttering up my space I added them to my 20 minute projects. The first one simply needed two more columns sewn to the top. The other was all the leftover sheets - that's what I call the short sections of Coins.

While the dark colors were on the design wall I pinned these strips to see if sashing would work. I'm not thrilled with any of these, perhaps because the Coins are uniformly dark. Obviously I will add sashing to some future Coins quilt; I keep trying to put some in.

Dark Chinese Coin columns with possible sashing fabrics

Then I sewed the remaining yellow coins in two short sessions. There are almost enough columns for two more toddler quilts. On one hand I can't believe I cut so many coins; on the other hand this amount makes a bed-size quilt. Think about it: four or five toddler quilts (40x50") equals one queen quilt (90"x100".) It's like cooking after the boys leave home. Without those bottomless pits, food stays around forever. How many days of leftovers can you stand before you just toss them?

Chinese Coins IX needed some sashing strips to increase the width. At least I thought so. Placing funky green lozenge fabric between two blue columns makes an interesting variation. {You can't believe I purchased this fabric off the sale rack four years ago, can you?} Needing to cut vertically on a third of a yard, each sash was made of four pieces. After working hard to match the first one through the middle of the lozenge, I wised up and sewed across the relatively empty area between them. {Too soon old and too late smart.}

Chinese Coin IX quilt top

The second of these quilts ran short on fabric in two columns. I added some narrower sheet sets to lengthen them. To make those wide enough I pinned the last of the green lozenges along the sides. I like this one although it doesn't quite match my lesson plan.

Chinese Coin X quilt top

A Final Question
This yellow and blue English wax batik has been in my stash for 20+ years.

English Wax batik

I loved it when I bought it but have never used it. At one time I planned to cut it up for a kaleidoscope but that never happened. Should I use it on the back of these quilts? They are the closest I've come to blending with the batik. In fact, I wonder why I didn't include some Coins from it.

English wax batik (8" vertical repeat, 13" repeat across WOF)

At 45" wide and 96" long, it will easily make two backs but using this stunning fabric as the back of baby quilts seems wasteful.

Guaranteed English Wax, Veritable Wax Anglais

It could be a fabulous baby quilt back or borders or a fussy-cut kaleidoscope. What would you use it for?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Using Little Bits of Time

This time I'm hand turning the applique leaves before attaching them. I haven't used this technique in years but it's going faster than I recalled.  As they are turned, more "space" opened up so I cut more leaves until the fabric ran out. This is it. Must work it out somehow.

Adding leaves to Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses

The photos were shot after dark making the fabrics darker than reality. But I like the way the leaves are backlit and/or they fill in the lightest area of the quilt.

Recovering my full energy has taken a long time. I'm not there yet but am better every day. In the meanwhile, I was inspired by Cathy's post last month detailing 20 minute work segments. While I can't work on as many projects as she does {How do you keep them all straight, Cathy?} this seemed a good way to push some older projects forward. As I learned from my Thirty-Year Sampler, consistent work is the only way to complete it. And besides, 20 minutes is about all the strength I have these days.

The Bars 4 quilt needs to be finished for a future gift. Again I'm using very simple straight lines with the  walking foot. Twenty minutes uses part of a spool and keeps it moving along.

Machine quilting Bars 4

After a nap I switch to these old paper-pieced sawtooth borders planned for the New York Beauty. The papers were drafted and strips were cut. It's been languishing under my sewing table for a couple three years and the blocks are even older than that. How time flies and styles change. I'd like to finish it before I'm completely disenchanted. BTW, I chose an alternate (and older) name for this quilt: Rocky Mountain Road.

Paper-pieced sawtooth borders for Rocky Mountain

Several triangles can be added before I have to change the bobbin. And then it's time for another nap.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Coast to Coast

On our last day in NY we walked along the High Line to the Whitney Museum. Two and a half miles of a former elevated railroad was repurposed to green space with gardens everywhere {and active volunteers working diligently}, outdoor theaters, seating areas, cafes, small shops, and this charming wading puddle. About an inch deep, the water flows two-three feet from the edge towards the center. Yes. I took my shoes off and enjoyed the experience.

The High Line, NYC

The Whitney concentrates on works by artists who work in America. Each floor had a different exhibit; Where We Are focuses of visions of 1900-1960 community, work, home, the spiritual, and the nation.

Of course, I noticed this painted map of the Brooklyn Bridge. The multiple perspectives and the highlighting of decorative elements remind me of Valerie Goodwin's work. Other's thought so, too. A large class sat in front of the picture while their guide discussed it multilingually. Stella used single point perspective but that point moves up and down along a center line. The angles of his linear features - buildings, support wires, light beams - is masterful. Especially interesting to a quilter, I think.

The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme by Joseph Stella, 1939.

Somber pictures painted in tempera on composition board mark Jacob Lawrence's service in WWII Coast Guard. The sailors in open air marching up the gangplank for another patrol carrying supplies as big as they are complements the stifling closed deck sleeping quarters as they are shipped out. You can feel the cool breeze in the first and the humid, stifling heat of the second.

War Series: Another Patrol, 1946 and
War Series: Shipping Out, 1947 by Jacob Lawrence.

The exhausted soldier packing all his gear drops his head. No exuberance here; he's experienced too many horrors and lost too many friends. All he feels is relief the mayhem is over.

War Series: Victory by Jacob Lawrence, 1947.

Photos of night scenes never come out for me but I'm almost always enthralled by painted views of expansive night skies contrasting strong moonlight with a small human-made light. Beautiul dark blue sky with many stars. A full moon reflected on snow brightens this Adirondack farm. The lit window in the deep shadows is both welcoming and tiny - having more warmth although only a pinprick against the moon's strength

Moonlight, Winter by Rockwell Kent, 1940

It reminded me of this picture from the Denver Art Museum last year. I wanted to include it then but he's smoking. Still, there are many features in common. Dark blue night sky full of stars; a full moon not visible in the picture reflects on the white horse and brightens all the land. The tiny human-made light, a cupped match, seems to add a much light as the moon by brightening the cowboy's face and shirt and drawing our attention.

Sadly I don't know the name of the painting or the artist. I've checked my records and the museum's. Please let me know if you discover either.

The rainfall differences are immediately apparent between the two paintings. Since John Wesley Powell identified the 100th meridian west as the divide between the humid east and the arid west this line has been a visible boundary between rainfall and desert, between corn and wheat, between population density and scarcity. Recently the line has moved east. Only one degree of longitude. Just to the 99th meridian west. Guess what? That's about 78,000 square miles in the US alone.

Only fifteen of our states have more area. Or... 82 of 192 countries. Not an insignificant effect of climate change. What will we leave for our grandchildren?

Once again the San Francisco airport has a unique exhibit in the terminals. This time it's Maneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan.

Meneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan at the San Francisco airport museum

Scholars believe cats came to Japan from Korea in the 8th century. Valued because they killed rodents, cats quickly became pets and appeared in art and literature. During the late Edo period (18th & 19th centuries) artisans began making these figurines with upraised paw to attract people to businesses and homes. The left paw brings good fortune to a business while the right paw attracts fortune, health and happiness to a home.

The cats vary in color, size, facial features, tail length, and bib decoration. They are made of stoneware, porcelain, wood, stone, and metal. While playing Go, the wooden pair below imitate two of the seven gods of good fortune - Daikoku and Ebisu.

Perhaps you recall Google's AI program won against a Chinese grand champion last year. Artificial intelligence researchers like this game because it has many more outcomes than other board games such as chess. In fact, Google says "there are more potential positions in a Go game than atoms in the universe."

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This Old Map

A map project has been pinned in a corner of the design wall for over a year. Sigh. While ideas about my mother and family are swirling through my brain I also "need" to finish this project which started in a workshop with Valerie Goodwin at Empty Spools. Well, actually it started in a one-day workshop with her at my guild almost three years ago. Definitely past time to get it moving.

As an architect, Valerie uses multiple perspectives in her presentations which inspire her layered techniques in art. My map alternates between aerial and side views, expansive and close-up. At least, it does in my imagination. Getting it to fabric is the challenge.

Coit Tower map quilt in progress
I took her class with a friend. We were both excited beyond measure by the ideas spawned in Valerie’s class. I thought I was working on the lowest layer. Only as it neared completion did I realize the water layer is further “behind.” I’m unsure how to layer these overlapping regions without holes. That’s where it froze. No. That’s where I froze.

So I am determined to work on each layer individually and postpone the decision of how they mesh. This is not a bed quilt. It won’t matter how many layers I create nor how they are sewn. And the idea has been pushing at my psyche for a year. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s a flop. Well, I’ve experienced that before and survived.

Did you catch Maria Shell's recent post about the road to her summer home? Another map quilt.

I read this quote on Pamela’s blog recently:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power or time.” Mary Oliver

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Public Parks, Private Gardens, and my Roses

Public Parks, Private Gardens at The Met exposits the development of gardening in France between the 1789 Revolution and World War I. Expansive green spaces were created to ensure the "pleasures of the king would be the pleasures of the people." With renewed interest in flowers and the common man, outdoors became places of leisure and inspiration. Is it any wonder artists moved their easels    outdoors, too?

Surprise! Wasn't this work at the Art Institute of Chicago last month? No; this is the final study Seurat made before his masterpiece. What a treat to see it again... with the same painted inner border.

Study for "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, 1884.

According to the information card, the Monet family was in their back yard where Claude worked on the flower beds when Edouard Manet dropped by and started painting them - and their chickens. Before he finished setting up, Auguste Renoir came over, borrowed some of Edouard's supplies, and started his own study which is at the National Art Gallery. Claude is not in Auguste's painting because he'd quit gardening and started his own picture of Edouard. An early example of groups working on a common challenge just like quilters today.

The Monet Family in their Garden at Argenteuil by Edouard Manet, 1874.

There were several Cassatt's including one of her earliest plein air paintings of her beloved sister, Lydia. I love the way her brushstrokes changed from Lydia's delicate face, to broader details of her clothing to the sweeping strokes of the garden.

Lydia Crocheting the Garden at Marly by Mary Cassatt, 1880.

Fashion icon, Empress Eugenie, was painted as if she was outdoors. The detailing of her clothing is exquisite but the background looks more like a stage flat. Results like this pushed artists to move their work outdoors.

The Empress Eugenie by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1854

Altogether this was an excellent showcase of the style variations of studio versus extemporaneous painting in daylight. In some ways it mirrors planned versus improvisational quilting. What do you think?

The day after we returned I became ill and still have little energy. I can't do much except think about the quilt on the design wall. Where should the stems lie? Do they need buds? How realistic do I want to be? {Since friends must point out the rose leaf structure my answer is, "Not very."}

Adding leaves to the rose stems on Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses

Then I cut some leaves. And pondered. And moved a few. And added more leaves.

Moving leaves on the rose stems on Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses

It still needs some tweaking. Once I turn the edges everything will be smaller so more leaves may be in order. We'll see.

The quilt looks amazingly different as the details are filled in.

From the first layout of Coin sheets...

Random light blue Coins form a background 

To the addition of pieced roses...

Quilt with Chinese Coins background and pieced roses

To the thought of stems.

Adding stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt
Who'd a thought?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Met: History Refused to Die

How could I not call in at The Met? It's overwhelmingly large so my best plan is to choose only two exhibits to view per day. This visit included History Refused to Die and Public Parks, Private Gardens.

The former is a collection of paintings, sculpture, and quilts by contemporary African American artists from the southeastern US. Partly due to depressed economic conditions, they all feature discarded/recycled/found objects in their work. They often address slavery and post-Reconstruction oppression but also use African aesthetics and patterning to convey a sophisticated synchronicity. When we actually listen to other people's points of view we broaden our own understanding.

Lucy T Pettway's map quilt came first - the only Gee's Bend quilt that seems to be intentionally pictorial. She placed the old Pettway mansion at the top with four slave cabins below. Green fields fill the left while the blue Alabama River flows between red dirt banks on the right. This improvisational map should inspire us all. I think she pieced herself into the first slave house. Do you see a woman with lots of black hair in orange dress... or is it just my imagination?

Housetop and Bricklayer with Bars quilt by Lucy T Pettway, 1955.

Loretta Pettway made a series of three quilts of the same gray, blue, and olive recycled clothing in the purest form of the Housetop pattern, although the original inspiration may have been center medallion quilts of early 19th century. The movement of the dark brown and bright blue round is quite intriguing. I keep thinking it's a single round. Nope, it's a spiral. Nope. Very clever.

Housetop quilt by Loretta Pettway, 1963. 

William Arnett began collecting Gee's Bend quilts after seeing this one draped on a woodpile. You've seen it on the cover of his Gee's Bend quilt book and I got to see it close up for quite a while. The orange/yellow/brown fabrics are corduroy while the outer border is used denim, probably from work clothes.

Strip Medallion quilt by Annie Mae Young, 1976.

Pants backs were  preferable in quilts because the fronts were usually worn out from kneeling while farming. Old quilts were occasionally reused as quilt filling. Fortunately this one did not become the batting for a newer model although there are several worn spots that have been preserved with tulle.

Blocks and Strips with work-clothes quilt by Lucy Mingo, 1959.

Somehow this reminds me of a Chinese Coins quilt. The colors simply vibrate with excitement.

Medallion quilt by Loretta Pettway, 1960. 

Joe Minter evokes the forced labor African Americans from cotton before the Civil War to chain gangs in the 20th century, titling it Four Hundred Years of Free Labor. Consider how much easier it is to enrich yourself when you don't pay your workers... or don't pay them a living wage. Are we experiencing similar situations today?

Four Hundred Years of Free Labor by Joe Minter, 1995.

On the way out I spotted this exquisite work by Malian-born Abdoulaye Konate who uses textiles as his primary medium. He sewed long strips and arranged them as a graceful falls in tribute to the indigo dye central to West African aesthetics.

Bleu no.1 by Abdoulaye Konate, 2014.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Cartography of Quilts

The trip to New York was unexpected but once set, I quickly made an ordered list of all the museums and shows in town. All went well until we arrived home. I caught some bug so instead of working on map quilts I'll share some photos while I recuperate.

The first stop was the Self-Taught Genius Gallery, an offshoot of the American Folk Art Museum over in Queens. The very modest entrance is highlighted by a small red awning.

Self-Taught Genius Gallery entrance

Ring the bell, walk upstairs to a single gallery for the well-curated exhibit, Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts. Sarah Margolis-Pineo curated the exhibit and was on hand the when I visited. She is a writer with a deep appreciation of quilting. Reading the first paragraph of her description I was struck by how her words focus attention on our six-month Map invitation.

"Looking across city blocks and quilt blocks, roadways and seams, one can see a visible kinship between quilt making and cartography. Both are built upon established systems that use color, pattern, and symbols to create whole compositions from a network of interlocked parts. Quilts and maps are also infused with history and memory - similarly living records of traditions, experiences, relationships, beliefs, and future aspirations. What can be gleaned from a bit of patchwork cut from a wedding dress, castoff feed sack, or commemorative flag? How are personal, political, cultural, and spiritual ideals inscribed onto a quilt's surface, creating a network of roadways and landmarks that illustrate the quilt maker's world and his or her place within it?" - Sarah Margolis-Pineo

Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Queens

Several crazy quilts were displayed, including the only physical recreation of a map.  As curator, Sarah also incorporated contemporary paper maps and a wooden wall sculpture in the exhibit. A political crazy quilt mapped/highlighted critical events of Grover Cleveland's 1884 presidential election.

Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886. Possibly VA. Silk and cotton velvets and brocade with embroidery.

The quilter showcased a variety of beautiful stitches throughout. The couched ribbon for the Mississippi River and its tributaries was particularly effective.

Detail of Mississippi River system on Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886.
Susan Arrowood mapped biblical events that were significant to her religious beliefs in her quilt, The Sacret Bibel.

"Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

She inked explanations near some of the scenes.

Detail of "Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

This redwork spread covered with animals and  soldiers might illustrate a political or cultural map. Every man carried a some kind of weapon - sword, gun, rifle... {If there'd been more women leaders, would we have had fewer wars?} The coal scuttles of Christmas 1902 reprise the same story we see today - the rich man's is full while the poor man is empty.

Detail of In Honor Shall Wave spread by Anonymous, 1902. Yonkers, NY.

Textile manufacturing was critical to the development of America. Indeed, it was a flashpoint of the Revolution. The Hewson-Center quilt showcases many elegant cotton fabrics including the center block which was printed by John Hewson of Philadelphia.

Hewson-Center quilt with multiple borders by Anonymous. Center block printed by John Hewson, 1790-1810. 

The exhibit included a beautiful pink, green and white Whig Rose quilt in addition to this Pennsylvania spread appliqued on cheddar mapping her life on the family farm,

Applique Bedcover by Sarah Ann Garges, 1853. Doylestown, PA. Cotton, silk, wool, and wool embroidery.

and this stunning silk Log Cabin - another mapping of fabrics.

Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King (1818-82) US. Silk.

Look at all these plaids and stripes.

Detail of Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King.
Enjoy the day, Ann