Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This particular seat from 1928 (left) features in Take Your Seat: A History of Airline Passenger Chairs an exhibition at the San Francisco Airport Museum that continues until 15 January. I saw the exhibition when I was travelling through SFO last year.
At the same time, I lingered over exhibits in Scandinavian Modernism: In Pursuit of Function and Beauty which included Arne Jacobsen's classic ant chair (right) and other shapely chair creations. (This exhibition is now over.) Little did I know that I was collecting inspiration for a Twelve by Twelve challenge!
Later PS: Nic's blog has this great photo of the Christmas Chair Tree I mentioned in an earlier post.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I've been making notes and looking at lots of pictures. I'm not sure it's going very well. I just have to assume that something is coming together in my brain and it will find its way out when the time is right.
I've looked as some great chair quilts too. Enjoy these links, if you like. Some people don't like to be influenced by others during the design process, so feel free to just pass these by.
Laura Wasilowski did a wonderful series of blue chair quilts. You can see them here. Scroll down to the Interiors section.
I've even noticed chairs in an article about Van Gogh in the new issue of the Smithsonian that arrived today.
For now, I'm exploring a tree/chair idea...
Friday, December 26, 2008
I'd only have to make 143 more of these and I'd be all set for my 12x12 chair quilt.
That's not going to happen! Can you imagine? Yikes.
This in an "inchie" I created as part of the Hot Seat Collection that Brenda mentioned in the last post. Thanks so much for noticing my work in the publication.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
1. A piece of furniture consisting of a seat, legs, back, and often arms, designed to accommodate one person.Synonyms include: armchair, bench, cathedra, recliner, rocker, seat and stool which gives me an excuse to show you my toadstools (fliegenpilz?) from a design exercise a couple of years ago.
2. A seat of office, authority, or dignity, such as that of a bishop.
3.a. An office or position of authority, such as a professorship.4. The position of a player in an orchestra.
b. A person who holds an office or a position of authority, such as one who presides over a meeting or administers a department of instruction at a college; a chairperson.
5. Slang The electric chair.
6. A seat carried about on poles; a sedan chair.
7. Any of several devices that serve to support or secure, such as a metal block that supports and holds railroad track in position.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
When I think about visual imagery for chairs, I think Eero Saarinen for Knoll Furniture and, of course Herman Miller furniture and the Eamses.
(via Herman Miller)
I immediately thought of the Bauhaus-inspired ads of the 40s to 60s when Deborah announced our theme. Herbert Matter designed iconic ads for Knoll furniture in the late 1940s. Scroll through the best at the top of this article. There were some fantastic Herman Miller ads too, with chair silhouettes, but I couldn't find online visuals.
This chair graced our living room when I was a kid:
As did this rocking chair, which I think Terry has fond memories of as well:
(via One of a Kind Antiques)
My other strong chair memory is of an upholstered orange wingback at my grandparents' house, but that wasn't classic enough to earn a place on the internet.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
... but I really doubt that I have the ability to make what is in my head. We will see. Plenty of thinking time yet.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Nobuko recollects her parents. After losing each of their parents in turn, the children disposed of hte home and its furnishings. Chairs which were in the family home become a quilt now and keep on fondly watching the family.
Are you ready to hear the theme for our next challenge?Chairs.
I sure wish I could invite you all over to my home and we could pull up a bunch of chairs around the table and just gab, laugh, share, eat, ponder and chat. But since that's not possible, I'd like us to make quilts about chairs (or just one chair) for our next challenge.I'm not sure what it is about chairs, but I think they are so interesting and full of design possibilities. I've had this theme in mind for months. I think we've had an interesting variety of themes from literal to abstract and some of us interpret literal themes in abstracts ways as well as the opposite. I'm so eager to see what you all do with this.
It seems chairs are a bit trendy in the design world. The United States Postal Service even issued some stamps including chairs designed by Eames. We took a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art last week and I saw this poster in the gift shop.
I could go on and on, but I won't influence your ideas! I hope you curl up with a hot cuppa in your favorite chair as you ponder this theme.
Monday, December 1, 2008
My excuse is two-part:
1. I picked up the camera yesterday afternoon to take the photo and found the battery was flat. By the time it charged, the evening light had gone.
2. I slept in. I'm on holiday so I didn't wake up this morning until nine!
To the quiltin'....
Well, WHAT a theme. I was in shock for two days after the theme was revealed. Maths?? I thought I had left that trauma behind years ago!
I couldn't come up with a single original thought for days, until one evening we watched an interesting TV show that explores basic human psychology through simple experiments (BBC produced, called The People Watchers). That episode included an experiment in which participants were required to generate a series of numbers by random means (one had dice, another was coin-tossing, etc)and record the results on paper. They were also asked to write a second list of random numbers but the list was to be made up - no number-generating tool to be used. They didn't know for what purpose they were doing any of this. Then a psychologist compared the lists and in every instance was able to correctly identify which of the lists was made up and which was a representation of the numbers generated by the dice or whatever.
The difference between the lists was that the random lists contained sequences of repeated numbers (for example, throwing dice can result in the same number recurring four times in succession) whereas the human lists were more muddled (each of the participants tried to not have runs or groups of numbers to make their list appear "more random"). The purpose of the experiment was to demonstrate that human beings are attracted to pattern, order and sequences. We find it difficult to accept truly random things and even apply that prejudice to selecting lottery numbers.
That all got me thinking about scrap quilts and how, in every class I have done which required random fabric placement, quilters have struggled to allow that to happen! I have seen many a quilter "auditioning" fabrics for a scrap quilt!
I also thought about the "paper bag method" of scrap quilting where you place all your darks in one bag and all your lights in another and spread the mediums between them. You then take one piece from each bag and stitch them together. The only time you may cheat is if you happen upon two pieces of the same colour.
All of which lead to my quilt...
What about a scrap quilt where the fabrics were randomly selected and yet a random pattern resulted? What would be the odds of THAT?
The scale needed to be small to give a true scrap-quilt appearance. Well, can I just say - all you miniaturists? YOU ARE INSANE. Never again will I attempt such a folly. You will also be wincing and writhing at my seam-matching (or complete lack thereof). It took FOREVER to make this insane quilt. I tried desperately to match all of the seams at first, but as the standard went slowly but steadily further into the toilet, I decided to live with the fact that my quilt was A Concept and that it Illustrated a Point :)
So here it is. Bring on the next challenge! ( and, please, make it easy)
I was travelling when this theme was first announced and had plenty of time to simply think about ideas and design concepts. Some that came to mind early on include:
- a blackboard with the 12x tables;
- asking my fellow twelves for their palm and finger prints - the hand being known as the "human abacus" and, as Terry highlights in her piece, so integral to our artmaking; and
- voluptuous, colourful abacus beads.
So what did I do next? I followed some advice from the workshop I did with Nancy Crow and trialled a composition in black and white fabrics. Binary notation was my inspiration source but when I showed my zeroes and ones to my husband, he thought I was referencing binary code and asked what I had spelled out?!Somewhere along the line, I also tried some other shibori and resist dyeing with dud results. So I took this turquoise fabric and teamed it with a sunshine yellow to make Binary Note #2. Building on my experience with the first binary piece, this composition better utilises the 12x12in quilt estate. Furthermore, if you add a zero to the front of the rows with only 7 digits and consult this handy binary alphabet translator, there is a theme-appropriate word in there. Thank you to Nikki for providing such a rich theme. I'm looking forward to finding out what theme Deborah sets for challenge #8.
I used chalkboard fabric for the blackboard. However, I didn’t use chalk to write the math equation. I didn’t want to worry about it rubbing away, so I used gesso to write the equation. I wanted the focus to be on the math equation and what was going on toward the front of the schoolroom, so I created the children in an abstract fashion.
When Nikki unveiled her theme, I got lots of memories coming back from my years at the university. Too many to choose from. Then, I thought about the relations between maths and nature. Fascinating, but still much too vast...
I made two screens, one with the multiplication table and one with multiples of 12, and I used them to print my fabric. I pieced a few blocks, log cabin style. In the center of each block, I wrote the multiples of 12, up to 7 times 12, because it is our seventh challenge and we now have 84 quilts between the twelve of us.
The narrow yellow lines are reminiscent of a Pythagoras' table.
Here's a detail of the quilt...
The colours are more accurate in the detail shot than in the full view picture.
More pictures on my blog.
What an excellent theme! As I am sure we all discovered, you can go any direction at all with the concept of "mathematics." There is math everywhere. (At least that's what I keep telling my kids when they are complaining about homework.)I decided to focus on fractals. A fractal is generally a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole (according to wikipedia). I looked at some images of fractal trees and felt like I was going in the right direction. Trees appear regularly in my work, so that brought me closer to my comfort zone. Math is not anywhere near my comfort zone.
I started by picking a background fabric that made me think of a brisk winter day, a good setting for a tree full of bare branches. I stamped some brownish blackish yellowish shapes on the green fabric to represent all the leaves that might have fallen off the tree. I free motioned quilted leaf shapes on the hillside and swirly windy motifs in the sky area.
I cut the basic fractal shape for the trunk and large limbs, fused and then started stitching. Tons and tons of Y stitches. It's not an exact fractal since some limbs go off in just one direction. But I was amazed by the lovely fan shape that developed just by following the repetitive pattern. I started with three strands of floss just off the fused branches and switched to just one strand for the outer twigs.
After all that stitching, I thought it might need something more. I posted my in progress quilt on my blog and asked for opinions. Usually we don't post our work until our big "reveal" date, but it was really interesting to read what people thought. Some said, "It's done!" Some thought it needed a little something. I thought it needed something too. I suppose that's why I didn't yet feel content with it. I appreciated the validation from my artist friends.
I decided to add a small Asian-style chop. Others had suggested a small bird, a single leaf or a snowflake, but I really wanted something unexpected. And the traditional red color of the chop seemed like just the right complement. Now what to put on the chop?! I searched for mathematical symbols meaning fractal or repeat, but I couldn't find anything. I suppose I could have looked for a Chinese translation, but I didn't want my chop to be too literally Chinese, nor did I want to stray that far from the math theme.
With my daughter's help, we remembered the musical symbol for "repeat," a colon followed by two parallel lines. I added the Y stitch followed by the repeat symbol. So, that seemed appropriate and emphasized the theme. Don't you think?
I have to admit, sometimes the mathematical premise behind my quilt makes some sense and other times I just can't get my head around it. Sadly, today is one of the later. My head is already starting to hurt, as so many of you have already expressed as a common reaction to higher math.
The imagery comes from Fourier Series and phasor vectors. The idea is relatively simple sine waves are added together in different phases to form more complex curves. These can be expressed with mathematical equations, or visually in a complex plane or periodic signal. I used the website Phasor Phactory to create visuals for one of these complex waves. The large image is the wave on the complex plane. The quilting lines are the periodic signal of the same wave. This is definitely a case where an artist rendering is much easier to understand than the mathematical explanation!
I did a lot of firsts for me with this quilt. I used traditional piecing for the background quadrants, but then fused the shapes within the curves. I also fused shears where the outline of the curve made a loop. I then used free motion zigzag to follow the line of the curve. Finally I did precision quilting to follow the exact periodic signal of the wave. I'm not one who usually follows a pattern--I tend to be very loose in my quilting--so sticking to the lines was rather difficult. My first attempt was awful, so I ended up redoing the whole quilt. I tried to use a plastic film as a guild, which I stitched over. In my test, it perforated fine and I was able to pull out the pieces. The problem was the tension was a mess with more bobbin than top thread showing. I solved the problem the second time by using water soluble stabilizer and the same bobbin and top thread. Here is a close up of the stitching so you can follow the lines of the curve.
This is my very simple solution to a theme that did not capture my imagination, mainly due to the fact that I am up to my eyeballs in the work for my solo show. This is constructed from my hand dyed silks and organza for the geometric forms.
My original idea had to do with my ineptness when it comes to numbers and math. I was going to do a portrait of myself with spiky things emerging from my brain. On the right side the colorful spiky things would have had words like color, texture, pattern, etc. On the left side, they would have been blank. It was just too complicated for me to pull off. So I went for keep it simple, stupid!!
Quilts are inherently mathy with their geometric shapes, and blocks that are fractions in visual form. Even measuring patches requires math. After a few sketches though, I decided that traditional quilt blocks, or even tessellations and more modern treatments were too obvious. Finally, the phrase “You do the math” appealed to my ironic side that Terry says I seem to gravitate towards. It begged for some sort of comparison or statistics. For it to be meaningful to me, I figured I should look at women’s issues, or something close to home. It was in the writings of Jared Diamond that I ultimately found my theme.
In his book Collapse, Diamond refers to Thomas Malthus, an English economist and demographer, who is famous for the dilemma explained in his 1798 Essay on Population,
“The power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population unchecked, increases in geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.”
I searched the internet for numbers to support Malthus' dilemma so that I might create a fabric chart to express it. My feeble scratch at the surface of this issue was hardly conclusive, but it provided lots of off-topic food for thought (pun intended). Irregardless of whether Malthus' Dilemma is proving itself out or not, the comparison of geometrical and arithmetical growth is in itself mathematical and thusly fits the challenge.
Using numbers from the UN's statistics website and the help of my Excel savvy husband, I drafted a chart showing the historic (since 1950) and projected population growth of the less developed countries in the world (that dramatic uphill curve growing towards an estimated leveling off near 8 billion people by 2050) and the growth of the more developed countries as shown in the thinner section between 1 and 1.5 billion people. I pieced this chart with feed sack fabrics for the obvious reason that it was appropriate to the discussion of feeding the world. Over these geometric curves are embroidered lines showing the arithmetical growth of major grain yields from 1950 to 2005. I left the ends hanging loose because there is no way to accurately forecast future grain production and possible breakthroughs. The quilt is bordered with small beads representing rice and corn.
Long story short, this chart quilt (and all charts are mathematical in basis) of a mathematical hypothesis is my take on the theme "Mathematics."
He was behind a middle-aged woman at a shop till, rather grumpily wondering what on earth was taking her so long to make her purchase. When finally she was done she turned around and said, "I'm sorry I was slow. I'm just learning to count money'. Dennis told me because he was so impressed that she would make the effort at that stage of her life and that she was not ashamed to tell him. Change is indeed possible and one change that was happening on election night was that young people and old people who had never voted before were learning the importance of standing up and being counted.
This quilt is made from a base layer of fabric fused to Pelmet vilene and edged using a tutorial I found on Terry's site. Then there is a layer of painted Lutrador cut into two sets of horizontal strips and hinged at either side embellished with little parcels of plain Lutrador tied with Perle thread. Those 'beads' represent the 'ones' from binary code. You may think also of voting papers. Over that is a layer of blue painted Lutrador cut into vertical strips embellished with stitch and sewn on pennies. ( which may explain the mystery in this post) The pennies are literally small change and represent not only the 'nought's of binary code but also the fact that with the current economic climate we are all facing potential change in finances which may reduce us to dealing with smaller sums of money. Hopefully this quilt is a reminder that beautiful things can be made from insignificant things. If change means simplification it is not necesserily a bad thing.