Wednesday, February 18, 2009
It seemed suitably window-ish to add some colour to this blog post but I really want to share a window image from an even earlier era in my education. A entire generation of children in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom will recall the windows from the television program Playschool where you were invited to explore the big wide world through the square, round or arch window (scroll down to view). Apparently the Australian Playschool windows are now part of the collection in the National Museum of Australia but I missed them on my last visit. My favourite was always the arch window. Kirsten and Helen (and any readers of a certain age!)- what was your favourite Playschool window?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
While you are at it, take a look at the artist gallery pages for each individual Twelve by Twelve member. Francoise has perhaps the most cohesive collection of work but all the artist galleries make very interesting viewing.
when I was a child we spent every summer camping in an ancient striped canvas tent serenaded by cicadas . We had some equally ancient folding chairs. My brother retrieved one from storage this January. When he sat in it it collapsed in pieces...
...now I think of a hot, sunny day shopping with my sister-in-law, Kiwi bachs (beach houses) and the nicest laptop bag I've ever seen (and now I can't remember where!).
As I studied these fabrics more closely I realised how amazing the colour combinations are. You know I always fall for a colour scheme! So here, once more, is a quilt from me that owes it's existence simply to beautiful colours.There is no in depth thought behind this, just a celebration of a traditional textile and lazy summer days.
Friday, February 6, 2009
I think there's a lot to be said for traditional quilt blocks and their history. I love their names. Some are whimsical, some are pictorial, some are political -- like Burgoyne Surrounded or Whig's Retreat. I like that their makers could include subtle messages through the blocks they chose to use: the most widely known probably being the blocks claimed to be used by slaves to assist in their escape to freedom like Wagon Wheel, Flying Geese and Monkey Wrench.
I felt compelled to try out this block today. It's called "Dove in the Window" and was first published by the Lady's Art Company in 1898. I used fabric from my husband's old BDUs (battle dress uniform). Interpret as you see fit.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about windows.
A window is an opening in a wall (or other solid and opaque surface) that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material. Windows are held in place by frames, which prevent them from collapsing in.
The word Window originates from the Old Norse ‘vindauga’, from ‘vindr – wind’ and ‘auga – eye’, i.e. "wind eye". In Norwegian Nynorsk and Icelandic the Old Norse form has survived to this day (in Icelandic only as a less used synonym to gluggi), while Swedish has kept it—mostly in dialects—as ‘vindöga’ (‘öga – eye’). Danish ‘vindue’ and Norwegian Bokmål ‘vindu’ however, have lost the direct link to ‘eye’, just like window has. The Danish (but not the Bokmål) word is pronounced fairly similar to window.
Window is first recorded in the early 13th century, and originally referred to an unglazed hole in a roof. Window replaced the Old English ‘eagþyrl’, which literally means ‘eye-hole,’ and ‘eagduru’ ‘eye-door’. Many Germanic languages however adopted the Latin word ‘fenestra’ to describe a window with glass, such as standard Swedish ‘fönster’, or German ‘Fenster’. The use of window in English is probably due to the Scandinavian influence on the English language by means of loanwords during the Viking Age. In English the word fenester was used as a parallel until the mid-1700s and fenestration is still used to describe the arrangement of windows within a façade.
And to illustrate that window can be a metaphor for non-architectural thoughts, here are some quotes for your rumination:
Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything. Willie Dixon
I'm just a landscape painter. I look out the window and I see what's going on, and I paint it. While I'm painting it, I also write thoughts about what I see going on out there. William Wiley
A smile is a light in the window of your face to show your heart is at home. Anonymous
Now Allah has created the dream not only as a means of guidance and instruction, I refer to the dream, but he has made it a window on the Unseen. Mohammed
A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is at home.
OK, Brenda, you can now get to work on the next challenge!!
Monday, February 2, 2009
I was stunned by the similarities between my chair quilt and Joanne's chair quilt. Joanne is a good friend of mine so maybe we were subconsciously using similar elements and sending each other creative vibes.
Here is a detail of my "She Sits to Dream."
And here is Joanne's chair.Isn't it interesting how we both used a layered collage style? We set those stark chairs on bright fabrics and then we did some hand stitching around the interior border.
Joanne lives in Maine and I live in Texas, but I sure wish we could sit down together in our chairs and share a cuppa and some embroidery!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I really loved this theme -- I'm always drawn to chair images, and I had lots of ideas to work with. The hardest part of this challenge was deciding on the one I wanted to explore.
I ultimately settled on this, "the comfy chair" because it suited my emotional state during this challenge period. We all have times of difficult stuff in our lives, and for me, at those times I seek quiet and comfort. The idea of curling up in a comfy chair to read and sip coffee is my idea of the ultimate comfort!
This isn't a complex image, but I thought that the simplicity of the design suited the sense of simple, homey comfort.
When I was a wee tot, just two years old, my parents gave me my very own little rocking chair. It is made of wood and I still have it to this day, many many (not going to tell you how many) years later.
These days it serves as a room decoration and my handmade Raggedy Ann doll (made by my grandmother) sits in it.
When I first thought about using my chair in my quilt I had pictured in my mind a photo of me sitting in it...you know, those old black and white photos from back in the day. (No, not me at my present age sitting in it...silly!) Well unfortunately the only people who have these photos are my parents and they winter in warmer states during the cold months of the year. So I couldn't get my hands on the photo I had wanted to incorporate into my quilt. So my next idea was to take a photo of my chair and digitally alter it in my photo editing software.
I made a black and white image of the chair and then printed it onto a sheet of inkjet transparency. Using a gel medium transfer technique I applied it to my color splashed background of cotton duck. This transfer technique doesn't always create perfect transfers, and therefore gives a rough and tumble kind of transfer, just what I wanted.
After the transfer, I stitched with black thread all around the edges of the chair. Next I added the handwritten wording. I used several types of mediums to add the lettering...Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, white-out pen, metallic acrylic ink, and black textile paint in a squeeze bottle. After the lettering dried, I added some hand stitched details.
As usual, I had several ideas competing in my head, but the family dining table with its sturdy oak chairs was the stronger one.
One chair for each member of the family, plus one little chair for the soon-to-arrive grandchild. But then, the tiny chair looked so lonely that I decided it needed some company... (wishful thinking?..)
Finally, instead of the dining table, I embroidered a house symbol, the same I used for my "Community" quilt.
The yellow strips vaguely evoke the shape of a chair too,... a beach chair maybe...
All fabrics are home-dyed.
Detail shots of the quilt are on my blog...
This is a collage of photos taken in a salvage shop in Sonoma, CA. I saw this stack of chairs:
Then, in little vignettes around the grounds, I kept seeing more of the turquoise chairs,
I really love the stack of chairs. When I heard the theme, I immediately thought of those photos. I used the stack to make a thermofax screen which I screened on to a background that I made with soy wax, using found objects. The colors and ephemera on the fabric seemed perfect as a backdrop.
I also printed the stack of chairs on organza and cotton after cropping and changing the proportion. I added some signage printed on organza. The original salvage sign was turquoise and it wasn't working so I fiddled with it in Photoshop to change the color. The complement of the turquoise was what this piece needed. I then added the word chair in the Broken font.
Here is a detail:
I have always wondered what story these chairs could tell. Where have they been?
Daniel James was a 23 year old who had been paralysed from the chest down when a scrum collapsed as he played rugby. He was not terminally ill and had regained a tiny amount of movement in his fingers. However,he had constant pain in all of his fingers. He was incontinent, suffered uncontrollable spasms in his legs and upper body and needed 24-hour care. This previously fit young man considered his new life to be a 'second class existence'. He tried to commit suicide and his parents and other people implored him to live, encouraging him that despite his severe disability there were things in life worth living for. No doubt, people like Christopher Reeve were cited as examples. He could not agree.
In September 2008 his parents helped him to travel to Dignitas, the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland, where, against their wishes, but with their understanding, he was helped to die.
By co-incidence as I put the final touches to this quilt, Julie Walters played Dr Anne Turner in a made for TV film about the Doctor who took the same route in 2006. After nursing her husband through an illness which left him completely motionless, she discovered she had a similar illness, progressive supranuclear palsy. She invited the BBC to film an interview with her and to film her journey on the condition it was not aired until after her death.
She did so to highlight the fact that it is illegal in the UK to assist in the suicide of another, even when it is done to end terrible suffering. In fact although over 100 Britons have now travelled to Dignitas (some doing so a little earlier than they would have liked because otherwise they would be too unfit to make the trip) no one has yet been prosecuted. Several have been investigated including the parents of Daniel James.
Some people with illnesses - like Diane Pretty, who has motor neurone disease - have sought advanced declarations from the courts that their spouse would not be prosecuted for helping them to die, feeling that they could not ask without such a guarantee. The argument is that if they were physically capable of doing it themselves then it is not illegal - survivors of failed attempts are no longer prosecuted. But, if she feels that her life is intolerable because of an illness that prevents her making the necessary movements to end her own life, it is illegal for her to get help from her carer. The courts have refused such advance declarations.
Campaigners against assisted dying ( in which people are enabled to take their own life) have either religious beliefs which relate to the sacredness of life and/ or fear abuse of the vulnerable if the law is changed. Often the debate is confused with that of euthanasia ( i.e the relieving of suffering by death of those who have not asked for it/ do not administer the means of death themselves.)
In terms of the construction, the quilt is simple ( but I hope graphic!). It is a black background fused onto Fast2Fuse. The seat and back of the chair is an image of a spine MRI printed onto Extravorganza and in two pieces to suggest a broken back. The tyre is felt, embroidered with a 'tread' pattern and with a button for the spoke centre, all in grey, as if the MRI or X ray had included the chair. It is satin stitch edged and a Swiss flag is fused and zigzag stitched in the corner.
It's called "She Sits to Dream." I think I surprised myself with this color palette and the intentionally messy construction. I wanted to try to be looser in the creative process. It was a challenge, but fun.
If my dreams are filled with layers and layers of wishes, hopes, ideas and desires, maybe this is what they look like. There is pattern and chaos. Rough edges. Some of the insides are sticking out. It's empty, yet open.
The dreams are surrounded by the potential for growth.
"She Sits to Dream" was my second attempt at a chair quilt. My first quilt was just too quiet. Here is "She Sits to Wait."I liked the composition and the general shapes of the different elements. So, it was fun to covert those elements to different fabrics. In fact I can even imagine doing another "she sits to..." quilt.
Which do you like better?
© 2009 Brenda Gael Smith
In the process of deciding what touristy things to do while my dad was visiting us in December, he brought up a Hawaiian throne. Did you know that Iolani Palace in Hawai'i was the only royal residence in the United States? It was built by King Kalakaua and was also home to his sister and successor Queen Lili'uokalani who was the last ruling monarch of Hawai'i. Seeing that I now live in Hawai'i and the palace thrones are the only royal seats in America, this seemed like a concept worthy of commemoration.
Once the idea was sparked, I went full steam ahead. I had ideas for a rich layering of bright tropical fabrics. But, after doing "research" (a visit to the palace), we found out that the throne is actually two, and that they are quite traditional and European in appearance (although, if I remember correctly, they are carved from Hawaiian Koa wood). However, since red and gold are the colors of Hawaiian royalty, redwork made more sense to me. Also, Lauhala weaving is a traditional fiber art used to make baskets, hats and mats to sit and sleep on. I got very excited and pulled these elements together to create a formal redwork version of the royal thrones of King Kalakaua and his wife Queen Kapiolani on a background woven lauhala style. I added a hibiscus (the state flower) and two palm fronds in a nod to the tropical.
"The Thrones of King Kalakaua & Queen Kapiolani"
As I was finishing this piece, I was struck with yet another idea I HAD to try. It's actually my official response to this challenge.