Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maps on fabric

Today I printed maps on fabric. Do you wonder what I will do with them? I wonder too.

 I had a great idea, but it would only work as a horizontal. I'm sure these maps will speak to me soon!

Beneath the Southern Sky Exhibition

Beneath the Southern Sky is a travelling exhibition of 30 textile works exploring the title theme. Brenda is curating the exhibition and it includes an African-inspired piece The Things We Carry by Helen.  You can view the exhibition online by clicking the image below and there will be regular insights on tour on the Beneath the Southern Sky Facebook page:

 Beneath the Southern Sky Gallery 

Even better, you can view the exhibition up close and "in the cloth" at the following events in Australia, New Zealand and the United States:
Further exhibition venues are under investigation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mapping a Stragegy

As I contemplate the map theme, I find myself captivated by map imagery as it pops up in my online reading. Today, I rediscovered the work of Bonnie Peterson. Take a look at her website and become inspired.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eveywhere, maps

 My husband is in the habit of recording all the TV programmes we watch even if we are actually watching them live.  This is partly because our family has a talent for ringing right in the middle of the good bits but mostly to enable me to yell, " Stop! Go back a bit. Pause it when I says so. Now!" .

It is for these moments of inspiration that the ipad camera was invented.

This still from Upstairs Downstairs caught my eye tonight.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mapping Twelve by Twelve

Deborah has selected such a rich and inspiring theme.  Maps, of course, are everywhere! Looking back through the Theme Series and the Colorplay series, there were several "mappish" works. Deborah has already mentioned Everlasting from the Shelter theme. When I was touring with the Theme Series in New Zealand in 2010, I stayed at Kirsty's parents home for a few days. They were travelling overseas and it was my first visit. Yet, somehow, thanks to Kirsty's schematic - it all seemed very familiar.  Here are some other pieces with a map element:
Everlasting12N 12W
Everlasting by Kirsty12N 12W by Helen
Terra IncognitaFlight Path
Terra Incognita by NikkiFlight Path by Diane
As illustrated in the BBC series The Beauty of Maps (click for map highlights and video tour), cartography is full of art, intrigue and discovery.  I can't wait to see what 1 May reveals!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Swotting Flies

Maps sometimes have unexpected uses...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ted's Mosaic

With Ted's completion of Karen's dish, it seems only fitting that he should have his very own mosaic.  Actually, he gets two!  On the left is a display of the inspiration quilts and on the right is Ted's rendition in glass. (Click for a larger version.) Thank you Ted for these beautiful, thoughtful gifts.
PS:  Look in the Ted Rips category for all our posts showing Ted's work.  Also see Ted's blog at

The Shoemakers Children...

After months of ignoring me, glass wise anyway, Ted has made a Twelve plate for me.  He picked one of my favorite pieces and I think it turned out really nice.  The figures are copper which turned a beautiful reddish/brown.

You can read about his process here  I'm thinking his kiln will hold a 20 x 12 size, so hmmm, maybe that's next.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Another El Anatsui

I saw an exhibition of his work at the SDA conference in Kansas City in May 2009. I love how this piece, from a distance, looks like a brid's eye view from on high. You can see how he has grouped the found objects to create pattern. If you click on this, you can see some of the detail a bit better. I think it was the beginning of my love for connecting small bits of ephemera in a grid.

More El Anatsui

Well, since we're talking about El Anatsui (scroll down a few posts), I must share this picture.

It was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City just this past summer. I took the picture and that's Kristin in the center -- in the brown tank top with the tan back pack. The two of us joined some other fiber artists for a wonderful long weekend in NY including this trip to the Met, mostly to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. But, we all really liked this El Anatsui piece too. It's titled Dusura II. According to the artist, the title can be translated as a "communal patchwork made by a team of townspeople."

If I were to relate all these ideas to the theme of maps, I might say it would be fascinating to create a graphic, visual list or pattern of connections.

Helen posted about El Anatsui...
which reminded me of the El Anatsui work I'd seen...
with Kristin...
who is another member of 12x12...
and we are certainly part of a "communal patchwork"...
which reminds me of patchwork quilts...

Sometimes maps really can connect disparate ideas and experiences.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Talavera maps

In doing some research on maps, I came across this beautiful celestial map made from Talavera tiles. (Click for a bigger view.) My friends know that I have a special love for Mexican Talavera pottery, so this seemed like a fortuitous collision of something I needed and something I already love. More Talavera maps here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Books about maps

 From being a child I have considered maps as much potential reading matter as novels. It is to me magical how a labelled dot 'Marrakech'  ''Cape Town' ' Rio De Janiro'  could tell me so much about possibilty and adventure. I spent many a happy an hour pouring over an old family atlas, backed with aubergine hessian and containing such non existent places as Tanganika and Rhodesia. Even now it is rare I fly without ripping out the route maps in the in flight magazine for later enjoyment. And of course as a child the sketch maps in the cover of the Milly Molly Mandy books were almost better than the stories themselves.

One of my resolutions this year was to buy at least one art book a month. ( It's February and I have bought three and recieved two as gifts as my choice so I'm doing OK!) I think the next purhase should now be map related don't you? 


I already have this one ( and have pulled it out and placed it my bed) and I have been  researching  my options for a companion.


 Paula Scher featured in Map As Art but reading this article and looking at the images makes me want to see more of her images in closer detail. 



You Are Here seems to be about non- geographical maps, promising maps of moods, marriages and mythology.


The Amazon blurb for thos books states: In March 2008, graphic designer Kris Harzinski founded the Hand Drawn Map Association in order to collect just such drawings of the everyday. Fascinated by these accidental records of a moment in time, he soon amassed a wide variety of maps, ranging from simple directions to fictional maps, to maps of unusual places, including examples drawn by well-known historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Shackleton, and Alexander Calder. From Here to There celebrates these ephemeral documentsusually forgotten or tossed aside after having served their purposegiving them their due as artifacts representing stories from people's lives around the world?

Or, maybe I could keep my cash in the bank and just hang out on the Creative Mapping Blog ' a blog dedicated to the creative use of maps in art.'

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Map envy

 This is the kind of work I wish I was capable of producing for this group.
Of course, I'd have to scale down a bit as this piece, by El Anatsui, called New World Map is 11 feet by 16 feet. It is, like, all his recent sculptures made of bottle tops. For auction at Bonhams in London on 23 rd May, it is estimated to sell for £500,000 - £800,000.
Want to club together anyone?!!


I am thrilled to picked the new theme for our 2012 Series.... Maps. The reveal day will be May 1, 2012.

This idea of maps kept rising to the top of my mind as I considered themes over the last few weeks. Whether you take inspiration from an actual map showing borders, boundaries and land forms, or you explore the more personal idea of mapping a journey, I hope this theme generates lots of wonderful art quilts! I'm already brainstorming many interesting possibilities...

Rather than mention any of these endless possibilities, I'll leave that for us all to share on the blog as we ponder the new theme.

I will say that Kristy created a map for the Shelter theme in our original 12x12 Series. So, this might not be an entirely fresh theme, but I am still quite eager to see what develops.

In our original Theme Series, I chose the theme "Chairs." So when I found this image on Pinterest via RoddyandGinger, I knew "maps" was the right choice for the next theme. Actually it even fits my ColorPlay Series theme, BrownSageBlue!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Twelve by Twelve Minor Website Metamorphosis

Our first challenges quilts in the 2012 Series can now be viewed on the website on the new Metamorphosis page.You will see that, with the change to the 20x12in format, our mosaics have morphed into a slightly new format too:
Over on the Twelve by Twelve website, there have also been a few changes. Here are some new features that you might enjoy:
  • we have added a new About page that covers a few frequently asked questions that often come up;
  • there's a new 2012 Series Gallery Page that sets out our timetable for 2012; 
  • the main gallery pages for the Theme Series and the Colorplay Series each have an array of 144 clickable thumbnails that take you directly to the page with the artist statement and enlarged image of the relevant quilt;
  • the Media page has been expanded to include a listing of podcasts and vidcasts featuring the Twelves and our project;
  • the Exhibitions page has been moved to its own tab in the navigation menu so you can easily find out where to see the next exhibition and also see details of other exciting events that the Twelves are involved in; and
  • there is a new Artist Gallery for the 2012 Series where you will be able to see all of the 20x12in challenge works completed by each Twelve grouped together. For example, here is Gerrie's 2012 Series Artist Gallery.
The website is now made up of close to 400 separate pages so it's possible that it needs tweaking here and there.  Please let Brenda know if you come across any broken links or other glitches.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Updated: I think this is finished. No doubt I could keep going...and going...and going, but after three full days of embroidery through too, too many layers of fabric and fusible webbing, I am declaring it done. I love it and I am so happy. It even has a name now - Jubilee. I decided that for this year's challenges I would like to make works to hang on our walls at home. I've never hung my quilts up at home and we have very limited wall space now that we live in a townhouse but this 12 x 20 format is perfect. Which reminds me - I LOVE working in this new size!
You can probably see that there is a whole heap more embroidery on this and there are also sequins (only a few show in the photo - they are easier to see in the detail shots on my blog) in the bubbly section. This quilt seems determined to photograph badly; although I am wondering if my camera is entering it's geriatric years. I can't get a crisp image *grumble grumble*

I struggled so much with this theme. Every idea I had was old and sad and done to death (except for the one glimmer of an idea that referenced Kafka's Metamorpohosis Terry!). Then one morning I woke up with a clear(ish) image in my head and I knew that my quilt would be an abstract representation of the process of metamorphosis of any kind.

As you can see, it's undergone it's own metamorphosis and is no longer abstract...

Start at the bottom.

Building blocks,stem cells,foundation,a sound base of ideas, information,potential.
There begins a bubbling, fizzing, effervescence, a stirring,movement.
Reaching out, evolving, aspiring, cell growth, development.
Fruition, birth, display, expression, achievement, celebration.

ps: Brenda mentioned in an earlier post that there was a Twelve about to be tattooed. That metamorphosis has also occurred!

Log Cabin Conversion

             I must admit that I really struggled with this challenge topic!  I started thinking about this from the day that Gerrie announced this theme, but I couldn't settle happily on an idea.  I have pages of sketches, and I spent a lot time just thinking and imagining various directions.  But it took me quite a while to settle on the metamorphosis I wanted to depict, and here it is: the evolution of an art quilter.

             Once I settled on the idea of some traditional pieced quilt blocks morphing into something nontraditional, wonky, and fused, I had fun sketching out ideas.  The log cabin block was a natural choice for the ultimate traditional block -- and of course, from there it seemed fitting to have the logs deconstructing into a wonky cabin with a loose take on the traditional red center square.  I even found in my stash some bits of really traditional fabrics that seemed suitable for the log cabin blocks, and then I pulled more modern hand-dyed and batik fabrics for the abstracted landscape.

            I also had fun starting with straight line, grid based machine quilting  (which I suppose could thematically have been hand quilting) and having it evolve into swirly, irregular quilting.

         I totally loved working with this new 12x20 shape and size!  The long vertical rectangle created so many new compositional possibilities and I really enjoyed shifting away from an even square.  I'm already looking forward to the next challenge! 


Okay, time for the big confession -- somehow I had it in my mind the quilt was suppose to be a landscape orientation instead of portrait and just realized this morning that I was wrong.  I'm not sure where I got that idea.  It must have been the fact that I was so busy last November when we were setting this challenge that I didn't read the details carefully.  I have had it wrong in my head for the last three months.  I guess I just couldn't be trusted to switch from a square to rectangle.  So here is my quilt, turned on its side.  This quilt really wanted to be vertical, but I forced it to be horizontal.  So, just imagine the quilt with the color coming from the top downward. 

I struggled a bit with the whole idea of Metamorphosis.  I was trying to capture all of it in my head and I couldn't come up with a concept. I thought about a quilt showing the stages of a frog from tadpole to adult.  I thought about the work of M.C. Escher and perhaps showing one shape changing into another.  I then realized I was trying to show to much.  I didn't need a wide angle, but could focus upon one little detail.  I decided to focus just upon the moment of emergence--the moment the butterfly comes out of the cocoon.

This quilt is the result of a bit of trial and error and I now see there will be least another trial.  I'm sure working in a sketchbook would have been beneficial, but I skipped that step and went straight to fabric.  My first thought was color emerging from darkness in the center.  Instead it just looked like some strange hump projecting from the side of the quilt.  After taking a break from it, I realized it needed to be the cocoon breaking open and the color coming out.  I set the first quilt aside and started on this one.  I quilted the background with gold spirals and painted it with a rainbow of colors.  I then added the black and gray fabric around the edges.  At first I had the color emerging upwards, but it just didn't look right.  I double checked some photos on google and realized that cocoons hang upside down and the butterfly emerges from the bottom.  I simply flipped the quilt around and kept going.  I hand stitched the gray fabric with embroidery floss and wrapped the edges around the back.  Hand sewing through the densely quilted, painted fabric was a bit of a challenge--my fingers still look a little rough from the process.  I added the circle beads and finished the colored edge with seed beads.

I now see this quilt becoming a series as I finish the first I started and remake this quit the way it should have been!

A Soldier Emerges

I'm afraid my ideas on this theme far exceeded my capability to showcase them.

About 16 years ago my husband joined the army. Our relationship had begun about three years prior, so I knew him as a civilian first. As he made the transition into military life, I wasn't always nearby and for the first few years found it very difficult to understand this new society which he had joined. At about the same time, I was reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. A lightbulb went off in my head that the process by which one is inducted into the military is just a variation of the myriad other rites of passage such as from boy to man, from outsider to insider, from maiden to mother, from neophyte to master, etc.

And that is what I wanted to express: the metamorphosis from civilian to soldier. I found it a lot easier to say than to do though. After many fits and starts, I finally determined that the essence of the change is the breaking down of the civilian life and the subsequent building up of the military one (with it's requisite mores, rites, hierarchies, and language).

The denim background represents the civilian life, the worn areas are where it's breaking down. On top of that is a soldier created from "building blocks." Those blocks are the fabric of army uniforms spanning the past 16 years. I suspect that without the description it would be hard to divine anything other than a portrait of a soldier though. Although I wish I could have expressed my ideas more directly, I am quite pleased with how well the portrait reads. It was an interesting exercise to try to convey a recognizable type of person with the least amount of squares.


You will recall me asking whether it was important that the link between the theme and the resulting piece should be immediately obvious and you will I think see that I decided no it need not!

This quilt ( and I suspect a lot of future work) was inspired by the photographs of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher in a book called African Cememonies and its condensed version Passages.  I was reading them when the theme was announced and the concept of an initiation ceremony where one transitions from youth to adulthood by way of sacred rituals seemed to be a version of metomorphosis. Originally I was planning to work more directly with images of body art from the Ghanaian Dipko ceremonies.

However, in the course of screenprinting experiments over the New Year I made this piece of cloth and it just begged me to become a Maasai inspired wholecloth quilt. Their ceremony is called 'eunoto' and is perfeormed roughly every seven years.

You may be aware that I have been working on developing a series based on African women. A while ago I took my simplified African ladies motif, exploded the shape then took part of those shapes and cut small stamps from erasers. This cloth was made by screenprinting random blobs of yellow and orange paint onto white PDF fabric then removing some of the paint to give the texture which you can see in the detail below. I then painted over some parts with a Stuart Gill Byzantia paint.

 I cannot show you the precise photos which imspred me as they are copyright ( although I recommend you get a cheap second hand copy of Passages as I did) but I can tell you that the machine stitched cross hatched patterns in red and blue are inspired by traditional Maasi blankets like these. and the centre piece by traditional Maasai jewellery and draped beaded cords such as these , these and these

 In the past I have been worried about making art based on a culture that is not mine but I think in the process of this piece I have worked through that. I will be doing more work along these lines and I am thinking of them not as being about African but as about how I imagine Africa. Not African images but my images dreamed up as I contemplate Africa.  Maybe there is a series. Maybe it is called Africa Dreamed or African Imagined. We shall see.

In the meantime this quilt is about three layers of metomorphosis. It is about initiation ceremonies. It is about the transformation of a white piece of fabric into art cloth, of representational forms of women into abstract patterning and texture. And it is about the transformation of a dark windowless loft into a wonderful studio in which this quilt was made and its maker felt herself begin to transform from a catterpillar munching on the leaves of other people's instruction and influence into a butterfly artist, taking off for the first time under her own wings.

Hand Series

In my blog on Dec. 17th I mentioned the foolishness of trying to fit our theme Metamorphosis to my own work, mainly body images.  Well, I've managed to do just that, and was so excited about it, I made four more.  As you can see, that was easy to do since I chose images of the hand to work on.  I was able to tie it into metamorphosis by referencing opposable thumbs and evolution, but really I was just looking for an excuse to continue my personal series.

I had access to an MRI of the hand with hundreds of images to choose from, so I isolated five that I wanted to work with.  I started with five pieces of white fabric cut to the size I needed, and put them on my design wall next to each other  so I could work on them all at the same time.  I ended up finishing up the first one while partway through the second, and starting on the third, but couldn't work on all five at once, it was too distracting.  These are all hand stitched, except for a few remnants from other projects that have some machine stitching on them.

The images below are images I worked with for this, reversed from black/white to white/black

Not knowing what the rest of our themes will be, I'm not sure if I can continue to relate them to body images, but I at least hope to continue with series work

Allium Four Ways

In a bit of lovely serendipity, my quilt is about blooming flower bulbs and there are actually bulbs blooming up and down the street in my neighborhood.

I love daffodils and tulips and other flowers that bloom from bulbs, but I think the allium is particularly dramatic. My quilt explores a bit of the allium life cycle. It's titled, Allium Four Ways.

I've included buds just beginning to unfold.

 The full bloom in all it's spherical glory!

Tiny drawings of the buds on their tall, straight stems.
And the bulbs just sending up shoots.
The roots on the bulbs are loose strands of embroidery floss.

It was a fun challenge to mix in various other elements, like the sheer blue overlap, the wavy purple hand stitched lines and the block of that beautiful teal large print floral. I really love working in a collage format and finding ways to make unexpected shapes, color and materials work together. Sometimes it takes a long long time and lots of moving elements around before I'm pleased with the results. Metamorphosis takes time.

Architectural Shift

Last spring, my husband and I attended a concert at the Frank Gehry designed Disney Concert Hall. I was very intrigued with the building, both inside and out and took lots of photos.

I have been taking an online design class and one of our assignments was to make sketches from favorite photos and then play with the sketches, isolating areas.

I ended up liking this block and then played with colors, values and sizes and ended up with Architectural Shift. It is fused and machine stitched.

Here is a detail:

Red Poppy

Red Poppy
 I love flowers and growing them. One flower in particular that has really captured my attention in the last several years is the poppy. I received a packet of red poppy seeds free with an order I placed. I decided to sprinkle a few in the garden one year.

That year a few poppies grew. I was a little frustrated with them at first as I felt the emerging foliage was somewhat weed-like and ugly. They continued growing and soon there were some long stems shooting upward with a down-turned flower bud that reminded me of a cocoon.

detail of seed packet
Then that down-turned cocoon was suddenly standing upright, proud and tall and soon after a beautiful flower erupted. They look so delicate, yet strong.

detail from angle
As I continued to watch them change and mature, they eventually formed a seed pod that was just as beautiful as the flower. Throughout the whole life of that flowering plant I was amazed at it's transformation, from ugly to beautiful.

Of course, they reseed like crazy and the next year I had poppies growing everywhere. But the funny thing about them is you cannot transplant them. I have tried like mad to move a young plant as carefully as possible and no matter how careful I am, they will not survive it. Maybe there's a trick that I don't know about.

I made my quilt with many layers of fabrics, starting with a base layer of collaged cottons that were either leftovers from other projects or small pieces that had some printing/stenciling/paints on them. On top of the cotton fabrics I started layering different sheers, like tulle, chiffon, netting, lace. This was a very fun process for me and one that I am going to pursue some more. I like this new size we are working in.