Tag Archives: online learning

Designing vulnerability


a white ‘seam’ couched as an inner wall

As I look at this composition, I begin to think about vulnerability… what is transparency, after all, if not the quality of letting oneself be known? (IRS, take note!)  I have been looking at other works-in-progress back lit in this manner for many months, so it’s not clear why THIS one speaks of transparency and the others did not. Perhaps it is due to vigorous conversations (with Grace and others) about boundaries, about where to draw the line (a red line, perhaps?) to maintain the necessary sanctuary to create, care giving and its demands, and the desire to be seen.

rectangle with 2 folds = house

scraps from former quilt – many patches are fabric that I bleached in order to whiten

It began with ‘Ghost House’ leftover scraps, and was a conscious attempt to marry two recently made houses – both of which left me dissatisfied (The Red House quilt and The White House quilt) [links to follow – I don’t have much time this morning]. I laid the scraps on white, continuing the exploration of WHITE for my online class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar).

part of the roof is white, with stitch and couching, only, to define

There is white on the base, too, which I might build up all around – picking up on Jude’s idea of moving from white as a ‘background’ to white as a field of interest, with texture, and something to say besides, ‘look at what is on me’. I actually seamed some white fabrics together, to use as building struts in the frame… only one made it into the house – that long vertical to the right of the blue window (and yes, I know the tower has the appearance of a goofy face, a fact I’m going to correct with another window or two).

hanky scrap from Sandy Meegan pinned, center

The red thread is ‘Meditation Thread’ hand-dyed in India. I like the idea of red, with its vigor and visibility standing in as a symbol of a well-maintained boundary (Imagine that! A sanctuary bounded with quiet intent and silent, purposeful endeavor!! Not angry protestations and complaint). I wonder what each compartment holds.

what if the Nine Patch will only be implied and transient?

I see the nine patch and wonder if I have the energy and wherewithall to enlarge this quilt in order to make the nine patch more than an ephemeral creation of morning sun and muntin shadow. I don’t need to decide to continue.

Many more works on the table, pinned to the wall, up against the western glass doors, and laid out on the dining room table for design-viewing.

same thread around White House, unsuccessful, but a spur to new Tower

Have a great couple of days!

progress in white

Slowly getting the hang of our updates. There definitely are improvements in the offing.  For now, I am just moments shy of a good, long walk in the spring air, then it will be time to walk to the periodontist for the insertion of an implant (yes, sympathy is welcome!)

In other words, this post will be quick. A report in pictures. WH = “White House”, the very original name for this piece.

WH – scraps laid out

WH – seamed, with some embroidery

WH – pre-whitening close up

WH – same area, both whitened and layered (the silk had color and pattern)

WH – sheers pinned over whitening white running stitch (grey splotchy roof does not stay)

WH – sheers pinned on the other side of the roof

WH – more whitening with the addition of white running stitches (grey roof is gone)

WH – celebrating the shredding orange silk by tacking it down; one sheer had embroidered loops on it, seen here

WH – getting there

WH – hanging

Glitches, patience, and white as an attitude

Please notice that I am not ranting.  I am not. Even though the tree and fence above could be a visual for me and our technology problems of late. Think: “Upgrade”.

The Black Screen of Death, which was not the Black Screen of Death really, but more like a Coma Interlude, occurred multiple times yesterday. Eventually the system restored itself each time, but not without freaking me out. “Walk away from the screen, Ma’am!  Walk AWAY from the screen!”  What choice did I have? Days of not posting here or for my online class have me feeling a tad crazed.  And now the taxes are REALLY, really due.

The good news? Scary glitches and slow processing are making learning a few simple tricks on the new Photoshop Elements seem like a piece of cake. And more good news: I managed to finish Schedule C this morning in spite of it all.

Back to quilting.  Less screen time invariably means more sewing, which is also good news, I might add.  Continuing with white, white, white for the Jude Hill class I’m taking over at Spirit Cloth has been productive. Interesting. Lots of white to share. But not now.  I took a small intermission from white to construct the little row of houses below.

The formulaic nature of this design means they are relaxing to make. And yet, each set is different enough from every other to stay interesting.

The tiniest chips of fabric can be employed for this project (“Oh-oh!” you say with dismay. “You mean I can’t throw them out?!!”)

This drawing came after the cloth construction. It gave me this fun idea of a multitude of paths running to and from the doors.

The original impulse for ground and sky fabrics lies just above the drawing, and here is where I want to suggest that this project — though full of pink, blue, rose, lavender, rust, and indigo — bears a relationship to white. If you can stand to — keep reading!

The ground is that wool challis I’ve talked about before. The sky is a piece of a vintage silk from a deconstructed handmade bodice.  The colors worked and they were the very first I chose. They were the INITIAL IMPULSE. The circuitous route back to the original choice got me thinking about white as a process or a state of mind.  Specifically, about white as pure expression.

I fiddled.  A Lonni Rossi broccoli fabric had potential but was rejected for being too literal and for adding visual clutter.

This shibori sky, suggestive of aurora borealis, was also too much.  Stars, also too literal.

This started the return back to the original choice.

Here, I shrunk the scale and added a moon. The moon stayed, but the scale was revised back to original premise.

Here I am back to the original sky, only now with the moon, and a much too busy foreground.  Departing miles from the original feel, it looked like I was trying way too hard and furthermore, the woven-strip foreground would have prevented stitching all those paths, and they intrigue me.

  Now, almost there.

And back.

So, what if “WHITE” is purity? What if ‘white’ is an original impulse? The original set of colors? The original thought? I’m not suggesting that refining ideas and radically departing from an initial idea are not essential and exciting ways to create.  I AM suggesting that there may be times when sticking with that First Thought (in this case a pairing of challis and silk) might be just right.  A way to honor an intuitive and spontaneous creation.

You can find more of these row house quilts here.

Dreams in white

how white dreams look on black

Dream Fragments, 1992

a rack full of gorgeous crepes, including a deep blue jacket
on an ice floe, some are designated swimmers
a jewelry maker – silver, moss agate – I wrap her goods by folding them up in a display cloth
someone hands out bundles of electricity
between the floor boards — treasure!  loads of quarters and some wind chimes
walking through the woods with Warren Beatty

top lighting

back lighting

Vertical dream-strip piece

To me there is something powerful about ‘whitening’ a chunk of personal narrative.  I’m not sure why.  It may have to do with aging away from drama.  It may speak to the non-linear qualities of memories – how they can be rearranged, fragmented, or removed from the frame altogether.  Or, it could be that the ordinary domestic process of stitching fragmented stories back together reenacts a healing process.

All that may be so, but right now, the power lies elsewhere. Working with  fragments of a life (my life) in a manner truly lacking any ‘charge’ (in fact, in a process akin to mindless doodling) gives me a kind of casual dominion over these journal entries. I’m not studying them. I’m not trying to read them forward or backward.  They are just there. They are just there in a way that I might like to just be here.

So it’s not that the meaning has been mostly stripped out that lends this exercise its freeing potential, but the fact that the meaning remains and I am not reacting to it.  How liberating to employ an artist’s eye, viewing snippets of my life as abstract rectangles of cloth! No judgments in sight. Even as I read “Will I go all the way? With Warren Beatty?!!”

Square dream-strip piece

I am not sure I am making any sense.  Or whether this is even a good thing.

But, here I am.

And here are a few practice notes.  Using a Pitt pen, I scribed seven dreams from a 1992 journal onto two pieces of nicely pressed muslin — one swatch bleached, one swatch unbleached.  Unlike the last time I used scribed strips, this time, I wanted at least some of  the phrases to be legible.  The five dreams were composed into a vertical piece (with no batting) and two other dreams were composed into a square piece (with the traditional three layers of top/batting/backing).

First, I applied a grid of machine stitches to adhere the muslin in place.  Stitch, stitch, stop at an end, pivot the needle, travel a short distance to beginning of next row, and stitch, stitch, stitch a parallel line. Foot up.  Foot down.  Clap. Clap.   Some variations were generated when introducing the perpendicular grid.  Pivot.  Foot down.  Foot up, pivot.  Rhythmic machine stitching in front of a window, alone in the house.

Square dream-strip piece

Square piece – with running stitches begun

Then I stitched by hand.  White thread, or off-white thread.  I had some loose rules as I did both of these things (tracking lines in parallel, avoiding stitching over a penned letter, stitching out bumps) which enhanced the relaxed approach, as few decisions were required.

I’m almost done with the square one.  The vertical waits for hand-stitching.

Lastly, here is a teaser — this also was stitched this week.  I am using a similar process on this antique silk Japanese sleeve (more on it later).

first a grid, then free-motion

Meditation on white

I went to the graveyard this morning in search of white* and found, instead — blue, lavender, rose, dun, and periwinkle.

If one OPENS the aperture wide enough, a whitening occurs (an interesting metaphor for the heart), but even with a bleached-out composition, I find: blush, spring green, evergreen, gun metal grey, rose, silver, charcoal, brown, taupe, pale magenta, and blue.

So, I came home and placed an ewer on the snow (‘an ewer’?!!)
Even having cropped out the purple shadow that extended off its lower right edge, look at how many shades of white and grey there are to appreciate!

White on white can mean that an object blends with its surround seamlessly.  A joining of thing to ground.

White in all of its worn and buttery variations, above, can serve as a mat for a quilt-in-progress, where an ivory moon stakes a particular claim to purity.

And lastly, just in case you think I am taking myself too seriously, the Injuns that I periodically feature on this blog (and yes, when these plaster fellas were made, I’m sure they were ‘Injuns’) are a study in white, all in themselves, as they weather on the deck.  Here they are, not in the most recent storm, but in the one before last.

I can’t help but think they are mocking me.  In the nicest possible way, of course.

* This post responds to a query asked by Jude Hill in a class that I am taking online.