Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cleaning my plate

Isn't that what my generation of the war years grew up with?
Isn't that an essence of New England?
Waste not, want not.

So last May, in Baltimore Ohio, I took a class in dyeing & another one in composition.

I came home with ideas, materials galore, & quite a few half-made things.

A few days ago I realized I have been for a year Cleaning My Plate. I posted it in a sign for my work wall.

I thought this would be an good time to chronicle what has been going through my sewing machine & my quilting up process for the year. Some of it is really satisfying, & some still needs tweaking, large or small.

In roughly sequential order....

I named it Too Easy. That's what Nancy Crow remarked when she first saw it. I am quite enamored for the quilting in red that sets up a whole new idea.

This started in grey tones, but the blue/green tones had to be! It adds depth too. Those shapes were appliquéd on.

This is a variation of the one above.

It was such a struggle. In the end I decided it didn't 'work'. (Lots of time spent doesn't equal successful outcome.)
I am now contemplating breaking it up into smaller units.

We'll see. It's not over till it's over. Once I start "cutting" in to this piece who knows what'll happen.
It'a very different kind of exploration.
It's deconstruction.

This two quilts below are constructed loosely on a center-cross format.
The first one is Balance.

& this one is A Bit Too Lively (about mania).
(It's more lively than it looks here.)

I couldn't face doing a quilt in this series about depression, but maybe someday. The thought/intention is there.

This quilt, like so many others are in this past year, is based on what I call a softened rectangle-- straight lines melt into curves. I am besotted with these shapes. Feminine, sweet, & gracious is how I think of them.

The next quilt is from the cleaning-my-plate zone.
The black configurations came from my class with Nancy Crow in 2010. I brought sections back to the 2013 workshop in Ohio & dyed longer black & white.
These elements are pointing east. The central configuration is west-facing, so I call it Nonconformity.
I love how the black machine-quilting lines 'work'.

This below was my basic configuration for line & shape work in 2013. I partially quilted it up...

...then appliquéd in pieces from a scarf from Venice of my mother's.
I am fascinated by the shadow effect here. My mother had a sudden catastrophe in her life (at 47) which reduced her wondrous colors to a much diminished state. In this piece all of that was completely unconscious.

The starting place for this "Reverse Sigma" quilt were these amazing bias-cut plaid strips. Oh my!
Here you can see them more closely, from the very beginning. It was from some work I had started when I was first playing with the softened rectangles. More plate-cleaning.

Stephen Harper got this letter from me [signed by a few of my friends] a few weeks ago. I'm very happy about this. Glad to be part of what I think, dare to think, might be some momentum against more pipelines/tarsands.

Four colors for 4 directions in First Nations' art.

These colors above, went to this quilt below with softened rectangles.

Then other shapes were appliquéd on the surface for greater depth & complexity. This is before the machine quilting began.

While I was working on this I was learning the alto part of the Brahms Liebes Lieder Waltzes. Singing & sewing makes for a wonderful combination. Heart & mind working together. So I call it Three Brahms Waltzes.

It is often the case for me that when one quilt is nearing completion scraps get saved off to the side. So from the quilt above this beginning happened...
to start what turned into this. I haven't named it yet,
but I was really amused to see in it echoes of the quilt I finished in 2010... similar palette & mood....
I had pinned the new quilt on top of the old one, so the similarity was super obvious!

There is a mix of African, commercial, & another Venetian silk scarf in the next one.
This was another of my mother's scarves that made its way into a very unlikely combination of cloths. My mother, in the 1950's, was on the board of the Urban League in Boston. The League was trying to find good jobs for educated black people. As a family we were connected to the outflow of slavery, the anti-slavery movement of the 1800s, & racism now.

Below is the beginning of a piece about healing.
It's about learning to ask for help when I need it & the vulnerability involved. It has many milagros from my life, spools, buttons, tags, numbers, umbrella tips, small tools, all kinds of small things that I collected over the years. It's partially hand-quilted here.

Dying cloth ON a piano board on Nancy Crow's property...

...lead to this composition...

I used the last surviving scraps I have of two of my favorite high school dresses.

This quilt got broken in two...

I adore Madras stripes & plaids. 
(It infuriates me that Kaffe Fasset gets credit for 'designing' them. Bah humbug. All he did was market the look. The look of that cloth has been going on for years before he was born. Rant!)
The b/w striped pieces are now replaced & quilt still in process.

Below, more plate-cleaning from 2010 beginnings.

 This quilt with more African cloth also from 2010 beginnings.

That's it for now.