Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shrinking Cloth

In process Linda A Miller
Fluid Fissure 2 (detail) in process
For some time I have been exploring a shrinking technique, using washing/drying of quilted fabric sandwich to enhance the artwork's texture.  The resulting shrinkage produces wonderful distortion, and often with a three dimensional surface.   I further embellish the piece with oil sticks, paint, water soluble crayons/pencils, foiling, applique, embroidery and/or couching... but those are subjects for another post. 

I begin the process by layering the quilt top with 100% wool felt as batting.  Sometimes the backing layer is added at this stage, however, my preference is to use only top and batting for washing. There is better distortion of the cloth without that backing layer.  Also, I like the cleaner finish that comes with adding the backing at the end.  

This sandwich is machine quilted.  The amount of stitching can determine how much shrinkage occurs.  The denser the stitching area, the less the quilt shrinks.   See example below from "Fluid Fissure 2"-
In process Linda A Miller
Fluid Fissure 2 (detail) shrinkage in process

As shown below, large gaps (up to approximately 2”) between stitching on "In Flux" created puffing of fabric as the felt backing contracted.  Try this yourself to see the difference.

In Flux (detail) Linda A. Miller 2014

After free motion quilting, the piece is washed in hot water and dried in the dryer, often more than once.  Warning - The felt does leave bearding on the surface to clean off.  Thanks to Karen Rips, I have recently begun to experiment with wool gauze.  “Molten”  began with the gauze.  It works well, and I will keep you posted as I continue playing with it.

Molten   © 2014 Linda A. Miller
© 2014 Linda A. Miller

I work both with whole cloth and/or pieces.  For example, several works in the “Striations” series started with two squares of black and lavender.  After washing, the two colors were stacked together and a curving line was cut across the middle. (Note: What shows in the photo below are the remaining halves.)  Top and bottom sections were appliqued with satin stitch, revealing a turquoise gap.

in process
in process

 Striations 2  © 2011 Linda A. Miller
Striations 2 
© 2011 Linda A. Miller

“Fluid Fissure” series was done in a similar manner, by free cutting the inner lines for water and appliqueing edges with satin stitch.

Fluid Fissure 4  © 2012 Linda A. Miller
Fluid Fissure 4 
© 2012 Linda A. Miller

Experiment with fabrics - “Serenity” is comprised of a variety cottons and brocades in the shrinkage areas.  

Serenity © 2014 Linda A. Miller
© 2014 Linda A. Miller

I thank Karen Rips and C. June Barnes.  It was due to their amazing work that my interest in this process began in 2010.  C. June Barnes’ book “Stitching to Dye in Quilt Art” is a great resource, as is her website.    Experiment for yourself!

Linking to Off the Wall Fridays.  Drop by for a visit!

Friday, February 20, 2015

From Seeds...

I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
-Dawna Markova

In the garden this month, blooming heart geranium and freesias.



Knitting projects, from scarf on the needles with Madelinetosh yarn...


To completed....  Pattern here.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seeing the Light

Elemental:  Seeing the Light exhibit is on at the Sturt Haaga Gallery in Descanso Gardens through April 5, 2015.  The exhibition curatorial committee decided to highlight various elements that relate to the garden, the current one on light.  Light is considered to be "the most fundamental and pervasive" element, yet also "the one of which we may be the least conscious..."

The artwork includes photography, drawing, painting and sculpture from artists Larry Bell,  Heather Carson, Soojung Park... to name only a few.

I was taken with Nancy Turner-Smith's limited edition book "Falling Rockets, Shooting Stars and the Sound of Bees"  She combines ephemeral manipulated images with delicate line drawing and thoughtful writing.  Read more in this review or on her website.

Pamela Burgess' "Radiant Blue" (96" x 96" x 28") site specific chiffon tapestry installation with existing steel arbor is playful and wonderful. See more photos on her website, with the piece shown in top row.  How about those impromptu light effects I captured in the photo below!

Radiant Blue by Pamela Burgess 2014
Radiant Blue by Pamela Burgess 2014

The gallery opened in 2011, and was new to me.   I had not realized so much time had passed since the last visit to Descanso.  An interesting feature of the gallery building is its rooftop garden, although no access is allowed there.  

Rooftop garden...
Rooftop garden...

It was a lovely warm day.  As we walked around other areas of  the vast gardens, camellias were still in full  bloom. Signs of spring were beginning to appear with daffodil and cherry blossoms, plus sprouting hyacinths.  Too early yet for tulips, which are usually spring showpieces .  We enjoyed our day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tales About Color

Art... must do something more than give pleasure: it should relate 
to our own life so as to increase our energy of spirit.
- Sir Kenneth Clark, Looking at Pictures

Thanks to a referral from Rachel Biel, I have been reading the fascinating Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay.  Did you know that ochre - iron oxide - was the first color used, showing up internationally in palettes through history?  Or that carmine red comes from the blood of insects?  Or that the word indigo means "from India"?

Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777)
Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777)

Victoria Finlay traveled the world researching material for this book.  It is both history and travel log, informative and eye opening.  The book covers what pigments were made of , where they originated as well as social history. Interesting to learn that some artwork seen today is not as the artist originally intended it due to chemical interactions, fading etc.  J.M.W. Turner was just one artist who did not heed warnings against using certain colors.  Thus none of his work "is seen in perfection a month after it is painted" according to art critic John Ruskin.  The fact of impermanence is nothing new, however Finlay's stories are intriguing.   May you enjoy them as much as I did.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Man Made


During last weekend's Free For All Museum Day, I had the opportunity to take in this fantastic exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum - Man-Made: Contemporary Male Quilters - including the work of Joe Cunningham, Luke Haynes, Jimmy McBride, Aaron McIntosh, Joel Otterson, Dan Olfe, Shawn Quinlan, and Ben Venom.  The work was powerful and the male aesthetic was evident, with sometimes provocative subject matter exploring sexuality, heavy metal, and popular culture.

The American Context #14 Madame X  Luke Haynes
The American Context #14 Madame X
Luke Haynes, used clothing, new fabric, cotton,
batting, thread, 2013. Courtesy of the artist
I was intrigued with Luke Haynes' American Context series.  These representational figures appliqued on traditional quilt backgrounds made of recycled clothing reference paintings/artworks by other artists.  Even without knowing the references, the bold quilts stand on their own and draw one in.  The pictured "Madame X" was based on a John Singer Sargent painting of the same name.

A familiar name in the quilting world, Joe Cunningham's quilts have an organic quality using current events for inspiration and are wonderful to see in person.

The exhibit includes videos with each artist and worth viewing.  See more artist info on this Urban Outfitters blog post.

Also at CAFAM is a juried photography exhibit: Focus Iran: Contemporary Photography and Video.  Check it out, some striking images not to be missed.

The exhibits run through May 3, 2015.  CAFAM is located at 5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036. 


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