Monday, November 24, 2008

Mounting Quilts

I’ve always admired Dorothy Caldwell’s work…I love the stitching and the use of old remnants and artifacts that hint at prior existences. Her sense of space in the series about the winter fields around her home near Kingston, Ontario is marvelous. Winter fields under stubble with traces of snow in the hollows translated into the stitched texture of the quilt.

Dorothy has also done a series of much smaller, quite intimate pieces that are mounted onto dark felt and framed in matt black. These small works also manage to convey a sense of a large landscape – hills, lakes and meadows. The obsessive detailed hand stitching of the background contrasted with the large linear outline stitching is a beautiful and satisfying way of drawing with thread. The contrast forces you to really look at the stitch and picture the artist stitching away dreaming of the landscape! She has an amazing ability to convey a Large Idea into a small space.

A number of artists have become interested in the idea of mounting or framing work – some probably because of Caldwell’s very effective presentation of the small works. You can see some of these in Jeanne Wiliamson’s and Linda Levin’s pieces on Small Art Showcase. So, I wanted to see if I could do it too!!

I had made some very small quilts (with traditional binding) for the Showcase but I wanted to see if presenting them more like a painting – i.e. on a stiff base – would be something I could do..and, if I did, would it look good? Caldwell mounts on felt and then places the piece within a custom built matt black frame – which looks great but I’m not at the custom built level! Or anywhere near it! Jeanne and Linda have been working on small artist canvases from a well known crafts store – so I hied down to our local shop…sure! - they had coupons for 50% off the canvases! Great! But did they have any canvases……No! I came back home and decided that recycling was a much better answer! I’d had some pieces of heavy foam core I’d given an artist down the street to pack his tiles in while transporting them to the commission site…a quick phone call and of course he’d kept them (artists keep everything!) and would be happy to let me have them back. So I covered the foam core with the same fabric as the back of the little quilt, and sewed the quilt onto it – looks great!!! I was really surprised, and pleased….now…I have several more…moreover it’s raining (which is good in Georgia!) and I’ve already got the grass mowed this morning (last time this year – brilliant!)..so I’m totally justified a cozy day inside creating little works. Now for a nice cup of tea to start me off..

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!

Elizabeth

4 comments:

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

Elizabeth,
I just have to compliment you on sharing your knowledge and experience with all of us. I regularly visit your blog because of it. I learn more here than I would anywhere else.
Living in a small town plus owning and operating a business takes so much of my time that it is difficult for me to take classes from talented art quilters which usually requires traveling a distance. Luckily I came across your blog and it has offered me a different perspective and insight into techniques as well other artists learn from. Thank you for continuing to teach as well as share information. Barb

jpsam said...

It does look great! May I ask how you sewed it onto the foam core? At the corners? All along the edges? With a curved needle? And how did you attach the fabric to the foam core? Imposing on your generosity...
joan

Elizabeth Barton said...

I just sewed around the edges with an ordinary needle and thread. It looked good but wasn't easy. Having heard this, the helpful artist neighbor then loaned me his glue gun to try on the next one! I think had I not got significant arthritis in my fingers sewing would be preferable. And with hindsight, you probably could just sew the middle 50% of the piece on each side and since the quilt was completely interfaced it would be firm enough to hold up.

margaret said...

When mounting embroidery onto watercolour paper before matting and framing it, we used tiny stitches at the corners and in the middle of each side, in one length of thread.

I too am an admirer of Dorothy Caldwell, took a class from her at Festival of Quilts in England last year, and simply could not resist buying a small piece from her exhibition there; it hangs right beside my computer. You're right, it brings a Large Space into the room!