Friday, November 25, 2011

Quilt University

I’m starting two 4 lesson classes at Quilt University in January: Inspired to Design in the first week and Working in Series in the last week.    I just received a note from the Dean to say that 

“Registration for all January classes is now open.  Because the winter months are our busiest time of the year, many classes are filled by the time we send the January newsletter.  If there is a course you are especially interested in, I hope you will find time to visit the site and register early so you will not be disappointed. '”

Taking a class online in the winter is great because you don’t have to turn out in the wet and cold!

If you haven’t taken a class with me before, I’d start with Inspired to Design.  It covers some of my design methods right from the beginning:  all the steps from choosing an inspiration, through drawing designs, choosing a color scheme, cutting out the shapes and pinning them together on the design wall, sewing together, machine quilting and finishing.

Working in Series is for people who are at a stage where they feel as if they want to go further into this wonderful art form and develop their own style, their own voice. 

I think it would be too much work to try to do the classes at the same time, and I’m sure they’ll both be repeated in the Spring so I don’t recommend that you sign up for both.

It’s fine to repeat a class, in fact I would think you’ll probably get more out of it the second  (or even the third) time around; there’s a lot of information to digest and the Discussion Forum is very active.

The fun thing is that people from all over the world take the classes, so you learn what quilters on every continent are doing, what their inspirations and concerns are.  If people don’t speak English they use translation programs.

The cost of the classes is very reasonable  (under $40 per course) and I have kept the supply lists to things nearly everybody already has in their sewing rooms.

I look forward to meeting you in class!  Now…back to the sewing machine!   If you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

PS After Christmas I plan on developing a new class, maybe for later next year, do let me know what kind of a class you would like.  What’s the class you’ve always been looking for and never been able to find?  I have some ideas, but am very interested in what you might want.  Thank you!!

PPS If you're thinking of a special present for yourself or somebody else, please take a look at the pages listed at the top of this post! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interesting but not fulfilling

Well the four day show and sale (see last post) proved to be an interesting little tidbit, but not exactly filling or satisfying in any way!

Here is a couple of photographs that demonstrate this:














Notice the vast amount of interest being given to the quilts by these customers!!  One is looking at t-shirts and the other at jewelry.  The overall impression I got from the public was that while they loved the quilts, what they really wanted to buy was  either stuff with which they could adorn themselves rather than their walls, or, “safe” useful items to give as gifts.  I really think you have to be in the art world in some way to want to own some art and also to feel that art is a worthwhile expenditure.   I did sell some items: the two quilts I had discounted heavily, a couple of watercolors and one of the shadow boxes which is great.  But every piece went to an artist or an art teacher. 

Is this a reflection of art no longer being taught in our schools? If you’ve never made art you don’t realise its worth both in monetary terms and in how much it can add to your life?  I think this is probably so.  I know there are things of which I have no appreciation (sports for example) because I grew up in a totally sport-free environment.  Also I am “eat-to-live” rather than “live-to-eat” having had a father for a cook who thought that the way to fry rice was to empty a box of it into a frying pan.  “What’s for tea, Dad?” we would ask when we came home from school.  “It’s a mistake” he would reply!  We learned a lot from all those “mistakes” we ate!

I also think the lack of awareness of the value of art is a result of television.  We are bombarded from birth with advertisements many of which suggest that improving how we look (by virtue of the products being advertised) will bring us sex, money, fame and success.  Have you ever seen real paintings, or beautiful artifacts or art quilts being advertised on television??   Have you ever seen a well endowed young woman (or man for that matter, though endowed somewhat differently!) draped over an art quilt?

Furthermore, now that the financial crisis is upon us I notice that communities (ours included) are saying oh one place we can easily save money is the one percent for art idiocy that we used to do.  So there will be even less awareness of art in our futures, and, more importantly, in our children’s futures. 

And are those one-percenters buying art?  Or are they buying more and more houses in exotic places, so many that they don’t know how many they actually own?

However, I am most grateful that there are few artists and art lovers around who do still appreciate art!! Thank you so much for your encouragement!  And now, back to the sewing machine….if you have been, thanks for reading!  And do write in with your comments, the cogitations of others are much more interesting than my own!  Elizabeth

PS C&T just brought out a nice little postcard book: 30 “architectural quilt” postcards of which 7 were ones I made I’m happy to say – though I couldn’t stretch them to include any of the industrial architecture!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I’ve been getting up to

When I visited Cindy Friedman in Philadelphia after the Art Quilt Elements jurying, I saw a lovely little row of shadow boxes in her living room.  They looked like so much fun I thought I’d try my hand especially as I’m going to need small work for the Studio Group Sale which starts in 2 days!! 

fallsale2001 If you’re in Athens any of these days come and visit us – I’ll be desperately ready for a chat!!  the show is at the ATHICA gallery which is in the Chase St Warehouses, Tracy St – basically just behind Boulevard.

shadow boxes 1-4


So two needs coincided: the need for small work for the show, and the need to try out the shadow box idea!  Especially with silk…I was just about to drop a box of silk scraps off at the thrift store (where I’m afraid I probably took the quilt I lost – I’m such an avid chucker outer!)….I snagged back my box of silk and cut it up into these little fellows and they came out quite well surprisingly!



shadow box neighborhood shadow box trees









Above two neighborhood pictures and below two birds…


shadow box angry crow

shadow box condor








Forgive the reflections – I have no idea how to photograph through glass!  Now I must decide what to charge for these little fellows.  Unfortunately even though the boxes are only 8” x 10”, they cost $14 each (shipping or tax, they get you either way brings the price up).  Then there’s a couple of hours of work involved with each one.  In Philadelphia, they sell for $125 apparently, but this isn’t Philadelphia!!

so…any suggestions?…….and I’d love to see you at the show!  
If you have been, thanks for reading…..Elizabeth

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cluck cluck cl cl cluck!


When does working in a series become working to a formula?

I’ve certainly see this happen time and again with those so-called best sellers of the NY times variety!! (by the way, I’ve read that they’re only “best” sellers because when the publishers ship masses of them off to airports and the like, that’s considered a “sale” – the fact that they are then pulped (or turn their readers brains to pulp, one or the other!) is irrelevant!)

It’s definitely good to work in a series - for many reasons: to develop your own voice, a signature style, to really plumb the depths – and the heights (one would hope!) of your subject, to become excellent at that particular technique (compositional or technical) and to reach the point where the ideas are fresh and different and therefore much more engaging.

But if you go on and on and on and on, I really do think that often the work gets very stale and formulaic. How many times have you flipped through a catalog, seen a quilt and said “oh it’s a so and so, seen that a million times before, why on earth does she not do something different?”!

If you’re going to work to the same parameters, it’s still important (perhaps even more so) to come up with new ideas all the time. The viewer is important, I think few would deny that. And those that do are probably either kidding themselves, not very self-aware or like Narcissus ( for whom gazing at his own reflection in the pond was enough for his whole life). We want people to see our work, we want to convey a message however simple. We want them to stop and look and listen. We don’t want to hear that hackneyed phrase which I loathe: “been there done that” . A phrase nearly as bad as “stepping up to the plate”; actually since I’m not a sports fan and had never heard of baseball growing up, the plate stepping exercise to me was something that maybe Alice did after swallowing the Drink Me potion! – so it was a bit more interesting the first 2 or 3 times I heard it.

You’re not going to stop people in their tracks, you’re not going to develop your own vision further, if you keep on making the same thing. Okay you changed from a cool beige to a warm one – not enough!! You added a line here a line there, or flipped the design upside down….so? You gave us the 50th tired old chapter in the series – remember it’s only the few that feel that 49 verses of On Top of old Smokey are 49 times as good as one verse.

People are still queuing up to buy your work? Well maybe that’s because you are using the same marketing tools as those NY Times publishers! Good luck, but you’re now singing flat.

No more old tired hens boiling in the quilting pot, please!

If you have been, thanks for reading!! And all comments (except those using phrases about stepping upto plates, saucers or anything else) SO very welcome!! Elizabeth

Friday, November 4, 2011

How to get rejected from a Quilt Show, Part 2

In Part 1 a few days ago I wrote about several important things you should remember when you enter an art quilt show. Here are some more things to bear in mind!

6. Maturity: ageing in place. Whatever you do, be very careful to make sure that your ideas have matured well in the market place already; stale bread makes excellent toast, fresh bread can upset your stomach or even give you piles* if you sit on it!

teeth 7. Midnight vitamins. In the middle of the night, it struck me that if you’re actually going to go to the lengths of composing the shapes in your quilt, make sure they are set out separately and boldly, like the teeth of someone with advanced scurvy. Every tooth has its own space and is therefore of considerable prominence.

8. The importance of an art education. A neat thing to do is to copy a famous artist’s work – the jurors will never notice that Andy Warhol or Monet has done it before



bike 9. Drawing ability. If you’ve done a drawing and it didn’t work out quite right – make a quilt from it!! A bad drawing is an excellent start for an interesting quilt.





10. The natural look is in. Whatever you do, don’t make any attempt at designing the quilt. You want it to appear as if the various patches and sections have been slapped on higgledy piggeldy, that way it looks a lot more natural.

11. Working in a series. Jurors really like being able to recognize a quilt as being part of a series; if you’ve had success with something before, whatever you do don’t try to change it. Stick to a proven formula – look what happened to Coca-cola!

12. The post modern movement. Jurors particularly like a generally lumpy, unbalanced and muddy appearance to a quilt. This is called “post modern” and is both avant garde and garde derriere (as in watch your back or, beware of sitting on warm substances).

13. Eve’s dilemma. The best work has no substance. Substance is so stuffy and hard to digest. It’s vital that you don’t expect the jurors to think, thinking is the root of all evil. Furthermore, wishing for knowledge led to that first lady’s downfall!

14. Fast and Easy is the B(u)y word! And don’t worry about craftsmanship; that idea is so yesterday!! The important thing is that you made the piece Quickly!! Preferably while standing up eating a hamburger, watching chat tv and painting your toenails. The better the idea, the more important it is to execute it poorly.

15. Cross pollination. Don’t confuse a genuine naiveté (shudder) with a cross between folk and hallmark. Hybrids of that nature are very acceptable and will win you plaudits (somewhere at least) all the time.

16. Cloth? Fabric? Textile? Merely a substrate. Don’t even think about the medium and how it plays with the idea; the cloth is there because you like to pet it, and you can make anything with it that you wish. It doesn’t have to be justified.  jump

17.    Exercise the jurors. A lot of different ideas in one piece is very exciting, that will definitely get the jurors jumping up and down and exclaiming.


18. Necessary cautions. However, it’s very important not to take one idea and push it as far as you can, after all you might fall over, and then you’d be in the drink. Don’t take any risks!! Quilt insurance does not cover them.

19. specifications. “they” say a lot of pieces get rejected because they’re entered into the “wrong” show and actually suggest you find out the kind of work that that particular show is interested in!   Well, this doesn’t apply to you! If your work is good enough (and you know it is!) even if the show specifies they only want red pieces and yours is blue, don’t worry about it.  If that particular art center or gallery has only ever shown large pieces and yours is small, that doesn’t matter either – because if you’ve worked hard at making it, especially if it’s got a lot of beads on it, it will be bound to be accepted.

20. The name of the game. And finally: the title!!! It should have at least two meanings, jurors love puns and the more strangled they are, the better. Sentimentality is excellent too.

There are so many ideas I could give you about entering a show, but I’ve limited myself to these few. Together with the suggestions I made in part 1 of this post, I think your future is assured! I just hope mine isn’t too!

If you have been, thanks for reading!