Friday, February 22, 2013


Well not a lot of cogitating has been going on lately!  More like gallivanting!  However things are happening - I received a large box of postcards advertising the book (send me your address if you'd like me to send you a postcard - my email is:  And the book itself - or rather the cover! - has appeared on Amazon for pre-order, though apparently it won't be out till May.

I heard from Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN that my August class has made.  If you've never been to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts it is one of the best in the country.  They run concurrent classes in many different media with top notch instructors - it's an honour to work there!  so you're exposed to new developments and creativity in many media other than fiber: paper, wood, clay, metal, painting, stone, enamal, glass etc.

Arrowmont's main gallery
 It's so much richer an experience being part of the wider world of art and craft than just tucked away in one corner - however cozy that corner is!!  I've been working on some new ideas for this class too - developing quilt designs protocols based on some of the best women abstracts artists in the 20th century.

My class at The Bascom in Highlands, NC is now up on line.  This is a new venue for me and should be fun.
 The Bascom is an absolutely gorgeous new art center in a beautiful little town in Western North Carolina.  It will be quiet and peaceful and a great place to get down to some designing, dyeing and constructing!!  They like small classes so there will be lots of one on one help.

I'm also going back to Cape Cod in October again!  Linda Gallagher has the info on that class.

I've recently turned down invitations to two very far away countries...for events in the far distant future...I'd loved to have visited those places but the teaching venues were at hotels during big quilting events  - short fast paced process driven classes - and I find I like to get to know the students
and work with them one on one rather than being a production!!

I got another Teacher of the Year nomination - thank you very much whoever put my name forward for that honour!!  It's a very nice glow to feel that someone would go to the trouble to do that.

And I managed to get two quilts into the local art show - this is quite an avant garde venue so it's a leap forward for quilts to be accepted.  Plus an even more forward looking local gallery wants 5 or 6 of the industrial quilts for a special show about Working Environments... so - things are moving!

It is with great sadness though that I learned today of Carol Miller's untimely death.  Carol started the online class Quilt University many years ago and 3 years since invited me to teach there.  Heavily persuaded me!  She always insisted that the cost of the classes be kept low so that anyone could join and that the language be very clear and the supplies simple so that you didn't have to speak English very well, or worry about esoteric gadgets.    These classes have proven to be wonderful for people who couldn't attend a class away from home - either for cost reasons, or distance, or various home commitments.  Having now taught about 20 such classes I realize more and more how very important they are and how amazingly far sighted and innovative Carol was.  Yes there are other online classes but most of them are a LOT more expensive, ordinary people simply couldn't afford to do them.  Teaching for Quilt University has brought me in touch with people around the world, every continent (except Antarctica - though I'm still hopeful!)!  Carol's husband plans to carry on with the classes by the way but I know all the QU teachers will sorely miss her humour, her support and integrity and straightforward warmth.

Things change all the time, everything is in flux - enjoy what you have today - it might be different tomorrow!  It's all to do with quantum physics apparently which demonstrates that nothing ever measures the same from one moment to the next.  Oh and they use prime numbers to encrypt data and messages because it is next to impossible to factor a large prime number thus enabling asymmetric encryption i.e. coded with one key, but deciphered with another.

And now for a cup of tea...and then back to those abstract painters! And, if you have been, thanks for reading.   Elizabeth

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Went to a talk the other night given by the director of a well known university art gallery in a rather classy Southern town.  He discussed several recent exhibitions he had curated and what became obvious very quickly was that obsessional art is still very popular. One show was all about patterns made on the floor with thousands of pounds of salt in a little salt pourer.  Try it for yourself!  Take a box of salt and doodle on the floor...If you do this with a sewing machine on fabric, you can create similar patterns, but it won't be art till you reach about 500 square feet!

  Gompertz, in his book What Are You Looking At, suggests that the current art "-ism" is entrepreneurism.  Entrepreneurism in art is defined as the ability to make art, market art and build a profitable art business.  And being able to build a hugely recognisable trade mark - in Hirst's case it's currently The Painted Dot.  Hirst has painted dots for a long time - the paintings look like color charts only the colors are in rows of circles rather than rectangles.  He made his name with the shark in formaldehyde, and flies feasting on a cow skull but these are less marketable on a world wide scale than the dot paintings.  Amazingly he managed to persuade a well known gallery with premises in most of the world's art capitals to put on a solo show of his dot paintings all around the world simultaneously!  What a brilliant marketing ploy. He's a marketing strategist par excellence and there is something very obsessive about the dots too - though I doubt he crouches down and makes very many of them himself.

Rusty Answer (detail)

So how does this relate to the art quilt world?  I think we do see evidence of both of these trends - the obsessionalism has always been evident.  Nothing, if you think about it, is more obsessional than an art form that requires millions of stitches taking months of work.  There is such a meditation involved in repeated simple manual gestures that gradually build up into an art piece.  When I left school I went to get a job at the local chocolate factory, I wanted to be the one that did the squiggles on top of the chocolates. In those days (maybe now too though I've not had a classic box of chocs for a long time, alas) every chocolate had a different pattern on top reflecting its contents.  I thought it would be really neat to sit there with my little chocolate pourer making up all sorts of designs!! (a lot better than salt if you think about it!)...but alas the personnel department told me that people like me "ruined an assembly line".   Just imagine a gallery filled with chocolates !!! a chocolate installation!
Electric Fields (detail)
Obsession and marketability are two of the trends.  But what else?  I'm afraid to say I think it's a certain blandness - there's enough horrible things going on with really scary climate change, the eternal human appetite for dispute and war, and the, alas also eternal, belief that "my religion is the true one and you are an infidel".  So, people don't want to be "irritated" (as my friend described her feelings looking at one of my most recent quilts) by any reminders of these important issues.  Another friend said that he wanted art that calmed him down not aggravated him.

I think I'm going to make a cup of what about a gallery installation of 4,000 cups of tea? hmmm....

one room with tea and one with chocolate and both very marketable.....
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!
PS if you're in or near Athens, GA, this Saturday I'm one of the featured artists at the opening of the Classic Center (2-6); I'm off to buy some salt now....