Quilting inspiration

Mon Apr 6, 2009 at 10:33 pm in Embroidery, Inspiration, Quilting

Raven Quilt by Becka

I have this dream, where I sit down at the computer and get to write a post without having 40 things to do … yeah, well, lately I’ve been working on this post about quilting inspiration.  I picked five quilting-related places to talk about. As you know, I’ve been into doing arty-quilted things lately, and part of that is seeing projects that broaden my ideas about what fabric and stitchery can be.  I’ve been to big quilt festivals, sure, but the thing about the art quilters I see online is that I see the process, and the quilters sitting with their needles and machines, and their motivations, and their particular way of looking at the world. I may not have their skill, but I think I have enough love for it :)

IKEA: I guess I thought about doing this quilting inspiration after I saw the Project Patchwork textile challenge put on by IKEA Twin Cities and the Minnesota Textile Center (they handed out packets of fabric to see what people could do with ‘em).  So there was this raven quilt (right) that I saw on Whip-Up where they featured the raven quilt’s maker, Becka Rahn (etsy shop) and had an interview with her. This is not traditional, and the motivation was to make something out of unknown supplies, just what you’re given, and challenge your creativity that way.  This quilt was made with one piece of fabric. It made me think how amazed I am with what people can come up with and do with fabric and thread.  I like to see modern or free-form or non-traditional quilting like, whether simple or complicated, because I think fabric and thread is an incredibly versatile medium and I like how people express themselves with it.

Maps & Details: One artist that just amazes me, and who I am frankly jealous of is Leah Evans. Her textile work is maps.  Hand stitched maps. Out of fabric and thread. To my mind, they are nothing short of amazing. If I could choose any idea in the world for a quilt project, I would have chosen to have this idea. I would dearly love to own one, but I am too poor. ::sigh::

Braided River by Leah Evans

I admit that I  adore and cherish maps of all sorts more than most people, and love them as much as I love quilting.  I was known for littering school papers with historical maps I found in obscure places and delighting in really great place names like Tauberbischofsheim (a professor joked I was trying to show off with that one, but it’s a real place I wrote about).  I confess to getting an iPhone because it has built-in GPS maps.

My favorite of Leah’s quilts is one with irrigation circles, but you’ve gotta admit the one with rivers there to the left is pretty darn amazing.  You should look at more of her quilts.  The work is extraordinary and the detail she adds to all of them is completely mind-boggling.  [via DesignBoom]

Color-Texture: For the past several months I’ve been watching the work of Victoria Gertenbach who blogs at the Silly BooDilly. There are several things about her quilts: texture and color being the two that bring me back to see what she’s been working on lately.  There are times when she achieves a certain mixture of texture and color that is really complex, but when you stand back it creates something that’s remarkably simple-seeming.  It’s neat, and it’s gotta be amazing to run your fingers over.  Somewhere along the way I also started cheering for her dog Molasses, who’s been having a lot of health problems lately.

Patchwork Quilt by Victoria Gertenbach

So probably that ‘texture and color and simplicity and complexity’ thing didn’t make much sense, so here’s a detail of one of her functional art quilts from Flickr.  She says this one was “inspired by embroidered patchwork from India” which I definitely see. She also posted the full version of the quilt, but I think the up close detail is really extraordinary. The many multi-colored quilting lines actually simplifies and unifies her patterned fabrics into a more cohesive design concept. On their own, the fabrics and even the combination is not as interesting, and doesn’t convey the same idea.

She’s been featured lately on Etsy for her modern mid-century designs. She really knows how to explore fabric as a medium: I’ve seen embroidery, modern machine quilting and machine embroidery on her site and Flickr pages.

I have also been keeping track lately of two more textile artists who are inspiring in their dedication: hours and hours and hours and hours of hand stitches on large and complex pieces.  I aspire to that kind of dedication, but my stitchery is nowhere near as large and complex as their works. They give me IDEAS about sitting and stitching all day on really big textile pieces.

Complexity. I don’t have pictures from their sites but: one artist is Judy Martin of Judy’s Journal who is stitching a white blanket with white stem stitches, something that probably has a lot of incredible texture in person. My stitchery is certainly not as large or complex as hers, but I always aspire to that sort of thing. I find it interesting to see what she’s working on, as she has long been an artist, and her fingers have stitched and drawn what seems like a thousand things.  Of note is her other blog, One Hundred Quilts dating back to 1982. I am not done going through the list, but holy pete! It takes me a while to take in her pieces.  Imagine! The body of work she has is amazing.  That quantity of quality is also something to aspire to.

Otherworldly. The other artist is Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth, who is crafting something, a pieced and stitched cloth, that seems to change and shift every day in ways that make me think that her cloth is somehow less substantive and more ethereal than mine. I’m not sure it is the same thing every day that’s worked on, but I’m not sure it’s not the same.  It’s a bit fey.  The blog is composed of many close-ups of stitched cloth tied in with recollections and thoughts and musings … a story cloth.  It’s really fascinating on this one to watch the process unfold, which is not something that everyone does with their work.  I like to think I learn something from this about putting one’s thoughts and inspirations into a piece of work, and being less planned and more spontaneous with something.

Honestly? I never really thought I would like quilting and stitching and embroidery so much as I do. But I could sit for hours and hours and do nothing but stitch. And apparently spend hours and hours watching others stitch. I like it as much as I like reading, which if you know me, you know that’s a major statement.  At the moment, my stitchery involves finishing part of my Birches embroidery, which I have ready but can’t reveal until there is sufficient daylight for me to take a picture of it (one of the tribulations of the blog title, you see).

TTFN, Miriam

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4 Comments

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hey…thank you so much for the thoughtful review. and i enjoyed reading the others too. i look forward to seeing your birches embroidery.

jude — Wed Apr 8, 2009 at 7:38 am (link)

This review of various textile artists works is truly well explored and expressed. I sincerely appreciate being included, and have a lot of respect for the others listed here. Thank you. Also thanks for being another voice cheering on Mo, that means the world to me, as I know she is picking up on all the good love energy that has been flowing her way! xo

Victoria — Wed Apr 8, 2009 at 4:12 pm (link)

Wow. What a lovely compliment. I am so pleased to hear that my quilt inspired you. Keep up the beautiful work.

becka — Thu Apr 9, 2009 at 7:22 am (link)

Wow, people showed up! Well, hi! I like writing posts like this – sometimes I feel as though we’re all blogging in separate universes. I know the blogs I read, and other people read other ones, and I don’t know what sort of inspiration and input others are seeing, what else they like/don’t like, what cool stuff they’re looking at. Sometimes I like to share what’s interesting and noteworthy to me that I see, spread the love around, as it were, and say more about the curious world I see :) My blog is highly informed by what I read, but that’s not always so obvious!

Miriam — Thu Apr 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm (link)

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