Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the pants quilt and more cigarette math

I was talking to a friend yesterday and we got on the subject of crazy quilts. I remembered I've had this top sitting on my shelf, waiting to for a back and finishing.

I'm not sure when I started this quilt, but it's been a slow project that I've worked on every now and again over the last few years. When I started it, I thought my own quilt work was getting to be a little too rigid and geometric. Crazy quilts seemed like a good way to ease into more improvisational way to sew, a way of courting imperfection, as it were. I like a bit of spontaneity in my art, so why not in my craft too?

pants quilt top - back view
recycled pants
approx. 120" x 120"

I love the back as much as the front. So much texture from all those seams.

pants quilt top - front view
recycled pants
approx. 120" x 120"
This is just a peek of the top draped over a table. I have a few spots where I can go take photos of this piece all spread out, but since I haven't put the back on yet I didn't want to get anything on it since I can't wash it. Once I get the back on and the quilting done, I'll get some shots of the full piece. 

  pants quilt top - back view (overexposed)
recycled pants
approx. 120" x 120
I've been experimenting with my photos; as I've mentioned before, I feel like this is an area that needs improvement. I've been playing with shutter speeds and all that stuff, and getting a ton of overexposed shots in the process. I really like the way the pattern of the seams and the bits of darker value fabric make a secondary pattern in this shot.

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Warning: possible MailArt spoiler!

Again with the unrelated second part, but I wanted to post another shot of cigarette math, since my preview was such a big tease. I'm working on getting some "official" shots of the piece, but stacks are so much more fun.

cigarette math (i cannot stop wanting what i cannot have) 
relief print, wax, cotton thread, mixed media
approx. 4" x 6"

This is a jumping off point for a larger piece, so there's more cigarette math to come. Better to play with drawings of cigarettes than actually smoke them, but boy, how I miss them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

cigarette math postcard preview and some eye candy

I'm taking part in a mail art postcard exchange, and as usual, working right up to the last minute. Despite (or maybe because of?) the fact that I made this project ridiculously complicated, I'm really pleased with the way my cards are turning out. Here's a peek.

Cigarette Math (stack) 
relief print, paper, wax, cotton thread, mixed media
each piece approx: 4 x 6", stack dimensions variable

I'll post a picture of the front of the cards once they start reaching their destinations. I don't want to ruin anyone's surprise!

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This is completely unrelated, but I stumbled across this video for Fountain by Sara Lov and just fell in love with it. I am especially taken with the vintage-textile-y flowers and all of the different textures. 

Sara Lov, Fountain, from "Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming"
Illustrated by Seonna Hong, Animated/Directed by Marco Morandi

Check out Sara Lov on YouTube or her website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

link love

I really enjoyed sharing some links last week, so I've decided to continue with link love on Fridays.

If you're textile obsessed, you must visit the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. I had the pleasure of actually visiting there a few years ago, and since then I've been virtually visiting via their website. Not as good as being there in person, but I'll take what I can get!

You must also pay a visit to Fibercopia. Arcadia Smails uses her blog to show all kinds of fiber goodness, from contemporary quilts to historical textiles and everything in between. Get your daily fix!

I'm really quite smitten with Mysterious Letters, which I found via Ruthi Auda. I love mail and letters, I love the idea of  unexpected things that come into one's life in envelopes, I love thinking about the moment of confusion and anticipation when someone receives mail in an unfamiliar hand addressed to them...the wondering and maybe holding of breath while the envelope is opened and the contents pulled out... that moment of everyday suspense...


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Textiles and Art: Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting

Last week, I posted about Shane Waltener's work, which led me to Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting, an exhibition a few years ago at New York's Museum of Art and Design.

As Chief Curator David McFadden says, “These are not your grandmother’s crocheted doilies and knitted legwarmers.The traditions that have defined both knitting and lace making for centuries are suspended in this exhibition. Each piece bears a political or personal message, invites public participation, and encourages the viewer to reconsider how fiber functions on a tangible, spiritual and aesthetic level.”

image credit
installation view of a piece by Shane Waltener

Holly Hotchner, Director of the Museum of Arts & Design, explains,“As the first in a series of exhibitions exploring new interpretations of traditional materials and techniques in honor of the Museum’s 50th anniversary, Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting extends the boundaries of the category we call fiber art—work that traditionally uses cotton, wool, silk and linen.
Given the established perceptions of knitting and lace making, viewers will be surprised to see how contemporary artists have revolutionized these crafts to produce provocative, poetic and timely works.”

I think this show appeals to me so much because by design it intentionally blurs the line between art and craft. Or maybe I should say it deliberately plays in the grey area between art and craft, which I find so intriguing. I think that because craft skills are so easy to learn and often so utilitarian, that craft as art is often more personal and relateable than work made using more traditional art disciplines.

 image credit
(left) The Money Dress, David Cole
(right) Sabrina Gschwandter and Shane Waltener

For more information about this show, visit: 

The Fine Art of Crafts
Knitter's Review  
The Phoenix New Times
The Museum of Art and Design

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Since I started 5 o'clock crows, one of my goals has been to create quilts that were fully customizable, so that for any given quilt, you can choose the size, the set (or style), and the fabric for the front, back, and binding. At some point I'd like to add quilting options as well, but that's a whole separate can of worms so I'm saving that for another day.

I designed the Farrow quilt a while ago, and I've been working on colors over the past few weeks. I just finished processing the fabric that I'll be using for my swatches, and I have to say I'm pretty excited about it.

Here's a peek.

 Farrow: hand dyed mokume shibori fabric 
100% cotton 
from top: chocolate cherry, chasm, perse, 
harvest gold, grass (new!), cherry pop

To start, the Farrow quilt will be a wholecloth construction to keep the things simple. I tend to overcomplicate things and then I end up mired in details. So keeping things relatively uncomplicated for my first go-round seemed like the best idea. 

Now I just need a few nice shots of my sample Farrow so that I can get it into my shops in the next week or so. I'm very excited!

Monday, September 21, 2009

machine stitched mokume shibori

This weekend I felt like my brain had reached a dead end and needed some recharging so it seemed high time to take a break from working for work and do a little work for fun.

When I do color crosses and dye tests, I dye 1/4 yard of fabric for each color, so I've ended up with quite a few 1/4 yard pieces floating around the studio. Some of these have found homes in other projects, but I had a number of red and berry tones just screaming to be used.

I sewed a bunch of these pieces up using a machine stitched arashi mokume shibori technique (a straight stitch that's gathered). I overdyed all of the pieces using a fuchsia/chocolate brown mix to unite all of the different red tones.

Here's a peek at the results.

I'm really pleased with this. I used up a bunch of small pieces of fabric that I had floating around and now I definitely have enough to piece a new top. I also really like the depth of the colors and patterns. I love bright and bold (as I'm sure you've noticed) but I was starting to feel like I was missing some subtlety, and I think I've achieved it here.Yay!

I've been working on some ideas for new sets, and I think this more-or-less two tone color scheme will work fabulously with one of them. I can't wait to get started.

Friday, September 18, 2009

link love

I read a lot of blogs and look at a lot of art and craft during the week. Why not share some of my favorites? Here are a few links for your Friday browsing pleasure. 

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I love photography. I'd go so far to say that I'm fascinated with it. Part of this, I'm sure, is because I don't feel like I'm very good at it. Elle Moss, however, is VERY good at photography. I've been a little obsessed with her portfolio lately. You can see her work on her blog and in her etsy shop.

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MVSEVM is a great blog, and I highly recommend it. There's always something interesting to see.

I fell in love with this piece at first sight.

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 That Unreliable Girl has been on my daily reads list since I first discovered it months ago. Kit, the proprietress, has great taste and finds some of the most amazing things.

I have a secret obsession with tiles, and a not-at-all secret obsession with layering and ideas about history and time, so I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw these amazing, jaw-droppingly beautiful tiles by Patricia Urquiola that Kit posted a few weeks ago. I wasn't familiar with Urquiola's work before, but I'm in love with it now. These tiles are for her D├ęchirer range for Mutina. covet!

Patricia Urquiola for Mutina

Patricia Urquiola for Mutina

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Happy Friday! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Textiles and Art - Shane Waltener

Earlier this week, I discovered these fantastic webs on Pamela Angus' wonderful blog. They're by installation artist Shane Waltener, from his installation piece "Auntie Peggy Has Departed".

About this piece, Waltener says, "Doilies are like dreamcatchers, each knot holding a thought, a memory. The sum of these make up the history of a place.
The soundtrack accompanying this piece echoed the sounds of people going by, things rushing though, the circulation of air itself.
It focused the attention on the character of the subterranean space: angular and mechanical noises, musical fragments, sounds signals, human voices, echoed from one area to another. The soundtrack created a unique aural experience out of a real, remembered or imaginary situation.
The piece was dedicated to Peggy, and her lifelong enthusiasm for the crochet work and needlecraft."

Auntie Peggy Has Departed, 2003
mercerised cotton, audio equipment, 2 part looped soundtrack
Aldwych Tube Station, the Strand, London.

You can see more of Shane Waltener's installations on his site. Make sure to take a look, you don't want to miss it. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brickel Shibori and some tastiness

First, I've gotten my new shibori linen sewn up into some tea towels.

Linen Tea Towels
Brickel Shibori
from top: bananas foster, cherry pop, chasm blue
100% linen
Each approx: 16" x 2
4" (40.6 x 61 cm)

You can see more colors in my 1000 Markets and Etsy shops.

(As an aside- I've been going crazy with the color balance (?) of the white background I've been using in my photos. I shoot outside, at the same time of day, using the same settings on the same camera and it seems to change from one shot to another. Sometimes it's more yellow, other times more blue. Anyone have any suggestions or advice about this- camera settings, photoshop??? It's driving me insane!)

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I don't know if I've posted on here before about how much I love to cook and bake, but I really, really love it. Unless I'm being really lazy. But more often than not, the possibility of deliciousness wins out over inertia.

I also love a pretty table (if you didn't guess by all the tea towels and napkins I'm always throwing around on here). So it makes sense that I drool (often, and a lot) over food blogs, especially those with pretty presentations.

Here are three that I've been enjoying a lot lately.

My favorite is Recession Recipes. I love the seasonal ingredients, the flavor combinations, and I love love love the pattern on the counter that is in all the photos. I find the food and ingredients on this site to be very accessible, which is always a plus. Don't get me wrong, I love fancy ingredients too, but lately I don't have the time or the patience to spend all afternoon chasing down specialty items.

If you haven't visited Sunday Suppers, you definitely should. The recipes, super yum! And the photography? Gorgeous! If you haven't seen this site, do yourself a favor and pay a visit today. Even if you're not interested in the food, it's worth a look for the images alone.

I have a soft spot for Old Recipe Detective, which is a sister site to Heritage Recipes. I have a passion for old books, and old cookbooks are my absolute favorites. My mom just gave me my grandmother's 7th edition Fannie Farmer cookbook (1945, I think) not too long ago...swoon! And I love hearing about people's memories of food. So I'm understandably smitten.


Monday, September 14, 2009

3-for-Tuesday - Flavor Paper

I love wallpaper as much as I love textiles, so I've been smitten with New Orleans based Flavor Paper for quite a while. The designs are fabulous, the colors are bright and saturated, there's a sense of humor, and let's face it, this stuff is just flat out sexy. Can you not love it?

(And, let me add, this printing table just makes me weak in the knees.)

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My first arts market is the first weekend of October (yay!). I've been getting ready here and there so I don't drive myself too crazy the week before.

Of course, all this packaging and inventory lends itself to making stacks... an opportunity you know I can never pass up.

tea towel stack
100% linen
hand dyed batik, hand dyed shibori
each approx. 16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

I like how the brown wrapper band is really what makes the pattern here.

For more about my tea towels and other textiles, visit my shops at 1000 Markets and Etsy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

a little fun

It's been a stressful week, and today is a sad day. I need a little pick-me-up. Who's with me? I think we could all use one.

Today I have a present for you.

My good friend, Josh, makes amazing mix tapes. He's that music guy, the one that knows about the best stuff that you've never heard of, the one that figures out what you like and introduces you to sounds that you instantly fall in love with, the one that you try to stump with more and more arcane trivia (and who always frustrates you by knowing the answer..ha!).

Josh has been making mixes for his friends for years now, and since we live so far apart, I was thrilled when he gave me the golden key and I was able to download them. Now he's gone one better, and is setting up a website.

He made an inaugural mix for his site, and asked me to design the cover. yay!

I'm really pleased with it. I used photos of my batik and shibori fabrics and layered them all together. Not what I expected it would be when I started, but I like the result- it's very me.

Check out josh's site and present 19. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

textiles and art : Kiki Smith

I've had this book floating around for a while.

Last week, I started to reread the interview by David Frankel and this jumped right out at me:

(Kiki Smith)...I was very influenced by Pattern and Decoration art, and I liked decorative things, so around 1979 I made pillowcases and sheets painted in fabric paint with cut-up arms and legs, an eye, and a mouth. Then I made a shirt painted the same way.

(David Frankel) Cut-up arms and legs are decorative?

They were how my internal psychic life felt. I was about twenty-six, and I felt all...not chopped up, but in disarray, fragile. I lived on cigarettes and whiskey, you know. And then the year before my father died, when I was twenty-six, I got a Gray's Anatomy, and I began to paint from it -- fat cells, nerve cells, blood. My sister Bebe had a a boyfriend who had brought back a lot of handwoven muslin from Mexico, and I started painting on it. That was probably an influence from Richard Tuttle, who lived with my family when I was a kid. I was very proud that my art was washable.


I thought that was very practical. And it also folded small, so there was a modesty -- you could keep these pieces in a cupboard, then take them out, like a rug merchant. ... *

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The idea of washable, practical, foldable, modest art... this interests me so much as I've been thinking a lot about the blurry overlap between art and craft. I was originally drawn to Kiki Smith's work because of her ideas of science and the body. But the more I learn about her, the more I realize she has an engagement with the art/craft overlap as well.

As I see the handmade/hand crafted grow and grow, this is something I think about more and more. I'm finding that the work I respond most positively to, whether "art", "craft" or in-between, is work that has at least a bit of both. And the work I drool over is work that's strong in both art and craft.

This interview has really sparked a lot of thought in me. Not only about art and craft, but conceptually too. Again and again, I find myself working with ideas about accounting and taking account, counting and categorizing, intimacy and voyeurism, concealing and revealing, and that which remains. With these thoughts in mind, I can't stop looking at these two pieces.

My Secret Business
duotone offset lithograph

Game Time

glass, blood, and silicone
(caption on the shelf reads: There are approx. 12 pints of blood in the human body)

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My thoughts are flying around.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

shibori linen

I am taking a short break from batik to work on developing some shibori patterns. What I love so much about this process is that in the creation of the pattern, the fabric becomes a record of the interaction of cloth and dye.

This loose stack (really more of a pile) is a bit of a departure for me- it seemed so strange not to arrange all of the pieces into a more or less vertical configuration. But I loved the way the linen started to slump together and I couldn't resist.

I'm thinking about dyeing up some more in cotton (maybe in cherry pop?) for a quilt top.... backed with a bright red, or maybe something a little more unexpected like a green? yum...

3 - for - Tuesday

Today's 3 - for - Tuesday is all about lace! This is the work of Glory by Jeannie Lee.

Jeannie's beautiful shrugs, boleros, and jackets are created using recycled lace. My eyes are blurring just thinking about all the precision cutting and assembly work that goes into them.

Chantilly Lace, sequins, pearls

And last, what girl doesn't love a pair of fishnets, at least every now and then? I know how much more comfortable hand knit socks are than their machine made counterparts, so I can only imagine how much more comfortable hand knit stockings are.

Fishnet and Lace Thigh High Stockings
black elastic thread, lace inserts


Monday, September 7, 2009


I hope everyone in the States is enjoying the long weekend! I had a nice, relaxing day yesterday... so wonderful, and boy, I needed it! Today it's looking grey and rainy, perfect for baking some bread and sewing up some dish towels out of some gorgeous shibori fabric I dyed at the end of last week.

Here's a look at my newest towels, done in my Laced pattern. I'll be working on getting these up in my 1000 Markets and etsy shops during the week.

Linen Tea Towel
Laced / Harvest Gold
100% Linen
Hand Dyed Batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

Linen Tea Towel
Laced / Chocolate Cherry
100% Linen
Hand Dyed Batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

Linen Tea Towel
Laced / Chasm Blue
100% Linen
Hand Dyed Batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

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And, please excuse my mentioning this again, but If you'd like to win a $25 credit in my etsy shop, pay a visit to Beauty 4 Moms and check out my giveaway! Deadline is September 15.

Friday, September 4, 2009

a giveaway (!) and thanks

I can't believe I didn't mention this earlier, but there's a 5 o'clock crows giveaway going on at Beauty 4 Moms. The entry deadline is September 15, and the winner will receive a $25 credit in my etsy shop. All you have to do is check out my shop and leave a comment on the Beauty 4 Moms blog about your favorite's just that easy!

I also want to thank Julia at Belle Vivir for adding me to her blogroll. Thanks so much! If you haven't taken a look at Julia's lovely interiors blog, you definitely should.

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The weather here is still gorgeous and I've been chomping at the bit for some time to relax outside. I think the humidity has actually dropped below 95%... my hair is so flat and unfrizzy I hardly know what to do with it. I think there will have to be some serious reading and drinking of iced coffee in the garden this weekend.

I hope your weekend is as enjoyable as I'm anticipating mine to be.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

(textiles and) art

I'm so excited about this Textiles and Art column, I can't tell you. But today's post focuses more on art. Next week, I'll pick up with textiles again.

I'm distracted because last night, I went to the opening reception for a 3-person show that a friend of mine, Kathryn Hunter, is in. Kathryn and I met when we studied printmaking together a few years ago at LSU and I've thought her work is totally amazing since then.

(sorry, no info for this right now)

Kathryn's work in the show included laser cut steel, multiple color relief prints, and letterpress, including the piece above, which I am beside myself about. On the technical basis alone, I was drooling... good registration sends tingles up my spine. Add lots of pattern, birds, and text and I'm so in love, I'm can hardly see straight.

Kathryn is also the woman behind blackbird letterpress, where she designs and creates beautiful letterpress stationery, business cards, invitations, and whatever else you can dream up.

Find out more on Kathryn's website, her blog, and her etsy shop.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a few (more) new things

The last day or two, the weather has been so perfect and beautiful here! I hope you're enjoying the beginning of September as much as I am.

I've been working on expanding my color range and I've come up with a few more colorways, done in Trellis Stripe. I keep going back and forth about which is my favorite.

This golden yellow reminds me so much of the leaves changing and Fall. I miss Fall!

Linen Tea Towel
Trellis Stripe / Harvest Gold
100% linen
hand dyed batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

Linen Tea Towel
Trellis Stripe / Ocean
100% linen
hand dyed batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

Linen Tea Towel
Trellis Stripe / Chasm Blue

100% linen
hand dyed batik
16" x 24" (40.6 x 61 cm)

You can see more in my 1000 Markets and etsy shops.