Monday, April 23, 2007

Journal Quilts at the Chicago Quilt Festival

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
This year at the Chicago Quilt Festival, I spent most of my free time absorbing two stimulating exhibitions. You already saw examples of the first (fabric postcards) posted last week. The second was a large exhibit of Journal Quilts. Personal, unique, moving and technically out-of-the-box, these quilts deserved far more time than I had. You may want to click to enlarge some of these images... I promise they'll load quickly.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
The idea of the project was for each participating artist to make one quilt per month, each the size of standard computer paper (8.5 by 11 inches). The exhibition featured five quilts from each of about 400 artists. That's a lot of quilts, a lot to absorb, a giant stew of inspiration!

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some reflect the artist's feelings about troubling international events, such as the ones above. In this case, the artist, Frances Caple, says she is not very political, but was so distressed by the killing of many children at Qana (left) and the distruction caused by landmines (right) that she had to deal with these subjects in her quilts.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some artists use their montly quilts as a means to practice traditional piecing and quilting techniques on a small scale, and to experiment with various color combinations. The quit above, by Alyson M. Olander, is a compelling example.

Some obviously let their play instinct be in charge, making quilts full of whimsey and joy, such as the set above by Ruthie Powers.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Ahhhhh, here's a set that speaks to my passion... Beaded embellishments added sparkle, texture and interest to many of the quilts.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some, like the set above, are amazingly realistic, obviously revealing the artist's ability to draw and/or paint. I am in awe of the "painterly quality" in the set above, by Elizabeth Poole.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some, like the set above, just make me happy. To me, this group has the same feeling as my painted decorative papers. It's all about layers, shapes, colors and textures! Yummmmm!

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
I think it was the colors which attracted me to the above set by Jane Davila. There's an article in the Feb/March 2007 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine about how she prints these fish, taking impressions from a painted rubber fish.

What do YOU think? Does looking at these make you want to see more? Or, even more exciting, does it make you want to start your own monthy journal in whatever medium you prefer? What about a monthly knit or collage or bead embroidery journal?

You see, we're back to working in series again, a topic I wrote about here. Below is a small selection of the journal exhibition, showing a few quilts from three artists. If you mixed up the "pages," anybody would be able to sort them out again, because each has a "style" unique to the artist. If you polled all 400+ artists who have participated in this project, don't you think each would reply that one of the benefits was the inevitible development of personal style? I bet that every one of them now has a greater sense of security about who they are as an artist.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
If you'd like to see more of this work, you can check through the pages of this website, which loads amazingly fast and offers click-to-enlarge on all of the pictures. Or, you can purchase the book, and be able to savor more than 400 images and read the artists' comments about their inspirations and techniques at your leisure.

The Journal Quilt Project has been active for 5 years (since 2002). I was told at the exhibition in Chicago that this was the last year for the formal organization of it. However, in the same way it was begun, any one of us could make a personal committment to do a monthy journal, starting right now! It could be very private, or shared on our blogs. What about a monthy Journal Bead Project? Is there anybody out there who would like to join me in challenging yourself to creating one beaded journal page per month starting in May? As busy as I am, the idea just tickles my fancy!

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Sorry about not being able to provide the artist's name for a few of the above quilts. I thought I had them all written on a couple of scraps of paper, but I must have dropped or lost one of the papers somehow. Help me out, if you can, and I'll update the post as soon as I get the information.

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We'll be returning to finger weaving in my next post! If you have something (pictures, questions, related topic suggestions, links or comments) you'd like me to include, please email me or leave a comment below.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fiberart Postcards ~ Best of Chicago Quilt Festival

Someone please knock a little sense into me if EVER I agree to teach at three back-to-back events again. Just ONE turns me into a zombie; just ONE leaves me a bit crabby, short of memory, emotional. THREE, without a good break between them, is just plain crazy-making. All I want to do, even now – a couple of days after returning home, is to take nap after nap and pet the cat. If my words don’t come out right today, you know the reason…

That said, let me share some photos from the Chicago Quilt Festival with you.

Susan and Phyllis, at the Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
First, here are my dear bead/quilt friends, Susan and Phyllis, who helped me trudge the 300 mile-long walkways between our hotel and the convention center classrooms, carrying supplies and setting up after we arrived, and assisted as needed during each of my 4 classes and sampler lecture. They met years ago while working at the same quilt shop in TX. Now that Susan moved to CA, they get together once or twice a year to take classes and shop at conferences. I met them three years ago when they took a bead embroidery class from me. Since then, they’ve both been beading and sewing beads on quilts like crazy! This was the first time they changed roles from student to assistant, but underneath both roles, is a wonderful friendship that has developed since first we met. Without their help, I’d probably be in a hospital right now!

We had two brief periods of time to visit the vendors and exhibition area. For once, I mostly avoided the vendors and concentrated on the many fabulous exhibits of quilts. All were fascinating and amazing, but the most compelling to me was a small exhibit of fiber art postcards. They were framed in groups of 9 and behind glass, and thus very difficult to photograph. Here are a few of them:

fiberart postcard by Ann Marie Cowley
This one, untitled by Ann Marie Cowley of Oregon, made my knees weak. The photo totally doesn’t do it justice… soft colors, silky texture… gentle, peaceful, joyous.

fiberart postcard by Inge Reinholdt
This one, “White Bridge” by Inge Reinholdt of Denmark, brought tears to my eyes, the spirituality of it. I tried to take the photo without a flash, but there wasn’t enough light, so you’ll have to ignore the big white splash. Check here to see other of Inge’s fabric postcards. Click to enlarge the ones you like best (well worth it!)

fiberart postcard by Virginia Spiegel
This one, “Tomatoes and Tithonia” by Virginia A. Spiegel, has such a lovely close-up and personal feel to it… a design sense to envy.

fiberart postcard by Anne Dovel
This one, “Prairie Evening” by Anne Dovel, pleases me because of the texture, lines and colors… it feels like a prairie under the spell of sunset.

In the past few years, “Fiberart for a Cause” has donated over $130,000 to the American Cancer Society. The sale of postcards this year contributed over $18,000 to that total.

On the back side of the postcard exhibit was an ATC wall, which constantly changed as people brought their cards to trade for ones already on the wall. Here is a picture showing just a small portion of the wall. I’d say there were 200 or more ATCs on the wall at any given time.

ATC wall at the Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
I've been thinking of making some ATCs, but after seeing the exhibits of postcards, I'm favoring the larger format (about double the size of ATCs).

In my next post, I’ll show pictures of and talk about the Journal Quilts Project exhibit, which was awesome again this year!

Now it’s time for another nap… z z z Z Z Z Z!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Closionne Faces for Spirit Dolls

enamel jewel by Karen L. Cohen
If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember reading about Karen L. Cohen, a cloisonne enamel artist who has taken a shine to beading. I showed her beautiful bead embroidery here (pin/wall hanging) and here (mirror frame).

Lately Karen has started making spirit dolls.... many of them. I'm showing you two of them below, but this is my favorite of the ones she has on her website. It's worth the time to read a little about her dolls, as it's interesting how she carefully chooses each element for it's relationship to the purpose of the doll.

spirit doll by Karen L. Cohen
spirit doll by Karen L. Cohen
More often than not, I don't put a face on the dolls I make. Sometimes I suggest a face (or mask) with seed bead embroidery. Once I used a peyote stitch bezel to add a carved stone face to a doll. (See below.)
spirit doll by Robin Atkins, bead artist, detail
Many people have written to me over the years asking where to buy "faces" (face cabochons) for their dolls. Thus lately I've been on the lookout for sources, especially for higher quality faces.

Full circle... back to Karen's enamels. Note that she creates special one-of-a-kind enamel faces for her dolls. Now, here's the good news! She is making these enamels to sell. She said that if the demand is there, she'll put more on her website, here.

Below are two of the faces currently available.

cloisonne enamel face by Karen L. Cohen
cloisonne enamel face by Karen L. Cohen

Bead Festival

As you may know, I've been pretty busy teaching... most recently at the First Annual Bellingham Bead Festival. This event was held at the Semiahmoo Resort on Birch Bay, in the northwest corner of Washington state, just a few miles south of the Canadian border. I'm happy to report that it was very well attended by both Canadians and locals. The Resort was delightful ~ my room was really lovely and I totally enjoyed excellent meals at the two on-site restaurants. The Bead Factory in Tacoma, WA has been organizing festivals for many years. They are very good at it, and this first one at Semiahmoo was right up to par. Are you catching my drift? Look for it again next spring!

Chicago Quilt Festival

Two days from now, I'll be on my way to teach at the Chicago Quilt Festival for four days. This is always a grand experience... So many quilters ~ so many quilts ~ so many vendors! It boggles my mind. I never have time to see it all. This year I'm especially looking forward to seeing the ATCs made to sell as a fund raising project. I'll try to take pictures for you.

First Ride of Spring

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, photo by Robin Atkins
We're into spring weather here! Friday my husband and I dusted off our motorcycles and had a lovely ride around the island. The best was comming home after dark, when you can't really see much more than the road. However, if you pay attention to the smells, you can know a lot about the roadside attractions. For example, one home must have had many hyacinths planted in the yard, their fragrance strong even at night. We passed a pond with that unmistakable swampy smell. And at one point I caught the whiff of animals, possibly deer. Riding in the day time, I hardly notice the smells becuase there's so much to see.

Season of New Beginnings

More time to read your blogs and more time to write mine is just around the corner. Until then, may this season of new beginnings and blossoming dreams be especially good to you and yours.