06 November 2006

Working in Series

At a friend's house in San Francisco two or three years ago, I was taken with a calligraphic brush print called Midori, by the Japanese artist Toko Shinoda. I couldn't get the central image out of my mind. Inspired by Shinoda's work, I made one wall quilt, then another. For the background, I used linen bias tape from a stash my friend Giselle Shepatin, an incredible fashion designer, gave me several years ago. I wove the tape and stitched it down so the background resembled a field of puffy mini-ravioli. Then, using mostly hand-dyed fabrics, I cut, fused and appliqued the main figure and the smaller leafy shapes. For the central motif on the second piece, I used teal silk from a jacket lining my friend Francine gave me several years ago. (She doesn't sew, but she knew I'd be able to use it someday.) Here and there I added interest with overlays of organza or netting that I'd tinted with acrylic paint. I think of the two as negative images, kinda sorta; clearly they're a pair.

But I still hadn't gotten Shinoda's composition out of my system; I could picture, vividly, several more variations that I wanted to try. The third, to my mind, turned out to be the least successful of the series. In fact, I've just taken it down from our front door, where it served as a Hallowe'en decoration (note pumpkin-esque shapes on the background fabric). Oh well.

Finally, I used Japanese and Japanese-style fabrics, including some that I'd overdyed with indigo, plus my own hand-dyes. I developed this piece during an art quilt independent study with Jeannette Meyer at the Oregon College of Arts of Crafts. In my humble opinion, it's the best of the lot.

I have one more variation in mind. For whatever reason -- I do not have weddings-on-the-brain -- I'm picturing it as a "bridal" piece, in white/cream with touches of gold, some lace, and lots more embellishment than any of the others. I'm also thinking of it as a much smaller work; the others are all roughly 18" by 24", give or take. This concept, though, might just represent the artistic impulse playing its way out into rococo decadence, decay, and the death of civilization. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.

Meanwhile, the initial (dark woven background) piece in the series sold during the first week of the Pacific Piecemakers Quilt Guild 2oo5 Challenge show. Its close companion won a 3rd place ribbon in the Innovative division of the Northwest Quilters 2006 show. The pumpkin hanging, as I mentioned, graces my front door in October. And the last in the series (so far?) was juried in to OCAC's spring '06 student show and exhibited at the Hoffman Gallery on campus. That was a pretty big thrill.

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