Tuesday, May 23, 2017

heart ache and delight, both are gifts

everything that occurs is actually the path itself

the best I can do, the most and the least
walking barefoot in my house

grounding myself, keeping my energy balanced

and my vulnerable innerness
I am past menopause now and children have flown, but that does not mean that I have stopped my deep and powerful inner life

In fact, my inner life is immense

it is a cloud, a beautiful cloud
I am an emotional thinker

blessed and lucky to be  given time to

pour my love into these cloths

it is all a gift

the glittering water, the bird song, the trees

you can scream into your journals

I am making simpler and simpler quilts

I am enjoying the process more and more

we know nothing
even about ourselves

(virginia woolf)
quilts are the strongest art form to express intimacy

I become part of the cloth as I stitch

and then I cover you with me
nothing extra

just dedication

there is a horizon between reality and our ability to imagine

i want to be loved

i am here
use everything that happens as a means for waking up

wake up

the sun is available always

it shines on everyone with no discrimination

(pema chodron)

Friday, May 19, 2017

onion skins and old nails

I've been saving onion skins for quite some time, and last week I used them to dye some cloth.

I am writing about my process.
These are experiments. I do not claim that I know what I am doing.
Sometimes my experiments work.
I am inspired by the idea that natural dyers throughout time have experimented.

My process:
Put a large grocery bag full of onion skins into a big canning pot.
Pour boiling water over them until they are covered.
Allow this to steep and cool down over night.
The next day, bring the onion skin solution to a simmer and keep it there for 90 minutes.
Allow this to steep and cool down over night.  Repeat if possible.
Remove the skins from the liquid.
Divide the liquid into two pots.
In second pot of dye, add a jar full of iron solution.

The iron solution is Jenny Dean's recipe.
Into a wide glass jar with a lid place scrap iron (old nails, a small trivet, scrap metal)
Cover with solution made from two parts water and one part clear vinegar
Leave for at least two weeks.  (I left mine for more than one year)

Protein Fibres work best with natural dyes  (from animals (wool and silk)

Add wool and silk cloth as well as silk rayon velvet (see top photo)
No pre-soak or pre-mordant needed for these, the cloth was added dry

Gently bring cloth and dye up to a simmer for 90 minutes
Allow to do the steep and cool over night thing, two times preferably
Our house smelled like onion soup for a week and a half.
Hang fabrics outside without rinsing.
Just wring them and allow them to dry naturally
Fold gently and allow to rest for a few days

The colours of the protein fibres (wool and silk) are really rich
A nearly red rusty colour on the wool and velvet from the onion skins (above photo)
A deep olive greenish grey from the pot with the iron (see below)
Cellulose fibres

To make linen and cotton ready to accept the natural dyes, I did a pre-soak over night in two litres of 2 percent milk from the grocery store.  It was an experiment.
Soak cotton and linen cloth overnight in milk
Wring out the milk and place the wet cloth into the dye baths
Bring to a simmer for 90 minutes.  Steep over night.
Hung on the line without rinsing but after wringing/  (above photo cotton and linen with iron-onion
The fabrics had markings on them when they were dried that I didn't expect.
The dye bath itself was quite milky.
There was still enough milky dye left in the pot so I did a third round with the protein fibres.
Although the colours were much paler,  they were still really beautiful.  (see below)
I am truly pleased with this experiment.
It took place while we carried on with our so called normal life.
I washed all the cloth in the washing on delicate cycle, cold water, tea tree detergent.
Two loads in order to separate the iron fabrics from the pure onion
Dry in the dryer for added softness for the velvet.
The stains and natural markings on the cotton and linen remain.
What I do with cloth and dye matches who I am right now.
Just me.
This is how I study and how I learn.
This is what I know already.
I come to my practice with with curiosity and passion.
I am not trying to change anything.
I just want to learn more about the same things.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday quilt photo

I am doing a lot of stitching these days.
I start early in the morning and continue through the day, into the evening.
I have an exhibition in Toronto in October and have designed 8 new pieces, none of them small.
Several of them are white
Four are made with old linen domestic damask..
I think that the title of the exhibition will have the word cloud in it.
I am still inspired by Luce Irigarary's poem 

especially the line "how do I make earth out of air, and protect the cloud in me?"
I am a bit worried that this blog will be boring as I work on these same 8 quilts over the summer.
I hesitate to show them here actually.
Isn't there a rule somewhere that artists must keep the work secret until the big unveil at the opening?
But then what would I show in my blog?
Rule, shmule.
This post is the first of Sunday quilt photos showing the progress of this body of work.
It also will document the advance of spring and summer here in my yard.
Today it's the middle of May and the new green all over is really fresh.
It's mother's day.
I share this lovely portrait of my mother Pauline in her mid-30's.

Mother's day was her very favourite holiday.
She didn't allow us to celebrate her birthday.

It is also my father's birthday today.   He turns 94.
He's been alone for ten years now.
These new quilts are journals of my spring of great happiness.
I feel as if I have a cloud of love in me.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

some questions to ponder


how does intimacy play into your work?
 is time always a central theme in your work?
 how do you conceptualize charting time through material?
can you speak about gratitude and surrender in the context of the quilt maker's relationship with her quilt?
 why do you often photograph your work outside in nature?
 you say that you make narrative metaphoric quilts, please explain
the raw edges of the torn linen damask express my open-hearted vulnerability
the wool string figure that stands up in the cloud of white air is slightly crooked
the self is both narrative and metaphor
when I realize that I can keep making quilts as long as I can thread a needle, I am full of gratitude

the stimulating questions in this post come from a young woman I spoke with on phone yesterday and I am still thinking about how I might best answer them
she was 21 years old, the same age I was when I made my first quilt.
"Love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.   Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday, far in the future you will gradually, without even noticing, live your way into the answers "  From Letters to a Young Poet by  Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, May 04, 2017

about not being able to sleep

This Revolution Will Not Be Televised #13 by Penny Mateer and Martha Wasik, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  from SAQA exhibition Layered Voices
I didn't sleep much during my amazing week away.

I ended my trip at Maggie Vanderweit's stunning home waiting for Ned to pick me up and take me back to the quiet of Mantioulin.  Maggie is the new Central Canada rep for the Studio Art Quilt Association. (SAQA)

This post is about my attendance at the SAQA annual conference, this year in Lincoln Nebraska.

All images included here are from the beautifully installed juried SAQA exhibition Layered Voices. It hung in one of the main galleries in the International Quilt Museum.   and they appear here with artists' permission.  The complete exhibition is available to view here.
This Revolution Will Not Be Tolerated #13, Protest Series - by Penny Mateer, detail.  cotton, photo transfers, printed, machine pieced, appliqued and quilted

"In 2014, following the announcement that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted for killing Eric Garner, the NaACP local defense fund posted a series of tweets naming 76 individuals killed in police custody since 1999.
The list is on www.gawker.com "  Penny Mateer

This Revolution Will Not Be Televised #13 Protest Series by Penny Mateer, and Martha Wasik
We all stayed in the same hotel at the conference which added an intense feeling of comraderie.
The CNN news was often on and so I got dressed listening to the commentary about Trump's 100 days, or about the spy within his administration and of course about the madness re: North Korea.
Death Shroud for Democracy by Kristin LaFlamme , Portland Oregon  from the SAQA exhibition Layered Voices

Death Shroud for Democracy by Kristin LaFlamme, acrylic paint, deconstructed US flag, used clothing, sheet, embroidery floss, paint. machine pieced and hand embroidered

"Referencing the Shroud of Turin, and thus the death of an important ideal, the figure here is Uncle Sam.
The disassembled US flag is a metaphor for Congress disassembling democracy.
 Layers of embroidered words refer to people, ideas and actions that tear at its very fabric.'   Kristin LaFlamme
I have been struggling with this blog post.
I want to talk honestly about my experience at the conference.
When people ask me what the best thing was, upon reflection I have to say that the valuable and inspiring International Quilt Study Museum (where I spent two whole days) was incredible.
However, listening to the gentle poetic voice of art quilt pioneer star, Michael James is very near the top of my list.  In addition, the simple connecting or re-connecting with other art quilters was tremendously meaningful.  Previously, I knew most of these women through the internet.
Premonition by Dinah Sargeant, newhall California  part of the SAQA national exhibition Layered Voices on view at the International quilt museum in lincoln Nebraska until end of May 2017

Premonition detail; cotton, canvas, fabric paint, machine and hand applique  
"A sensing of What might be next"  DinahSargeant

The world seems to be in such a tenuous place right now.
Those pundits on CNN make me feel as if there is little point in doing much.
Things are going off in all directions.
What I make in my art or what I do in my personal life doesn't seem as if it will make a difference.
It's a long time since I've had this kind of feeling.

I feel a crazy need to change my life, yet I am so timid.
I am so safe with Ned right now on Manitoulin Island, northern Canada.
In Other Words by Jette Clover, Antwerp Belgium
cotton, linen, dyed, painted, hand stitched, machine quilted, part of the Layered Voices exhibition

In Other Words
"I love words.  They have shapes and sounds and they convey meaning.  Stitching resembles the rhythm of writing with a pen a slow, intimate process during which one becomes aware of the marking of time".  Jette Clover
When Bethany drove us out of Lincoln on the Sunday there was a horrific rain storm and truck and car traffic we didn't understand.  We drove around the bottom of Lake Michigan in the dark on highways narrowed by construction zones and blocked exits, forced into many detours.
We drove in an anxious panic, putting miles under our wheels.
Migration.   Souvenir.  by Roxanne Lasky, Bluffton South Carolina USA
recycled silk saris and kimono, hand dyed cotton and linen, pieced, hand appliqued and embroidered,
part of the Layered Voices exhibition  

Migration. Souvenir. detail
"The coat represents the complex record of personal narrative through place and time.  We move with our memories as if adorned with regal garb, armour against conflict or protection from the elements, warnings against danger, crimes against self, boundaries that prevent transgressing into growth and joy and wisdom for the future."  Roxanne Lasky

in other words by Jette Clover (detail
So, one week on the road there and then back plus the one week in Nebraska USA, with a lot of other older women who are all artists and who believe in connecting with each other - hugging and talking, exchanging 'moo' business cards, hoping for love.

So this blog post is about the conference but also about that TV set on.
It's about the ancientness of most of the other atendees and their furious networking.
It's about what filled my creative cup - (the Luke haynes exhibit at the quilt museum)
It's about feeling part of a large group of grannies and finding love there
and it's about not being able to sleep.
This Revolution Will Not Be Tolerated detail by Penny Mateer

These works reveal an over arching awareness on the part of the artists of the cycles of creation and destruction that bring about change.  Each in its way communicates a sense of the fragility and poignancy of our human condition.  The art speaks of the passage of time and how we assemble meaning from experience.  Additional layers of interpretation are exposed when we see these works in the context of the current cultural turmoil."
                                juror-curator of the layered voices exhibition for SAQA             Rise Nagin


detail of Dinah Sargeant's Premonition
It's about safety and risk
about addiction to feeling good and to ignoring reality
about yearning
about heart