Out of the Blue at the Whistler House Museum of Art

July 17th, 2015

Well that was FUN!  Got home yesterday from errands, gathered up the mail from the box, and found this in the pile!

Publicity card for the Out of the Blue exhibit at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Mass.  Yep, that's MY quilt!  SQUEEE!

Publicity card for the Out of the Blue exhibit at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Mass. Yep, that’s MY quilt! SQUEEE!

I just checked, and apparently I forgot to announce here (as opposed to over on Facebook) that TWO of my works have been accepted into the Out of the Blue art quilt exhibit this summer at the Whistler House Museum of Art.  (If you click on that link you’ll see a thumbnail of my quilt; click on that for more information.) Yes, that Whistler, James McNeill Whistler, the one who painted Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, better known as “Whistler’s Mother.”  Can you say GIDDY!   When I first moved to Maine, I learned about the Lowell Quilt Festival and the exhibits in town at the Whistler and the Brush Gallery.  So I went and thought:  I’ll know I’m making it if I can ever get in there.   Well, early this summer (I had signed up eons ago to be on the email list) I received a call for entry.  I thought:  why not!   All I can do is send the entry fee, and it will support art quilts no matter what.  Imagine my delight when I got in!

Yep, my art quilt Koi is the publicity image for a museum show!  My self-portrait “Clothed in Color” is also in the exhibit.  Here’s the back side of the card (minus my home address because this is the internet):

The exhibit will be open Aug. 12 to Sept. 19th of this year.  The Reception is Saturday, Aug. 15th from 2-4.

The exhibit will be open Aug. 12 to Sept. 19th of this year. The Reception is Saturday, Aug. 15th from 2-4. I love that they included the materials, including MistyFuse! 

And here is Clothed in Color:

A self-portrait --hmm.... just occurs to me there is some symmetry of a sort here, as Whistler is famous for his portraits--

A self-portrait –hmm…. just occurs to me there is some symmetry of a sort here, as Whistler is famous for his portraits– anyway, a self-portrait in no natural colors (well, other than the blue of my eyes, but my eyes are a bit more blue gray than blue….)

That weekend is also the Mancuso show in Manchester, NH.  It will be a VERY LONG day, but I’m thinking I will try to drive to Manchester (several hours away), spend a couple hours at the Mancuso show, then about 1 pm get on the road to Lowell to arrive shortly after 2 for the reception, then begin the trek home (about 4 1/2 – 5 hours).

Congratulations to the other artists in the ehxibit–I hope to see  some of you there!  And thank you to the jurors for accepting my works and to all those involved in the decision to select the publicity image!

And to round things up, here is the back side of Koi!

Koi is actually a two-sided quilt.  This photo was taken before adding the hanging sleeve to the top of the back (imagine lying on the bottom of the koi pond looking up at the fish bellies and the trees above)

Koi is actually a two-sided quilt. This photo was taken before adding the hanging sleeve to the top of the back (imagine lying on the bottom of the koi pond looking up at the fish bellies and the trees above).  I made the top facing so that if anyone were to purchase it and wanted to hang it so you could see both sides, you can insert a metal slat and have it hidden.  Then I had to add the requisite 4″ hanging sleeve for standard display.

 

Descended From the Stars, Part 2

July 11th, 2015
(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

In my last post I shared my most recent work and the good news that Descended From the Stars has been juried in to Affinity, the 2015 Dinner@8 exhibit which will premiere in Houston.  Today I thought I’d share how it began.

It began with an idea and Procion MX dyes.....and a pyrex pie plate (yes, dedicated to dye only use for safety) in the center

It began with an idea and Procion MX dyes…..and a pyrex pie plate (yes, dedicated to dye only use for safety) in the center.  Here is the first round of dyeing, with the pie plate to elevate the yellow center and prevent tendrils of green from sneaking in to my sun.

When my sons were little they attended Children’s House Montessori School in Friday Harbor, Washington.  The teacher asked me to dye a (GULP) hand-tatted doily of her grandmothers.  Made in natural cotton color, she wanted it yellow because it looked like a sun.  When a child had a birthday, she would place the doily on the floor, and the child would walk around the “sun” once for each year of their young lives:  four circles for four years.

I then thought about a labyrinth.  What is life but a labyrinth?  It  twists and turns, going around the center/sun, in the same place but not really, through the changing seasons.  That led to thinking about the tree of life.  Finally, I wanted to include Mirza Khan’s quote (see previous blogpost, here) in the deep blue of the heavens.

I knew I would never find fabric like I wanted, so out came the PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) cloth and the dyes and my color “bibles” from classes with Carol Soderlund (her website has info) to figure out which pure dyes I needed to get the colors I wanted.  The photo above shows the yellow and green.  The next photo shows when I added the deep blue to darken the edges.   I ended up doing a second dyeing to get the deep, deep dark blue on the edge.

Deep navy is brushed on to the fabric to provide a gradation of color from pale in the center to deep dark on the edges.

Deep navy is brushed on to the fabric to provide a gradation of color from pale in the center to deep dark on the edges.

Once dyeing was complete, I enlarged a labyrinth design onto paper, then transferred that onto my dyed top.  Then I spent several episodes of DVR’d MasterPiece Theatre cutting out stones from batiks pre-fused with Mistyfuse.   I used an old ice cube tray, putting one type of stone (cloth) into a cup.  That way I could choose fabrics to be sure I got a fairly random patterning.

asdkfjs;

You can see a faint white chalk line on the edge of the green/blue that gave me my center square.  On the left, you can see an idea that didn’t work out.  Initially I planned to applique items onto the labyrinth that represented important phases in my life.  But once the quilt took shape, I realized that would simply be too much clutter!

Next came the lettering, which was done with a dip pen and Liquitex acrylic Ink! in gold.  I figured out how large I wanted the lettering to be (counted all the letters in the quote, divided by four to see where I would need to break at corners, etc.) and after a second try, got the size correct.

Here I have pinned the text, printed onto paper and cut apart, to see if it will fit.  It does (on the second attempt).

Here I have pinned the text, printed onto paper and cut apart, to see if it will fit. It does (on the second attempt).  I chose a font I liked since I more or less copied the font in my lettering.

I chalked in guide lines:  top, bottom, top of lower case, like on a second grader’s paper.  I find that as you go along, large writing tends to want to get small and closer to normal size writing, so I needed the guidelines.  I used the SewLine ceramic chalk mechanical pencils, then erased the lines when done.  I covered the outer edge of the cloth with the text strips (seen above) immediately above where they needed to go so I could also keep my spacing consistent and accurate.  I placed freezer paper underneath in case I had any blobs.  Sigh.  My first blob happened on my second letter!  But I was able to fix it (used a little of the blue acrylic ink after scraping up the blob and that made it look like part of the dye patterning!) and learned to be more careful.  It took a few hours for each side, so I only did one side on any given day.

The lettering is done!  next, on to the trees.

The lettering is done! next, on to the trees.  You can see the chalk guidelines in this photo.

And yes, I did have a practice piece!

It's quilted in this photo, but I had a scrap of blue fabric and tried various ways to write, from a chisel brush to the dip pen and crow-quill (metal) nib that I ended up using because it gave the crisp look I wanted.

It’s quilted in this photo, but I had a scrap of blue fabric and tried various ways to write, from a chisel brush to the dip pen and crow-quill (metal) nib that I ended up using because it gave the crisp look I wanted.

In the next post, I’ll show the trees and quilting.

 

Descended from the Stars, Part 1

July 8th, 2015

I’m thrilled to be able to share my most recent major work along with the news that Descended From the Stars has been juried in to this year’s Dinner@8 exhibit, Affinity, which will debut at International Quilt Festival 2015 in Houston, Texas, this coming October.

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission.  Click to open slightly larger.

You can find more about the exhibit and the other artists here.  I am blushing to find myself in such company, and humbled to be in this exhibit for my sixth consecutive year.

The theme is Affinity, and the call for entry reads:

I am the garden that I plant.
I have…a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, or idea.
I am all the books that I have read.
I have….. A close resemblance or connection to someone or some thing.
I am the places that I have been
I have…. An agreement with someone.
I am the people that I love to be near
I have…a relationship or ties to another individual.
I am the sum of my life experiences.
“Affinity”.
Months before hearing the new theme and call for entry, I had received an email from my high school, San Domenico, with a Lenten message.  This particular day’s message didn’t have an attribution as did the other quotations, so I wrote to Religious Studies director Mirza Khan (after googling the words) and learned he had written the text.  I asked and received permission to use them in an art quilt.  When I heard the call for entry, at a dinner with other Dinner@8 artists in Houston last year, I immediately thought of the quote and felt as if the theme were about identity. Here are Mirza’s words:

ONE LIFE

We have descended from the stars.   We have risen through the forms of thousands of animals. We have passed through the lives of our ancestors, our grandparents, and our parents.  And now we have been born into the moment of our supreme existence. We have a life. What will we do with it?

Mirza Kahn

San Domenico

Here are two detail shots of my quilt.  In my next two posts I’ll share more about my process and thinking as I made this piece.  All I can say is that I am REALLY HAPPY with it!
Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Foto Friday

July 3rd, 2015

So I’ve been taking this online photography course (the 52-week challenge) with Ricky Tims this year.  I decided maybe I should start posting my photos, as we have learned a lot.  So I’ll begin with my photo for Week 25, which was “Do Over #2,” meaning we could re-visit any lesson.   I re-did a number of lessons, then selected the best photo to submit.  I like this one so much I may turn it into a quilt!

Detail of the train engine at the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT.

Detail of the train engine at the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT.

Whooda thunk it–me, the lady all about color, considering a somewhat abstracted black and white……hmmmm……Anyway, ENJOY.  And to my fellow citizens, Happy Fourth of July!  To our neighbors to the North, Happy Canada Day two days late!

PS:  since I expect I’ll get asked, the class is closed to new enrollees.  Our sign up was in December, and I expect Ricky will offer this 52-week challenge again.  To see all his offerings, visit www.letsquilttogether.com.

 

Kimonos in Texas–memories of Mother

July 1st, 2015

Tomorrow, two new exhibits open at the Texas Quilt Museum:  a solo show of work by Judith Content and a companion exhibit Kimono Quilts and Kimonos.  Judith’s artwork often takes the stylized form of a kimono on display–I so wish a trip all the way to Texas was affordable.   I am honored that a quilt I made as an 80th birthday gift to my mother is on display in the companion exhibit.  It is especially rewarding since I made this quilt long before I became a quilting professional, so I am thrilled my work meets the high standards of the museum.

Happy 80th Birthday, Mama. Exhibited in the first year of the "I Remember Mama" exhibit at International Quilt Festival Houston, in honor of her mother, who had recently passed. Published in Karey Bresenhan's  book of the same name which featured quilts from the three years of this special exhibit.

Happy 80th Birthday, Mama. Exhibited in the first year of the “I Remember Mama” exhibit at International Quilt Festival Houston, in honor of her mother, who had recently passed. Published in Karey Bresenhan’s book of the same name which featured quilts from the three years of this special exhibit.  PS:  my photo editing skills weren’t so great when I processed this photo–the black binding really is even in real life!

To read about the exhibit, which runs from July 2 through September 27, 2015, please visit this page.  I am honored to be included with such famous artists and quilters, and know Mother would be so pleased and proud!

Detail of my kimono shaped quilt.

Detail of my kimono shaped quilt.

I chose the kimono shape and Japanese-inspired fabric because Japan was so important to Mother.  She grew up during the Depression and World War II, and always wanted to travel.  I expect *her* mother was terrified when my mom went to serve in Japan with the Occupation Army in 1946 and -47.  Those two years were formative in her life; she developed and abiding love the the people and nation of Japan and, lucky me!, she took me on a trip there in 1996.  The quilt features photos-on-fabric of three generations:  mother and her parents/siblings, my parents and me, then at the bottom me, Paul and our boys (with a photo of Eli on his way home from the hospital–he was still a baby when this was made!).

Today marks the fourth anniversary of her passing.  As Maya Angelou said, no matter what your relationship with your mother, you will miss her after she is gone.  Some years mother was my best friend; other years were more difficult.  But in the end she finally allowed herself to show that she was proud of me and cared for me.

The last photo of us together, on Mother's Day 2011.

The last photo of us together, on Mother’s Day 2011.

My last photo of mother, taken a week before she died, and the last time I saw her sitting up.  Mama, I hope you are with Daddy, Charlie and Tom J., comfortable, memory intact and happy.   I'll see you all one of these years (but I hope not TOO soon--I still have my sons and husband).

My last photo of mother, taken a week before she died, and the last time I saw her sitting up. Mama, I hope you are with Daddy, Charlie and Tom J., comfortable, memory intact and happy. I’ll see you all one of these years (but I hope not TOO soon–I still have my sons and husband).

If anyone actually gets to the Texas Quilt Museum and can take pictures of the gallery space with my quilt and those around it shown, I’d love to see it!