light thru the subject

February 24, 2010

Realized as I was working that I’ve been piecing this stain quilt in a rhythm similar to the pojagi style I like.  Of course most pieced work like this will look like pojagi when held to the light.  But these are just regular seams so the effect is softer and less dramatic than the French-seam I use for pojagi (or any of the authentic Korean enclosed seams).

Fun to see in the light like this, but it will definitely be a quilt… though quilts are wrappers, too, like pojagi has traditionally been.

stain quilt in window 24feb2010

light thru stain-two pieces-24feb2010


stains gather

February 23, 2010

Not very good photos today, but some progress on the stain quilt.  And a look at my “studio” in the middle of this project.  It’s actually the dining room converted temporarily, but I have a little time right now that I can use this room only for sewing, so hoping to make lots of progress (when I’m not at the day job).

stain quilt progress 23 feb 2010

linen studio

slow stain

February 20, 2010

I’ve finally started the project I’ve wanted to do for over fifteen years.  A quilt made from stained linen.  I mentioned this in a post last November, and was encouraged by readers to get to it.  I heard you.

This is probably the slowest cloth I’ve ever engaged in.  It’s been percolating so long.  (And because there seems to be some question people have debated about what “slow cloth” means, I’ll say in this case, for me, it means not only time, but full attention to nuance of material, process, object.  I think that may be sort of what Elaine Lipson means too.)  Some years ago I had tried using a traditional cathedral windows pattern because interesting stains could be framed as a natural part of the design.  But I just never liked how that looked.  Now I’m attempting a more organic approach, and one that encompasses a broader range of human stain-making.  First, of course, there’s the story implied by stains on linens.  You could say the stains are mark-making byproducts of human narrative.  But then there is deliberate mark-making as in something intentional and expressive, the object being ‘art’ or ‘craft’.  The difference between unintentional and intentional mark-making seems small to me.  No doubt there are many who would argue with that, but I’m combining the two in this quilt because I believe human agency has a continuum of expression.  And besides, so far, I like how it looks together.  “I know what I like when I see it.”   The basis for human discernment, art or accident.

first piecing of stain quilt

The dotted-pattern piece is obviously a print, though it too is stained.  I really like the way the regularity and understatement of the dots play against the organic stains all around it.

early piecing of stain quilt, 2010

I’m including some pieces of by-product from a first bumbling attempt at walnut dyeing. And some beet-stamping without mordant that became “merely” stains after laundering.

MT initial embroidery detail, stain quilt, 2010

little damask blocks, stain quilt, 2010

These little damask blocks are approx. 1.5 to 2 inches square.

early stain quilt detail, 2010

small indigo

February 14, 2010

Working on a table scarf as a gift for someone very dear.  She loved the colors and fabrics in our indigo quilt, so I’ve used the remaining cutoffs in this piece for her.  Among the ordinary print fabrics are many special ones: vintage Japanese kasuri, African adire, traditionally hand-dyed and hand-woven indigoes, and others.  But it’s pretty busy and needs to be held a little more firmly than just a dark border.  I’ve ordered a couple pieces from Japan in hopes at least one will be right for this.

Indigo table scarf detail-1

Detail of table scarf - full size is approx 2'x4'

indigo table scarf detail-2

some vintage kasuri, handwoven stripes, African adire, and some commercial indonesian batik

little housetop

January 27, 2010

Last fall I continued trying to create a wallhanging for my daughter because she was inspired by a Gee’s Bend exhibit. Despite emulating with free cutting, salvaged fabric, and a favorite Gee’s Bend pattern, I could never get loose enough.  Nevertheless, I gave the result to her and she seems pleased enough.  But I’m not as pleased as I want to be myself.  I’ll probably let this effort go for awhile because of other projects, but I hope someday to give her something much stronger and more fluent.

Anyway, I titled it “Fall Homage to Housetop,” and subtitled it “getting over the fear of corduroy.”  Two different flea market cords combined with old shirts and some Fassett cottons. The cords were the real risk for me because using something too easy like that always felt a little like velvet paintings.  But just having the corduroy was enough for the Gee’s Bend women to turn out glorious quilts using it. And in fact in this little piece I don’t dislike it and will probably use it more.  Well, that’s a kind of progress I guess.

The color and surface texture turned out to be hard to photograph.  These from different cameras and different light, none precisely correct.

slow return

January 26, 2010

The people writing almost all the blogs I follow seem to have recovered their rhythm after the holidays and started posting in their usual way, sometimes even more than usual.  But over here life has thrown in some kinks and I’m still trying to find my way to the work I want to do in the coming months, old projects that have just been holding in the back of my mind, and some newer ones too.  While I move slowly into that, I’ve picked up a book I started last year and didn’t finish, though I’ve wanted to.  It’s called The Craftsman by Richard Sennett, a sociologist who in this book examines what craftsmanship is and what it means to human culture, past and present.  It’s one of those kinds of books that I underline in and write notes in the margins on most of the pages.  I thought I’d bring a little of that here.  For instance, from the prologue:

“Learning from things requires us to care about the qualities of cloth or the right way to poach fish; fine cloth or food cooked well enables us to imagine larger categories of ‘good.’”   And a paragraph later: “…we can achieve a more humane material life, if only we better understand the making of things.”

Agreed.  Slow cloth and slow food.  Better life.  (And I won’t even complain about it being The Craftsman.)

The Craftsman bookcover

time out

December 18, 2009

Posting sporadic, well…practically nonexistent while the holidays descend.  Season settling in, and big nor’easter headed up the coast.


December 8, 2009

Just home from work, glancing through paper as I eat some dinner, and whoa! my heart leaps to see the lead article in the NYTimes Science section, “The Circular Logic of the Universe.”  I love it when art and science merge, as they always should.  If you’re inexplicably drawn to circles like me, take a look.

morning moon

December 4, 2009

Jude and Deb have been showing moons, and Lainie mentioning the blue moon this month.  Here’s a morning moon caught pre-dawn in a tree (looking a bit like the tree just opened one eye – another eye for Jude).


November 30, 2009

Something unexpected from Thanksgiving to be grateful for.  My sister-in-law gave me picks from a large stash of remnants given to her by a costume designer she works with.  I chose mostly silks and cottons.  Leftover fabrics are so inspiring.  And leftover free fabric is easier to use.


I’m especially taken with all these grey silks and the golden brocade.