October 30, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 3

So I meant to post this a week (or two, or three?) ago. Things happen. But please don't let the late-ness of this post in any way hinder your delight or amazement of what I am about to offer.

 In the market part of the TSA conference, which turned out to be very dangerous for my wallet, I encountered a table stacked high with brightly colored, hand made quilts. Quilts for Kids Nepal is a microfinance project, based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Its mission is to provide work for economically-challenged women and to finance education for underprivileged children.
Founded in 2006, the project operates in an encampment of Indian street beggars located in a large field in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu.

This is the quilt I bought. The quilts are entirely hand -pieced and hand stitched. You can't really tell from the photos, but the quilting is all done in thick running stitches of varying colors of thread. It took about 45 minutes to decide which quilt I would buy and the back of this one is what sold me. The back is solid maroon fabric, and you can clearly see the lines of stitches. Also, note the tiny triangles of fabric and fabric tassels around the edge of the quilt. Amazing.

 The quilts are made from materials either found or purchased at local tailoring shops in the Boudhanath neighborhood of Kathmandu. Often they are made from scraps of old saris or from the pieces left over from the making of Buddhist monks' robes.

Go to the website and you can see more pictures and read more information about the program. 100% of your donation to Quilts for Kids Nepal goes to fund women's salaries as well as school tuition, school uniforms, shoes, pencils, books and backpacks for the kids.

October 24, 2010

productivity vs progress

This was a very productive weekend in that I got a lot done. However, I'm not really sure if I'm making progress. I've gotten off track slightly, but I think it's good.
This is what's up. Months ago, like way back at the end of August, I started a twin size quilt. It was in the "Skyscape" series, but based more on bright summer skies and green fields. Here it was in progress (hanging on my studio wall):
This thing had something like 26 hand dyed colors in the top and 35 hand dyed colors in the bottom. It was crazy. It took me about 4 days just to dye all the fabric, not to mention cutting and sewing the strips together. Twin size might not sound very big, but it was 66" wide x 88" tall, which is way bigger than me. The quilt top sat in my studio for quite a few weeks and was always in the back of my mind as this huge thing I had to tackle, but didn't want to. So on Friday I decided to cut it up into two smaller quilts. I planned, and sketched, and did math to figure out how best to cut this quilt top up to make two really great quilts out of it. Then I cut it wrong. I measured twice. I think I even measured 4 times, but to no avail. 
Here is what I ended up with:

The first one, I'm happy with. The second I was really skeptical of, but Jaime suggested cutting the big yellow piece on the bottom mostly off and now I'm feeling better about it. I'm going to cut it tonight. Both of these are back to my comfortable size of about 40" x 50". Both are quilted. The first one has the binding almost all sewn on. The bottom one needs to be trimmed up and then bound. The more I look at them, the happier I get. 

There is also a secret third quilt in progress. If I can keep using the dining room as my sewing studio and tear myself away from the Sookie books, I might complete three quilts this month. 

And this was the sky last night as I was working. Strange and beautiful. This might be the color palette for my next quilt.

October 14, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 2

The International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE has an amazing exhibition up called South Asian Seams: Quilts from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. All of the quilts were truly incredible - all hand pieced and hand quilted, with an amazing use of color, pattern, and repetition. I was particularly mesmerized by the Ralli Quilts from Pakistan. I have known about Rallis for a few years, but this was my first experience seeing them in person. Its impossible to know what the future will bring, but I have a feeling that the impact of seeing these quilts in person will change my work.

detail of the above Ralli   

 Ralli from Pujab, Pakistan. This ralli has the traditional Punjabi patterning with a mixture of geometric blocks and fine line applique. The appliqued blocks remind me of paper cut artwork and Hawaiian Quilts.

From Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan. Features fifteen 8-petaled lotus flowers in bright colors. The multiple, patterned borders are typical of the region. 

All of the hand-stitching and hand-applique make me feel pretty lazy for machine stitching everything. I need to reconsider time and commitment in my work and the expressive quality of a hand-made stitch. 

October 10, 2010

Quilts from TSA part 1

Okay friends. I feel totally rejuvenated and inspired and ready to make some amazing quilts. All because of the Textile Society of America Conference that was last week in Lincoln, NE. It was a great conference and I'm still mentally sorting everything - the people I met, the amazing quilts, weavings, embroideries, and other fiber work, and the lectures. Not all of the lectures were mind-blowing, but enough of them were great that the mediocre ones will soon be forgotten. There were way too many highlights to showcase in this one blog entry, so I will pick out my three favorite quilted things from the conference to share in three parts. Parts 2 and 3 will come later this week.

First: I got to see Anna von Mertens' quilts in person. (that sentence does not properly describe my excitement about the event).There was an exhibition of 6 of her quilts at the Project Room. In one room there were two quilts, Dawn (Anna Zerissa Morse Thurston, born February 6, 1841, Surry, Maine) and Dusk (Anna Zerissa Morse Thurston, died April 11, 1886, Oakland, California) 2008, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 54" x 100" (each piece). In the other room were four of her Aura Quilts, two are pictured here:

Philip IV's aura, after Velázquez
2009, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 80 x 38 1/2"
(with me)
Mona Lisa's aura, after Leonardo da Vinci
2009, hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton, 34 3/4" x 25 3/4"
I have been a big fan of her work for about 4 years but had only seen pictures of her amazing quilts. As you all probably know, fiber work does not really translate into photography. These quilts, well, I just don't know what to say about them. The color is the main thing and it is bright, dark, light, juicy, smooth, vibrant. They are all hand quilted and you can see (if you look closely) the portrait that they are based on in the stitching. If you don't know her work, go to her website now.
coming up later this week:
Part 2 - Ralli Quilts from Pakistan
Part 3 - Quilts for Kids Nepal