Last post, I wrote about Ann Brauer‘s use of gray tones with flashes of color, and her post, Why Grey? I came across this trivet I made, which I photographed and then forgot about. I love these tiles with the flashes of gray, taupe. They are subtle and ever-changing in the light. Then it’s even more fun to add the orange, coral and tea rose tones, with the pop of red-orange dichroic in the center.
I love when quilters come into my booth, as at the 2012 PA Guild Show in Wilmington. They come closer and are happy to find that the mosaics that looked familiar are indeed based on quilt patterns. I had a conversation with a woman who loved the colors in my work, and that she feels the way about colors in fabric. I won the Adele Swenson award for excellence in Home Economics in the 9th grade.
It took me awhile to figure out that the allure of Home Economics was that I liked choosing fabric, not the actual sewing. I still remember the colors and textures of fabric I chose in junior high: nubby linen in red with black flowers, brown plaid with gold threads, cream cotton with a tiny strawberry print, maroon fine wale corduroy(which apparently I was spelling the Canadian way, cordouroy, which the spellchecker took issue with), and black cotton with shimmering gold flowers for a blouse with gold piping.
I am glad that I can interpret quilt patterns in glass, keeping the color, and the thread connecting me to my younger self.
Fall is my favorite season, in part because there’s so much orange in the landscape. I finished this Orange and Copper Patchwork Tile, and was happy to finally find a use for a couple strips of fusible glass in a cool leopard-like pattern that a friend gave me when I first started making mosaics. It’s always been a challenge for me to use something I really love, as if saving it in a drawer is safer than risking ruining it, but making art has helped me see the joy in using what delights my eye, and it’s worth the risk. Making my patchworks feels like a special treat, as I get out dishes and dishes of tesserae, and improvise.
What are you holding onto?
Kickstarter has gotten my imagination, with the possibility of helping living artists create their work. Stratoz and I contributed to The Triangle Shirtwaist Jazz Project, by composer Jim Kuemmerle. As he says in describing his project:
Next March 25th is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, a horrific tragedy that inspired a wave of governmental and workplace reform.
For this past year, I’ve been composing and arranging a series of instrumental jazz pieces that together honor and reinterpret the story of the Triangle factory. They incorporate influences from traditional East European, Jewish, and Italian folk and sacred music, as well as influences from across the spectrum of jazz.
146 people died in the fire, mostly young immigrant women, because the all the doors were locked at closing time because the owners wanted to search the workers as they left. Ironically, the shirtwaist was an article of clothing that many women found a relief, because it was much more comfortable than corsets and hoop skirts, and in my post about Tiffany glass artist Clara Driscoll, she is shown wearing a shirtwaist blouse.
When I was an undergraduate, I took a class in the history of the labor movement in the United States, and was very moved by the account of this fire, as well as the story of the Lawrence textile workers'(mostly women and girls)strike of 1912, and wrote a series of poems for my MFA in creative writing on women workers. Triangles have been a favorite motif in my mosaics, especially those from quilt blocks like “Spinning Pinwheel” and “Broken Dishes” and remind me of how quilts were usually the work of women’s hands.
In 2007, Kuemmerle wrote a composition entitled “Kolmio,” which means ‘triangle’ in Finnish. This piece was written for a modern dance project at Arizona State University.
Over at Stratoz’s Blog:
UPDATE: Goal was met, and we received our CD and have listened to it with pleasure. Review of Jim Kuemmerle Triangle Shirtwaist Jazz Project.
I am always looking for new tesserae to create mosaics with, and when I saw the Calliope Series of Recycled Glass Tile I was hooked! The variegation is especially enticing, allowing for visual texture, and giving a lively feeling, in motion with swirls. The sheen is lightly iridized. According to Hakatai, the Oregon Importer of these tiles, they are 50% recycled glass, 90% of which is post-consumer. As soon as they arrived, I was in the studio experimenting.
I also have a sheet of Garden, in shades of blue and green.
At a craft show, a woman came up to me and said “Ohio Star.” At first I didn’t know what she was talking about, but then she said that Ohio Star would be well suited to my mosaics. I finally had the chance to try this pattern out, and it was indeed an enjoyable one!
From my research into the origins of this pattern, Ohio Star became popular in the mid-19th century, and is of the genre of variable stars, which take any number of configurations of squares and triangles. But like many quilt patterns, any more exact history is difficult to find. Marsha McCloskey’s book, Variable Star Quilts and How to Make Them, notes that “Variable Star” is an astronomy term, and means a star that varies greatly in its brightness, depending on its surroundings, and that it is a fitting name for a quilt block that varies in its coloration depending on the colors of the the surrounding blocks.
Check out this cool variable star from Nasa’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, V838 Monocerotis(which means unicorn).
I have mosaics in a new pattern, Chinese Coins. Coin quilts go by many names, including Roman, Chinese and Stacked coins, and I fell in love with the variation in widths of the strips and the rhythm this creates. Gwen Marston, author of Liberated String Quilts, considers them the “Jackson Pollock” of quilt pattern.
In this pattern, coins are made of strings of fabric, and are a way to use up scraps that are too small for anything else. I was interested to read an article by Kimberly Wulfert describing string quilts as a product of economic depression, a form of utilitarian thrift. The first time I saw a string quilt in a display of Amish quilts, I was fascinated by the dynamism of lights and darks rippling through vertical lines.
Most of these quilts had a hard life because they were used intensely, and they filled a need. Some that have survived are in the quilts of Gee’s Bend. Auburn University’s Women’s Studies department put together a very cool project putting the Gee’s Bend quilts in context of history, geography, and complete with activities for kids and ideas for teachers.
I was looking for a new pattern to do in mosaic, and kept looking at Chinese Coins, and thinking I couldn’t find a way to translate it into glass, but then one day I decided I wanted to find a way. It was fun choosing different types of glass, and like the quilters, I had many strips already cut from other projects, just waiting to be used up.
Over at Stratoz’s Blog:
I have been honored to cover my bed with quilts made by my husband’s grandmother Mamie Danner, and Wayne’s love of quilts piqued my own interest with this art form. In this photo, Mamie is 2nd from the right. She had a quilting room in the basement of her house, and Wayne remembers visiting her there.
Quilt patterns give me a thrill, and being to translate them into glass is very exciting. My ability to sew blocks is impeded by an antagonistic relationship with my sewing machine(which now belongs to my husband for the quilt he made). At first I collaged Christmas cards in a log cabin pattern, using magazine papers, and was utterly absorbed in the interplay of color, the many tones and textures present in photographic images. Then, when I moved into my studio, and began to make mosaics, I remembered the log cabin cards, and wondered what I could do with mosaic.
I took a 12×12 inch square of 1/2 inch plywood, and began the process of making a red and black log cabin design. Glass has a range of textures, and I alternated shiny, matte, copper flecked, rough, translucent, and iridized. I am drawn to both visual and tactile texture. I know some mosaicists like their work perfectly flat and smooth and go to great lengths to make it so, but that would drive me crazy.
Another block I was intrigued to find is called “Broken Dishes”–an appropriate name for work done in mosaic! It’s a mixture of triangles, in a configuration of lights and darks that adds sparkle as the eye moves over the contrasts. At a holiday show, a woman came up to me and said “Ohio Star.” At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant, and then she said, you must try Ohio Star, and that is next on my list of patterns to try.