Elegy for Mike

The parade of finished quilts from 2014 is feeling weird to me. I much prefer talking about the process in closer to real-time, rather than reflecting more generally. This is one for which communication with other makers would have been nice.

Sadly, it seems I should remind you of Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed young man shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on the night of August 9, 2014. In the hours, days, and weeks thereafter, the local police aggressively responded to peaceful protestors.

Now…that’s the nutshell without mentioning race and without reminding oneself that this happens often.

My thoughts went to the parents of MB and the parents of young black males, and the parents of any child who might “fit the profile of a suspect.” This is personal. And it should be personal to anyone who values human life. And I’m tired of ranting about this. I had the words churning back then and half-expected them to turn into pseudo-eloquence but, well, it’s all too much.

Because I’ve lost hope.
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You came for a quilt? Well, I’ll just flash some process photos without much narration. I grabbed a stack of dark fabrics of all fiber content (cotton, corduroy, silk, satin, polyester, some sparkle, velvet, jute, you name it!), turned it into a large log cabin and then densely handquilted all over in black silk. Finally finished with six stylized embroidered gunshots.

A meditation on the ruination of the black home.

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

Elegy

I’ll leave it there, though this seems unfinished…

Elegy for Mike

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The Details:

Materials: my own handdyed indigo on flour sacking; quilting cotton, silk, burlap, satin, canvas, velvet, among other fabrics; flannel lining; cotton backing; cotton and silk embroidery threads
Techniques: machine pieced; hand quilted; hand embroidered; hand faced
Finished size: about 50″ square
Started : August 27, 2014
Finished:September 7, 2014

In Hogtown

So…how about another finished quilt from last year?

On July 1, 2014 I was granted a bit of freedom from RealJob. It’s a freedom I’ve not had in many years and it turned out to be the Best Thing Ever.

Part of my time was spent catching up on all the creative work I’d missed out on for a year. And then I began to think about what ought to be next.

In Hogtown

Ever just ask yourself…what if?

In Hogtown

What if you want to sew log cabin blocks using skinny strips? (Let’s go with 5/8″.) And what if you don’t mind some wonky personality in them? And what if…? You name it.

In Hogtown

What if you vary the sizes and don’t require squares?

In Hogtown

Eventually I made this quilt that joins In Wedowee and In Anniston as part of a series of log cabin quilts representing places important to me. This one is my college town, with all the various structures: long skinny dorms, teetering houses in the student ghetto, etc.

In Hogtown

This one exhibited in Houston at the International Quilt Festival in October 2014 as part of the American Made Brand Farm to Fabric.

In Hogtown

The Details:

Materials: American Made Brand cotton solids in almost all the colors
Techniques: machine pieced; machine quilted; hand-bound
Finished size: about 30″ square
Started : June 28, 2014
Finished:August 15, 2014

sorta silent sunday: vanishing

vanishing

vanishing

vanishing

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The Details

Materials: handdyed solids; pieced blocks are leftovers from another quilt project
Techniques:machine foundation paper-pieced; machine quilted; hand-bound
Finished size: about 21×23"
Started : September 22, 2014 (blocks are leftovers; really just took one night to piece, quilt, bind)
Finished:December 10, 2014

navel-gazing at a small community

Just two short weeks into 2015 and I already feel lost in a simmering cauldron of goals, both long- and short-range. I’ll need to do some more thinking and writing to settle in again. How about an update and some stuff to think about?

Anyway, a friend recently asked why I continue to blog. Of course, I mainly use this space to connect with others who make similar (and very different!) things. But, lately, I’m less connected with my posts than with the behind-the-scenes conversations they generate. So it’s fulfilling, yet causing me to wonder. These are just initial thoughts about the question and perhaps I’ll come to some conclusions soon?

Foremost, this space allows me to get feedback on my current work. Like these squares and stuff. And, please, scroll back. Blogs are ongoing conversations. This FAQ might clear up some questions and bring up others. I’m happy to answer most questions and often am inspired by things you bring up that I’ve not yet considered. Thanks, as always, for this!

Organizing.

This photo shows the current state of preparation for hand sewing and the brewing organization scheme. Piles of tiny squares on the table were starting to tilt precariously and then tumble into my lunches. These ArtBin IDS boxes are quickly becoming faves in the studio. They should come with more dividers, but otherwise, they seem more tidy and secure. I’ll just keep adding one square at time to the patchwork and replenish the bin every once in a while.

Things are harried here with some bits of RealJob and leading up to QuiltCon, so I’m not ready to launch into deeper waters. But I do want to point to some things on my mind to explore here soon. In particular… We should be more mindful of internal drive to make and how we all have diverse motivations. We should be more discerning about the concepts (not categories) of art–craft–design. And we should endeavor to achieve historical perspective on what we do. Here’s some food for thought on each of those. Let’s talk about these things this year!

— We were talking about juried shows a month ago and there’s still more to contemplate. Bill Volkening among others have posted their own introspection about the internal drive for WHY we make things versus external validation. This, to me, is the central point that then causes one to wonder whether our differing internal motivations can foster (unnecessary?) breakdowns in communication. An overly analytical taxonomy of quilters might help here?

— Along those same lines is the continuing conversation about art versus craft. It can be difficult to approach this one with a bird’s eye view. Today I enjoyed Elizabeth Barton’s brief overview of the question. Hillary brought this up too with an analogy to Vivian Maier that I think can serve as a jumping off point of sorts. But I quibble more often with the question of art versus design in the quilting communities and I think this might complexify her argument. [And, umm, Hillary is not known well enough. You guys need to go see what this ER doctor does in her spare time! Go!]

— Finally, I think historical perspective is crucial in almost every conversation in life. I agree with Joe who assesses an ahistorical bent among “younger” or “newer” or “modern” quilters. This is a condition that I hope will be remedied somehow over time, though he suggests it’s not completely necessary. We should be more aware of where our work sits in the grand scheme of things. For the most part, the effects should be: (1) engendering humility and reverence, and (2) inspiring art and design that is actually “new” and interesting. Or, at least, that’s what I think steeping myself in history does for me.

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As for the short-range plans here, I hope to show some of the quilts I made in autumn that have been embargoed for various reasons. They each represent an advance in my own skillz that may help me make more interesting quilts in the future. Plus, I’m kinda proud of them and all their quirks. So maybe one or two quilts each week? We’ll see.