Saturday, June 20, 2009

Packing in Earnest

All week long I've been putting stuff in boxes, getting ready for the Quilt Surface Design Symposium. We're leaving tomorrow and I'm taking a 7 day class with Elizabeth Busch. Today it's time to really get serious, finalize my packing, move stuff up out of the studio and into the car. This class I'm taking is called a "Master Class". It's more of a mentored studio where we have the benefit of input from both the instructor and all our classmates. We bring our own projects and pretty much do work of our own choosing. There are usually group critiques and one-on-one critiques plus other art-inspiring activities. We're also going to be doing some painting on cotton duck, something I don't usually do.

I been thinking about my years of attendance at QSDS. My first class was in 1993, when it was still run at the Josephinium Seminary, a college for priests in Columbus. The facilities were primitive, to put it mildly. Our rooms were the cells in the dormitory, no air conditioning, big enough for a single bed and a dresser. The showers were down the hall, and two rooms shared a toilet and a sink. One quickly became acquainted with one's "sink-mate". The class I took was titled "A Problem-Solving Approach to Design" and it was a series of small projects that taught us how to boost creativity. The best lesson I took away from that class was to not be afraid to experiment and to not let the work become so dear that you're afraid to try something for fear of wrecking it.

It was my first exposure to Quilt National and I was gobsmacked. These "quilts" were like nothing I had ever seen and I wasn't even sure I liked them. At that point, I wasn't even ready to call myself an artist. If someone had told me that my work would one day be hanging in Quilt National I would have laughed and laughed. Now I feel very comfortable calling myself an artist.

I didn't attend QSDS again until 1997, but I have been there every year since. For a long time I took different technique classes: low water dyeing, stamping, machine quilting, screen printing - lots of surface design techniques to add to my repertoire. After a while I realized that I also needed education in design principles and how to think like an artist. Luckily, QSDS began their Master Classes, just what I was looking for. At some point you have to really start doing your own work - take all those different techniques and make them work for you.

To digress a bit... I don't remember what quilts were the first ones I entered into Quilt National but I'm sure they were deserving of rejection considering the competition. Here is one of my entries from QN 2001. It's titled Rx: Chocolate. It's a self-portrait of sorts. I stamped words that come into one's vocabulary as one reaches a "certain age": menopause, bone density, mammogram, yadda, yadda. Quilted into the background is my own prescription for these facts of life: chocolate. Doesn't solve the problems, but it makes them more bearable.

Rx: Chocolate ©1999
51" x 40"

Here is a detail view, and I just noticed that the "g" is upside down in "mammogram". Must be some hidden meaning there, I think.

Rx: Chocolate ©1999

I've always thought this would be a great piece of art for an OB/GYN's office, but so far there haven't been any takers.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I'm sure all my fans are wondering where I've been these past two weeks. Or maybe it's longer, shame on me. I've been resting on my laurels, basking in my Quilt National achievements, but now it's time to get back to business. One QN success is terrific, but it sure doesn't last forever.

I've been working on a few things, partly to get back into the swing of things and partly to prepare for QSDS, which is actually starting this weekend, but I won't be going until next weekend. Sessions IV and V with Elizabeth Busch is what I'm taking. It's a "master class" meaning it's pretty much self-driven with lots of input from the teacher. We're going to be doing painting in the class and she wanted us to get cotton duck. We also have to print up color 8.5x11 pictures of the last 5 to 10 pieces we've done and they will become part of the class discussion/critique. Should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it. I've been going through my paints and throwing out the old dried up ones and trying to decide which ones to bring. It's tough to limit myself but there is only so much space. I also have to decide how much thread to bring. Last year I think I brought my entire collection and it's alot. But I hardly used any of it. If I decide to only bring a small selection, I will probably wish I had more.

Part of the QSDS conference is an auction of small works that benefits the scholarship fund. It took me a few years to actually contribute work to this auction because I was fearful that nobody would bid on my work. Last year there was a bidding war on the little piece that I contributed and it was a huge morale booster. This year I'm donating two pieces (they have two different auctions, each at the Friday Banquet). They're very similar: background from the same piece of fabric, the foreground is a positive image on one and the negative image on the other. Would make a nice diptych, I think. They're both 10" tall by 9" wide.

There will be an online gallery of pieces up for auction at the QSDS web site, probably starting next week. If you're not there to bid in person, you can contact them and place bids by phone or by setting a top limit. The entire proceeds go to the scholarship fund.

Inside ©2009

Outside ©2009