“Allegories” – an accidental art quilt project

When it comes to the sewing machine, I am certainly NOT an advanced user. I can sew straight lines, shorten some curtains or mend jeans – but I am not good with interpreting sewing patterns or creating intricate wearables… I am more of a “try and error” gal. So making a quilt was definitely not on my mind!

But that is what I finally chose to create: a freestyle art quilt. But first of all, while I have been visiting Venice last year, I admired the decorated windows of the houses and took some pictures for inspiration. Back home, I edited the photographs and had them printed on fabric. Then, I began to stitch onto the pictures, emphasizeing elements and adding further items as I went along. After three pictures were worked on, I realised that the heart symbol was a recurring object and thus decided to incorporate it into all window portraits. The heart and other symbols turn the pictures surreal; and each window opens the way to another allegory…


Let me explain the individual works a bit:


“Snake bite” 2018

“Snake bite” is an allegory of temptation. The heart is tempted and failed to resist. Thus it was bitten by the seducer.

“The catch” 2018

“The catch” is an allegory of possession. The heart is possessed by a hunter, probably someone with power (the bait arsenal).

“Flying the tightrope” 2019

“Flying the tightrope” is an allegory of frivolity. The heart is ready to take great risks. This mentality can give the mind wings. But it can as well shatter the heart.

“Growing pain” 2019

“Growing pain” is an allegory of growth and – more universal – evolution. Tiny heart-buds are blooming. The balcony is entered through the window of youth and left through the window of seniority. All development comes with growing pain.

“Aerating” 2019

“Aerating” is an allegory of self-care. Not only the outer layers are to be held clean and fresh, also emotions (good AND bad) need to be cared for and not neglected. Only thus can the heart recharge.

“Ying and Yang” 2019

“Ying and Yang” is an allegory of opposites and commonalities. Sun and moon, heart and brain – they compete against AND complete each other. They often stand opposite yet still on the same balcony.

“Escape” 2019

“Escape” is an allegory of emotionality. When windows are closed by reasoning, emotion has it’s own life and can still escape the rationality.

“Freed” 2019

“Freed” is an allegory of salvation. The body might be tortured, but the soul is freed.


Back to the process of creating the quilt: After having finished the eight window portraits, I machine sewed fabric scraps losely together for the background of the piece. I then handquilted them properly in Boro style. This took hours, I can tell you! But it is a very calming work and I like doing it. The fabric scraps are all upcycled; I collected them as leftovers from other projects, as pieces of once loved clothing or I was given them by friends. In this particular piece, I wanted to include all the colors of the color wheel to show the rainbow of all possible emotions and situations life holds.

The next step was fixing the window portraits on the background. And then I watched a bunch of Youtube tutorials to learn how to batt and bind a quilt. My result is rather crippled (don’t look at the backside of the quilt…) but at least I could use up some old cloth and random pieces of batting for it! 😉

I am fairly pleased with the final piece; it speaks to me in many ways. I like symbolism and surrealism, and I like the colors, and I think my work transports the messages I wanted it to transport.

A teabag a day (part 2)

Remember this project I worked on together with my daughter last year? Well, she finally finished her little book of arty-fied teabags! 🙂

So I can share part 2 of the story: A Teabag A Day by RHN


 

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Participation in other artist’s art projects 2015-17

From time to time, I love to participate in art projects of other artists. This gives me the opportunity of working for a concrete assignment given by someone else then myself. I like to send work not only to textile artists but also to artists working in other media. I see it as a welcome challenge to create a fiber art piece that “fits in” with the other media art pieces and it is also another try to let the art world know that textile works have a right to be regarded as art pieces just as well. Plus, taking part in other’s projects provides the bene of having my work more widely shared.

Below are my works that I sent to other artists within the years of 2015 – 17.


 

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“The key” 2015

Creating “The key” was my very first time participating in a mail art project. I was approached by the talented and friendly contemporary mixed media artist MOO (Monika Mori) and instantly loved her project! The project’s theme was “Turquoise” and you can see all the amazing entries in this online gallery. Since this first participating in an art mail project, I love the concept!


 

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“Colorful Silence” 2015

In spring 2016, I came across an open call for another art mail project on facebook. The project was initiated and curated by the Spanish photographer María Hernández Laplaza. The project’s theme was “Confidencias mudas” and the resulting exhibition toured throughout Spain. Some pictures can be found here. Unfortunately, my work was stolen during the first exhibition. 😦


 

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“Gugu dada” 2016

Another interesting art project I found in 2016 was author and artist Sabine Küster’s mail art project “…mir ist so daDa im Kopf!”. As a Swiss artist and author myself, I feel closely connected with dadaism and I love playing around with words as much as I love embroidery! My entry (see above right) was selected for publication in the project’s work book (above left). The book is available here.


 

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“Between moss” 2016

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“Between blues” 2016

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“Fill the gap” 2016

Inspired by the three art mail projects I took part in, I decided to give a go at curating my own exhibition after all. As a founding member of the Swiss Hand Embroiderer’s Guild, I organised the project “IN BETWEEN / DAZWISCHEN” under the Guild’s roof. The project resulted in an online gallery and a one-day exhibition in a pop-up gallery in Winterthur, Switzerland. My three entries are shown above. The project was a very time consuming but also very exciting and satisfying undertaking. 🙂

PS: The Guild hosts a yearly fiber art project since then. Go check out their website!


 

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“Evidence” 2017

In 2017, I participated in a project by fellow fiber artist Martina Unterharnscheidt. She planned and executed an exhibition in her own gallery with the title “Almohadismus – das Kissen in der Kunst”.


 

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“Upcycled CD – front” 2017

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“Upcycled CD – back” 2017

Also in 2017, I worked with one of my favorite artist collectives Art in Open Roomz again for a small yet funny art project: upcycling cd’s into art objects! You can view pictures of the resulted mobile sculpture here.


 

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“My tune” 2017

Further this year, the Swiss Hand Embroiderers’ Guild orchestrated an art swap. I was assigend an ukulele loving fiber artist and created “My tune” for her.


 

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“Beautified” 2017

My last project entry in 2017 was “Beautified”, a quilt square for a collaborative art quilt by the Upcycled Cloth Collective founded by upcycling textiles virtuoso Melanie Brummer. The square has to be made of recycled materials and has to show a word paraphrasing “upcycled”. If you are interested, join the collective here.

Ribbon in Grey – an embroidered book

In 2014, I started what got to be an embroidery illustrated story. And now, three years later, I finally hold the first edition of booklet copies in my hands! 🙂

Back then, I participated in an online course of the Atelier Lange Nadel and we had to each month upload a new piece of work in an online gallery for about half a year. I decided to create individual pieces that would loosely connect to each other. I started with the coral reef that later became chapter 5 in my story:

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techniques: photo transfer, stumpwork, appliqué, padding, hand stitch

As a recognition feature, I added a piece of grey satin ribbon. That’s how my story got it’s title!

As to the story itself: I am also a writer and had had a story about a medieval wet nurse in mind already for a long time… always wanted to write a novel, but could not find the time. So I decided to write a story in free verse instead. It is in English, which is NOT my mother tongue. I don’t know why, but the words just came to me in this language. Maybe because in English, you can say a lot with just a few words whereas in German, you would need much longer phrases…

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techniques: linocut stamping, beadwork, hand stitch

So here we go: “Ribbon in Grey” is a story about a medieval nurse and her daily struggle for survivor. It is also a story about power and fear, about loss and love. Want to read the story and see all embroidered pieces? You can order a copy here.