“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.

Ceramic work and stitch fusion

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detail of “Mare” 2017

With this series, I aimed to explore how ceramics could be adorned by embroidery. When I went to the local ceramic studio that is open to the public, I had no other concept in mind than to create something that I could possibly stitch on later…

While the clay was processed through the compactor, it lay between damp cloth. Immediately, I noticed that there was an interesting imprint of the cloth on the clay. It looked as if the clay was a thick piece of cloth itself! I then decided to not further process the clay but to simply cut it in small squares and to prick random holes in them that were large enough for a common embroidery needle. I then had these “tiles” put in the kiln.

A few days later, I picked up my now fired tiles and brought them home. I sorted some out and arranged them on my studio table. They looked like ceramic “inchies”! That’s why I decided to arrange them in fours and paint them and decorate them in an “inchy-ish” way.

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painting the ceramic tiles with acrylics

To have a neutral background, I cut out some felt squares. I then stitched the tiles on the black felt and further adorned them with beads.

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one finished tile, adorned with bullion stitch and glass beads

I then arranged the tiles in groups of four and sew them on cloth and put the finished pieces on canvas or directly sew them on painted canvas. The painting of the canvas and the fabric manipulation of the background fabric contribute a lot to the finished pieces!

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“Basalt” (2018), on painted canvas

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“Mare” (2018), on manipulated fabric on canvas

Looking at my creations, I wondered if anybody would buy my works… I thought, I could maybe add a functional bonus so that the works could be viewed as well as used! Thus, I made some of the final pieces into key/jewelry holders. 🙂

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“Volcano” (2017)

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“Mare” (2017)

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“Rustic” (2018)

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“Sunkissed” (2018)

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“Chili” (2018)

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“Rose” (2018)

 

Rust meets textiles

Pentecost this year was very creative for me!

I was able to attend a 3-days-workshop at the art studio of Arti Lemon (artbylemon.com) about oxidation processes in painting. Arti is a painting artist specialising in rust, ink, marble flour, bitumen and some more techniques.

In Arti’s workshop, I learned how to initiate and moderate oxidation processes for mixed media art pieces. Iron becomes rust, other metal particles become patina. The shading depends on many factors such as temperature, humidity and – of course – the sort of chemical you apply to the metals.

As I am primarily a textile artist, I was experimenting with fusing textiles and rust.

These are my “results” so far:

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Rusted 1 (2018)

  • wallpaper and vintage lace on mdf board
  • oxidated silver, copper and iron
  • 15 x 15 cm

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Rusted 4 (2018)

  • vintage lace on mdf board
  • oxidated iron, copper
  • hand embroidery
  • 15 x 15 cm

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Rusted 3 (2018)

  • pressed dried physalis petals and cloth stripes on mdf board
  • acrylic paint, oxidated copper, graphite
  • hand embroidery
  • 15 x 15 cm

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Rusted 2 (2018)

  • vintage lace and synthetic gauze on mdf board
  • oxidated capper and silver, acrylic ink and acrylic paint
  • linocut stamp
  • freestyle goldwork
  • 15 x 15 cm

 

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Rusted 5 (2018)
  • background mdf-board: Chinese paper and acrylic paint
  • foreground mdf-board: oxidated iron, acrylic paint and seed pod
  • 20 x 20 cm

edit July 2018: I was thrilled to learn that Rusted 2 won second prize in the “All Waterscape” competition of the CAGO (Contemporary Art Gallery Online) within the cathegorie “mixed media”! 🙂

Upcycled

Whereas a painter buys (or fabricates) a canvas and creates his piece on it, for a textile artist, the canvas is his piece (or at least a part of his piece). This can well be seen as causally determined as canvas is fabric. –

“Waste not, want not!” is a motto often used within the upcycling community. I am not specifically an “upcyclist”, but as a textile artist, re-using fabric, upcycling fibers and re-modelling cloth comes with the job. Of course I also buy new fabric from time to time. But I also like to manipulate spare fabrics I already have or have been gifted.

So I decided to focus an this upcycling theme and create a new series.

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Traces of thought (2017)

Above is the first piece of this series. It is a “crazy patchwork freestyle quilt” kind of thing, sewn on painted canvas. The background is made of snippets of an older summer dress of mine which I upcycled into a skirt, so there was plenty of spare fabric!

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Map of passions (2017)

No. 2 of the Upcycled Series is “Map of passions”. It is made of left over fabric of pants that were tailored for a ballett show of my dance class (we performed Cinderella). Dancing is another passion of mine, therefore the title. 😉

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Proof of waste (2017)

“Proof of waste” entirely made of thread and clothing labels. Some plastic waste and glass beads added for adornment.

 

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Evidende of injuries (2017)

This is the most elaborate piece of the series. The background is made of left over gauze bandages (some with tea stains), machine sewn together. Then stitching was added. I grouped the stitches and deliberately left some space between them untouched. The gauze symbolizes the body and the stitching cared for injuries on various body parts. The gauze background was then sewn onto a white fabric with “surgical stitches”. The white fabric was sewn and padded and left un-ironed to resemble a used hospital cushion. Finally, I sewed the whole piece on a white canvas.

With “Evidence of injuries”, I was nominated Palm Art Award Nominee 2018.

 

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Cycle of life (2018)

“Cycle of life” consists of dried leaves my son had collected for me once, silk ribbons and glass beads. This paraphernalia is stitched onto a canvas made of used tea bags, machine sewn together. The stitching style is Sashiko (or Boro if you want).

 

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Rhythm of days (2018)

This is the last piece of the Upcycled Series. When I was working on this piece, I also created a few art cards and art patches or brooches to sell at crafts fairs. I wanted to experiment with using patches in a more “artful” way. 😉

The piece is made of old jeans and an old scarf of mine. The colors of the embellishments are contrasting nicely with the subdued colors of the background. It is a delightful piece I think.