Derivatively Yours

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There is a long tradition of learning by copying. My journey in creativity has been no different. I started quilting several years ago by making quilts by Kaffe Fasset and Malka Dubrowsky using their patterns and their fabrics to make almost identical replicas of their work. Attracted to the aesthetic of the Modern Art Movement and buoyed by my improved skills I soon started designing quilts using artwork seen on Pinterest as guides in my making.

Why is this germaine you ask? Last year I had two quilts accepted and displayed in the Modern Quilt Guild Exhibit at the Houston International Quilt Festival. It was the first Quilt show I submitted anything to. I was so naive to the whole process, as a quilt show virgin I think even Jacquie Gering weighed in on IG and helped direct me to a tutorial on making quilt sleeves. Of the two pieces that were accepted and shown, one piece I call “Life in the ER” was a fairly direct copy of a 1958 poster I reinterpreted in fabric. The other piece “5/325” was highly inspired by the work of Cecil Touchon but certainly not a direct copy of any of his work.

Fast Forward to this month when I have another piece hanging in the Modern Quilt Guild showcase in Houston. This piece, “Bloberella” is a work inspired by many but designed soley by me. In it I see the color inspiration of Gwen Marston, improv piecing techniques of Sherri Lynn Wood and needle turn appliqué learned from Carolyn Friedlander. It is unequivocally improved by the quilting art of Krista Withers.

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There has been significant unease over the Modern Quilt Guild’s recent blog post and discussion about “Derivative works”. As one who has been pretty derivative in the past I welcome the discussion. Clearly everything we make is to some extent “derivative” and I don’t envy the task force of the MQG who will need to parce out what is “too derivative” for consideration in future quilt shows.  For perspective, these copyright topics are not isolated to the MQG and have been evolving in the rest of the world too. I know in day job, I now need to get permission now to use photos by others for lectures. Speaking to my brother who is a photographer if he wants to gain profit from pictures that even display public art he has to get permission from the artist.

To be clear, I have not profited one cent from any of the derivative pieces I have made. In some ways though I have benefitted from standing on the shoulders of the design work of others though also likely have gained the disdain of purists.

This year of making has been one of significant evolution as I have directly steered away from trolling Pinterest and instead have been experimenting, designing, drawing, painting and sewing, sewing, sewing. Designing work from scratch is hard but oh so satisfying.

In all of this I am not suggesting that derivative work will ever go away (indeed there are several directly derivative pieces again on display this year at the International Quilt Festival from what I have seen of pictures). We all should be allowed to grow as quilters and artists and again the normal evolution of that process for most means being derivative. For me however it has become important to move forward and discover my own voice. I am finding that much more satisfying. In my opinion if I want quilting to be considered the art form it is, I owe it that.

Thanks for listening and keep making.

Hillary

Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of Us

Last September I led our Bee Sewcial group.  My mission was to make two blocks in blacks and whites that said something personal about them.  I asked each member to embrace minimalism in the process.

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The stories they told me were rich and meaningful.  They described loss, triumph, compassion, family, recreation, personal identity.  Honestly I felt a little overwhelmed with the task of putting these meaningful pieces into something worthy of the sentiments.

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In the end, I decided to continue the minimalism theme and connected the blocks with extra negative space.  The words spoken when describing these blocks became the quilting motif in free motion quilted cursive writing (the first I have done this but certainly not the last).  The whole was surrounded with quilted borders and a gilded binding (purl soho mineral linen which sparkles when seen at an angle) to enhance the theme of story.  I want it to read like a well worn and treasured book.

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I hope that I have done these ladies justice in the making of our collective story.  Since it is so hard to read, I have included the quilted words for you below.

 

Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of US
Positivity engages the negative space :: These are little womb blocks. The white ones represent pregnancy loss which is real but not talked about. The black ones are my obvious births, which are obvious and find it easy to see and talk about. The reason for the one with the white square with the black one is a permanent loss of being able to have a child from one side from the ectopic pregnancy I had in my tube. I love my two children with all my heart and grieve what could have been with my two lost babies :: Tall, strong, bend but not break ::When we are together, we are stronger :: My life can be best described as a wonderful mixture of family, work and my creative pursuits :: When using the right tools you can see things a lot more clearly. For me, it’s glasses (since I was 9) and calm. When life is chaotic for me, I get lost in the details. When I establish calm, I see better :: Frustration. From sun up to sundown I’m frustrated about any and everything and nothing at all :: Embrace: More expansive then a hug and open ended to be all inclusive :: Sometimes I feel like a square peg in a round hole :: A Quilter’s Table because that is me :: For me when it gets too active, too chaotic at some point I shut down and like a clean break BAM nothing gets done, nothing good happens, except I don’t get overwhelmed :: The top row signifies my family in height order and for now in this moment in time I am second in line. The shadow casted beneath our figures represents the amount of care required by each of us at this point in time. It is such a fleeting point of life but such an important one and I know I’ll never make anything as wonderful as my three children :: The pool is my favorite place to exercise so this is my interpretation of the swimming symbol :: Ascend as I am not one to begin anything by taking baby steps. If the stakes are high enough and you are determined success or fail you will take that leap of faith because it is your only option :: I am modern stepped in tradition :: My personal mantra is to look for the positive. light in the darkness as we need that positivity these days :: The balance of keeping focus looking ahead in life instead of behind but also being aware of your surroundings in a broader sense and how occasionally glancing back is a good and necessary thing :: A hint or clue a circle nature’s impossible shape standing out of the expected spot not perfect but industrial modern and minimalist :: In me you will find the place where science and art meet in the middle :: It’s about letting life’s annoyances roll off your back
Bee Sewcial 2015

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Hillary

Mini-Mes

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Last year I was challenged by Catherine (@knittingcatherine on IG) to a mini quilt swap using mostly repurposed or me-made materials.  In typical fashion, my mind came up with several ideas and I am sharing the fruit of 4 such finishes here (all of which let me “try on” different quilting styles I have been eager to test).  There are two other quilts made of my old tshirts that are part of this series but they and the concept of tshirt quilting are worthy of a post of their own.

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For my first quilt I grabbed some dress clothing in linens and silks that I never wear, chopped them up and reconstructed improv style.  They are much more attractive on a quilt then on me.  I also “tried on” some nontraditional hand quilting and made random “ant trails” along the piece.

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For my second quilt I wanted to play with Nicole Daksiewicz’s (Modernhandcraft) appliquéd hexie technique but decided to make my own spin with pieced hexies.  For this quilt I used some of my old scrubs, an orange shirt and a hospital sheet.

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After introducing a tertiary pattern and playing a bunch of designs I came up with the mini quilt below.  This is the one that ended up in Catherine’s hands and I call it “Colliding Migrations”

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For the last two quilts, I used some material I had hand painted over the summer and layered using a raw edge appliqué to show off unusual shapes.  These quilts have a lot of hidden meaning for me involving self reliance and the concept that things are rarely “Black or White”.

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Are these quilts my style?  YES as complex, varied and flawed as my style can be.  Are all of them masterpieces? Nope.  Did I learn from them? Yes, yes, yes!

Have a great weekend.

Hillary

Molly Made Me Do It

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Hi there!  Missed you my friends.  Clearly I have been hanging out on IG (you can find me there @entropyalwayswins) but life has recently gotten a bit busy for blogging somehow.  In any case I wanted to introduce you all to a new quilt I have been working on.

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About a year ago, I was in SF and noticed a building with wonderful long thin windows.  Though I didn’t take a picture, they were similar to these windows here I saw with Stephanie Ruyle and Christine Perrigo in Austin at Quiltcon 2014.

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Fast forward to the last couple months when I pulled out some shot cottons, woven striped fabric and left over bits of yellow fabric and started making some blocks with these windows as inspiration.  I made up a new (at least new to me) piecing technique that I call Tethered Y Seams and intentionally changed the grain orientation on the tops and sides so as to add visual interest.

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The blocks started to get especially fun when using the striped fabric and different angles, giving a fun 3 dimensional effect.

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As I was sharing these on Instagram, someone introduced me to The Chapel of Notre Dame de Haut in Ronchamp by architect Le Corbusier.  Proving that there are few truly new ideas, I had been unintentionally channeling the lovely windows from this amazing building.  And as I was sewing up the last seam on my quilt top, I started to realize how different this quilt top was for me.  SO MUCH PURPLE!  I never use purple.  Absorbed in my pondering,  the amazing quilts of Molly Upton featured at Quiltcon 2016 came to mind.  Somehow this quilt top (though clearly much more humble in execution) reminds me of her work in color and style.  We are subliminally absorbing so much I believe.

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And there it is, a quilt inspired by a local building, a crazy cool church in France and a gifted, now gone Modern Quilter : “Molly’s Windows”.  Now I’m hoping Molly will inspire me how to quilt it.

Hillary

Layers :: Bee Sewcial Theme for March

As a novice photographer, I have discovered that some of my favorite captured images have both an interesting foreground and background.  Over the last several months I have been playing with the same concept in quilting and am anxious to see where other people take it.

In March I would like my Bee Mates (#beesewcial on IG) and any other interested folks (#inspiredbybeesewcial on IG) to make the equivalent of two 12×12 inch blocks (loosely defined as I am good with wonky shapes and strange sizes) exploring the idea of layers (components that appear to be in the foreground and components that appear to be in the background) in your block design using the colors of this peeling paint image by Richman as a guide.  There are several ways to do this and you are welcome to look at my feed on IG to see what I have done but honestly I am most interested to see where YOU take it.  Please bring at least two “layers” to your design but you may add more.  For consistency in a quilt, I ask that you use specific colors in the foreground and others in the background.  With the Kona Color Card as a guide and following the Richman picture:

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Background: (Turquoise/Blues) Cyan, Breakers, Capri, Robin Egg or similar with or without traces of black

Foreground/Middleground: (Oranges/Greys/White) School Bus, Carrot, Flame, Ash, Medium Grey or similar and traces of Papaya, White

If you choose a Medium layer/layers use the foreground colors leaving the blues and turquoise colors only for the “back”

Note:  If you have studied Albers, you will know that the cool blues will “want” to read background and the warm oranges foreground.  Color choices themselves help us define layers.  Because of this I am setting the color layer choices opposite of what they physically are on the picture.

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Feel Free to check my Pinterest Board for image ideas that inspire me:Pinterest: Discover and save creative ideas

Don’t forget to tag your makes with the #beesewcial tag for my bee mates and #inspiredbybeesewcial for anyone else who wants to play along

Hillary

 

 

 

 

Opioids and Y-Seams

Last Year our county was awarded one of twelve grants by the California Opioid Safety Commission to help educate the public and medical community on the increasing use and danger of both prescription and street narcotics.  The Commission got wind of my 5/325 quilt and invited me for an interview.  The results of that interview can be found here (you can find the link below my picture): Placer Nevada County Medical Society – Just another WordPress site

The fact that this statement piece is getting recognition in the medical community is pretty satisfying.  Even more exciting is the fact that it is getting the word out about the narcotic dependence and addiction issues in the general community.  (It was on display in Houston at the International Quilt Festival, will be shown next month at Quiltcon in LA and will be featured in the Quiltcon Magazine).  I am scheduled to speak (with my quilt if it is available) in April at our hospital medical staff meeting and there are some other venues pending.  Who knew that my crazy idea would get so much play?

Hillary

Minimalism and Maximalism

What I have been up to of late:

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-“Queuing Theory” quilt.  Quilted by Christine Perrigo (@ccpquilt on IG).  It was inspired by a series of paintings by Mark Grotjahn called Dancing Butterflies.

-Crazy striped piecing in stripes inspired by a puzzle I saw on Pinterest (thank you glue basting)

-Hand painted linen flowers for Blair Stoker (Wise Craft Handmade) because it is super fun to trade with other makers especially when they are from my previous Seattle home city.

-More Slow Stitch Embroidery in the works.  This improv embroidery is the bomb people.  Try it!!

-A minimini quilt for Stephanie Ruyle ( Spontaneous Threads) that mimics a Rothko painting she pointed out in Houston.  It represents me (mustard) and her (orange) with some more hand stitching and Stephanie’s old suede coat as binding.

-My last quilt blocks of the year for the Bee Sewcial Bee for Leanne (she can quilt).  It was a total kick in the pants to play with color and improv.  The green block also helped me perfect my Y seam skills.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Hillary

One Month

In two days I start back to work again after a month off.  I have logged many hours doing continuing education for Dayjob, baked almost every variety of pumpkin muffin/scone/cookie you can imagine and of course have been creating.

In a month:

Pattern Play (I replicated the Tate Museum flooring pattern using a modification of Latifah Saafir’s Glam Clam Pattern in bag form.  For fun I added a knit pillow of my design to match my previously finished quilt top with buttons covered with treasured Umbrella Prints fabric):

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Bag Design (repurposing photos I had taken on canvas)

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Block Making (for my Bee Sewcial group and shown with a minimini quilt made by Stephanie Ruyle).

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Minimalist Design Play with Leather Scraps

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Anatomical Stitch Sketching

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Fabric Making

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Quilt Finishing (with amazing quilting by Jessie Ziegler)

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Self Portrait Work In Process (with my first bias strip quilt using scrubs on hospital sheets)

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My creative and family life are feeling extra rich after this sweet time.  Grateful

Hillary

An Invitation To Be Creative

What if someone told you that this month it was especially important to pull out all the stops and be really creative?  Would you do things differently?  Would this mission paralyze or feed you?

Last month as I have mentioned I was invited to make some small quilts in a tight time frame for an art show in Seattle.  As I pondered making, I let my mind open a bit and found myself wandering new creative roads-so fun.

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Repurposing is a mission for me, so I decided to incorporate leather or suede I had collected from clothing into the pieces.  My first work above is an image that has been percolating in my brain for a bit and means to show the contrast of light and dark, happy and sad, new and used.  The black leather from an old coat I hope adds a whole new tone to the brightly pieced diamond.

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Wanting to continue the contrast theme and the color mission I was given, I did dense quilting on the back in colors to match the front with the hope that they bring light and color to the dark.  With help from an Instagram friend, my make adopted a name, “The Great Recession”.  I think the dark creeping overlay on the overly bright, too perfect front image fits the description well.

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On my second piece, I decided to play with an improv method I experimented with in a block for my first Bee Sewcial month led by Stephanie Ruyle.  Striped Ikea canvas made a fun matte dense surface to play with and I went with some of my favorite mustard linen (side note: If I had to pick a fabric that is me, this is it.  I have included it in about a third of my quilts).  To tie my used/new theme, I incorporated some beautiful electric blue suede from a skirt donated to me again by Stephanie.  Our friendship and journey together as makers is meaningful and it feels so appropriate to include this in my quilt. (Plus Stephanie’s has some amazing pieces that will be at the show too.  Go check she and her pieces out: Spontaneous Threads)

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Of the new roads I traveled on this piece was the use of purple fabric on the backing.  I NEVER use this color in my makes and now I am quite smitten.  An unintended extra meaning is that purple and gold are the colors of my alma mater, The University of Washington in Seattle where this piece will be shown.

I called on my good friend and Umbrella Prints collaborator Robin King to help me with labels ( A Collaboration On Friendship and Motherhood – Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge Entry 2015 | Entropy Always Wins).  These hand printed pieces are awesome and it makes me happy to have another important friend incorporated in my makes.

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Tripping on this creative spree, I started sketch stitching anatomical pictures.  The combination of clinical pieces of anatomy onto used, discarded antique linens tickles me to no end.  They represent well the strange dichotomy of my everyday life: delivering horrible news to a patient followed by helping my kids with homework, helping an addict through an oxycontin addiction followed by stitching up a pretty purse, doing a complicated life saving procedure followed by a yoga date with my girlfriends . . . There is more of this series to come.

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If you get a chance and are in the area, check out my mini quilts and the work of others at the Seattle Pacific Art Center on display from October 5th-November 27th.

Hillary

Design Play

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I’ve been perfecting my skills lately at the game “How Can I Make That Into A Bag/Quilt/Mini Art Piece.”  Are you familiar with my favorite game?

My Pieces and their sources of inspiration in picture order:

-The Doctor is In Second Edition:  A new bag design I made up out of cotton, wool and leather inspired by one of the quilts featured in soon to be release book by Heather Jones. (Quilt Local: Finding Inspiration in the Everyday (with 40 Projects): Heather Jones: 9781617691768: Amazon.com: Books)

-Stitch Sketching everything I can imagine including a drawing of feet by the Louise Bourgeoise.  Uneven tension never looked so good.

-A Baby Quilt Top using the Glam Clam pattern ( Glam Clam Quilt (8″) by Latifah Saafir – Crafts ) I adapted to look like flooring in the Tate Museum.

I am also really enjoying the black and white #beesewcial and #inspiredbybeesewcial blocks following the guidelines set out in my last blog post many of you are displaying on Instagram.  Keep them coming!!

Lastly, although I was quite looking forward to a deadline-free September, a wonderful opportunity came up this week and it looks like I will be designing a piece for an art exhibit in Seattle.  My mind is swimming with ideas.  Time to focus and make.

Hillary

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