Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spring Revival

It's moving rapidly toward summer and I am finally finished with my art quilt titled 'Spring Revival'. I have always loved springtime but I think now that I live in the frozen tundra of the midwest I relish spring even more.

When I was a kid it signaled that glorious time of year when I could shed my shoes and go barefoot. Yes, I am a country girl at heart and going barefoot -especially on cool green, freshly mowed grass is such a delight. Of course I lived in the south and it was warm even before spring approached but I could never convince my mother to let me go barefoot before mid April.

Now that I live in the north it seems like spring takes forever to get here and even when the calendar says it's spring the temperature DOES not. BUT, the thing about living here is that it makes me so much more aware of springtime and all it's glory. Long before the weather is warm enough to go walking barefoot in my lush green grass, all of nature has awoken from it's sleepy winter dreams and puts on a magnificent show.
I'm not sure if I just never noticed how vibrant the world becomes in spring when I lived other places or it's just the simple fact that I'm so relieved and happy that the freezing cold and snow has disappeared.

So during these last few months while the world around me was coming back to life I was putting this little art quilt together. It started with the piece above. It is a piece I created while in an NSNG workshop with Barbara Schneider. I made it using disperse dyes that were first painted/stamped onto paper and then the paper was laid down on polyester fabric and heat pressed. Voila! the dyes transferred to the fabric and came out in much brighter colors.

I fused this piece to the center of a piece of felt and began fusing other fabrics around it. I used the colors from the disperse dyed piece- blues, greens and goldenrod yellow. I also used some setacolor paint to stamp
the same leaf pattern onto some of the green fabric along with some other stampings to dress up the otherwise BLAH commercial fabrics.

It took me awhile to get the pieces together like I wanted. I cut random sizes and moved them around like I was working on a puzzle. When I liked the placement, then I fused everything down.

I wish I had taken photos throughout the process but I didn't. It was certainly a learning process. I did this without any pattern or forethought so I think next time I might do things a bit differently. I did draw a rough sketch of what I wanted to do before I started but this looks NOTHING like the sketch.

I free motion stitched around the center and then stitched each block individually. As I was going along I kept holding it up and trying to decide if it 'needed' anything else. So I added the little tumbling blocks of yellow and used a satin stitch around them. I think they really help make it 'pop'!


When I was done with all the stitching, which took WAY longer than I thought it would, I decided to add a few buttons in coordinating colors.

Here's a few close-ups of details. The bottom right corner and the top.


Right now I'm working on the second of what appears to be a tree series. Again, no planning or forethought went into the first piece, the second one started with
a very loose design plan. I will post the first piece in the next day or so and I will try to take pics of the second piece as I move through the process.
Happy springtime! Now go take your shoes off and walk in your cool, green grass~
cathy

Friday, May 14, 2010

Neural Pathways

It's been a VERY long time since I posted any new work. It's not that I haven't accomplished anything it's just that I'm a real slacker about photographing my work and then taking the time to load the pics and post on my blog.

So here is the piece I did for the yearly project in the needle arts guild that I'm in. The theme was 'Pathways'. I knew about this since September of last year when I joined the guild but you know me-- queen of the procrastinators, so I didn't even start the project until about 2 wks before it was due, which was our April meeting.

I thought long and hard about pathways and considered so many different options.
Pathways can mean so many things. My life has certainly taken me down MANY different paths through the years and I contemplated what I could design for the art quilt that I wanted to create.

It just so happened that the first week in March I was on the phone with a dear old friend and we were discussing her father who is beginning to have some dementia. We both agreed that becoming extremely forgetful was a path we didn't want to go down. But it seems like it's inevitable with the magnitude of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer's nowadays.

March 18 was also the anniversary of my mother passing away. It has been 3 years and her diagnosis was Alzheimer's. This got me thinking about pathways and how I could translate that into art. Then my daughter came home from college and was talking about her physiology class. They just happened to have finished studying about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

So all of these little things sent me to the computer to search for images of neural pathways. As I searched for neurons and neural pathways I decided to make it even more meaningful-so I searched for neural pathways of someone with Alzheimer's. Amazingly, there were quite a few images both of the neurofibrillary tangles & plaques as well as images of brain scans.

I decided on a close-up of the neural pathways showing the tangled webs of neurons along with the plaques. These tangles and plaques are the reason for memory loss and decreased brain function in Alzheimer's patients. As the disease progresses areas of the brain start to shrink. This has started me on a quest to do a series of art quilts related to the brain of Alzheimer's. 

Here's a close-up of my project.


Another shot : The tangles are matted up dyed cheesecloth sewn down and the plaques on the mass of tangles is pink angelina fibers.



And here's the full art quilt. The background is commercial fabric that I overdyed to get some variations of grays. I used metallic variegated thread for some of the little neural fibriles.




I have several projects in various stages. Hopefully I will get them photographed and posted before another month goes by.
Although my daughter comes home from college tomorrow for what will probably be her last full summer with us, so I may be playing a lot of hookie from my studio.
live your life creatively~
cathy