Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sitges - just a few more quilts and the town

Maybe I am saving the best for last.  My favorite special exhibit was that of Maria Luisa Gutierrez, a quilter from La Rioja province of Spain (North Central, just south of Basque and Navarre).  She  has made wonderful pictorial quilts, beautifully pieced and quilted.  I felt they reflected the nature and culture of her homeland in ways that I could appreciate.  I wish I could have taken classes from her.

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Stilt Walkers

the vineyards in the background were made with couched chenille

I loved being in Sitges.  It is a town of narrow pedestrian streets lined with shops of all sorts, cafes, and restaurants. Many apartments were in the upper floors. No obvious vegetation, but I am sure during the summer, the balconies would be covered with draping plants.   Cars are allowed only on a few streets almost all on the outskirts of the town. Everyone walks.  Sitges is right on the sea, so regular walks along the water are mandatory.  This walkway is lined with towering palm trees.
I was lucky to be there on some lovely sunny,but cool and windy days.  It rained only on the day I left.

Sitges has many, many cats roaming around in the back neighborhoods.  They pay very little attention to the all the people.  At one spot, a fork in the sidewalk and roads so to speak, someone made a little shelter and food station for the cats.  We saw only three cats here.  I wonder if others come at night or if these three are the only ones at this "shelter".

By far the strangest sight was this chicken.  Its owner was in the bakery getting his breakfast.  The chicken just sat in the box, totally unruffled by everyone stopping to look at it.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sitges - a few more quilts

An International Invitational of Contemporary Quilts called Color Improvisations, curated by Nancy Crow, was the next special exhibit we saw. It has been travelling around since 2010. 

Wow!  Big, Bold, Loud, Quiet, Busy, Calm, Precise, not so precise - or should I say, Mysterious. Those adjectives were all represented.  Here's a sampling:

Edge #7  by Marina Kamenskaya

Structures #111 by Lisa Call

Construction #50 Birds by Leslie Joan Riley

close up of  Construction #50 Birds

Forest Floor by Terry Jarrard-Dimond

Fault Lines 3 - Kathleen Loomis

quilting detail, Fault Lines 3 - Kathleen Loomis

Self Portraits by Nancy Crow

close up of Self Portraits by Nancy Crow

Constructions #101 by Nancy Crow

Color Compositions #4 - Beata Keller-Kerchner

From Contemporary to Ancient Traditions

As we walked in to the main exhibition hall, we were greeted by a rather puzzling exhibit.  The quilts were clearly Indian, but there was no signage on any of the quilts, no introduction, nothing.  I took a cursory look and went upstairs to the primary exhibits.  Later I took a second look .  A Hungarian quilter, Anna Dolanyi, had collected all these quilts through her travels in remote places in India.   These quilts do not have a written history of who made them , they were simply part of the art and tradition of the people. 
 The elephant quilt was my favorite.  Small pieces of fabrics make the mosaic of this quilt.  It isn't pieced in a method we are familiar with.  Each piece of fabric is laid very close to the next one and then many strands of yarn or string or threads (for lack of better terms) are laid over the joints and couched to hold the pieces together.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sitges, continued.

The guest exhibitions were really my favorites, partly because I knew of many of the featured quilters and because one could see the extent of their work from 1998 onward.

Keiko Goke from Japan had some very bright quilts, which caught the eye of many observers. I especially like her liberated approach to quilting - right up my alley.  Keiko has worked with Gwen Marston and it shows!

Title: To those who become the winds  (made after the Tsunami, which hit Sendai, Keiko's home)

double wedding ring


another post-tsunami quilt, "Can flowers grow in the sea?"

Libby Lehman,  thread painter extra-ordinaire. I loved the transparencies she created.  My favorite is shown below.  Favorite because I am currently working with radially symmetrical shapes!

close up of above quilt

It seems ironic that I should travel to Spain to see work done by quilters from the USA, especially Pat Holly, who lives here in Ann Arbor.  Believe it or not, I had never seen Pat's work except in magazine photographs.  It is stunning and so precise.  (Unfortunately, I did not get photos of Pat's quilts because of the lines waiting to get into her exhibit on the day I was photographing.  But, I have seen that Keiko Goke has showed Pat's work on her blog, Libby's also,  should you want to see them.

More tomorrow.....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sitges - Spain

I have just returned from a trip to Spain to visit my sister.  I had planned the trip to coincide with the International Patchwork Festival in Sitges, which is on the Mediterranean Sea, about 1/2 hour south of Barcelona. We took the high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona.  In Sitges we stayed in an apartment belonging to the family of my sister's daughter-in-law. My sister is not a quilter, but she gamely came with me and enjoyed seeing all the different quilts.  Her comment on the first day was that she was amazed at the scope of the art;  that one can make quilts in any fashion, depicting just about anything.
There was a judged show of quilts made by members the Spanish Association of Patchwork - a country-wide guild.  There were seven other exhibits of the work of expert quilters from around the world, including Keiko Goke, Maria Luisa Gutierrez, Pat Holly, Libby Lehman, Nancy Crow, Quilts of India, and Quilts of Japan.  Each exhibit had its own venue in different locations around Sitges.  This made for lots of walking and a bit of map reading and exploring (signage wasn't that great), but the greatest benefit was the dispersal of the crowds of people so that one could enjoy the quilts without too many people in the same place at once.  The exception would be Saturday, when there were lines to get into each venue.

Here are three favorites from the judged show.  There were many very complex quilts, but these were the ones I liked the best.  (I will post pictures of the rest of the exhibits soon.)

titled: Aurora Borealis

the view from the right side of the quilt

same quilt as above, viewed from the left.
title: Azteca

same as the above showing hand quilting.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Quiet Time ?

Since the last post I've been rather quiet, but that doesn't mean I've not done any quilt related stuff.  In fact, it seems to me that is all I've been doing!  Just haven't felt like blogging.

Reversible Quilt 
Back in October I blogged about cutting fabric to make reversible quilt blocks.  I made lots of them, gave away some as coasters. The rest I sewed the rest into the small quilt shown below. It measures 35 x 40 inches.    It is exactly the same on the back as on the front.  Instead of whip-stitching each block together, I zigzagged the edges.  I had a hard time seeing the edges as they butted up to one another, because I was sewing similar colors together.  I figured out that a seam the width of my presser foot was a perfect guideline to follow while zigzagging. This also helped to flatten the edges somewhat, so they didn't tend to fold over on each other too much.  (The folding over bit was a problem the first few times I tried this method.)  I tied the center of each square just to keep it from puffing up too much.

I played with disappearing nine patches and color.  The first is what I would call a traditional disappearing nine patch, using a limited palette.

The second one I constructed using the "crazy" ninepatch method (presented by Fons and Porter quite a few years back) and more recently as a tutorial on Oh Fransson, by Elizabeth Hartman.  After I constructed the blocks, I cut them as I would for a DNP and sewed them back together.

Scrap Attack
Scraps were taking over my sewing table. The pieces were of varying heights - from 1.75" to 3.0" unfinished. I sorted them all then sewed those of similar heights together in long strips. Then I incarcerated them behind horizontal bars.  They can't get away now.

Behind Bars

Back to School
I have devoted the biggest chunk of my recent quilting efforts to an online course at Quilt University.com.  It is Elizabeth Barton's class, Inspired to Design.  This is a very good course.  I don't have an art background and don't aspire to be an "art" quilter, but I do like to learn new approaches and  techniques. This class takes an artist's approach. That is just fine by me. I've been selecting photos for inspiration, developing a main idea,  making sketches of all sorts, learning about colors and how they work together, planning a value sketch so that I end up with a balanced piece of work, picking out potential fabrics that fit the main idea.  No sewing, yet.  The next lesson will introduce that aspect and I get to put all the pieces together.  That will be the topic for the next blog or two.

Glass flowers by Dale Chihuly - Seattle Center
 This is my inspiration photo....