Tenuous links

This piece got a lot of attention yesterday due to a post on Facebook by a group called the Anartist community. They (he? she?) post some compelling and diverse images of artwork but don't really do anything to identify themselves. It's an international community as evidenced by the quotes in various languages.  A web search yields no other clues. The About section on the facebook page says: "An artist is never poor" (or "Un artista non è mai povero" if you prefer) to which I tend to agree.

I'm always mystified by how among millions (or is it billions) of people on the web sending out messages and images, does my work find a spot? What tenuous links are there that make one piece send out its feelers so that someone else is interested enough to look? These links intrigue me. They are a continuing theme in my stitching, a thread that binds all my ideas together. A link is a happy chance at connection that is at once mysterious, powerful and throbbing. It feeds my curiosity. It starts a conversation, binds together continents, and bounces from one to another.

Heartfelt, repurposed linen dress with hand and machine quilting, Paula Kovarik

row, row, row

Tomatoes, Paula Kovarik

Doing my Betsy Ross thing today I am reminded of when we were tomato farmers and we looked down the rows and rows of tomatoes that had to be staked, tied, and hoed each day, every day for the season. And then, when the harvest came in, we packed them into those neat little boxes of perfect pecks of #1 greens (with a hint of pink) for the market. We toiled and toiled on row after row.

Stitching is so much easier.

Yep, still lovin that raggedy back.

scrap project starts making sense

So many scraps, so little time.

So many scraps, so little time.

While working away on assembling hundreds of little scraps of fabric into strips … black then white then black … I finally came to a final composition for the whole. Harkening back to the cigar box project that I did last summer where I wove scraps and threads together to create a flag, I thought I could do the same thing here on a grander scale. The black and white alternating strips work together to communicate a community of immigrants of different nationalities, races and histories. Substituting black for red speaks to the racial divides we are experiencing now and in the past. And, by reversing the strips to the back side the chaotic variety becomes more intriguing.

Yes, I am making the back the front, ragged ends and all.
US flag, Paula Kovarik
The white fabric on the back allows the pieced fabrics to glow through creating a hazy dimensional surface that is hard to resist. Goodbye batting! It would only get in the way.

The white fabric on the back allows the pieced fabrics to glow through creating a hazy dimensional surface that is hard to resist. Goodbye batting! It would only get in the way.

Taking a cue from Kathleen Loomis who recently completed a piece without batting I decided to shroud the back in a simple white fabric that would let the pieced fabrics simmer through. It seemed a shame to cover them up completely with cotton batting, especially after so much trimming and ironing to make them lay flat. This may have to be a two sided piece. The shrouding is compelling.

And now, to the stitching and finishing. I think I will start with a simple hand stitch down the rows in red, white and blue. Then to the stars and edges.

More later.

fraying edges, stitching and chaos.

fraying edges, stitching and chaos.

another what if? project

The wonderful thing about assembling fabric scraps into art is the variety of ways to approach it. After finishing the Shattered quilt I encountered my ever-growing Stash of Scraps.

I save all fabric and that requires some management skills.

With little else inspiring me and a frozen world outside keeping me from enjoying the garden, I decided to start another what if project. This time my query is: What if I assembled scraps without plan and separated each scrap composition by a slice of black for one row and a slice of white for another?
The rules of the game:

  • I can not fussy cut or design the scrap compositions,
  • I can not measure or calculate; and
  • I have to pull colors in a random fashion to create them.

Here's the first set:

The first round of random compositions, one row of black and two rows of white.

Of course, my motto is always More is More, creating quilts is often a study in multiples, so I continued without regard to success for a couple of more days. Make enough Log Cabin blocks and put them together and you get something pretty spectacular right? So I continued.

These sets measure about 50" across and 30" deep.

At this point I start to realize that the color sets are creating their own world. See that set of black legs in the lowest white row? Or the little white doorway in the third row from the bottom? The cat ears in the third row from the top? This could be fun when the stitching begins. What better way to use up those pesky accumulations. And what if I recompose the rows?

The composition phase will take some time. And I might have to inject some planning soon as I can see some pieces that are not pleasing me.  Serendipity is all well and good but not for a lifetime. And sometimes it feels like a lifetime till I finish one of these pieces. For now I'm having fun. I haven't run out of scraps, so this journey will continue. Perhaps the final composition will tell me something about the way my thoughts run rampant

And I have already reduced my scrap heap from this to this:

hmmmm … Now what can I do with those little strands of color with thread tails?

Can't help myself

Our new shower curtain, courtesy of the folks at Cafe Press and my sketchbook.

Our new shower curtain, courtesy of the folks at Cafe Press and my sketchbook.

So I'm working along, happily creating ART (that's the one with the capital A) and my mind starts wandering. What if I made a set of pillows using this design? Could I create a product line? Would it translate to a fabric pattern? What about copyrighting the idea? Should I open a shop on my website? Does my creative vision extend to others who would be willing to pay for these products if I did? And...the big one...what to do about marketing? Oh, yeah, that's why I don't finish the thoughts.

It's the design mind butting up against reality.

The multi-layered opportunities for creators in this have-it-in-an-instant-my-way society are confusing enough to make me wonder where I put my brain cells. I can enlarge my drawings to the size of king size sheets. I can wear my images on my feet, in my backpack, on the face of my watch if I took a hankering for it. Soon the print on demand services will be selling homes with preprinted and customized wallpaper. Self marketing through Etsy, Spoonflower, Society6, CafePress, etc. (ad nauseum), creates instant links to the products and service industries (for a cut of my action). Should I stay or should I go?

I think I'll go back to ART. It's sleeting outside and the phone is quiet.