I'm going with disorder for now

Recently I got an email from one of my readers who said that one of her teachers left her with this thought one day:

Disorder is unnamed order.

This might be a perfect time to share a piece that was close to being cut up over the weekend. Luckily for me I shared it with a friend who said it just needed more thought. She couldn't put a name to it but had a number of comments that showed me how she perceived the piece. And, our conversation about it gave me new perspective on how I might proceed. You might recognize the piece from previous posts. It is a flag made with scraps and scrapings from the studio. A study of immigration, assembly and union.

Adding more stitching created a bumpy topography that bordered on chaos.

There's movement alright, a rippling and straining that only bias stitching can create.

Trouble was, I had this brilliant idea that if I stitched a radiating line out from each of the hand applied stars in the composition it would add movement and convey the coming together of the states.

But, without a good substrate to bolster the bias stitching the flag waves and wanders over the table as if in animated agony. Bubbles, bulges and pits are not a pretty thing.

Going back to my original intention for the piece -- a study of immigration and union -- conflict and resolution -- life stories and belonging, I realized that bulges and bubbles may be just what it needs. Our nation is a compilation of histories. The disorder is resolved by naming the injustices, applying the rule of law and coming together in harmony.

So for now I am adding more stitching. Journeys of thread texture, gatherings of thread colonies and backbones of thread tracks. I am adding order to disorder and naming it This Imperfect Union.

This may take awhile.


The June/July issue of American Craft Magazine has a feature article about me and my work. When Julie Hanus contacted me about this article back in January of this year she asked "I have exciting news (I hope!): We'd like to do a feature story about you in our June/July issue. Are you interested?"

did the earth shake?

After an in-depth interview by Joyce Lovelace in February I have been holding my breath about the outcome. Joyce posed informed and insightful questions which required careful thought to answer. It went by in such a rush I wasn't sure what I had said. She did a great job and the article is bolstered by many photos of my work. Robert Rausch took photos of me in my studio and made me feel comfortable despite my dread of camera lenses. Thanks Robert, Joyce, Julie and the entire staff of folks at American Craft. I am overwhelmed.

Where are my tap shoes? I need to dance.

indecision and transformation

When my mother died I was left to sort through her memorabilia. Photos galore, many with folks I don't know. Scraps of projects she didn't finish. And many she did. A clay duck I gave her when I was in grammar school, a set of tattered Dresden dolls my father gave her when they were courting. Love letters in a shoe box and years of calendars with circled dates and jottings documenting her life. As I sorted I realized that these little scraps represented some of the best parts of her life. The parts we can't put a name to. The ones that change the quality of life for the good. Even though she noted the fender benders and catastrophes of her life on the calendars she also noted PTA meetings, bridge games, birthdays, and celebrations. She strived for balance, reminding all who would listen that life was good.

Derin's tile

Derin's tile

So when my grandson gave me this tile as a present for Mother's day I wondered if it would end up in the things-you-can-never-throw-away pile. I use it at my desk for my coffee (he pointed out many times that it was to be used as a coaster). Yesterday it inspired this piece. A study about indecision, balance, ambition and transformation. I'm still thinking about what the title will be. For now it will sit in the do-not-discard pile. Because it was inspired by Derin. And it comes from within.

©2015, Paula Kovarik

Lifecycle of an art quilt

It occurred to me this weekend that some pieces have limited life cycles. And others just seem to live on.

Normally I work on a piece because I have to. It is a compelling, urgent need to create. If I am lucky, and the construction and execution satisfies me, the piece ends up in my portfolio. Once there I look for opportunities to show it to others. Through calls for entry, or on my living room wall, the piece needs to speak for itself at that stage. Sometimes it doesn't get a chance. The reasons might be:

  • I am just plain worn out after working on it and it has to go into storage before I can look at it again, or
  • It doesn't speak for itself without explanation (what was I thinking?), or
  • It's too ripe and needs to be sliced into pieces, or
  • I can't find a show for it to belong to (this is VERY common), or
  • I can see ways I might improve it and it goes into the think-about-it pile.

Other pieces please me so much I have to have them near. This piece I did in 2004 is one of them. It was one of my first art quilts. It has many faults but great presence. The stitching on the back caused bearding which looks like little hairy outgrowths of fuzz in a field of black. It was not intended believe me. The fill stitches in black on black are highly irregular. The piece hangs wonky — a pleasant wonky but nonetheless distracting. It probably won't ever go into a show unless I include it in a solo someday. So it lives on in our TV room warming the wall. And I am pleased with its longevity. I hope it has a long and prosperous life.

Amished, Paula Kovarik, 2004, 85.5" x 60"