Gobble Gobble

Gobble Gobble, detail, Paula Kovarik

I teach a class about line. Following the thread is what I do. Needle down, head filled with thoughts, I let the line travel. I draw like this too. Something about letting the line tell me where it needs to go lets me tap into an unconsciousness that builds my stitch vocabulary, soothes my worried soul and brings thoughts to the surface. 

Gobble Gobble was done in one of my classes. You can see the practice one in white and the final in black here. It's about greed. I think.

Gobble Gobble, practice tile, Paula Kovarik. With the exception of the small independent circles that are stitched by the bird heads this drawing is one continuous line that builds the composition.

I don't pre-draw the lines to stitch in these pieces. Instead I begin with an idea of what motifs will repeat in the work. In this case it was the bird-like heads that are gobbling up the resources. As the line travels through the piece the architecture of the composition is created with a connective tissue of swirls, leaf forms and repetitive pattern.

Gobble Gobble, Paula Kovarik, 12" x 12" 2018

This piece will be part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Benefit Auction. SAQA is an international organization that promotes quilts as art and forges a community of artists who share a common passion for fiber and stitch. The auction will take place online from September 14 through October 7.

The Dark Side

I stitch all day on the front side of my quilts. The journey from idea to final is often full of surprises. I look for that in each piece like finding a needle among pins.

These blocky forms cry out for some textural details.

So when I started this piece, now called Disruptors, my focus was on the front. The images are strong geometric shapes with details that look like animals or confused beings.  My challenge is to bridge the blocky forms with line work that makes sense. 

I'm always looking for ways to bridge differences. I ask myself these questions:

  • How does one fabric, color or texture relate to the next?
  • Where are the direction lines in the composition?
  • What would texture do to make this piece stronger?
  • Where can I add an element of continuity without sacrificing the chaos that I am going for?
Bridging gives structure, action and depth.

I started here by outlining the blocky shapes with a bright orange thread. Then did some ricochet stitching in the white areas of the piece. By ricochet I mean that I travel across a space until I hit an imaginary barrier than pivot and do the same until I hit another. It's like a ping pong ball bouncing in an empty room. The texture often ends up being an assemblage of triangles. Those complement the triangles in my print. Each character in this stage has a unique personality. So I decided to use a different texture in each element. Easy right? The variety of the shapes and textures added to a sense of chaos and disruption and the orange thread pumped up the drama. I thought I had it.

The textural differences in each character adds depth to the piece.

And then I turned the piece over to clean up any loose threads.

Disruptors, back side, Paula Kovarik

Disruptors, back side, Paula Kovarik

Oh my. Hello stranger. where have you been these past two weeks? 

Disruptors, back detail. Paula Kovarik

This is the back side of the second image in this post. I'm loving that orange/yellow line.

There are always two sides to every stitched story.  I am entranced by this one. I am even willing to sacrifice the front to continue on the back. I'm not sure what this side is telling me but I will continue to build on it before I end this journey. Perhaps the message will emerge.

Comfort zone challenge

Steamroller. Yup. Steamroller. That's what we will use to print fabric in October. The next five weeks will find me at the Five in One Social Club workshop carving a 40" x 96" woodcut that we will ink and roll over. With a steamroller. Forty by ninety-six, big enough to be used as a banner, a shroud or a toga. Or maybe a quilt. Or two.

I've always wanted to design large prints, but never had access to large presses. This will be the first time I will carve a woodcut. It's a comfort zone challenge. There's no telling how much joy or regret I will feel during this process. Start thinking big. Yup. Big. No little stitch details necessary. (Oh...OK...maybe after I get the fabric printed I could add little stitch details...watch this space).

And of course it will be fabric. My medium of choice. Cotton, stretched delicately over an inked board, coming alive with pressure. Lots of pressure, watch your fingers.

Not sure what I will name this piece. All I know right now is that I'll be carving out all of the white areas. Final print size: 40 x 96.

So, naturally, I think about cutting it up and stitching swathes of yardage.

I could add batting and stitching to the print but if I cut it up I have some very interesting pieces of black and white fabric.

And then the decision making begins. Oh my!

It's probably a good thing that my sewing machine is in the shop for maintenance. Not sure how much distraction I need during this challenge.

Think big. Work big. Oh my.

As Jefferson Airplane says in their classic song, White Rabbit:

Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

 

palate cleanser

Sometimes you just have to take a break from worry. And angst. And the sense that the world is degenerating into a chaotic mess. No amount of hopeful TED talks give solace.

This week I retreated into this make believe. Just some goofy guys. A nine patch of alternate realities.

Rock on.

inspirations

Minds are maps of experiences. Inspirations abound. I may need to upgrade my storage space.

The muscular structure of this fig branch needs one of those overtures with heroic drums as a background tune.

I'm working on a piece that I have temporarily named Inspirations. I may call it something else once it is finished. Right now I am trying to find a different way of mounting it. I love these fringe-y edges but can't figure out how to preserve them yet.

Thank you Piet, Pablo, William, Paul, Vasily, Theodore, Alexander, the bees, trees, birds and my grandchildren

Sometimes I feel like the band is calling for last dance and I am pleading with them to turn the clock back.