Sunday, June 8, 2014

DAM Quilts and button coats

There was just to much going on at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) for one post.  While I was there for the barkcloth talk there were also quilts displayed in the textile section and button blankets/coats in the Northwest section.  The new policy is that it is OK to take pictures without a flash, but I recommend asking.  I was not allowed to take pictures of the American Masters exhibit.  The quilts are beautifully displayed with lots of room around them so that you will not be distracted by to many items.  The lighting is soft to minimize exposure of the fabric and sometimes I could not get out of the way of shadows, so I apologize in advance for any shadows in the photos.

Cigarette "Flannels"
There were several "recycled" quilts including a quilt made of "tobacco flannels" (which came in the packages with the cigarettes and there was also a quilt that made of labels, originally the quilter was trying to mend a beloved quilt, but she ended up adding so many labels that she covered both sides with them.

Labels, labels,labels

Banded clothing
One of my favorites was a "banded" quilt, where the design is concentric square bands that was displayed next to a Navajo shirt to show a different use of banding
"Banded" Quilt

There was also a chintz quilt, obviously not a "recycle" quilt but rather one that speaks of a certain level of wealth and expertise, with a beautiful trim.

Chintz Quilt

Trim on Chintz quilt

In addition there is a little room with a comfy sofa and items to peruse.  They did have a little bit of everything and here is the crochet example.

Lace Display

Great Quote
On my way to the Textile area I had to breeze through the Northwest display so I went back after my assigned time for the American Masters.  the had several wonderful pieces of Indian art but I loved these button coat/blankets the best. 
This one had shell buttons

They are a combination of button and appliqué and they were just stunning.  They reminded me of "Button Coats" that I had seen in an article about people from a specific part of London, who decorated their clothing with buttons.

I may just have to do this on my old denim jacket!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Denver Art Museum and Bark Cloth

Wednesday I went to the Denver Art Museum (DAM).  I had signed up for a talk about Bark Cloth and it was fascinating.  They have recently expanded the Textile Department and the talk took place in the "Preview" area.  This is one of the areas where they prepare items for exhibit.  Here they examine, prepare, catalogue, photograph every step, perform any necessary conservation actions and develop mounting.  The talk was given by Allison McClosky, Associate Textile Conservator.  Allison sowed us 3 different pieces of Bark Cloth and spoke about the process involved in getting them ready for exhibit.

Blue and Brown Barkcloth
Beige and Brown barkcloth
Barkcloth is made from pounding the inner bark of the Mulberry tree, so it is sort of a crossover between paper and cloth.  These samples were made in the Samoan Islands, possibly around the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century.  The cloth was stored rolled up and covered in muslin so it has a bit of a curl.  In order to relax it the cloth is placed under plastic and humidified.  As it softens glass plates are placed on the cloth with a fiber interface or  acrylic blocks are placed on the cloth with rare earth magnets as weights.  The introduction of humidity gives the fibers a chance to re-form hydrogen bonds and relax.  One of the examples had undergone humidification and needed a bit more. They also  have a hoist, to lift the items, a camera attached to the computer to take pictures and special tables were the glass can be removed so that both sides of the item can be accessed.
Humidification process and hoist
Rolled with muslin cover removed

No action is taken until an item is evaluated and reports are written.  After approval of the proposed process, each step is carefully documented and recorded.  I found it fascinating that they use rare earth magnets quite a bit.  Apparently in addition to being strong, they can be calibrated to determine just how much pressure they will be exerting on the item so as to have just enough pressure  to display the item but not so much as to make an impression.  In addition they wrap the magnet in tyvek, so as not to damage the cloth and if the item to be displayed has a pattern, they might photocopy the pattern and wrap the magnet in the photocopy to further disguise it.  Cool eh?

Other items to be displayed go through similar processes that can take months of work to prepare them for display.  These talks are offered every first and third Wednesdays and the Preview room is open Thursday afternoon.  I heartily recommend checking on the lectures and taking a look at the Preview room. 

When I was there they also had a wonderful display of quilts in the display area adjacent to the Preview Room.  More on quilts and button coats next post.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Week 14 of Crochet Challenge

This week is crochet in public week, and I did.  I frequently crochet in public as I used to travel a lot and always crocheted in airports and on planes, in fact that is how I got involved in bead crochet.  Small project, pre-strung beads made for a great travel project.  Today I was at the Denver Art Museum and in between the talk about Bark Cloth conservation (next post) and the Modern Masters exhibit, I had coffee at the Café.  No interaction with people, which is what I usually find when I crochet in public.  Occasionally I will get a comment about "my mother used to do that" or "is that knitting?" (arrghhh seize the teaching moment), but usually people just take it in stride.
Crochet project and Pick Me Use Me Java Jacket
I am using the cotton/wool/silk yarn I got at the Quilted skein to make a bag.  I had swatched and pulled out about 5 lace patterns before I finally admitted that it was a bit to thick for the lace look I wanted, so now I am making a bag from Cheryl Theis' get hooked on Tunisian Crochet.  It is supposedly a market bag but I think it will be a project bag.

You can also see my crochet trimmed Java Jacket.  This past week Crochet Concupiscence reviewed Craftivism by Betsy Greer (  I had seen a post on craftivism by Betsy last year on and I started my Java Jacket project.  You know those cardboard sleeves that you get for coffee in a paper cup?  The ones that usually don't get dirty or wet but we throw them away anyway?  Well I poke holes in them and crochet them.  Then I use them, give them away or leave them at coffee shops.  They say "take a pic of me in use and post at or".  It is fun and it reminds me to reuse stuff.

Oh yes, I also got to crochet at the Enterprise location while I waited for my hubby after I turned in the car.  We had had a spot of trouble with the truck and rented a car while it was being fixed ($$$ don't ask).  There was a noisy 3 year old boy running around so no one was looking at a grey haired lady crocheting.  All in all a great day, next post I will tell you about the museum.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Loopy Ewe

We were heading out to Fort Collins with friends of ours to see the Swetville Zoo.  Bill Swets, artist and owner of the area lives in the same campground where we winter in Texas.  When we got there the Poudre river was overflowing and portions of the Zoo were under water.  So we went to lunch in the shopping center nearby. 

On the way I saw a sign for The Loopy Ewe, so of course, after lunch, my friend Bernie and I had to visit it.  Couldn't find it at first, but as Bernie said, not being male meant that we could ask for directions.  A very nice lady in the yogurt shop directed us up to the second floor.  A great shop, all of the yarn is sorted by weight, so if you go in with a pattern, they can direct you to the correct aisle for the yarn or a substitute.  I love this idea.
Front entrance, yarn store portion
Not only were there great yarns but this store was another "2fer".  At the other end of the store it opened up into a quilt fabric store, be still my heart.
Quilt Fabric Section
Above the fabric on the far wall, the words say "Quilts connect the past with the present and the future"  and "Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love".

I got some great black fabric with red circles  for my next farm quilt - it looks like tomatoes on black dirt to me so it will fit right in to my "Black Dirt Artisan" adventures.  My grandparents had a black dirt celery farm on Bajor Lane (yes, the inspiration for the name of this blog) and it often figures in my work.  Both the farm and the changes that have occurred over the years (the farm is now a community of homes and a bird sanctuary).  In addition they gave me an introductory package of "Swatch Buddies", little plastic tags that you are supposed to put swatches of fabric on, then you can carry your fabric and easily match patterns and colors.  In addition to that they have a rewards program.  If I lived in the area I would definitely be here a lot!

After the Loopy Ewe we went back to the Swetsville zoo to see what we could see.  we were fortunate to see the owner, Bill who had come up from Texas because of the flooding.  he was gracious enough to show us around and we saw his tractor barn with some 30+ tractors including a huge steam tractor (fully restored) and lots of vehicles and bicycles that Bill had creatively altered.
I love his flowers.......

and here is a picture of some of the dinosaur sculptures in the flood.  Don't they look like they are feeding in a swamp?
Dinosaurs in the flood waters
Big box stores and development are encroaching on the dinosaurs that Bill built and unfortunately the Zoo may soon be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

Well that was not enough for one day.  My husband Tom, and our friend Bruce had heard about a sculpture garden in Loveland.  We sort of got turned around and ended up driving around Loveland.  In the past this had been either a drive through town on our way to Estes Park, or a stop at the outlet stores.  Who knew that there was Art hiding in the suburbs?  The Benson Sculpture Garden has 139 sculptures situated along a stream.  There is a walkway on both sides of the stream and several bridges connecting the walkways which are easily traversed.  The sculptures are amazing, classic, beautiful, modern, whimsical, there is something for everyone. Here a few of my favorites:


We did not get to see all of the sculptures, it started to rain (not unusual in Colorado in the afternoon) and we were really tired.  But since we plan to go back we have something to look forward to.  I would definitely recommend visiting this area and seeing the sculptures.