Thursday, January 3, 2019

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

This is “Smoke and Mirrors aka Keep Your Eyes on the Border”.  It is 17" wide and 34" long.

Smoke and Mirrors is an old term that was usually applied to magic shows and the magician’s ability to distract your eyes, sometimes with smoke or mirrors.  I have long felt that most of politics is a case of smoke and mirrors. I have also felt that the current president, #45 has chosen the most inflammatory and divisive way to deal with immigration.  So, in the spirit of #craftivism I created this wall hanging. 

The base is a piece of my father’s overcoat, the “eyes” are other pieces of wool with shisha mirror embroidery for the pupils.  The large rent at the top, below the question mark bead, represents whatever you think is the biggest problem in the United States (or perhaps the world) today; loss of a middle class, the opioid epidemic, gun control, global warming, or even immigration.  The smaller wounds are whatever you rate as lesser problems (the fact that we are the richest country in the world and still have children who go hungry or perhaps our third world birth survival rate).  Each of us sees the problems of our country and the world differently.

The smoke is raveled organza and obscures some of the eyes and wounds.  The raveled edges represent the unraveling of our society and there is even a secret beaded coded call for help sewn in.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Extreme Crochet

Extreme Crochet

My hands, wrists and forearms are sore, from crocheting.  My arms are sore from lifting 10 to 20 pounds of nylon rope to move it around.  Why was I flinging clothesline around on my floor?  I was crocheting lace on gigantic proportions.  A pie shaped wedge 12 feet long and six feet wide, hexagon motifs three feet across, how did I get myself into this? 

me lying down (for scale) next to the dome 

I was in New Jersey, looking at one of my sister’s knitting magazines when I saw a picture that had to be crochet. Sure enough, it was a crocheted square folded to resemble a Dutch lace cap and it was hanging over a canal in Amsterdam.  I was so intrigued with the article that I looked up the firm responsible for the cap. Choi and Shine are an architectural firm in Massachusetts, they did the lace cap (Lace) and another exhibit called Sea Urchins (Singapore).  The artist Jin Choi learned crochet and experimented with different media to find one that worked for large installations, finally settling on white nylon rope.  She scaled up designs to large proportions and had volunteers crochet sections.  The sections are attached to a very fine steel mesh and then hoisted in the air on steel cables.  A little message on their web site said to contact them if you were interested in participating a project. 

Soooo, I sent off an email saying I was interested in their next project and then I received a message saying that they were behind due to a few crocheters not being able to participate, was I interested?  Even though the rope and I would arrive in Texas after the due date, I was interested in participating.  When I got back to Texas I started crocheting like a madwoman.  Putting as much as I could aside I just crocheted and crocheted and crocheted.  I was able to finish the “pie shaped wedge” which is supposed to be a part of a dome of a mosque.  I got partway through a panel of repeating motifs but was unable to finish it before it had to be shipped back.  I was disappointed that I could not finish (although if I counted all of the times I ripped out a motif, I probably crocheted the whole section) but proud of myself for even trying. 

This project is called The Flying Mosque, it will be assembled in Brookline Massachusetts and then shipped to Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates for the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival Dec 13, 2017 to January 23, 2018.  Here is a link to an article about the Flying Mosque;

Here are some links to the projects Lace and Sea Urchins so you can get some idea of the scale of their projects.  

Lace was the project in Amsterdam, here is a link to an article about it; .

Sea Urchins was created for an exhibit in Singapore, here is a link to that one;

I was really excited to be a part of this international, collaborative project, art is universal.

Monday, June 5, 2017

2016 My Year in Garbage

Well, I finally got the whole trash quilt put together.  What started out as an exercise became a comment on 2016.  My husband's hip replacement, my Mom's death, the awful election process all ended up on the quilt.  It was displayed at the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild Quilt Show on South Padre Island, TX and at the Fiber Arts Unlimited exhibit at the Upper Valley Art League (UVAL) in Mission Texas.  It was also a topic of discussion at the UVAL pot luck dinner.  All in all it was well received.  Not everyone "got it" but I did have the chance to do some explaining at each of these venues. The grey square on the bottom has an "I Voted" sticker in the center and free motion quilting on the grey around it symbolizing the grey morass in which this election got stuck .  In the bottom right square are "vintage pop tops" that my sister and I found while cleaning my mom's garage.  They did not belong to my brothers so we figured they belonged to my dad, he has been gone for 25 years so they are definitely vintage.   They were crocheted with bits of left over crochet thread. It symbolizes the mountain of garbage that is our garbage disposal site in Texas plus it makes a nice jingling sound for the last month of the year.

Front View of Trash Quilt

The back is almost as colorful as the front,  I used a lot of old bubble wrap (18 years old) as both batting and backing.  the squares list what was used for each square as sometimes it is not obvious. My thanks to all who graciously contributed their curated trash.  I wanted this to be a thought provoking idea, getting people to think about the amount of stuff we throw away.  It is in the spirit of Cfarftivism, using crafts in an activist way.  If you would like to learn more about this growing movement pleas hop on over to the The Craftivist Collective.

Back view

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Garbage Quilt Part 2

The previous post talked about how I started my "Garbage Quilt",  here I have a few more squares to show you.  My trip to New Jersey is a very busy collage, but then the trip was full also, and it reflects the conflicting priorities of a husband who was in Texas waiting for his hip surgery and. a mother who was turning 94 in New Jersey. The flowers are coffee filters (yes I brought NJ garbage back to Texas with me) as Mom loves her coffee.

NJ collage

For the bottle cap square, I ,  drilled holes in the bottle caps and tied them to the square with leftover yarn, I save leftover bit of yarn for projects like this.  It is not a traditional tied pattern but the caps are staying on!  Each cap is from a recycled bottle or jar.

Bottle Caps

My other use for leftover yarn (bits to small to make much of anything) is to crochet edgings on coffee cup holders.  Paper coffee cups get dirty, but the holders usually do not.  I started this in 2013 after I retired and we were in California.  The Santa Cruz area has a lot of great coffee shops and my friend Robin and I would "taste test" the coffee.  We were working in my friend Robin's art studio when I started playing around with them.  Originally I was going to make funky bracelets and then I got the idea of recycling them.  I wanted to learn how to use the app Instagram so I made a site for the coffee holders.  If you take a picture of one in use you can post it at Instagram or Facebook "Pick Me Use Me" (#PickMeUseMe).  I had a great time leaving these around Santa Cruz and giving them away.  Here in South Texas there is not quite the coffee shop culture and I got away from it, however I decided it would make a great square and I got back into it again and found some nice coffee shops too.  At the International Knit in Public Day  I even got another lady to make one to practice her crochet (here in Texas we are equal opportunity yarnists, knit, crochet, looms, our LYS The Lambs Loom encourages all skills).

Coffee Holders for Pick Me Use Me

The plan is to have the recycled holders in the cup on the square.  My sewing machine stopped working so I had to hand sew this, more, non-traditional material experience. The brown square is the paper we use here in Texas when you get Bar-B-Q, paper, not plates! so I went with a funky marker look to explain it.

I have "bound" them with duct tape (the industrial kind not the cute stuff) and I am planning to attach them together with twist ties and use larger twist ties as the hanging "sleeve".  You know, the little wire things that are sometimes on bread or you can use them in the produce department to close you plastic bags.  Friends are saving twist ties for me.  Plastic in the produce aisle is another story, I am working on string bags for the grocery store, but that will have to be another post.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Year in Garbage

I have joined a wonderful group of ladies in an Art Quilt group, Fiber Arts Unlimited.  We agree on challenges and one of our challenges was a Trash Quilt, a 12 inch square with at least 25% made from trash.  I overcompensated and made the whole thing from trash.  Now I am not talking banana peels here - I am not using "organic" trash, rather the stuff that piles up like packing, boxes, snack bags, etc.  I had so much fun I decided to make one square every month, next January I will have Art Quilt to submit to the Quilt show (I hope).

Traditional Applique

So far I have made several squares.  Some I used traditional quilting techniques like applique and piecing, one is tied.

Traditional Piecing

I like stories so I find myself exploring themes, my trip to New Jersey to see my mom, claims and announcements from manufacturers, bottle caps that represent recycled bottles.  I am learning about working with non-traditional material with each square.

New Jersey Collage

A lot of this started because on our last trip to NJ with the motor home we brought back artwork that had been in my mom's basement for the whole time we were on the road, 14 years.  They were wrapped in bubble wrap (yes some of it is 14 years old) which became my batting of choice, except where I used dryer lint (the NJ square).   I once swore I would not use dryer lint for crafts but "never say never" because my moms dryer filter puts out lovely big sheets about 3 inches wide, how could I resist that?

Seriously, it is leading me to explore my own practices, I recycle a lot more and I am much more aware of the packaging of what I buy and how I store things.  It also makes me want to do some more "awareness quilts". 

This is my form of "Craftivism".  For those of you not familiar with the term, it is a way for those of us who are not prone to protesting to be socially responsible and champion a cause using our crafts.  Here is a link to The Craftivist Collective ,a movement started by Sarah Corbett in England, as her own approach to "Gentle Protest".  I find it ironic that here in the Rio Grand Valley, Texas, our only "mountain" is made of trash.  We all hear about the problems with trash and the plastics in our ocean, it becomes one more sad story in a whole list of sad stories. I hope that in presenting the problem in this way, people will see the problem in a new light.  I will post additional squares in the future, and some information about how I will connect and hang this piece.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shaman Basket

Well, I have not posted in a long while, but I have not been idle.  I have recently joined an Art Quilt Group (The Out of the Box Fiber Artists) associated with the Upper Valley Art League in Mission Texas.  Great group of ladies and they challenge me (which is what I was looking for).  They recently had a Fiber Art Show and I hung 2 wall hangings and a Tunisian Crochet basket.  The basket sold (I am sooo excited).  The basket was Tunisian crochet in the round with a variety of novelty yarns, charms and wild turkey feathers from New Jersey turkeys.  I riffed off of the infinity scarves I have been making so there is no pattern, but I am going to try to make another one.  I am also going to try to resume posting...we will see.

Shaman Basket 2016 (photo by Tara Kalima)

Monday, September 15, 2014

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Our summer in California is coming to an end.  It did not go as planned (does anything ever go as planned) but it was a good summer.  I had a lot of grandbaby time and my friend Robin and I did some art and we "pole walked", a skill I will be taking home with me.

 One of the most exciting things that happened occurred on a trip to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles ( .  I saw a post that they had a TECHstyle Art Exhibit ( TECHstyle Art Biennial 3 )  opening and mentioned it to Tom, he was willing to go so we set off on an adventure.  It is a lovely museum, dedicated to quilts and textiles and we saw 3 exhibits.  The first was of water color quilts made up of an astounding number of prints.  The second was  three women artists and their comments on what it means to be a woman (portrayed in altered clothing), becoming healthy (beautiful swimming quilts) and not fitting in (the third artist had been surgically altered as a child to make her shorter) it was very moving. Here is the outside of the museum

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

The third, and main, exhibit was the Tech Style exhibit, it was wonderful.  Many different types of textile art, weaving, crochet, quilting, image transfer, altered objects.  There had all been made using modern technology somewhere in the process.  some included sound, laser light patterns, photo technology and multimedia items, it was wonderful, even Tom enjoyed it.  This was one of my personal favorites.  Images taken of the changing shadows of the artists car while driving along, printed on fabric, enhanced and connected with plastic ties.

While I was there, one of the volunteers likes an amulet bag that I had made and introduced me to Louise Horkey, the Volunteer and Visitor Coordinator.  We agreed to meet later in the week to look over my "stuff" and possibly place it in the gift store on consignment.  I am still "over the moon" as my friend Cheryl likes to say.  Louise took nine of my amulet bags on consignment so now I can say..."as seen in the San Jose Museum of Quilts &Textiles ", how cool is that?!

Me and my Amulet bags on display

It is a great little museum and I heartily recommend it if you are in the area.