Monday, July 30, 2007

“The Bluest Eye” featured in Quilting Arts magazine

My quilt, “The Bluest Eye,” is featured in the August/September 2007 issue of Quilting Arts magazine! It was named as one of five “Judges’ choice” entries in the 2008 Quilting Arts Calendar Competition. The magazine will be available at larger newsstands and at Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide on August 7.

To make this quilt, I started by creating the image (below) in PhotoShop, merging photos of my blue-eyed daughter's eye with that of her African-American classmate.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bald Head Island

I just returned from Bald Head Island, at the southern tip of North Carolina. This island is blessedly slim on commercial buildings, and development is tightly controlled. The emphasis is on preserving nature, on the beaches (a prime nesting spot for Loggerhead sea turtles), the marsh and the maritime forest.

As always, I found many intriguing textures and color juxtapositions. I have always thought that I am drawn mostly to color, but I am starting to think that it is textures that interest me more. Perhaps it is rich colors combined with texture that I like best. Am I ignoring other design basics (line, movement, shape) that I need to work on?

I also think that taking photos makes me a better artist. Looking through the camera lens teaches me how to see better, makes me pay more attention to composition.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pondering copyright issues

I have been reading all the recent postings about copyright issues to the QuiltArt Yahoo group with interest. Many members hate the idea of someone taking a photo of their quilt and showing it to someone else, without using their name, or putting it on a blog or website without their consent. Others worry that someone might take their quilt and put it on a coffee mug. Others worry (and rightfully so, in my mind) that someone might steal their design and use it to make money. Paula Nadelstern's designs were used, in clear copyright violation, on carpeting in the Houston Hilton Hotel connected to the same convention center where the International Quilt Festival is held each fall. Everyone draws the line (between acceptable and unacceptable to them) in a different place.

Makes me think about my own feelings about where I would draw my line.

Personally, it does not bother me at all when people take photos of my quilts at quilt shows and take them home to share with fellow quilters or members of their guild, or even to post them on a website without specific details like my name and the name of the quilt, as long as they are not taking credit for my work or trying to recreate it. Heck, I don't even have a problem with them putting it on a coffee mug as long as it was for personal use. I'm honored that they like my work and want to tell other people about it.

There are a lot of people who never go to a big quilt show (or even a little one) and if they see photos of art quilts and think "wow, that's cool!" then art quilts have won another victory. More exposure, more understanding, more people figuring out that what we do is art, more demand for it, and maybe more money for quilt artists.

I know there may be people who take photos for the purpose of copying my work. And if an occasional person takes the trouble to do this, then I say, "Go at it!" I can't control the universe, and I can't control the ethics of people who think this is okay. I am reminded that it used to be that art students sat in art museums and galleries and learned how to paint from copying the masters. (Maybe they still do; I did not go to art school.)

If they sold my image, or put it on merchandise and sold the merchandise, THEN I'd have a problem.

I am a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band, and they were one of the first bands to actually encourage fans at their shows to record the music, make copies of it on CD, and give it (FOR FREE) to their friends. As a result, they got a lot more exposure, and a LOT more fans. Those fans went out and bought studio albums. Lots of them. Then they bought tickets to concerts. Lots of them.

Result? The Dave Matthews Band is now one of the most popular bands in the world, and they are NOT hurting for money. The are among the top grossing acts of the last decade. They would gross even more, but they don't charge as much for live performance tickets as many other big acts. If people try to sell the concert CDs rather than give them for free, the fans go rabid and report them. So it is self policing. The band does not have to pursue copyright issues because the fans do it for them.

If you take this example and apply it to quilts, I wonder if we should all be giving away photos of our quilts, and not worrying too much about these copyright issues. The world has changed... the digital revolution makes everything different now, and I think we have to learn how to turn these changes to our advantage instead of getting bent out of shape over them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How to make a quilt sleeve

Nearly all quilt shows require a 4" hanging sleeve for quilts exhibited. This 4" size accommodates most hanging rods or slats used at shows. Lake Norman Quilters will have its first quilt show November 2-3, and there are some quilters in our group who have never exhibited a show before who have asked about how to make a sleeve to hang their quilts. So here are some basic directions for the process I use. For a copy of these directions in a PDF format that can be printed and distributed, click here.

1. Measure the top edge of your quilt, where the sleeve will go, about 1/2" from the top. My quilt measures 13". See photo below.

2. Cut a strip that is 9" wide and the width of your quilt plus 1" (for my quilt, this is a rectangle 9" x 14").

3. Fold in the short ends 1/2" and press. Fold in again 1/2" and press. See photo below.

4. Sew a seam along these short ends. See photo below.

5. Fold the strip in half with the wrong sides together, and press. Note that by using this method, you do not have to turn the tube inside out after you sew it together. If you have a wide quilt, and a long sleeve tube, it can be difficult to turn it right side out. This way, you don't have to, because the seam is hidden between the sleeve and the quilt backing.

6. Along the raw edge, stitch the long edge together with a 1/2" seam. See photo below.

7. Press the seam open, center it, and press. See photo below.

8. Along one of the long edges, fold down and press about 1/4". See photo below. This allows for a little slack so the quilt will hang better on a rod or slat. Without this slack on the back, you may have a buldge on the front of the quilt where the hanging rod goes through. You can see this slack more clearly on the side view photo below.

9. Pin the sleeve to the back of the quilt, about 1/2" from the top. See photo below. Take care to place the sleeve low enough that it will not show from the front once the rod is inside and the weight of the quilt pulls the sleeve up toward the top of the quilt. This is even more of an issue if the quilt is uneven at the top, as mine is, rather than straight.

10. Hand-stitch the sleeve to the quilt. See photo below. Go around all four edges, even the short sides. Your stitches should only go through the backing and the batting. You should not see them on the front of the quilt.

11. To display your quilt at home, place a dowel rod, metal cafe curtain rod, or a strip of lath (wood slat) through the sleeve. Nail nails or place screws into your wall, and prop the rod on top.

Monday, July 2, 2007

What art is really for

I am feeling the need to create some art quilts that convey my opinions on weightier issues. “The Bluest Eye” does this (racism, and my belief that we are all the same on the inside), and so does “Harbinger's Hope” (desecration of trees, destruction of nature to suit mans' whims). (There are photos of these quilts in previous postings.) I'm very opinionated, so I'm sure I won't run out of issues to make quilts about! :) I also think that there should be more to art than pretty pictures. Of course, I have nothing against pretty. Pretty art of pretty things (flowers, children, landscapes) shows our adoration of our world and all creation. And that is a good thing.

But I also think it is a mistake to ignore the world's problems in my art. What kind of art about the war in Iraq would move people today the way Pablo Picasso's “Guernica” did about the horrors of the civil war in Spain in 1937?

“Shouldn't art just stick to what it does best, the delivery of pleasure, and forget about being a paintbrush warrior? Or is it, when the bombs are dropping, that we find out what art is really for?”
– Simon Schama, scholar and writer,
on the PBS Series Simon Schama's Power of Art