Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Metro Overhead

In that small pocket of time between afternoon and evening, we emerged from National Airport's old terminal to discover a cloud-marbled sky. A Metro train rumbled southward over my head. How graceful the tracks looked, the curves silhouetted by slanting sunbeams. I stopped to take in the marvel of nature and technology melding into a beautiful scene.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ombre Leaves

Like many fiber artist, I dye a lot of my own fabrics and trims. One effect that I work hard to achieve is to have them shade gently and gradually from light to dark or from one color to another. This ombre effect takes a certain amount of skill. In the autumn, Mother Nature reminds us that she is the ultimate expert at this. On a rainy day, I looked at these leave with their mix of colors both bright and subtle, noting the soft greens that calm down the brighter hues. I’ll store this in back of my mind for the next dyeing session.   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tristan Boutis Quilt

Visitors to the 2014 Houston Quilt Festival saw a remarkable French quilt, draped across a lighted platform. A group of more than forty women replicated a 14th century quilt using the technique known as boutis in France and trapunto in the U.S. They hand stitched the designs through two layers of cloth then stuffed them from the back. You may know the story of the Cornish knight Tristan from Wagner's opera or tales of King Arthur. There are similar stories from medieval Brittany. This quilt brings them to life, with figures that reminded me of the ones on the Bayeux Tapestry. The backlighting transformed the knights, kings and ships into silhouettes, making it easy to see the designs and easy to appreciate the amount of careful work that went into this masterpiece. What an ingenious way to display this quilt!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ruby Jubilee Quilts

This year's Houston International Quilt Festival was the fortieth show. To celebrate, founder Karey Bresenhan mounted a spectacular display of red and white quilts. Reminiscent of the 2011 Museum of American Folk Art's "Infinite Variety" shown at the Armory in New York, the exhibit at Quilt Festival was intriguing because the quilts were made between 1974 and 2014. Within the limitations of what can be considered a red and white quilt, we could look up and see forty years' worth of trends in styles, designs, techniques and fabrics. All types of quilted fiber art hung back to back and side by side, a carousel of creativity, united in the graphic possibilities offered by red and white. That was one heck of a Ruby Jubilee!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cimiterio Monumentale

It is the time of year when neighbors plant plastic tombstones and random tibias and skulls emerge from the grass. In Milan there is a cemetery like nothing to be found in the US. Angels, cherubs, weeping women and children, aged men, portraits of the departed, they all live together in the Monumental Cemetery. It is something of a survey of design styles, starting with elaborate Victorian ones, going up to recent times. This art nouveau angel has an air of'menace about her, with her pointed, enclosing wings. They are more like what you’d expect to see carrying a demon across the skies, and yet they are also vaguely heart shaped. Love, death and mortality all in a pair of wings.