Diaspora: A New Art Quilt Project

SAQA is the Studio Art Quilt Associates, a membership organization devoted to promoting and advancing the cause of the art quilt. I’ve been a member for about 3 years. They do a great job of sponsoring art quilt shows around the world.  There’s an October 31 deadline for a show in Washington, D.C, and the theme is diaspora. I’m thinking of entering a piece.

Diaspora is not the most uplifting theme, admittedly, but if you’ve read any of my recent posts and noticed the dearth of posts due to my dad’s death, well, you wouldn’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to figure I haven’t been in the most upbeat of moods lately. Add prolonged unemployment to the list of woes and perhaps it’s understandable how the theme might be attractive to me at this time.

When I think of Diaspora I think of the excellent and moving eponymous recording by Natacha Atlas. I’ve been listening to that recording while looking through images  I can use in an art quilt that expresses the themes of displacement and loss that inevitably occur to people who are forced or stolen from their homes, because without a home you are vulnerable to, among other things, violence, brutality, exploitation and death: as you can imagine, this is not an upbeat topic!

I have a photo of the end of the rail line at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I took 20 years ago during a trip to Poland.  And I have a photo with a similar perspective line of the Lincoln memorial as seen from Arlington National Cemetery. I figure taking on both the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora is a bold place to start. I mapped out an enlarged version of the Birkenau photo on paper to see how it looks:

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I started filling in the outline with torn up pieces of photocopies of the photo:

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Here’s a closer photo:

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Once I get to the Lincoln Memorial I’ll post more. But in the meantime, I have a lot of paper to rip up into tiny pieces. And once the collage is done, it will be transferred to silk.

New Paper and Silk Lamination Project: Wild Cotton

Last year, the year I didn’t blog, was hell.  But I did manage to take photos then with the idea I’d do art again one day. I took this photo at Sabino Canyon last October, during an unusual fall wildflower bloom. This is wild cotton, and for more info on the plant check out this helpful blog:

wild cotton photo for blog

I’ve blogged before about a very cool technique to make fabric, using color photocopies and transferring the pigment from the copy to fabric. It’s been ages since I’ve done any art, and the time finally is right, so since getting back from Santa Fe I’ve been working on this project. I took the above photo, along with a few others, and made photocopies which I then turned into a collage. Here is the roughly 18″ x 24″ collage outside ready to be laminated to silk. I like to work outside for this part of the process as it can be messy.

wild cotton paper lamination 1

I then pinned silk organza over the collage, and used some tape as well.

wild cotton paper lamination 2

I then screen-printed acrylic gel medium over silk-covered collage; and then I quickly rinsed off my screen and squeegee, as acrylic gel medium dries super fast. The collage dried in about 10 minutes in our hot summer sun. The next step is to remove all the paper, so that all is left is a lovely piece of silk—with a collage transferred on to it. I start the paper removal process manually; this is the piece looking at it from the back. You can see all the bits of masking tape used to adhere all the little pieces of photocopy paper together in the collage:

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Once I’ve pulled all the paper off I can by hand, the piece is soaked in cool water for about 10 minutes, and then I use a scrubber to gently remove the paper. Gently. I’ve scraped a hole in silk before so….be…..careful….when….scrubbing! And note the sieve. Personally, few things drive me nuttier than wet paper. It’s gummy and sticky. After a little bit of scrubbing, the fabric goes back in a tub of cool water for a rinse, and then is returned to the scrubbing table for more scrubbing. I pour all the used water through a sieve to strain out the paper and dispose of it properly. Never be tempted to dump any of this stuff down your sink. It will clog in a way you likely can’t imagine so don’t do it!

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This is the finished piece:

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I am inspired by how translucent this piece is, and it’s an impetus for me to use this technique for a piece I hope to finish in time to enter in a nationally juried show. More on that next time!

Penstemon Project

This photo of a Parry’s Penstemon in my backyard earlier this year is one of several I’m using for my new project, the third in a series of silk-paper lamination art quilts.

I traced some of the flower-shapes onto transparency plastic and used my trusty overhead projector to enlarge the design, so I could trace onto paper:

You can’t really see the traced design that well as it’s in pencil, but this is what it looks like on the dining room table, the transparency plastic is on the lower right-hand side:

Now I’m filling in the design with ripped up bits of photocopies of the photos of the Parry’s Penstemon, I think it’s looking OK so far:


More later. Back to ripping up paper and gluing it down. Too hot to do anything outside so might as well!