Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World

What a beautiful surprise to find in the mail!  Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World, curated by Martha Sielman and available for purchase at SAQA's website, showcases quilts inspired by nature.  This is the first in a series of themed books.  Over 70 artists are featured in the book's galleries and 19 artists are profiled in this gorgeous volume.

Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World

The book is divided into sections by subject matter -- flowers, trees, and textures are just a few of the eight divisions.  There is a little something for everyone in this collection, from photo-realism to abstraction.  I love flowers, and there was plenty to see, but I discovered that coral, blackbirds, and moths also come to brilliant life in the hands of these artists.

The pictures are truly vibrant.  I love seeing close-ups, though, and would have liked to see a few detail shots. I realize, though, that since I was not the curator, the quilts I want to see details of may not have been the ones that were chosen, so maybe it is better having none at all.

While I enjoyed the galleries of work pertaining to the subject, I was most excited to see the profiles of the artists.  The artwork soars, for me, when I understand a little about the artist who created it.  Seeing a list of techniques without knowing why the artist used them leaves me cold.  Learning why Paula Chung chooses flowers and what they mean to her, or understanding the motivation of Annie Helmericks-Louder to create her richly colored quilts, or how Ginny Smith works, helps me to better appreciate the artwork itself.  The backgrounds of these artists are so different, but they all ultimately are compelled to create in cloth.

I can't wait to see what Martha Sielman has in store for the next volume of Art Quilt Portfolio.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Messy Worktable Collaboration Day

This really is how it looks when I'm working.  Oh, wait, there's that relatively clear space near the front that only has WonderUnder and a Post-it pad on it.  That's usually where my fabric support system laptop is.

This week's truth-telling is courtesy of Lynn Krawczyk, who is hosting Messy Worktable Collaboration Day.  Check out her space and a list of other artists who aren't afraid to show where the magic happens!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Honoring Gran, Part 1

My grandmother, Marie Norris Brooks -- Gran to her 10 grandbabies-- was a marvelous lady.  I think all of us granddaughters wanted to be like her when we grew up: beautiful, charming, elegant, insightful, and a fantastic cook.  Gran would let you lick the beaters when she made a cake, give you a taste of her fresh lemonade to make sure it was fit to serve, and could barbecue like nobody's business.

Gran had a life outside of her husband, children, and grandchildren that was filled with friends and service to others.  One way she combined those things was through her involvement with The Links, Inc.  The Links, Inc. is one of the nation's oldest and largest volunteer service organizations for African-American women.  Members are bonded by a chain of friendship.  Founded in 1946 in Philadelphia, there are now Links chapters all across the country.  In 1959, she and nine other women chartered the Fort Worth, Texas chapter.

founding member1 History
Marie Norris Brooks, seated far left, with (in order) Zelma Bazy Woodard,  Ruby Williamson, Mutelle Flint, Ethelyn Maynard Burnett, Viola Borders, May Pearl Hollie Flint,  Sybil Munchus Byrd, Marie Scott Platte, and Hortense Burnett Chatman (first President of the chapter)
Picture courtesy of the Fort Worth Chapter of The Links, Inc.

She was committed to the Links and remained a faithful member until her death in 2009.  To honor her and the women who founded the Fort Worth chapter, my aunt, Link Jennifer Giddings Brooks (Fort Worth chapter) and my mother, Link Marian Brooks Bryant (Lansing, MI chapter) encouraged me to make a small piece to hang in the organization's headquarters building here in Washington, DC.

How we got from there to the finished piece will be coming next week (click here to go to that post), but here is a close-up of my second favorite part of this quilt:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shoe Shots Blog Hop

They asked for shoes, so here they are!

When I saw the announcement for this blog hop, I was wearing my houseshoes and standing in fabric scraps, because I was working on a small quilt.

And my favorite ballerina flats, in first position because it's a lot harder to get into fifth position than it used to be!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Make Dolls?

Because I like to make people smile.

Covered in dolls
That sounds kind of pageant-y, but the real answer is not too far off.

My own childhood relationship with dolls was a little rocky.  When I was 6, in 1971, I took one of my dolls to school because all the other girls brought dolls to school.  One girl, seeing my doll, announced, "Yours is different."  She did not say it in a mean-spirited way, but I took it to be something bad and I never brought another doll to school.  My doll was brown, just like me.

My daughter, thankfully, has no such baggage and loves dolls, starting with Dolly, whose travails were the subject of this post.   She has dolls all over her room now.  When she was about five years old, she asked me if I could make her a doll.  Clearly, since I could make quilts and Halloween costumes, a doll was within my capabilities, according to five-year-old logic.

Unfortunately, when it came to doll-making, I had five-year-old skills at that time.  I had a hard time trying to make it all work on my own.  I did not have a mother or grandmother who made dolls for me that I still had as an adult.  It was slow going.  My daughter has all of my sorry first attempts, and she loved them as if they were perfect because her Mommy made them.

It took a couple of years, but I finally worked out a doll that I really liked.    They were brown, just like my sweet daughter.  I took some and a few quilts to sell at a Links Assembly in Detroit in 2010, after considerable prodding by family and friends.

I sold almost all of them, but the best part was the way the women smiled when they saw them.  They thought of their daughters or granddaughters.  They thought of their own fond doll memories.  They looked happy.  And that made me happy, too.  Ecstatic, really.

The dolls are now called Jacq's Girls, named for me (Jacqueline) and my grandfather, Jack, after whom I was named.  My grandfather spoke frequently and proudly about his girls (3 daughters, 6 granddaughters, and 2 great-granddaughters), and these dolls -- along with my own fantastic daughter -- are mine.  And they make me smile.
Jacq's Girls - Chyna

Jacq's Girls - Alyssa
Jacq's Girls - Sydney

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Doll-Making Time!

You know how you go to Costco and buy a gigantic box of trash bags that lasts for years and you forget that the box isn't really bottomless until you finally, finally reach in there and there is nothing?  And there's that feeling of, "When did I last buy trash bags?"  And you start measuring the time by the ages of your children (I'm pretty sure that was when we bought the fourth Harry Potter book and he was in the fifth grade then...)?

That's pretty much what happened to me.  The last time I dyed I did about 6 yards of fabric.  I had dolls, too, just waiting for loving homes.  I was comfortable.

Then I started looking for a particular shade of fabric and realized I had used it all.  And the dolls were dwindling.  A couple of them looked kind of lonely.

Savannah is smiling on the outside, but inside she misses her friends.

Time to make some girls!  I dyed almost 10 yards of fabric and started tracing patterns.

Hang on, Savannah!  More girls are on the way.