This is the first post on the newly sited Ragged Cloth Cafe and as you’ll see, it brings some changes. The biggest change is that we are expanding the possibilities for discussion, asking for your input about your own experiences with art and textiles. This does not mean that Maggie won’t turn her back on you if you talk about your aching knees — and June will probably snort inappropriately if you bring your (beautiful and talented) grandchildren to the cafe. But it does mean that you can discuss the art you have made using those beautiful grandchildren as objects of veneration, and if your grandmother’s knees show up in a wall hanging that you’ve done, you can even discuss their wrinkled and worn look (being a grandmother, I can attest…..)
So, here’s a post to start us off. I’m going to try to stick to the inverted pyramid style (say what you have to say first and foremost and save the details for later) and end with a question directed at anyone who happens onto the blog. Please feel free to join in and tell us/show us your artistic ideas and ventures.
Using Prints for meaning in textile arts
In thinking about sub-categories of styles among textile arts, I have been maundering around about the use of fabrics as one of the distinguishing marks of the artists among us. Specifically, I can see at least two distinct categories (I’m sure there are more) of fabrics users — those who smoosh things together in a painterly style, like myself, and those who carefully choose among commercial fabrics to design, with fusing, seaming, and applique, recognizable imagery.
Here’s an example of the careful choice of commercial prints to make a statement. This is Barbara Littlefield’s “Hot,” a title which is wonderfully appropriate. It’s not a complicated set of fabrics, nor a complicated image, but it immediately invokes an understanding of the situation. While the primary focus has to be in the look the female is directing at the male, the background commercial fabric in some sense “makes” the meaning. And the car accessories, depicted in that gold ochre print fabric, equally make the point about the relationship (or not) of the couple.
Another person who uses commercial fabrics in this way is Terry Grant.
I don’t (yet) have permission to put Terry’s work on the web, but you can see her work if you click on her name above.
Both Terry and Barbara have strong backgrounds in sewing and textiles. On the other hand, I have almost no background in textiles prior to taking up art quilting in the early 1990’s. I think that may be why my approach tends to be whole cloth smooshed, or, as I prefer to put it, “painterly.”
Above is my piece, “Mrs Willard Waltzes with the Wisteria.” Even though some of the flowers are fussy-cut and fused, the overall impression is much more painterly and diffuse than Terry and Barbara create.
The two looks are very different. Terry and Barbara both have a crisp clear look to their work that is definitely absent from mine. But they both also convey a strong sense of meaning and intentionality — they don’t use fabrics just because they like them. They use them in order to get across a vision or idea.
This is Barbara’s “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” which uses florals somewhat like I do, but she cuts the florals with other commercial fabrics, like the stripes and polka dots. I find this piece to have a kind of tension that Mrs Willard lacks, and I think it comes through the geometries of the fabrics and the piecing and the wildness of the fussy cut florals. It’s also due, of course, to the image of the couple themselves.
Here’s a closer view of Mrs. Willard:
My question, then, is where does your work fit into these categories? And if it doesn’t, what other sub- groups would you suggest? When you think of the work of textile artists whom you know, can you see them falling into one or the other of these categories? And how would we place the Art-to-Wear and doll textile artists — can they be sorted in anything like these ways?