Ragged Cloth lives! Introducing Ragged Cloth 2

Ragged Cloth is art blog written primarily by fiber artists about any issues concerning artists.  All art forms, subjects, and time periods may be discussed. This is not a blog for self promotion or a place where we sell our work. but rather a place where we explore topics of concern to artists in any medium, but often with a fiber slant.  Here is the mission statement written by June Underwood, originator of Ragged Cloth :
“A new home for fiber & textile artists of all sorts.
The Ragged Cloth Café is a place for serious artists (who are also serious talkers) to verbally circle ideas about their own work, the visual arts, and the theories, histories, definitions and philosophies of arts while relating these to the textile arts. The group was begun by textile artists and most, but by no means all, of us
continue to have textile art as our base of reference. We are prone to go deep into any given topic, likely to go on for hours circling an idea, bringing in tangent ideas, never entirely resolving any issue, but seldom descending into boring repetition. We are practicing artists by day; thinking artists by night; verbal artists whenever we see the chance.The café invites civil discourse, discussions which probe and prod, and which are well-salted and sugared with references that will expand our horizons. Join us if you are willing to do your homework, looking up and seeking out what you don’t know as well as sharing what you do know. The list moderators and old hands will seed the discussion and keep it somewhat on track, but the group as a whole will, as they do with all email lists, have to draw up a seat, get their preferred cup of stimulus, and keep the comments, questions, and conversation going. Within this group, you will find fiber artists, art quilters, creators of complex/art cloth, wearable art, art dolls and others.”

We are a small band of dedicated posters who welcome comments, occasional or frequent, and new posters.  Join us.
cornell.rose-vents.small cornell.medici-boy.small cornell.habitat-group.small
Roses de Vent     Medici Boy    Habitat Group

Joseph Cornell was the first artist I admired.  I saw an exhibit of  his work in NY (perhaps at the Museum of Modern Art) when I was 11 or 12.   His constructions captivated and inspired me.  I knew nothing of Surrealism of course, but I found his odd juxtapositions endlessly fascinating and instantly liberating.  I immediately began to make my own collages or assemblages (I think I called them dioramas) in shoeboxes.  Anything that interested me could go into a diorama, and I was free to choose the theme, the objects (stones, twigs, grasses, magazine images, pieces of wood, or glass,  shells, dolls, etc.), and their arrangement.  Strangely enough, long after I had abandoned my first career as a teacher and become a fiber artist, I had to rediscover the empowerment to choose what I was interested in as my subject matter, and the “objects” and their arrangement.  I am fortunate to live in Chicago where The Art Institute has a room full of Cornell’s boxes.  I visit them at least once a year.  My own personal pilgrammage.

To see more : Cornell boxes

SoI’d love to know who inspired you first and  how  that inspiration affects your current work.



19 Responses to “Ragged Cloth lives! Introducing Ragged Cloth 2”

  1. 1 kay warner October 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Thrilled to bits to see the” Cafe” resurrected. Always food for thought here! Mention of Joseph Cornell reminded me of my days studying City & Guilds embroider and how Joseph Cornell sort of inspired me. I wrote about it here:

    • 2 clairan October 20, 2013 at 6:57 am

      I thought your box quite funny!

      • 3 Deborah J Bein October 21, 2013 at 4:23 am

        ditto to Clairan’s comment on your box…..clever and meaningful…keep on thinking like this, love the reference to ‘outside the box’…..it is those who never step outside of it who are offended….and they are the to be pitied.

  2. 4 margaret cooter October 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Apart from some landscapes of “home” painted by my parents’ friends and taken with them across the ocean, my first real art experience was an encounter with a print of a Chagall painting near my usual seat in the university library – I used to stare at it a lot while studying. Some months after graduating, I was delighted to find a lavish calendar of Chagall prints (my first art purchase!) which later lived for years on the back of the bathroom door at my parents’ house, the picture changing regularly even though the days of the week got entirely out of whack.

  3. 5 Olga October 9, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Deborah – it took me a little thinking to work out what is probably happening. If you comment, as I am, in the box labelled Leave a Reply at the bottom of the comments – then I think that this will turn up at the top of the comments once published.
    However, if you click Reply directly under someone’s comment, then your comment will appear also directly below that comment.
    That way dialogues can take place, based on several people’s comments – or a completely new opinion can be made in response to the original post.
    It still means furtling about looking for new comments! Well, in any great café discussion, we would be trying to listen to more than one conversation anyway!

    • 6 Deborah J Bein October 9, 2013 at 5:53 am

      thanks for your reply but I get really bogged down trying to do it right and then trying to see others’ comments…..wish it was more user friendly!
      debbie bein

  4. 7 Olga October 8, 2013 at 3:42 am

    On re-reading your original post here, Clairan, I was struck by this sentence: Strangely enough, long after I had abandoned my first career as a teacher and become a fiber artist, I had to rediscover the empowerment to choose what I was interested in as my subject matter, and the “objects” and their arrangement. I find it interesting that so many second career artists can find it difficult to find their self-confidence and thence their own voice after what has probably been years of general interest in art, and most probably also a fairly creative career.
    My greatest initial self-created obstacle was the feeling that I needed to have formal tuition – and indeed some second careerists do study and acquire degrees. But gradually I have come to the realisation that looking at good art, trying to understand why it is good art, and trying to find out the artist’s own opinions and thoughts – both on general subjects as well as on art, and on their work is the best education. That, with looking, thinking, trying, and doing; absorbing the example of good work from divers artists through the years as worthwhile opinions – while making one’s own way. It is that empowering spark which you talk about which somehow lights the way for the furrow which we must inevitably plough for ourselves in order that what we make can be art.
    There are many many artists whose work I love and appreciate, and seeing the work of the best of them inspires me want to rush back to make my own work. I can be influenced to think of various techniques or colour combinations by anything – not just art. And I find it gratifying to discover that so many artists (such as Degas, Bacon, Doig) have used photographs as a starting point for a figure, a composition, an expression – while making the resulting work very much their own.
    But I think it’s that re-capturing of the joy and excitement of discovery which we need most to excite our best work.

    • 8 Deborah J Bein October 8, 2013 at 4:19 am

      Olga, so well put! You have encapsulated my feelings about my second career EXACTLY! I would add that the thing that oppressed me most was the feeling that I couldn’t draw, therefore I wasn’t an artist. (Compared myself to neighbor kid who drew horses that would knock your socks off….everything else, too.) So I observed, appreciated, sewed, created in other directions while pursuing a career and livelihood for my family. After retirement, when I began working in the process and gave myself PERMISSION to be an artist, I finally found the me I was meant to be, as Shirley Valentine would put it.

      • 9 clairan October 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        Yes yes yes, you must give yourself permission to be an artist! And then give yourself permission to be an artist with your own interests, your own style, etc.

        I can’t draw either, Deborah, but I am now taking a wonderful drawing class with a friend who is an architect and painter, and you know, I can draw better than I thought! It’s all about the seeing and the observing. And I have always been very observant — sometimes to my family’s dismay: “Oh, look at those, trees, cracks in the pavement, clounds, reflections, striations. . .etc!”

    • 10 Dena Dale Crain October 8, 2013 at 7:00 am

      Yes, Olga, and how many of those great fine artists (painters, sculptors, whatever) had formal training and degrees in fine arts?!

      I must admit that I believe formal training helps, perhaps “gets you there” faster, but that does not mean that you cannot “get there” all on your own!!

    • 11 Deborah Bein October 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      HELP! I can’t make heads nor taiils out of what is OLD and what is NEW here….seems we’ve inherited all the old postings and I can’t figure out how the new ones are organized. Either I need a lesson or we need to clean house? Unfortunately, I’m not equipped to do this or offer suggestions. Am enjoying the conversation though!

    • 12 clairan October 9, 2013 at 5:31 am

      Thanks Olga!

  5. 13 clairan October 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Wonderful to see so many old friends here! And to hear of early influences. I agree with Deborah as well. Our current influences are of great interest too. Many of them are unconscious. I am aware of Japanese aesthetics influencing me now but I’m sure there are many more.

  6. 14 Deborah J Bein October 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Thanks, Clairan, I’m delighted to see this forum come to life again!

    I’ve been lucky to have been exposed to art from an early age and it would be impossible for me to specify one singular memory. As an emerging artist at age 62 and as a practicing studio artist, for the last six years, I have recently begun to undertake some relatively in-depth studies of famous modern artists. I was delighted to find that my work current work seems to be influenced unconsciously by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. As a result of studying color block painters of the twentieth century, I’ve been exploring painting and color block painting in particular, a lot more there than meets the eye! I’m experimenting also with collage, but my love of fiber draws me back to making art quilts (which is, technically, fiber collage).

    I have several tugs of war going on at the moment with strong forces pulling me in many different creative directions, and a few other forces battling for dominance due to practical needs such as making a more concerted effort at marketing my work so I can beef up my financial position (i.e. not worry how I will pay the heating bill this winter!).

    Where am I going here? I think it is more important what influences impact our CURRENT work rather than try to find a seminal influence at work years and years ago. At least, this aspect is how I see this topic affecting me.

    I’m looking forward to this discourse!

  7. 15 Gillian Cooper October 7, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Hi Clairan,
    Thanks for restarting the blog. I can’t wait to see what is to come as it is such a great idea.
    My first art memory is seeing Salvador Dali’s St John of the Cross at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow as a teenager. We didn’t go to many art galleries when I was a child, it tended to be more stately homes and castles. So, I think I may not have been aware of this art work until I started university. It was the staging of the picture which impressed me. You could see the brightly lit painting a long way down a narrow, dark corridor and it seemed alive. I’m not a great Dali fan, but I do like this one and it showed me the impact of how work is displayed, something which has stayed with me.

  8. 16 Dena Dale Crain October 7, 2013 at 5:49 am

    I’m pleased to learn that the Ragged Cloth Café is once again open. June invited me to join it several years ago, but I felt too inexperienced to participate and too busy building my career as a quilt artist and teacher to join in. Well done, Clairan, and thanks!

    On a recent trip home to Kentucky, I had the chance to spend a day at the Cincinnati Art Museum. There I rediscovered the work of one of my all-time favorite artists, Frank Duveneck (http://www.frankduveneck.org/the-complete-works.html). I don’t think he was a major influence in the art world of his time, but from the first time I saw his work in the same museum, there taking some of my first art lessons as a young teenager, Duveneck’s work touched my spirit.

    The works on display at the Cincinnati Museum include both the full sized portrait of his wife, Elizabeth Boott Duveneck (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Elizabeth_Boott_Duveneck), and the sculpted portrait of her on her coffin lid. Duveneck’s love and passion for her are clearly demonstrated in each work.

    My favorite piece, however, is his “Guard of the Harem.” In this piece as in other works by Duveneck, the earthy palette and softly Impressionistic style resonate strongly with me. Strange that the scene is so reminiscent of the world I once knew on Lamu Island up until recent political events rendered the area rather unstable and other events now prevent me from spending any time there. I think this painting must echo scenes from a previous lifetime for me.

    Do I deliberately try to capture Duveneck’s style, palette or imagery in my own work? Of course not, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy finding my own way. I may have to shop a little harder, though, to find those wonderful earthy colors in the silk Dupioni I so love to use in my work. Or maybe I’ll study up on mud dyeing . . .

  9. 17 Susie Monday October 7, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Thanks for the blog reset, Clairan!

    As for my early inspirations, there are many. I was so blessed to be in a very creative multi-art based children’s theatre program when I was 12-18 (and beyond, since my education work is based on those experiences). Among the visual artists who became my visual mentors: Matisse, Chagall, Louise Nevelson, SIster Corita Kent, Helen Frankenthaler, Henry Moore.

  10. 18 Olga October 7, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Wow Clairan, it’s up and running again – thank you!

    I found your description of how Cornell inspired you most interesting. I did not know about Cornell until I saw a film on television of Tony Curtis talking about his work – that must have been after Cornell’s death, I believe, maybe a kind of obituary. I certainly was fascinated then, and tried to find out more, but in the 70s, in the UK, and with no lovely Internet, it has taken some time!

    My own artistic adventures I think started when I was four. I had my portrait painted by one of my extended family in Greece – she was an art student, and needed subjects – and I was enthralled by the process.
    That same year my great uncle who was involved with the restoration of St Demetrius church in Thessaloniki took me to work with him, and sat me in the church in front of the wondrous mosaics and icons. He also encouraged my drawing.
    That embedded a deep desire to be an artist – whatever that meant – but my parents were against it, so it has been quite a long way round finally. I think that my current work is most obviously literally affected by the forms of the figures in the icons: seen as dark solid shapes in contrast to the bright silver around them. The painted details can only be seen when close up. I think that those shapes burned themselves into my memory.
    That year also was when I mastered a needle, and could join my grandmother, aunts, and other extended family with my mother nearly every afternoon, sitting doing their cross stitch and gossiping. I used to remain silent mostly, listening. Although I no longer do cross stitch, I do work by hand mostly with simple stitches, and still thinking silently about the world and its doing.

  11. 19 Jean M. Judd October 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Clairan,
    Thanks for restarting the Ragged Cloth blog!

    My inspirations have been the work of Frank Lloyd Wright (I’ve toured several of his homes) as well as paintings by artists such as Monet. I also am intrigued by glass works (blown and formed) as well as stained glass work. Wood carvings created from the “debris” of trees such as burls, roots, etc are visually stimulating. I appreciate the design, creativity, skill and time put into many of these works.

    No museum visit is ever quick with me as I spend time in all sections pulling bits and pieces into my subconscious from the 1500s to the 21st century.

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