Archive for the 'quilt art' Category

Zelda K. Method or Madness?

Today we begin with information from a fractal analysis of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, take a look at fractals in general and specifically those of Mark Townsend, and end with Rose Rushbrooke’s quilted fractal art. This journey raises several questions.


In the late 1990s, Richard P. Taylor, a physicist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who is also trained as an artist, thought he recognized fractal qualities in Pollock’s paintings. According to Ivars Peterson (, online editor at Science News, (, Taylor first applied this theory to Pollock’s painting Blue Poles, Number 11, 1952.


Continue reading ‘Zelda K. Method or Madness?’

Jane Davila. Form, function and the perceived limitations of the medium

I’ve been thinking a lot about the place of art quilting within the larger fine art and fine craft worlds. Some really good points were brought up in comments June, Jaret and others made in response to other posts. I see myself as an artist who happens to work in the medium of quilt as a means of expression. I see baggage attached to the label of the medium and I also see potential in and beyond this label.

Using the word “quilt” raises an expectation in the viewer and I feel it holds a perceived limitation. “Quilt” carries with it an implied function – bedcovering, blanket, etc. “Quilt” also carries an implication of form – three layers, two dimensional, textural surface, double sided. As part of a previous discussion about the choice of “quilt” as medium, we asked what can “quilt” do that other media can’t? Are we exploiting that enough? If we do exploit it, are we challenging the viewer’s expectations? In another medium, there are artists working in embroidery, for example, who have so broken away from the perceived limitations of their medium that it is nearly unrecognizeable. Janet Edmonds immediately comes to mind.

Janet Edmonds

Janet Edmonds

I would love examples of artists pushing quilt this far.

How do artists in other media break away from the perceived limitations of both the form and function of their media? Is it necessary to break away to be taken seriously as artists? Continue reading ‘Jane Davila. Form, function and the perceived limitations of the medium’

“Automatic Writing” in the Visual Arts

Thelma, in a comment on the last post, quoted from The Writer’s Almanac where Garrison Keillor spoke about Gertrude Stein: “She was one of the early students at Radcliffe College, the sister school to Harvard University, and her favorite professor was the psychologist William James. He taught her that language often tricks us into thinking in particular ways and along particular lines. As a way of breaking free of language, [William James] suggested she try something called automatic writing: a method of writing down as quickly as she could whatever came into her head.”

Is there an equivalent in the visual arts?

In creative writing classes, automatic writing is often used as a warm-up exercise, just as gesture drawing is used as a warm-up exercise in figure drawing class. But of course, even jump-started writing is carefully and thoroughly edited before it gets published. And gesture drawing is only exhibitable by a very few very accomplished artists. The rest of us hide our pathetic attempts.

Are there equivalents in stitched and quilted art? And, are there drawbacks to such methodology? Can it lead us astray, down paths that end in a tangle? Is there something in the properly finished product that art quilts tend to be that prevents “automatic quilting” from being as useful as it might be to the writer or drawer? Continue reading ‘“Automatic Writing” in the Visual Arts’

Using Commerical Prints for Meaning in Art Quilts

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. Continue reading ‘Using Commerical Prints for Meaning in Art Quilts’

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