I have several small spools of yarn I inherited from my mother. I was drawn to keep them by their bright colors. I don’t know what my mother had used them for. But I wanted them for something. I didn’t know what though. They languished in my studio for a long time before a perfect use came up.
Several years back at a large quilt show, I saw a piece that had a large amount of yarn jammed on top into big blob. To be honest I didn’t like effect at all. But it gave me the idea to use the decorator threads and interesting yarns in a more orderly way. I stumbled upon a way to creating texture for my pieces.
After I have chosen the colors I want to use, I take a long strip of cotton fabric, 20”-40”long and 5” to 6” wide. I tried using other backings like ribbon but I didn’t like the effect as well. The ribbon was slippery and was not easy to sew with. I couch (zigzag) the threads to the cotton fabric. I don’t worry about the lines being straight. I also prefer to match the sewing thread color to the yarn as that the color of the yarn stands out more; the stitching appears invisible. But that is a personal choice one can make. A thin thread can be doubled or tripled to become thicker . I repeat couching similar or different threads on the cotton fabric. Remember to leave space for the seam allowance and don’t sew too close to the side edges of the cotton fabric. Sometimes I keep the threads straight and sometimes I cross one thread on top of another. I like the movement this creates on my quilt. Overthinking this process is not necessary. I find it fun and relaxing. If things don’t turn out as I would like then I can just save the piece for another project. After 5 or 6 threads have been couched, then I randomly cut them into pieces to use as fabric.
It is easy to find interesting yarns and threads at flea markets or garage sales. There won’t be enough for a scarf or a sweater but there will be more than enough for your couching creating fabric projects.
I am proud and excited to be accepted into the esteemed Santa Cruz County wide Open Studios Art Tour for the first and third weekends in October. 1001 Center St. #4 Santa Cruz,CA.
Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, and Roy Holmberg are collaborating on a fabricated and forged steel and painted concrete with vermiculite sculpture representing Eucalyptus pods and leaves. Their vision of placing this twenty foot scolpture against a fence as if blown by the wind is brilliant. You can see their very different and compelling installation and 10 other fabulous installations at the UC Santa Cruz Art in the Arboretum : Environmental installations exhibition starting May 20 till November 17.
Opening reception is May 20. 3-6pm.
About Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, and Roy Holmberg and their installation titled 3+7
Jamie Abbott, Barbara Downs, Roy Holmberg
Fabricated and forged steel, with burlap, concrete and vermiculite
On our first trip to walk around the arboretum, looking for inspiration, we quickly zeroed in on a eucalyptus grove; our initial inclination was to build something in the grove using the bark that littered the ground as our main material.
On our second trip, looking at specific sites, we started collecting eucalyptus seedpods, and had an idea about a very large pod or groups of pods. As we collected more samples, Roy found a twig with leaves and pods, and with that in mind we visited yet again to look for a specific site for a large version of that twig. When we saw the fence, we started thinking about the relationship of a twig and a fence.
To some extent, the fence dictates the sculpture, and their relationship is important. The idea that the twig would blow in the wind and be caught by the fence was the genesis of our final sculpture idea.
Working in collaboration is both rewarding and challenging. We each bring our own skill set and ideas to the mix, with combined experience in metal work, drafting, horticulture, painting, mixed-media sculpture and forging. Our own working methods may be quite different from what we’re doing as a group.
Because we’re a group, it’s helpful to have the sculpture planned in great detail in advance, so we worked with templates and a scale model. This type of planning helped us to cement our ideas (no pun intended), and to articulate with each other what it is that we are after.
Ultimately, we are making the sculpture that we are able to make *with each other*, in a collaboration, and it will be quite different from what each of us might make individually.
Born in Syracuse, New York, Jamie Abbott now has a studio in Santa Cruz, California. He earned his BFA and MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He was an instructor at Cabrillo College from 1973 to 2013.
He has shown regionally and nationally and has numerous private and public commissions.
“My background in sculpture spans more than forty years and my use of materials and process covers the traditional as well as non-traditional methods. The fundamental aesthetic issues: such as composition, asymmetry, form, line and plane are primary issues/concerns I refer to when designing my work.
The aesthetics of presentation of my sculpture envelops the work from its beginning stages. The visual value of the work as scene by the larger audience is so dependent upon the totality of the finished work. It culminates with the adage that the work must speak for it’s self.”
2575-C Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Born in Virginia, Barbara Downs now lives in Santa Cruz, California. In 1983 she earned her BA at UC Santa Cruz in studio art, focusing on traditional lithography on limestone.
During this time, she made her living as a draftsperson, doing electro-mechanical drawings on vellum, and later in AutoCAD. Among other jobs, she did mechanical design and drafting for an early private rocket company.
Barbara’s art now spans multiple mediums including painting, drawing, encaustic and sculpture. She has shown regionally and nationally. Her work is included in the collection of the University of California as well as various corporate and private collections.
“I work in multiple mediums with little allegiance to specific subject matter, though my bodies of work are conceptually and aesthetically connected. While disassembling and reorganizing the visual information and materials at hand, I investigate themes of containment, confinement, and the protective or aversive shielding of precious internal information.
“My work involves real and vigorous physical action: scraping, erasing, stitching, nailing, welding. I often paint with large rollers for a broad mark, and then scrub and mar the surface. This physicality brings out an “object-ness” in each piece.
2573 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Native son of the Golden West, grew up in Southern California and have resided in Santa Cruz since the early 80’s. Navy Veteran, registered Landscape Architect and retired burecrat. Opened my art studio in the year 2,000 and have been in numerous local, regional and statewide shows..
“I do not engage in the fancy art speak, so I will just describe my processes in terms that a blacksmith would understand.
“I work in metals, ceramics and wood using a variety of tools to shape and mold materials into pieces that strive to capture the spirit of the craftsman era. I particularly enjoy working with hot forged metals which allows a normally rigid material to become plastic and able to be worked into fluid organic shapes. Nothing like getting a piece of steel hot, hitting it hard and shaping it into a thing of beauty.
“For most of my work I use a combination of materials and it is not uncommon for me to incorporate found objects into my pieces. Raw materials may originate from a scrap yard, flea market, yard sale or be found washed up on the coast. Gathering raw materials can often be as challenging yet rewarding as constructing the work. I enjoy creating my pieces and take special satisfaction from turning cast off items into artistic work.”
2589 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
People unfamiliar with quilts or even art quilts have asked how they are different. As I have made the transition from making bed quilts to creating wall art, the question is something that I have lived through. May I offer some generalizations? Bed quilts and art quilts are made with the same tools; sewing machine, rotary cutters, cutting boards, see through ruler, a variety of feet for their machines. Many of the techniques are also the same; three pieces sewn together, applique, stitch in the ditch, binding and others. Bed quilts generally have squares or blocks of fabric sewn together. Bed quilters prefer to use 100% cotton. It is the best fabric to work with, it lies flat and most importantly, it is washable. When a quilter moves away from the necessity of washing their piece, a whole new realm of fabric possibilities open up.
For me, foregoing the use of patterns also forged my way toward art quilts. I have been “scarred” by my pattern disasters. I flatly refuse to use them anymore. By not following anyone else’s ideas, colors, or materials, I have been able to create my own style.
Silk, linen, synthetics, yarn and decorative threads have become my go to materials. I am very focused on redirecting fabrics and materials to keep them out of the landfill. I keep the smallest pieces of fabric to try and find a use for it instead of placing them in the trash. Of course, my first focus is on creating a beautiful piece of art that someone will want to live with.
Crochet Coral Reef
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery and the Institute of the Arts and Sciences of the UCSC Arts Division Present:
Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA-CO2LA Ocean
By Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring
February 10 – May 6, 2017
Scribble Quilting is a colorful, artful and an interesting way for me to quilt. The quilting thread lines cross each other; creating positive and negative space. The actual sewing lines are the positive space, and the negative spaces are the shapes created by the lines. Lines undulate, curve and wave. Do the lines you’ve made draw your eye and keep your interest?
Like many great ideas, Scribble Quilting was discovered by accident. I was making a baby quilt and decided to quilt curvy lines with my walking foot instead of straight ones. I used one of the built-in stitches on my sewing machine which made regular, gentle curves. Soon, I wanted to make the curves wider. Switching back to my usual straight stitch, I began gently moving the quilt from side to side by hand to make wider curves than my built-in stitch had allowed. It was fun, and the lines looked more interesting. I kept quilting, experimenting with contrasting thread colors, and finished many of my art quilts this way.
I called this technique Scribble Quilting because, during my thirty-eight years of teaching, I noticed that some students showed their frustration with what they considered unsuccessful art projects by scribbling all over them with four or five different crayons or pens. It always caught my attention; to me, it looked like a party with confetti falling all over. As I quilted my pieces, drawing lines with multiple colors and crossing over them repeatedly, it reminded me of scribbling.
Next post, more on the process of Scribble Quilting including photos.