Sunday, May 25, 2014

High School Quilts

I had a busy week last week mailing out art work, tennis lessons, trip preparations and wrapping up my teaching at Branksome Hall.

I worked with a small group of students and finished up the quilt making that I started with the entire grade last month. The blocks were made and designed by all the grade 8 students.

First step- Place the blocks in a pleasing fashion.
Second step- Sew the rows together being attentive to the block intersections.

Since we were pressed for time, I suggested we make the quilts the "turn inside out" way instead of the traditional way that ends with a binding.

Third step- Lay your top, good side up over the batting and pin the two layers together using safety pins.
Fourth step- Cut the batting right up to the edge of the quilt.
Fifth step- Tape the back fabric, good side up, onto a table so there won't be any shifting when doing the next step.
Sixth step- Lay the top and batting combo, good side down, over the back fabric.
Seventh step- Pin all the way around using straight pins.
Eighth step- Sew around the edge leaving a gap at one end.
Ninth step- Trim backing.
Tenth step- Turn inside out through the gap you left.
Eleventh step- Add a top stitch all around the quilt which closes up the gap.
Last step- Tie the quilt using pearl cotton.

Lots of steps but the girls were so good at listening that it went pretty fast.

Originally the quilts were to be donated but now the school has decided to exhibit them as an installation at their other school Branksome Hall Asia on Jeju Island, South Korea.

The girls are very excited about that. They should be proud of their work!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sandra Brownlee was in Town

Sandra Brownlee was recently in Toronto giving a workshop and also had her work exhibited at the David Kaye Gallery. The exhibit is on until May 25. Don't miss it! This is the last weekend.

"I am becoming"
2005, work by Sandra Brownlee
hemp cloth, fabric strips, sewing thread, stitching

I loved the journal of hers that was on display. I was able to flip through it thanks to the gloves provided. I keep a journal when I travel. I write poems. I sketch. I keep a page at the back entitled "Strange but True" where I jot down funny things I see. Hers has inspired me to continue. I can not keep a journal at home as I find my life too FULL FULL FULL and just can't stop and let my mind clear so that I can see my "other" thoughts.

Page from Sandra Brownlee's journal.
I like that she added photographed images.
I like that she is standing behind her art
 and the cloth is almost hugging her shape "becoming" her.

Her piece "I am becoming", 2005, was my favourite. The fabric being so sheer, so nothing and she is "becoming" through the words she stitches.

detail, I am becoming
by Sandra Brownlee

There is an article about her and her work and her latest recognition- The 2014 Saidye Bronfman Award in Studio Magazine, available at David Kaye Gallery or at the OC offices/gallery on Queen Street.

I was too late to sign up for her workshop...he who hesitates is lost. It was full by the time I decided. But I heard all about it from two of the participants, Judith Martin and Margi Hennen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Being Together

I need to be around artists, I've decided.

In fact, about 5 years ago I made a list of Toronto artists and was planning to start a dinner group with these creators of different kinds- a photographer, a painter or two, a mixed-media artist, a filmmaker, a writer...

Encaustic painter Kevin Ghiglione at work

The idea was to meet with these friends once a month for a pot luck dinner and discuss our direction, our new projects, our frustrations with our work. It was to be inspirational to all which is why I wanted to include artists working in different mediums and not necessarily visual artists and definitely artists at different stages of their art paths.

detail: The Backward Stars
by Cass Reimer
mixed media on tyvek

That idea got pushed aside because I had too much on my plate at the time. It came up again when I took a course 2 years ago with artist Iris Häussler . She mentioned she meets with art friends regularly.

Artwork by Cybèle Young,
 a present to me from years ago.
2 .5 " x 3.25 "
Leaf with Strainer, 1999

Having Judy Martin for dinner last week, while she was in town for her workshop with Sandra Brownlee, confirmed that I want to be around others who create. For artists working alone it is important. I suppose those sharing a studio regularly experience a type of exchange. Those working alone learn to figure things out themselves.

Painting by Toronto artist,  Kim Rodenkirchen

I am preparing to go away (Italy, of course) so when I get back in late September that will be first thing on the list.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Last Saturday, while the family went to the market for Mother's Day dinner ingredients, I was dropped off on Queen Street and had a lovely hour walk stopping in at the amazing art galleries all along that trendy street.

David Kaye Gallery was one of my stops.

Coming from a textile background himself (weaving) he selects interesting textile artwork for his space. He does feature other art mediums. I stop in there regularly.

This piece caught my eye.

detail, Icarus No.11
mixed media on aluminum
by Donald Andrus

It reminded me of stitching, of making marks with thread and a needle. I liked the juxtaposition of the hard material imitating a soft technique. The artist used cold aluminum while the activity of stitching into textile is soft and comfortable. That's my opinion. That's what I got out of the artist's work. It is valid. I am the viewer. It is, however, nothing like what the artist wrote about his own work. To read that click here.

Icarus No. 11
 by Donald Andrus
mixed media on aluminum
(not a great photo, sorry!The art work looks better LIVE))

I was told that artist Donald Andrus does not stitch as part of his practice.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Shadow at Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal, Quebec.
Finally, a sunny spring day in Toronto. Dance!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Making A Sleeve for Your Textile Work

I have finished my art piece and I L-O-V-E it. I will only be able to post a picture after the opening of the exhibit in mid-June in Geneva, Switzerland.

Preparing white cotton for the dye bath. This was the beginning of my piece.

I am sewing on a sleeve before I mail it off.

Below are some tips on making a sleeve for an art work or a quilt.

A standard size sleeve is 4 inches wide. I cut my fabric 5 1/2 inches wide by the entire width of my art piece.

I fold the ends in 1 inch and sew the flaps down by machine. (seen below)

I fold the outside raw edges inward by 1/4 inch and pin down along the edge.

I make a small fold along the middle (spine) and pin. As I pin I make sure the width of the sleeve stays at 4 inches. I use my mat for that and line the fabric up with the lines on the mat (seen below). The pleat will take the fullness of the rod making the front of your work lie flat as it hangs instead of bumping outward to accommodate the rod. You can use a flat piece of wood but I still add a fold.

There are lots of pins but it is worth doing this stage so the sleeve doesn't become crooked while you attach it making your work lopsided when it hangs.

I center and pin the sleeve on the back about 1/4 inch from the top and appliqué it using the blind stitch. Be careful that your stitching does not go through to the front.

If I plan to add a quilt binding to the work, I will add the top of the sleeve at the back of the work by lining up the raw edge with the top edge of the work without folding it in the 1/4" edge and that gets sewn in by machine when I attach the binding. It makes the sleeve strong and it eliminates one of the hand sewing steps.

If you have a baby quilt that a child has out grown adding a sleeve to the back will make it perfect to hang on a bedroom wall.

If you have a large, heavy quilt it is advisable to make 2 sleeves and sew them along the top leaving a space in between. This will make the rod accessible in the middle so the weight of the piece can be secured by adding another hook on the wall.

Hope that's helpful.