Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

In a season known for gratitude, events this week permeated my heart with thankfulness. It all began last Wednesday, when the Museum of Fine Arts Textile and Costume Society friends met for an evening of contemporary art. Tomie Nagano and Marilyn Pappas shared works in progress and outlined their work flow.

Long an admirer of Tomie’s quilts, the peek behind the stitches was much anticipated. However, Marilyn’s embroidery and collage were new to me. I am now completely a fan. While their creative process varies tremendously, both artists devote copious time to each piece. Clearly both women savor the process despite the gradual, meticulous nature of their media.

Tomie collects used textiles from Japan (fortunately, she says, this started when few appreciated the gorgeous silk kimono and obi or the cost would have been prohibitive!). Seeking to create an emotion, she cuts narrow strips, creating traditional patchwork blocks. She decides the size of her work, places each strip and block, numbers it all. Next, Tomie organizes each block into layers laid out in boxes, separated by tissue paper. Hand stitching and hand quilting the entire work, she methodically moves through the process. Her current project is enormous!  A silk quilt displayed for us on her bed simply shimmered. This was one of the many advantages of the evening being hosted at Tomie’s home. I do love viewing bed quilts on a bed. Not to knock displaying bed quilts on a wall, but it’s a different experience.

Marilyn’s approach is more free form and yet equally time consuming. Her early work included textiles, but for many years, collage was a favorite mode of expression. Inspired by classical sculpture, she draws a rough outline on linen and begins to paint with one or 2 strands of cotton embroidery floss. The shading, the vivid dimensionality, the sheer quantity of stitches is mind boggling. She brought several pieces from her History Lessons series. We are not talking about small works of art.  The torsos are often life size.

Can I ever embroider again without thinking of her?

Image of Tomie Nagano buffet MFA textile costume society After feeding our souls with their creative energies, Tomie led us to a magnificent buffet that she had prepared for the group. From the sushi rolls, stuffed avocados to delicious salads, the table was a visual and gustatory delight.  A quick camera phone photo could only capture half of the bounty! A thank you note felt so flimsy after Tomie and her husband offered such hospitality. I am truly grateful for the evening.

Italian ceramics provided a glorious setting for Giardini di Sole’s Meet and Eat this week. Giardini di Sole curates a collection of beautiful and useful Italian home dec and garden tableware, lighting and stone tables (simply beautiful things! And in all transparency, I assist with their marketing and events). Goddess of hospitality, Josephine Wennerholm prepared multiple examples of starters, salads, main dishes and desserts with Elatia Harris of Lucy’s Mom Cuisine. The lively crowd left satiated both spiritually and physically! Jo believes in the ties created by sharing a meal. I know that nothing can be more inspiring than happy people enjoying and a good time together.

Each of us has the creative spirit, expressed in all kinds of ways (providing that we take time to listen). In the knitting classes I lead, the creation process simmers, coming alive in stitches or in thoughts while knitting. This week, we celebrated many new finished objects. What joy when your first knit sweater looks great on your tot or you wrap your first scarf around your neck! How stunning to see the color combinations felted into tote bags. What a vision when a beautiful scarf catches my breath as a knitter walks into the room. How cozy winter evenings will be with that newly completed afghan. I’m delighted to see their accomplishments.

As Fred Wiseman noted in his question and answer session at Sunday’s MFA showing of National Gallery, his documentary was a study of comparative art forms. My week was a study of creative expression. From stitches to squash, ice crystals to philosophical notes, I’m grateful for the perspicacity in my life.

Wearing scarves: I eat my words

As a young professional, I went to a party a color palette party. This “party” made me feel pretty ancient. Where were the festivities, random uninhibited behavior, general raucousness? There must have been something in the punch, as I left having purchased a style advice session.

I learned not to wear navy blue (whoops, everything in my wardrobe needed replacing). Green, turquoise and purple were fab color options for me… huh. The style advisor also advocated scarves.

That was the limit. Scarves? No way! Only Lucille Ball and old ladies wear scarves.

This advice simmered as I romped Italy for a decade. It began to boil as I set down roots in New England. Chomp, chomp, nom, I eat my words. I wear scarves frequently in almost any color except navy blue.

As I researched a post on an Emilio Pucci exhibit, I watched the Spring Summer 2015 runway show, I loved how the models wore scarves as necklaces…

There’s time this winter to cut gorgeous length of silk into necklace lengths! In the meantime, we’ll need to keep our necks warm with gorgeous textiles in knit and woven shapes of all kinds. Thought I’d share this fun video with you.

I’ve eaten my words. Scarves aren’t just for old ladies any more.

#AskACurator from Fiber Art Now

Just had to share some of the content compiled by Fiber Art Now after their Twitter chat on September 17, 2014.

Textilfilia applauds Fiber Art Now Ask A Curator Day

Ask a Curator Day, September 17

As I can’t seem to embed this directly into my blog, let me link you to the Storify page, which has some great contemporary and historic textile photos from museums.

Thanks, Fiber Art Now for organizing this chat. Their quarterly magazine does more than make up for the disappearance of FiberArts Magazine in 2011 (why Interweave dropped it? So a dynamite global woman could make it better, I guess!).

Crochet Circular Cast on

Crochet Circular Cast on

The intoxicating inspiration of FiberCamp 2014 spawned new project ideas, friendships and improved techniques in crochet, sewing and knitting.

In heady fumes of the moment, I imagined writing several blog posts about the weekend. In reality, I’ve only written on Tactile Travel. Erin from Knitting in Beantown has a lovely round up from her perspective.  Any one else? I’d love links to your impressions.

One of the weekend highlights was the Designer Showcase, organized by Julia Farwell-Clay. The Guild did a fabulous job spotlighting this Handknit Runway. Now that I’m finally writing, I’m sure I could go on and on and on…

Stop.

Today I want to share the great way Jennifer creates a circular start in crochet. I’ve traditionally started granny squares or other circular items by chaining a few stitches, linking the chain to create a circle, then beginning the first round. There’s always been a gap in the center of the circle, but Jennifer’s method makes a nice tight beginning. Watch this!

P.S. Jennifer, if you have a web site or other way we can credit you, shout it out!

 

 

Cool, Baby: MFA’s Hippie Chic

Cool, Baby: MFA’s Hippie Chic

Did you catch it yet? It’s a total trip that I really dig. The Museum of Fine Art’s Hippie Chic fashion exhibit is a blast from the past.

The fifty-three outfits span the 1960s and 70s and are curated into five themes according to influence.  The installation is super, complete with a juke box full of period music. Frequently, you can the view the garments from several angles which I appreciated. The enthusiasm of the time period radiated, as suddenly I loved the shag carpet in neon colors on round go go platforms!

Hippie Chic is on view until November 11, 2013, so there’s still plenty of time to soak it up.  Meanwhile, the MFA web site has great features to whet your anticipation.  There’s even a fab game (this coming from some one who would rather do just about anything than play games on her computer!) where you create your own album cover.

Don’t miss this fun exhibit! I heartily recommend soaking it up as soon as possible, then heading back to Lauren Whitley’s gallery talk on November 7.

Textilfilia excited about Hippie Chic at the MFA Boston

Love the dress!

Learn Knitting Skills in Melrose

The Melrose Adult Education program list is growing by leaps and bounds this spring!  There’s opportunities to learn about painting, acting, business skills, interior design and craft.  Yours truly will lead two sessions on basic knitting skills, a lecture on how to make a duct tape mannequin and fair isle (stranded) knitting skills.  To register, go the Melrose Adult Education Office for the full schedule and registration forms.  Here’s class summaries for the sessions I’m leading:

  • Basic Knitting Skills: Learn 2 ways to cast on, to knit, to purl, and how to bind off. Understand some of the most common abbreviations in knitting patterns and get ready to work on a basic knitting project! Bring light colored, smooth (no novelty yarns, please) worsted or bulky weight yarn and appropriate size of knitting needle. With your MCAE registration confirmation  Sit ‘n Knit Melrose offers 10% discount on your class supplies. 7 – 8:30 p.m. Offered on Mondays April 1 & 8 and May 6 & 13, 2013. COST: $25.00
  • Make Your Own Duct Tape Mannequin:   A dressmaker’s mannequin is a helpful tool for sewists, knitters and crocheters. Ideally, it fits your body and your pocketbook! For many hobby garment makers, a duct tape mannequin is the perfect solution. This power point presentation and demonstration helps you and a couple of friends create your own duct tape mannequins. Handouts will help remind you of the steps when you try this at home. Monday, April 22, 2013  Time: 7:00 – 8:30, COST: $10.00
  • Fair Isle Knitting: Knitting with more than one color at a time creates classic or contemporary accents in your projects. Learn Fair Isle (also known as stranded) knitting techniques using English and Continental methods and read charts. Bright 3 contrasting colors of worsted weight yarns and appropriate sized knitting needles (if you’re comfortable working with double pointed or the “Magic Loop” circular knitting, fantastic!  If not, you can learn with straight needles (Monday, April 29, 2013) Time: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. COST: $25.00

All classes are held at the Milano Senior Center in Melrose, 201 West Foster St.  I hear that you’ll soon be able to register online, and I’ll keep you updated.