Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Boring Progress Report

Why boring? No pictures, that's why.

The Wedding Quilt. Has been coming together right on schedule. I will be putting the finishing touches on it the face this week. But I don't like showing pictures of wedding quilts before I give 'em away. So.

Batik Boxes. It has been a long time since I thought this would be an interesting quilt. I just want to finish it now to get it DONE. I guess it's been long enough since I last talked about it that I can justify showing you a picture:

It was maybe 25% quilted two weeks ago. I think I'm up to around 60% now. It will be a less complex quilting pattern than I originally intended, but it's not worth throwing a lot of detail work at.

Symbol. Well, I finalized my faux-symbol for this one. Here's what I finally settled on (OK, OK, I guess I had some pictures after all):

I'm not sure yet exactly how I'm going to transfer that onto fabric, but we'll worry about that later. Meanwhile, I've been pieceing the background part together. It looks pretty cool.

QuiltStorm. And I've been tinkering with some of the StormQuilts, too. But I'll just bother you with finishes for those.

That's all this time!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Show Situation

I was all fired up about quilt shows last year and decided I was going to enter pieces in ten shows in 2008. That started to fall apart when I missed the Sisters entry deadline by a country mile. Then, the Pacific Northwest Quiltfest in Seattle turned down Labyrinth, which was fine. Then, the Northwest Quilting Expo here in Portland first accepted Labyrinth, then said it was too big, and then two people from the Expo were telling me too different things, and it became more of a hassle than I wanted to deal with in summer. And by now I had missed the deadline for the Columbia Gorge show and figured, eh, who needs it.

Meanwhile, I turned forty in August and threw myself a birthday party featuring, among other things, a retrospective quilt show upstairs! It was fun to "curate." I started with a properly somber-sounding exhibition title:

The hallway walls were festooned, if that's the right word, with quilts of various vintages.

And the bedroom showed off another several pieces.

So, it was a fun and fairly easy to show things off.

I had pretty much decided to punt on entering any more shows for now, but my mom suddenly got fired up for me to enter the fall shows in and around Hometown5000, so I humored her. You have to humor your mom. So, a few pieces hung in a show this last weekend. This morning, rather incredibly, alert reader The Calico Cat sent me this link:

...which is really pretty amazing, as to the best of my knowledge Calico lives about 2500 miles from Hometown5000. I had forgotten I even had a quilt in a show, but I did, it was photographed, the photo was posted on the internet, and Calico happened to see it, recognize it, and tell me about it. What are the odds?

The bad news is, they hung it sideways. The good news is, it doesn't matter.

Next Weekend

If you happen to be within striking distance of the beautiful South Coast of Oregon and feel like catching some quilts NEXT weekend, I'll have two pieces in the 2008 Festival of Quilts in Gold Beach. It's Saturday and Sunday at something called the "Event Center at the Beach"; I've been told it is one of the better local shows in the Northwest.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Looking for a Sign, part IV

OK, to bring yourself up to date on this "Looking for a Sign" business, you should first read Tuesday's post.

Then, make sure you've read yesterday's post on the Life & Times.

OK? Good.

Having looked at the last itteration ("Symbol #4") in yesterday's post, Fingerstothebone suggested:

You can try closing the bottom so that the 2 pointy ends meet up, and then extending a downward gentle curve to reference, but not copy, the two curls at the top.

So when I did that -- and oh yeah, pared down the upper left "arm" of the figure -- it ended up looking like this (Symbol #5):
And that got me thinking that it might look lighter, and more alphabetic, if I made the upper-left arm and the bottom curl into two separate elements. When I did that, and flipped the whole thing on its vertical axis, it looked like so (Symbol #6):
Then I flipped it vertically (Symbol #7)...
And finally rotated that puppy twenty degrees to the left (Symbol #8).Out of all of the options presented here and in earlier posts, are there any that particularly appeal to you? Please feel free to jump into this democracy-assisted design process!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Looking for a Sign, part II.

It's the first ever post featured both on the Life & Times and State of the Craft! I'm so efficient I can hardly stand myself.

Last year I asked my readers of the Life & Times of Michael5000 blog to suggest a neutral symbol for me to use as the dominant element of a new quilt. I wanted something that appeared to have meaning but that was actually meaningless, or that meant something completely trivial. I wanted a signifier without a signified, for all y'all who have dipped into semiotic theory. "Why?" you might ask. Reasonable question! I've got no answer for it, however.

The readers came back with some fabulous suggestions! But then the suggestions pretty much just laid around the studio floor for a year, until last week. Having put Symbol on my quilting to-do list, though, I clearly needed to start thinking about what the symbol in Symbol would be.

To review: Symbol is going to use a set of neutral batiks that BigSister5000 gave me for Christmas a few years ago. They will to be pieced together too form a very simple background, and then the symbol itself will be appliqued over the top of them, probably in scarlet. If all goes well, it should look attractive and interesting. With me? Good.

OK, so back to the question of the symbol. As I started chasing down the leads that readers had tossed me, I got kind of interested in the concept of the irony mark. I love the irony mark! Although, if people used it, it might reduce the impact of irony. Ironically. But anyway, in terms of this project, it is perhaps both too meaningful, and too graphically simple to be impressive when rendered at four feet tall.

Similar considerations torpedoed the interrobang.*

I flirted briefly with this symbol for something-or-other from mediaeval alchemy. I could have reversed it or something. But I ultimately rejected it for being, maybe, just a tiny bit too figurative. Which is to say, it looks just a little too much like a critter.

Heather's suggestion of letters from the ancient Soyombo alphabet of the Mongolian language -- see why I pose these questions to readers? -- was pretty awesome. I think they are lovely. I was afraid of what the straight lines of the right and top sides would look like at large scale, though. It seemed like they might be too rigid.

Then, I thought I had it! The letter "aum" in the Devanagari alphabet, used in Hindi and several other languages:

It's lovely! It's curvy! It's simple! It's arbitrary! But... as I soon found out... it is the most common graphical symbol of Hinduism out there. My "arbitrary" symbol was just as content-free as a crucifix, star of David, or yin-and-yang symbol.

Back to the drawing board.

Another reader, G, had suggested I look into Maori design, and I was taken by this pendant I had found:

I don't know if that shape conveys meaning in a Maori context or not, but I wasn't taking any chances. I took out the details on the top left to reduce it to a more graphic level, flipped it around the vertical axis, and "cut a hole" to make it look slightly more caligraphic. Here's what I came up with:

Now, here's the question: Have I successfully come up with a completely arbitrary symbol? In other words, have you ever seen this shape in a corporate logo, in religious iconography, in a foreign alphabet, or anyplace else? 'Cause I don't want to make this thing and discover I've just made an elaborate advertisement for the Americaplump MegaAgriCorp, Inc., or whatever.

* Very possibly the first ever use of this sentence in human history.