Designing Blue Wing Chair #5

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Blue Wing Chair (detail of stitching onto painted Timtex) by Laura Wasilowski

Making art is a challenge. But I so enjoy the process! The making of Blue Wing Chair took me away from my usual methods of working and opened up a new world of possibilities. Why did I change my method of working?

Because Blue Wing Chair is part of a SAQA exhibit called Radical Elements based upon elements from the periodic table. Part of the Radical Elements statement reads:

The artists were also asked to move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials. This exhibition was the first to embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt and is a signature exhibition for SAQA.

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Blue Wing Chair (front) by Laura Wasilowski

My Blue Wing Chair is about memory. It is the memory of learning to read and how this magical event led to the discovery of stories and adventures and vivid accounts by extraordinary characters. It is the memory of sitting in a favorite cobalt blue chair with an enthralling book and visiting other worlds.

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Blue Wing Chair (back) by Laura Wasilowski

 Blue Wing Chair is about a simple tool that taught me to read, the flashcard. Flashcards have shapes on paper called letters. The letters make words. The words make sentences. The sentences make stories. The stories teach me how to live, how to make art, how to be human.That simple tool, the flashcard, brought me to this blue chair where I sit and read and travel through life.

Now can you guess what element Blue Wing Chair represents from the periodic table?

Designing Blue Wing Chair #4

bluewing7For the traveling SAQA exhibit, Radical Elements, I kept a journal that travels with the quilt about the construction of my quilt, Blue Wing Chair. Following are final journal entries about making the right side or “page” of the quilt/book. This page is an image of my favorite blue chair.

bluewing11Paint and stamp heavy paper with a wonderful blue water-based paint. After they dry, fuse the hand painted papers (just like you would fuse fabric). Free cut the blue papers into bird wing shapes.

bluewing12Draw a pattern for my blue chair onto release paper with a black Sharpie marker. Fuse the paper wings onto the pattern building up a wingy collage.

bluewing13Remove the paper collage from the release paper. The marker lines from the pattern transfer to the back of the paper. Cut the chair shapes out, place them onto the yellow Timetex, and fuse into place. The right page of of my book/quilt is complete.

Designing Blue Wing Chair #3

bluewing6If you’ve been following my last few blog entries, you’ll be happy to know that I finally came up with a plan to make a quilt entry for Radical Elements, called Blue Wing Chair. Here are my journal notes that led to the finished quilt with the theme of “blue”.

Brilliant Idea #3: While on a train I have a sudden brainstorm: rather than make a quilt with lots of small books attached to it, I’ll make the quilt one big book! It will be a quilt/book. By stitching two large pieces of Timtex together, one piece can roll back to an open “page” revealing a blue chair. It shall be reversible! It shall be brilliant!

bluewing8I plot the construction and pat myself on the back. Here are the first steps:

  1. Make one piece of Timtex 25” x 36” for the left page and the other 22” x 36” for the right page (the quilt must measure 22” x 36”).
  2. Paint the 2 pieces of Timtex a golden yellow.
  3. Play with an old set of flash cards and write a paragraph with them. (I love flash cards!)
  4. Paint the flash cards yellow.
  5. Fuse and stitch the flashcards onto the yellow Timtex with my trusty BERNINA.

bluewing9The joined flashcards make the left hand “page” of the open quilt/book. Tomorrow I’ll show you how I made the right “page” of the Blue Wing Chair.

Designing Blue Wing Chair #2

bluewing4For the traveling exhibit, Radical Elements, I documented the construction of my quilt, Blue Wing Chair, complete with false starts and major mistakes. The first idea for making this quilt was to attach real books to a backing. What a disaster! Here’s more from my design journal that will travel with the quilt:

Brilliant Idea #2: While on a train I decided to make my own lighter-weight books and attach (quilt) 12 – 14 of them onto Timtex. Each book’s story is illustrated with hand-carved stamps. Brilliant! Here’s the plan:

Determine the layout of the 12 – 14 hand made books on a 22″ x 36″ Timtex foundation. This requires math. Finally figure the layout after much trial and error.

Cut a heavy art cloth to size for the cover and prepare to glue on a beautiful blue paper. The glue is ancient and unusable. Decide to make folios of heavy paper instead.

Figure out the story sequence for several folios (8 pages) about blue chairs. Then, using my hand carved stamps, print a mock-up of the story Blue Sky Chair board on paper.

Make up mock-ups for Blue Gill Chair, Blue Bunting Chair, Blue Electric Chair, Blue Grass Chair.

bluewing5Then in dawns on me. To make 12 – 14 folios I must carve even more stamps for illustrations as well as print them. Making books is just too darn tough. There’s Brilliant Idea #2 in the trash. More brilliant ideas tomorrow!

Designing Blue Wing Chair #1

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Blue Wing Chair (detail) Laura Wasilowski

One of the benefits of belonging to SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) is the opportunity to be part of traveling exhibits like Radical Elements. My quilt in the exhibit, Blue Wing Chair, is currently on view at the Gallery of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. (At last, I’ve got trustworthy representation in the nation’s capitol!)

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Painting a book cover for Idea #1

Exhibition artists were also asked to create a journal as they designed art work based on an element from the periodic table. For the next few days I’ll pass on a few of my journal notes beginning with this first entry:

Brilliant Ideal #1: While flying on #*&#$ Airlines I had a sudden flash: make a quilt called the Blue Book on Blue Chairs and make it out of real books. Here’s the plan:

Paint the covers of old books and replace with new titles and images. Drill holes through the pages and back. Attach (quilt) the books to Timtex.

As I drive from the airport, I come up with the book titles many of which are based upon quilts I’ve made in the past: Blue Beach Chair, Blue Electric Chair, etc. Dodging through traffic, I visualize the construction and race home to test the idea (see photo above).

Well this is a lousy idea. I soon realize that real books are real heavy and it would take a slab of wood to hold them all in place. I want to use alternative materials for the quilt but this is not working. Brilliant Idea #1 crashed and burned. More brilliant design ideas tomorrow.

Blue Wing Chair and Science?

 
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Blue Wing Chair by Laura Wasilowski

Today the Radical Elements exhibit sponsored by SAQA, will open for a five month showing at the Gallery of the National Academy of Sciences. Blue Wing Chair is my entry into this exhibit with a theme combining quilting and science. At last, a use for that periodic table displayed in chemistry class!
 
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Blue Wing Chair (back) by Laura Wasilowski

This, from the SAQA website, describes the Radical Elements exhibit:
 
Our physical world is created out of the chemical elements, from hydrogen to platinum to arsenic. For this exhibition, each of the selected artists created a new work influenced by an element from the periodic table. Inspirations came from anything relating to that element, whether it is a play on the name, its color or the products made from it. Both representational and abstract works were welcomed.
 
The artists were also asked to move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials. This exhibition was the first to embrace the newly expanded definition of an art quilt and is a signature exhibition for SAQA.
 
In the next few days I’ll show you the design process for making Blue Wing Chair. But first, can you guess which element from the periodic table I was given to depict?