A plea for help…

The past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a bit about how I came to be designing fabric and making quilts, so I think today just may be a good day for a trip through the Wayback Machine. If I were to just look back the over the last few years it may seem like quite a leap, but if I were to take a little longer view it all kinda makes sense. So get ready and I’ll go ahead and throw the switch…

Oh, and then there will be a call for your help in my next utterly insane project, so stay tuned.

One, two, three, go!

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Oops! Too far. Let’s try again…

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So, I’ve actually done a whole lot of fiber arts over the years of my art practice; it is something I just seem to keep coming back to. Heck, I even did cross-stitch in middle school to keep the tedium at bay, but that’s a different story. In the mid-nineties I spent a lot of time working through ideas surrounding Process Art, some of my pieces taking obsessiveness to impressive extremes (maybe some day I’ll break the Palindrome Book out of its boxes). Above we see the first of my obsessive pieces, 5,000 Feet of Twine, which was part of my Senior Comps show back at Kenyon College. It was followed, of course, by the more ambitious 10,000 Feet of Twine:

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After Kenyon, I went on to Ohio University to do an MFA in sculpture, during which, obviously, I didn’t make a single sculpture. (That’s kinda the way I work.) But I did do a serious of graphite drawings which led to the aforementioned Palindrome Book. I don’t have images of a lot of those drawings, but here is one of my favorites, 10,000 Xs in a One-Inch Square:

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Now this wasn’t all about obsessiveness; I was, and still am, rather interested in the effects of accumulated actions, how repeating a gesture, an action, or a mark takes on both symbolic and literal shape, and how the result can take on importance even if just for the person doing it. (Starting to see the parallels to quilting?)

As time went on, my pieces started to focus more and more in the symbolic rather than the physical effects of actions. I started looking for projects that would leave no physical residue, but would function primarily on a poetic level. One of my last process pieces before I began to really focus on language in my art was a piece called Stopping Time:

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I spent what my internal clock told me was an hour (it turned out to be 53 minutes; my internal clock kinda sucks) moving water from downstream of me to upstream of me in my cupped hands, symbolically creating a circle for that bit of water, trying to hold on to that instant in time. Obviously I couldn’t do it, but I still think it was a rather lovely performance piece.

From there my work began to take on a harder edge, something that always seems to happen with my work; I oscillate between the poetic and the cynical. Surprisingly, after my last couple of years in the real world, I am on an upswing of the poetic right now. Though perhaps I am just needing that in my life right now to counter all the cynicism, but that, too, is another story.

So that is today’s trip through the Wayback Machine; now for the next insane project:

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I am going to tackle my friend Katy’s Scrap Vomit Quilt, but of course I’m gonna put my own special spin on it. I want to do the No-Repeat Scrap Vomit Quilt! That’s right, I want to do the entire quilt without repeating a single print. Crazy, eh???

So, I’m gonna need a hand (or 100) to pull this off. I want to make this a healthy full/small queen quilt so I am going to need 2,058 3,136 different 2.5-inch squares. (My god, am I totally nuts?!?) No way do I have that kind of stash. Right now I probably have about 300, so I have a long way to go. And considering a lot of you have some of the same scraps I figure it will take me 3,500 or so squares to get to the no-repeat goal.

So here is my plea for help: send me squares, please!!! Now I don’t really need scraps or what not; a 5″ x 7″ scrap doesn’t help any more than a single 2.5″ square, the extra material goes nowhere. (Though of course I wouldn’t reject the scrap if you would rather send it that way than cutting a square.) Do you have a jelly roll that could have some squares snipped off of? Bits of scrap in your bin that you could convert into squares? Etc, etc, etc…

It doesn’t need to be designer; it doesn’t even need to be pretty. When it all comes together I am sure it will all be gorgeous. Whatever you have will be perfect: a bit of the soccer ball print form that project for your nephew, the Xmas print from 1984 that you still have around, a single square of some rare, ultra-beautiful print. It will all do, and will all be greatly appreciated. I’ll be diving into the clearance and remnant bins at Joann’s to see what I can dig up too. This project is all about scrap in all its glory and the incredible variety of fabric: the good, the awkward, the novelty, and all…

What I am asking for at first is for people who are coming to Quilt Market in SLC could bring a wee baggie of squares for the project. If you know someone who is going, can you send some squares with them? And when I see you at QM I’ll certainly give you a hug, and gladly take you for coffee. Of course, if you aren’t coming to Market, and don’t know anyone who is, I will gladly email you my addy and you can send them along that way. However those squares arrive they will be greatly appreciated.

We have 33 days until Quilt Market; let’s see of we can get all of those squares gathered by then so that when I come home I can dive into laying this puppy out. And once it gets laid out all those extra squares will surely find homes in other Scrap Vomit Quilts around the world.

So, who’s game? Please spread the word; I’ll be your bestest friend…

UPDATE: The project has grown; the new goal is 4,851 squares, still with no repeats. Read this post for more information. Thanks for all the love and support everybody!!!

Hugs,
Thomas

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