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Quilt Patterns

Second Helpings: Gee’s Bend Jewelry Box

By Second Helpings

Jewelry boxes and chests in all variations of delicacy and heft can be found crammed in with the mismatched sets of salad bowls and oddly shaped cutting boards from well intentioned children’s shop class Christmas projects at your favorite secondhand store. My personal favorites are the jewelry boxes which never saw the mass market. Like this one.

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This is a wooden box with metal hardware, which I painted with acrylic paint. The kind of acrylic paint you can buy at any art supply or craft store for less than a dollar, in a hundred different colors with names like Tuscan Red or Bluegrass Green.

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When the box was completely painted I sealed it with Minwax Polycrylic water based acrylic sealer. I go through gallons of this stuff. It comes in satin and gloss finishes, washes up with water, and forms a clear, hard, protective surface that you can literally walk on — it’s the same sealer I use on the rugs I paint on the floor, like the one I just finished in my dining room.

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What made this project special was my inspiration. Ever since I saw a traveling exhibition of the Quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Art Museum in Milwaukee, WI in 2004 I have been over the moon for their patterns. I have a book of 30 postcards from that show which I refer to over and over.

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I referred to at least six of the quilts for this jewelry box like this one called “Medallion” by Loretta Pettway for the top:

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and “Strips” by Annie Mae Young for the inside front:

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The inside of the doors was inspired by “Pig in a Pen” by Minnie Sue Coleman:

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“Housetop” four-block “Half Log Cabin” variation by Lottie Mooney inspired the right side of the jewelry box:

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A quilt by Martha Jane Pettway described as only a center medallion with multiple borders and cornerstones is on the left side:

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And on the back, one of my absolute favorites, “Bars and String-pieced Columns” by Jessie T. Pettway:

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So much of my surface pattern design is inspired or informed by patterns from other cultures, or as I’ve mentioned before from the traditional or domestic arts. My intention is never to copy exactly — though the element of “flattery” in this piece is obvious — rather to use the patterns together to form something new. The inspiration for this piece came from quilts but the end result would barely cover your lap, much less look good spread on your bed. The end result in my opinion is, nevertheless, a treasure.

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An Ordinary Tuesday, Wednesday and Probably Thursday Too

By Ordinary Days

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of our lives — now that Mike and I are empty-nester artists — and though there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing getting Logan settled in it has been mostly just what I expected. Lots of concentrated time painting, still in separate studios as we have yet to do the big studio switcheroo (Action Girl is pushing for this weekend), without any squealing car chases or ear shattering explosions from Logan’s video games to provide the soundtrack.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t even notice it was quieter. Of course the Nikita marathon I watched while I painted probably made up for it.

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So when I say concentrated painting time, and Nikita marathon, I am not exaggerating one bit. Yesterday became today and is fast becoming tomorrow and I am still working on the same painting. It needs to be finished by day after tomorrow and I suppose I should eat and sleep and maybe even do a blog post or two between now and then. I’m starting to regret my choice of a #5 (very small) brush.

Here’s my life, yesterday, today, and the way things are going, tomorrow too:
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And finally, a “parting shot” for all of you who Instagram:

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Action Girl, Up, up and away!

Second Helpings: Black Glazed Dishes with Quilt Motif

By Second Helpings

This week’s Second Helpings is another set of painted dishes, and in keeping with the theme which has popped up more than once in the last few days, their motif is quilts.

Hey, it’s that home + art + functional + decorative = Domestic Arts thang again. Somebody kiss me quick!

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A few years ago black glazed dishes were very popular, and then suddenly they weren’t, and you could find them for a dime a dozen in the second hand stores.
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I personally love black as a background for color and so I bought pieces whenever I found them and put together a few different sets of dishes. Some cups and saucers, the odd tea pot, a few bowls, but mostly dinner plates.

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For this project I used the same paint as for last week’s Second Helpings: the “pebeo PORCELAINE 150 water based colour for porcelain.”

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With the black glaze you need to be tricky and do an undercoat of white, or Ivory in my case, BEFORE you paint your colors on top of that. Otherwise they are completely swallowed by the black.

Paint one coat of white, then one coat of the colors you want to see on top of the white after the white is completely dry. Let that second layer of paint dry and then fire the piece once. I have fired pieces more than once, but they get a little over baked and weird looking so I don’t recommend it.

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Part of the fun of a project like this is its ongoing nature. Any time you find a little misfit black dish you can bring it home, paint it with your chosen motif and add it to your growing collection.

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Soon you too will need a whole room dedicated to your addiction!
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And now, it’s time to paint.
XOXO, Action Girl

Evolution of a Theme

By 2D & 3D

Yesterday I mentioned that quilts show up all the time in my work. As I sit here running through the house in my head taking an inventory of my art, I would venture a guess that were you to remove all the pieces that were inspired by, featured, or actually were quilts, you would assume that Mike lived here by himself, or at the very least that we only hung his art.

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Quilts started showing up with my art and domesticity mashup which occurred with the introduction of one Carolina Lorraine Chambers…

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followed seventeen months later by Logan Blackburn Chambers….

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I did say “mashup” right? I think that about covers it. Logan was born on Christmas Day (Surprise! He was due on the 29th.) and so I painted his first portrait with Christmas quilt patterns: Star of Bethlehem and Fir Trees.

I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing what I do, I just do it. Action Girl, ON IT! But it has always been clear to me that what is considered to be “woman’s work” is an art, Domestic Art if you will, and should be celebrated. Quilts show up in my artwork all the time because to me quilts are a “signifier” (damn that Art Criticism class) of home, family, connection, story and tribe.

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My tribe is made up of those who make art, who make home, and who make the two inseparable.

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Lina is all grown up now and organizing her own Big Ass closet in Chicago. Logan is getting ready to move into his new house next week. And still the theme goes on: I am starting a new painting of hot air balloons each with a different quilt pattern…Up, up and away? (Oh, you sly subconscious.) My guess is quilts will always be present in my home and in my art.

Besides, a quilt works great as a superhero cape in a pinch!

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An Ordinary Monday

By Ordinary Days

Today was one of those days. Just one of those ordinary days. An ordinary Monday. I did the laundry. Thawed a flatiron steak so I didn’t have to shop for dinner. Listened to some NPR while I folded the clean clothes. And I got started on a new painting I want to finish by the 22nd so I can submit it for the Treasure Valley Artists’ Alliance Foray III Exhibition.

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I’m using canvas this time because framing is so expensive. This canvas has a 2″ gallery wrap edge which I will paint black. It won’t cost me any more money, will look professional, and be ready to hang.

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After I drew the outlines of the hot air balloons with pencil on the canvas I started painting using acrylic paint and a #5 (pretty teeney) brush).

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All of the hot air balloons will have quilt patterns. Patterns in general, and specifically quilt patterns show up all the time in my work. It’s that Domestic Art thang that resonates with me. Quilt patterns always have descriptive names. Descriptive names resonate with me too. This pattern is called “End of Day.”

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Today I think I’ll call it “End of An Ordinary Monday.”

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