Bjorn Wiinblad

When I was little my family had a big poster of Vanitas by Bjorn Wiinblad. The curls and swirls and panache of the drawing entered my bloodstream then.

In high school I lived in Scandinavia for a year and saw his work in Copenhagen.

Last month I renewed the acquaintance at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. It was a small show, but choice.

It was fun from the minute you stepped over the checkered threshold.

Wiinblad worked in many media.
He made paintings,

puzzles,

textiles

and ceramics.

The ink drawings are still my favorite work of his.


Lately I’ve been on a bit of an ink drawing splurge myself. I’ll be showing some of this work at i.e. gallery in Edison, WA next month. I hope you can stop by for the opening on Saturday December 2nd from 4-6 pm.  The show will be up from December 2-24th.

You can sniff for echoes of Wiinblad in the ink.

paschkis ink drawing

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Full Moon, New Scarves

In January I asked you to speak to me of scarves. I wanted your opinions on fabric, size and designs. (You can see that post and read the comments here.)
I showed three designs and the winner was this one:

In honor of tonight’s full harvest moon I am announcing the arrival of the New Moon Blue Moon Scarf, available to buy at Julie Paprika for $52

I started with a shape like this –

and put it together to make this –

 

Kept going, filled in the holes, and then experimented with different borders –

and ended up with this.

I ordered samples of different fabrics and chose 70% cotton and 30% silk because that fabric had the most saturation. The scarf looked good on both sides.
Now you can wear it and walk out under the October moon.

I also produced a scarf that wasn’t part of the survey: Acrobaticats.
It is 70% cotton and 30% silk, 34″ square, also $52..
These cats can go anywhere.

Please stop by Julie Paprika. Visit the cats, howl at the moon and consider getting a calendar to benefit the ACLU. THANK YOU!!! Thank you for your input many moons ago, and your interest now.

Big Little Roses

painting by Joe Max Emminger

Today my friend Julie Little left a big beautiful bucket of roses on our doorstep. Swoon. I emptied the bucket and filled vase after vase. Now the house is overflowing with roses.

I will share this year’s bucket with you. Here are red roses on a red mola.

Yellow roses in a yellow jug on a yellow tablecloth.

White and pink roses on a piece of Russian embroidery.

Purple roses on orange Mexican oilcloth.

Pink and red roses with a stuffed animal from Peru

Roses outside – on a bench painted by Joe Max Emminger.

Roses inside – on stripes, in light and shadow.

This post is light on fabric and heavy on flowers. It’s summer: time to smell the roses and savor life.

Ice Cream by Julie Paschkis

Julie Little has given me roses for several years. In 2014 I wrote a post about the roses that she left. I wrote more about fabric in that post: here is a link. I didn’t include her name then, but I am now because I want to thank her out loud for her buckets of generosity.

 

painting by Joe Max Emminger

 

 

 

Sarah Jones

The Bitters Co. barn is about an hour north of Seattle. Katie and Amy Carson (sisters) have created a design workshop, warehouse, and occasional event space there. Come now to see a wonderful show of work by Sarah Jones (textiles and multi-media) and Jasmine Valandani (glass, installation).

I’m going to share Sarah’s work with you here.  She works with fabric, old lace, paper and ephemera.

The work is layered. Threads hang and the fabric is torn or stained in places. The damaged materials are treasured and honored with careful craftsmanship and with attention to detail.

The work celebrates the beauty of flaws and irregularities.

“Her work examines what is barely there. One must look hard to see it. She focuses on transparency, lightness and whiteness.”

The work looks out at the world.

And it looks in.

One piece is a diary, created each and every day for a year. Each 3″ square is a record of one day – of days lost and found, celebrated or forgotten.

The barn is dark with many shades and textures of rough wood. It is also airy. It is pierced by shafts of sunlight. Swallows fly through. It holds memories.

Sarah’s art and the barn are in a conversation about the passage of time, and about the beauty found in imperfection. These ideas are whispered not shouted.

And there is a conversation with Jasmine’s installations of glass and light.

Here is Sarah’s writing about the show.

Come see for yourself!

July 8- 23rd. Monday – Saturday 12 – 4 PM at the Bitters Co. Barn, 14034 Calhoun Rd., Mt. Vernon               http://www.bittersco.com

 

African Print Fashion Now!

Hi. This is Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Julie Paschkis invited me to repost my latest article from Books Around The Table (a blog we share with three other children’s book authors and illustrators) here.

Julie, Deborah Mersky and I just returned from a field trip to Los Angeles to see African Print Fashion Now! at the Fowler Museum.

All of us are fans of the large and varied category of fabrics known as African prints. Deborah first introduced me to them many years ago when she brought some pieces for Julie and me back with her from a shop in New York. Then Julie gave me some yardage from Vlisco for my birthday.

“African print” is an umbrella term for commercially produced, patterned cloths made for the African market. The most prestigious, true “wax print” is a complicated process using wax or resin resist.

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Many African prints, including some that say ‘genuine wax’, are printed with simpler processes such as roller or screen printing. They are still very appealing. 

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The designs often carry symbolic meanings, and are chosen to communicate the cultural heritage and status of the wearer. Many motifs appear frequently in different designs. Keys and locks are common.

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Some have political or popular figures.

IMG_3293I’m always drawn to the ones with birds.

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These two were designed with a similar theme in mind, over fifty years apart.

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Some are electronic.

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Fans are popular. Very cool!

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Some designs are geometric and others floral. Many are both.

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It seems as though nearly anything can be made into a beautiful print cloth design.

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I’ve rarely seen African prints for sale in Seattle, but London fabric shops have a large clientele for African-style material. My collection grew substantially while I was there.

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Julie and I even went to Helmond outside of Amsterdam to visit the Vlisco factory for a bit of viewing and shopping.

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Established in 1846, Vlisco is the premier producer of African prints. It was hard to leave with only as much as we could carry. 

The origins of these prints can be traced back to painted and printed cottons from India for trade between South Asian and East Africa. These then inspired batiked fabrics in Indonesia. Later, Dutch and British manufacturers started producing mechanically made wax-resist prints for the Indonesian market. When the Indonesians rejected their products, preferring their own hand-dyed cloth, European manufacturers shifted their market to West Africa.

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There, they began to work with local traders, most of them women, to provide goods that reflected the cultural values and aesthetics of their clientele. During the 60s and 70s, newly independent African nations opened their own factories. More recently, Asian companies have flooded markets with more affordable designs, many of them knock-offs of Vlisco and other well-loved patterns. This has hurt the European and African companies, but has also increased the global awareness of African print textiles.

Both men and women wear clothing and accessories made from these fabrics.

Below are a few pieces shown in the exhibit.

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Here are two more that I saw in shop windows in Montreal recently.

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Why do I like these prints so much? Perhaps because of their connection to the printmaking techniques that have always appealed to me. Or maybe because of their playful and bold designs. They are as illustrative as they are decorative. I use patterns and color on clothing to add to the story in my children’s books too, like in the illustration below from Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, but mine aren’t quite so bold.

M Chodos-Irvine-Ella Sarah Gets Dressed

I think what appeals to me most is the anything-goes approach to pattern design.
Fashion is always a form of personal expression. These fabrics just sing a bit louder than gingham or chambray.

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Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay painted rhythm and color. She painted across a century and across a continent.

A friend lent me the catalog from an exhibition about Delaunay at the Tate Museum. I am sharing pictures and information from that book with you here.
Delaunay was born in Ukraine in 1885. As a young girl she lived in St. Petersburg, Russia and summered in Finland.

She attended school in Karlsruhe, Germany. She moved to Paris in 1908 and spent most of her life there, with time in Portugal and Spain as well. She died in 1979. In her 20’s she started to paint exuberant rhythmic abstractions, and she continued to paint them for all of her life.

She also designed textiles, quilts, books, costumes for dance and murals. Delaunay’s ideas and images cross-pollinated in her work and in her life.

A painting…

…translated into embroidery.

Poems became dresses.

A dress echoed a book cover.

Bold patterns adorned dresses,

coats,

bathing suits,

and cars.

Here is a self portrait from 1916. Her face slowly reveals itself in the wheels of color. Delaunay said that color is the skin of the world.

As I get older I am interested in and inspired by artists who keep creating. Sonia Delaunay painted throughout her long life. She grew and changed and worked across many media. You can see her singular style shining through the decades.

1916

1939

1947

1953

1968

Thank you for your work, Sonia Delaunay.

 

 

 

Mmm Marimekko

What do you do on a rainy Saturday in Seattle? Grab your umbrella and go out.
At the Nordic Heritage Museum a show just opened: Marimekko with Love.

Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Viljo and Armi Ratia, and it was Armi’s pioneering vision that shaped the company.  She believed in the power of design in everyday life. Her vision rocked the world.

Marimekko fabrics were designed by many people (Maija Isola, Vuokko Eskolin Nurmesniemi, Annika Rimala, Katsuji Wakisaka.)  The designers had different styles but they were consistently powerful. The patterns still feel fresh today.



One room contained a rainbow panorama of swatches.

Here are some of them close up:

The show included clothing with delightful details.

Armi Ratia was from Karelia in the north of Finland. The Kalevala is an epic poem based on the folklore of Karelia. A verse at the end of Rune 50, the Marjatta, fits the radiant Marimekko show.

Bring anew the harp of joy
Bring back the golden moonlight
Bring again the silver sunshine,
peace, and plenty
to the Northland.