Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cold Winter Nights

While DC was spared the blizzard that swept up the East Coast (I think the Beltway magically surrounded the region and protected us), it has still been quite cold and windy here. And when it is cold and windy, there is nothing better to do than curl up under a nice warm quilt with a cup of cocoa to watch a fire or movie. I don't have a fire place, so I settle for candles and a movie.

When curling up under that quilt, are you thinking about the design? At some point last year, my roommate discovered the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, which might sound incredibly boring, but is actually quite cool. They have a beautiful website with lots of resources and information about quilts. I think quilts tell the story of a family or culture's material culture more than other things. Using materials that had a previous life, you can create an amazing pictorial functional object that tells a story. You can learn about the Center's courses, collections, and exhibitions on their website, but the best part is their Quilt Explorer. Here, you can look at their quilts or make your own.

Geared toward teachers and those interested in learning about quiltmaking, the "make your own" teaches you about the patterns, stitches, and techniques for making a quilt. You start by choosing your quilt pattern. Then you select fabrics--and not just any fabrics, they provide you with patterns from different eras from the 1840s to today. Next, you have the most artistic part, where you choose where your fabric pieces will go in the pattern. It's much harder than you think, but you get to see how the one square you design transforms into a beautiful quilt on the whole rectangle. Then you select your border, because a quilt needs a visual resting place and a nice binding for all those small pieces. Finally, you choose your quilting stitch to finish your quilt! (Not sure what a quilting stitch is? The site will explain it to you.)

It's so much fun to digitally put the parts together, and while at the end you don't have a quilt you can curl up under, you can admire your own handiwork and post it for others to see online. You can see my quilt (above) in more detail here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Parties

I really wanted to write a Christmas post, but couldn't find something that I thought was good and decorative arts related to write about. I searched for ornaments that might be nice and convey the feeling of the season, but found nothing. Then I decided to go with fashion. Clothes never let me down, and I'm always happy to look at pretty things that I can never own or really wear.

I found the Christian Dior dress that is above on the Met Museum website under the heading "Classicism in Modern Dress." I love Dior, and think that his designs really epitomize what we now consider "classic" lines in women's clothing. Wouldn't this be lovely for your holiday parties? Not sure what holiday parties I have that I would wear this to, but I would love to sweep in and dance around with my full dance card dangling from my wrist. Maybe I've had too much eggnog.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Artist Crush

Last entry I talked about Lynda Watson and her amazing Landscape Neckpiece that I so deeply covet. Today, while doing some editing, I came across her again and had to stop to look her up online to learn more. Turns out, she's still making jewelry and has a great website. My favorite upon first glance was the Maui Birthdays bracelet (above) in her metal jewelry section. She also does felt jewelry now! While I'm not sure I'm old enough to wear felt jewelry or clothing, I might be able to wear some of her creations.

I'm also in love with her Prague Celebrations brooch. I love a good brooch, and this one looks like it would go perfectly with every single outfit I have. Her work is quite amazing, intricate, and highly skilled. I also like that she's kept up with trends in jewelry and her work, while retaining a classic feel, has moved from the bulky intricacies of the late 1960s to cleaner lines and imagery more fitting for today. Plus, it seems like she gets to do some good traveling, based on the names of her pieces.

Her resume is impressive, and she has work at the Renwick here in DC! Feel free to contact her and order something for me!

Photo credit: Lynda Watson Art

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finishing my thesis

I'm about three pages away from being done with the first full draft of my thesis. So naturally I'm going to write a blog post. No one can tell me I'm not a fantastic procrastinator.

This will be short because I do want to get back to that, but I just wanted to share this amazing necklace I found while looking for thesis images. It's a necklace by Lynda Watson. (Apparently she got married between the time of OBJECTS: USA and today because now she's Lynda Watson-Abbott.) It's called Landscape Neckpiece and I absolutely love it. I really like bold, funky, chunky, handmade jewelry and this just called to me. If it weren't in the Museum of Art and Design, I would seek it out and probably just stare at it since I could never afford it. If you go to its page on the museum website you can zoom in on different details and see all the amazing little intricacies in it. Just astounding. Wouldn't you want to wear it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Global Africa Project

This past week I went to New York do do some thesis research at the Museum of Art and Design. Their mission, as stated on their website, is to "[collect, display, and interpret] objects that document contemporary and historic innovation in craft, art, and design." An early leader in the push to promote and preserve studio craft, the Museum of Art and Design remains a leader in sharing innovation in traditional methods and materials.

While there, I went through their exhibition, The Global Africa Project. An amazing collection of work, it features artists exploring what it means to be African around the world. Some of the works are funny, some are quite somber, some are innovative, some are functional, and some just left me standing with my mouth open, staring at the concept and craftsmanship. The statement for the exhibition on the website states that it "actively challenges conventional notions of a singular African aesthetic or identity..." The website features selected works from the exhibition, but if you are in New York, or get the chance to go before May 15th, 2011, go see this.

One of the ones I found most intriguing was Kim Schmahmann's Apart-Hate: A People Divider. Through a variety of media, the artist interprets the growth of apartheid in South Africa and the laws and their years are represented in the boxes falling in the left corner. The back of the work (not pictured) is also an example of the brilliant technical work this artist is capable of with woods, veneers, and metals. I stared at this work for a long time, absorbing its message as well as its beauty.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take pictures, and I had trouble taking pictures from the museum's website, so please, go look for yourself and find your favorite piece.