I couldn't resist ... this african mud cloth

zinThe other day I saw this lovely textile hanging on the wall in Zinc Details, one of the best curated design stores in San Francisco. I couldn't help but buy it, it was calling to me. Honestly, lying it on the ground was the only way to take a picture of it as it's 93" long.

From a little research, I've gleaned that it's an African mud cloth or Bogolanfini traditionally from Mali. It is used for important life transitions such as birth, marriage and death.

Bogolanfini is traditionally made of hand loomed cotton and pieced together in strips. The panel is then soaked in a solution that helps the fabric absorb the dye. The dye is made of iron rich mud, sometimes aged for a year to create intensely rich browns and blacks. The mud is applied using sticks and palm fiber brushes among other tools. The unique patterns hold hidden meanings and the designs are often passed down through generations.

I have no idea where I'm going to hang it but it definitely deserves a bold spot on the wall. To learn more about the history of the cloth, click here. If you want to try to make you own virtually and in real life, click here for an interesting tutorial. And if you're local, Zinc Details is consolidating their stores and having an awesome sale that runs through Thursday, be sure to check it out. Hint, they have more textiles on the wall ...


work table : Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt

I'm making steady progress on the Cleveland Foreclosure quilt since my daughter has been in art camp this week. I was able to piece the front and make the quilt sandwich yesterday. Having this part of the quilting process done makes it easy to pick up the work for a few moments to sew wherever as I'm going to be snatching time when I can starting now through July. Wherever I go, I use this map to keep me on the right track.

I create one of these for every piece so I know exactly what to sew and what to cut away. Trace paper is one of the greatest inventions. My dad always called it bumwad (he is an architect so he's entitled to some wierd habits). I wonder if the next generation of architects will even know what trace paper is? Here is the first small area I've started to quilt and cut.

I wanted the backing to play a more prominant role in this piece. I like the idea of dark navy and black holes to expose just how dire the situation is in Cleveland.

I randomly pieced the back panel on purpose because what is exposed is such a mess. There is no order or pattern to how these neighborhoods are falling apart.

The blocks are sewn with gold thread in reference to how much money the banks, flippers and thieves are making off these foreclosures. Did you know that before the homes were razed, the copper plumbing is often ripped out and sent to China and India?

What isn't shown yet is how the city is patching over some of these empty lots with community gardens, scattered all over the city. This quilt will show four gardens within a twenty-two block area.


Artist : Louise Bourgeois and her Ode a l'oubli

I have been a devoted fan of Louise Bourgeois' work for several years. When she died last year, I was in the middle of reading a chapter about her in one of my books, very strange indeed. I had no idea, however, that she had made a book called Ode a L'oubli until I saw pictures of it at my friend, Sophie Truong's blog Stitch &Tickle. Ever since, it's on my radar to go and look at images online about every month for inspiration.

I'm even more entranced now after I learned a bit of history about the book and 'flipped' through the pages virtually.

I love how you can see her sewing on the back of the pages creating a highly charged relationship between the images on the adjacent pages. Fascinating.

But what really had me hooked was the labor and love that went into reproducing a series of these books. Lithographers turned crafters over the course of a year. I can only imagine how much they learned during this project. I want that job!

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Judith Solodkin, proprietor of the lithography studio Solo Impression, took on this project with a passion one rarely sees. Read the full article about the process of recreating the book here. And to see all of the pages, visit Peter Blum Gallery featuring the book in it's entirety.


The Inhabit Project : #5 "Floor" and "above/below & inside/out"

Vanessa Filley of Moira & Obbie and I have been busy lately with new Inhabit Project pieces. We took a month off to catch up on life and other work but we finally have #5 to share.

The Inhabit Project #5. Left: Floor by Kathryn Clark. Right: above/below & inside out by Vanessa Filley
My piece entitled Floor, on the left, is pretty obvious. The background is the layout of my floorboards in my studio made using two contrasting napkins cut and overlayed.

The Inhabit Project #5. Floor by Kathryn Clark, 2011.
The navy strips on top are literally what I pulled off the floor after piecing together the back of my latest Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt.

And Vanessa's piece, a  great study in the art of pleating:

The Inhabit Project #5. above/below & inside out by Vanessa Filley.

Vanessa's words about her piece "above/below & inside/out":
i look out at the world, an infinite horizon of information and possibility abounds. i seek to absorb what i can, distill the little bits flying through the stratosphere, tuck them away in my brain for a rainy day's application. here on the ground, at home, i make things in fits and spurts, struggle to find time to complete things, put them in order. this piece for me reflects that horizon and that which i wish to absorb, below is my mythically organized imaginings and creations reflecting what i have gathered.
And a lovely detail of Vanessa's piece shows her amazing attention to detail that always ties in beautifully with the well balanced overall design.
See all of Vanessa's previous Inhabit Project pieces here and mine here. To see all of our pieces together, read through our past blog postings about the project here.


Wrapping Traditions opening night pictures

I couldn't wait to share these amazing photos I took of the Wrapping Traditions opening at MOCFA in San Francisco. I was blown away by the beauty of the textiles.

It was such an experience seeing so many stunningly well made bojagi at once. I will need to go back to get a closer look at a lot of these. Many were  handstitched with such tiny stitches you would need a magnifying glass to see them.

Korean Bojagi Story, 2010. Young-Ja Kim, Korea. Wool, handmade felt, 77 x 37 in.
I took a lot of photos for those of you on the east coast who can't make the show.

This was one of our favorites, perhaps the color or the design that drew us in. It had the most amazingly detailed stitching.

Blueprint, 2010. Jiseon Lee Isbara, USA
Hand stitched, dyed and inkjet printed, silk satin organza, 34.5 x 25 in.

I went with Zoe, my dear friend Neile and her daughter. The girls really seemed to enjoy the pieces. We even overheard them having a conversation about sewing at one point. Zoe enjoyed flying past the pieces to make them flutter.

Zoe standing between Jinja Kim Woollard's Bojagi Village and Karin Kunori's Discussion of Home.
Click here to see more photos of the show. And if you're interested in learning about Bojagi techniques, there's no better tutorial than the Silly Boodilly's here.


Wrapping Traditions : Korean Textiles Now at The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco

Wrapping Traditions : Korean Textiles Now opens tomorrow at MOCFA in my very own city! I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to attend the opening of this show. As you know, I have fallen head over heels with Korean Bojagi in the past year. Bojagi is a traditional Korean handmade cloth used in formal ceremonies and for daily activities as seen here by local San Francisco fiber artist Barbara Shapiro's beautiful handmade baskets and wrappings. I've shared a few emails with Barbara over the past few weeks and am excited to finally see her work in person.

Wrapping Memory Installation, 2010 by Barbara Shapiro.
Plaited indigo dyed cane baskets, indigo dyed gauze. 5 to 7 forms, wrapped and unwrapped.

This show, curated by none other than the bojagi master, Chunghie Lee, features some traditional versions of the cloth as well as contemporary takes on the subject.

Harmony by Eun-Ji Lee. Silk, natural dyeing, 25.6in x 21.7in

There are many contemporary Korean artists as well as artists from ten other countries that are inspired by this traditional folk art. It looks as if these pieces have taken this medium in a wonderful new direction. I can't wait to see Sung Soon Lee's piece below in person. It will remind me to have a little bit more patience in my sewing practice!

Seon, 2010-11 by Sung Soon Lee.
Printing and drawing on Ramie, patchwork, 216.5in x 22in
I can't wait to see how this piece was assembled, simply stunning.

Matrix 0909 by Yeon-Soon Chang.

Abaca fiber, indigo dye, machine sewn, 13.4in x 13.2in x 5.3in

The opening is Thursday, June 16th from 6-8 pm at The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. The show runs from June  17th through October 23rd. If you're in town, perhaps I'll see you there.


work table : summer in the studio

These are my last days of thirty hour weeks in the studio as my daughter is now out of school for the summer. I managed to pack in a lot of work last week though, making good progress on the Cleveland foreclosure quilt.

All of my voile block pieces are cut, washed, frayed and ready to be assembled for the front piece. I have fallen in love with this fabric and love the faded greige. Isn't that a great name for a color?

And I even managed to piece together the back panel for the quilt. I think I'm loving the back right now more than the front. I think more of these remnants might be showing up in a future quilt, but in front. Who knows?

To the left of the panel, you get a little sneak peek of the latest Inhabit Project piece I'm making along with Vanessa of moira & obbie. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend. And to the right, a little quilt I'm making to enter here. Needless to say, lots of work happening.

I taught Zoe how to sew yesterday and she's really enjoying it. I might be able to get more work done than I thought with her in the studio this summer. Let's hope!


work table : Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt

As you might have seen in a recent post, I started working on a  new foreclosure quilt for Cleveland last week. I've learned so much recently about the bigger picture of foreclosures happening in the US. First off, this is really about the mortgage crisis that results in foreclosures. Cleveland is referred to as 'ground zero' of the crisis. This might end up looking like a very different piece than my others because of the layers of destruction that have happened here.

Cuyahoga County is doing an incredible job trying to save the town of Cleveland. The foreclosures started back in 1999 or even sooner as factories closed and jobs were lost. The County has been trying to deal with the empty homes and continuing foreclosures by enacting new laws to protect homeowners and surrounding residents. It seems those pesky major banks find ways around the new laws. And they're still at it! If you want to listen to a good interview about it, click here for an interview by Terry Gross with Fred Shulte of the Center for Public Integrity.

As in Detroit, there have been a lot of demolished homes but what the County has done with some of them is an uplifting and hopeful story. There are now over 200 community gardens in Cleveland. For a population of 244,000, that's quite impressive. I'm trying to figure out a way to share this in my next quilt.

This will be one of my largest quilts to date, almost five feet high. I'm still working on how it will come together.

Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt test study
That underlying print fabric is called Forest Hill which is what led me to the Forest Hill neighborhood in Cleveland. It seems the quilt is almost making itself. I love it when fate seems to intervene, you just have to follow.


HAND/EYE article on my Foreclosure series

I had a nice little surprise last month when HAND/EYE Magazine contacted me and asked me to write about my Foreclosure Series.

I discovered the magazine last year and have been hooked ever since so it was quite a treat to be asked to have my work included. It's the go to resource for learning about techniques and history in traditional and innovative craft. Read the article here.


Artist : Paul Klee

As some of you may know from reading my Twitter feed, I have been obsessed lately with Paul Klee and his work at the Bauhaus. I'm reading an excellent book about the lives of some of the most prominant teachers there. I knew of Klee's paintings but I had no idea about the puppets he made for his son, Felix. And better yet, there's a book edited by Zentrum Paul Klee in Berlin!

Felix was a student at the Bauhaus while Klee taught there. He was more interested in theater so they decided to make puppets and put on shows featuring the faculty and students in sometimes revealing and always entertaining plays about them.

I've been trying to think of what to do with my daughter over the summer when she is out of school and I think I have my answer! On top of that, her 1st grade teacher for next year told us she would love to have the 1st graders put on a puppet show with the 6th graders. Would this not be the perfect project for them?

Look at how forward of a thinker he was back in the 1920's. The looseness and creativity just oozes out of these creations. I think I love the clothing the most of course.

The book has documented these in great detail. I plan on  spending hours pouring over these.

Half of the puppets were destroyed during the bombing of Dresden in WWII but the ones that remain are simply stunning! If you want to buy the book, visit here. And if you want some more instant gratification, check out this set of flikr photos by Old Chum.


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