Artist : Ruth Tabancay

A few months ago I came across Ruth Tabancay's quilts. As you know, I love anybody's work that pushes the limits of the traditional quilt to its' edge and her work does just that. Her pieces are made entirely out of tea bags. And surprisingly with the tea still in them.

On wall: Garden Variations, 2009 49"x65". On floor: Extending the Useful Life, 2010 33"x26"x65".
by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Dana Davis. 

Ruth has been working in this medium for the past ten years. The idea came to her while doing homework with her teenage daughter. They wrapped themselves in a comforter as they drank cups of tea. She saved and dried the tea bags and then sewed them together "to capture a moment of intimacy."
Garden Variations (detail), 2009 49" x 65" x 1". Tea bags, acrylic paint, embroidery floss, muslin, batting.
by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Scott Braley         

I had the wonderful fortune of finally meeting Ruth in person at the Scrap ART opening at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. One of her tea bag quilts was included in the show. When I asked to write about her work, she told me that she recently completed the Fiber Art Certificate Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. She flew back and forth for a year from the bay area to Seattle. That's true commitment to your craft! It was an immensly rewarding experience and encouraged her to expand her medium. And here are some of her new pieces which frankly, have me floored.

Twice the Size of Texas,  Kala Artist Project Space, Berkeley, CA.
by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Dana Davis.

Twice the Size of Texas, installed at the Kala Artist Project Space, is a monumental piece.

"(It is) a 10 ft X 19 ft wall piece made of over 1400 pieces of plastic bags. The shape represents the North Pacific Gyre, the location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where plastic, among other discards, has been broken down by mechanical and photo-degradation into confetti-like pieces and moves very slowly in a clockwise direction toward the center. The exact size of this debris mass depends on the where one draws the boundaries but one of the more quoted estimates is twice the size of Texas."
Ruth Tabancay

Twice the Size of Texas (detail), Kala Artist Project Space, Berkeley, CA.
by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Dana Davis.
Another series she is currently developing is embroidery on vintage linens.

Embroidery on Vintage Linens by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Scott Braley.

Many pieces of these cloths–runner, doilies, coasters, napkins–have a floral theme in embroidery, crochet, or tatting as decoration, the craft of women in the 30's through 50's. I have embroidered on these cloths images that show what the textile might have actually experienced. Coasters have water, coffee, and red wine rings. Runners show fallen petals and leaves and the rust ring left by a metal vase. A napkin discretely hides chicken bones. A hanky staunches a bloody nose.
Ruth Tabancay

Recycling is a common thread that runs through all of Ruth's work and draws me in even more. She has the rare ability and confidence to push the boundaries of her practice. It makes a powerful statement.

Embroidery on Vintage Linens
by Ruth Tabancay. Image by Scott Braley.
See more of Ruth's art online at her website. Her work is currently on exhibit on the west coast at The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles through October 16th. If you're on the east coast, her work is shown in a video slideshow at the Textile Museum in Washington DC for Green: the Color and the Cause. The show runs through September 11th.


Artist : The Oak Leaves aka Christina Brown

Houses .... I've been a tad preoccupied lately by them and by the end of this post you'll know why. I keep coming across The Oak Leaves ceramics (aka Christina Brown) and fall in love everytime I see these.

Shelf City #290, Christina Brown of The Oak Leaves.

The miniature scale, the attention to detail, the simplicity of the design is so effective and beautiful.

Shelf City #263, Christina Brown of The Oak Leaves.
I love this one, a city of row houses, just like where we live now, except all of ours are attached.

Shelf City Row Houses, Christina Brown of The Oak Leaves.

And Christina's also a dreamer, like me. Here's her profile on etsy:
"One day I'd like for us to be living on and working our own farm...with two kids, a barn, a shady garden, and no one to boss us around, free to enjoy life... "

Christina Brown

And now this is why I haven't been posting so much in the past few weeks. I've been off dreaming ... but now it's coming true! We think we found a vacation home in the wine country. It's almost ours. Just a few more weeks until closing but it's such exciting news, I couldn't wait to share.  And speaking of cute little houses, here's the best part of the cottage, a separate artist's studio!

It needs a lot of love but it's charming just as it is right now. I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, please check out The Oak Leaves etsy shop, it's full of charming little homes.


Artist : Barbara Wisnoski

I'm constantly reminded what a small world this is. About a month ago, I came across Barbara Wisnoski's stunning wall hangings. I printed one of them for my inspiration wall and intended to share her work here.
Platonic Target, Barbara Wisnoski 81x162 cm
My friend Myrna was visiting my studio a few weeks ago and I showed her the picture. It ends up that Myrna had met Barbara recently in an airport coming back from the Fiberart International opening where both of thier work was featured.

White Rag Quilt, Barbara Wisnoski. 170x195 cm

Myrna called me this week to tell me that Barbara was coming out for the opening of Scrap ART at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles this weekend. A chance to meet Barbara and see her amazing artwork in person? An opportunity I wouldn't miss.

White Rag Quilt detail, Barbara Wisnoski. 170x195 cm
A lot of her pieces seem to reference the landscape, a subject you know I'm always drawn to. They remind me of aerial photos of fields. Sure enough, I find a piece entitled Field.

Field, Barbara Wisnoski. 165x229 cm
What I really love about these pieces are how differently they look up close. The detail is incredibly intricate. I can't wait to ask her how long it takes to make each work and how she pieces them together. I'll let you know what I find out.

Field detail, Barbara Wisnoski. 165x229 cm
Barbara sums up the approach to her work as this:

"As maniacally repetitive process, (these pieces) embody the meaning I derive from textiles and ritual, and carry contradictory connotations of repetition’s beauty and innate absurdity."

Platonic Landscape detail, Barbara Wisnoski. 145x81 cm
"I am interested in the relationship between texture and time. The process of building a piece, whereby a fabric loses its singular quality and becomes part of the whole, reminds me of how time washes a harmonious patina over objects and memories. The prospect of decay is key to the work: seeing how pieces done long ago have changed over time reminds me that they were made from living fibres and, like us, evolve and deteriorate. Also like us, these pieces become more themselves, therefore more beautiful, with age."
Barbara Wisnoski

Evening, Barbara Wisnoski. 145x165 cm

 Please check out all of Barbara's work on her website here. I hope some of you can make it to the opening and the show who live nearby. The opening is this Sunday, the 21st from 2 to 4 at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The show runs through October 16th. If you plan to come to the opening, let me know. It would be great to meet some of you in person!


Two Interviews and a video

I was contacted last week by Jenny Doh of CRESCENDOh and Esther of DZine Trip to answer a few questions about my work. Two interviews in a week, a nice treat. Thanks Esther and Jenny!

Modesto Foreclosure Quilt, 2011. Kathryn Clark
Jenny asked some great questions about my path that lead me to becoming an artist. Its always nice to answer questions like those. Here a picture of my dad, who I think taught me all about balance in art. Thanks, dad!

Esther focused mainly on my foreclosure quilts and compared my work to some pretty heady artists. I would only ever hope to come close to their greatness!

The Third of May, 1808. Francisco Goya
Two more weeks before I'm back in the studio full time.  Here's a little video I made on our vacation in Sonoma last month. Every morning this Mockingbird would perch on a nearby tree and and sing at least twenty-four tunes. The most I've ever heard sung.

Things will be a bit slow here I suspect as we make full use of those last days of summer. I hope everyone else are enjoying themselves as well. Happy end of summer!


work table : Finally! Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt

I'm back in the studio this week after a month of travel and family staying in my studio. I always have a hard time jumping back into my work but I certainly knew what I had to do this week, make some serious progress on the Cleveland Foreclosure quilt.

It was so nice to jump right in and I'm really looking forward to finishing this one. I showed it to my friend Myrna over the weekend who used to live in Cleveland and it was fascinating to hear her and her husband's stories about driving those very streets I've sewn.

These are my reference guides, maps with layers of tracing paper over them highlighting foreclosed and empty lots. The red lots are new foreclosures since I started working in this two months ago. It shows that there is no sign of the mortgage crisis ending soon, unfortunately. Some of these houses sold for $2,000.00. Seriously.

I always save the cut out lots. It's sad watching them pile up. I'm not sure what I will do with all of them. I have them from every piece I've made so far.

The quilt is almost finished. I made a patchwork backing this time to emphasize the random nature of these foreclosures. It adds a bit of complexity to the piece as the varying shades of navy blue and black poke through. I was thinking about black holes here.

Here's a close up detail of several lots. The mottled blue fabric underneath was an old botched dyeing remnant I couldn't part with.

My next step is to add the community gardens that have been created throughout this neighborhood. There are four at my last count; hopefully even more since I started. Myrna told me about this recent article in The New York Times on Cleveland's vacant lots. It gives you a little window into what's going on here on these very lots I'm cutting apart ...


Summer in Mill Valley

Summer is in full force here in San Francisco which means lots and lots of fog every day. We couldn't take it anymore today so we jumped in the car and headed up north to Mill Valley for some sun. Sure enough, as soon as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge we spotted blue skies. Mill Valley is a charming little town, nestled among the redwoods and Mount Tamalpais. It's only fifteen minutes from San Francisco but feels a world away and felt twenty degrees warmer too.

We started at Old Mill park where Zoe ran up and down the creek and tried to skip rocks. There was a french family there with a little girl named Zoe and it was funny to watch them cross paths.

We took a break at Noci, a slow food gelato shop which has amazing locally made ingredients. I had a Strauss Dairy sweet cream gelato with ghiradelli chocolate.
Image courtesy of 365 things to do - Marin
Now that Zoe was stuffed and happy we managed a walk through the neighborhood, something we used to do all the time before she was born. I miss those walks as you always seem to discover something new. Today, we found a staircase path we'd never taken before.

It was lined with homes and at least two of them had chicken coops. We spotted this little wanderer on the staircase.


And then Zoe found two blue eggs hiding inside a zen water fountain nearby. I suppose someone found them and laid them in the fountain to keep them cool.

A little girl came up the stairs calling "Zoe!". It was her dog. Another Zoe discovered; strange day indeed. We walked further up the hill and discovered another staircase alongside this amazing building.


After touring an incredible $2.8 million dollar house for the fun of it (gawd!), we had a great dinner at Tsukiji Sushi situated in an old house off the plaza. I didn't realize the head chef hails from the locally famous Sushi Ran restaurant. It was an awesome meal. Zoe dug into their house-cured Ikura.

Image courtesy of foodnut.com.
On the way back to the car, I missed going into Maison Reve yet again! I have passed this shop many times and have yet to make it when it's open. I'm itching to go back so I can wander those shelves full of linen. Check out their website here.

For more amazing photos of Mill Valley inside the shops, click here.



I couldn't resist a post about Marimekko today. I just returned from their new store inside of Crate & Barrel here in San Francisco. Zoe complained about being dragged through the store until we turned the corner and saw this.

Image courtesy of Dwell.
She was speechless by all the colors as was I. She kicked off her shoes and made herself at home on one of the beds so I had a few moments to shop in peace. I eye-shopped today but I would love this teapot. I'm just waiting for my current one to break first.

Rasymatto teapot.
You could always buy Marimekko here in the states but only a few pieces here and there. This year, they've opened up several areas inside of Crate & Barrel stores as well as a concept store in New York. You can find all of their products at the concept store including their clothing.

Aavikko Leggings.

Here's a little video about the company.

It was nice to finally feel the fabrics in my hand and see just how large the patterns really are.

The concept store is currently having a large sale with discounts on all their fabric as well, uh oh! Be sure to check out their website as well. Lots of eye candy there too.

UPDATE! I just learned that Marimekko will be increasing the prices of their fabric in January 2012 due to the rising cost of cotton and the worldwide cotton shortage. Just one example is regular cotton will go from $39.00 per yard to $48.00 per yard. A pretty high increase. Yikes!


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