First Apartment Wall Quilt

When your son asks if you would create a piece of artwork to hang on the wall of his first apartment....you say "Yes!" 

 

When Josh was home for the holidays, he picked out colors from my hand-dyed cotton stash. That pile of fabric sat on my shelf for quite a few months....and then summer rolled around and his 23rd birthday, so I knew I needed to get started.

 

The process I use for piecing, is to cut uneven strips of fabric from each of the colors and begin by randomly piecing pairs of strips together. Small piecings start to go up on the design wall and then the editing begins. Standing back across the room to get perspective and then adding and subtracting colors brings the quilt top together. Then the top is sandwiched with 100% cotton batting and a backing.

 

Deciding on a free-motion quilting pattern for each quilt takes a lot of staring at the pieced top and intuiting a flow and pattern. Josh lived in a dorm for four years as an undergrad and now having his first studio apartment in grad school and moving to Chicago are huge transitions. My inspiration for the quilting were thoughts of "fertile soil," "growth" and "rivers of thought."

 

This quilt is bold because the colors Josh choose are complementary - but he is bold and I think it fits him very well!

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Save the date: HGB FIBER ART SHOW&SALE 2019

Wednesday, October 30 - Sunday, November 3, 2019

Open daily 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am-3pm

 

 

Boulder County Fairgrounds, Hover & Nelson Roads, Longmont, Colorado

Free admission! Free parking!

Over 100 Front Range artists with incredible handmade fiber art!!! 

 

I will have some amazing ornaments in the sale made from vintage textile spools and upcycled 100% wool felt, as well as many other favorite items like Potholder/Mini-quilts, wall hangings, felt purses, felt pins, fiber art cards and more!  And stop by and say "hi" - this year I am the Sale Chair and will be there daily!

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Weaving color, texture & design

Wool, silk and alpaca fibers for a spring palette weaving to chase away the winter storm blues
Wool, silk and alpaca fibers for a spring palette weaving to chase away the winter storm blues

Winter is a time of play for me as a fiber artist.  The holiday markets and family festivities are over, and there are months of time that lay open to my imagination and new endeavors.

 

My Schacht tapestry loom (made right here in Boulder, CO) serves to capture the color, texture and design that emerge from my collection of wool, cotton, & silk yarns.  To begin, I pull from my collection of fibers, the colors and textures that fit with my vision or mood.  It is usually the materials that are speaking to me, often beginning with one fiber and then gathering more that fit with that first intriguing yarn.  In the bowl pictured to the right, the variegated yarn with its neutral base and flecks of blues and greens, made me yearn for spring especially as a winter storm warning approached outdoors.  Textural contrasts are really important to me, so I grabbed the blue super bulky wool for the bottom fringe (tapestry weaving happens from the bottom up!) and then added more texture with the rya loops woven with wools of different weights.  I love that I don't always know what will come next and that each new row of weaving is a new decision. (Some tapestry weavers use a paper cartoon behind the loom to guide the design, but I prefer a free-form, intuitive approach.)  Seeing the color and feeling unfold is the most exciting part of weaving for me.

 

I began years ago quilting traditional patterns and then my own free-form contemporary designs.  Along the way, I've been felting, crocheting, dyeing, and a bit of weaving .  But, what pulls all of these techniques together is the way that the gorgeous organic materials of cotton and wool, inspire new creations. The materials and techniques are just mediums for the hands to build with, to create. Fiber is a truly endless source of joy and inspiration.

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Art vs. Craft: What is going on here?

Detail of Art Quilt by Amy Mundinger
Detail of Art Quilt by Amy Mundinger

Art and craft - if we could draw a Venn diagram, would one be contained within the other, or would they be entirely different spheres?  This is hardly a new debate, but one that is particularly relevant to the textile arts.  You see, "Art" has a history, a cultural standing, a legitimacy and a currency that has been carefully curated and built in the Western World, and it has been primarily about white men, only occasionally including women and people of color.  Art or Fine Art has painting at the top of the hierarchy, also accepting sculpture and drawing. "Craft" includes sewing, spinning, knitting, pottery, weaving, basketry, wood-working,  which are techniques used by professional artisans (men) and homemakers and hobbyists (women).  I'm sure you are scoffing right now at these artificial delineations, but think about how hundreds of years of thinking (what is included in museums and taught in school) impact our implicit reactions to what we see and value.  

 

The question is whether a vase, a quilt, a tapestry, a woodcarving, made by a talented and experienced craftsperson - that utilizes all of the history of that medium and expresses that artist's  viewpoint - can this be art? Is this a relevant question? Can we appreciate art and craft, the expression of this in their highest forms, for what they are?  Maybe we can, but are art and craft equally valued in culture and society?  This question may be particularly for Western culture.  In Japan, experienced craftspeople are elevated to the position of "National Treasure," for continuing traditions of hundreds if not thousands of years, and passing these traditions to apprentices.  The answer is less clear in the U.S.

 

Textile Arts have been elevated to Art, brought into the gallery and museum settings, but does this change how we individually perceive textiles and those who make them? Angela Moll states that she wants  "Craft to engage with modern art in a way that can bring inclusion in the critical discourse and establish a parity of sorts within the cultural hierarchy. I do not want to be part of Art’s story. I want to be part of Craft’s challenge to Art’s story. I’d like to harness the subversive potential implicit in those neglected practices and create multiple stories, all equally valid and legitimate."

 

If you've been to my kitchen you've seen my series of "Wicked Pie & Heavenly Coffee" art quilts on the wall. Each of the four pieces is 12x18" in the form of the household textile - placemats.   I created this work in response to the tension that I have felt between art and craft.  I see this work as a conversation piece.  These art quilts are in the form of a utilitarian household textile, but the work that went into them and that they are hanging on the wall, confuse their meaning and function. I think that textiles fall along a continuum of art and craft, for example, a designed wall quilt and a traditionally patterned bed quilt.  Both utilize a common media or form, can be equally technically of the highest skill level, but the level of artistry, the use of color and design, perhaps the artist's message, blurs the boundaries of whether one is art or craft. This just isn't clear-cut issue.  We see a recognizable "household" form such as a placemat or a bed covering, and we have a response- domestic, women's work, not art.  But what if we weren't trained to see this work in this light? 

 

Craftivism and the Maker movement offer up a new narrative to our technological, consumeristic mass-produced world, by offering exquisite, slowly hand-produced goods.   I see these new movements as re-inserting the value into handmade goods.  Along with the movement of Minimalism, the Maker movement values fewer, slowly handcrafted items with the distinct mark of the artist, over the abundance of impersonal mass-produced goods.  Textiles are having a come-back. I believe that our deeply rooted connection to the warmth and security of early humans who produced the first clothing and bedding, as well as our personal connection to our own infancy - the swaddling and care in our early lives - binds us all to textiles in a subconscious way.  Textiles are an intertwined with being human and our reaction to textiles is visceral and aesthetic.  So where do textiles belong in a world that divides art and craft?

Links:

 

"The artificial divide between fine art and textiles is a gendered issue," by Amber Bouchart, 2018, Frieze on-line magazine.

 

A new academic work by Julia Bryan-Wilson, 2017, University of Chicago Press, "Fray: Art and Textile Politics"

 

Judy Chicago was a groundbreaking artist in the 1970s who took ceramics and textile arts into the museum world with "The Dinner Party."

 

One of my favorite art quilters, Nancy Crow hangs in the Smithsonian in D.C. and the Museum of American Folk Art and the Museum of Art and Design in NYC.

 

Quilt National is the major art quilt, juried, international show held in odd-numbered years since 1979, that tours the world, pushing the boundaries of art within the quilting medium.

 

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Climate Change: It's Global and Personal

 

"One World, One Chance" was created for the Handweavers Guild of Boulder 2018 juried show themed "Reflections on Climate Change."  This art quilt is created from 100% cotton fabrics that have been pieced to create a 48" round quilt of the earth, with the North and South American continents suggested in outline.  The free-motion quilting is in the form of words that span from carbon-emitting fuels (e.g. coal, fossil fuel, oil) on the dark side of the earth to clean energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, electric) on the light side.  

 

The world's response to climate change hinges on moving to clean energy. There is hope: although this is not something we can tackle as individuals, nations can invest in research, development and implementation of clean energy infrastructure. Yet, even as we move towards clean energy, we all, as individuals, must reckon with our daily dependence on carbon-emitting fuels that degrade our atmosphere, our environment, our world.

 

Amy Mundinger won the Handweavers Guild of Boulder Juror's Award and the Citizen's Climate Lobby Prize for "One World, One Chance" in November 2018.

 

Detail from "One World, One Chance"

 

Detail from "One World, One Chance"

 

Showcase Evening at the Handweavers Guild of Boulder Annual Show & Sale, November 2018.  Pictured left to right: Elfriede Gamow, PhD, Showcase Juror, Kris King, Citizens Climate Lobby and HGB member, and Amy Mundinger.

 

 

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What does it mean to be a Fiber Artist?

This is a question that comes up, quite frequently, actually.  For me, "fiber artist" became a better fit, when "quilter" didn't quite explain all of things that I was doing with fiber.  When I was solely creating quilts, then cotton was my medium: 100% cotton fabrics, 100% cotton threads, and 100% cotton batting. Now, I also work with wool:  felting, crocheting, embroidering, sometimes weaving. These two fibers - cotton and wool - have something in common....they are both natural fibers. That is, cotton harvested from plants and wool harvested from sheep - are processed from nature - they are not synthetic. Creating fiber art from cotton and wool has a historical basis in the broader field of textile arts which stretches as long as humans have created clothing and shelter and added their own personal embellishment. Thinking of my own journey, I began life sewing and quilting, making clothing and bedding, but when my quilts became my own unscripted designs and jumped from the bed to the wall, I was then becoming a fiber artist.

What to do with all these wonderful materials?  Fiber Artists employ many techniques and tools to work with cotton and wool: hand-stitching, machine-stitching, quilting, crocheting, knitting, weaving, felting, beading, etc.  Painters have a canvas, brushes and paints.  Potters have clay, wheels, tools and glazes.  Photographers have camera, (film), computers, and printers. I have cotton, wool, needles, sewing machine, looms, and scissors. Gathering all these items, is only the beginning - then the creating begins.....time thinking, hatching...time in the studio....handling the materials, putting colors together...time working, stitching.

 

So, we looked at the "fiber" part of the equation, what about the "artist" part?  For me, an artist uses their imagination to express and create something new - appreciated more for its aesthetic value than its function.  What gives each artist their own unique style, is how they work with color and design, and the level of achieved craftsmanship, which only comes from years of experience handling their medium.  

 

My goal as a fiber artist is to make something by hand, with the finest of materials, with the highest regard for technique, and with my own vision.  I feel like the luckiest person in the world - to handle these sumptuous materials, working with my hands and imagination, transforming them into things of beauty, to bring others joy. Materials, techniques and artistic vision: this to me is what it means to be a fiber artist.  What are your thoughts?

 

(Click  each photo to learn more)

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INSPIRATION: The Victoria & Albert Museum of London

Have you been watching Masterpiece Theater's production of "Victoria"?  It's a fascinating look into the unique royal partnership of the newly formed House of Windsor that saw the industrialization of Great Britain.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cared very much about art, music, culture and history.  The V&A Museum houses vast (and I mean huge) collections of arts and crafts from the far reaches of the world, so that the museumgoer can see the development of an art from its inception thousands of years ago, to modern production.  

On my visit to London in November 2017, by far my favorite floors of the V&A were Ceramics and Glass (separate floors!).  Look closely at the first photo of the blue pottery above.  You will see in the background, glass display cases absolutely packed full of ceramics.  The shear number of pieces on display in the V&A nearly knocked me flat.  It's color, texture, form and design overload!  On top of this overwhelming display is the historical documentation of the development of mineral glazes and techniques from around the world from BCE to the present.  I could have spent my entire week in London visiting the V&A everyday, and never seen enough, nor gotten bored.  The inspiration of the color alone was amazing.

Other highlights of the V&A were the textiles, my favorite of any design museum: the CHAIR room, wrought iron grill work display, teapots scattered everywhere in the museum,and that the cafe served coffee, cake and cans of GIN & TONIC!  You have got to love the Brits!

View of Natural History Museum and Winter Skate, London from the 6th floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
View of Natural History Museum and Winter Skate, London from the 6th floor of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

I close with a peek from a 6th floor window of the V&A Museum.  Looking through the original casement window, you can see the Natural History Museum of London next door and the winter skate below in its courtyard.  It seems a timeless view, transporting.  

 

Queen Victoria opened the museum in 1857 and late night hours (made possible by new "gas lighting") were introduced so that the working class could visit.  The focus of the first museum director was on art education and the 4.5 million objects spanning 5,000 years of history demonstrate the art and science of the hand and machine production of everyday items (of course, the museum does show the most exquisite of these items!)  

 

For me, visiting museums can be sensory overload but I invite that! More importantly, it serves to fill the soul.  I continue to remember rooms and displays from the V&A and draw from these memories in my work.

 

The V&A Museum is open daily (except Christmas) and like most museums in London, admission is free.

Photos by Amy Mundinger, 2017

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Featured in national magazine

On newsstands now!

 

Check out the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine -- Page 8's feature is "25 Gifts under $25" and there you'll find three items from my on-line store -- Potholder/Mini Quilt, Artist Fiber Art Card, and Felted Wool Flower Pins.  You can find all of these in my on-line store!

Amy explains upcycling wool sweaters on tv!

In the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to film two video demonstrations at the studio of Quilters Newsletter magazine in Golden, Colorado!  Together with Associate Editor & Host Mary Kate Karr-Petras, I discussed and demonstrated my techniques for upcycling 100% wool sweaters into wool felt that I then use for appliqué.  You can read more about my work and inspiration here. Sadly, Quilters Newsletter magazine is no longer, but my video is available FREE FOR YOU TO WATCH on Youtube or for purchase/streaming from The Quilting Company, which still publishes Quilting Arts, Quiltmaker, McCalls and Fons & Porter magazines.

Looking for inspiration

I've always had a passion for photography, but sometimes I forget to practice!  According to my Instagram account, I've been adding pictures for 36 weeks…that's over half a year!  I love snapping pictures on my iPhone- it's so easy to take digital pictures and when I look around at the place where I live, I'm seeing new things all the time.  Colors, the sky, an interesting piece of architecture, incredible natural beauty.  These moments captured in photos feed my soul, and get me fired up to do art.  It's just a matter of seeing the extraordinary in the place where you live.  What feeds your soul? (Click on photos below to enlarge and link here to go to my instagram page - you don't need an account to view it)

Ready to roll...

New camper colors in the on-line store - Fiber Art Cards!

New camper fiber art cards added to the on-line store!  Now we're rollin'!
New camper fiber art cards added to the on-line store! Now we're rollin'!

Oh, I wish I had a camper...

What's a jealous quilter to do when her brother in Boise brings home a camper (once it's fixed up, it will be amazing!)?  Make some out of fabric, of course.  My brother lives next to a park in Boise and around the time he brought this camper home, a group of en plein air painters descended on the park for a day's work and about four of them chose to paint the camper!  Well, my version is painting with fabric!  So, check it out in the on-line store, two colorways of campers for two new Fiber Art Card designs - adorned with vintage buttons!

Just added: new fiber art card designs

Ahhh, summer!  Two new fiber art card designs that capture the fun of being in the sun….check them out in the on-line store.

Just added: more Fab felted roses

Handcrafted felt, made in Pine Tree Studio, wound and sewn together into gorgeous roses that never fade….just added to the online store.

Stitching into the summer

WOOL!!!!! I've been making my own felted wool from thrift store sweaters (read more here) and combining the wool appliqué pieces with hand-dyed quilted cotton backgrounds, as well as vintage wool fabric pieced backgrounds.  Embellishments are added in pearl cotton threads and voila! charming foxes are leaping all over my little wall art pieces.  It's been a deluge of rain in Boulder this Spring, but feeling like summer is just around the corner.

New felt roses for Daniela's felted hats

Roses made from up cycled 100% wool sweaters that have been felted, shaped, and sewn into these fun pin brooches!
Roses made from up cycled 100% wool sweaters that have been felted, shaped, and sewn into these fun pin brooches!

These felt roses, made from felted upcycled 100% wool sweaters, are destined to adorn the fabulous felted knit hats that Daniela Knapp makes.  Daniela and I met through the Handweavers Guild of Boulder and have worked together at the Annual Sale.  Daniela is an incredible and expert knitter and one of her specialities is felted hats in all colors.  These roses are going into Daniela's hands today, so likely you will see hats & pins together at the HGB sale in late October/early November.  Or maybe you already have one of Daniela's hats?  I do!

Wool sweaters turned into felt art pins

Lichen Burst Felted Wool Pins
Lichen Burst Felted Wool Pins

Spring and Winter go back and forth here in the Rocky Mountains, so felted wool is still a favorite material for me to work with! These brooch/pins are so fun to make, I just can't stop. Embroidering with perle cotton brings the thick felt to life with color and a slight sheen.  Check back for more new creations coming out of the studio this Spring!

Felty foxes jumping in the studio

Felted wool sweater ready to be cut
Felted wool sweater ready to be cut

It starts with a 100% sweater either found at a thrift store or in someone's closet....and it ends as an original embroidered felty fox!  The discarded 100% wool knit sweater is washed for 2+ hours on the hottest cycle in the washing machine until the knit is no longer visible, because the fibers have so shrunken and intermeshed, that I've produced FELT.  Then, the former sweater can be cut with scissors into shapes and appliqued, embellished and created into unique works of art.  Wool is a great fiber to play with on a snowy cold day like today....going to make another cup of coffee and bring these felty guys to life.

Send a friend a Cuppa

"Cuppa tea" Fiber Art Cards
"Cuppa tea" Fiber Art Cards

New today in the On-line store are blank Fiber Art Cards just perfect to send a friend to stay "thinking of you" or just "stay warm!"  It's a bright cold Winter's day in Colorado and I can't think of anything nicer than a hot cuppa tea and a note from a friend. (Okay, maybe that and watching Masterpiece Mystery! too.)

Cock-a-doodle-doo or Ki-kiri-ki (auf Deutsch)

Today I'm designing a new fiber art card - a black speckled Thuringian rooster to complement the white hen from 2013.  I'm playing with the free-motion quilted thread details on the body and tail, as well as the colors of thread and border.  He's a handsome fellow!

Sketchbook for Chicken and Rooster Fiber Art Cards
Sketchbook for Chicken and Rooster Fiber Art Cards