Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chaos to Couture - A Disingenous Exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I am in New York City visiting my dear friend Thom Vernon. Thom was invited to the New York Fringe Festival to perform his one-man show, The Drifts-Live, and I figured that was a good enough excuse to visit the city for six days and hang out with my dear friend.

The last time I was in the city was before September 2011. It was surreal breaking through the low-lying thick clouds and looking out at the Manhattan skyline with the sad and empty space where once stood the Twin Towers. Yet the city continues to hum, move, and groove.

My one “must do” adventure here was to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see the fashion exhibit “From Chaos to Couture.” Although I was only 11 or so when I first heard the word 'punk' and started seeing and hearing about The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Zandra Rhodes, and Vivienne Westwood I found the style fascinating and the music deliciously unnerving. I was excited to see this exhibit and to get a better feel for the context out of which punk exploded, for when it began its slow seepage into mainstream culture I was just a suburban teenager worrying about boys and acne.

The exhibit was a huge disappointment on so many levels it's difficult to know where to start. First off, yes, the clothing they have on exhibit is amazing, breathtaking, and just all around phenomenal; but much of the clothing exhibited are by designers that weren't even around, let alone influential to the movement. There are incredible pieces by Alexander McQueen, but he wasn't even out of junior high when the movement began! Most of the fashion pieces exhibited are “after the fact.”

I was hoping to get a sense of the nihilistic, anarchic, and destructive beginnings of punk but these were only vaguely indicated through seizure-inducing looped video projections and background noise. I suppose the curator, Andrew Bolton, decided that the poverty, anger and sense of disenfranchisement that helped spawn the punk movement was not important to address? 

And the designs themselves, though brilliant in their technical execution lack any sense of irony to the fact that if a true punk from the seventies walked through the exhibit they'd piss and spit on the clothes. 

The entire exhibit is a perversely extravagant, co-opted, commercialized, and elitist white-wash of one of the 20th century's seminal cultural periods.

So just in case you forgot...this was punk.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Wash or Not To Wash...Is Prewashing Fabric Necessary?

Not the most exciting topic in the world; but the other day I got into a rather animated discussion about pre-washing quilt fabric with a quilter friend of mine. This is what I know to be true:

Some do. Some don’t. Me, I do a little of both; but mostly I don’t. The primary reason I don’t pre-wash my cotton quilt fabric is because I find it easier to work with unwashed cotton and I avoid ironing. If you purchase good quality cottons you shouldn’t have to worry too much about shrinkage or colors bleeding from the fabric when it is washed. However, you may want to test for colorfastness (bleeding) when working with deeply saturated reds, blues, or purples.

One quick and easy way to check for color bleeding is to cut a small piece of your fabric (or fabrics) and soak them in a jar filled with lukewarm water. If the water stays clear you shouldn’t have to worry about prewashing; but if the color bleeds into the water, you should prewash the fabric.

My main consideration when deciding whether to prewash fabric is the quilt’s final purpose. If the end result of your labor is to have a decorative piece that hangs on a wall or is artfully draped over an antique chair no one ever sits in, then why bother with pre-washing? It’s a waste of water and time, not to mention the ironing!

On the other hand, if your quilt will end up keeping a little one warm at night or you will use it to snuggle up on the couch with your favorite two or four-legged companion I would recommend pre-washing. Another reason you may want to pre-wash is if you or the person you are making the quilt for has any sensitivity to chemicals. Quilt fabrics are manufactured with sizing and other chemicals to help maintain the bright and crisp feel it has while on the bolt, so if you’re concerned about chemicals – prewash.

If you decide your fabric should take a spin through the washer here are three tips: 1) Finish the raw edges of the fabric before washing; otherwise you will end up with a tangled mess of cotton fiber. (See below) You can finish the edges by using a medium-spaced zigzag stitch. 2) Wash the fabric in cool water, using a delicate cycle and gentle detergent. 3) Do not leave wet fabric sitting in the washer for any length of time; colors may bleed onto wet fabrics. 3) Remove the fabric from the dryer when it is slightly damp and do your ironing then. Wrinkles will come out easier when the fabric is damp.

Mess o' Fabric
The product of not finishing raw edges prior to the washing.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jailhouse Rock Quilt - Finished

Jailhouse Rock

After designing this piece using my paper mock up. It went through a couple of variations. I like the piece it's simple, easy and clean.

After I put the long colored stripes together I couldn't decide what background fabric to use so I tested it on a black and white print.

I didn't like how the color of the blocks seemed to fade into the fabric. So I ran out to the quilt store and purchased a white on white print. This was a much better choice as the colors seem to really punch with the clean white.

Here it is with the white on white background.

I had fabric left over so I decided to have a little fun with the backing instead of just using one color.

Back of quilt.

Jailhouse Rock Front 53" x 54"