I was extremely fortunate to receive an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant to attend a natural dye workshop this summer. It was at the Textile Center of Minnesota in Minneapolis - an amazing place - and was taught by Michel Garcia. As many of you know, I have been dyeing my own fabric for about 15 years. In those 15 years I have explored every type of synthetic dye and I have been really excited about the extremely wide range of color you can create with them. However, in the past year or so I have started to become more aware of the impact my work has on my body and the environment and I have started to look into switching from synthetic dyes to natural dyes. This was in part spurred on by the amazing experience I had at the SDA conference at Arrowmont this fall. It's going to be a long process to fully make the switch, but the workshop has been incredible and I'm excited to see where the journey goes!
I've been working on this new quilt since summer and it's finally done. I'm super excited about it and have so many ideas for other variations. Now I just need some time to make them.
The whole quilt is made from 10" squares of kona solids from Robert Kaufman. Each block is a layer of 4 squares, stacked up, stitched, and then cut to reveal the layers below. I am plotting a new quilt pattern and planning to offer this as a workshop in the very near future.
I am not a fan of turning edges under. I love it when other people do it, but I don't have the patience for that. Besides, the texture of a nicely frayed edge is so soft and honest. I don't think I would do this on a quilt that is meant to be used regularly, but on a wall quilt I'm all for it.
Do you ever feel like other people have it together and you are just making it up? I feel like that most of the time and I feel like maybe other people feel like that, too. So I'm going to start blogging about all of the things I do not have together and what I'm doing to rectify the parts of my life/studio practice that are not working or need to change. I will call these blog posts "Real Talk with Kim". I have two goals here. The first is to be honest with myself and hold myself accountable for the things I want to change. By putting things in writing I find it so much easier to actively pursue bettering myself/figuring things out. The second goal is transparency. I have had so many conversations with students and other artists about how hard making work is and how it seems like people just spring up out of nowhere as fully formed amazing artists while we struggle and toil to just make something that doesn't suck or doesn't look like something that already exists. I hope that in sharing my struggles it will help other people in some way. We are all people.
This all came about because I just left an amazing weekend at Arrowmont for the Surface Design Conference "Made/Aware". The focus of the conference was on community building, socially engaged artwork, and natural dyes. For the past two or three years, I have felt like my work needs to change and is in transition. I don't know how it needs to change, though. In an attempt to figure it out, I wrote some quilt patterns and started a 100 days of painting project. Both projects were fulfilling and new and exciting and hard (I'm just a little over half way done with the painting project). But neither of them feel quite right. I also struggle big time with making healthy choices in my life. I'm sure a lot of us do. I like to drink beer and eat pizza and I have a major sweet tooth. So in addition to trying to figure out my studio practice, I have also been trying to simplify my life and make healthier choices re: food and exercise. I totally fell of the bandwagon this weekend. We all slip.
BUT! One of reasons the conference was so amazing was that I learned A LOT about natural dyes. I have been thinking about making the switch from synthetic to natural dyes for a while and this conference pushed me over the edge. I'm going to do it. I think the switch will answer a lot of questions I have been asking myself about the effect of my work both on my physical being and on the earth. Though I use synthetic dyes in a responsible manner and only dye what I need when I need it, the process of making the dyes is harmful to the earth, long term use could be harmful to my health, and really I have no idea how much I'm harming the water system of my community by using them. Though this feels like the right move, it is also a scary move. Most of what I learned this weekend is that there is A LOT to learn. Natural dyes are very different from synthetic dyes. The entire process is different and the type of color you get is also very different. So in addition to having a huge learning curve ahead of me, I have no clear vision of what my work will actually look like at the end of this journey.
Life is about learning, yo. I don't want to settle and make things because they're easy. I want to push myself and question myself and constantly be moving towards being my best self in every thing I do. I know I am going to fail along the way. I will probably fail A LOT. But that's ok. If you want to follow along on my journey, check in here and follow me on instagram (I will be coming up with a fitting hashtag in the near future) for a visual account of my forward momentum.
You guys! I wrote some quilt patterns. Two, to be exact. The first is a pattern I have been working on (dilly dallying, rather) for about 2 years. I'm calling it Fractured Tiles because it looks to me like broken floor tiles. It's a super fun quilt to make because it's really quick to cut and piece, but there is so much potential for variation depending on what colors you choose and how you lay it out. And, I should mention, it's suitable for beginners because it's a stack and whack quilt.
The second is called Robie and is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie house in Chicago. It's made using 2 1/2" strips so is perfect for your favorite jelly roll of fabric. This quilt can be made in 6 different variations and they are all equally cool.
I'm so excited to finally have two quilt patterns finished. You have no idea. I have been wanting to write patterns ever since my book came out (Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts, if you didn't know). They have been so much fun to work on, but also so so much work. I made wrote all the instructions, made all the illustrations, made all the test quilts, and designed the patterns themselves. The patterns have been tested and tech edited, so I'm pretty confident they will be easy to follow and won't have any errors (Thanks Kristin, Lexie, and Annabelle!).
The patterns are available only as PDF downloads for right now. They may go into print in the upcoming months. You can purchase them here on my website or over on Craftsy. Enjoy! And be sure to tag me on instagram (@kimemquilts) if you make one!
Friday, May 15 at the Kansas City Textile Studio
6 - 9pm, 924 E. 5th St. KC MO 64106
Saturday, May 16 online at my instagram account: @kimemquilts
To make room for new work and exciting new projects, I'm having a gigantic studio sale! I will have loads of quilts, quilted items, hand dyed fabric, and t-shirts for sale. Everything is discounted. Come help me celebrate spring and clean out my studio!
Friday night everything will be on display in my studio at 924 E. 5th St in Kansas City, MO. Saturday I will start listing things online on my instagram account @kimemquilts for those of you who are out of town. Follow along and get a new treasure at a great deal. I'm going to be sad to see some of these quilts go, but so ready for some empty shelves to fill up again.
Join me on the beautiful Whidbey Island this July for a 4 day dye intensive workshop. This is the perfect opportunity to take your fabric dyeing to the next level. Learn the uber precise percentage method for creating and scaling your own accurate dye recipes. It's going to be four days of fun, color, math, and more fun.
Here is the class description for more info:
Exploring Color with Dye is an in depth workshop on precise use of Procion MX dyes. Students will be introduced to color theory and how it relates to dye on cloth while also exploring their own personal color preferences. They will gain an understanding of how to precisely dye fabric using the percentage dye method – using weight of dye in proportion to weight of fabric to achieve reproducible colors. The goal is to create a vast library of color swatches and recipes using only a small number of dye powders.
I am so excited to have been chosen as one of 21 finalists for the West Elm Local Grant. This is a $25k small business grant, awarded to one American artist/designer/maker. I have been working on expanding my business over the past year and many of you know that part of that has been offering quite a few workshops at my studio - the Kansas City Textile Studio. I also have dreams of writing another book, publishing a line of patterns, and exhibiting my work at either Quilt Market or the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). The West Elm Local Grant would allow me to hire much needed help in both the construction of quilts and all of the other parts that go along with running a quilt based business - such as photography, editing, marketing, etc.
Please take a moment to visit the West Elm website at http://westelmlocalgrant.com and vote for me. You have to scroll down a bit until you see my profile. If you share that you voted on facebook, your vote will count twice.
Thank you friends!
I haven't really written anything here because life got in the way (like getting ready for a show, a new school year and new job as chair of the fiber department this fall, getting my tonsils out, etc). Isn't that always the case? But now I feel a little more calm and I thought I would share a new project I'm working on.
I was contacted a few weeks ago by a lovely woman who lives in London near Richmond Park. She loves the park and spends a lot of time there, but is moving to a different part of London and was wondering if I could make one of my skyscape/landscape quilts of the park for her new house.
Of course I said yes! I really enjoy doing commissions because one of the main goals of my work is to connect with people on an emotional/personal level. I also love seeing the places that other people love.
So, on to the pictures:
She sent me a few of her own photos of the park (the first two) and also sent me the link to Alex Saberi's website - he is a photographer in London who took the other gorgeous images. She told me that she really prefers gray, green, and yellow and so based on the photos and her requests, I came up with 9 sketches, including these 4:
So now I'm just waiting to hear back which one she likes best, or if I need to adjust anything. Once she chooses a sketch, the next step is to dye fabric to match. I'm excited to get started!
I'm very excited to announce my upcoming show at Leedy Voulkos Art Center. On August 1, 2014, I will be showing new landscape quilts along with gorgeous landscape paintings by Kristin Goering. If you're in the Kansas City area come on down for the opening on Friday, August 1 or Friday, September 5 from 6-9pm.
Both Kristin and I use our own photographs of the sky as inspiration and starting points for our work, so we are putting together a wall of our photos that I'm very excited about. Here's a sneak peek.
I went through 7 bobbins quilting this thing yesterday. This is a teeny part of it.
New quilt in progress.
Working on another big #quilt. This one has #hand-dyed ticking and appliquéd #powerlines
I just stopped in at Modern Makers in Kansas City to get some supplies for the quilt workshop I’m teaching next month at the Kansas City Textile Studio. Yay for shot cotton stripes!
Taking advantage of the sun to dry some fabric + complimentary colored sandals. (at Kansas City Textile Studio)
I made some hand-dyed and quilted placemats for my mom for her birthday. Plus, there are matching napkins. Yay for matchymatchy
I’m so excited to be teaching 2 fabric dyeing workshops at QuiltCon! Check back for more details soon.
Makin’ some pineapples