Saturday, August 15, 2009

Let's Twist Again: Linda Cooper's Kinetic Quilts

The hardware store or sports center may be the new hang out for fabric artists. You can find the neatest items there to use for purposes never before imagined. Wire mesh for rubbings, trowels add texture to paint designs. And Linda Cooper discovered a piece of fishing tackle that's become a vital part of her Kinetic Quilts.

But don't be fooled, her clever repurposing sets her quilts apart from the norm, but her attention to detail and fine sewing make these quilts award winners. -- Dawn

Please welcome Linda Cooper in her own words:

My dad was a fisherman. When we were young, we often gave him fishing swivels for a present. These swivels look like figure 8’s with a bead in the center and both the top and bottom loops rotate. They’re used to let the fishing lure whirl as the line is pulled through the water, catching the fish's attention. The swivels come in many sizes and several finishes and can be purchased from sporting goods stores. The little gizmos fascinated me.

Connect those childhood memories with my love of dimensional quilts and you see the genesis of my Kinetic quilts.
I spent many years trying to name this kind of quilt and my web designer, Cyndi Souder, came up with Kinetic Quilts. Kinetic quilts are two-sided and have fishing line swivels to rotate the cut-outs in the quilt's center. No two of my quilts are the same. Some are mobiles, others swivel, or feature whirligigs. [Linda usually purchase Cabela's swivels as pictured above.]

My first quilt using the swivels was made for a Millennium challenge quilt. I made it in 2000. It had Mylar inside the mini-quilts and I wired all the cut-out openings for stability. It had patchwork designs on one side and millennium fabric on the other. Unfortunately, the shape didn’t hold well through the years.

When Timtex and Peltex (the interfacing in baseball caps) was introduced, that gave me a chance to use it as batting and make a sturdy piece that I was able to quilt. I am limited by the size that gently rolls under my home machine because if you crease the Timtex the fold won’t go away.

I hadn’t realized until I was writing this how personal each of these quilts is to me.

Evening Primrose - Evening primroses are plants which bloom at dusk. When my kids and I visited my parents in Ohio, we often watched the evening primroses open. They seem to vibrate a bit and then pop open. Sometimes very large moths fly in, attracted by the fragrance.

I adapted Kumiko Sudo's origami pattern from "Fantasies and Flowers". The one side of the quilt is blue, violet and yellow diamonds representing dusk and the other is a dark batik for evening.
The mini-quilts have buds on one side and the open flowers on the other.

Quilting-The Heart of the Matter

I was in a challenge class with Cyndi Souder. She asked us to make quilts with the theme "the heart of the matter". Of course for me, quilting is the joy in my life. I painted a background and Broderie Perse appliquéd flowers to it. I pieced diamonds for the other side. In the hearts I have examples of many techniques I enjoy: my marbling, paper-piecing, silk flower appliqué, beading, chenille (which was new for me), and burned-silk appliqué. For this quilt I couldn't find Timtex and I substituted Peltex which is thinner. I have 2 separate layers that I quilted independently and then sewed together at the openings. You can see other examples of my Broderie Perse painted background quilts on my website. [A detailed view of the quilt's center is the first photo.] Recently The Heart of the Matter won a Judge's Choice ribbon at the 2009 Quilt Odyssey in Hershey, Pennsylvania!

Rabbit in the Moon and Rabbit in the Moon 2 In the Far East, people look at the moon and see not the man-in-the-moon, but the Moon Rabbit. My yoga teacher, Clare, pointed him out to her class. So in Rabbit 2, the "moon" is a challenge fabric on one side and a representation of the moon rabbit is on the other, while Rabbit 1 has a fabric photo of the actual moon on the other side. On each quilt, one side of the moon is a harvest moon cake design. These are special treat pastries served in Asia in the fall. The bunny at the bottom of the Rabbit 2 is a fabric photo of an ivory moon-rabbit netsuke, a fob that hung from a traditional man's obi in Japan. The other side has the rabbit which I copied in appliqué.

Turning Leaves I've enjoyed making sun prints with Setacolor and these are featured on one side of these cut-outs. I printed on pique, which has great texture and gives the sun print extra dimension. I made mini-quilt sandwiches with the sun print on one side then the Timtex, then a piece of backing fabric and then a piece of silk. I quilted around the sun print and then on the other side I cut away the excess silk leaving the leaf shape. These leaves are like a guide to what was growing in my yard at the time.

The trickiest thing about making a Kinetic Quilt is coming up with a design that looks good on both sides and making the mini-quilts integrate with both sides and with the innumerable positions that they can take. It's a bit like playing chess in 3D.

A binding hint that I've found works well (and this would work in miniature quilts too) is to find a fabric that continues its color or print to the edge of the selvage. I use narrow bias bindings (usually 1 inch wide) and when I sew them, I let the selvage edge finish on top of the binding. This results in a much smoother binding without lumps where the extra fabric would usually be turned under.

All of these quilts have no fronts or backs and a sleeve would ruin the look. So my solution was to make loops and hang the larger ones from dowels top and bottom and uses bamboo pieces on the smaller Moon Rabbits. Unfortunately, some shows prohibit quilts with wooden parts.

Bio: Linda's family has endured her quilting obsession for the past 20 years. Linda loves all aspects of the quilt world but has gravitated to art quilting in the past few years. She teaches fabric painting, raw-edge appliqué, and other classes at Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria, VA. She is also available for lectures, workshops and commission work.

Her kinetic quilts are only one example of Linda's diverse abilities. You can see her Flowers for a Cure in the IAQ 2009 Quilt Festival's special exhibit: Making Memories. Her Fading Memories quilt with hand painted background is currently on tour with Ami Simm's Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative traveling exhibit.

I also discovered that Linda is a fellow Ohio transplant and grew up a few miles from my old stomping grounds! Small world!


Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

These are all beautiful. What a great concept.

Carol said...

Gorgeous quilts and very interesting technique. I love "The Heart of The Matter". I'm off to look at her site.

Dawn said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying Linda's quilts and techniques. I'm enjoying the quilts and the conversations they generate.

My brother just phoned and during the conversation mentioned visiting a huge Cabela store. I mentioned Linda's use of swivels. Then I got to hear my big brawny husband try to explain to my equally brawny brother just how one would use a 'swivel' in a quilt. Linda, you would have loved the conversation.


Linda Cooper said...

Thanks for the complements!
I forgot to mention that guys seem to really like these quilts. Maybe it's because they have "action" or maybe it's because they contain "manly" items- the swivels.

Anonymous said...

When Linda brought this quilt into class, we were all wowed. Her kinetic quilts totally broke new ground. Too cool!

Cyndi Souder