Pull Up a Seat at The Ragged Cloth Cafe

BlogHer Original Post

There is one sad thing about working in my studio at home: the isolation. While the proximity means my work is always available, too often I am pulled away by other demands (hello internet!). While the quiet encourages introspection, too often I end up having conversations with myself. I miss the concentration of knowing I have THIS time and THIS time only. I miss the community of spirit that broadens my perspectives. Often I yearn for a spot where I can discuss the meat of hand work: design, repetition, color, scale, form. Where I can gain another's perspective. Where I can think deep thoughts and share them with similarly obsessed folk. Ideally over a cuppa my favorite caffinated beverage.

I have found such a place online at The Ragged Cloth Cafe.

The Ragged Cloth Café is a place for serious artists (who are also serious talkers) to verbally circle ideas about their own work, the visual arts, and the theories, histories, definitions and philosophies of arts while relating these to the textile arts. The group was begun by textile artists and most, but by no means all, of us continue to have textile art as our base of reference. We are prone to go deep into any given topic, likely to go on for hours circling an idea, bringing in tangent ideas, never entirely resolving any issue, but seldom descending into boring repetition. We are practicing artists by day; thinking artists by night; verbal artists whenever we see the chance.

The café invites civil discourse, discussions which probe and prod, and which are well-salted and sugared with references that will expand our horizons.

The Cafe is built of invited regulars who submit monthly posts and guest contributor who add spice to the conversations. Among the regulars are:

Angela Moll, whose Secret Diaries Series draws me in...

Gabrielle Swain, creative teacher and artist, and a friend..

Jane Davila, who blogs at Chary Sprouts.

Linda Frost. and

Terry Grant.

What I like about the Ragged Cloth Cafe is the variety of conversations started there; kind of like BlogHer with a fiber arts concentration.

Recently, Linda Frost detailed the dilemna of a quilter donating to a charitable event. These are artists who might normally receive hundreds of dollars for their work. Would you feel differently if you knew:

Artists can only deduct the cost of supplies used in the creation of the art. In 1969, Congress repealed legislation that allowed artists, writers and composers to take a fair-market value deduction for their work. Yet, while artists can no longer donate work for market value, collectors who come to own those works can take the full market value deduction if they donate to a nonprofit institution.

So, an artist’s donation of work must give its return in the satisfaction of supporting a worthy cause.

Catherine Jones recently contributed a two part essay on Repeat Patterns. She started stating the obvious:

In Western art especially, they’ve often played a subordinate role,
serving merely to fill a patch of unwanted vacant space, frame a
composition, or supply some texture to a pictorial scene. Repeat
patterns commonly function as elevator music: background to the main
conversation. Except, of course, when they are the conversation.

She goes on in Part One to discuss the kinds of repeat patterns found in wallpaper and yardage: how a repeated pattern fills space and becomes, as she said, background music. In Part Two, Jones analyzes pieces of art that combine repeat pattern with unique image. The repeats add dimension to the work and occasionally (such as the John Muafangejo piece discussed) another layer of meaning. Next month, she'll try to bridge the gap between main stream fine-art and algorithmically created art

imagery generated by computer procedures without reference to art history and without active intervention by the artist at every stage of the creative process.

I can hardly wait!

In Aesthetic Appeal: Is it in our DNA?, Kate Themel's finely researched piece, she suggests some of what each of us find appealling in a piece is based upon our cultural survival of the fittest. Those whose ancestors needed to recognize poisonous snakes may be drawn or repelled by the jagged line; florals appeal to those with a "gathering" past because flowers can indicate the eventual presence of food. While it seems that these genetic preferences make up only a small amount of our personal aesthetic, it's an intriguing concept to consider.

Jude Hill commented on Themel's piece at Spirit Cloth:

personally i think the things that comfort you are learned. taught or experienced. and ultimately remembered and therefore familiar. and why you choose certain forms of visual representation, well it has a lot with what you are comfortable with but it has a lot to do with the limitations of your technique.

some things seem universally beautiful or pleasing. it could be because there are certain things that are common to our experience. this is a comforting thought.

And Deb Lacativa at More Whiffs, Glimmers and Left Oeuvers wondered:

what does this say about people like myself who have never had a single qualm about critters of any stripe. Did our ancestors survive because we ate better? Did our ancestors come from another planet?

Debra Roby blogs her creative life at A Stitch in Time and her mundane life at Deb's Daily Distractions .

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