Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Second Life

Readers of this blog know that I often share in my Friday art round-ups exhibitions of quilts, both vintage and contemporary; I have a special interest in the latter. Earlier this year I was introduced to the marvelous re-purposing of vintage hand-stitched quilts and antique linens by Ashland, Oregon, artist Joanne Kliejunas. In Kliejunas's hands, decades-old but damaged quilts and tablecloths and other fine linens become beautiful wearable fashions, which she markets through her business Heirloom Couture, as well as fine art in galleries and boutiques.  

In this interview for an Oregon Art Beat feature, Kliejunas speaks about her finds and artistic process — she treats with great respect the original creator's skills — and shows some of her work, which includes one-of-a-kind quilt coats and linen garments. Kliejunas also accepts custom orders.

Also Of Interest

Merill Comeau, a mixed media artist who uses vintage linens, cast-off clothing, and other kinds of fabrics or materials to create collages that she then paints or draws on with thread. Her work is fabulous. Comeau was featured in a recent issue of Fiber Arts. (Scroll down that feature to see Erin Endicott's work; an interview with her about her use of vintage fabric in her "Healing Sutras" is here.)

Sabrina Gschwandtner, who creates quilts using film footage from early Feminist documentaries.

Etta Bloom, Seattle, Washington, who uses antique European grain sacks, vintage red ticking, and vintage French linen to make charming oversized stockings.

Ratatouille Designs, which creates pillows from vintage French hemp grain sacks.

D.J. Pettitt, who makes books and journals from reclaimed and re-purposed textiles.

The exhibition "Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles" continues through January 8, 2012, at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum, one of my favorites, draws on its own collection to highlight how various cultures re-purpose fabrics to create "new" textiles. Among the beautiful pieces on view are a sutra cover made from a 15th Century Chinese  rank badge (see image) and a vest fashioned from a covering once used at an Islamic holy site.

Sutra Cover (detail)
Made from Rank Badge, China, 1500-1644
The Textile Museum
Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1932

For an online presentation about Myers, who established the museum in 1925, see "Ahead of His Time: The Collecting Vision of George Hewitt Myers".


Louise Gallagher said...

The quilt fashions are awesome! I'm sharing this find with my friend Jane who is an avid quilter.

Robin Arnold said...

Oh my goodness, how I wish I didn't have a meeting to prepare for because I surely would like to follow all these links. Thank you for the prize I will use to get through the day!

S. Etole said...

What an artistic endeavor ... her respect for the original quilters is so heartfelt.

Anonymous said...

Ashland is a nice little place to visit. So nice to see more on an Oregon artist doing such creative things with vintage quilts.

Ruth said...

I so admire Kliejunas's intent and craft. The video shows how important the design of a quilt is, what its movement is, and how she honors that when she designs a garment. I agree with her that if a quilt is damaged, this is a fabulous way to recycle it, and get it out there to be seen in such stunning ways. I adore the fine quilting of antique quilts, and so I am doing that a bit in the baby quilt for my unborn grandson. It's worth it to me, even though I am having to pause a bit now to let my hands rest and be rid of the inflammation so I can start up again, hopefully while I can still cuddle him in it!