When choosing fabrics for the new series, Traces, I kept the colorway limited. I want these pieces to read as individual elements but also work together as a whole.
I began my selection process by bringing a bunch of fabrics to the studio from home where I store them. I keep them sorted by technique but this time I sorted them by color. I decided to work with greens and browns (big surprise) and laid all the fabrics that I like out on my work table. From there I played with the colors, using the negative shape frames from my patterns as a way to isolate the fabrics and look at them together.
Here are some photos of the selection process.
final fabric choices
“A trace is, simply, a line etched across a plane. A feature like the famous Natchez Trace (featured in Eudora Welty novels) is, then, a line in the dirt etched across the land. . . . Traces are old game trails that have evolved into human footpaths. They are ancient thoroughfares first cut by hooves and claws, and followed by indigenous walkers.”
Luis Alberto Urrea
Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape
Edited by Barry Lopez
I often find myself poring through this book when looking for a title for a new series. It’s an alphabetical list of vocabulary used to characterize the landscape. The short essays are written by forty-five writers, from journalists to novelists. It’s enjoyable to flip through and read about the landscape, its unique forms and its history. Goat prairie, hassock, infant stream, pahoehoe, racetrack valley all are described by writers including Jon Krakauer, Barbara Kingsolver, and William Kittridge.
This series was hard to title. It feels like both a zeroing in on the details and widening out to the panoramas of geography. It’s funny how these little pieces can come to be imbued with so much meaning. In the photo above, you can see their beginnings, edges painted and waiting for the next step. They look like the outlines of states to me, with their combinations of straight-edges and meandering lines; some edges cut by rivers and some superimposed by the straight lines of map makers who want to create order out of chaos.
The title Trace plays on all these meanings. It is both a verb and a noun. It is a path of desire. It is a hint of something left behind. It is the act of going over a line with a pencil. All of these and more. It works.
drawing lots of thumbnails
I’ve begun working on a series of small works. After completing the Stone Mothers I was kind of burned out with working big. I’ve wanted to do some small “sketches” and have been really interested in working with multiples. So, I’ve been working up these small squares. The squares are three-dimensional but not very deep. I’m mounting them on panels give them more visual heft.
I’m thinking of them as details, like the detail photos of my work. The square format emphasizes that for me, cropping in on the work. I also like the way it plays off the format of quilt squares. I’d like to see them hung in compositions, much like a modular quilt.
It took me a few days to figure out the patterns. There’s not been much square about my work up until now. The first couple of patterns were quite frustrating. But there’s nothing like multiples to help you figure things out.
There’s been a lot of learning in the this new, as yet unnamed, series. The work is about the details, the up close look at what I’m doing. And it’s also about a sense of discovery, about finding pleasure in the work itself. I don’t ever want to get to the place where the work isn’t feeding me. It’s important for me to take some time to play, to not take everything so seriously. Otherwise, Cameron is not going to be much fun to hang out with.
picks to be turned into full size drawings
editing down the full size drawings
Making patterns in paper
glueing up the first piece to a panel
the finished first piece
The ruins at Tulum
While we were in the Yucatan we visited three ancient sites: Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza. Although they are all Mayan ruins from approximately the same time period, they each had their own feel.
Tulum has the most dramatic location. It’s on a cliff overlooking the incredible blue of the Caribbean Sea. We got our fill of seeing iguanas, the equivalent of squirrels in the parks here. Although it is incredibly beautiful, the site is highly touristed and you’re not allowed to climb any of the ruins.
Coba is still being recovered from the jungle. We really enjoyed walking along the roads and seeing butterflies, army ants, and some beautiful trees. It’s the only ruin we visited where you can still climb. I’m afraid of heights but I still climbed the 120 steps to the top of Nohoch Mul. It was amazing to be so high above the top of the jungle. That experience really brought home the amazing technological feat of the building of these ruins. The society that built those was rich indeed.
Chichen Itza is the largest and best preserved ruin. It’s sheer size and the restoration of the site is mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the effects of tourism take away from the experience of being there. I can deal with crowds but the press of vendors at the site was off-putting. Still, it’s amazing to be in these places. They are impressive because of their age, their size, and their preservation.
Here are a few photos from each site.
we saw a lot of these guys at Tulum
Nohoch Mul pyramid at Coba
the view from the top of Nohoch Mul
the jungle is still a part of Coba
El Castillo at Chichen Itza
Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors
detail of a column
the Tzompantli or Skull Platform
the precise architexture of the fan palm
Here’s a continuation of my travelogue in photos from the Yucatan Peninsula. I don’t know what many of these tropical trees are but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating their beauty. You don’t see many other tourists taking closeup photos of tree bark. I have a very patient family.
coconut palm trunk and exposed roots
textured trunk at Chichen Itza
they have shelf fungus in Central America, too
beautiful lichen at Coba
the trunks are like an abstract painting
strange knobs on this one
here the live outer layer of bark is growing around a dead area
a massive root snaking its way between two smaller trees