Monday, March 20, 2017


People are not aware of their abstract emotions,
which are a big part of their lives,
except when they listen to music
or look at art.

Agnes Martin

A woman made utility quilts as fast as she could 
so that her familly wouldn't freeze, and
she made them as beautiful as she could 
so that her heart wouldn't break.

American folk saying

image from April 2012
both quotes from my current journal
glad to be walking on my road again, the ice has gone. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

raw march

I've been working with raw edges this winter.
I've been using the big table.  Wider than most, it can also expand lengthwise.  When Ned was a boy, his father used to get him to crawl underneath this table to see the craftsman's mark.
The two pieces in this post are for the exhibition in October.   Most of the pieces for the show are connected by their process.  First, they were wrecked and then they were mended.  Putting them together is filling nearly all my time during these raw months.
I like doing them at home.
Gaston Bachelard said that the chief benefit of the house is that it shelters daydreaming.
To be human we have thoughts and we have experiences.
Mostly, though, what makes us human are our daydreams
and daydreams are very different from dreams.
Space is more important than time for the unconscious.
One of the reasons I like to work in a large scale is that it gives my viewers the space to daydream.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Abstract and Geometric

SYO 69  2013  39 x 53 inches by Harue Konishi
"In SYO 69 the design is extremely simplified in black on white with just two patches of coloured fabric for accents.  The squares are indicated by just two sides and the off-set shapes are also square. For this work I used white silk and navy blue striped silk.   My recent works, including this one, employ a process where I finish the whole thing in the first stage and then rotate shapes by cutting them out, changing their angles, and embedding them back into the original piece."   Harue Konishi
Memory's Playground  2014  found tablecloth machine quilted 27 x 54 inches by Paula Kovarik
 "Memory's playground is a study of the way we remember things and the way we imagine them.  I chose this tablecloth for its wavy edging and playful form.  I stitched a puzzle of odd images that connect in mysterious ways, just as our brains connect experiences and ideas.  The threads hop from one item to the next and are also tied to each other with small hand tied knots just as we try to lock in our memories and ideas."  Paula Kovarik
Quilt Drawing 16  2012  51 by 50 inches  by Daphne Taylor
 "All of my quilts are hand quilted.  Hand quilting is essential to me because it gives the fabric surface the mark of the hand, a human presence that cannot easily be achieved by machine.  The process slows one down and teaches one much about being in the moment with each thread and stitch, easily redoing each part until it is right but never knowing what the final visual presence will be.  Hand quilting is its own meditation, which I value.  It gives me the time to think about my work in a different way - slowly pullling out an image that takes months to achieve."  Daphne Taylor
Hope is the Anchor of the Sould Mt. Lebanon #3  2010  93 x 86 inches by Denyse Schmidt
 "I particularly love antique quilts that are spare or restrained.  It is much more difficult to keep to a simple palette or pattern, and it's very easy to give in to the desire to add more, to use that as a crutch.  So I have great respect for those makers who had or have the courage or discipline to stay the course, to let a single idea shine instead of throwing it all in at once."  Denyse Schmidt
Play of Lines XXIII  2010  45 x 18 inches by Uta Lenk
"When my son started discovering pens and pencils and making lines at age 2 and a half,  I watched how he chose the different colour and how he drew the lines.  It wasn't just scribbling; he seemed to be making deliberate choices about what he was going to do.
I decided that I would like to try to interpret in fabric what he was drawing.  It was the beginning of a large series, but only some of the pieces in the series are based on my son's drawings."   Uta Lenk
crazed 8: Incarceration 2010 82 x 79 inches by Kathleen Loomis
"I think the number of people who are working with elaborate piecing - that is, piecing using a bazillion seams and a fair amount of obsessive construction - is getting smaller all the time.  I feel an almost moral obligation to keep doing it, to help keep this skill alive, and keep this art form in the public eye.  I want my reputation as a quiltmakier to be as a fine machine piecer."  Kathleen Loomis
cover quilt by Pat Pauly, Mummy Bags Influence  2011  73 x 80 inches

This post highlights just six of the 29 featured artists in this new book by Martha Sielman, Art Quilts International: Abstract and Geometric.   Besides these, Martha also chose quilts for an exhuberant gallery from a further 97 artists.  In the introduction she says that she chose the quilts that 'stuck in her head" and that "it has been a real privlege for me to be offered this glimpse into the artists' lives and creative process".  I am proud that Martha Sielman wrote about my work and process and I have put her article about me online here and here.   Her questions were insightful and it was a pleasure and a challenge to be interviewed by her.  Thank you Martha Sielman.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

prayer flag for Canada

 I finished this today
 in time for International Women's Day
 for Canada
a prayer for women,
for our grand daughters
the old hankies were embroidered with circles and edged with red thread, and then buttonholed to a linen backing cloth
 the backing cloth was then removed, revealing the inner - ness
 I washed it and hung it on the line
then I blocked it by pinning it to the wall
stretching and smoothing with my hands instead of ironing
and noticed that some of the threads were bleeding.

that's ok

Saturday, March 04, 2017


 I recently labeled and re-sleeved and folded and parceled The River Beneath off for exhibition.
 It's a very thin quilt, made heavy with thread and touch.
The backing cloth is printed rayon yardage enlivened with a silk scarf purchased from Fibre Arts Newfoundland when I taught there in 2015.
the river beneath 2016 quilt back Judy Martin  rayon and silk, cotton thread  88 x 84 inches

Ordinary stuff. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

a new body of work

I am pleased to be working on a new body of work for my exhbition in October,
I have eight pieces under way.
This one is an organic cotton landscape quilted into a wool batt.
Backed with an old linen table cloth. it feels cozy yet light.  Dreamy.  Serene.
We have just returned from a few days in the city.
Ned has monthly meetings there this year and I tag along.  We visit our kids.
 She's nearly 6 weeks now.
I stitched in the car both ways.  Sally Mann's audio book Hold Still kept us company.

Joy is a sublime emotion because it is accompanied by a kind of terror.  A feeling that it can't last.
Zadie Smith said that.    Joy just comes across us, unlike pleasure which is chosen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lucy Wallis' quilt

Judy Martin home studio  collected inspiration wall

Lucy Wallis Circle on Square I 1984,  taffeta, velvet and cotton
This quilt by Lucy Wallis has been very important to me.
I saw it in a book published in 1990 entitled Quilts: The James Collection.
There is not much information about it.  Most of the text in the book is in Japanese.
Lucy Wallis lived on a farm in Somerset England when she made this quilt.
Apparently she made another similar quilt, but I have not seen it.
Circle on Square I by Lucy Wallis, page 108 and 109 in Quilts: The James Collection
By 1991 I had already discovered Lenore Tawney's amazing circle in square weavings (here's one) but this was the first time I felt that a quilt pulled off this important archetype.
Quilts: The James Collection  1990 Kokusai (published in Japan)
The book is still available online (at reasonable cost), and the actual quilt is part of the James Collection, International Quilt Study Museum in Lincoln Nebraska.  The museum dates Lucy's quilt at 1987 and orients it differently than the book.   see here
Judy Martin' collection of inspiration wall in home studio
I've used a large photo of the Lucy Wallis quilt for teaching purposes and came across that photo last week.  I pinned it on my studio wall.  (view old wall here)
Judy age 7 or 8 
This wall holds a collection of photos and momentos that I find such as this birthday card I made for my dad when he turned 86.
top: Aino Sibelius, the Finnish composer's wife
 middle, Lucy wallis's quilt Circle On Square I,
bottom Rothko's Orange and Tan 1954 oil on canvas
There is a narrow place by the closet that I use for 4 x 6 images.  Lucy's quilt has been here for a good long time, along with a quote by Jeanette Winterson and a photo of me from grade 9.
Judy Martin age 14 (new haircut)
Mended World, part of the community stitch project (2009-2013) is a response to Lucy Wallis' beautiful, complicated use of cloth and stitch.
Lucy Wallis Circle on Square I  detail  taffeta, velvet, machine embroidery (I believe)
Thank you Lucy.

And here's the Jeanette Winterson quote
Life has an inside as well as an outside.  Consumer culture directs all resources and attention to life on the outside.  What happens to the inner life?Art is never a luxury because it stimulates and responds to the inner life.    We are badly out of balance.
I don't think of art/creativity as a substitute for anything else.  I see it as a powerful expression of our humanity - and on the side of humanity under threat.  
If we say art is a luxury, we might as well say that being human is a luxury.