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Coded Messages

It has taken me several weeks to revisit telling you about this quilt because I have been working diligently on solving the problems I encountered with it.

Bits and Bytes blog

Bits and Bytes, mixed media quilt, 24" x 24"  ©2013 Martha C. Hall

I started this quilt specifically to enter into a particular show. I knew it was a tight deadline and if I hadn’t encountered a crucial problem I think I would have met it.

Well, the deadline has come and gone, the artists have been selected and I missed out. SAQA members may have guessed that I’m talking about the “Text Messages” call for entry. No guarantees that I would have been selected anyway, but I think this quilt would have been a good fit to the theme.

As to the “crucial problem” I came up against ….can you guess what it was? It should be obvious, right? Hopefully you recognize that this is a QR code. If you don’t know what a QR code is, you can read about them in my previous post.

So…. I meticulously pieced and quilted the entire thing and then….. it wouldn’t “read”! Why I ever went ahead with the quilting when I already had an inkling of the readability – or non-readability to be exact – is a psychological issue for another day.

But there I was pushing right up to the deadline and experiencing an epic fail. Not to be deterred, though, I knew there was a solution. I did give up on meeting the deadline, but not on finishing the quilt.

With the deadline expired I had time to step back and think through some ideas toward a solution. I’ll talk about the solutions in a follow-up post, but just so you know – I did get the QR code to read.

If you have a QR code reader on your smart phone or tablet you should be able to scan and read my quilt from the image on your computer screen. If you don’t have a reader, Google “QR code readers” and download one for free. And if you happen to be reading this blog from your smart phone or tablet, well, then ……. you're not going to be able to scan the code with the device from which you are reading!

Why am I so fascinated with QR Codes?

First of all there is, to me, the obvious connection to quilts - the gridded structure, the patchwork of squares to form an image. I like playing with the design possibilities of the code, especially using color to take it beyond the black and white matrix (although I might experiment with a black and white version at some point).

There's more to it, though. Beyond the apparent imagery is a coded message that is not obvious. The viewer needs to go inside the code to see what that message is. Hopefully the color and construction choices support the coded message and, if necessary, stand on their own merits visually.

Bits Bytes detail blog

Bits and Bytes, detail (click on image to see enlarged detail)

While I've been finishing the final construction by hand, I've had ample time to think about Bits and Bytes. Technologically speaking, bits and bytes are small pieces of coded information that, when combined, create a whole. My bits and bytes are represented by the 'bits' of credit card plastic with fragments of words and letters. They are connected on the quilt surface by circuits of copper wire.

I started to consider bits and bytes as a metaphor for human communication. We provide bits and bytes of information about ourselves or about a topic or opinion. Others are expected to connect those bits to form the whole. But what if all the bits are not available or not connected? Then the message, the whole, may not be apparent. Whether by exclusion or misinterpretation, we may send 'coded messages' about ourselves or our ideas and opinions, that are not readable from surface appearance.

Oh my! Such deep thoughts! Well, that's what happens when I'm all alone in my studio working away on repetitive tasks.

Anyway, I will follow up in another post about what I did to solve my problems - with the QR quilt that is, not my personality ;-)  Stay tuned.....

Until next time -



Is It Any Good?

The Six Stages of Artwork

1) Brainstorm! This is such a great idea! Let’s go!

2) Early on – Oh yeah, this is going to be good!

3) Somewhere Midway – Oh jeez..... I don’t know. What was I thinking?

4 ) Nearing the end – This is so hard. What a piece of crap. I don’wanna.

5) Finished – Whatever……. Thank God it’s done.

6) Revisiting… Several months later – Now that is some good work right there!

These pictures show around Stage 2 of my latest quilt. I’ve worked my way up to Stage 4. This piece is experiencing a major fail and I will not be making the entry deadline of midnight tonight.

Bits and Bytes 1blog  Bits and Bytes 2blog

Actually, the problem started showing itself at around Stage 2, but I continued on recklessly, convinced that I could fix it later.( Note to self: I should have fixed it earlier.)

I think the problem is solvable. Just not today. I shall perhaps expound on this particular quilt at a later date – after I have solved the issue.

In the meantime I’m going to take a studio break and go make a nice soup and get my house in order.

Until next time --


Metamorphosis Revealed

Metamorphosis has been completed and delivered to TraillWorks Gallery for the current EVOLUTION exhibit. I'm happy to show you the full reveal today.

To see the "evolution" of Metamorphosis you can scroll down through the last six blog posts.

Metamorphosis full blogMetamorphosis  32" x 11"  ©2013 Martha C. Hall

Metamorphosis Flowers blog
Metamorphosis, detail of looped wire flowers  ©2013 Martha C. Hall
(click on image for larger view)

Metamorphosis Leaves blog
Metamorphosis, detail of fabric leaves  ©2013 Martha C. Hall
(click on image for larger view)

You are invited to join me at TraillWorks for the Opening Reception on Saturday, February 23, 2013. I hope to see you there!

Evolution PC blog
TraillWorks Gallery  214 Spring Street  Newton NJ  973-383-1307

Until next time --


Down To The Wire

Sorry – I had to say it. It was inevitable ---

What it means is that I have to get this piece over to TraillWorks Gallery this week.

I have made lots of forward progress this week. In the previous post I told you that I needed to make more leaves. I made up a whole new batch of fabric leaves and finished attaching them to the bottom section. And I decided to add smaller leaves up around the wired flowers.

Meta wireflowers leaves

The leaves are all tacked down – by machine this time – so they can be manipulated to stand out dimensionally from the surface. Sort of fluttering......

Meta Leaves 1 blog

Meta Leaves 2 blog

Yesterday I hand stitched the looped wire sections onto the surface. It finally feels like the vision is coming together. I was waiting until the last moment to permanently affix the wire elements.

Part of the process has been figuring out the order in which to do each step. On a “collaged” textile piece like this one I like to get all the surface work done before putting the back on – what some call a “false back” – which means you can’t see the stitches on the back. It’s mostly utilitarian stitch work and doesn’t need (or even deserve) to be seen. It’s about the front – that’s why it hangs against the wall.

Anyway, I also got the back piece prepped and that meant thinking ahead to “signing” the work. Even signing textile work and quilts is labor intensive!  The basic info is machine embroidered onto the backing and obviously that needs to be done before the back gets attached to the front.

Meta titled back

As you can see I’ve titled this piece “Metamorphosis”. Fortunately I also had the sense (and memory) to change the pre-programmed date from 2012 to 2013 for the first finished work of the year.

Today will be BIG – all the layers will be assembled together and I’ll do the edge finish. Then attach the hanging system and it will be done!

Until next time --


Assembly Time

This artwork for EVOLUTION has taken me a lot longer than I thought it would. I've worked all this week at home rather than at the TraillWorks Gallery because I really need all my tools and materials around me and it would be too cumbersome to try to transport everything I need to Newton.

I'd like to keep you up to speed on the process - or evolution - through the blog. Now that most of my components are made it is time to assemble this piece. Here's the story.....

Wire flowers 1 blog  Wire flowers 2 blog

Laying out the wire "flowers" and then looping more wire to attach them together.

(You can click on these images to see more detail.)

Wire flowers 3 blog  Wire flowers 4 blog

Here are larger elements made from the smaller ones. I think the darker background shows it off better, which will help me in selecting my fabrics.

Here's the audition process.....

Audition 1 Audition 2 Audition 3

Selecting fabrics and working on the placement of the wired "flower" elements. I started with more fabrics in the "sky" area but decided to simplify it to just the two upper blue areas. The busier background made the wire flowers get lost.

   Audition 4 Audition 6 Audition 7

To "pop" the wire sections a little more I added a satin stitched halo around them. Then I quilted the background piece before applying all the leaves and the flower sections. (You can click on the lower 3 to see enlarged images.)

I actually did make it over to TraillWorks last night for "Night Out in Newton". Four of us artists set up to work at the gallery and to chat with visitors. I'm working alongside Nancy Virbila who makes beautiful paper collage landscapes.

Working at TraillWorks  blog

I'm attaching the fabric leaves by hand. And of course I determined that I need even more leaves! So that's what I'm working on today at home. (I'll finish the attaching with my sewing machine. I just didn't feel like lugging it to the gallery last night.)

More leaves 3

Oh! and while I was hanging out with the others, watercolorist Jane came up with a cool idea about the leaves, which I think I will follow up on. I'll let you in on that one as I get closer. Which had better be soon because I need to get the finished piece over to the gallery to hang before the EVOLUTION exhibit officially starts on February 16th!

One other thing..... I'm not on Pinterest, but I've become aware that a few of my images have been "pinned". I don't really mind, but if you choose to "pin" my stuff please give me credit and link to my website  Thanks!

Until next time...




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