Category Archives: art quilt

Drawing with thread

Here are photos of two small fiber art pieces I did at different times in the past few years. They are drawn by free-motion quilting, drawing with thread. I would call them moderately successful, but I do not feel I’ve totally mastered the technique of drawing with my sewing machine. The secret to getting really comfortable with any technique is practice, practice, practice. I believe the maxim that it takes ten thousand hours of effort to become an expert at anything. I need more material on which to practice.

So, I’m reviewing and re-evaluate drawings, scribbles in sketchbooks, and unfinished paintings that have accumulated in my studio. I hope to find an image worthy of translating by free-motion quilting to become an art quilt.

Thanks, Dot detail

Cardiff Character

 

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November 10, 1945

Today I’m putting the label and border on “November 10, 1945”, a 14” x 24” work. I want to have this work finished for a presentation about making art quilt portraits that I will present in mid-January.

It is the 6th portrait I’ve done, a continuing exploration of techniques. Four portraits are of me, not because of great vanity, but because I am the readily available, no-cost model. One is from a photo of my daughter and this current effort is from a photo of my parents on their wedding day.

I had seen the wedding photo my parents had displayed in our home. In it, they stand together in front of the altar of the chapel at the army base where they were married. They stand stiffly and seem a bit nervous, with mom tugging at her right sleeve with her fingers. As I went through family photos looking for some images to harvest as a basis for artwork, I came across a better photo, one taken after the ceremony with all the wedding party. Holding hands, with fingers interlaced, they look ahead with relaxed, joyful smiles as they begin life together. Mom’s other hand now holds the marriage certificate. There is much more “story” in this picture.

Nov10_4web

I estimated the size art quilt I wanted, which gave me the percentage of enlargement to use when copying the image with my printer/scanner. I traced an outline of the two figures from this enlargement onto unbleached muslin. Referencing the photo, I drew details in graphite pencil. I colored the image with Prismacolor colored pencils. (I had first tried Derwent Inktense pencils, set by dampening the dry pencil drawing, then ironing. There was too much color bleed, because the small size of the faces required precision to render a likeness.) 

I auditioned possibilities for background fabric. I found a large scale print that reminded me of fabric in the curtains of my parents’ first home. The bold color would overwhelm the pastel drawing, but the wrong side of the fabric was perfect. I did not want the distraction of the print behind the faces, so came up with a heart shape to frame the faces. It may be a bit cheesy and obvious, but the shape fit the image well and gave it a pleasing symmetry.

Nov10_3web

I cut out the drawing, leaving less than 1/4 inch seam allowance to turn under. I glued the seam allowance under and appliquéd this cutout to the pieced background. (In retrospect, needle-turned appliqué would have been more precise.)

I had deliberately made the faces small so that quilting could outline the faces and not run across them. I hand-quilted within the figures and used machine free-motion quilting on the background. My sleeve for hanging the work is also the label. I use the computer to size and space text for the label, then trace the words with Sharpie permanent marker. I was tracing onto a print with dark and light areas, so I outlined the dark marker with white pigment ink (Uni-ball Signo broad) so that all letters are readable.

Nov10_2web

Now, I’ll post this and get back to sewing. Happy New year to all my followers.

Bullseye experiment #1

I have presented a challenge for Ohio members of Studio Art Quilt Associates: Create a work that fits the SAQA definition of an art quilt. The work should contain at least one bullseye motif. Longest side should be no less than 24″ and no more than 48″.  A bullseye is a simple traditional quilt design, a circle or concentric circles centered within a square. Several bullseye blocks are cut into quadrants and their parts exchanged and rearranged. There are an infinite number of ways to expand and modify the design. 

For experiment #1, I set limits for myself. I began with nine bullseyes, arranged in three rows of three. I chose 10″ for the squares and grabbed a coaster and jar lid for circle templates. I wanted a stark contrast between one light value and one dark value. Because I had quite a few yellow pieces of fabric that already had fusible ironed onto them, yellows, light oranges, ivories and whites became my lights. I chose browns and burnt sienna as the darks.

After I had made the nine blocks, I tried various arrangements of them: rows, border, and circular. I photographed each in order to better compare them. Photos reduce the size of the compositions and allow for simultaneous viewing. The circular pattern pleased me the most.

I pieced the squares. I needed a wide dark brown border to make the outer bullseyes complete circles. Once the pieced squares were appliquéd to the dark brown, I cut fabric from behind them to reduce layers in quilt center. I began adding circles and elaborating the design intuitively. Pins hold the work together to keep options open as I rearrange and refine the design. I’ll glue and fuse when I am happy with it.

Here is the progress at the end of today, followed by three of the designs I considered at the beginning. In my next work session I’ll think out the logic of the outer circles of the bullseyes…should they appear to be overlapping? One more day of tinkering should finish the design, then I’ll move on to sewing.
 

Street Fair

Deadlines always motivate me. I am using the opportunity to exhibit with my small local quilt guild at a Street Fair held in the nearest village this coming week. I finished my second entry yesterday. It felt good to be in my studio and productive. Here is Northern Parula, which has my drawing of a small song bird native to our area. The entry I just finished, Life is Sweet, is a rework of the small piece I made and posted about in June. I moderated the color and the added a shortened version of the accompanying poem in the border. Tomorrow I take them to town to exhibit.

Life is Sweet

Northern Parula

Declaration of Sentiments

I’ve just digitally submitted my two entries for an art quilt exhibition with the lengthy title: Declaration of Sentiments 1848 — The Struggle Continues. This Studio Art Quilt Associates regional show, with the theme of women’s rights, will be a part of the AQS Show in Paducah, KY September 13 -16, 2017. After that, it will travel to other venues until August 2020. The exhibit is juried, so there is no guarantee my two submissions will be chosen from among many other hopeful artist’s entries. Whether they are accepted or not, I have throughly enjoyed the process of making my entries…the research, the problem-solving and the adrenaline rush of beating the entry deadline. Here are my artist’s statements and photos of the works:

Glass Ceiling – Women are not equally represented in positions of power in government or business. Pay inequity persists. Today’s young women must work assertively but peacefully to break the glass ceiling and take their places beside men in the workforce.

Glass Ceiling

(detail) Glass Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(detail) Glass Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claiming Power – It took courageous people and many years to claim the rights American women now enjoy. A large figure, representing all women, marches with historic figures who promoted women’s rights. Text from the Declaration of Sentiments conveys the main ideas.

Claiming Power

(detail) Claiming Power

 

(detail) Claiming Power

I AM STILL HERE

I made a fast and fun 12.5″ x 12.5″ quilt…only three days from the idea to the finish. The sketch was made of large simplified shapes. I chose a face, because I have a presentation next week on making art quilts with faces as the subject.

I traced my line drawing onto a piece of fabric in permanent fine line marker.
I gathered bold bright fabrics, digging through boxes of plaids and polka dots.
I worked flat, with my base fabric pinned to a piece of foamcore, glueing my cut fabric shapes to this base with tiny smears of glue in the center of each piece. I pinned together these layers: white tulle with glitter, the fabric collage, a thin batting, and a backing fabric.

I used only two colors of thread to quilt, peach and teal blue. Details were added as I sewed: eyebrows, creases in the hand, including a long life line,  spirals in the cheeks (the symbol of life journey in some cultures). As I got to the nearly- finished stage of sewing on the binding, I composed a poem to explain the quilt’s story. Every quilt has a story.

Here’s the result:

 

Recovering from my Retreat

It may sound a bit odd that I need recovery time after a retreat, but I do. I spend a lovely seven days in Portland, Maine. I went a bit early prior to Susan Carlson’s Monday through Friday class teaching her fabric collage technique. I am a bit sleep deprived. I got up early each morning because I did not want to  miss a thing, but my hotel room faced a lively bar that had music thumping until 1:30 am every night.  Yesterday I spent a really long travel day coming home. I missed and had to reschedule plane connections going to Maine and coming home, but eventually arrived safely each time!

This retreat has been eagerly anticipated. I had spent weeks refining two drawings, then a full day choosing fabrics to take. I was not sure which project option I would choose. I picked the one that I felt would allow me to learn the most: a head and shoulders view of a Toggenburg goat named Cindy.

I had read both of Susan’s books about fabric collage and I had been following her blog for a year, so nothing she presented was a great surprise. It was very useful to practice the technique with input from Susan. She urged me to use colors brighter than I would have otherwise chosen. It took days of practice until I began to select smaller bits of fabric from many sources rather than a larger piece from a single fabric. Generous fellow students helped by donating vivid fabrics that I never would have purchased. Here are photos taken on the first day and fifth day of the retreat. I will have to set the project aside until I finish things that have a June deadline, but I’m keeping this collage project propped up in my studio and will work on it a bit to keep my motivation up.

Cindy on Friday

Cindy on Monday

Teacher Susan Carlson