I do view each art project like a scientific experiment. Controlling some things, testing variables. Here is my thinking after about five more hours working on Bullseye experiment #1.
I enjoyed playing with the colors, finding myself adding more gold and orange, less white and yellow. This added middle values, altering my original idea, which was for sharply contrasting darks and lights with no middle values. I use a sequence for color decisions: 1. decide range of values of light to dark, 2. decide hues that best express idea, often a named color scheme like complementary or analogous. 3. decide color temperature, and intensity. All decisions are based on whether the work needs more harmony (repetition/sameness) or more variety (contrast).
One of the most important things to do when designing any art work is to periodically evaluate progress. The low tech way to do so is to step back and squint at the work, which reduces detail and color information. Another way to get a fresh view is to use a reducing glass or mirror. Modern technology offers another tool, the digital photo. My step back revealed light areas of my dark background fabric which confused the design. I darkened the areas with markers.
I had used up my fabrics that had fusible already ironed on them, so dived into my stash for any other whites, ivories, yellows, golds or light oranges. I used plates from my kitchen cupboard to make templates, drawing around them in pencil. I had been using scissors to cut the circles, but tried a small diameter rotary cutter and found that faster and more accurate. I pinned, then attached pieces with water soluble glue. Fabrics without fusible were translucent and tended to fray. I decided that intensive quilting would overcome those flaws. This is a quilt I am making as a learning experience, not a quilt destined for a highly competitive show.
I was slightly distressed that this quilt was not consistent with my other work, not expressing my personal “voice”. I want to add an element that is in most of my other works…words. I will write some thoughts about roundness with markers in the center area. I want to use some of the fancy decorative stitches on my sewing machine that I use very rarely. Here the current state of progress:
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.
(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.
(detail) Claiming Power
(detail) Claiming Power
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:
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
Everything I Need
I thought I had Everything I Need ready to be mailed off to her debut showing. But, she was very slightly askew. Being a perfectionist, I want the quilt to hang perfectly straight. So I decided to block the quilt again. I put it in cool water in the bathtub, allowing it to rest submerged to absorb the water throughout all the layers. I drained the tub, folded and squeezed the quilt to get out excess water. I pinned the quilt to the freshly vacuumed rug in the living room with long quilter’s pins. I pulled and patted, using a carpenter’s square to assure all four corners were at 90 degrees. I aimed the overhead fan and a portable fan at the quilt and set them on high speed. Now I wait.
I will record a statement about the symbolism in this quilt for the audio tour of the show. I have the ship date on my calendar. I’ve bought pool noodles and investigated three possible shipping methods. If you want to see this quilt in person, she will be at the Sacred Threads Exhibition at the Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171 from July 7th through July 23rd, 2017. (sacredthreadsquilts.com for details) She will also travel to other locations, but I’ll post more about that later.
If you make quilts, you want them to be the size and shape that you planned,
and to hang straight if you exhibit them. Here is a checklist that may help:
1. Study diagrams and directions on a pattern to confirm the logic and measurements. To err is human; the pattern designer sometimes makes an error.
2. Cut accurately. The mantra is “measure twice, cut once”.
3. Piece accurately by marking seam allowances, pinning precisely, nesting seams, and confirming that your machine is sewing exactly the width of seam that you want.
4. Press accurately. Finger press seams first. Then press with your iron in a patting, up/down movement instead of sliding your iron, especially when a seam is on the bias of the fabric.
5. Measure each block of pieced work again after pressing. Correct if needed before joining to other blocks. You can rip out, trim, or mark seam allowances that are wider or more narrow than usual, then re-sew to compensate for imprecise blocks.
6. Cut outer borders with their length on grain whenever possible. Use borders that are exactly the size specified in your quilt diagram. Ease pieced blocks to fit the accurately-measured border, instead of sewing a long strip of border fabric to the pieced blocks then trimming the border fabric to fit.
7. Quilt with about the same density of stitching throughout the quilt.
8. Trim the quilt to exact size before binding. A carpenter’s square or triangular ruler are useful to check that corners are 90 degree angles.
9. Block the quilt after quilting. Wet it in sink or tub and squeeze out excess water. Lay the quilt on a clean surface, then stretch, scrunch, and pat until you come as close as possible to having equal measurements of (a) width at both edges and center, (b) height at both edges and center, and (c) both diagonals. I tape together yardsticks or use a metal tape measure that can be locked at any specific length. I’ve read about making a blocking board from a sheet of styrofoam insulation marked with a grid of squares, but I just use a sheet on my living room floor.
10. Store the quilt rolled up instead of folded if possible. Scrunching and stuffing the quilt in a pillowcase or fabric bag is better than folding it. Folding creates creases.
I have a finished quilt that I am preparing to send off to an exhibit. I do not like the way it hangs because I did not follow suggestion number 7 listed above. The interior is quilted more densely than the border, so it “waffles” a bit at the edges. I have one more trick to try. I am hand-sewing a long, strong gathering thread in the ditch at the inner and outer edges of the borders. I’ll let you know how it works.
I made my first fabric postcard today. It is done, in the envelope and addressed, ready to be sent to Sacred Threads Postcard Project. Fabric Postcards, expressing one’s greatest Hopes and Dreams, are to be sent anonymously to be displayed in the Floris United Methodist Church outside Washington D.C. July 7 through July 23 in conjunction with the Sacred Threads biennial Quilt Show. My wish, hope and prayer is for our national leaders to practice Wisdom, Compassion, Selflessness, Insight, Cooperation, Tolerance, Morality, Courage, and Humility. The postcard is 4″ x 6″.