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.
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
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.
I am preparing for a 5-day retreat. The teacher requested that participants have two possible designs for work in class. The designs are drawn with fine line Sharpie markers on unbleached muslin, which will be the base over which bits of fabric will be overlaid for a colorful fabric collage. I’ve spent a couple of weeks deciding what I might like to work on.
The first sketch was pretty straightforward, an analysis of the dark/light patterns in a photograph of a Toggenburg goat. I drew it in a 8.5″ x 11″ format, then made it four times larger than the original. Yikes…it gets creepy when you make an image so much larger than life! A three times enlargement was better.
The second possibility took me longer, about four re-drawings using multiple reference sources. I’m illustrating a delightful poem: A codfish lays 10,000 eggs, a barnyard hen lays one. The Codfish never cackles to tell you what she’s done. So we scorn the codfish and the boastful hen we prize, which only goes to show you IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE.
I’ve settled on the central image, but still have two possible options for including the text of the poem with the drawing. Here are my two drawings:
It Pays to Advertise