Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Fun Follow-up

I wrote a few weeks ago in a post that we had bought our daughter a sewing machine for Christmas. I am happy to report that after the quick lesson from me that I reported on, Jaye has created a continual stream of pillows, etc for their home. She has visited her local Bernina store a number of times and it sounds as though her stash is slowly growing.

My delight in all this blossomed this past weekend when I called and was told that she and her husband, Steve, were in a fabric store picking out fabric for him! Happily I received a photo later in the evening of the two pillows that Steve made for his Dad's birthday. It reported to me a few days later that Dad was delighted with his gift.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Lone Resident

In the midst of all my other projects, I simply had to work on a piece that recalls our trip to Antarctica. And so, my latest art quilts, Antarctic Resident, was born.

This was a good deal of fun for me. The most challenging part, no doubt, was finding a way to portray the Antarctic waters. I wound up bleaching a piece of hand-dyed fabric that I had gotten a few years ago from Lisa Walton at Dyed and Gone to Heaven and then searching and searching for a blue for the one large iceberg.

The most satisfying part of this piece's creation was undoubtedly my Adelie penguin. I had been collecting different sorts of black fabric prints for a year, knowing that I was likely to want to make a penguin after our trip. I wound up using some plain black for this version and using thread to create texture. I suspect I will use some of those other fabrics in future pieces.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exploring Design

I have spent the last few weeks playing with design concepts in Dena Crain's 'Goodbye to the Grid' class on Quilt University. It has been great fun! This is my third time taking the course. Dena is an exceptional teacher who has a gift for working with students online.

The class typically starts with students drawing sets of lines and curves. This time was no different. It is absolutely fascinating to see how from one set of instructions, every student’s postings online are unique.

Dena pushes everyone to experiment. Once they have a basic sketch, she leads students through a process of analysis and experimentation.  It is a play of intuition and intellect.

Each time that I have tried the class, I have come up with some sort of design. I keep coming back for more coaching as I am never totally satisfied with my results but do finish each class with a sense of some progress in my abilities and a better of appreciation of  principles that I know will bolster my design capabilities.

This time through the class I have really pleased with my results. I have been slowly tweaking and modifying a design to the point where it is 'finished' and ready to turn into an art quilt - a whole new process in itself that I am throwing myself into. 

I thought I would share some of my sketches along the way.

Here is where I started - part of the way through a drawing exercise of lines and curves, I realized that I liked what I saw.

I then began to repeat some of the curves and add in additional sets of lines and curves, always working in sets.

At this point, I began to make more subtle changes. Can you spot my change for this version?
Next, I added in an additional feature in the top to fill in some space, explored whether it should be in front or behind a column and adjusted some other lines.
Finally I expanded the curve in the bottom of the drawing.
All that remained now was to close some shapes and crop for my final drawing to be done.

Will keep you posted as I turn this into an art quilt!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Five Important Rules

I am in the midst of a design class with Dena Crain through Quilt University - more details on that in my next post! It most definitely has heightened my attention to what makes for a great art quilt.

Tuesday morning's emails included one from Robert Glenn of his Twice Weekly Newsletter. Robert is an artist who shares his thoughts on a multitude of issues, ideas, inspirational themes. There is a discussion that ensues on the topics afterwards that really enhances the materials. And, his website is rich in inspirational resources.

I usually find Robert's writings relevant to myself as a quilt artist. This Tuesday's email was in complete sychronicity with material that I was reading for Dena's class. Robert's email was entitled "Five Skills Worth Learning." The skills included drawing mastery, color mastery, abstract understanding, compositional mastery, and emotional evolution.

It wouldn't be proper for me to simply copy Robert's material here but I did ask his permission to share some of his thoughts on two items.

Abstract understanding doesn't mean arbitrary sloshing and messing. Abstract art is controlled visual magic based on laws and methodology. Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery rather that obvious description. Like a good poem, a good abstraction attacks your feelings before your understanding. Abstraction within realism adds zest and excitement to otherwise dull subject matter. Abstract understanding takes time and patience.

Compositional mastery is a variety of traditional rules that beg to be broken. That's why composition is the queen of the skills. With composition you learn to control and play with the eye and move it within the picture plane. Composition includes the golden mean, the rule of thirds, big and small, dark and light, activation, circulation, focus, pattern, stoppage and a pile of other ploys, many of them developed by you and unique to yourself. Compositional mastery also means the avoidance of lineups, homeostasis, and a jungle road of potholes too tedious and disheartening to include in a 500-word letter. Learn to compose intelligently in your own vocabulary and you can get away with murder. Compositional mastery takes time and patience.
If you find these thoughts intriguing, I would encourage you to seek out Robert's site and consider joining in the conversation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homeless is traveling again!

I received the nice news that my art quilt, Homeless, will be going on exhibit again this summer in Loveland, CO. The SAQA exhibit, No Place to Call Home, has been invited to be part of a program at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Colorado.

The Loveland Museum will be hosting an exhibit called From Hobos to Homelessness in its main gallery and will show No Place to Call Home as part of a fund-raiing exhibit in its Foote Gallery from June 23 - September 16, 2012.

I am delighted that Homeless will have a summer home in Colorado!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hanging a Quilt

You would think that designing, piecing, and quilting a work would be the hardest parts of creating an art quilt. For me, it is actually hanging the finished piece! I am still in search of the best approach. A desire to hang my two latest pieces in my home drove me back to the internet. I found a video by that described creating tabs for the back of the quilt.

The basic approach appealed to me. I could run a dowel through the tabs and either hang the piece with a single nail or wire/string attached at two points.

Making the tabs was pretty straightforward - create a 'mini-sleeve':
 Then press out the seam, rotate it to the center of the column, fold in half, and sew the ends together.

You then turn it inside out and attach it to the back of the art quilt.

 What I liked about the dowel approach with tabs is that I have quite a bit of flexibility on how I hang it - from a central place, or in two spots along the dowel, or even if I set the tabs a bit lower - it could be hung with picture hanging wire.

I would guess that you could create significantly larger tabs and your tabs could serve the same purpose as a sleeve for a quilt show and then come home and be hung more as a picture.

In any event, I now have a few more of my art works hanging in our home. That feels good!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Mother's Delight

We bought our daughter, Jaye, a sewing machine for Christmas this year.  Jaye had some less than positive encounters in the past with sewing and was concerned she might break the machine. So, she chose to wait till I could visit to try it out. As a result, we had a couple of sewing lessons last weekend.

I decided we would start out very simply. I brought out some African print fabric I had and we cut two rectangles for her to sew together and stuff as a pillow. It was a good start that allowed her to learn a bit about the machine and end her first lesson on a positive note. For the second lesson, I had her make a simple purse with a layer of batting between two pieces of fabric that she could then turn inside-out and sew side seams in with a walking foot I got her. Another positive encounter!

We also practiced some mending on a pair of her husband's nursing scrubs. Her creativity started to shine through as after she finished repairing the seam, she added a row of snowflakes to the rear pocket with her decorative stitching. This brought some interesting comments from her husband, Steve. :)

I knew that if I could get Jaye started, she would grasp the versaltility of these simple projects and her creativity would push her forward. I left on Monday morning and by Tuesday night I was receiving photos of a eyeglass case and a new pillow - pieced together no less! I am so proud of her for over-coming her fears and plunging in to learn a new skill that I know can bring her hours of enjoyment!

Here are a few photos of our adventure.
Jaye learns the basics
So, these are scissors!

Eyeglass case

A beautiful pillow!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Favorite Seattle Fabric Store

I was lucky to be passing through Seattle last week and had time to stop in at my absolute favorite fabric store there - Undercover Quilts.  The store is located right down the street from the world famous Pike's Market.

The owner, Linda Hitchcock, has the most wonderful taste in selecting fabrics for her store. I look forward to visiting her store and replenished my stash of batiks while seeing all the lastest fabric. Linda has the most wonderful selection of kits too.

Here is a glimpse of my 'restrained' purchases which are sure to be showing up in my 2012 projects.
I am already looking forward to my next visit!