Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fluid Boundaries
30" x 50"


This abstract is about the constant and unrelenting compulsion to put things or ideas into categories with rigid boundaries, even though the groups have a lot in common, and even though the boundaries may be constantly changing. The curved lines imply movement or change over time for these three seemingly unique sections.  

The story behind it's construction:
This piece was made using tiny, tiny pieces, all cut with a rotary cutter and sewn by machine.  I started with some sketches with copic markers of the patterns I wanted to try with fabric, and a life size sketch of the curved background.

I practiced the piecing on a tiny scale to see if it was something I could even do.  My goal was to make the tiny inside squares only 1/4" square.

It is pretty small!! Next step to try a larger sample involving more blocks and learning how to sew tiny blocks together and manage all the thicknesses of all the tiny seams.  I really doubted if my machine was up to the task.  The blocks get rather thick with all the seams and I thought the sewing foot would slide off the edge, but it didn't! (All of the seams are pressed to one side.)
It was definitely doable, so I proceeded onward.  To have that many little pieces, I would need to cut a lot of squares.  The first day I worked so many hours, my body hurt too much to sew the next day.  And, I didn't get much done!  I needed to work smarter.  I learned how to cut long strips, and line them up, side by side, so that with each rotary cut, I got a lot of little squares. I usually worked ahead enough to cut squares for about 2-3 days of sewing. It would have been impossible for me to cut all the squares at the start, so I just alternated the tasks of cutting and sewing.  That worked pretty well.

I usually worked on one section at a time until I got tired of the color palette and then I moved to another section.  This kept the work fresh for me. 


  



As I worked, I was constantly surprised at how big the original array of tiny squares was compared to the size of all the pieces sewn together.  I called this skrinkage.  And you can see it here from the individual blocks before and after they are sewn together.
Another thing that kept me sane while working through this massive repetitive task was chain piecing, and not just the individual pieces, but also the blocks.
As the block sections began to accumulate, I pinned them on top of the paper template until the paper was completely covered, creating rather unwieldy shaped pieces.
It took a very long time to make actual visible progress on this quilt.  And, I would get in a frenzy to make progress, only to find I needed to take a break.  Some things I enjoyed about this quilt:
The middle section has slightly longer blocks.  When working through the steps to make them, one of the stages reminded me of little caterpillers.  I always took such delight to see them appear!


Also, the day that I finally reached the half way mark.  I can honestly tell you that the thought of ending it right there crossed my mind quite a few times before I continued onward (and I am so glad that I did!)
And then there was the day I was goofing around with this little guy.  You can see the video on my Instagram account.
Eventually, the giant irregularly shaped pieces were ready to remove from the wall and trimmed to the correct shapes with scissors.  I also stay-stitched along the curved edges.  And, then I had a plan!!  I would treat each piece like a separate quilt.  I layered the full sized backing and batting onto the floor, and pin basted only the yellow section.  Yes, it is also difficult to pin baste through all those seam allowances! Ouch!
I quilted it by machine.  Then I used a narrow black piece of fabric to bind the overlapping edge of the middle section.  I stitched the binding to the right front edge, flipped it to the back, and used Mistyfuse to hold it to the back.  It made an easy and beautiful finish to the edge.  I simply placed it on top of the quilted yellow section and pin basted in place. 
Then I machine stitched along the black edge and then quilted the new section.  I repeated those steps with the blue section.  It made the project so much easier to push under my sewing machine.  Even though it doesn't look like a big quilt, it was very heavy and stiff because of all the seam allowances. Here is a photo of the quilting from the back, a different pattern for each section.
All that was left was the actual binding around the edges (which you can just barely see in the photo above).
I'll end with a detail shot:
Oh, and one last thought.  This quilt is my entry into Quilt National this year.  I don't always have a quilt that falls correctly into the timing of this exhibit, and I am grateful to have one this time around.  I am also just so incredibly relieved and happy that they have loosened up their restrictions on letting images be seen on social media and private blogs.  It has been so helpful to share my process along the way with you on Instagram and Facebook.  It kept me going on more than one day! So, thanks if you were a part of that! Quilt National is one of the most selective venues to get into, so I hope you will wish me luck!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes
30" x 50"


This is my lovely entry for Dinner@Eight Artists exhibit this year.  This is the final exhibit after a 10 year run and the theme was to choose something from the past 9 years.  They were: Edges, The Space Between, Beneath the Surface, Rituals, Exquisite Moments, Reflections, Affinity, Patterns, and Personal Iconography. I think this piece was best represented by Affinity.

Artistic Statement: I have a strong affinity for kayaking. Gliding across calm clear water connects me with nature in a way that soothes my soul. In this view, I intentionally place the birds closer than they actually are because it represents the closeness of my emotional connection to this water world.

And, as an extra challenge, I decided to try my hand at writing my artistic statement about my quilt using ALL the past themes of Dinner@Eight.  That was not an option on the entry form, but here goes:
My affinity for kayaking is an exquisite moment, one that has become a rejuvenating ritual.
I see reflections of the edges of the city on the water and think about the space between nature and urban development. As I row, I observe things beneath the surface, the patterns of the waves, and I contemplate the personal iconography of the heron and what it means to me.

Yaassss! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and the work I have done for this exhibit over the years.  I think some of my best work has been expressed because of the challenges offered by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison.  It has been an honor and a privilege and I am so happy to have been juried into this last round of exhibits!  Thank you Jamie and Leslie!

I have also been overwhelmed by the response to my quilt on Facebook.  I appreciate each and every comment, so thank you for that!  

For those of you who have wondered about the process of creating a whole cloth batik quilt, I have included some process photos.  The main idea is to build up the layers of colors and wax.  It requires a specific sequence and lots of thought.

First I make a full scale drawing of my idea on paper.  I tape the paper to my sliding glass door, and then overlay a piece of white cotton fabric.  The fabric is held to the door with scotch tape as well and I trace, in pencil, the design lines onto the fabric.


This is the first time that I decided to make the entire piece, start to finish, by leaving the fabric attached to a wooden frame.  And since I did not have a frame large enough, I headed to Home Depot for some wood.  I cut the wood, used screws and cross bars to hold it together, and then painted it in several coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats.  In this photo I have pinned the white fabric to the frame with push pins.  This step is repetitive and a bit painful for my fingers.  Once I get them just a little in, I tap gently with a hammer.
In batik, the wax can be used in two different ways.  You can paint the liquid wax on the fabric in any place where you want to keep that color. Below, I have carefully painted wax on the white of the heron's neck feathers. I want those feathers to remain white. A different function for the batik wax is to build a "damn" or a "wall" in which I will paint the dye color I want and it will run right up to the edge of the wax (provided that there are no cracks in the wax).  For example, I drew a liquid wax line on the heron's neck to separate it from the white background.  I am planning to add layers of light grey, medium grey, dark grey, and blue dyes in this area, one layer at a time.



In this photo, I have added wax around the kayak and yellow dye for the kayak and the bird beaks. Then I added a lot more wax outlining the grebes, the heron head feathers in order to fill in with black dye.  After the yellow dye has dried, I painted more wax to protect that section of the kayak to remain yellow.  In this photo it looks like a wet yellow.  The section that looks like a dry yellow will have layers of orange added later. I have also added wax on the oar handle to keep it white.


This shot is after many layers of orange dyes for the kayak, blue dye for the heron wing, grey dyes for the heron neck and body, and brown dyes for the herons legs.


Here is a shot of the heron head when I added the blue dye to the neck area.  The background is a bit wet still, and it's not looking very good.  I am not at all worried, because of my experience in batik, I know that it is proceeding as planned and in my mind's eye I actually see it as the photo below, with all the quilting added.

The finished head, with the wax boiled out and all the quilting completed.


Several examples of the layering of wax and dye.  The heron's legs are outlined in a wax wall and filled with brown dye. The brown looks darker than it will be because the dye is still wet.

In the next stage, I put wax "stripes" on the first coat of brown on the legs and then overdyed a darker brown.  Here is the shot of the completed legs with quilting.

The oar was super fun! I dyed a light colored blue for the entire oar tip.  It looks much darker in this photo because the dye is wet. After it dried, I added the wavy texture lines in wax.


Then I over dyed the oar with several shades of darker blue.  I enhanced the shape of the oar with different colored blue threads to highlight the center and darken the edges.


However, before the quilting can start, the quilt top is rinsed and dried between every dye application. At the end, it is unpinned from the frame and boiled in a giant pot on the stove.  I then wash it and fix the dyes. After drying, it is ready for basting with batting and a quilt backing.  Then the quilting begins. Here's a shot showing some of the threads I used.  I am driven by color!


The dense quilting lines were a bit tiresome.  I used free motion machine quilting for this project. And, I use a lot of starts and stops.  And, this is the stage where I was burying the loose threads with a needle.


I love the way the quilting lines look on the back!


A close up of one of the grebes for you!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Florabunda Baby Quilt
41" x 41"
I had so much fun making this little baby quilt with Melanie Testa's new fabric line Florabunda!  And, I am delighted to be part of the blog hop (see below) to showcase her new line!

I started making quilts many, many years ago.  My first quilt was a log cabin quilt.  After making a few traditional quilts, I was drawn into the world of art quilting.  The learning curve was quite steep as I had no real art background or training, but I knew that's where I wanted to go!  However, there are also times when my brain needs a rest, and I am drawn back to working with quilting blocks and commercial fabrics.  This was one of those instances, and it didn't disappoint.  I loved touching this fabric.  It was soft and the colors and patterns were so appealing to me.
I had an idea to use some triangles for this quilt, and started coloring on graph paper, and this is what evolved.  When the fabric arrived, I was ready to go!  The entire quilt went together in just a few days.
I added some hand quilting with Superior's heavy weight Sew Sassy thread, which looks perfect with the aesthetics of this quilt.
Here it is, photographed in the wild.  I would have put a baby on it, if I had one!  :)

Now for the blog hop info!

Twelve artists have joined with RJR Fabrics, Quilty Box and Melanie Testa to host an Instagram Florabunda introduction and fabric GIVEAWAY!  You are invited to join the Blog Hop each day, June 7 through June 16.  Please, visit and like all Florabunda Blog Hoppers on Instagram, including @RJRFabrics, @QuiltyBox,  and @MellyTesta to increase your chances to win! RJR Fabrics will post chances to win Florabunda Swag daily (June 11 through 16). Don't forget to check out Melanie Testa’s blog each day too. You will get highlights and interesting info about each participant!

Tiffany Hayes http://needleinahayesstack.blogspot.com June 7
Deborah Boschert http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com/ June 8
Kathy York http://aquamoonartquilts.blogspot.com   June 11
Teri Lucas https://terificreations.com June 11
Susan Brusker Knapp http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com June 12
Leslie Tucker Jenison http://leslietuckerjenison.com              June 12
Tiffany Hayes http://needleinahayesstack.blogspot.com June 13
Jamie Fingal http://jamiefingaldesigns.blogspot.com/            June 13
Debby Brown https://www.debbybrownquilts.com                June 14
Heidi Kelly http://www.hkellydesigns.com June 14
David Gilleland  https://www.facebook.com/VectorQuilts/                June 15
Melanie Testa http://www.melanietesta.com June 15

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Blue

I thought it might be fun to have a little on-line exhibit of my quilts while I am working on my secret projects that I can't post about yet!  Blue is a predominant color in many of my quilts, so here is a collection of ten of them!
Synchronized Swimming  51" x 51"

Synchronized Swimming, detail

Floating in a Sea of Symbols 40" x 40"

Floating in a Sea of Symbols, detail
Double Bind


Double Bind, detail

Reflections 24" x 60"

Reflections, detail

Just Around the Corner 24" x 24" x 6"


Just Around the Corner, detail

Blue Towers 36" x 48"
Fifty, Female, and Fearless 36" x 48"
Seventy

Blue Cross 95" x 95"

Blue Corner 87" x 87"