Thursday, November 07, 2019

Two Halves
48 x 48

Two halves make a whole.  If only it were that simple for our country....

This quilt began as an abstract. As I worked, the horizontal line became more prominent.  Could it read as a landscape?  Perhaps the orange blob is a setting sun? As time passed, the idea of 'two halves' started settling into my thinking.  In this quilt both halves are quite lovely, and if you look at the shapes and colors, they have a lot in common, though they appear different.  If feels like a metaphor for the two halves of our country, split and polarized.  And it could have been more obvious if I had selected more patriotic colors.  But, I didn't start this quilt with THAT in mind, it is just something that percolated while I was cutting and stitching.  And, it kinda of proves the point of why abstract art can be so great.  It can appeal to many different people, for many different reasons. The meaning lies in the eye of the beholder. And if you stare at it long enough, you can feel and think, and perhaps connect on a totally different level.  A great goal to aspire to!

And now for those of you who like to see behind the scenes, many, many more photos!

Cutting strips of fabric efficiently includes lining them up and cutting multiple layers, and multiple colors all in one slash with the rotary cutter.

Pairing up the colors and getting stacks of blocks ready to sew.

Half way there.  Next up, cut these blocks in half and then stitch in another center piece.

I make all my blocks too big.  This is because my sewing skills are not that accurate.  I like to square up the blocks and then trim them to the right size before sewing them together.

This is one of my favorite parts.  Finishing up a set of blocks and placing them on the design wall.  I have, on more than one occasion, taken them all down and tried different designs.  So much fun! I also like this stage because of all the negative space.  Just having partial block completion looks good to me!

Then it is time to baste the layers together and let the quilting begin.  This quilt did not feel that big until I had to quilt it.  Quilts with lots of tiny blocks get really heavy, really fast and are more difficult to quilt.

A close up of the quilting.  Notice the walking foot.  It is really working and doing a great job!

Next week, I will post photos and process of making the back.  Yes, this is a two-sided quilt. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Plenty to Go Around Part 7

This is one very cheerful post.  As a few of the batik designs I made did not look so hot in the making. In my mind, I could see the final product, but I wasn't sure if it was real or not.  Today, I am happy to share with you that both ideas actually look okay, and not, in fact, a disaster!

The first is the chickadee, which I have blogged about before here:
This is the photo of where I left off:
Add here is the first one I have finally appliqued to the quilt top:
I am still debating whether or not to add eyes to the birds. As for the logistics, there are 48 birds to sew on.  For each one, I change thread colors as I go around the little bird, about 6 times.  I have completed about 15, so I have a bit more work to do.  Ha! I will have to say that the hard part is the little beak.  It is so hard stuffing under the fabric edges into such a small space.  Yikes!
After the first ring of birds was completed, I started on the little orange flowers. I have also posted about the making of those orange flowers here.
When we last left off, the fabric looked like this:
Then they were all individually cut into stacks waiting to be appliqued to the surface:
And now, I have a few sewn on with their edges turned under.  I love how sweet and delicate they look!
And once again, on both of these, a batiked white section was used to define the shape of the design and make the hand sewing just a bit easier because the white blends into the background.  You can see it on the tail of the chickadee, and just ever so slightly on the stem of these orange flowers.  I am feeling rather pleased that this idea was useful and worked the way that I planned. 

Meanwhile, progress on this project is still a bit slow, but is moving forward.  I have a funny story to leave you with.  I was working on this project in a public location and a large group of older women (ok, my age women!) came by.  One of them asked what it was that I was doing and I replied making a quilt.  Then another looked a bit shocked and said, "a proper quilt? All by hand?"  It was all I could do not to get offended or even laugh at the suggestion that if it wasn't all by hand then it wasn't proper? I just smiled and said yes.  Because in this case, it will all be made by hand.  I don't know if it will ever be considered proper though, at least not once I finish the imagery for the back side.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 07, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 6
The Illusion of Thin Stems

For the spiral flowers, I wanted really thin stems.  Unfortunately, if I cut the fabric as thin as I wanted, I was worried there would be too much fabric to be able to stuff all the edges underneath.  So, I came up with this for a solution. I would try to match part of the stem with the background fabric (which is white). I batiked some simple 1/2" wide white stripes and dyed it blue.
Then I cut some strips and folded the ends, and then the sides.  You can see a sample in the photo above.
Then I pinned them under the flower heads, slightly to one side.
I hand stitched in place along the dotted line above, and then folded the remaining piece over.
With all the edges turned under, I pinned them in place.  I think they look kind of scary with all the pins, and was afraid my thread would get caught on the pins while I was sewing.  I was pleasantly surprised that the thread did not catch much at all!  After a quick applique stitch with matching blue thread along the blue side of the stem, they are done!
It is a narrow little stem, but half of it fades into the background, and only the blue part is obvious.  The actual fabric stem is now about 1/4" wide, but just the blue part is 1/8" wide. There is a delicate and playful quality to it.  I am really pleased with the way this little experiment has worked!  Adds quite a "pop" to the little spiral flowers! I love how cute it looks with the fawns and the hummingbird! Very sweet and happy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Prism #1
14" x 14"

The inspiration: I was playing with Copic markers again, and wanted to explore the idea of transparency.

So fun!  I decided to make a small quilt, just to see how it would look.
I decided to use batik so that I could see exactly how the dyes look when overdyed. Overdyeing also looks different than just mixing two liquid dyes and getting that color.

But first, I confess, my dyes are really old.  So, I tried a dye test, both to rule out dyes that no longer worked, and also to select which dyes I liked enough to use for this project.  Here is the red test, though, it also has a few oranges in it.
The above photo was taken just after the dye was applied.  Now, I had to wait overnight and then rinse them out.  As suspected, one of the dyes faded to a very light pink.  However, I did find the red that I liked, it was the second from the top.
Next up, applying the wax for the first round of warm colored dyes:
While the space was still a bit empty, I decided to play with the design of the second round of dyes.  I cut card stock into strips, cut them into different lengths, played around with the layout and took a photo for later reference:
In retrospect, I find it funny now, because I did not refer to the photo when I was ready for the next step.  However, sometimes, you just have to respect your own process, and apparently, this was mine.
Let's add some dye!  Yay! I mixed 14 different warm colors and set about to fill in all the spaces with dye.
Yes, that's the dye test at the bottom (it is dry), the dyes on the top part of the photo are wet (thus darker and more intense).
After waiting overnight again, rinsing with a garden hose, and boiling out the first layer of wax, it was ready to be re-pinned to the frame and the next layer of wax added.
This is the part where the excitement builds.  I simply cannot wait to add the next set of colors.  Off to the laundry room to mix up 8 cool colors.
Just WOW!! I LOVE this so much!  Also, wondering how something that looks so simple can be so much work??
Waiting, waiting, overnight again for dyes to process, and then rinse again with the garden hose before boiling out this round of wax.
Unfortunately, there was another delay.  Patience is not my strong suit, but there was no choice.  One of the green dyes was too old and washed out at this stage.  Into the trash, and remix another green while the wax is still on.  I painted the new green over the old washed out green, in just one little rectangular space, and then had to wait again, overnight.....
Then, a mad rush to quilt it.
This also had a bit of a delay.  I did about a third of the quilt in dense matchstick style quilting.  It looked so bad, it made me want to cry.  Instead, I sat down with the seam ripper, and pulled it all out.  Then I had to attempt to "erase" all the holes made by the sewing machine needle.  I got lucky and this worked amazingly well.  Then I set about to quilt in in a minimalist design.  Ha, ha! This still required changing the thread colors a bazillion times. But, it looks good, and I am happy. Whew!
I decided to go for a very simple facing to finish the edges because I did not want a binding to interfere with the simplicity of the design elements.
And while I was working, the sun was setting, and THIS HAPPENED!!!
The light coming through the window separated and made a rainbow on the back of my little quilt, hence the name, Prism.
The finished quilt:
This will be my entry for Splash of Color, which is a member's challenge at Visions Art Museum. It opens Oct 19, 2019 and runs til Jan 19, 2020.  It will be available for purchase and half the proceeds will go towards supporting Visions Art Museum.  Fantastic!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 5
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on Instagram with #plentytogoaroundquilt

Yep, this is going slow, so slow.  And partly because I haven't worked on it as much as I would like to.  Lots of life happening over here, which can also be a good thing.  From life comes inspiration.  

As promised, here is a shot of the whole quilt from 3 months ago, and one from yesterday.  I can't believe it has been 3 months already since I started the appliqueing!

The great part is being able to see some of the design elements come together and create the symmetry that I was craving.  Also, blue, I was craving blue, and this satisfies that too! 

More things to show you today, the parts that deviate from blue.  There will a few little pops of yellow, orange and pink.  Perhaps you can see the little pink above?  If not, here's a closeup:
I was surprised that I have no photos of the hummingbirds in process.  I got so engaged in the making of these little guys, that I forgot to engage in the documentation of their creation.  However, it resembles a hummingbird, and that pleases me! Also, this is the first pop of color deviating from the blue palette, a tiny pop of intensely bright pink!

Next: the California poppies.  I started with white fabric, and batiked just a short section on the outside of the stem.  When I get to the part of sewing these on, this will become more apparent as to why.  Then, I dyed the fabric this beautiful and intense blue.  The last step for the photo below, was adding the wax as just an outline of the flower edges.
The next step is color removal.  This is done with very dilute bleach and sunlight, and then lots of rinsing with clear water and drying in the sun.  If it still smells like bleach, it's not done yet.
So VERY pleased with how this is coming along!  Next step is adding the orange dye.
These will be individually cut out, and then have all their outer orange edges turned under, all the way to the blue outlines.  The only part that will be orange is the inside of the flowers, and they are pretty small.  So, what looks like a massive amount of orange, will actually be just a small pop.

The last pop of color is yellow, and it's tiny, just a small section inside the irises. Wax on:
You may be able to see the faint bleeding of the yellow onto the lower petal.  This is not a problem. It will be dyed navy and will completely cover it up.  Though, there is also something to be said for happy accidents when it comes to dyeing.  I could imagine a scenario where the bottom petal could be dyed a light color and the yellow would add a small amount of interesting color variation. 
One fat quarter accommodates only 2 irises.  It is funny how much I love the way these look! When I started them, I couldn't imagine anything but green for the leaves.  But now, I really love the blue leaves and they look really good with the overall quilt design.

And now, we have come to the end of all the process shots I took while making the batik elements for the flowers.  There are 2 others, but I didn't take any pictures of those.  One is the stems for the spiral flowers, and then there is one more blue flower I didn't photograph.  All will be revealed as I slowly work my way through stitching all the pieces onto the quilt top.  

And there's always more to show when I get to the back of the quilt....stay tuned!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 4
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on Instagram with #plentytogoaroundquilt

It has been a long hot summer.  In Austin, we have officially broken the most number of days of 100 degrees (or hotter) ever recorded.  We have also not had any significant rain during that time.  I think we went 60 days without rain, and then Austin got a few very short lived and isolated spots of rain.  I didn't get any of those until this week, and even that rain wasn't enough to get the grass under my trees wet.  

And, though I need those hot temperatures for dyeing my blues the most intense ever (especially for turquoise), it has been a bit too much.  Standing in the garage and dipping into the hot and melted wax pot has been a morning only activity, paired with a large glass of ice water.  The dyeing sessions in the afternoon were almost unbearable.  It was so hot, I just wanted to finish each fat quarter as quickly as possible, however, this work required finesse, patience, and attention to detail. Does art require suffering? 

This week, I have four flowers to share with you. The first one is large, as in, I could only fit one on each fat quarter sized frame. And, I needed 4 of them, so that used up all 4 of my frames.  You may also notice some little flowers in the corners.  I did not space these flowers correctly when I was making them and needed some extra ones.  So nice that this big flower design accommodated me and allowed some extra space to use for something else!

Here is the sharpy sketch, with a few of the poppies on tracing paper and arranged on the corners.
Next, the beginning of adding the wax lines:
After the dyeing, this set is rinsed on my zip line, using the garden hose.
The final product, after it has been appliqued to the quilt top:
So lovely!

Next up, the white petal flowers:
The wax is protecting the white areas from the dye.  In this next shot, I decided to play with the background to add a more interesting pattern.  This is basically play time, because none of this will be used or even seen for the quilt.  Each flower will be individually cut out, so the background will not be used.
After dyeing: Also, I feel very curious about how it would have looked if I had put dye inside those little diamond shapes between the flowers...?
These are waiting to have the wax boiled out, which happens in my kitchen!  I have not sewn any of these on yet, so you will have to wait to see the finished product!

Next up: the 8 petaled flowers.
You may notice something a bit different about this design.  It has no white on it.  I began by dyeing the background fabric a nice shade of solid light blue.  Solids (and I mean REAL solids and not fabrics that have any mottling on them) are so hard to do.  To get an even dye, you have to keep the fabric moving.  How do you keep fabric moving for 2 to 4 hours (the time it takes the dye to completely or mostly penetrate the fabric)? I use a portable table top washer.  Unfortunately, it only has a 10 minute timer, so I spend a lot of time running up and down the stairs to turn it back on.  Great exercise, no? And, I have also experimented with time schedules to answer questions like, how long after the 10 minute cycle is over, can I leave it off without affecting the dye? 

After dyeing the background and waxing the lines of the flowers, I added the dyes, I used a different color inside the center circle, and then I painted the inside of the flowers, and then I painted the outside of the flowers the same color.  When I say "painted", I am referring to just dye, water, and soda ash.  It is very, very drippy, like painting with water.  Painting inside the waxed areas is easy though, because the dye sort of runs to fill the space and stops itself at the wax line, going no further.  It is kinda fun and interesting to watch.
Here are the frames sitting outside and being rinsed with the garden hose.  
Here is the flower, shown appliqued on the quilt top. I love the way these look, but they were difficult to make and they are difficult to applique.  I wish I had picked a design that allowed for less of these. I needed a total of 56. As of today, I only have 12 left to applique! Yay!

The last one is the page of spirals.  These will be cut into circle shapes and have a small stem added.  I love the color contrast of the blues in this one!  And, I am guessing that if you have been reading along, you will already know how I made these! 
Thanks for stopping by.  Just wanted to mention that I am making progress with the applique of these elements on the quilt, and am hoping to post a full view of my progress next week!