Thursday, July 25, 2019

Plenty to Go Around
project: approximately 80" x 80"

If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have already seen a number of posts with images of my new project. You can see the posts so far with the hashtag, #plentytogoaroundquilt. 

To begin, I wanted a lot of things from this project.  I wanted to play with design on a big scale. I wanted to play with batik.  I wanted to hand applique all the pieces, because I like the softness of the under-turned edge.  I wanted to make it all blue.  Because I LOVE blue.   I got the idea early this spring, but knew that I would wait until summer to start the dyeing. It turns out that turquoise dyes so much bolder when it is hot aside. I also wanted a big slow project that I didn't have to rush.  I found this project to be so big (in my mind), that it intimidates me.  Some days are harder than others to simply start working.  And worrying about the outcome takes away the joy.  On the days that I manage to work, I feel happy and closer to where I want to be, which is to be engaged in a deeply satisfying process. 

I started with the idea of some fawns and flowers and the image of a kaleidoscope.  I began drawing everything with a pencil on tracing paper.  Once I found a satisfying shape, I would outline it with a black sharpie to increase visibility. Then I duplicated the shapes, many times, all by hand, and cut out the pieces.  I taped together a giant piece of white paper for the backdrop.  Then I was able to move all the pieces around to play with the composition.  Since all the pieces are tracing paper, they tended to move with the slightest breeze.  So I would tape them into place, which also means removing or cutting the tape when I changed my mind and decided to move them to a different location.  I started with a six sided symmetry, but did not eventually choose to keep it.  This was disappointing for many reasons, but mostly because I just didn't want to give up the hexagon.  When I opted for the 4 sided symmetry, all my design problems just fell away, and I felt the joy I was seeking.
Next, I took a photograph of it, and then printed it.  I played with copic markers to get an idea of the colors.  I thought of just using photoshop to fill the areas, but it was too tedious, and the markers were more fun! I also made a few mistakes, so I just printed a new page to color....several times. 
Then it was time to start making all the pieces.  It took me about 12 weeks.  There were a total of 28 fat quarters that I drew, then batiked, and then dyed.  Some took multiple batik and dye steps.  Some also used bleach discharge.  The first eight fat quarters I made, which included 4 fawns, and 4 big flowers, were great for practicing, but ultimately did not work for the project, so I had to start over. All had to be boiled to get the wax out, and washed and ironed.  It's a lot of work, but so incredibly satisfying! 

I look forward to sharing the progress I have made so far. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Rooftop Gardens
14" x 11"
This is my latest finish, a tiny quilt for a member's challenge for Visions Art Museum.  The theme was Urban Gardens, so I think this will fit. The exhibition will open April 20. I am also excited because it is my first time to submit to a member's challenge, and there is an opportunity for some kind soul to buy this cheerful little piece.  I will get to keep half of the sale and the rest goes to help support Visions Art Museum.  A win-win situation if you ask me!

It started because I wanted to dye some batiks turquoise, which need warm temperatures and it was still too cold here.  So I pulled out my stash of solids and just started piecing....
Then I realized the member's challenge theme, so I thought these little blocks would work perfectly if I added a frame around them to make them look like windows.  I tried different colors, but this one worked the best.
Except that after I did it, I didn't like it, so I undid it...
A seam ripper and moving back to what I liked, which was the original blocks.  Simplified, abstract, colorful and bold. And then I remembered this gorgeous batik fabric I made several years ago when I was making THIS quilt (scroll down to see the fire hydrant).
With some Mistyfuse on the back, and some fussy cutting, these would be the perfect addition to make some flowers for my rooftop. Plus, I really like how the "plus" motif duplicates the "plus" motif in the pieced blocks.  :)
And then the quilting....

I also liked this quilt so much, I almost didn't send it.  Sigh...I'm not sure that's a winning strategy for an artist.  However, I am also really glad that I made it early enough that I got to look at it a while before I sent it off.  This will be another one of those that I will not be sad if it does not sell.  :)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hidden Messages, Part III
69" x 72"

I have been working for weeks trying to photograph an image of my quilt (here and here), so that you can see the light shining evenly from behind all the circles, revealing the hidden message.  And, I think I like this shot with the sun behind it better, mostly because the lighting looks real, and bright, and pretty.

Unfortunately, because it is not lying flat, some of the letters are hard to read, and it is a bit distorted from the wind.  You will also notice the darker "grey" area at the top. I wrapped the top of the quilt to the back to make the hanging tube.  I didn't want the hanging tube attached in the normal way because it would interfere with the ability to read the first line of the poem.

To get the next image, I hacked a LED light fixture and used it like a small light table and then photographed two blocks at a time.  It took forever to take all the photos, and even longer to assemble them into one photo, carefully trying to match the exposures and brightness and line up all the grid work.  I'll be honest, it doesn't look that good.  For some crazy reason, my camera had ideas of it's own, and it changed exposures for every photo because of the light it perceived, which was different for every pair of circles, and empty white blocks.  I tried a LOT of different settings. None of my choices gave me a consistent exposure, so I opted for second best and tried matching by hand in Photoshop for each one.  Eh, it's not a perfect process...

I do like how much I was able to pop the contrast and brighten it up a bit.  I really dislike how the white part looks tinted with either yellow or grey, and the more I tried to get it to look white, the more it blew out all the quilting lines.  It was so frustrating!

Meanwhile, now that the poem is revealed, I can share with you some more process shots.
The first part was making the white part of the quilt.  The machine quilting was on my Juki, with a walking foot.

Lots, and lots of lines!

The fun part was selecting colors for the letters, and colors for the circles.  And then making them! This was my original selection of fabrics.  Little did I know that I would be changing these later.  I opted to toss out the purple and pinks, and added umber, ochre, and red.

Next was using Mistyfuse to apply the letters to the background.  I absolute loved the way these looked, and considered ditching the circles all together. Who can resist text on quilts??
However, now that it's finished, I am really glad I added the circles.  I think it makes a really nice metaphor about how hard it is to see the truth sometimes.  Thank you for your patience and following along with me!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hidden Messages, Part II
69" x 72"

Last time I posted about this quilt,
and I alluded else.  So today I will share it with you!

I appliqued a letter on the quilted background (with Mistyfuse, and invisible thread for the machine quilting), and then I hand appliqued a circle on top of each letter to cover it! Below is a process shot of some of the letters already covered. All the letters were hand cut with scissors.
Under normal lighting, you cannot see the letters, as the circles are opaque. However, when light shines through from the backside (for example, holding the quilt up to a brightly lit window), the fabric becomes transparent and you can see the letters!
So even if you cannot solve the color coded cipher, you could read what it says.  It reminds me of the expression, "light is the best disinfectant"; which is a version of George Washington's:
"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light"
Indeed, the perfect complement to the actual message hidden under the circles!
Also, I wanted to reveal the poem today by showing you a full shot of the quilt, brightly backlit, so that you can see all the letters.  Unfortunately, I am having a bear of a time trying to get that to happen.  I wish I had a giant light board to take a photo, but I do not.  I tried having two assistants hold the quilt up with the sun behind it, but that did not evenly light all the circles, and well, there was wind.  I am not giving up.  I welcome all suggestions.  And, perhaps I foolishly believe I will succeed in this endeavor!  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Hidden Messages
69" x 72"
This is one of my latest finishes.  I love this quilt so much!  It looks so randomly modern.  However, it is not at all random.  I have color coded the circles with the alphabet and spelled out a poem.  I am so curious if anyone can actually decipher the code?

And, this is just one level of hidden messages contained within this quilt.  As an aside, I find it a fabulous metaphor for people too, that there is more than meets the eye.

Here is a closeup shot.  The white background is one piece of fabric.  I quilted it with the black grid lines first, and then quilted the horizontal light blue lines (reminds me of a hybrid between wide ruled paper and graph paper).  Then I hand appliqued the circles into place.

To make the circles, I cut out 4" circles of freezer paper (a LOT of them), ironed them to the fabric, then cut with scissors around the circles leaving approximately 1/4" to turn under.  I used the iron to press the edges under using the freezer paper as a guide.  I removed the freezer paper and then hand basted the turned edge.  Then they were ready to place onto the previously quilted surface and hand applique into place.  It was a huge amount of work, but I really enjoyed every step.  Except one.

When I finished I did not like the way the colors worked together.  It was hugely disappointing after so much work.  The original color palette looked fantastic when I first started, so I also found it a bit confusing.  But I knew it had to change or I would never like it.  So I ripped out the offending colors and found some new ones.  Here are the ones that did not make the cut.
And, I was so glad I did the extra work! It made all the difference, and now I am super happy with the overall look of the quilt.  Here it is hanging in my house.  I agree, it is hung too high for now, but....cats....  (ps. Sharky likes it too!)
Also, I have only shared about half of what this quilt has going on.  Stay tuned.  There are more hidden messages to be revealed!  :)