Thursday, April 27, 2017

Life Book 2015

Life Book 2015

I have taken a few weeks out of my calendar to put the finishing touches on my Life Book project (yes, sadly from 2015!).  I decided how I wanted to bind the pages, and what to use for the cover.  I have had practice with the binding process, (see these art journals here). You can also read more about the Life Book class on this link!
I painted this lovely bright flower painting when I was in elementary school.  It is acrylic on canvas, and I still had it after all these years!  I wrapped it around some book board to make a cover for my Life Book.  I just love the symbolism of where I started and where I have been going with art education! Plus, I am still a sucker for primitive art.  I remember when I painted this, how frustrated I was at the inability to control the thickness of the line with the black paint. Now, I kind of like it!

Here is the inside and cover page.  You can see where I wrapped the canvas painting around to the inside and covered with a piece of paper.
There are too many pages to show, and I think some of the projects are proprietary, so I can't show them all anyway.  However, this assignment was my favorite.  It had a formula that was easy to follow, but made easier by the fact that I had many unused postcards of my artwork that I was able to cut up and put on the luggage tags.  It made them so much more personal and fun for me.  I also used Mistyfuse to fold over the top of the tags with some of my batiked and dyed fabric circles.  Then I punched the hole through all the layers before tying the floss on.  I loved these so much that I used them on my luggage for a trip last summer.  They held up well and helped identify our bags quickly.  I also like them for small gifts and bookmarks.  I like them so much, that I keep making more!  Great project!
The right side of this photo, that was cut off, was one of our first assignments.  I paired pages from class either with other class pages or paintings made for fun and then put the back sides together.  I taped the inner edge and hand sewed the other 3 edges of the pages.  That way I had finished images on both sides of each page.  I like the texture of the hand sewn floss around the artwork too.  The above image shows a class assignment (cut off) on the right and a small watercolor I did at the beach the following year.  I thought the colors looked well together, so they were paired up.
Here's another random page from my book.  The right side was an assignment.  There is a letter folded and tied with ribbon in the center of the right page.  The left page was just PLAY.  I love the abstract nature of the image and how fun it was to put together.  And, I like the way the 2 pages play together.
These two pages were all about acknowledging and appreciating our support systems.  The paper dolls were individualized to real people in my life, and have messages on them.  I had fun with this too, so I added our resident house cats, and some flowers (for good measure).  I painted a blue background and stitched on some organza pockets.  The assignment on the right was very similar. And though I'm not sure if these projects or crafts rise to the level of art, it just didn't matter to me.  I had fun doing it and it was meaningful.  (see #4 below).

I will reiterate that in spite of being somewhat reluctant and resistant, I DID learn the processes, and eventually learned how to put it together with my own voice.  I also gave myself permission to skip the lessons that were the least interesting to me. 

The absolute best things I got out of this class:
1.  Knowledge.  I know what matte medium is now! and Stabilo pencils! and watercolor crayons!
2.  Freedom to explore.  I no longer feel inhibited or intimidated by the supplies.
3.  Joy from playing.  With no intention in mind, I can start painting and it feels like playing.  I love it!
4.  Healing.  A number of the assignments worked on a deeper, subconscious, and intuitive place.  I loved the guided meditations.  I loved the assignments geared to working on issues.  These were the BEST!

Thanks so much Tamara!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Women's March 2017: by the Numbers

Women's March 2017: by the Numbers
48" x 48"
This quilt was made to honor the 3 million people who marched globally the day after President Trump's inauguration. Each 1/2" square represents 325 people.  That is equivalent to a large jet plane full of people. Imagine a full airplane for each tiny little square! That's a lot of people, all marching to protect the right's of women.

For my quilt geek friends:
You may be wondering, how many squares are there? The answer is 9216.  
And, how long did it take to make it?  The answer is less precise....too long.  I thought this was a great idea when I started, but I got tired of stitching all those little squares long before I finished it.  And yet, I continued on.  Sometimes it helps me to have a daily quota, a minimum I have to do to finish by a certain day.  On most days, I managed to do the minimum.  On some days, I did nothing.  And, on a few days, I did more, and some days I even did a lot more.  The right combination of good sleep, motivation, great music (or Netflix), and I can get a lot done in a single day.

This was also made during the season that is the absolute best for gardening, and I have some ambitious plans for my garden, so I tried to do some of both every day.  It helped to have something that involved moving my body to contrast with all the hours of sitting and stitching.

It starts with the cutting. I always prewash my fabrics and then press them.  When I started, I had no idea how many squares of each I would need, so I just cut a few, and then replenished the pile as I went.   This also helped avoid repetitive motion injuries from using the rotary cutter for too long. I eventually used 60 different colors.  Here are some stacks of the 1" squares.  I would gather a few from each pile for the daily quota, and then toss them up in the air, several times (this was the FUN part), and then picked squares that were close to each other to begin stitching.
It begins with sewing two squares at a time.  To save thread and time I decided to chain stitch.  It also helps keep those tiny pieces from being sucked into the machine each time you start stitching.  This is stage one of stitching.  I call it, making the butterflies, because when they are open, they don't lie perfectly flat and they loosely look like butterflies to me.
The next step is to sew two "butterflies" together.  This makes a four patch.  To me they look like lounge chairs.  I put them in a grid to keep track of the direction the seams are pressed.  This helps manage the bulk of all the seams on those tiny pieces.
The lounge chairs are then sewn together in long strips, and then the rows of strips are sewn to each other to make a daily block.  Each day the block is sewn to the previous day's work and the quilt slowly grows bigger!
When I got to the pink part, I had to keep track of where the pieces were.  So, I consulted the master plan, a scaled drawing on grid paper.
To keep track of my progress, I colored it as I went and referred to the diagram for placement of the squares.
You can see the emergence of one of the pink ears of the pussy hat in the lower right corner.  This also shows the amount of work for a daily quota, 160 pieces. And, as time went on, I gratefully became more efficient at stitching.
Here's a photo of the back side.  I grew to like this side better, but unfortunately, I had plans for the front side, so this beautiful and fascinating view is now hidden inside the quilt.
I also kind of went crazy in love with how this looks in a window with the light shining through it.  It looks like candy to me and I just want to eat it!
Eventually I finished piecing the whole quilt top together, and I didn't know exactly what to do with the quilting.  This quilt is already complex.  I wanted to keep the quilting lines simple because I didn't want them to compete with the design. I selected a plan and decided to do a sample piece.  There are two great reasons to do this!  One is to test the process.  Does it work?  Will it shrink too much?  Will it bunch up, or be too hard to sew through the layers?  The second reason is to check to see how it looks.  I planned to use pink thread exclusively and I wanted to know if it would look bad on all the other colors.  It is really hard to pick a thread color when there are so many colors in the quilt!  So, I did the small sample....
It worked!  Here's a close up of the actual quilt:

This is my entry for Threads of Resistance.  There are almost 2 weeks left before the deadline of midnight, May 1.  If you haven't entered already, I hope you will consider doing it!  The opening venue is:
Premiere dates: July 11 - September 9, 2017
New England Quilt Museum
18 Shattuck Street, Lowell, MA 01852
    Opening reception: July 15, 2017 at 11 a.m. 
And there are 11 more venues already scheduled for the next year and a half!