Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I
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 apply 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 applied 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. The wax is applied with a tjanting tool, and can be a bit drippy.  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

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 June 7
Deborah Boschert June 8
Kathy York   June 11
Teri Lucas June 11
Susan Brusker Knapp June 12
Leslie Tucker Jenison              June 12
Tiffany Hayes June 13
Jamie Fingal            June 13
Debby Brown                June 14
Heidi Kelly June 14
David Gilleland                June 15
Melanie Testa June 15