Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Ocean Blues/Oil and Water - the Transparent Part

Ocean Blues/Oil and Water - the Transparent Part
74" x 74"

It was late afternoon and my quilt was draped over a table when I saw this. One might think I would start looking for this by now, but I didn't think about it. So here are the shots where you can see through the quilt and a glimpse of both sides at the same time. Sweet! 

I love this so much. As water is transparent, so is this quilt about water! Just so lovely! Light gives more information and shows a bigger and more complete picture, one that is more transparent.

And, that's a wrap for this quilt. I am hoping to enter it into some shows next year. We'll see how it goes! May you have a safe and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ocean Blues/Oil and Water - other cool stuff about this quilt

Ocean Blues/Oil and Water - other cool stuff about this quilt
74" x 74"

The quilting:
I usually pin baste my quilts, on the floor. Mostly because my quilts are big, and I don't have a table big enough for really big quilts. The floor is a pretty uncomfortable place to work, but it gets good results.  This time, I did pin baste my quilt. However, I also have had problems with machine quilting the further I get from the center. It is as if the backing fabric travels, regardless of having been pinned in place. My hand basted quilts do not do this. So, I opted to switch out the pin basting for hand basting on this quilt. I am not convinced that I need to do both, but there it is.
ready for quilting!!

I also wanted my quilting threads to kind of disappear into the back ground, but also provide a linear aspect to the quilting design.  I opted for these wonderful very thin polyester threads from Superior Threads. 
It was another expense to buy a whole new line of threads, but I was super happy with the visual effect after I quilted this.  As a bonus, one that I did not anticipate, because the threads were NOT cotton, they did not fill up my machine with lint.  I did not have to clean the lint with every bobbin change, which was awesome!!

I love the side lighting coming through the window for this shot!

A whale and all the quilting lines.

I had a very hard time dragging this quilt through my sewing machine. Usually a big quilt is already hard because it is bulky and heavy. This one was harder. Apparently the black fabric paint on the other side was creating more friction with my table. I decided to try using painter's tape to attach some Goddess sheets (teflon sheets) from Mistyfuse to reduce the drag. It worked great and made my job SO MUCH EASIER. Thanks Iris!!
A top view looking down on my quilt under my sewing machine

The hanging sleeve, hanging tube:
Before I quilted the top 5" or so, I had an idea, one that I have used before on a two-sided quilt. I decided to peel back the layers, and insert more fabric and batting to make an internal hanging sleeve.  It worked great! And the construction of it was seamless and I got to incorporate the quilting and the tube at the same time, which is very hard to explain, but it worked!

It is undetectable from either side! Here is a top view. It also works for a larger sized hanging rod, but this is the one I am currently using while it is hanging at my home.

The binding:
You may have already noticed that the binding changes colors with every block. I did not pre-plan this. I was indecisive about the binding for the entire construction of the quilt. It was only when I got to the end, that I decided my absolute best choice was to do it this way. So I dug out all the fabrics I used and started cutting new pieces to make the "blended" binding. So many pieces! ARGH!!
Then I stitched all the little pieces together. I opted to do only one side at a time to deal with the corners. I also opted for open seams to reduce bulk when turning the binding to the other side of the quilt.

I am happy with the way it turned out. It also looks really good from both sides of the quilt.

There is ONE MORE THING! But this post is already long, so I am saving it for next week. Hope you will pop back by. It is the coolest thing ever!! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Ocean Blues

Ocean Blues
74" x 74"

I have finally finished my two sided pixel ocean quilt! It was delayed during quilting by my broken sewing machine. And it was such a wonderful feeling to have it finished at last! It is one of my favorites and is happily hanging on my wall now.
My intent was to create a wall of blue, evocative of the ocean. I began by selecting a color palette. Since it is impossible to pick accurate colors from a monitor, I have been collecting sample packets of solid colors from different manufactures.  
Here are three of them.  Moda Bella is on the table, along with a page of RJR Cotton Supremes.  I just got the Kona card standing up in the back. PS. These samples are a little expensive, and not available year round, which can be frustrating. Also, you may notice that some of the fabric swatches have been ripped off the cards. That is because colors are very fickle, they can look different in different surroundings. I pull off a little swatch, and then attach a sticker on the back with the name of the color.  Then, if I want to get some, I still know what it is.  The Kona is permanently welded to the page.  I have no idea how to separate those colors from each other, perhaps an exacto knife?

Moda Bella samples, with labels added

Next I kind of swoosh them around to see how they look next to each other. Once I am satisfied, I try to find these exact colors from quilt stores.  That is not an easy task!  For this project I think I shopped at 6 different stores to find my fabrics, and was unable to find 2 of them.  Some stores require a minimum purchase of a yard of fabric, which is more than I need.  So, it is inherently inefficient, and especially so when adding up all the shipping costs.  However, no one carries all the colors. What is up with that??? Ha!

Here is a stack of some of the new fabrics mixed in with the ones I already had.

Once I had my fabrics, I wasn't sure which idea I wanted to pursue on a large scale, so I made some little sample quilts first.  Perhaps you remember them from earlier posts in April and May of this year?

These are all so lovely, and I had other ideas I hadn't tried yet, but I knew I wanted to try the pixel one in a large quilt.  The stripey one I tried in two other slightly larger versions here and here

Let the rotary cutting begin! This part can be a bit tedious and led to repetitive use injuries.  I try to do it slowly with stretching in between.  It is FUN to see the different colors stacking up and ready for placement!
After I had a LOT of squares cut, I started putting them up on my design wall. I thought it would be fun and easy. And, it was fun, but it was not easy.  My original idea had more brown and greens and less blue. Like this:
It would seem that too much thinking sometimes gets in the way of making art. So, I took a lot of this down and rearranged it more than once, and kept trying.  I knew I was getting close when I had mostly blue. 

Next week I will post about the back of this quilt, because this is another one that has turned into a two-sided quilt! 

Oil and Water -the other side of Ocean Blues

Oil and Water -the other side of Ocean Blues
74" x 74"

I grew up by the ocean. I love the beach and everything that goes with it. When I was little the beach was frequently covered in sticky goey tar balls. They were hard to get off your feet, until you learned the trick about baby oil. The older I got, the more littered the beach became. When I go to the beach now, I have to pay a fee for a sticker for my car. The monies are used to bulldoze and scrape the beach of seaweed and trash (I'm assuming). And, I am not convinced that this is the best thing ecologically for the beach and the organisms that actually live there. There are also trash cans every 100 feet along the driveable part of the beach. 

When I graduated college, I got some temporary work on a research vessel. We called it Coring for Dollars and had some T-shirts made up. The program was run by a university professor who used the income from it to fund his own research and graduate students. We were taking piston cores and sampling them looking for traces of oil. I sliced up the deep ocean mud and put it into labeled bags that were frozen. Back at the lab, the mud was dried, and then extracted with multiple solvents. The left overs from the solvent washes were then tested in several different ways, including UV Fluorescence Spectrometry and Mass Spectrometry. If they found the "fingerprints" of an oil deposit, the results were sold to oil companies who then made a bid to drill for oil there. There is a huge amount of work and money that goes into oil production, and this is only the exploratory part. 

The thing is this. Oil is an incredibly valuable resource, but it is limited. It is not like a tree that can be regrown. Once we use it up, it is gone. Finding it and getting it causes huge environmental damage. Using it, or burning it, is also causing massive global climate change, but I will save that discussion for another day. It is not a hard sell to convince anyone that we waste it. But it seems like it should be a lot easier to convince both consumers and producers to stop using and making single use plastics that litter the earth and waste the limited resource. That is why I included plastic water bottles and 6-pack holders and straws and toothbrushes in this image. It symbolizes ALL the things we both waste oil on and trash our environment with. The earth is the MOST valuable commodity of all, and we have to protect and respect her. 

My life history infiltrated my thoughts as I was just drifting off to sleep after a long evening of sewing squares together. Such a INSPIRED idea that I was afraid I wouldn't remember it in the morning.  Ha! So I jumped up, went into the studio, and started sketching my idea and writing notes about it, notes that would help me to remember.

The next morning, I had a vague realization of what that idea would entail, and it was too much! Yet I couldn't give it up.  It stayed with me, unrelenting. I broke down the steps, drawing, editing and cleaning up my drawings, getting screens made, making the prints of each element, and then sewing all the pieces together. I couldn't decide if I wanted to make the screens myself (of which there are a number of different ways to do that), or simply paint or draw all the elements by hand? Since I wanted repetitions of each one, it made sense to make a screen and just print them. 

tracing the pencil drawing with a Sharpie

There was more planning. I had to decide the size of each design and how closely spaced vertically and horizontally they would be. I wanted to fill the space completely and not have any of the designs falling off the top or bottom edges. So, I drew the designs, and used photoshop to change the scale, then print and place on the design wall until everything was just right. 

The purchase of the screens were both expensive and expensive to have the image "burned" onto. I had a few screens that were gifted to me and very useful! But, I still had to buy a few. To save money I decided to try multiple images on one screen. I thought it made sense because I was planning to cut the pieces apart and sew them together. In reality it was not as simple as my plan. Here are a few of the double image screens:

The double screen did save money, but they took more effort and time to print. I did not have enough seam allowance to print them like this. So, I covered one side with plastic folder (cut to size) and then printed the other side. I used black fabric paint which dries very quickly in the screen, so all my materials were carefully planned and arranged to facilitate fast printing. It is stressful and yet fun to watch the images produced so quickly.

I thought I took more pictures of the printing process, but I was so busy trying to crank it out, there was no time for photos. As I was practicing with the whales, for the back another small quilt (here), I was printing outside and hanging the fabric to dry in the sun.  That was not the best idea. Working in the Texas heat made the paint dry faster in the screen. I had no idea how much I would need so I bought a lot extra, because I didn't want to run out during a print run. 

The ship was the hardest to print. The screen would kind of roll while printing and mess up the design after the first run. I think it took 7 prints to get 3 reasonably good ones. It was a learning process to be sure! 

After all the prints were made and dried, I heat set them with my iron, and then trimmed them with the rotary cutter and sewed all the pieces together. It was now ready to layer with the front, baste, and then quilt. :)