My mother was a quilter and left me quite a few unfinished projects along with her fabric—lots of rust and turquoise==my least favorite colors. I’ve been working on finishing the little pieces as baby quilts for her great-grandchildren–but it has been slow-going.
There were quilt tops for each grandchild to be given on the occasion of their wedding–I have four left–two handed out this year.
And then there was this piece.
She had a class of quilting students–and together they decided they wanted to make a smallish wall quilt commemorating the establishment of Prairie du Chien–I think—I really don’t remember what event they were focused on—but here it is—-
I put it on that UFO list I talked about yesterday—and wouldn’t you know it–but it was number three and the number that was drawn for the month of January.
I had hoped it wouldn’t be the very first month—but here it is—and I’ll have to figure out how I want to finish it—and then take it to the new library in town and see if they have a place to hang it.
After getting stuck in the snow, requiring a pull-out by a neighbor, I managed to drive VERY slowly down the road and unload my baskets of fabric, sewing machine, and accoutrements. Two fellow students were already there–sewing away. The other students were all staying at the Inn next door and I almost wished I had done the same as it was a two minute walk from their door to the Studio.
Two Fox Cabins was very cozy and it allowed a nice walk to and from and not too far away from Alys’ restaurant where we had our evening meal.
Everyone worked really hard, two on Rhapsody variations–I was jealous of their work, and two worked on individual pieces they had designed in large part prior to arrival.
I had planned on doing a series of dawn images but changed to using some images from my father’s tools and bits and bobs. Initially I put them all on the same background but decided I liked them better separated.
One of the daily events was spying the mule deer that wandered about town like regular citizens. And everyday a trip to Charlies was needed to pick up a fresh cinnamon roll or other breakfast treat. Charlie’s is a general store with notices regarding lost dogs, upcoming events, sales of various sorts and any sort of announcement that is needed to make things work in a small town.
I’ve been working away on my Gammill (Vivian) longarm quilting machine for some time now. But the stack of tops to be quilted never seems to diminish. Maybe they multiply when I am not looking.
I did finish an Art quilt—to be used as the under-quilt of two figures. I’ve been experimenting with a different method to allow dense stitching on the figures with simpler stitching on the background. For a piece to hang correctly, it must be evenly stitched throughout—and to add details and shading and coloration with thread instead of patching together shades of fabric means the entire piece must have the same amount of stitching—-or the figures constructed separately and then applied to the piece.
I’ve gotten fond of the matchstick type quilting in vogue with the Modern Quilt Guild movement, it is quite simple, very effective, but does take a bit of time. I added some running stitches by hand to the background of this piece.
After I take a piece off the frame, I load the backing, batting, and the top for the next project in line. Then I have no excuses to not work when I go to spend time with Vivian.
For whatever reason, I do not prefer mirrors or personal photos; in life-drawing class I always chose the back or the side back of the model. But a self portrait is a time-honored artistic project and the last assignment for the Fiber Art Group I started was a self portrait.
I pulled out the last two self portraits–one clearly my back with my signature and the other my back while holding my great niece. Now this one–is of my hands–poised at my sewing machine which seems to function as part of me.
These are the preliminary photos–I am still working on the actual piece–with a few other projects having bubbled to the top as priority.
If I hadn’t been so lazy as to not retrieve my tripod from my truck, it would have been a much easier project to take these photos—and my photoshop skills are not the best—but they are adequate enough for my purposes.
One of the fun things about attending a conference is gathering ideas for new avenues of exploration. One of my fellow artists were entranced by the idea of interpreting a work of art and seeing just how different and exciting we could make it.
Although I have been spending a lot of quality/$ at the dentist, I did manage to get some art work completed. Tackling a challenge tends to distract the mind from physical ailments to some extent.
My fellow artist selected the photo “The Lacemaker” by Vermeer. We both had color copies of the painting to work from. I studied the photo for several weeks trying to come up with an idea that was not just a literal translation from painting to fiber–it would have been easy enough for me to do so but my name is not Vermeer and I wanted the work to read as mine.
I traced around the major shapes in the painting–the crouched upper torso, the face, the hands and a portion of the desk or cabinet and then enlarged them by eye. I then selected fabrics in the general hue and tone of the painting but deliberately chose patterned fabrics rather than solids.
The pieces were cut, hand-appliqued, then stitched by machine. Next came the cutting apart and mixing up of the pieces. I tried several arrangements until I found one that seemed balanced and that I liked.
These pieces were sewn together; I quilted it in straight lines and backed it so that the edges were clean.
Here are the two completed pieces side by side.
Our next venture will be to interpret a painting by Matisse ‘Woman in a Purple Dress’.
For the past several years I have contributed a small art work to both the Spotlight auction (6 X 8) and to the Benefit Auction (12 X 12); providing funds for Studio Art Quilt Associates otherwise known as SAQA. My pieces have either been an experimental new approach or working in my usual portraiture style. This year I am using vintage textile from my mother-in-law’s linen closet–hand embroidered with the backside as nice as the front and hand-crocheted edging topped with a printed image of one of my female ancestors. I used a prepared sheet of silk organza, printed it in black and white and then dyed the fabric with ColorHue dyes. I did a fair amount of stitching to fasten this piece to the plain muslin–a rather thick piece–reminiscent of feedsacks–and then mounted it on a canvas frame.
It has now arrived and is being prepped for the auction this fall.
Maybe I will pursue this adventure–I do have more linen closet finds to play with–and I have a local source for even more pieces–if this piece sells well.
Last weekend was the annual conference hosted by Studio Art Quilt Associates in San Antonio Texas.
For those who have not been in San Antonio recently, the city will be celebrating a 300 year history. Not that you would even guess with all the ‘300’s in shrub plantings, street signage, and mentioned at least twice in any conversation with a local resident.
This conference moves about the country; I’ve been to ones in Ohio, Philadelphia, and Denver with each one progressively more polished and informative.
For me, driving to San Antonio meant a lovely day driving in the Hill country outskirts and stopping for the requisite spring time photo of bluebonnets. I didn’t find the large masses but at a truck stop in Luling I managed to get a nice photo or two. And of course, there are more wildflowers than just the bluebonnets.
San Antonio is not my favorite city to drive around in but I timed my arrival to early afternoon on a week day. Traffic was minimal but parking spaces were at a premium. The hotel offered valet parking only and the attendant claimed he was expert in standards but I only allow a very small number of people the privilege of driving my truck.
It is easy to hear me coming with that diesel reverberating in all that concrete but I managed to find a nice spot, hauled my belongings to the hotel lobby and checked in. I admired the lobby–a bank in earlier years—with art deco motifs on the elevator doors, the cornices, and a fabulous stained glass window featuring the Alamo.
A RiverWalk cruise was the adventure of the evening–I took a few photos but then decided I would just enjoy the view.
Frugality has a reason but then there is a point of just too much.
I’m talking about all those bits of fabric I trim away as I work on a piece of fiber artwork–too small to be even called a scrap or to save as useful–but yet I do save them. You can see how they can pile up as I work–until I can no longer see my pins or scissors and concede to putting them away—in a ziplock bag sorted by project.
My work usually has several layers–not including backing and substrate for work–think background, mid ground and foreground–and each must be complete in itself and compositionally solid. WordPress does not like that particular word and I’m sure I just made it up but it makes sense to me. As does my work progress.
One of my art teachers was a weaver. For her everything was done before she approached the loom. The piece built from the bottom up–there were no layers that were unforeseen or unplanned. Weft might change but once woven there was no more composition to occur. This might be similar to a traditional quilt–pattern chosen, fabric chosen, pieces constructed and final quilting–ie finishing. My work is much more like a painting with so many layers each with their own design and enriching the layer beneath.
What is it about nice large orange five gallon buckets that is so inspirational?
I have more than a few of them–but I use three of them to accomplish dyeing.
Holus Bolus decided to make Swing Coats from some Bamboo fleece fabric. Bamboo is incredibly soft—and incredibly heavy when wet. We employed my mixed dye with play sand technique. The dye particles tend to cling to the sand until it is released by the washing soda on the fabric. I have several drop sheets that have seen many episodes of dye/screen printing/shibori/painting–in general art messiness.
We decided to make the coats first so we could tell where the dye would go–including the hats and then dipped into washing soda, spread them out on the dropcloths and sprinkled dye. They had to set for about two hours or so–then they were rinsed, the sand shaken off, and into the washing machine.
The results were quite colorful–I don’t have photos of the end product but we will be wearing them at Houston Quilt festival this November.
and just so you know–I did spend quite a bit of time sewing while there—sewed up all these double 9 patches while I was there and that swing coat and then maybe one or two other projects as well. This was my work station.