Monthly Archives: November 2016

Sunshine for Gray Days

November in northeast Ohio finally got the memo about gray skies and cold temps, so I was happy to work with yellow and other cheerful colors as I finished up “Unfolding.” It was the transparency  assignment for my master class, made with painted silk organza.


I sewed down the tear drop shaped organza pieces with a machine blanket stitch, and quilted large leaves on top of those shapes with rayon and cotton thread. The edges are faced and the completed piece measures about 25 inches square. The pale yellow background doesn’t photograph well under gray skies, but the version under artificial light came out way off.

I’ll return to my November assignment soon, but thought we could all use some sunshine.



Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

November Master Class Project In Fabric

I decided on the easy choice for this month’s project – the symmetrical windows design based on the Skye photo. Sometimes I just get tired of figuring out tricky construction, you know.

My palette of almost all solids came from the misty coloration of the photo, with lots of blue-grays. I ditched the swoops that Elizabeth so disliked and put the pop of red in the windows. Sorry, those of you who liked them. The window panes are fused, in keeping with my “take the easy way” approach.

For additional zing I chose two teal fabrics for the center stripes. One is saturated while the other is a shade. The only dithering I did concerned the ladder like pieces near the centers. I decided not to piece these, just too much work, but chose some fabrics to give a similar feel. At first I went with the Kaffe Fassett jaggedy fabric, but then tried out a gray ombre print of little squares. I didn’t know which I liked better, so I sent both in.

I chose my rotated four patch design based on the distillery photo. I was going for a flat, graphic effect. The construction will be mostly pieced, with a bit of fusing for the window panes. I eliminated the curved swoops of my original design. The red I had planned for the curves ended up in some of the panes, along with a touch of yellow. My color palette came from the overcast mood of the photo, with a pop of color from the umbrellas.

There are minor differences among the patches in terms of spacing and color arrangements which I want to keep. Some uneven bits need to be cleaned up. The black lines will finish thinner than they now appear. I expect the piece to finish at about 30 inches square.

There are two blocked out photos attached. The first uses a jagged line strip in blues near the center. The second replaces that with an ombre black/white small square print fabric. I had done the first, but decided to try an alternative. Let me know what you think.


Definitely like the blue…it pulls together all the other blues and makes that the soft misty dominant color – it’s hard to tell if the pattern on that fabric would be distracting…so I think you’ll have to judge that in real life…but definitely something blue…
Otherwise I think it looks really interesting….you do push and pull the viewer quite a bit but not in a way that oversteps the bounds of it all working together.
so apart from perhaps a little more thinking on what blue fabric to use (you don’t want that to be the accented area), I think it will work.
another possibility would be to overdye the ombre fabric which does give a nice effect – I agree!!  – with blue – that duck egg shade that you have in the other areas…now that might be the best of both ideas!

Readers, which fabric do you think works best?


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Last Master Class Project

This month’s master class assignment was to make a quilt using one of three photos supplied by Elizabeth as inspiration. Here are the two I used for my sketches. They are truly snapshots with no attempt at composition.





Here’s what I sent in: Sketch 1 incorporates elements from the Skye photo in a somewhat symmetrical 4 patch design. The curved lines near the center are meant to echo the umbrellas in the source photo. I see this as a pieced design, possibly in mostly solids.

Sketches 2 and 2a are the same except that one is bookended while the other repeats the first design. They are based on the Christo photo. I cropped that photo and then traced the trees in broad strokes. I see putting oranges in the background, which could be a challenge as that color tends to leap forward.

Sketch 3 is also from the Christo photo. I cropped that photo to feature one of the large trees, traced it, stylized it, and then flipped it to create an arch. It comes across to me as art nouveau.

All my designs are symmetrical, possibly because I’ve been browsing a book on Notan.

Elizabeth’s response: I like the straight line part of the design very much…but the circle in the middle bother me…my eyes keep going to it wondering why it’s there  – what does it mean?  it’s always difficult to have some totally not related to anything else….take a look at the sketch without that element and see what you think.  It would be an applique after the fact anyway…so you could build the bottom portion and then audition the swoops – but I think I’d advocate leaving them out.

The view through the trees is fun!    l like the idea..and the depth you can get but I’m not sure about the symmetry or about the severe cropping at the top  – in a way the repeated pattern (whether all facing to the left, or all facing out) looks more like a wallpaper frieze than a design in and of its own self.  so it doesn’t really feel complete.  the little tree shapes are nice…but we want more than just feeling that they are circling around us…have a  think on’t!!

You’re right this does have very art nouveau feel to it  – unless you really like the total symmetry, I think I’d just crop a bit off one side or the other to shift that central element slightly off center.
I think it will work really well…I wouldn’t push the symmetry by using the same colors though, or even the same values…I think it would be more interesting to let the viewer gradually discover the symmetry for themselves.

I think with a few small adjustments you’ve got two got possibilities with sketches 1 and 3.

November is our last new assignment. December will be devoted to finishing up our projects. Stayed tuned to see which design I chose.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

“Fabricadabra” Book Review

Paula Nadelstern’s work has weathered the ebb and flow of fashions in original quilts to be featured in art museum solo shows. That’s where I had the joy of a personal tour of her work as part of a workshop I took. What did I make in the workshop? Not much. But I did cobble together a pillow using her template and fabric matching techniques that my son now has.

paula-workshop-giftThis pillow is a sterling example of how critical good fabric selection is to succeed with Paula’s techniques. I chose the wrong fabric – a pseudo symmetrical one that didn’t join up right.

But, C + T has just published a book that gives you a chance to have a go at Paula’s methods in a simpler fashion than her previous kaleidoscope books show. “Fabricadabra: Simple Quilts, Complex Fabric” has many quilts made with her disappearing edge techniques by many people.

fabricadabra-1I thought this was a slick way to make a quilt that looks complex. It works because it uses Paula’s kaleidoscope fabric as cheater cloth.

fabricadabra-2The secret to this quilt is a carefully marked layout of equilateral triangles.

After you gawp at the quilt gallery (some lovely ones were made by Vicki Welsh) Paula gets down to fabrics and methods. I assure you if you read the methods first you might not get to those pretty pictures.

There’s nothing wrong with the explanations, but painstaking care is needed to have fabric motifs match. As Paula says at the beginning, a simple method isn’t the same as an easy one. This is a woman who figured out how much the width of permanent marker lines drawn around shapes add up to over the top of a quilt.

Some of the easier looking tips involve sashings and cornerstones. The pages below show the source fabrics and the resulting sashing. No, these techniques are not for those who dislike fussy cutting or mind a lot of fabric waste.


In fact, Paula’s techniques are ideal for the detail fixated person who fusses over every step. I know just the person, but she doesn’t read this blog. While I may use some of Paula’s ideas, I know I won’t stick with the level of painstaking detail needed to match fabric patterns seamlessly. The pillow shown above is the picture that will save me a thousand words on the subject. That said, this book offers an excellent explanation of Paula’s techniques and wonderful pictures of quilts made using them. It’s neither a pattern nor a theory book, but gives detailed steps to draft your own quilts.


Filed under Books

A Year In My Different Drummer Group

My philosophy seems to be you can never belong to enough art quilt groups. A friend and I started a very local group a year ago called Different Drummer. We’ve been following the Jane Davila/Elin Watertson book Art Quilt Workbook.

No one is too sure what chapter we’re up to (it’s a very informal group) but we do know the end is near.  The book’s final chapter deals with embellishments, so that’s what I worked on for our November meeting.

Now I don’t get into such embellishments as seed beads or charms -too twee for me. So, I used large beads I bought at Walmart and some vintage cardboard bits of toys to make “Hidden Openings.”

hidden-openingsThe base is a bit of damask tablecloth I dyed with turmeric. I printed it with Styrofoam plate stamps, embroidered it with perle cotton, embellished it with cardboard tractor tires, and finished it all off with cheap beads. All it needs is some fringe – just kidding.

To recap, all my 9 by 12 (ish) inch pieces involve openings in some way. Here’s what I made for this group.

Open EndedOpen Ended

AnEyeOpenerAn Eye Opener

DD April NotchNotch Opening

DD WallgateOpening In The Wall

opening-up-2Opening Up

I think I missed some months or combined them. I found it’s hard to make interesting pieces at a small size, and I know I cheated by adding or subtracting inches.

This year we’ve focused on various techniques, such as using photos, embroidery, paint, embellishments, etc. For 2017 we decided to concentrate more on design, and use Deborah Boschert’s book, Art Quilt Collage. I’ll be interested to see the group’s reactions.



Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Sucked Deeper Into The Printing Vortex

As I’ve shared with you before, I like to print designs on fabric. My latest foray was improvisational screen printing using freezer paper, newspaper, and soy wax. I took a day long class from Sandy Shelenberger with other members of an art quilt group.

We had four yards of cotton fabric to play with, lots of Procion MX dyes and dye thickener, screens, bondo filler spreaders, and various oddments to use for texture. Each student took off in a different direction, so the versatility of the techniques was on full display.

Where are the photos of all that wonderful work? Ahem, I was busy creating and my hands were usually encased in plastic gloves and dye, so I neglected to take pictures. I can show only what I created.

The technique is simple – you mask part of the silk screen with paper/wax/tape and then scrape (this is where the bondo spreader comes in) thickened dye across the screen onto fabric beneath the screen. Freezer paper cut into patterns can be ironed onto the screens and used for several prints. Newspaper can be torn into strips, placed over the cloth, and covered with the screen, which is then scraped with dye. Once the newspaper is covered with dye you can use it to stamp directly on your fabric. Soy wax is melted with an electric skillet or griddle (devoted entirely to non food uses), then painted on the screen. When it dries it resists the dye and makes the pattern. The wax can be washed off the screen with hot water and soap.

Here’s some of the cloth I printed. I view it as work in progress and hope to add further print layers with inks, paints, etc.

soy-wax-3I created a soy wax pattern on a screen and printed it with blue (above) and yellow green (below.) I also swirled a large toothed plastic comb through the green print.

soy-wax-1I cut out a freezer paper pattern and ironed it to the screen. The red was added with a paint brush.

screen-printing-freezer-paperI combined an old silk screen design with a newspaper overlay (2 steps) in the piece below.

silk-screen-newspaperThe dark purple/brown color in some of my prints began as black cherry. Once I messed with it I named the color prune.

The same techniques can be used with paints, printing inks, etc. The dyes give wonderful colors but they are messy.




Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

Sometimes It Really Is Coincidence

The line between inspired by and copied from is often blurry in quilt design. It can lead to pronouncements about seeking permission that stir controversy, like the Modern Quilt Guild’s statement. That statement is now posted as “for historical reference only” after an Internet firestorm.

Yet, sometimes similar ideas occur to different people at roughly the same time with no cause and effect relationship. That happened with my “The Language of Pink Elephants.” It was inspired by a very different piece I made of a modern drunkards path design.


I was surprised when I saw the following piece on Paula Kovarik’s blog. She calls hers “Incoming,” but it has the same pink and black color scheme and the same connecting type of quilting in light colored thread as my piece.

incomingpaulakovarik2016Hers reminds me of Paul Klee’s work. It’s certainly more angular than mine and has more piecing. The pink on mine is sewn down bias strips. I like the bits of gold and yellow to temper all the pink, and the whimsy in Paula’s work.

Oh, one other minor difference – “Incoming” is being shown in a major art quilt exhibit.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

Quirky and Creative Online

Sometimes I need to step back from quilting/crafting internet resources to consider other creative material. Here are some resources that, if nothing else, have refreshed my mind.

Wabi-sabi has become a popular term to describe (and sometimes excuse) less than perfect sewing and quilting. It is a Japanese aesthetic about the beauty of the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. I found a short video (4 minutes) on wabi-sabi by Cristobal Vila from Spain that’s all photography from Japan.

The textures shown in that video are echoed on Elemental Environments, a New Zealand website of photos that are all about texture. Right now the site developers are making the photos freely available. I love to browse the photos for printing and quilting ideas, and to help me see the overlooked. You can also search for specific terms, such as rocks.

elemental-environmentsI think this photo is peeling paint, but to me it’s an abstract landscape.




Filed under Inspiration

A Local Art Quilt Exhibit

Group = Layers of Textile Art (LOTA); members = 15; quilts on display = 34.

Four of my quilts are on display at this group exhibit at the Solon, Ohio, library until November 21.

Our pink thread challenge quilts. One member had a lot of leftover spools of 12 weight pink thread, so…



Our splatter fabric challenge quilts. The fabric was designed by one of our members as part of a SAQA/Andover Fabric contest.


And the artists’ choice section. We work in a variety of styles.



As you can see, Please Do Not Touch The Quilts was well represented.


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows