Monthly Archives: May 2018

Bound To Finish

Recuperation is great for mindless sewing tasks such as sewing on quilt bindings. I actually got two largish quilts done since my surgery – Damask and Denim and Trip Around Columbus. It helped that the bindings were already made, so I just had to machine, then hand stitch them.

I quilted most of Damask and Denim (44 by 55 inches) with a golden yellow cotton thread, though I used a pale blue in the diamond interiors. The binding is a soft gray small print.

Trip Around Columbus was made from an Art Gallery pattern, and features many fabrics I made in a painted dye workshop. I had it quilted by a longarm quilter as the size (55 inches square) was just too large for me to deal with, especially after Damask and Denim. It’s bound with what I think is home dec fabric that was given to me. I also used some of it as part of the backing.

You can see how it crinkled up after washing and drying. I used a bamboo batting.

I have heaved a sigh of relief that these large projects are done, though they are no longer my excuses for postponing a piece that will require a lot of thinking and planning. It’s to be a map quilt of the Ohio and Erie Canal near my house. I’ve found archival photos that I hope to print on fabric. Right now I’m worrying over how best to do that, and have ordered supplies for different approaches – transfer printing and direct printing on fabric. I’m even considering a new printer, though I spent yesterday agonizing over reviews of various options. Some reviewers have had horrible experiences, which I’d prefer to avoid. If you have any recommendations, let me know.


Filed under Completed Projects, Fabric Printing

Artistic Endeavors – Excellence in Fibers 2017

As a quilter I sometimes forget that the world of fiber encompasses much more than a three layer fabric sandwich. Fiber Art Network, a subscription organization for “artists, collectors, enthusiasts, and leaders in the fiber art and textiles community,” presented a juried exhibition called Excellence in Fibers 2017 that’s full of unexpected and intriguing ways to create fiber art. I don’t claim to understand it all, but I like seeing a variety of approaches.

Here are a few selections that caught my eye. I deliberately didn’t select pieces I could identify as quilts, though many are in the exhibition.

Betty Busby, Wing

Emily Jan, Apologue

Mariko Kusomoto, Garden Mosaic

Ruth Marchese, Space in Time

Annette Heully, Interconnected

The Fiber Art Network website also offers some videos and galleries of previous Excellence in Fibers shows.


Filed under Commentary, Exhibits, Inspiration


A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. (Wikipedia)

I have no idea how common it is for quilters to rework their quilts, but I decided to redo one abstract landscape mixed media piece I made in 2016. It’s made partly with fabric and partly with painted tissue paper coated with gel medium. There’s no batting; it’s quilted onto rayon/wool felt.

“Golden” was the last piece I made as part of my master class with Elizabeth Barton. Her comments were:  “Love the sense of light in this one too…but be careful dividing the picture plane in two….perhaps consider adding another section on the left?  it feels like it “drops off” a bit there.  I usually suggest cropping but this time I think a little more would be a better solution – and we’d have more!  the colors of the abstracted landscape are really beautiful…and  the textures..
actually when you get a little added on the left, you might consider cropping the top v.v. slightly….just so you get as much depth in the middle as possible.”

I began by attempting to create a new section for the left side, but found nothing that worked after about a week of frustration. Then, I thought I’d make the left side smaller by cutting off a chunk and adding it to the right side. I also added a strip of tissue paper fabric to give a crisp vertical line, and cut off about 3 inches from the top.

To finish it off I created a binding on three sides using Sue Bleiweiss’ almost no sew technique.

The results? I like it better than the original, but I wish I hadn’t cut off so much from the top. Oh well, too late now. That piece has become part of what I created from my unsuccessful attempts to make a new left side. It’s not quite done, but close I think.



Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Artistic Endeavors – A Woman Artist, Circa 1916

Many commenters have noted how women have been shut out of mainstream art networks, and their work ignored or overlooked. Thanks to Barbara Brackman’s blog Women’s Work I learned about Annie Traquair Lang, whose work wasn’t just ignored but falsely attributed to William Merritt Chase – her teacher and possible lover.

Chase’s portrait of Lang, above, was removed from the Met by Chase’s widow and later purchased by Lang.

Chase is renowned as the teacher of just about anybody who was an artist in the 19th century through his work at the The Art Students League (1878–1896 and 1907–1911), Brooklyn Art School (1887–1895), Art Institute of Chicago (1894; 1897–98), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1896–1909), and Hartford Art School (1900–1905). Chase even established the Chase School of Art, later renamed the New York School of Art (1896–1907). For 12 years, he directed the Shinnecock Summer School of Art (1891–1902), the largest plein-air art school in America.

Lang was a talented student of Chase who had the misfortune of dying young and poor, at 33, and having her family sell off her possessions and artwork.

For many, you can’t talk about art without mentioned its imputed economic worth. From a dollars and cents perspective, a painting by William Merritt Chase is worth more than one by Annie Lang. In the 1970s Ronald Pisano, a Chase scholar, discovered a major portrait of Chase (below), long thought to be a self-portrait, was actually painted by Lang. Her signature had been cut off and his forged in its place. In 1973 it sold for $47,500 at Sotheby’s in New York, setting a Chase auction record. But then Pisano brought out 1910s published images of Lang’s original. The auctioneer took back the adulterated canvas and reattributed and reoffered it. Raymond and Margaret Horowitz bought it for $3,240 (note the huge price reduction) and donated it to the Met. It wasn’t the only one of her works to suffer such treatment.

Where does this leave Annie Lang? Obscure and underappreciated, at best. She was considered Chase’s most representative student in the 1910s, and had a solo show. Yet by the 1930s her work was being passed off as Chase’s. Recently scholars such as Eve M. Kahn have been trying to find more information about Lang.

The two above paintings by Lang depict plein-air summer art classes.


Filed under Commentary

As I Was Saying…

I made an impulse buy of Marabu wax pastel crayons at my local arts and crafts store. These lipstick-like markers can be diluted with water or applied thickly for intense color. They are designed primarily for mixed media uses, not for fabric. But…I decided to try them out.

I gathered a variety of fabric scraps for my trials. Most were all cotton. Two were primarily synthetic. I drew letters, scribbled, diluted my lines with water, applied the crayons over dry and wet fabrics, and made rubbings from textured plates. Here’s the results of my first trials before immersing some of them in water.

After 24 hours I soaked my scraps in lukewarm water to test for color fastness and found lots of color loss. Definitely not a product to use on any fabric that will be washed or exposed to water.

However, I liked the feel of using the crayons enough to do further experimentation. I watched a few videos about this product and decided to try smearing, stenciling, and rubbing.

Green silk organza stenciled with Marabu crayon. The crayon is good for stenciling because it doesn’t run (unless you add water.)

Rubbings applied on Pellon 830 with dry crayon, then sprayed with water. I started to outline the shapes in the smaller rubbing with ink. With this technique you’d need to be sparing with the water used, otherwise your design will wash out.

Thick application of crayon on Pellon 830, sprayed with water, then hand rubbed with plate under fabric. I like this effect, though you don’t get much smearing of the crayon on fabric. The videos show lots of smearing on paper.

Heavy scribbles on cotton fabric with water applied lightly by brush. This shows the transparent effects possible with the crayon.


It’s an interesting product for adding lots of intense color to areas, not so good for fine detail drawing. It is literally like drawing with a lipstick.

It is blendable with water, and works well when applied to damp surfaces.

The lack of color fastness is a major drawback for use in working quilts, not so much for display pieces. The manufacturer says it sets up after 24 hours and can’t be reactivated, but I don’t think they plan for full immersion.

It’s probably not the most cost effective product of this type on the market, especially because it spreads so easily you’d (at least I’d) be tempted to use lots at a time. I believe it’s comparable to Gelato crayon markers.

Will I buy more? Probably not, unless the price is deeply discounted.  The price I paid was about $2.50 a marker.

If you’ve tried this product I’d love to hear about your experiences.








Filed under Techniques

Humans Plan, God Laughs

I was going to share some of my recent experiments with a new to me coloring tool, but instead I had my appendix out. I feel much better now.


Filed under Everything Else

Artistic Endeavors – Art Forms of Nature

When I came across Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur plates published in 1904 I felt such an affinity for all the curves.

According to Wikipedia, Haeckel

was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and Protista.

Besides all that, he dabbled in philosophy, penning a work called “The Riddle of the Universe.” Only in that time period could such disciplines have co-existed in one person. But wait, there’s more. He was also an artist, producing 100 detailed sketches of animals and sea creatures that were translated from sketch to print by lithographer Adolf Giltsch and published in Kunstformen der Natur. The images influenced several artists associated with the Art Nouveau movement.

Haeckel is yet another distinguished person I’ve never heard of before, but he has been memorialized in place names. “In the United States, Mount Haeckel, a 13,418 ft (4,090 m) summit in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, overlooking the Evolution Basin, is named in his honour, as is another Mount Haeckel, a 2,941 m (9,649 ft) summit in New Zealand; and the asteroid 12323 Haeckel.” (Wikipedia)

Here are a few of his drawings that are a bit spikier. To me they resemble drawings of science fiction universes done by someone on hallucinogens.





Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Getting My Curve On

So far this year my work has been squared off and rectilinear. I’m breaking with that in my latest WIP, which is all about curves.

I was inspired by a sketch left over from my 2016 master class and my hoard of silk fabrics.

I had developed several sketches using cut shapes of tissue paper.

Someday had arrived for the dupioni, sari and kimono silks, the broadcloths, and the silk-cotton combo fabrics I’ve collected. Because the silks were different weights, I stabilized them with either fusible nylon knit tricot or WonderUnder. The differing material characteristics (some were closely woven, some ravelled or shredded, etc.) led me to use raw edge applique instead of piecing. I used MistyFuse for any pieces not backed with WonderUnder.

There were translation issues between my sketch and the work. The sketch was designed for transparent fabrics, and was another take on overlapped pieces of silk organza, a technique I used in Unfolding.

Unfolding 25″ sq.

I didn’t have the color changes created by the fabric overlaps, so I had to come up with an opaque approach. Here’s my first version.

The “hat” had to go. It looked lovely with transparent layers, but not as a solid piece. I ended up with huge blooms that would fit into a jungle. All the sinuous curves give it an Art Nouveau feel, like the embroidered fabric below.

After I ironed down the pieces I straight stitched around all the edges. I tried out a buttonhole and a zigzag stitch, but found they frayed the edges and caused raveling. There is still a bit of fraying, but I’ll have to live with it.

I plan to have Rococo (tentative title) quilted by a local long arm quilter who is very good with curved designs. For once, I think it’s the right approach to accentuate the curves. It should finish about 36 by 30 inches.



Filed under In Process