Category Archives: Art quilts

From A Distance

Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” minus people

My husband and I are well stuck into our current isolation, and we’re glad our house is large enough to allow us to have our own spaces. Otherwise, we’d be tripping over each other. Of course one of my main spaces is my studio, where I spend at least a few hours each day.

If you think I’ve been sewing up a storm you’re wrong. I’ve been paper and fabric collaging, and finishing up two black and white pieces. Why collage? One of my studio clean up projects was to sort through pages ripped from magazines. That led to watching a few videos and then collaging on the blank sides of sketchbook pages. I also created more colored tissue paper to use up some almost empty bottles of Dylusions ink sprays. Some of the papers are lovely; others are a bit muddy.

Lessons learned:

Magazine pages really like to wrinkle when glued, despite smoothing with fingers and old credit card

I need to learn how to use acrylic paint better

Lay down a colored background before you start collaging as it’s hard to add after the fact

Already fused fabric is easy to collage and can be pried off with heat and moved around (something impossible with glue)

Here are my efforts to date.

My first effort using tissue paper, magazines and paint.
Second try with already fused fabric scraps and colored pencil.
Third try with all magazine paper-very wrinkled. Lower right needs design work.

I hope to improve my collage skills over the next few weeks, once I figure out the right glue(s) to use. Collages are good design exercises.

The black and white pieces I made with my mark making class output are also experiments. One is more successful than the other, but I learned from both.

Fire or Ice
Still Standing

Finally, I did make a few masks to have on hand for personal use. I’ve wavered about the whole homemade mask enterprise as I’m concerned many won’t be useable. Sewers respond generously to such requests, but there’s a lot of room for good intentions to go astray. Elastic doesn’t hold up well to commercial laundering. The proliferation of patterns is confusing to me. Some have a pocket for a filter. My local hospital prefers the masks be lined with flannel. Other hospitals want nose shaping wires sewn in.

I’ll see if requirements and need for masks change before I make more. As I usually do, I’m linking up with Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas, Techniques

Work Slowdown

The pace of the creative work I’m doing seems to match that of our economy right now. That’s because I’m doing hand sewing, not one of my stronger skills.

A few weeks ago I showed you set in circle blocks I made from various surface design experiments. They are now sewn together and I’m working on the quilting. I decided to hand quilt in each block, and then machine quilt the overall structure. Because I didn’t want all the thread starts and stops to show on the back, I elected to hand stitch through the top and wool batting only. Here you can see my batting with its join seam. Note the hand basting to secure the layers.

The machine quilting will go through these layers and the backing, and I hope it will be sufficient to hold it all together without shifting.

So far I’ve sewn around about half the shapes, and sewn down about a third of the bands across the shapes. I’m using a 12 weight neon green thread around the shapes and embroidery floss for the bands. The floss is from the stash of a longtime volunteer at the theatrical costume shop. It’s wound onto little cards with the color number attached. Would that my threads were so organized.

I think I’ll need to machine stitch each shape down around its edge for definition and stability. That is something I don’t look forward to doing.

The piece is called “Fortune and Fate,” because I see the shapes as talismans. According to Merriam-Webster, a talisman is “an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune.” Fingers crossed.

I’m linking of Off The Wall Fridays, and may even do the Corona Quilt-Along.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

In All Seasons

In 2014 I made the first of a series based on photos I took of a tidal marsh in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. I didn’t intend to make a series, but after autumn was done it seemed to need company. Spring followed in 2016 as a response to a master class prompt since I already had done the drawing and just needed to make it more abstract. I had a large drawing of my scene left thanks to my error at the print shop, and I didn’t want to waste it. So, winter was next in 2018 as I had many beautiful hand dyes suited to that season.

Of course, summer, being the last, seemed to take forever. I finished the facing last week, and am relieved to call the series done.

Again, I used hand painted and dyed fabrics with some commercial fabrics. Appliqueing the grasses in the foreground was great fun.

To refresh your memory, here are the seasons in order of completion.

Tidal Marsh Autumn
Tidal Marsh Spring
Winter Fields

All except Winter Fields are approximately 15 by 33 inches. Winter ended up at 46 by 27 inches, thanks to that copy shop error.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Revisiting A Goal

Over the past two years I have made a conscious effort to show my work publicly. While I have focused on national shows, I’ve also entered local shows. Ironically, I’ve had greater success with the latter. Right now the three pieces shown below are in a local juried art show.

“Disco Woks”
“Dark and Deep”
“Let The Mystery Be”

By my calculations my work has had roughly 50 percent success in being selected. I’ve entered quilt, fiber, and all art media shows. For some shows I realized after the fact my work was totally outclassed. I’m looking at you, Excellence in Fibers. For others, once I saw the work selected I decided my work simply didn’t fit what the juror was looking for.

To enter juried (and most other) shows, you need to fill out an application and pay an entry fee. Since selection is based on digital photos, you need to submit photos that do justice to your work. Shows that produce catalogs use the images you submit, so they have to be high quality ones.

As you probably have figured out, the costs begin to add up. Professional photography fees can run $30 to $50 per piece. Entry fees can range from $15 to $50, though often you can submit up to three entries for the higher fee. If your work is selected, you need to pay shipping costs to and from the venue, unless it’s close enough to drive to. Many shows specify you can’t use USPS, a cheaper alternative to UPS and FedEx. Total shipping to and from the last show my work was in came to $55. Recently I saw a call for entry with a $20 handling fee for unpacking and repacking your work.

The cost is worth it if your piece sells or if the show helps increase name recognition for your teaching or work. Since I don’t teach and have made no organized effort to sell my work, the calculus is different for me.

In 2020 I plan to enter fewer shows. That’s partly because some of my work is aging out. Many shows specify work has to have been made in the past three years. Right now that’s 2018, 2019, or 2020. Another reason is that much of what I’m creating right now doesn’t have show potential. I’m trying different materials and creating small pieces. Shows like big work, and often have a minimum size requirement.

I’ll see if my mind gets changed by the SAQA seminar I’ve signed up for called “Your Professional Toolkit.” It will cover exhibiting your art as one of six topics. Stay tuned.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Quilt Shows

Down The Home Stretch of 2019

With only thirteen days left in 2019 it’s clear which of my unfinished pieces are going to be first in line for 2020. However, I do have four finished works to end this year.

First, because it’s so different from the others, is “Oops!” I did the splash outline with 12 weight cotton thread.


The remaining three finishes are winter appropriate as December 21, the winter solstice, is a few days away. I made “Winter Blues” from leftovers of previous work and old curtains, plus the last of some McKenna Ryan fabric. I thought it would be a doddle to make, but I was so wrong. The binding is a metallic infused cotton/linen.

“Winter Blues” 24 by 33 inches

The remaining two finishes are for a January 2020 art quilt group challenge. Both are small and use scraps from the theater costume shop floor mixed with bits from my stash.

“Winter’s Closing In” makes liberal use of painted cheesecloth and hand stitching. “Deep and Dark December” is all machine stitched, and is mounted to a prestretched canvas. Yet more hand dyed damask tablecloth found its way into the middle ground, and sparkly netting gives shading to the bottom.

“Winter’s Closing In” 14 by 17 inches
“Deep and Dark December” 14 by 14 inches

I don’t promise that’s the end of my 2019 work, but I think it may be.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Back To Business

Now that I have my save the planet message out of my system I’ll return to my usual programming. Lately I’ve been playing with additions to old surface design pieces and using up scraps and pre-assembled bits.

Thanks to an inspiring collage workshop with Andrea Myers I came away with renewed interest in my old surface design pieces and some ideas for adding layers on top of already made quilts.

First, I stamped over painted/printed interfacing to add a third (maybe fourth?) layer. I have many other pieces that may benefit from similar treatment.

Then, I used the outline of the squiggle from my Rex Ray embroidery to cut out a piece of red felt and cover it with fused fabric scraps. I will sew it, plus a few additions, on top of leftover pieces from my Nancy Crow project. I’m calling it “Oops.”

My idea comes from Andrea’s work with industrial strapping that she showed us at the workshop. I think “Oops” has some family resemblance to a sculpture made of railroad track I saw on NYC’s High Line.

Finally, I pieced a “real” quilt top from scraps, inspired by a blog post from Christina Camelli. I pretty much followed her directions, and enjoyed the on-the-fly creation of scrappy strips. You can see the size pieces I began with. The largest size unit I cut up was a fat quarter.

“Sunset” 48 by 65 inches

I believe I’ve followed my own advice about using what I already have, and feel virtuous. Now I need to get to work and use more of my surface design experiments.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

Summer Is Done

I realize the title makes me sound as if I’ve been seriously out of touch with reality, but I’m talking about my Nova Scotia tidal marsh landscape series. The fourth one, summer, is close to completion, some five years after I began the series with autumn.

There was no logic to the order I worked in – autumn, spring, winter, summer. It was up to what fabrics appealed to me at the time. All except winter are relatively small, about 15 inches high and 32 inches wide. Winter is roughly double the size of its companions because I goofed when enlarging my drawing. You can read about the earlier landscapes here, here, and here.

Summer presents the same scene – a tidal marsh in Annapolis Royal – from a slightly different perspective. I used the applique construction method I learned from Vikki Pignatelli, with fused applique for the small details like the grasses.

Starting from the bottom, my enlarged drawing with piecing numbers and color notations; my colored pencil drawing; and my piece before fusing applique on. The strips on the left are my freezer paper pattern pieces, made from the bottom drawing.

I had fun making the grasses from slivers of fused fabrics.

Now the fused bits are in place and I plan to add paint/Inktense pencil highlights in a few areas before I quilt it.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process