Last year I began to poke my head over the parapet a bit and get out more. The landscape has changed as online teaching and get togethers become more permanent. I am so over Zoom meetings, though it can work for classes.
I used the extra home time to dive into non fabric art mediums such as collage and mixed media. Of course that meant new supplies were bought and a new learning curve was begun, which was a good thing. The basics of design and composition carried over from quilting, of course, but different mediums have different pros and cons.
It is so much easier, probably too easy, to make changes with paint and paper than with fabric. One new supply that gave me trouble was brushes – which type of brush to use and how to handle it. I found a world of difference between flat and round brushes, and was astounded at the difference a good brush makes for watercolor. This is where videos have an advantage over in person instruction as you can rewatch a teacher wielding a brush until the knack becomes clear.
While I made fewer quilts in 2022 I didn’t stop making them. I finished fourteen quilts, though some had been started before 2022. I consider “Homage to Escher,” “Rhody,” “The Left Coast,” and “Happy Accidents/Chaos Theory” to be serious art quilts. Two are experiments that didn’t quite gel – “The Eyes Have It” and “Along Portage Path.” The rest are scrappy quilts that allowed me to play with color.
Except for “Homage to Escher” I enhanced these with paint, Neocolor II water soluble crayons specifically; and I used a Spoonflower printed fabric in “Homage.” I am learning that subtle gradations and blurring of color are more effectively done with paint than with fabric or stitch. It’s also much faster to do – a big factor for me.
In 2022 I entered my work in fewer shows. “Dreams of Freedom” was in the 2022 Sacred Threads show and “Shattered” was in Fiber Art Network’s Excellence in Quilts. Hmm, it seems I didn’t tell you about the Sacred Threads exhibit. I realized that if my work is accepted I can count on an overall outlay of about $100 for entry fees and shipping. That cost would be worthwhile if I were publicizing my teaching or felt my work would sell. Since neither applies, I now think long and hard before entering a show. Alas, there are few opportunities to enter local art shows. Summit Artspace in Akron offers a few juried shows open to all art mediums, and my “Still Standing” was included in their 2022 Fresh show. I did show “Calliope” at the non-juried Lake Farmpark show in northeast Ohio and won a blue ribbon for my category. However, I am over judges’ review of my workmanship, so I don’t plan to enter any more shows with that feature.
Of course learning never ends. I did no in person classes, but took a six hour Zoom workshop with Valerie Goodwin. It seemed to be a sped up version of a longer workshop, so I took in less than I had hoped. I really should have taken better notes. I also tried a free stitching workshop by Gwen Hedley from textileartist.org, but found the approach didn’t work for me. However, the website is full of stitching inspiration.
On the paper side I took an online gel printing class from Drew Steinbrecher, and a few freebies such as Drew’s collaged board books and that for Fodder Challenge. To gain more exposure to mixed media I signed up for the year long Wanderlust class series. I found the lessons to be hit or miss. I think I did about 50% of the classes. I did learn about materials and techniques new to me – gesso, modeling paste, watercolor painting, and portraiture. The organizers had developed a structure centered on materials such as gesso, acrylic paint, inks, modeling paste, watercolor, etc.; however, the instructors sometimes made just passing use of the materials for that unit and at least one totally ignored them. I thought some of the instructors’ samples were awful, but other students rhapsodized about how wonderful the lessons were. Students were encouraged to post their work. I was surprised to see how closely some followed the instructor’s sample. I concluded there are way too many butterflies used in mixed media works. All that said, some of the student work posted was wonderful.
I just reread my goals for 2022 (where I should have started the post,) and I’ve achieved about 75% of them. I completed one more panel of my unknown family series,with one more to come. All four scrap strip quilts are done and dusted. I have found new homes for many of my quilts, especially small ones, though I still have far too many. Hand stitching my wool squares to a background is my Florida vacation project.
My biggest art life disappointment in 2022 was the demise of an art quilt group I belonged to for many years. Granted it wasn’t in the best shape before 2020, but Covid put paid to it. The members didn’t want to try online meetings, and managed to meet only once after things opened up at a lunch hosted by a generous member. Radio silence ever since. Individual art friends have moved away so contact with them is now online rather than in person.
Overall, my 2022 was a year of pivoting to other art materials and trying for more deliberate creation of fiber art. I guess my improv urges moved over to paper, where for 2022 I had the excuse I was a beginner. I’ll lose that fig leaf in 2023. Time for the big girl pants.
“Photo Memory Quilts” Book Review
It’s been a long time since I reviewed a fiber art book here, partly because I haven’t found ones I thought were interesting enough and partly because there seem to be fewer craft books published these days. Thanks to my library I came upon Lesley Riley’s latest book, “Photo Memory Quilts,” which I really could have used a year ago when I was making my unknown family quilts.
The book combines discussion of why you would want to make a memory quilt, ways to get ideas for one, and nuts and bolts of constructing one. It has examples of quilts made by Lesley and others, so you’re presented with many different approaches.
Lesley begins with how to photograph old photos. She doesn’t assume you own all the photos you will use, but gives specific online resources for copyright free photos. Then she shows how to edit photos for printing on fabric and gives pros and cons of several printing methods. Of the methods she reviews, I have tried printing directly to prepared fabric sheets (Jacquard,) and on demand digital printing. I have used two other methods – cyanotype, and Solar Fast – though not with photo negatives. Lesley is so right that your editing before printing is important to get the look you want.
Two points of note here: Lesley is the developer of TAP artist transfer paper and she uses Apple products for editing, especially an iPhone. I haven’t used the paper, mostly because it costs about $3 per 8.5 by 11 inch sheet, so I can’t give any opinions there. I have an Android phone, but found the features available on my phone that I tried worked fine. I am looking forward to experimenting with suggested apps for sharpening blurry images and colorizing them.
Once your photos are on fabric and you have a design, Lesley walks you through some of her quilt construction methods, including edge finishes. Basically, it’s whatever works, including wood glue. She doesn’t treat the three layer quilt as sacred. Quilting is enough to hold the parts together, but isn’t dominant in the examples shown.
Would you to see some examples?
If you’re interested in this kind of quilt I recommend you at least page through this book. It has lots of helpful advice and examples, without being a pattern book.
Filed under Art quilts, Books, Commentary, Completed Projects, Techniques
Tagged as "Photo Memory Quilts", copyright free photo sources, Lesley Riley, memory quilt examples, photo editing