Category Archives: Art quilts

UFOs Seeking Forever Homes

Sometimes it’s easier to figure how to finish someone else’s abandoned project than your own. That is the theory behind a UFO swap going on in one of my quilt groups. Each participant was to bring a UFO she would never, ever finish to trade for another’s UFO. The projects were drawn blindly. We get to keep the UFO we finish.

This month we’ll reveal our transformations. I drew a bag of surface design experiments, including some stenciled urns, discharged and overdyed black fabric, and some of the same fabric stitched up with metallic thread.

At first I planned to use the discharged fabric for a space galaxy themed idea, but then I began to work with the urns. The faded edges of the stencils made me think of how we lose our memories over time, if we’re unlucky. I put together a trio of memory jars and laid them on a field that starts out crisp, bright and ordered, and gets progressively more chaotic and torn.

Almost all the background fabrics are repurposed gifts. The lavender tinted silver lame was a gift from someone who used to sew country-western costumes. The silk crepe was from a bolt my grandmother had (I ice dyed it.) The damask was from my MIL’s old tablecloth (again dyed by me,) and the velveteen came from a church janitor.

I did hand stitching with metallic thread and added a few hot fix crystals to stand for escaped memories. I also used fabric paint to give a glow to some areas. All the reflective surfaces make this piece very difficult to photograph. It looks different under different lighting.

I’m ambivalent about this piece. My feelings vary depending on the light in which I view it. It may be that I seldom make a “message” piece, and find it difficult to separate the message from the design.

 

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Late for Earth Day

When I saw photos of scientists carrying signs it occurred to me that I missed Earth Day, celebrated last week. In the interests of promoting recycling I’ll present a few of my quilts made of at least 50% re-purposed fabric. Despite the constant appearance of new fabric collections I like to use what I have, even if it isn’t quilting cotton. I’m no expert on the environmental impacts of growing, weaving, and dyeing cotton (see this article on the life of a garment from Apparel Business systems for a broad overview); but I want to re-use where possible.

First, two quilts, which I’ve shown before, that say and indeed make do.

The only new material in the quilt above is thread. I even used up an old skirt on the back, in addition to selvedges, shirts, batting scraps, and trimmings from cropped quilts. You can see I used a discarded block from the quilt below for the K.

Here I focused on men’s old shirts, and learned that shirt material is hard  to work with for binding.

Continuing with the shirts theme, I made a small quilt with my husband’s dress shirts as a way to celebrate his retirement. A few striped and yellow quilting cottons from my stash managed to sneak in.

Most recently,  in “Repurposed/Resurfaced” I used a drop cloth that began life as a tablecloth. I also included a damask table napkin and color test swatches from silk screen printing, in addition to fabric I screened and painted. There’s a smidge of commercial fabric and the bias tape is store bought (I lost good karma points there.) Lesson learned – woven polyester tablecloths take fabric paint well but smell horrible when ironed.

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

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Yet Another Scrap Quilt

Everywhere I look on social media quilting pundits are touting the glories of reuse and recycling. Just this week I found TrashN2Tees on Instagram. So, it would seem I’m accidentally in the vanguard with my scrap projects. Of course, quilters have always used scraps as a money saving practice, even before Earth Day.

My latest scrap project used leftovers from my faux torn paper quilt, “The Smokies.” Why bother storing them? “Lattices” developed from weaving the craggy edged remnants together and adding very large hand stitching to the exposed background cloth. It was sloppy but fun to make.

Here you can see the perle cotton stitching scattered over the surface. I did the blue stitching before quilting, and the orange after, working between the top and backing. I also fused non woven interfacing to the back of the top before doing any hand stitching so the stitches wouldn’t draw up.

 

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Circular Abstractions Exhibit

Earlier this month I traveled to Lancaster, Ohio, to see the Circular Abstractions exhibit curated by Nancy Crow, and had my eyeballs bombarded by intense color and pattern, in a very good way. The Ohio Decorative Arts Center there is hosting the exhibit until April 23, 2017, after which it will move on to other venues in the east and northeast.

The 51 quilts in the show were made at Crow’s invitation by some of her former students. Like most of Crow’s work, they are large (at least 60 inches square,) feature highly contrasting solid colors, and follow the bulls eye quilt format. They are pieced, with no raw edge applique. Most also feature matchstick type quilting, sometimes spaced as little as an eighth inch apart.

I went around the show three times and could have spent even more time, but my group had lunch reservations. The venue was tight and the quilts were large, as I mentioned, so displays were creative. Some quilts were wrapped around large pillars so the quilts showed in the round. Others were grouped by fours on L shaped metal frames, so the quilt mid lines met at the center. Luckily, our group had the place to ourselves for a while, so we could peer at details and back up to see the quilts from a distance.

We weren’t allowed to photograph the show, but I found photos online by some of the quilters and the museum that organized the show. I’ll start with room shots, and then show some of my favorites.

The above photos were taken by Heather Pregger, one of the artists, at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

Here you can see the quilts wrapped around the pillars. This photo and others below are from WOUB Digital.

The black and white quilts are all pieced, not appliqued.

One of my favorites, Maren Johnston’s Emergence, is against the far wall. It features beautiful small pieces skillfully blended with each other. I found it more refined than some of the other quilts.

This is one of two quilts by Ohioan Maria Elkins. We spent a lot of time puzzling over whether she painted all those dots or used fabric. Turns out she used fabric, which had to be bias cut and pieced.

Finally, here’s my favorite by a whisker. It’s Rise by Carol Hazen. The bull’s eye elements are secondary to the letters, but give a lovely transparency effect. The light colored quilting thread also enhances that effect.

More photos are available at the Muskegon Museum of Art’s website.

Special Ohio events related to this show are a lecture by Nancy Crow on April 2, and a day long workshop on making bull’s eye motifs on April 1. You’ll need a reservation for either.

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Beatles Challenge Is Done and Dusted

I mentioned my guild’s Beatles song challenge as one of my projects for 2017. I chose Paperback Writer, and had great fun researching old pulp paperback covers.

dark-street-murders-coverThe legs encased in seamed stockings drew me to this cover for my inspiration. It was one of several that featured women’s gams. I changed it up a bit, added other bits appropriate to a pulp mystery story, and drew it out.  Since books need titles, I picked a 1964 Beatles song, Baby’s In Black, as suitable to the occasion.

Once I sewed together the green/yellow/black ombre fabrics as the background, I fused the figures and shadows on.

baby-partsI used black organza and black netting for the shadows. The red title piece was sewn on and then the fabric in back was cut off to reduce bulk. Drawing the gun gave me some difficulty until I simplified it. According to my husband the barrel is too short, but he wasn’t the one who had to cut it out. BTW, my husband also asked where the blood was. I told him the guy sustained a head wound.

babys-in-black

 

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On Top Of Old Smoky

While the weather here bounced around from 12 to 50 degrees I was revisiting the Smoky Mountains in fabric. I settled on an arrangement of my faux paper strips, sewed them down, and cobbled a way to finish the edges. I used no batting, but fused Decor Bond to my foundation fabric, and it’s a good thing I did. The finished product is heavy and might buckle without that extra firmness.

Because the fabric strips were three layers thick (top fabric, fusing, interfacing) I elected to trim up the side edges and sew some twill tape to them. I pressed the edges to the back and hand sewed them down. The top edge got the same treatment, while the bottom edge, which is only one layer thick, got turned under.

smokies-back

This project came with a bonus. I bypassed my scraps bins for the trimmings and created another small piece with them for this month’s scrap quilt. The base layer is fabric I had silk screened with thickened dye.

interwovenThe finished product, The Smokies, measures 20 by 25 inches.

the-smokies

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Mini Designs

By mini, I mean about four inches square, practically drink coaster size. I made seven tiny designs with a small group that is now exploring Deborah Boschert’s “Art Quilt Collage.” The author suggests quick fabric sketches to get familiar with her eight design guides.

Armed with craft felt squares and lots of already fused fabric scraps we arranged our bits and spent some time squinting at the effects. Once we were satisfied we pressed them down. The author says this should be done fairly quickly and spontaneously, but it took us the better part of two hours.

My gallery reflects my love of bright colors and diagonal lines.

mini-designsMaybe I’ll quilt them, zigzag around the edges and use them for drink coasters. I suspect they’d stimulate some conversation about the state of the hostess’ mind.

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