Tag Archives: master class

Layered Progress

Since this month’s master class theme was layers I’d best move fast to get Elizabeth’s comments on my blocked out piece published before the end of May. Below is what I sent in and the comments I received.

2 images of my blocked layer piece. The only difference is the background material. One is a blue/gray solid; the other is a pale blue/green mottled batik.  I placed my piece on clear plastic so I could try different backgrounds.

The organza painted up in more pastel colors than I normally work with, but I think the lightness works with the sheer effect. I’ve added pieces to the ones shown in my sketch, so the whole thing has become more ruffley. That may be the influence of all the tree peony blossoms I saw last week.

I rotated the piece so it looks like an opening flower. It can also work flipped 180 degrees to look like hanging fruit.

JMM May 2016 layers blocked 1

JMM May 2016 layers blocked 2
It looks really beautiful…you show the idea of layers and all the wonderful effects you can achieve with them so well… and I like the idea of the opening flower…
now as to the background…I think you get more of a glow with a lighter color..but you don’t need the  mottling…how about a very pale yellow?  solid…but very very light….see how the grey background in the lower picture is dulling some of the colors?  But the upper one has the distracting mottling?
Remember the background fabric will show through.  It would also be interesting  to try white.
and what an excellent idea to have the composition on clear plastic so you can try different background – I must remember that!!!  apart from getting the right background, I think everything else is perfect…and just what I hoped somebody would do!!!
There is one thing though…the organza will probably look best if it’s handstitched down along the edges with a tiny little hem-type stitch in one strand of something  very fine…so you can hold onto this illusion of lightness…… if you use fusing be awfully careful that no glue shows through….
I’d do a  few samples just to see what looks best.

I’m now sewing down the organza pieces with a machine button hole stitch, changing out the thread color to match. My composition has changed, as intimated in the following dialogue:

Husband: I opened the window in your sewing room Me: Oh, no! my organza isn’t attached. Husband: I thought the plastic was on top. Me: No, it wasn’t.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Sheer Layers, Sheer Fun

My May master class assignment is layers, which is right in my wheelhouse. You may recall my rhapsodies over my Empty Spools translucent fabric class. I haven’t worked with transparency since I finished The Big Bang. My first step will be to paint yards of silk organza.


Below is what I sent Elizabeth and her response:

For this assignment I went wild with tissue paper collage, but I did convert my photos to black and white. I plan to use painted silk organza for my piece. I’ve used it before for transparency work and find it works well fused or stitched.

 As to examples of painters and quilters that use layering effects, here are a few:

http://jssgallery.org/Paintings/Lady_Agnew.htm (look at the sleeves)

I’ve been collecting examples of transparency on a Pinterest board for some time.

I used a candle flame shape (seems to be a popular choice in this class) in three sizes, and did trace the shapes for part 3 of our assignment.  My sketch 1 layers the basic shapes over each other in a mirrored effect. Sketch 2 layers a full view with detail. I considered putting something in the center-ish opening, but decided to leave it alone for now. Sketch 3 combines two different sketches. In this one, I erased extraneous lines and shaded in what would be color overlays. I tried several crops, but decided to send the most inclusive version. I think it may be too busy unless I go really big.

I like the ideas and the shapes – great thought to use tissue paper to work out designs.  I find the one above just a little too symmetrical to be really interesting….though the surprise of the very transparent layer is rather nice…
However the one below is very good I think and it works well…there’s a nice flow of movement around the shape…
I do keep wondering if it should be rotated 90 degrees to the left as you have a lot of weight on the left hand side…
I do like the way the negative space reflects the positive shapes – good one!
also the little unexpected shapes as one works one’s way around…can’t see any adjustments, I’d make at this stage.


Nice sketch, symmetrical but not too much…lots of flow and opportunities for overlapping layers and shifts in hue and value..works very well in a square –
I like the way some of the leaves go right off the edge, but the circle always pulls us around…it should make up very well – don’t make it too small!!!  It will work as big as you can do!

As always, with the blocked out piece due on the 20th of the month, I don’t have time to get too elaborate. That means I will most likely make up sketch 2 and save sketch 3 for later.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

Kindergarten Deja Vu

I have fond childhood memories of cutting up sheets of colored paper with blunt end scissors to make shapes, then gluing them (and my fingers) to construction paper. For my latest master class assignment, layers, I’m revisiting those kindergarten skills.

I love transparent layers, so I’m deviating a bit from the assignment by cutting tissue paper into three sizes of a candle flame-like shape. Then I play. When I make an arrangement that appeals to me, I take a picture.

Here are my shapes ready for action.

cut tissue paperI warmed up with simple combinations, then got more baroque.



layers twins


For my class I’m de-saturating the colors so I can see if the values work, but those photos aren’t nearly as much fun. I’m also doing a pencil sketch that’s quite elaborate, but again it’s black and white.

My silk organza arrived from Dharma Trading, so I’ll start painting it once I pick my colors.


Filed under In Process, Techniques

Cautious Optimism and Spring

I’ve been sewing again for a week, carefully restricting the amount of time with my machine. It seems to be paying off as my arms feel better. Of course, my improved health could also be due to the warm weather we’re finally getting. With age my body is turning into a weather forecasting system. My sinuses ache with any change in barometric pressure and my joints foretell cold weather. Yes, I can feel it in my bones.

Speaking of spring, I decided to devote my April master class landscape to spring colors. Even though I submitted four sketches, I blocked out a linear, abstract landscape from a quilt I’ve made twice already.

I used Ruth McDowell’s freezer paper template method, so the paper edges will be my sewing guide for a pieced quilt. What’s shown below is the reverse of the scene. After I took the photo I cut out the individual pieces and ironed them to fabric. Each template is numbered and the top is marked. I drew tick marks in different colors to help me line up the pieces for sewing.

Pattern for Marsh in Spring

Here’s the photos of the two almost identical versions I submitted, followed by Elizabeth’s comments. I will make the minor modification she suggests.


It’s beautiful…and definitely very spring like.  I do like the little accent down on the bottom right and then the great stretch of viridian out to the horizon – lovely.
Definitely  the bottom one..I think the darker green/brown adds a little more weight – everything else looks really good…though I puzzle over the strange house or muffin shape on the upper right – I don’t think you need it…I would just let the blue fabric flow through to the side.  The scale of it feels wrong somehow.   Yes I like McDowell’s piecing – well anybody’s piecing really…anything can be worked out.  she was a great master at using value with all the patterned commercial fabrics.”

I think it will finish around 16 inches by 32 inches. This makes the third in a series of landscapes I’ve made based on tidal salt marshes in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Only summer remains.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

The Great Outdoors

For April my master class assignment is landscape. We were encouraged to explore the possibilities in the ordinary but I, like many of my classmates, relied on vacation photos for inspiration.

My four (I recycled an earlier sketch) drawings received a somewhat measured response from the teacher, but I now have some pointers for improving them. I will say that many of us seem to have struggled with the abstracting part of this assignment. We were to reduce the landscape to five or six large shapes and talk about what we eliminated and rearranged. I understand the reasons for doing this, but I know my sketches will need to be revised at least two more times to achieve that.

My first sketch and its inspiration – Cape Kiwanda, Oregon:

APRIL JMM sketch 1 source Cape_Kiwanda_Oregon APRIL JMM sketch 1 resized
this is a difficult one….you’ve got, basically, a big black hole in the middle of the page – there are a couple of dark bits but they’re not really connected to the rock..I think it’s a really difficult subject to make an interesting landscape from.    Take a little time to surf the ‘net and see if there are any solutions to this kind of image that really work.
Now the sea itself is very nice…lots going on, lovely horizontal composition, good ranges of values…I’d be careful with the edge where the wave turns, it looks a bit strange and, of course, you wouldn’t want the shadow of the rock….but working just with the waves might the the way to go on this one…or you might find some solution on www that you could “steal”!!

I decided to try making the big rock a much lighter golden color and see if that eliminates the hole problem. I think the ocean just by itself would be boring.

Sketch 2 is of salt marshes near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Since it’s a composite of several photos I won’t show any here.

APRIL JMM Sketch 2a resized

You’ve got some  good horizontal movement in this image…and a clear basic structure…be careful with the perspective of the river so that it definitely looks flat – water is always flat! –  but otherwise I think it will work well.

I will be using this subject, but am changing it to be much more abstract. I’ll report progress in upcoming posts.

Sketch 3 is from a cell phone photo of my downtown.

APRIL JMM sketch 3 source Market and HighJMM APRIL Sketch 3 resized

Looking below to the sketch I can see that you’ve cropped the edges of the photo which is good because there’s a lot in it.   Decide what is most important to you..is it that light right in the center?

If so, I’d almost push even more into abstract…the two lights curving up – just make it a circle, by the way, and the buildings just indicated by the skyline.

But if it’s the buildings that are of most interest, then I think I’d remove the light for it is very strong and dominating.  Reading your description, it looks like the buildings are of less interest…so consider taking them to just rectangles and parallellograms  really emphasising those lights…bring the bottom ones up and make them a little more varied…crop a little more off the right…and perhaps even alter the ration of width to height!!  it would all be fun to do!

Sketch 4, recycled from the values assignment, is from Cape Breton.

APRIL JMM sketch 4 source Cape Breton APRIL JMM Sketch 4 resized

it’s a very symmetrical image ….you’ve drawn it out really well…and those greens in the photo are gorgeous.  I like the way you’ve kept the shadows…and I think you could exaggerate them even more.
But the symmetry makes the idea very static…decide which aspects of the landscape are most important to you, ignore all others (good move to remove the rocks and the stop sign!), and arrange the items in a more interesting way.  Once you’ve abstracted the “good stuff”, ignore the photo.
also I’d be careful with the dark shadow around the house which is about the same shape as the house…(even though it is like that in the photo) – I’d make it more continuous across the back, less lumpy, more landscapey.
It might also be fun to extract the colors using PSE, or simply taking the photo to the hardware store and matching to paint chips!! the colors are so lovely.

I think these are all good ideas for this scene, but who knows when I’ll get to it. Let’s see, if I create three sketches each month for 12 months and I decide I want to make up half of them, that gives me 16 quilt ideas. Oh dear.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

Next In Line

I hope you didn’t think I forgot about my circus tent. I worked on that as well, but find my body is getting in the way of that project, too.

Here’s the drawing.

MARCH JMM sketch 3a resized

Here’s what I submitted for the blocking after I made a few modifications. Yes, that’s an ant in the upper left corner. I have no idea where it came from.

JMM MARCH Blocked 2 resized

My aim was to do mirror images of the tent, with one being a ghost of the other. I cut out 2 copies of my drawing on freezer paper with an Xacto knife. One I ironed to the fabric and the other I ironed to red felt with fusible attached. Then I cut out the spaces. I’m sure that didn’t help my hands and arms.

I had planned to do the ghost image with Paintstiks, using the freezer paper cutout as a mask. Elizabeth had other thoughts, however. Here are her exact words and spellings. I think she’s turned off spellcheck.

“These are amazaing I really like these cut outs.  I think what I would do is a row of three of them…all the same way up – could be marquues one way, footed vessels the other way doesnt matter.
I don’t think I’d make ghost images either…these are beautiful in and of themselves…but a row of three would be more of a statement than two together like this.  I’m glad they’re not fused down because I find the back ground a little wimpy…Try three bold saturated colors….think of Andy Warhol’s Marilyns …..and once you have these shapes fused onto the backgrounds – I don’t think you need to do anything more.  don’t fuss with them…they’re strong enough to stand alone – place them on squares by the way – 3 brilliant squares in a row…you could go with 3 neon colors, or with red and white  (red behind white and v.v.) or one deep rich color – say a midnight blue – behind all three.
Bold clear elegant simple!”

I went ahead and made the ghost image separately just because I wanted to see how it would come out.


Then I tried out the red felt cut out on top of several pieces of bright silk I had. Despite the reflection off the silk, the deep purple really sets off the red.

RedBigTentJust to refresh your memory, here’s one version of Warhol’s Marilyns.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

All Lined Up

I had begun to piece my March master class assignment when my tendinitis struck, so I can show you my work so far, but the end product will be delayed. Which project did I choose? Let’s begin with the drunkards path idea.

Here’s my drawing.

MARCH JMM sketch 1 resized

Here’s the blocking with the bias tape sewn onto pieces. My hope is to smooth out the joins once the pieces are sewn together.

JMM MARCH Blocked1 resized

I had always planned to use bias tape for the curves so I could could get relatively narrow lines. I made 1/2 inch tape as I thought 1/4 inch might not have enough impact.

I love black and pink together as I think it’s sophisticated. I used a combination of solid black fabric and Grunge in a periwinkle/black combination for the ground. The only pink fabric I had was silk – an overdyed silk crepe and a naturally dyed raw silk from southeast Asia.

PinkSilkCrepe PinkSlubbedSilk

I found that silk crepe slithers about when you try to make bias tape with it and doesn’t make nice straight tape. I ended up cutting my strips a bit wider than 1 inch for 1/2 inch tape which resulted in straighter but wider tape. The other silk was a breeze to work with, by comparison.

Elizabeth’s comments were:

“Love your drunken elephants [I call the piece Do Drunkards Dream of Pink Elephants] – this one came out really well…and it’s great because you did take a traditional pattern and work with it…I don’t think you really need to connect the lines with quilting [I had said I planned to do that]…let the viewer’s eye do that…and sometimes that’s going to give them two options – which is always good, something that makes them think: hmm,,,this…or that..?  is always good.”

As for the other possibilities, wait and see.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Get In Line

March madness is upon me with my master class project. This month it’s all about the line. We were to reimagine quilts we had already made as lines rather than shapes. Well, that was my understanding of the assignment, though some of the other students did their own thing.

From my photos I pulled two of my quilts I thought had possibilities and added a crayon drawing I had made in kindergarten. Here are the inspirations, my drawings, and parts of Elizabeth’s comments.

MARCH JMM sketch 1 origin MARCH JMM sketch 1 resized

“[I]t’s a lot more intriguing and sophisticated than the quilt . . . – which is fun, bright and cheerful…but not mysterious!  I think the idea . . . might work better if it’s bigger . . . . it almost looks like it’s a new alphabet and that there is a message encoded in the different swirls.”
MARCH JMM sketch 2 origin resized MARCH JMM sketch 2 resized

“I like the delicacy of the linear sketch, but I don’t think this one is as interesting as the other two . . . however you’ve developed a couple of interesting ideas here which don’t appear in the quilt above.  There’s a 3D effect that is completely lost in the solidity of the triangles above..created by the illusion of diagonal blocks – and that’s very nice. Also the contrast of broken and solid lines is good and interesting…and brings out the beauty of the Stitch, sometimes forgotten in art quilts these days.”

MARCH JMM sketch 3 origin resized MARCH JMM sketch 3a resized

“I very much like what you’ve done with the marquee . . .the lines have a lovely wood cut look to them … I’d work a little more with this idea…it is very elegant and I think definitely the most interesting.”

Which one did I choose? You’ll just have to wait.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Heading Home

My February master class project awaits just a few touches to be done. The skater needs to be sewn down and a facing added to the edges. It’s to illustrate the month’s theme of movement.

FEB JMM FinalHeading Home will finish at 23.5 by 25 inches. I made it by adding Wonder Under to batting and fusing scraps of fabric over that. About half the scraps are hand painted fabric. For the trees at the top I tinted the base fabric with Setacolor transparent paint, and layered bits of colored organza between the base and white silk organza. The skater is an enlarged version of my original drawing from a photo, with highlights added in oil pastels. The shadow is black netting. So glad I’m using all those techniques I’ve picked up over the years.

None of the scrap edges are finished as I wanted them rough to simulate ice on a lake. It was hard for me to leave those edges jagged; I’ve spent too much time learning to finish edges.

The instructor commented that the shadow on my blocked out piece was off. (We send in photos of sketches, the blocked out piece, and the final.) I adjusted the angle and puddled it more and she seemed to like the new arrangement. She suggested I don’t crop the piece as the extra space opened it up. Her overall comment was, “very nice…great colors great mood to it…..a beaut of a little piece!” Couldn’t resist some self-aggrandizement.

If you had told me I would make a quilt that featured a hockey player I would have laughed in your face. Yet here it is.



Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

February Master Class

Movement is the class theme for the month. I’ve submitted three sketches and am undecided which to make up.

I saw boys practicing ice hockey at a nearby pond. My vision here is a sunset scene with the winter sun just behind the left hand background scrim of trees.  The player is silhouetted in dark purple and the ice is scratched up with blade marks. He’s heading home after a scrimmage. I might paint cloth to get the ice surface effect I want. The vertical line to the right is where I added more paper and would not be part of the piece. I am thinking the horizon line might be better slanted the other way to echo the V formed by the hockey stick and its shadow.

FEB JMM sketch1 resized

Elizabeth really liked hockey boy, and suggested just fading out the background rather than defining it.

Nothing like skid marks on the road at night to get your attention. (And was I surprised at some of the results when I googled images for that term.) I would use bright yellow and orangey reds to signal danger. I might add some cracks in the paving. The splotches represent colors in a dark fabric I would use for this piece. I envision this piece as simple but bold.

FEB JMM sketch2 resizedElizabeth was OK with this design. She suggested I add a car rear bumper at the bottom to add a different perspective and drop the green near the top.

In Z I was going for an abstract jaggedy effect. The incoming thin triangles would be at least partially transparent. I would use a much bolder palette than the one here, and I would use a vividly contrasting color for the white stripes. Think Lancaster County Amish quilts.

FEB JMM sketch3 resized
Elizabeth thought this design lacked oomph and suggested putting it horizontal and altering the width of the stripes so the middle one would be widest, and the rest narrowed in a progression.

The hockey player intrigues me, but I don’t know if I can get that one done in a month. There are many unknowns as to techniques to get the effects I want. It will require lots of experimentation. I like skid marks because I love curvy lines and I could use it for a quilt challenge. Finally, Z plays to my love of color combos that vibrate though I’d need to work out a construction plan before I began.

Stay tuned.




Filed under Art quilts, In Process