Tag Archives: trees

So Many Choices

It’s so easy to get tangled up in choices when I design a piece. Since my starting point is usually rough, at best, many shape and color decisions still need to be made. And it’s easy to slip into not seeing the forest for the trees territory.

I finished quilting my four scrappy medallion log cabins so I rewarded myself with a new start, based on a Spoonflower printed photo of a dry stone wall that encloses a local landmark.

Here’s the printed fabric of two rows of walls and trees.

I pulled possible additional fabrics and painted pieces of an old shirt and sheet. Then I pinned them up.

The large piece of commercial fabric is by Marcia Derse.

After I looked at them for about two months I thought of an approach to that wall fabric – make several narrowly separated stacks. I used most of the fabric in the above photo. The Marcia Derse and some teal curtain fabric were dropped. I created bias strips of yellow/red/orange to break up the dark area. At this point the piece measures about 45 inches long by 19 inches high.

Now comes the point I’m stuck at. I want to use narrow strips of a gradient fabric by Vicki Welsh between each stack. Right now my plan is to angle the edges of each stack, and possibly have the stacks at slightly different heights. But, before I cut more fabric I need to decide which way to run the gradient – top to bottom or left to right. Then, I need to decide if I want solid strips across the top and bottom and, if so, what colors.

I’m hoping you’ll have some opinions that will prod my thinking. Some possibilities work for color, but don’t necessarily contribute to the story. The story here is the impression you get of this wall as you drive by it on the street that runs parallel to it.

I’ve thought of blue for sky but the blue fabric I have is too strong and draws attention away from the trees. Below are some options I’ve pinned up. Most show only a few of the stacks as the insert fabric won’t stretch across the whole piece and I don’t want to cut it up and then change my mind.

Option 1: Gradient runs left to right, no top or bottom strip
Option 2: Gradient runs top to bottom, with orange fabric on bottom and gold on top
Option 3: Gradient runs left to right, dark orange on bottom, light orange on top
Option 4: Gradient runs left to right, gold fabric on top, orange fabric on bottom.
Option 5: Gradient runs top to bottom, mottled fabric on top, dark orange on bottom.

I can understood if you’re confused at this point. If nothing else let me know which options you think really don’t work. I’ve become like a toddler – just give me two options for my outfit. Otherwise I’ll dither forever.

One last point about this piece – the printed fabric photographs much less vividly than the other fabrics. IRL the colors are stronger. Maybe the type of printing process used caused this?

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Out of Left Field

Mid-2021 I wrote down a rough list of possible projects: Sail – Greece, turquoise circles, unknown family, and pink prints. I finished the first two and began the third, which left the enigmatic pink prints. At some point during lockdown I played with coloring fabric and color catcher scraps with high flow quinacridone magenta acrylic paint. (Warning, it has the fluidity of milk and moves just as fast when spilled.) Some I stenciled with Payne’s grey paint. On others I printed birds from a thermofax screen. They joined my pile of experiments.

Rather than come to grips with the puzzle of how to combine photos and fabric for my unknown family pieces, I decided it was time to play with pink. I really wanted to use the birds, which were printed on synthetic satin. Up on the design wall went my bits. I decided to add warm browns for trees as the stencil was of tree branches.

From the base of pink and trees I added more scraps and came up with this. It seemed I had lots of tree trunks in my future.

I realized that fusing was the way to go for the number of trees I had in mind, so I sewed together a base with chunks joined by gentle curves. I also added more tree branch stenciling to the sky and combined two large scraps in the upper left.

To add variety I added three house shapes and a large sun. I can’t claim credit for that idea as I saw a treed landscape painting that was given focus by a large orb, and thought the same could work for me. I was still trying to fit those birds in.

Finally I had to face the reality that the birds weren’t suited to the piece as it developed, so they are back on the shelf.

I’ve added a few lighter branches, but this is pretty much as it is.

Quilting has begun, and the pink prints have become “If You Go Into the Woods Today.”

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

A Touch of Frost

No, the weather in northeast Ohio isn’t that bad, though we did have snow last Sunday. I’m referring to Robert Frost, the poet. I named my latest piece after a line of his from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep” strikes me as the perfect articulation of my design.

33 by 38 inches

Since I last wrote about this piece I’ve quilted it in gentle curves to suggest tree bark, and faced the edges. I also frayed the raw edges of the bias strips.

Here are some details.

I used a tree stencil, a cotton lace curtain, spray Marabu paints, commercial and hand dyed cottons, linens, edited photos I took, bias tape, and Pellon Easy Pattern. I knew I’d find a use for my experiments someday.

Here’s hoping I won’t be stopping by woods on a snowy evening for several months, but will enjoy the emergence of new leaves instead.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Evolution Of An Art Quilt

As I’ve told you before, despite my efforts to plan work in advance, often I begin with fabrics and work out a design from them. Recently I finished a top I call “Dark and Deep,” that grew from vintage linen stenciled with trees. That gave me my theme, trees, but nothing else was set.

Let me introduce you to the starting lineup of fabrics I pulled for this project. The vintage linen is in the middle with the brown paint. I lined the open work section with a strip of painted cloth. To the right of that piece are two of my tree photos, edited and printed on cloth. I printed or painted the pinkish pieces, and used the curtain lace on the lower right as a stencil.

At the stage above I’ve created more blue fabrics to work with the tones of the darker photo, and cut curves into some of the fabric chunks. The little pink squares, printed with a linoleum block, did not make the final, nor did the fabric printed with feathers.

I’m trying more blue fabrics above, and the whole enterprise has become chunky.

The piece has lost a tier and is beginning to be more horizontal though it’s still block like.

It took a walk on the towpath to give me the unifying factor, the thin tree trunks.

I made them with mostly raw edge bias strips cut with slightly curved edges. Some are packaged strips, a quilt show give away, which I painted with white and brown paint. Others are cut from Mackenna Ryan fabric. I joined the blocks with as many curves as I could. I also talked myself into breaking up the photos with applied raw edge bias strips. That so needed to happen.

Lessons learned (or re-learned): no piece of fabric is too precious not to cut/modify/cover up, a big theme helps when working improvisationally, edge stability is important when using wobbly fabric (that linen), and layers of texture add depth.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process