Posted in colorwork, painting, quilting

Follow up on Fence Questionaire

First of all, everyone said “Keep the fence.” Many of you liked the wine-purple color, but some agreed with me that an adjustment of some kind was needed.

I did try options 1 and 2.

Option 1: Start over with another fabric. Here are the samples I painted on the white fabric. I decided that it was a fun exercise, but just didn’t look too fence-like.

Option 2: I applied a wash of a cool blue color to tone down the strident red violet.

It just plain didn’t work as intended. To my eye, this is worse than before.

In the end, I chose to start again with the original fabric, for the same reason that I picked this fabric in the first place. The print had an earthy, woody texture to it. This time I mixed my violet paint with enough azure blue to create a sort of periwinkle or lavender tone. I also modified my foam brush by cutting notches into it.

The Winner!

Thanks to all who participated in the game. Your encouragement and positive remarks let me feel the community around me. I wish I could give you each a hug.

Now I can move on to sewing. I’ll start with a little hand embroidery on the flowers.

Happy making to all and to all a good day.

Posted in collage, quilting

Sunflower Fiber Object Progress Report

For the past three days I have been working steadily on the small art quilt that was inspired by the sunflowers in my garden and influenced by Vincent Van Gogh. I’m about half way through. Today I want to share a bit about the process I am using.

While the technique I have chosen to use is applique, the design process for most art quilts is similar. Start with an image. I used a photograph, but drawings are also good choices. Decide on size and dimension. Then enlarge the image to fit.

This enlargement is about 18 x 24. I have printed it in black and white because eliminating the color makes it much easier for me to judge relative values.

Using a tracing paper overlay, trace the image. During this stage many design decisions are made. You want to eliminate any visual clutter that doesn’t support the overall design. You can manipulate the different elements to strengthen your main thesis. For example, I altered the position of one flower and the tilt of the stems to accentuate the diagonal lines. It took me a long time to draw the pattern but I enjoyed the process.

Final Design

This pattern will be the map from which the entire assembly is guided. I drew in some directional lines that suggest details for painting on later. You see that I assigned numbers to every element. This will help me trace and cut out all the pattern parts.

Detail of sunflower in upper right of pattern

Now the part that every quilter just adores: Choosing colors and fabrics! Since I am a budding painter, I made a quick color chart in water color paint.

I’m trying to use an analogous color scheme. But my parameters are pretty wide, extending from violet through to yellow-orange. For this quilt I will assign the darkest colors to the background and the lighter ones to the elements .

Even though I did go shopping, in the end I chose fabrics mostly from my stash.

Next I traced each element onto freezer paper, cut them apart and pressed them onto the fabrics. Following the drawn lines, I cut out each pattern piece. Keeping them organized and up off the floor is the main challenge!

In my last post, you saw how I painted the background fabric. Here is the background again, up on my design wall and ready to accept the fabric appliques.

I use a fusible webbing called Wonder Under to glue the appliques to the background. I won’t go into detail on that step. The product’s packaging tells you what to do.

First I assembled the flowers, each of which had several fabrics. Once that was done I started attaching appliques to the background. Any pieces that lie behind another piece go down first. I started from the top. Here is a photo with about half the appliques on:

Here you see all of the flowers and leaves attached. This is where I left it yesterday.

I’m pleased with the result. I like it so well I may not even attach the fence applique – just let the flowers float in mid air. What do you think?

Posted in drawing, quilting

In the End – Confetti

My creative bent took an unexpected turn today. I started the day by thinking about Van Gogh. You see in the photo the sunflowers I planted this year. I took this image over my garden fence with the idea that it would make a good reference photo for artwork. To further this end, I made a sketch of the photo this morning.

This is a simplified image that I thought would work well for either water color or fiber. Since I am currently up to my eyeballs in reference photos suitable for water color painting, I decided to make a small art quilt featuring sunflowers.

This is what led my brain to Van Gogh. Sunflowers were a favorite subject of the artist. He liked to paint them as still life images, cut and arranged in a vase.

I intended to portray them growing in the garden. But I wanted to create a “Van Gogh” like background – full of color, motion and energy. Think of Starry Night as an example.

During my blog browsing today, I came across a post from the group 15 by 15. This is a very creative group of quilters who like to work challenges. One of the members mentioned that she used the “confetti technique” to create the background of her new work for the current challenge.

My brain started firing up! What is this “confetti technique?” I must learn more!

Of course You-tube came to the rescue. I found an explanation on how to add confetti to a quilt. There are several techniques, but I watched this one by Gail Hunt.

The rest of the afternoon went like this:

Find a bunch of scraps. (I used several from my Under the Sea quilt, because they already had adhesive attached to them.) With your rotary cutter, slice them to bits.

Arrange on a background fabric and press them down with your iron.

Cover the piece with a bit of tulle or netting. Glue or stitch it in place.

With sewing machine and free motion foot, stitch over the piece like crazy. (I used black thread to meander on the background and sew straight lines over the pale bits.)

I then switched to white thread and made swirls into the dark areas.

Just like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Posted in quilting

Finished Object Friday

It was with great satisfaction that I sewed my last stitch into “Under the Sea” quilt. Today is the big reveal. Since many of you have already seen the completed blocks, instead I will share the inspirations for my quilt’s design.

It all started with sea turtles. I painted the first one last April, on Earth Day. Ultimately, the sea turtle became the centerpiece of this project.

One thing I learned about these amazing animals is that they roam broadly over the ocean. Yet they always return to the place of their birth to start the next generation. It’s a hazardous journey across that beach. Many newly hatched turtles fall prey to other creatures. Even once they are afloat, life is precariously

As I spent time drawing various sea creatures, I realized that I would probably never see a healthy coral reef. Humans have done a poor job of conserving the world’s oceans. According to the National Geographic Society, a mere 7 percent of the sea has any official protection – and these are mostly weak rules, with multiple exceptions. Only 2.5 percent of the ocean is highly protected from human exploitation.

Most disturbing to me is the effect of global warming on the ocean. As more and more carbon dioxide is absorbed by the water, the ocean get more and more acidic. Following that process to its natural conclusion implies a great die-off of species. The acid water will dissolve the calcium in the reefs until they can no longer sustain life.

So my process of making “Under the Sea” turned into a love story about all the creatures living under the threat of extinction.

…….. and a plea to those who have the power to act on their behalf. If we do nothing, what we have left of the ocean may not be enough to sustain our own species.

Because there is always hope, I will leave you with this: The Pristine Seas project launched by National Geographic Society in 2008 has helped create 22 marine reserves across the world’s oceans. New research indicates that as a result of rigorous protection, fisheries adjacent to these no-take zones experienced a rebuilding of stock – almost doubling the catch.

Fish blocks pieced by flip and stitch. Turtles stencil painted, free motion quilted.

It is possible to keep our coral reefs and continue to feed ourselves and our children.

Posted in quilting

Under the Sea Progress Update

Today I finished assembling all of the log cabin blocks for Under the Sea quilt. While arranging the blocks in groups, I quickly realized that my original plan did not serve the overall design. So I switched to a layout in which each group of four blocks is rotated with the center squares touching. Now I have ten groups surrounding a central panel with the large sea turtle in the middle. Here is an overhead view.

This image excludes the top three groups. I couldn’t fit it all into the photo.

I’ve had so much fun coming up with images of underwater creatures. Ultimately, I decided to make my focus life found on a coral reef. Here is the center panel with some tropical fish, big and baby sea turtles, and an assemblage of sea horses…..

Next to and surrounding the panel can be found some jelly fish

The stinging tentacles will be added after the block is assembled.

… a living sand dollar (did you know that this animal is a type of sea urchin?)…..

….. a group of starfish, more tropical fish, and four additional baby turtles swimming across four different sections of the quilt.

Working with the batik pre-cut strips was such a pleasure. First of all, hey, I didn’t have to cut them. Secondly, the front and back of the fabric is the same, so you never end up with the wrong side on front. And finally, the fabric was so tightly woven that no twist or stretch happened while under the needle. This made the boring parts of piecing go quickly. I could spend time designing and painting my little sea creatures.

Next up will be sewing the blocks together, choosing a backing fabric and the actual quilting. There is a long way to go before this project can be put to bed. (Ha!)

Posted in quilting

Under the Sea WIP

I spent a good handful of hours this past weekend sewing up blocks for the Under the Sea quilt. So I thought I would show my progress.

My plan calls for 12 quilt sections made up of 4 blocks each. The blocks are constructed in Log Cabin chevron style. Each section will feature a different underwater animal. Here are the three I just completed.

The first two have coral reef fish swimming in formation. These will be placed across the top of the quilt. The third has starfish, which will end up somewhere in the middle.

I placed an order at Connecting Threads for more batik fabric that contains some harmonizing greens. Until the fabric is delivered, I can design and construct the sea creatures for the remaining blocks. So far I have baby turtles. I want to try making jellyfish, which sea turtles love to gobble up. and maybe some more coral reef fish.

Other ideas? Any suggestions will be dutifully pondered.

Link to Connection Threads website:

Posted in quilting

Fishing for a Sea-Worthy Design

Since my last post, I have been casting about for a quilt layout that will suit the material I have acquired so far. As a reminder, I have a 20 x 20 panel, a bundle of pre-cut 2 1/2 inch strips and a charm pack in the same fabrics. These are supplemented by a few fat quarters and some quilt blocks with improvised fish shapes.

While the internet is a wonderful source for ideas, there is no substitute for printed works that you can hold in your hands. So I went to the library. I checked out this book:

This very useful book by Celia Eddy contains a survey of 100 quilt block patterns, groups them by structure, and provides easy instructions on making each one. Because I have a bunch of strips, I focused quickly on the log cabin-type blocks. Here is what I chose:

The author also shows variations created by re-orienting each block. I decided to go with the design that rotates the corner square.

Fiddling with this design on graph paper, I came up with the overall concept: Four 10 inch chevrons arranged in a 20 inch block. Each block will have one ocean image and a consistent color grouping. Including the turtle center, there will be 12 – 20 inch blocks to make up my quilt.

I spent yesterday afternoon sewing the first six squares.

So it seems I have set sail on my fibery journey. Making Under the Sea will be great adventure. I expect a few rough seas and difficult weather along the way, but trust that my intuition, skills and experience will get me to my destination.

To learn my about Celia Eddy’s book, access this link.

Posted in quilting

Gorgeous and Productive Day

Today’s weather was quite remarkable, for August. Upon rising, the air was 66 degrees and winds were calm. It stayed so cool all day long that the A/C didn’t even turn on until early evening. I enjoyed the backyard for an hour or so and did a modest amount of gardening. It was almost 11 before I resumed work on my current project.

Appliqueing the turtle was really fun. After some fiddling about with the shapes and color choices, my center medallion looks like this:

Combination of batiks and hand-painted fabrics.

More dimension and texture will be added when I stitch it. I painted the turtle’s head Very Slowly, using Jacquard Textile paint mixed with floating medium. I rather like the primitive-like quality resulting from the bright colors and blocky shapes. This piece is roughly 20″ by 14 and 1/2″. To make it into a square, I made a strip with my baby turtle stenciled blocks and added it at the top.

I like what I see so far. But now, the hard part. I will need to build a quilt around it. I’m thinking about log cabin blocks, mostly because I purchased a package of pre-cut 2 and 1/2 inch strips. Here they are:

These are all so pretty. And a nice range of tones.

You can see also see a few fishy blocks that I made months ago using the stitch n flip technique. These could become log cabin centers……..or I could group them into a block of their own. That would make a school of fish.

Okay, quilting bloggers, this is an invitation to weigh in on this design. Any thoughts?

Posted in painting, quilting

Hello Turtle – Under the Sea Project

I have a bag full of fabric, sketches and some small quilt blocks that have been languishing in my closet for too long. The time has come to start working in earnest on this quilt. The tipping point came when I decided to organize the blocks around a medallion center. I chose this photograph as the feature image.

After making a sketch,

……. yesterday I grabbed my last piece of white fabric and painted it a sea green color with Dye-na-flow paint. I used a “mask’ and some stones on top of the fabric while it dried in the sun to reserve a turtle-like shape.

Now I can select some fabrics to applique on top of the base fabric. Here is a selection that will be used to make the sea turtle.

Oranges for the shell, blacks for the flippers and shadow areas. The white is for the head.

Once I get the shapes cut and fused to the base fabric, I will hand paint any needed details.

This is a short post. I’m keen to keep my momentum going. More details will be revealed soon.

Posted in painting, quilting

A little of this, a little of that

It’s been almost two weeks since I posted last. My days have been full, if not busy, but nothing to write home about. At least I can catch you up on projects in progress.

Improvisational Quilt.

As you see in the photo, the quilt is under the needle. I have been whacking away at the quilting for days and days. This is the biggest piece of cloth that I have attempted to quilt with my lil’ old Bernina.

I’m doing a parallel- straight line pattern, mostly because this type of quilting doesn’t require much manipulation of the quilt. I start at a long section and keep sewing parallel lines until I get tired or run out of bobbin thread. My goal is simply to finish. Pretty lines and straight lines are both out of the question at this point. Optimistically, I’m going for quirky charm. My daughter loves that aesthetic.

Watercolor Painting

My water color painting results have been less than satisfying. When I crashed and burned at applying the background wash to the bird of paradise painting, it got tossed. I then resolved to start back at the beginning. To this end, I checked out a “teach yourself” watercolor instruction book from the library and began working through the techniques one each day. Today’s lesson was line and wash. I chose to paint from a photograph I took of a pond on our local walking trail.

Willow trees hanging over the water

Here is my painting.

I enjoyed working on this one and am happy with it. The only thing I want to add is darker paint on the the group of leaves at the right edge, giving the painting more contrast of values.

The garden has been getting much of my attention. But starting today, heat is intensifying. So I will likely shift my attention back to indoor activities.