Today I finished up my practice sample for the Duckweed fiber object. This involved making the quilt sandwich and quilting.
I started with the walking foot and black thread. The stitching included wavy lines over the foreground and sewing around the duck. Next I switched to white thread and the free motion foot for creating the ripples around the base of the duck and outlining the duck’s wing feathers. I continued on my making white ripples to match the black ones in the foreground. To finish up, I used yellow-green thread to quilt the background.
As I worked, I began to like it more and more.
For the purpose of comparison, here is the inspiration photo.
And here is a close-up of my duck.
Making this piece was really good practice. I might do some things a little bit differently when I begin work on the main piece. I’ll give this project a few days rest and come back to it with fresh eyes.
The last time I posted about my sunflower project, I had just finished fusing all the fabric pieces to the background and was beginning to embroider details on the flowers. There are only a few more steps to share.
Here is a close up of the embroidery detail, which also shows the machine stitching around each applique piece.
Both of these steps took a good amount of time. I sewed around each piece using my walking foot. It is a great foot for precise work, but it only sews in a straight line. To sew down each petal and each notch in each leaf required lots of adjustments along the way.
Once the outline stitches were finished, I switched to my free motion foot to quilt the background. Now take a look at the Van Gogh painting at the top of this page. You can see, how the artist painted echo lines around the details. The pale dashes around the man’s jacket repeat the line of the jacket, and the edges of the sleeves are echoed all the way up the arm. I wanted to create the same kind of texture in my piece. So I started by sewing echo lines around the flowers and the leaves.
When I reached the sky, I sewed wavy lines around several of the paint dashes and dabs. After finishing the quilting, I bound the quilt on all sides with blue fabric.
For my final step, I mixed some paint. I painted echo lines, focusing on the upper half of the piece, and giving much attention to the flowers. Then I called it done.
I feel really happy. While this project took me many hours to complete, I find it very expressive. The quilting and the background paint lines represent the motion of the sunflowers as they sway in the wind. I like to think the echo lines represent the energy that exists in all living things.
Thank you, Mr. Van Gogh, for everything you taught me.
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.
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.
It is possible to keep our coral reefs and continue to feed ourselves and our children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the Thread Art Baby with border and binding complete, mounted on an 18 by 18 artist canvas. It turns out that the finished dimension was Not a perfect 18 by 18 square. The damask napkin alone was shorter by one inch than it was wide. I chose not to square up the piece. So I had to fill in some color on the canvas.
I’m still happy with this one, and glad that it is now on my studio wall.
Yesterday was cool, but sunny. We went walking on our favorite trail, the Pathfinder. On sections of the path which are not shaded by trees, there were wide swaths of blooming flowers, predominantly white clover. Clover is not a native plant here, but still highly valued by the local denizens of the air – bees, butterflies and dragonflies. Bill got some great photos of these fliers with his high-tech telephoto lens. I confined my efforts at photography to things that hold still – especially the flowers. I also snapped photos of the pond, focusing on the willow branches which overhang the water. My goal is to incorporate additional elements into my turtle fiber object.
Upon returning home, I set to work. I have been fussing for the past three days over how to add pond insects to the turtle FO. I first tried making appliques on a scrap of fabric with the intention of fusing them to the background. That technique didn’t seem to work well. It didn’t give me the transparency I wanted for the wings and it didn’t give a life-like look.
But then I stumbled upon Lola Jenkins, a self-taught fiber artist who specializes in thread painting.
This bold, fearless quilter takes a black sharpie marker to her quilt, creating permanent stitch lines. She then stitches over these lines with black thread. In her Craftsy class, she likes to say, “If you are like me, go for it!”
So I did. Not with a marker, but a pencil. I drew the insects, then free motion quilted all of the pencil lines. Here are the inspiration photos (taken by Bill) and the resulting free motion quilted images.
Now my lovely turtle has a few companions. I’m happy with today’s additions and feel more confident about starting the next step – background quilting.
Yesterday was spent finishing up the Just Trees miniquilt. This project was inspired from the way treetops look in the winter. As spring started to move it, I had to add some color in the form of blooming redbud trees. New skills practiced: paper piecing, hand applique of clam shell shapes, using textile paint mixed with floating medium on fabric. This last technique allows a more precise line by slowing the flow of the paint into the fibers. The floating medium is made by Folk Art. Here is my miniquilt all pieced together and painted, but not yet quilted:
I decided to improve my focal point by embroidering details into the lowest redbud tree.
And here is the piece fully quilted, with a border of commercially printed fabric. I used my walking foot to stitch around the applique. I free motion quilted the sky and around the border.
I’m happy with the results of this fiber object. It reminds me of the view across the floodplain in my little Oklahoma town.
Last week I wrote about painting heavy weight DMC thread with fabric paint. Just now, I finished embroidering my quilt with the thread. Before I do a “reveal” of the finished quilt (it isn’t quite sewn together yet) I want to show how I used the thread.
Essentially, I created little scenes that tell a story of looking up at the Gateway Arch.
I had no real difficulty embroidering with the threads. They do not appear to be bleeding color at all. I wish I could say the same for the quilt fabric, some of the paint rubbed off on my quilting gloves.
The important thing right now is that the End Is In Sight! A little assembly and sewing on the binding and it will be done.