Posted in painting, quilting

Scrappy Sunset

I am having issues with realism. It’s not what you’re thinking. This isn’t about reality. I have a firm grip on my personal reality, and also on the wider reality of life in the dysfunctional 21st century. No, it’s about trying to portray realistic images in my artwork. My dissatisfaction began to grow as I learned to paint with watercolor. All the instruction I have received so far focuses on rendering what I see in the real world. Specifically, I’m taught, how to paint in a manner that emulates three dimensions of shapes in the real world. It’s not going well. And now my dissatisfaction with painting has spilled over into my work with fiber, leading to a muted feeling about all my work.

When I began to experiment with fiber, I was inspired by the work of Gustav Klimt. Klimt began his training in applied arts. This influence shows in his paintings,which are filled with decorative surfaces. It’s the opposite direction of realism. He takes the human form and renders it as a surface, with delicate textural coloration. The rest of his canvas is bursting with a riot of color and pattern.

It is time for me to return to my first impulse about fiber art and make an abstract work. I’ve chosen a sunset as my subject. This photograph is one I took about a year ago during one of our trips to Wisconsin. My intention is to boil the sunset down to its essential lines and colors, sew strips to a backing fabric and then apply decorative stitches. I’ll use hand-painted scraps of cloth leftover from other projects.

I started out by making a rendering in crayon, placing an emphasis on the angular lines.

After working out the number of strips I will need, I scaled up the image to size, which will be 18 by 12. Next I assembled the fabrics.

I realized that I will need to paint a few more pieces to have enough grayish purple for all the clouds in the scene. So I found a few white and gray scraps that will be painted.

I also made a pattern in full size on butcher paper. I don’t have a photo of it for you, and it has already been cut up. As I made the pattern, I winnowed down the detail even further to get to the essential lines of the sunset. I am using muslin as a backing fabric. Work will proceed from the most complex strip (the sun) outward, first down and then up. After a few hours, I had the lower half assembled.

After getting to this stage, I felt a palpable sense of relief.

Tomorrow I will finish painting the fabric and assemble the rest of the piece.

Posted in quilting, sewing

The Last Day of Fiber Arts Class

Today my fiber arts students finished up classes for the year. I can hardly believe that I taught children a fiber arts project every week for eight months! In the end, I feel that I gained just about as much as I gave. While the students tell me that they learned a lot and had fun, I also learned much about making things with fiber in the process of developing lesson plans. Our last class was the wrap-up on string quilt samplers. The quilt tops made in previous weeks had backings added, were quilted, and bound off. Here are some images at the end of today’s work:

Zion, Age 11
Madelynne, Age 11
Louis, Age 12
Gianna, Age 13
Ezekiel, Age 10
Emma, Age 10

I love that the designs are all so different from each other. Some of the students incorporated the fabrics that they color washed. It took a lot of patience and perseverance for them to finish these quilt samplers. I’m very proud of their accomplishments.

Posted in hand embroidery, quilting, sewing

Fiber Arts Class String Quilt Sampler

Dear Fiber Friends,

After five days of baby care and two days of travel, I have insufficient creative energy to start something new. So it’s a good time to finish up the works in progress. Primarily on my mind is the string quilts that my students are working on. It is my practice to have a good example of a finished work for my students, both to inspire and instruct. As I previously posted, I had finished the top. Today I completed the backing, quilting and binding of this sample. Here is the piece squared-off with the backing fitted and pressed. This piece will be self-bound by folding over the backing.

Wonky perspective is due to my odd camera angle.

I decided to use as many different (beginner) quilting techniques as possible, so that the students could see the possibilities. The image below shows the piece after quilting is done. I used hand quilting and some machine quilting.

Quilting techniques include knot-quilting, buttons, running stitch, and contour quilting by hand; and stitch-in-the-ditch and parallel lines by machine. And here is the finished sampler with binding blind-stitched. I used folded corners, since I consider mitered corners to be a more advanced technique.

Posted in crochet, quilting

Two-Day Bou-kay

Okay, it’s time for me to admit the obvious. I really can’t complete a fiber object each and every day. That isn’t to say I don’t work with fiber every day. That part is true. The issue is finishing, photographing, writing and posting daily. So far, not possible. So here is a little taste of the crocheted posies I have been working on, and a brief anecdote from my fiber arts students today.

As you, my dear readers may recall, today the fiber kids were beginning to make string-pieced quilt tops. It is a stretch goal, but the students got busy, working away. Sometimes one of them sewed a seam backward or cut the fabric too short. I wanted to reassure them that mistakes were okay, just part of the learning process. I said, “Remember, we are experimenting. You know about scientists, and how they often perform experiments. What do you think they do when an experiment doesn’t work out right?” One of the boys said, ” Things get blown up?” A girl student said, “You are such a boy!” Fortunately for us, none of the quilt tops detonated.

Be back tomorrow with the latest in fiber. – Laura Kate

Posted in quilting

String me along

I’m teaching myself to quilt, so that I can teach my older fiber arts students to quilt. So there is some time pressure here. While perusing The Encyclopedia of Quilting Techniques by Katharine Guerrier, I learned that the string quilt is one of the simplest of techniques. So that is what I shall make today. This method was developed to use up long strips of fabric, such as leftovers from dressmaking, and pieces of worn-out clothing and blankets. The sample I am making uses 3 inch wide strips cut or sew together from fabric fragments in order to span the width of the piece. I’m excited to be using one of the heliographed fabrics from Monday’s work.

Here are my selected fabrics. There are six strips in total, four at 3 inches wide and two at 1/12 inches wide. My color scheme comes from the marble and rice swatch in orange.

First I sewed the shorter pieces into the length of strips that I need. (14 in.)

Here’s the heliographed fabric under the needle. Notice the cute red clips I just purchased. They hold the fabric while you sew it, in place of pins. Fantastic! I highly recommend.

Next I position two strips, right sides together onto the upper half of the batting, and sew in place. The seam allowance is finger-pressed to one side.

Ready to sew.
The top half is sewn into place. Uh oh it appears that my batting base is now uneven. I will persevere and hope that it gets sorted out in the end.
Here is the completed quilt top. I will have to square-up the edges with scissors.

I’m liking what I see. Once I got into the flow, the sewing was easy and fun. I hope that this piece will inspire my students. Next week I will add the backing fabric, top stitch the quilt and sew up the edges.