Monday, 27 January 2014

The Cat and the Wisteria

This little piece started out as an exercise in architecture, a practice piece for a future project.
I found this picture, rather stark of a door in Tuscany? Italy? Mexico? Who knows. It certainly wasn't here and it looked WARM.
There was so much going on with the wood. But the walls, a little plain?
I thought I may as well enlarge it and add a flowering vine. Wisteria!

The door was fun with shades of grey thread. But the secret ingredient for the wood colour was simple crayon. This is an art piece. It won't be washed. And a little discoloring for the walls. I thought it looked pretty good. And the CAT. That WAS inspired.

I started on Wisteria. It was perfect. This shouldn't take too long?

It took almost a month.  I swear 5 gazillion French knots. But it was worth it. Just looking at it makes me feel warm. At lest while I sit in front of the fireplace. Framing and binding to finish.

Yeah there are 5 gazillion knots!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Now for Something Completely Different (and silly of course)

When something is out side of your comfort zone, it doesn't happen quickly. In fact this took almost 3 months to gel.
My Fibre Arts group is gathering of about 10 very different women who each bring something different to our gatherings. We try some of the ideas and have a lot of fun together. I think that's the real the point of our getting together. Last fall some examples of MAP Quilts were displayed and we decided we should each try that. There is no such thing as a typical Map Quilt. There are lots to be found on the internet and they are for the most part. Maps. (Not doing much for me here.)

I did nothing and now it was one month till the piece was due. I thought about fantasy places and looked at maps of Neverland and Middle Earth. I didn't want to just copy something. As I looked at some of the old illustrations of childhood books I came across these two. If you're old enough you will recognize them. I decided somehow to incorporate these.

I wasted a week trying to make a quilt of a quilt. That I threw out.
I made a gel print of both. If you have not done this, its an alternative to duplicating a picture on cloth with a photocopier. Golden Gel Medium is applied to a standard photocopy and overlaid with the material you want to transfer your photo to. After its dry you remove the paper with moisture and friction (a fancy way to say lick your finger and rub off the paper.) It takes a little while.

With a little perseverance, a plasticized copy of the picture is transferred to the cloth. But where does the map come in.
A woman on a quilting board I frequent, was bemoaning the accuracy required to make a QR Quilt.
This was something I'd not seen and when I looked at her work I realized A QR CODE is a BIT MAP.
I could make a QR code for a map. When I found a QR generator I was disappointed to realize if I wanted to reference the book from which those pictures came I needed a QR code about a gazillion squares. That was impractical so I played with the generator and came up with a simple title for the pictures and a code only 25 squares in each direction. Hummmmmmmm. Using "inchies" (one inch pieces of cloth) that would workout to a final size for about 13 or 14 inches. Much more usable. That took 2 days of steady sewing.

So the code above is ironed (inch by inch) onto fusible interfacing, the lightest possible. This is now sewn by folding along each "line" and stitching about 1/4 inch from the fold line. 25 times.

This shrinks it's width by half. Now repeat in the other direction.

Now its size is roughly 14 inches square. I checked it with a QR reader several times to ensure it still read true. The final part was to marry the picture and the QR code on the same piece. I ended up using the larger and plainer of the two prints. Both items were framed in white and mounted on (what did I have in my stash?? ) some Sailor material.

Just a little more finishing and this rather anachronistic pair of items will be finished for my next meeting. An altogether silly piece but it was interesting working with the QR Code generator. I can see me doing that again. ( PS. use your QR app and read the tile of this fun piece.)
February 4th
I looked at this piece hanging on my design wall an knew it wasn't finished. There were gapping holes. So it decided to applique and enlarged version of the sail boat.
Much better balance. I'm not sure now about the upper right corner, but that can wait.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Where Do I Get My Ideas? Everywhere!

I was browsing a quilting forum and some one mentioned what a time she was having piecing together a Frank Lloyd Wright quilt. FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT made quilts? No windows dummy.
So I went and had a look

This could be really tempting.
This could be the one I make for the Guild Show in 2015. What do you think?

Here are four

. There is a book out there but who needs a book. Its only MATH right?

And then there is this one!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Alison's House

I thought I'd go back and include a few pieces that were constructed while I was incommunicado with the rest of the world. It was lonely working in a vacuum because I wanted to share my frustrations with geometry.
Geometry and Art Quilts? How do they relate.? HA!
My sister asked me to make a hanging of her daughter's new eclectic house as a Christmas present. It used to be a restaurant and had a kitschy accent. A waterwheel. No water within 10km, but a waterwheel.


Once you get past THAT, you realize they have a beautiful fieldstone house. It was irresistible.
My niece sent along a few photos to work from.

Laying out the whole scene is necessary to get the perspective right even if you don't use the whole thing. I've learned to add at least 2 inches all around anything I make so when trimming time comes there is enough to work from..

Now that pesky little water wheel didn't just happen.. It may be a perfect circle but its on an angle. There aren't many drawing tools or for that matter quilting tools to help. By trial and error I came up with an oval that fit the size and angle I wanted.

And because the wheel is made of wood it had to be squared off and cut up into little pieces.
(It was really rather fun working with tweezers and tiny pieces.)

The stone work and the siding were a matter of choosing appropriately patterned material that made putting in the accents an enjoyable task. I did take some liberties with the garden aspect. Mowed the lawn and put in some flowers.

I'm hoping I can visit my niece and her family in her charming new home. I think I'll take my camera and see what else this old piece of Canadianna has to offer.
I posted this picture of her home on another board and an American woman, who vacations in her area says she knows exactly where the house is and passes it every summer. Small world Alison!.


Takakkaw Falls Trail version 2 - SOLD

I suppose I shouldn't have complained when my sister informed me that the original version of this piece had sold, but in a way I was saddened because it had only been on display for less than a week. Only a very few people had seen it and now it was gone. To Australia. I had personally been so pleased with the piece myself I wanted it to hang for at least a month or so, in order for more people to enjoy it.
Does that sound a little odd?
I knew I would make a second but it was a full six months before I could return to that piece. (A few quilts got in the way!!?)

The first version based on the photo my husband took, illustrated here, was about 24"x18", a good size for a lot of detail. I think my favourite part was the addition of my sister and myself in the picture. It certainly adds a punch to the perspective and majesty of the scenery.

There are some differences in the second. The mountain is lighter and there are fewer "cheater" trees, (cutouts). I increased the density of the trees on the left, but from earlier experiments knew I couldn't give it real weight as the branches disappear into each other.

There were more fabrics used in this version. Its size has increased as well to 36"x24". My sister and I grew from about 1 inch to almost 2 inches! The mountain is paler but the sky has more life. There is more detail around the fallen logs and the field is simply more cluttered with growth. As it should be. The process for this one took over 10 days.

Following are some selected close-ups. Friends ask how it can do so many tiny stitches. "twitch muscles" and rhythm.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Winter Solstice - sold

When I was a young and unattached woman in university I became fascinated with Gaia and  spirituality. I would have joined a wiccan on the spot just to dance naked on the solstice. Instead I got a job. But every midsomer and midwinter I feel a nostalgia for the mysteries. This last winter solstice, as I explored the Stonehenge pages I found a painting that took my breath away. SO I had to reproduce it.
I love it.
It turned out to be deceptively simple to make. It also was great I had a perfect material in my stash.
I started by adding a touch of colour (I imagined they were northern lights) by sprinkling a tiny amount of RIT dye on the dry fabric. After spritzing it with water I let it sit for a few minutes and after rinsing off the excess, heat set it with the iron. The moon is a perfect circle.
Then came the trees.
These are actually made from upholstery gimp, the trim that is used to hide staples and nails on furniture. After anchoring the bottoms in the "snow" I unraveled the trim and let the strands fall where ever. I anchored it all by covering it with a wash away stabilizer and stitched over all the strands with invisible thread. A quick rinse and the piece became 3 dimensional.
And then I did it all over again. This is the Yggdrasil Tree of the Norse mythology. Same process.
I will do this style again.!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

New Year - New Site

I feel like its been ages since I was able to "put anything OUT there". I hadn't realized what a cathartic affect writing things down had and how it helped me to clarify direction and process. I fear my old blog is going to go silently into the netherworld and never be resurrected. (Even old IT guys drift into the ether of their own minds and never return.)
I was astonished, after my Wordpress account died, by the number of emails I received or inquires I received form members of other boards. A lot of people are lurkers and have no idea how much a comment or acknowledgement brightens our day. SO if that applies to you, drop me a comment and do the same for other blogs you follow.

So let me start the year 2014 with the belated wedding quilt I made for my stepdaughter and her (drop-dead gorgeous Germanic hunk) husband Olaf.
I think Arwynn had been reticent to accept or give me the okay to make her a quilt as a gift. Whether she thought she'd be stuck with something hokey or worse. As a graphic artist in her own right, the design was important to her and I appreciate that she insisted they be in on the design from the beginning. I finally got approval almost a year after her wedding for the design above, a take on a Mondrian painting. (We were able to see a number of his originals in Basel Switz. and were surprised at the "slap dash" nature of the canvases). Arwynn had selected her colour scheme, similar to her wedding colours or Lime green and Teal. And batiks were a non brainer. A few hand dyed ( no not by me "dye-version") fat quarters thrown in and two batches of jelly rolls and we were away to the design table.
 I knew I had enough fabrics but the trick was ti use them effectively. Some pieces were larger than others so I had to make a few compromises to get pieces large enough. That was one of the reasons I opted to make a couple of patchwork pieces. They gave some relief from the sold blocks, added little shots of subtle colour and added some action and life to the design.

 Though the actual quilt went together quite easily, if I discount a few false starts on inset pieces and y-corners, the challenge for me was to minimize the seams in the background fabric. I actually ordered two complete batches of background fabric. After the first arrived, I decide it was too busy for the front and consequently I used it as the backing.
But how to quilt this cost me a few nights sleep. I finally went back to Costa Rica, where the wedding had been. Referencing the colours I decided to reference the flora and fauna for the design. Totally extraneous from the quilt design, I layered it over the severe graphic.

My quilting frame gives me only an effective design area 18 inches high. All the motifs were much larger. I considered drawing them on the front but I live in fear of the marks never coming out. My solution was to "stitch" the major parts of the foliage using a needle and thread in a running stitch in  contrasting colour. This allowed me to move the quilt back and forth on the frame (after machine basting the WHOLE thing first) and follow my thread lines.
The results were really very good and I know I will use that method again. I have been unwilling to make such large designs on my quilts as well as customer quilts because I knew I would lose my frame of reference.
So Arwynn and Olaf finally have their wedding quilt, a year late. But I think she was very pleased and the dog will sleep on the floor.