Monday, 30 June 2014

Northern Bound - Goose Final - sold

The geese are still moving north in my area so I though that was an appropriate title for this fellow. This finished out at 38"x32". I had said I wanted to work large but it does quickly become cumbersome. I may rethink that idea.
Doing the background on the longarm was an interesting experiment, but I am pleased with the outcome and subtly of the colour shift.
 I also stitched the piece down to the canvas with some extra batting. I kept the stitches at irregular intervals to add interest.
All in all I'm pleased with this addition.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Quilting on Georgian Bay

After I got over the initial shock of being dragged up to Georgian Bay, we had a wonderful afternoon and evening catching up with my step-daughter and her husband. I sat up till close to midnight, chatting, enjoying the gentle breezes off the lake and some local wine from a nearby vineyard.  But I was still up with the birds ( and the sun ) around 6 and made the stealth run to Tim Horton's for 4 extra large coffees.
Then, while everyone was still sleeping I worked on 2 blocks for the Dear Jane quilt. It was tough, enjoying the vista and silence of the early morning.

 This is block M10. ( I deliberately choose simple blocks to bring with me. I had no idea how functional I might be the next morning.)

I here is block M12 against the lovely view, from the balcony of my son-in-law's cottage.

And the dear young man kept me supplied with even MORE coffee. Around 10 we all sat down with Jane and had a lovely breakfast, with a spectacular view.
Then it got HOT and we came home to the AC.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Flight Feathers

I don't know how far I will get today as I'm being dragged off, this afternoon, to a cottage on the lake with drinks and dinner and stuff. I guess I should go graciously as it IS my step-daughter's, and it IS a belated father's day event as well as a pre-birthday celebration for my husband. Things we have to do! LOL!
She is a fabulous artist in her own medium and we love to get together and discuss how our work differs and is the same.

But to the GOOSE.
Goose is well anchored. The tail is still bothering me so it is only pinned and fused.
But it's time to quit dithering and tackle the flight feathers. I thought at first the closer wing needed some colour differentiation in the ribs of the feathers but as I tried two different colours, I've changed my mind. No bother though because it will be stitched over and disappear.

The "rear or lower" side of the feathers were partially stitched and the "front or upper" side of the feather was completely stitched. This gives more importance to one side. As my photo doesn't really show the stitching well, I included a backside view to show the pattern.

 I over exposed this view in photoshop to try to make the stitches visible.

Friday, 27 June 2014

And the Devil's in the Detail

I spent another whole day creating a background. I really liked the effect of the tight rows on the longarm but there were too many flaws. I found my fabric was actually dirty. Heaven knows how long I've had that piece but there was a line where the fold had been, that wouldn't iron out or erase. I had to conclude it was soiled or discoloured.
 But I will use that piece for something sometime in the future.

I bought fresh material and sandwiched only with cloth and batting. I also followed the idea that some threads only like to play out in a certain directions. This was certainly true for the embroidery thread. As long as I sewed from left to right, everything behaved. If I went right to left, it almost immediately frayed and broke. It worked but it did slow me a bit.
This piece is bigger too. The ratio of the original background was okay but I wanted the ability to place the goose on the thread composition and see where it looked best.

 I chose to not add the canvas at this point because of its shear weight and the difficulty
 to would add to the handling. I wanted to do as much of the detail as possible before adding that item.

But I needed to use stabilizer to control distortion. Before I added that, I cut away as much of the cotton base as I could.
After tacking the bird to the stabilizer, I started stitching feathers. The ones on the breast and belly of this bird are tight and small.
This backside view shows the head and neck. When I have done smaller versions of the Canada Geese, I have always stitched the neck solid. For this one I made tight, small, overlapping V-shaped stitches. It filled the area and at the same time added texture. Changing direction on the beak defines it's location and parts.
I'm now at the point where the final work, the large flight feathers, needs to be done with the bird on
the backing. As those stitches would not be dense and cause distortion, the remaining, unused stabilizer was trimmed  away.
I decided the top four inches of the backing were to be cut off.
After anchoring the top edge of the goose with invisible thread, I then ironed down the loose wing feathers. With the bird anchored to the backing I turned to the canvas.
I decided to place another piece of a batting under the whole piece. The top was carefully pinned and smoothed and then I anchored the top to the canvas by following the horizontal lines with invisible thread at about 4 inch intervals. After the bird is finished I'll go back and revisit how much stitching I'll add to the backing.
The discrete edges, wing, neck, and belly were finished with a satin stitch, both on the external edges and the interior edges. Now its is secure enough that I can roll it in any direction and finally get to those big flight feathers.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tale of a Tail in the Sky

I would not have believed that the tail of this bird would give me so much grief.
The aspect was underneath from the forward side. Sounds straight forward. So trying to translate the photos into something that wasn't there cost me a day. (Well not the whole day. Had a few errands to do etc. just life dragging me out of my studio!)
But I think I've got it now. I like the lightweight fusible material because I can move it. It does release and in most cases, if the fabric is a tight weave, there is no damage. It can be reapplied several times. As these pieces will all be sew over they only need to stay put.
The hind leg is still only pinned. I'm not sure about it yet.

Today I spent the whole day constructing a background. I wanted something a little different if not original, to feature the goose but still add to the image.
While I was at the CQA Quilt show my husband and I admired a piece that consisted almost entirely of very closely stitched straight lines. The colours blended and changed the background fabric in a  subtle but effective way. I thought I might try that method for this piece.
So I constructed my background in my usual manner, cloth, batting and canvas. Realizing it would be an annoying struggle to manipulate the 36x44 piece of canvass I decided to through the whole thing on the longarm. Do to that I had to add a header and tail to the canvas in order to attaching to the longarm frame.

That done I started stitching straight lines. I quickly discovered the error of using canvas at this point. Even the quilting threads had their breaking point. I tried all manner of tension adjustment but the hard material shredded everything.
Call me stubborn but I spent all day coaxing embroidery thread, serging thread, old thread, new thread, knowing I was not going to be able to use this particular backing for this piece. Too many breakages, stops and starts.
BUT IT WANTED TO SEE HOW IT LOOKED. so I almost finished it. The last bobbin running out called the end of the day.

So I quickly trimmed the goose and pinned it to the backing.
Here's how she looks on this wonderful sky interpretation.

I think this will be an excellent piece. Tomorrow I will shop for CLEAN fresh material for the sky and begin stitching it all again. Hopefully with less grief.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Time to get back to work - Flying Goose

I've said before that I spend a lot of time in my head before I begin a new project. This one certainly was no different.
I don't immediately move to replace pieces that are sold because the spark isn't there anymore. So I usually begin something new. Ever since I finished the deer in the winter scene I've been looking at this cartoon and photo I had on my wall. It's been there for at least 3 months.

I made the cartoon back in the fall by enlarging this image, again from the weather network of amateur photos, tracing it onto a full size sheet of chart paper. And there it sat.

It's a beautiful action photo of what I assume is a female mallard. At first I was happy to do the mallard but as time went on I decided I wanted to do the Canada Goose instead. Do you know there are over a dozen different varieties of Canada Geese, and guess what? None of them have white bellies. And not one photographer had captured this motion. I needed to adapt the duck photo.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about feathers. On my smaller pieces they could be suggested with batiks and a little thread, but this needed individual treatment for each feather. It wasn't until yesterday after looking at hundreds of internet photos, I figured out how to do the belly of tight, overlapping beige/brown/cream feathers.

I love my "pinking" blade on my rotary cutter. They are impossible to re-sharpen and I'm going to have to replace this one soon, but it gives a nice "feathery" cut.
I traced the original onto some white muslin. (I'm out of my pattern interfacing material, a non woven substrate that I use to build my features off the background.)
I had in my stash this mottled material which I cut into strips about an inch wide and began layering them on the belly of the goose. I glued them into place using a glue stick. At this point I'm undecided how to finish this, ie netting or not.
As I moved up the belly I changed to strips of beige and then finally white, up to the line where the black neck descends.

Using fusible material I cut and place the neck/head. ( I had lengthened the neck of the duck earlier), inserting and additional white piece for the neck band. Then I trimmed it back almost to the original line of the belly and shoulder. Now it looked natural.

The wings can have a composite portion high near the shoulder joints, as can the tail, but the majority of the wing feathers will have to be cut and placed individually.
It took some trial and error until I found a combination in my stash to work the feathers. In almost every picture I looked at, the underside of the wing was different or the pattern on the top side was lighter. In the end I went with a gradation of beige to brown.

After the tail, I started working with the main wings. The forewing shows only the top while the far wing shows the underside. Hence the overlap of the feathers reverses. As it was in shadow I worked only with the darker colours. And then half way through the second wing.... I realized I would run out of material. A quick run to the store and disaster. There was no more of the material in the store. I knew if I drove 50 miles I could find it but at 4:00 pm Sunday, I just couldn't leave this unfinished.
So I went with plan B and bought a darker version, almost black.
Fusible web can be removed, slowly and carefully. Fortunately I had only tacked most pieces so I was able to shift some of the brown feathers from one wing to another. Then I finished both wings with the darker colour.

She hangs off the cloth right now and until I decide on the background I will leave it as it. I just noticed I need to reverse the tail and some of her feathers may need a little shortening and of course all the thread highlighting needs to be done. But that's enough for today.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

New agers, neo-pagans join the curious to greet summer solstice at Stonehenge |

New agers, neo-pagans join the curious to greet summer solstice at Stonehenge |

Now I have to admit that this is really off topic, but Stonehenge and the Solstices ( or is that Solstii?) are a weak spot of mine. One of my art pieces that gained some acclaim was inspired by images of the winter solstice. The idea of the longest day always bring s a bit of a sadness to my being, as I face the idea that we are now winding down to winter......really!) And my climbing roses are fading.

But what always disappoints me in these articles is they leave out all reference to dancing in the nude. I think I read too much fantasy. (I also think I'm going in a little stir crazy here. I'm grounded and hubby is enforcing it and I'm going nuts doing nothing, hence this rant!)

I just finished getting out my Dear Jane blocks and putting them on a wall and I discovered I have duplicated 2, and 3 very nice blocks have nothing to do with the Quilt pattern at all!! It's enough to make me want to strip down and go running madly into the field. (Neo-pagan part of me that is)

Sigh. The voice of reason, ( and mosquitos) teaches me patience and humility.

I think I'll go fry my brain in the sun.

With a mojito!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Cows Came Home ( or Anne's 7 Shirt Quilt)

I thought this quilt would take me longer but if was completed in 2 days. Perhaps because it was hot out I preferred my basement studio.
The SID went quite quickly because I was able to stitch "stairs". Long arm machines want to do horizontal and vertical before curves so they track very well. As my basic machine does not have clamps for straight lines, its always a little iffy. When the seams are well pressed there is usually no problems.

This is a large quilt, 95 x 101, very generous and manly.
The medallion in the light blocks worked very well and adds just enough interest. I'm sure my friend will be pleased.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

S.I.D. till the cows come home

I value my friends and I do my best for them as a customer, but this one is going to try my patience as well as my back. Its another version of a Shirt Quilt, and is almost all stitch in the ditch.
The part that isn't is a custom design on point. (I will remind myself several times over the coming week that it was my suggestion.)

This is a large design, 15 inches and it goes in the plain blocks between the 18 inch stacked blocks.
I could have drawn it on the space but I opted to draw it out on light tracing paper. This way I could duplicate it quickly and accurately by stitching the pattern with an empty needle.

After it is pinned and stitched over, its simple a matter of tearing away the paper and cutting the threads. Partial blocks are merely sections of the design.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

New techniques

After coming home from the show with the catalogue and studying the pieces I liked again, I knew there were a few things I was going to try to incorporate in my Natural pieces. I'm cooling my heels right now, busy mounting a customer quilt on my longarm. As a favour to my friend I'm also prepping her backing. She had had one ready but I thought it was the wrong choice for her quilt. So she left me a bolt of backing fabric to make and prewash. ITs in the dryer now and the front is mounted
This technique for making evergreens more dimensional has haunted my sleep and thought.

I'm not a fan of using a hoop with my free motion work, but it may be because the piece is all assembled and bulky. Getting the hoop under my presser foot on my Jenome always meant I had to dissemble the foot, place the hoop and reattach the foot. This small hoop doesn't require that. At that point if there is distortion it becomes a problem. But this method has you pre sewing parts to be layered. In this case evergreen boughs.

So this is an individual branch stitched onto a nylon netting. This is really exciting for me, thinking ahead to different layers, levels and colours. The results are then cut and layered and using invisible thread, anchoring the work with NO distortion. As long as the pieces will fit under the presser foot it can be added. But can all be hand stitched too as there is minimal bulk.
Think trees, flowers, grass...feathers. WOW

Go BIGGER or go Home

On Thursday last, my husband and I journeyed to St. Catherines Ontario to view the CQA Quilt show. He is a BIG supporter of my work and I value his perspective and eye.
While I was unable to get any pictures of the juried show, there was an invitational exhibition of past winners and works by recognized Canadian teachers and members of CQA. (I still have no idea what the difference is between Realistic and Representational classifications.) One thing I did learn was I need to think BIG. I did see a few techniques that I intend to incorporate into my work and am now more than every convinced I need to start painting my own fabrics. But here are some of  the photos I took. ( So many old ladies ruined other pictures...oops I'm in that category now.)

 Enjoy and be inspired.