The Solution…

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Stitched Foreground

Michael Fuller wrote me yesterday

Go with the detail and time consuming fussiness. It’ll be superior to the photo copy model….”

‘OK,’ I though to myself, ‘I’ll give it a try.”

That’s where I started today – I began by printing out the black and white outlined image of Brian, the figure on the left, on some Heat ‘n Bond printing paper in order to use the outlines as templates for the fabric – BUT, here’s a glitch: the technique requires a ton of cutting with small fine scissors and for the last six weeks my arthritic right thumb isn’t working – the muscles to “open” the scissors are too weak to let me cut with any precision.

I decided to try fighting through that problem but a second issue presented itself: I cut out the entire jacket in a light fabric intending to use that as the base and building toward the darker tonal qualities until I had the jacket assembled. I fused some Heat ‘n Bond to the wrong side of my lightest fabric, cut out the overall jacket shape – that worked out OK, but when I started to build the left sleeve it became immediately obvious the slight differences in weight of fabric (although all quilting cottons) was going to create an imbalance and because each tiny piece of the puzzle is so small I would be left with a  slightly fraying “raw” edge in spite of the fact that I’ve fused some Heat ‘n Bond to the wrong side of each small piece before cutting it out.

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Detail of Figures

The final thing that was obvious was how “lifeless” the construction would be. The very subtle differences in shade intensity wasn’t achievable with the fabrics I have.

I gave up after about an hour of finicky cutting and fusing and decided to use the fabric photo images after all and fused them to the background.

What I will do tomorrow is begin the process of edge stitching each figure and then stitching in the colour/shading boundaries. That is also fussy work but my wonky right hand doesn’t interfere with being able to do careful machine stitching.

Art Quilt #3 – Toward the Future

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Click on photo to see detail.

I didn’t take a lot of photos along the way – in part because this project has been sitting around since last April – I knew what I wanted to do with the piece, but somehow it just didn’t make it to the top of my list until about 10 days ago when having finished the third pair of pants I thought it was time to do something with this quilt art work.

Finished dimensions: 18″ X 21 1/2″; it’s a “mixed media” piece – the foliage and the boys are photos printed on fabric (the printed foliage cut and pieced to create the canopy), the foreground elements are pieced quilting fabric to blend with the rest of the materials. The “matting” is raw silk; the border – batik. The boys and the background are two different photos – I had to fussy-cut them from the 8 1/2″ x 11″ printed fabric sheet so I could appliqué them into this background – two young lads walking toward the future created an interesting image, I thought.

To begin with I intended creating the foliage using a variety of green fabrics but nothing was successful – the colours were wrong, didn’t blend, didn’t look like leaves/trees. In the end, I opted to do this piece as mixed media, combining photography with appliqué quilting. I was happy with how the foliage turned out.

To enhance the intensity of the colour of the boys outfits I used oil pastels; permanent markers were helpful for blending thread colour into the fabric. The point was to end up with as realistic an image as I could manage using whatever materials let me do that. I decided not to be inhibited by any “rules” for doing art quilts. I did what worked to create the outcome I was after.

This art quilt I’m keeping – now to find a place to hang it. 

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March 28 2015

I follow the work of Melody Johnson – an art quilter who backs her “quilts” with a painted MDF board. I thought that an interesting idea and decided to try it on this quilt:

IMG_4516Definitely gives the piece a more finished look. I like how the blue border lightens the fabric “frame” and gives a strong edge to the work.

I have to take another look at “Asparagus Field” and think about whether I want to do the same thing with that.

 

In The Park 3

Just finished!

IMG_2598Couldn’t resist hanging it in my living room for now. All along I’ve intended the piece for my sister since these are her two oldest grandsons (she has five). The fabric I used to frame the work wasn’t anything I expected – but yesterday in the shop Pat hauled out a bolt of dark green striped batik and it tied together all the colours in the piece. I added a muslin panel to the back to hide the mess of threads from all the thread painting.

I have to say, I was pleased with how the work turned out. I know what I’m going to attempt next – maybe start it on the weekend. The problem with all of this work, pieced quilts as well as these art quilts is that making them becomes  addictive – it’s the challenge of figuring out how to make something work – once I start, my OCD tendencies take over and I can’t stop – “I’ll just do this one more thing…” I say to myself and suddenly the creative process has taken over my life!

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Still a work in progress – but I made some decisions a couple of days ago – the major one being that I would use printable cotton fabric to create the boys. That meant returning to the original photos, upsizing each boy so he would fit the background appropriately. I printed the images this morning, let them dry thoroughly (as the directions describe), fussy cut them carefully, then applied them with a medium iron. Using a 60 universal needle, I stitched around the outside of each using Wonderfil Invisifil thread – it’s a very fine polyester thread that blends with the fabric and permits very small stitches.

IMG_2589I also decided to stop fighting the large rhododendron bush beside the tree – I removed all the previous fabric and stitching (took a couple of hours of carefully picking out thread!). Today, I decided to print that element on printable cotton as well. In Photoshop I sized that part of the photo to fit the space where I wanted it to be, printed it out, cut it, pressed it, and stitched it into place. It looks way more realistic than what I’d had before. Now I need to do some thread painting to bring out the shaded areas of the bush so it appears three dimensional.

I still have a lot of careful outline stitching to do on each boy. I also need to thread paint the gravel quite a bit more – I had done a bit when I lay the grey fabric in place but now I need to carefully create a more gravel-like texture there.

My plan is to bind the image using a natural coloured raw silk fabric I have, then “frame” the piece with some kind of batik that will complement the image – I’ll have to shop for that (it may not be a batik – something like Northcott’s Stonehenge Colorado might work well).

This is where the piece is, today.

Sample #2

A lovely day that began with a goofy mistake. I arrived at the Lunenburg Fire Hall a bit early. It was sunny (although still cool) and as I was waiting for the others to arrive, I decided to walk across the parking lot to the water’s edge to photograph the ships in the harbour, so I got out of the car and locked it – keys still inside! Thanks goodness for CAA. I had the car open again within a half an hour. Fortunately, that wasn’t a sign of how the day would unfold.

We began with Laurie showing and explaining to us a recent art quilt piece – a beach with a family of five, ocean, hills in the background, the seaweed high tide mark… A very lovely image and as usual beautifully executed. No photos, however.

Then we explored some new techniques by “constructing” a small house. It was interesting to see how the building is assembled from many layers. The other women completed the house and stopped there. But I still had a spare background from yesterday, so I added the house, quickly created two evergreen trees and a bush to add some further interest. Then I put in a path (using free motion embroidery to set up paving stones. I began adding “grass” but didn’t get the whole space thread painted (this after all is just a sample). Finally, trimmed the edges and bound the piece – still needs hand sewing on the back.

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Notice also, the mullions in the windows and the edge of the roof which were also thread painted.

So with a bit more work when I get home, Sample #2 is actually a tiny art quilt. (It could use a chimney on the roof, I think and I may add one when I get a chance.)

We spent the rest of the day doing some prep work for the larger pieces we’re each working on. First, Laurie gave me a transparency created from the photo I gave her. I decided, in the end, to try the asparagus field. The transparency is put on an overhead projector, projected on paper tacked to a wall. The main elements are quickly sketched in. Then the tracing process is repeated on large sheet of tracing paper. These two tracings are used as templates and to reference the overall composition as the piece unfolds.

Next comes painting paper with fabric ink which when dry is transferred to a wide strip of poly-cotton fabric to be the sky. The sky is laid out on top of the paper template, and I next spent some time auditioning fabrics for the various elements in the picture.

I will need lots of trees – some will get created using the cobweb lace we learned yesterday. I spent the afternoon creating a tall evergreen tree (I got about half-way through it when it was time to leave, I’ll finish the tree tomorrow.)I used an pale blue organza fabric as the base, since the top of the tree will be against the sky. My free motion stitching is improving rapidly, I’m relieved to say.

So tomorrow, I’ll take a picture of the work in progress so you can understand how it’s unfolding. I also hope to begin constructing the house which will be the focal point of the work. The real challenge is going to be the asparagus field. I have a batik with yellow, peach, soft greens. I intend to overlay that with some golden/orange organza, but I need something more – whether it’s dyed cheesecloth in a suitable range of colour, or whether I will do thread painting on the surface, I’m not sure. I did pick out thread colours that will work and I had brought a metallic thread in the right shades – I’ll have to do some experimenting to see what might work.


Oh, and a couple more pictures of Lunenburg:20130910-195403.jpg

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Sample #1

This is all kind of like “Karate Kid” the original version where Mr. Miagi is teaching Daniel karate by having him do a variety of tasks – the whole results from assembling the parts. Creating a landscape quilt is like that – many small techniques that get incorporated into a larger whole.

We worked on “cobweb lace” – you cut fabric into rather small pieces (using a pinking rotary cutter blade), lay them on a piece of cling wrap, place a piece of cling wrap over them, hoop the three layers, and free motion stitch on top of that. You remove the cling wrap by placing the piece you’ve just created between two pieces of paper and press with a hot iron.
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What you have is a potential tree. Place one or more of these together you could have a denser tree or a shrub.
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Second technique: zigzag free motion – that gives you a longer stitch because the needle is moving as well as the fabric – great for grass, or tree trunks. My problem is that the sewing machine I brought is a quilting machine and it only does a straight stitch! So I tried it out on one of the other gal’s machines.

Third technique: paint fabric dye on paper, let it dry, then press (paint side down) on a poly-cotton blend fabric – a sky.

So with these three techniques I made my first sample thread painting:
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Not perfect, but pretty good for a first go.


It was a gorgeous Nova Scotia September day, today. I took a few moments after class this afternoon to capture a couple of images of Lunenburg:
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