Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fellow Quilting Adventure Student's Quilt

Becky Freeman, one of my fellow students in Marcia Stein's class last March at Quilting Adventures, entered her quilt in the Kerrville Quilt Show.  I was privileged to attend this wonderfully diverse show last Saturday, when my husband and some friends of ours spent a Memorial Day weekend in Fredericksburg and Kerrville.  Becky's quilt depicts her husband on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  She titled her quilt, fittingly, "On the Riverwalk."  This is another quilt in the Marcia Stein style of depicting people from the back!  Becky did a lovely job with the details she added to her quilt after our class and with her quilting.  I also admire the way she handled shadows on her husband's shirt and trousers.  Rather than using the fused tulle as I did, she used darker shades of fabric, it appears to me.  Or perhaps stitching lines.  Whatever method, it is effective.

Another Kerrville friend and fellow QA student, Sue Tune,  was in Philippa Naylor's class.  She, too, entered her small quilt in the Kerrville show.  Her small piece with its lovely trapunto is quite striking.

It was delightful to see the work of these fellow students this weekend in their guild's truly excellent quilt show!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


ART + QUILT is a good book for a novice art quilter.  Author Lyric Kinard's aim is, first, to demystify and to take away the fear many have, many who (like me!) claim not to be true artists!  After her first, pep-talk chapter, she has chapters on the elements of art and the principles of design.

Kinard encourages readers to work through her book in order, starting with the first exercise in the chapter on the elements of art.  And so today I dived into the waters of learning the elements of art.  The first exercise involved Texture.  Following her directions, I first scanned several different fabrics of varied designs and patterns.  After printing these, I then cut out various geometric shapes and arranged these into compositions.

I had great fun!  I got totally lost in the composition process and the time flew by.  Kinard suggests that her readers keep all the products of the exercises in a notebook, in plastic sleeves, and this I will do.  When I buy the notebook and sleeves!  But I plan for this blog to be a diary of my efforts as well.

It was striking and illuminating to me how a black and white image of a colored fabric changed the way I felt about it!  For example, I used chiefly batiks, which are my current fabric passion, but I added in two prints, a stripe and the whirligig one you can see in the triangle at the upper left of the first scan.  I never have liked that fabric particularly, never used it in a quilt, but I love it here!  The triangle below in the bottom right is a scan of the brightest and most vivid of the fabrics, but as a black and white image, it is muddy and not distinctive.

My compositions from this first exercise (called "Visual Texture") are pictured below.  Kinard also encourages readers to ask themselves various questions and make comments on the back of their compositions.  I'll record a few comments in my captions.  The questions I'll ask myself and answer in my notebook later!

This is the first one I composed, and it remained my favorite!

I like the way the other shapes and their textures
look on a larger piece of the scanned striped fabric.

I called this one "All Triangles"

And this one, all circles.  I love this one, too!   I am always drawn to circular shapes!

This one looks too crowded to me.  I used
leftover pieces of all the fabric scans for this one, my least favorite.

I observe about myself here that I am commenting more on the shapes and my reactions to how the fabric looks in black and white, and NOT concentrating on "texture."  I suppose I need now to answer those questions, but I'll do that just for myself.

Art Quilt Four

Lake Michigan Beach Boys

Today I completed my fourth art quilt.  Like all of my art quilts, this one began in a class at Quilting Adventures in New Braunfels, Texas, just this past March.  I was in a class taught by Marcia Stein.  As soon as I read the flyer about Marcia, and saw one of her pictorial quilts--the well-known one of the gondoliers from the back, in their striped shirts, I signed up for her class.  I had long wanted to turn a beloved photo that my daughter had taken five years before, of her two sons and her sister's, on the beach at Lake Michigan.  The three little boys have their backs to the camera.

Marcia proved to as delightful a teacher as the three others I had studied under at QA.  Humorous and laid-back, Marcia was a good sport about the fact that none of us chose to render our quilts using her meticulous method of turned-edge, machine stitched, appliques!  Some of us, veterans of QA, had learned Esterita Austin's raw-edge, fused applique method.  We figured we would more likely LEAVE with a quilt, if we used that method!

Before appliqueing, we had traced on acetate the photograph we wanted to use, and then had it enlarged to whatever size quilt we wanted to make.  We then traced the shapes from the cartoon onto freezer paper, which we ironed onto fabric and then cut out.

I went on and added my 3rd grandson
to Lo's quilt for this
Constantly circulating among her students, Marcia proved to be an invaluable advisor.  The mood in the classroom was fun and relaxed.  Another Esterita Austin veteran, Lo, pulled a hilarious prank on me when she unpinned two of my appliques from my design wall (while I was in a far corner working on the third boy!) and attached it to her quilt.  I returned and exclaimed, "OH!  WHERE are my two guys?"  The class erupted in laughter, and Marcia turned this event into her opening anecdote on the night she gave her talk and trunk show to the entire group at QA.  We students thought that Marcia's humorous talk was the best of all the teachers' speeches, and ALL were wonderful.

I used my favorite fusible product, Misty Fuse ,to fuse the clothes on the boys and then their bodies to the background.  I did follow Marcia's method of appliqueing, using a tiny applique stitch in the color of the applique, stitching around all edges.  This necessitated changing thread colors often, but no matter; I love the way it looks.

Marcia also had a unique method of creating shadows.  She taught up to use darker shades of tulle, fused on, with our choice of fusible, to wherever shadows appeared on the bodies of our subjects or on the background.

Because I was working on this quilt right before our local quilt show, I couldn't hire Judy Steward to do the machine quilting for me.  She was chair of the show and so snowed under!  I don't enjoy free motion quilting and am not adept, but I bit the bullet and plunged ahead.  I was reasonably pleased with the quilting on the sand areas and the water.  I wanted puffy cloud shapes, though, for the sky, and that defeated me.  So I resorted to hand-quilting these, after cutting out clouds from freezer paper, ironing them onto the sky, and stitching around them.

Marcia's method of binding a quilt was new to me, and one that I plan to use again.  She likes to use the same fabrics as that which abuts the edges of the quilt.  Her excellent, clear instructions, and detailed close-up photographs in her book PICTURE THIS! proved to be invaluable.    I had six different fabrics to use in the binding, and while not an easy chore, it was made doable, thanks to Marcia.   I am most pleased with this, my fourth art quilt.

Some close-ups of the quilt are below:

I enjoyed doing the thread sketching on grandson #3's hair!

This and the one above show the binding, which
blends into the adjoining fabric.

This shows the combo machine and hand quilting.
And it also illustrates the shadowing with tulle.

This is the original photo on which the quilt was based.
I couldn't make the grandson at the left shirt's blue, as Marcia
advised that it blended too much into the lake water!
But the red-striped shirt I did use brightened up the quilt!

Art Quilt Two

Aqua in Abstract--now hanging
on the pale aqua walls of our bedroom!

At Quilting Adventures in 2009, I took a class from Katie Pasquini-Masopust.  In this class we did all sorts of exercises, leading eventually to our choosing a design for a quilt.  I was "stretched" and challenged in this class.  For the first time since I was a teenager, I was drawing and painting. 

But stretching and being challenged is what I wanted, so I persevered.  We began by every student in a cluster of three work tables combining white objects we had brought from home to compose a white still-life.  This still-life we then drew, first as a "blind contour" drawing, then one in which we looked at the composition and sketched it.  We then composed our own still life and did other exercises.

My memory is hazy about just what we did when, but I recall doing a "painting" of the second still life using black (very smelly!) markers and one "positive/negative" composition using construction paper.  One exercise involved taking a water-colored painting, cutting it into squares, and re-assembling the squares into a composition.  I'm sure there were others!

By perhaps the third day of the 4 1/2 day workshop, we each chose two designs we were most pleased with.  Then Katie PM had all of us move from design wall to design wall, looking at one another's choices, and listening to Katie's comments on the designs.  I had put up my very first exercise, the blind contour drawing, and then the positive/negative one.  I preferred the latter, but Katie was frank in liking the first better.  I decided to go with the teacher's instinct!

We then water-colored our final choices, using the palette of colors we planned to use in the quilt.  I had brought a wide assortment of aqua, turquoise, true-blue, and dark blue fabrics.  So I painted my design in these hues.

Then we took our original drawing, re-drew it carefully onto card stock, traced it onto acetate using a fine-tipped marker, had it enlarged, and from that made templates.  We then cut out our fabrics with scissors, just outside the lines of the template, and eventually appliqued these onto a stabilizer.  These were not raw-edged appliques; we used starch to turn under the edges of the "on top" appliques.  We used transparent or invisible thread for the appliqueing, with, I believe, a small over-cast stitch of some sort.

Once my quilt was appliqued, Katie came by and suggested that since some of my colors were very close to one another in value, that eventually I might consider satin stitching between these similarly-valued pieces. When I got home, I serendipitously took a crazy quilting class from master teacher Alice Kolb, and Alice had wonderful pointers for satin stitching, a technique that formerly I had struggled with.

I did the satin stitching over stabilizer, too, and then cut it away, sandwiched the quilt as usual, and took it to my wonderful machine quilting friend, Judy Steward, who quilted it most expertly.

No, this isn't my favorite art quilt, but I am fond of it.  I have wonderful memories of an outstanding art quilting class.  I greatly admire Katie PM and own every one of her books.  It is exciting to read them chronologically, and see how her techniques and her own quilts have evolved!
This is a copy on card stock of my original blind contour drawing.  We made
this in order to have a fairly small rendering to copy onto acetate and then
have enlarged.

This was the water-color that was cut apart and re-assembled.
Not a very exciting design, for sure!
Here was the marker "painting" and the positive/negative

My water-colored design.  I see by all the white areas
that I never finished it!

Finally, here are some close-ups of the quilt that I named "Aqua in Abstract."  Judy's skill at free motion quilting on an"ordinary" sewing machine, puts me, truly, in a state of awe:

Here, on the pale aqua, it shows up well.  I
didn't really "need" the satin stitching
here, but it was addictive and
hard to stop!

Judy's machine quilting can better be seen by
clicking to enlarge!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Art Quilts One and Three!

Pictured here on my blog are my first and third art quilts.  I am currently quilting #4.  Obviously, if I chose one and three here, it means that these are the ones I like the best.  So far, anyway!  My first art quilt hangs in our stairwell; the third, up high in our living room, which is a two-storey room.

The Stone Arch Bell Gate was done under the direction of quilt artist and teacher Esterita Austin.
The quilt was based on a photo, which I traced and then enlarged to make the templates.  We used raw-edge applique for the various elements in the design.  Esterita is the inventor of Misty Fuse, which is my favorite fusible.  I took Esterita's class at Quilting Adventures in New Braunfels, Texas.

The third quilt, which also appears under the blog title, I named Jubilation! and it, too was designed and begun at Quilting Adventures as well.  That class was taught by Cara Gulati.  Cara taught us first how to draw the scrolls that overlap in the quilt.  After we made many drawings, we chose the one we liked this best.  Then, as in Esterita's class, we took our designs to a copy shop to have them enlarged.  Then we traced the shapes for templates, which we made from freezer paper.

Cara's method of applique was different.  We used gluesticks to adhere the turned-under edges of the appliques which were "on top."  We also used a light box for the placement of the appliques, making that process very precise.  After the appliqueing was completed, we cut away the background from the back.  My good friend and expert machine quilter, Judy Steward, did the lovely machine quilting on this quilt.  (Actually, Judy machine quilts most of my quilts!)

Soon I hope to finish art quilt #4.  When it is done, I'll probably post about it and about my 2nd art quilt, too.  So stayed tuned!  I hope that all I invite to this blog will become "followers"!  Thanks to Linda, who already has done so!

The Stone Arch Bell Gate


This close-up of Jubilation! shows Judy lovely machine quilting.
Click to enlarge!

Friday, May 13, 2011

A New Blog, A New Purpose

Friend Linda's gift of the wonderful art quilting book TWELVE BY TWELVE has inspired and energized me.  Unlike my other blog, which is a hodge-podge of ramblings about my various activities--quilting, yes, but traveling, crafting with the grandchildren, entertaining, you name it--this one will be focused strictly on my endeavors in art quilting.

I've been quilting in earnest for over ten years, and I am passionate about it.  I love all sorts of quilting and have made upwards of 100 quilts, ranging in size from three-block table runners and banners, through mid-sized wall quilts, and all sizes of bed quilts.  I love traditional quilting, and I plan always to keep a foot in that camp.  But I aspire to be a true art quilter!

I've made four art quilts, under wonderful teachers at Quilting Adventures--Esterita Austin, Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Cara Gulati, and Marcia Stein.  At some point I'll show and discuss each of these art quilts.  For this first post, however, I'll discuss what this aspiring art quilter has decided to do in the way of honing my skills.

Sometime ago I bought a book called ART + QUILT by Lyric Kinard.  Kinard says in her introduction that she hopes that the book will give its readers "a solid foundation from which to spring" and "direction for further study."  She also promises that it will "give you the tools, if you are willing to take the time to learn to use them."

The book is organized into chapters which contain many exercises.  My plan is to work through the exercises, keeping them as suggested in a notebook.  Doing this I hope will not only hone my skills and teach me new tools and techniques, but I hope that in the process, some art quilts will come into being.

Doing the exercises, too, will give me something to talk about in this blog!  An online diary, if you will, for this Art Quilter Aspirant!