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Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas

Christmas decorations go up around our house the day after Thanksgiving and come down the day after New Year's Day.  For a little over a month we get to enjoy the ornaments on the tree . . .
 and the snowman who never melts . . .
 and the ceramic Nativity set that reminds me of the reason for Christmas . . .
"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).  Matthew 1:23

Monday, December 8, 2014

Village Churches

After receiving permission to make a quilt based on Gaynor Chapman's artwork, I puzzled over how to make the figures scattered throughout the piece.  There are nine people: one kneeling under a tree, two standing by another tree, three nuns walking toward the main church and three larger figures carrying objects.  Here's the finished quilt.
This grainy detail image is of the original artwork.
My solution was to draw the figures on a neutral fabric and paint them.  I fused white interfacing to a  lightly-mottled batik to give it more opacity.  The fine weave of a batik is an excellent base for fabric pens and paints.  Freezer paper was then ironed to the wrong side of the fused fabric to stabilize it. With my drawing of the figures secured to the lightbox, I taped the paper-backed fabric on top of the drawing and traced the drawing with a Pigma pen.  Then the fabric could be removed to a table and painted. 
After the figures were painted, I removed the freezer paper and added Wonder Under fusible web to the back before cutting around the figures about 1/8" from the exterior outline.  This left the original light batik fabric extending 1/8" beyond the figures.  After fusing the figures to the quilt I used a small zigzag stitch to applique the figures to the quilt, changing thread colors as needed.  I then used appropriate paint and pens to touch up the white border beyond the exterior outline of the figures. 


Friday, September 5, 2014

Chromatic Transitions

Today I received a copy of Color Play, Second Edition, a "hot off the press" book by color expert Joen Wolfrom.  My quilt, Chromatic Transitions, is featured in the section on triadic color plans.  I'm delighted that Joen contacted me to include this quilt in her fresh, new edition of this classic reference book on color in quilts. This is a "must have" book for all quilt and color enthusiasts.
Second, my friend Robbi let me know that Chromatic Transitions received third place at Quilt Expo Wisconsin which is currently underway in Madison.

It's not every day when I get double good news on the same quilt.

Now, back to the drawing board as I work on my next quilt.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Village Churches

I love old world architecture and  was toying with the idea of a collage-style quilt when a piece of art caught my attention.  I loved everything about  this collage of old churches from the variation of church styles to the colors to the hint of a story using human figures. The creator of the original artwork was Gaynor Chapman, a British artist, illustrator and teacher, commissioned to design posters for London Underground.  This quilt is based on her 1962 poster and is used by permission.  Village Churches by Gaynor Chapman from the London Transport Museum Collection © Transport For London
This is a first for me--recreating an artist's work in fabric.  It was a challenging and satisfying adventure. Here's a close up of one of the figures.   
More to come in further posts.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Yellow Stuff

What better way to welcome the first day of summer than a touch of yellow.  It reminds me of the hot summer sun. 
My sister, Becky, has a creative knack with outdoor arrangements on her country property.  Check out this vintage bicycle she just painted a warm yellow and added to her chicken coop display.  It stands out in stark contrast to the lush greenery behind it and is balanced with other repetitions of yellow.
 Contrast, of course, is a main principle in any art or quilting composition.  Without contrast, there is no design.  Here are a few examples of strong contrast using yellow. 

Whether you're gardening or quilting, consider adding a splash of cheer with some yellow stuff.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Texture in Quilting

In nature, texture is everywhere.  The bark of these two trees have highly contrasting visual texture.  One is silky smooth and the other deeply rough.

Whether smooth or jagged, the lines we add via quilting create a perceived texture.  Jagged lines give the dog unruly fur.  

Flowing, curvy lines give this sky a sense of movement.
Straight lines reinforce the "boards" of the green door.
Cinnamon rolls are defined by round swirls of dark brown thread.  Lines on the cake stand base continue its curved shape.
Experiment with a scrap quilt sandwich and try your hand at creating texture with thread.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Machine Quilting Unlimited

Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine is a real treat with glossy pages of colorful, inspiring quilts and articles about machine quilting.  
In the current issue (May/June 2014, page 30) you'll find a collection of vibrant applique quilts including my Celestial Splendor.  For further information on this quilt, check the Blog Archive at the right for these dates:
September 2013:  Celestial Splendor
October 2013: Repetition
October 2013: Accuracy

Friday, April 18, 2014

Resurrection Perspective

"The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life."   Josh McDowell

With Resurrection Sunday just around the corner, I'm focusing on my quilt, Arms of Love, which was inspired by the movie "The Passion of the Christ."  Each applique element is rich in meaning. 
For example, the wings shown below are symbolic of resurrection to new life. 
Normally, of course, wings would  not be purple and red.  White wings wouldn't have shown up against this light background.  Part of the joy of quilting is "artistic license" to change colors to suit your purposes.  Here, the purple feathers have red quills while the red feathers are edged with gold and have purple quills.    

Keep in mind that the value contrast of the fabrics is more critical to the design than the actual colors.

Happy Quilting and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yellow Stuff

In praise of flowers ---  yellow, of course!
Flowers in quilts . . .

And the real thing in nature . . .

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Focus on Thread

Fabric generally steals the show in quilts but I'd like to focus here on thread and the credit it deserves in our quilts.  Threads for quilting or embellishing can blend with the fabric or stand out as a design element.  
This dog is cut from one piece of neutral fabric and then quilted with a darker thread to create fur.  The edge of the green checked pillow is a single piece of  white fabric with darker thread creating the illusion of ruffles.
Nautical map lines on this compass quilt are done with a heavy contrasting thread.
Buttonhole stitch draws attention to the squares in this octagon quilt.
Satin stitched thread eliminates the need for fusing the veins in these large leaves.
Black thread creates the spider web as well as the outline of the sun's facial features.
The next time you open that drawer of thread, take a moment to focus on how thread "makes" your quilt.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chocolate Brown

Yesterday I attended a "Chocolate 101" lecture/tasting by a local chocolatier and got to sample several varieties of my favorite treat.  I learned that some chocolates are of single origin (made from one type of cocoa bean from one location).  However, most chocolatiers create their own unique blends using several types of cocoa beans from different locations.  Chocolate blends are the signature of the maker.

Quilts, too, are the signature of the maker and are created with a variety of fabrics.  This giraffe is constructed of a wide variety of brown fabrics, creating interest and depth.

The floor in this quilt uses many brown fabrics to look like wood planks.

Brown fabrics can resemble milk chocolate or dark chocolate.  This deer is a hybrid of the two.

The body of this birdhouse is one fabric but the "doors" are darkened with fabric pens.  It's a lot easier than appliqueing those small pieces.

Brown is a blend of colors and often gets overshadowed by its showier cousins like red and green. But brown has an important role to play in nature, in quilts and certainly in chocolate.  Brown deserves some special attention.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Use It Up!

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  This motto was a way of life especially during the Great Depression. Of necessity many of our ancestors were extremely frugal and had to make do with whatever fabrics were available when they needed another quilt.  Feedsacks were often recycled into quilts.  Some fabrics used in a quilt had a previous life as a house dress.  You can be sure every scrap of fabric was put to good use.  Often, this meant piecing tiny bits of fabric together to make one little square.  

The squares in this detail image of a vintage quilt are only 1 1/4" but look how many of them are made of two pieces. 

While I don't piece anything this small, I do like to "use it up" and piece together fabrics of similar color to make a larger strip.  This often works out well for borders on utilitarian quilts like the following.
Here's a close up of the border.

And another example of a "patched together border".
Some squares in my quilts are cut from my husband's old shirts.  You'd be amazed at how many 6" squares you can get from one long-sleeved shirt. Recycling and economy of resources aren't new ideas.  Our grandmothers paved the way for conservation and we can all benefit from their example.