Sunday, April 27, 2008

Recycling

Earth Day was this week, so I decided to make a journal quilt in honor of the day. I used scraps from my stash and made a background pieced together from multiple fabrics. Since my town will only collect plastics for recycling that have the #1 or #2 within the recycling symbol, I decided to cut up a white plastic container that otherwise would have gone to the landfill. I laid out the strips to look like a tree and created leaves by cutting up the plastic grass from a sushi lunch. Here's Earth Day:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Squirrel Scraps

With the beautiful weekend weather, a trip to the zoo on Monday and into NYC yesterday (the show "Wicked" was amazing!), I forgot to post last week's journal quilt. I used a scrap of Mary Fisher altered fabric that didn't have much going on as the base of the piece. I colored it with paintsticks to liven it up, then stamped it using chestnut halves I found around the yard, left behind by the squirrels this winter. I doodled a squirrel with a black cray-pas pastel crayon on top of it all. I attached the doodle to a background fabric with a free-motion zigzag stitch, deliberately keeping it uneven and doodle-like. I'm calling this Squirrel Scraps.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Together

The only reason I got out of bed this morning was to see if my entry in the 2009 Quilting Arts calendar contest was selected as a finalist. It wasn't, but that's okay, truly. I love the piece I made and now I can share it with you all here. I think I'm going to get it framed and hang it in my family room.

The theme for the contest was "celebrating home", which they opened to interpretation. I decided that, given my husband's travel schedule for work and our children's busy lives, any time that the five of us are together is fabulous; it's not so much a physical location, as opposed to the pleasure of being together that I wanted to celebrate. I painted through the mesh from a columbine crate to add color to the background fabric; used raw-edge applique for the hands; added shading with color pencils; and, adhered Angelina fiber squares with sequins and beads. Not surprisingly, I named this piece Together.

Good luck to all the finalists! I can't wait to see the new calendar; the list of finalists is very impressive.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Print in Progress

What I had hoped was allergies has blossomed into a full-fledged cold. Thankfully, my husband's in town, so he took care of the children last night while I went off to bed early.

When I awoke, there was a certain pungency to the air in the kitchen. Alas, the ends of the onion I had chopped up for dinner were still on the counter; somehow, they were missed by the clean-up crew. Ehh, gross, you might say, but look ... I thought it would be interesting to use the ends as a stamp today. I think this print looks surprisingly wonderful (save for the smudge on the right side). I regret now that I didn't use a bigger square of fabric. I haven't figured out what to do next, but this may just be the beginning of an onion series. I imagine there are endless possibilities in shape. This also continues my recent fascination with circles. Who knew onions could be so neat? Apparently, Charles Dudley Warner knew:

"The onion and its satin wrappings is among the most beautiful of vegetables and is the only one that represents the essence of things. It can be said to have a soul." Charles Dudley Warner, first president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, in his 1871 book, My Summer in the Garden

Sunday, April 13, 2008

All Caught Up

I feel like a college student who's just spent the weekend catching up on assignments because she's been out having too much fun. Why? I just got caught up on my weekly journal quilts. Hurray!

My previous journal quilt was the result of colors bleeding from one fabric to another. Today, I went back to the original drawing. I ripped it into shreds because I still wasn't inspired by it. I decided to loosely weave the strips together because the colors looked nice. I didn't want to fuse the lattice -- I really liked the straggling threads on the pieces -- so I overlaid some tulle and stitched it down with monofilament thread. I stitched light blue stretchy tulle and variegated ribbon to each of the vertical slats because I wanted to emphasize the loose and ragged edges within the piece.

I must admit, I just love the colors and the ribbons hanging loose here. I've seen so many lovely pieces by other artists that include dangling threads or ribbons. They seem so tactile and three dimensional. This is the first time I've created a piece in which I think it's suitable for that kind of embellishment. I don't intend to compare my work to theirs -- it's certainly not that sophisticated --but what fun to do!

Wow, another totally abstract piece. What's going on? Oh ... in addition to my journal quilt picture, I've included one of the original drawing. What do you think? Did I make the right choice to shred it?

Journal quilt:




Original drawing:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Happy Accident

I've had such a nice week. I've gone out to lunch with girlfriends, met with quilting friends -- twice!, gone on long walks, and even read a book, start to finish. And today, my girls and I had a special day together while my husband and son were off at a baseball tournament. We miss them, but it was a great girls day.

At any rate, I had a little time this evening to create a journal quilt. I started by drawing a picture with water soluble crayons. I wet the fabric so the colors would run and blend a bit, then ran the iron over the fabric to stop the bleeding. When I did that, the colors dulled and the whole drawing lost its appeal. The fabric I had laid under the drawing to protect my ironing board, however, looked very cool. The colors had seeped through and created blotches that were much more interesting than the initial drawing.

I decided it would be more fun to play with this new bit of "painted" fabric than to stick with the original. I brightened some spots with paintsticks, added a few more dabs of color here and there, and highlighted a few of the blotch edges with colored pencils. I sewed rippled blue tulle on top to represent water because I thought the shapes looked a bit aquatic. Then I couched down pieces of chartreuse yarn (perhaps some algae floating on the surface?) and finished with metallic silver chicken scratch in the center of the big green blob at the bottom.

This was pure play. I'm not sure of this piece's artistic value -- it does look rather like a preschooler's painting -- but I had fun experimenting with something completely abstract. The end results are growing on me and I'm calling this piece, Blend. I think I'm done with it, although I suppose that's up for debate. How do you know when something this abstract is finished?



Detail:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Practice

I decided to use scraps from my Ten Blessings-Twofold quilt as the base for my latest journal quilt. I really love the way the colors all blend and I like how all the little pieces came together.

What to do next? Well, I remembered a time when I'd been chided by a friend. "It's just fabric", she'd said in response to my comment about how nervous I got when experimenting with paint and other such items. She's right, of course, and I suppose there's no better place to practice and build confidence than journal quilts. So here's the end result of practicing with embroidery, paintsticks and beadwork to create some texture. I think it looks a bit like a modern-age crazy quilt considering that most of my stitching ended up on the seams. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March Challenge

Several weeks ago, Natalya and I exchanged pieces of a pipe cleaner and copper coffee filter for our independent creative challenges. Here's what the objects looked like before we started working with them:



Today we had the opportunity to show each other what we had created. Natalya made a spectacular abstract that was embellished with thread work. She painted a wet piece of silk with luscious blues and purples, then mounted on top of that pieces of the pipe cleaner, filter and dryer sheets, all of which she had painted. Then she did wonderful machine and hand thread work. Paintsticks make the final layer of color and depth. Please go check it out on her blog (just click on her name up above). You'll be amazed.

I made a smaller, simpler piece that's 8" x 6". I misted / spray painted a piece of muslin with light blue paint, then attached my pieces of the filter and pipe cleaner, along with copper wire. I muted the green of the pipe cleaners with paintsticks, then colored through the mesh of a columbine crate to create the border. Finally, I sprinkled metallic bronze paint along the outside in the border to give it all a bit more sparkle. I'm calling it, The Maze.

Once again, I'm fascinated by how differently our pieces turned out with the same elements as our starting point. I really love Natalya's creation; I think it's absolutely beautiful. I think my piece is okay -- nothing spectacular. But this is supposed to be a creative exercise and, as such, I'm pleased. (Quite frankly, I can't believe I made something using these materials.) Natalya and I didn't have time to swap our next challenge items today, but I'm curious what we'll come up with. Certainly can't be odder than a coffee filter and a pipe cleaner, can it?

Here's The Maze: