Not always an easy thing, this ‘getting it right.’ Sometimes it takes days, weeks, even years. I’m just speaking for myself, of course, though the thought of such masters as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, van Gogh — and more — leap to mind when it comes to revisiting earlier works for a bit of tweaking. Some of those masters went back to pieces many times and never were completely satisfied with the results. My resurrection story has a happy ending.
Three years ago this month I completed Orange, a challenge two friends and I decided upon.
Aside from the word ‘orange’, the only other stipulation for the art quilt was the size. From the start, I conceived this piece as having a large tree with three persimmons — a sort of banner — at the top. Unfortunately, I added the 6-inch banner on top of a piece that was already the stipulated overall size! So, this piece has been fraught with problems from the start. I didn’t like the proportion of the completed piece. Even more to the point: I was not happy with the execution of the persimmons. But, after all, it was done. And on time. And it hung in an exhibit before the fabric had cooled from being stitched. Done and hung, now there’s a nice phrase for you.
When it came home from the exhibit it was rolled up and stored away. Every time I’ve come across it since, I’ve been annoyed with it.
This week I decided to revisit Orange to see if I couldn’t salvage it. The answer came to me very much like having a V-8 moment — you know, that big self-inflicted smack to the forehead. What if I removed the persimmons?
It wasn’t the huge time invested initially anticipated. Just a couple more inches and the edge will be lifted and I can cut off the persimmons. The binding is stitched back on and I have a new art quilt — Orange Redux.
I’ve always liked this tree. I think it stands alone quite nicely and I’ll be happy to bring it out of hiding.
My calendar said “Continue Sunflower piece” but my time was used for unexpected things — what most of us call “Life.” When I walked back into the studio I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to produce quality thread work.
Fortunately, I had supplies for a notebook cover nearby and a very serious urge to complete something. I pulled out a few sun prints and got to work. This notebook cover sports a sunprint of a tomato plant and some hand dyed fabric produced in my only class on the subject (Hand dyeing fabric is one thing I’ll leave others to do.).
And here’s the back:
Keep a couple of those catalogs with gorgeous photographs — they can be just what you’re looking for. I used two pages from a needlepoint catalog to cover the inside covers of the notebook. This is a standard 9 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ composition notebook that I got at my local office supply store.
I think this would make a nice notebook to record the 2014 gardening season. What does your garden notebook for this year look like?
Seven of my pieces have been accepted for the 46th Annual Textile Exhibition at the Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont, California. I’ve had my work at this gallery in the past, but not with so few artists — six artists have work in this exhibit.
My five Sunflower Scrap pieces, Woodwardia Wonder and Oakleaf Hydrangea II will be there.
Here are the particulars:
46th Annual Textile Exhibition
March 28 – April 27, 2014
Olive Hyde Gallery
123 Washington Blvd., Fremont, CA
Opening Artist Reception: Friday, March 28, 7 – 9 p.m.
Blue Prints on Fabric, my source for fabrics treated for creating prints, has a new product. Hand-dyed cotton fabrics — available in medium pink, turquoise blue, bright orange, chartreuse green and medium yellow — are then treated with cyanotype solution. These fabrics provide a new twist on the classic blue and white of the historical cyanotype printing process.
I recently received a yard of medium yellow fabric, tore off a piece about the size of a fat quarter and printed using California Poppies.
The area protected from u.v. light remains the color of the dyed cotton while the area not protected obtains a unique color as the cyanotype chemistry turns blue but also reacts with the base dye color. From this photograph it may be difficult to discern the subtle change in the background color from strictly blue to the blue-green I see in my studio. Evidence of that is revealed on portions of the stems where the stems were not making complete contact with the fabric.
In the past I have used primarily flat plant segments such as leaves or dried flowers to create prints. Using these flat sources has meant that complete contact with the fabric was much easier to achieve. I’m not entirely unhappy with the varied level of contact from these fresh-cut California poppies though. In fact, I rather like the variety of color that this print created.
A word of caution about using fresh specimens: Pinning the fleshy specimen to the fabric means you pierce the skin and release some of the fluid from the plant. Notice the far left flower stem and little ‘blob’ 3 inches below the bloom. That is where the pin released liquid from the stem and the chemical began to run. I was lucky to have only one such blob. If there had been many such leaks I probably wouldn’t consider using this print. However, with one small one like this I am comfortable considering it for a future project.
The first stage of quilting on Sunflower Scrap VI is done. Here the fabric is still moist from the spritz I gave it to eliminate the blue marking pen guidelines. The moisture makes the fabric appear to be slightly darker than it actually is.
I will let the quilt dry on my design wall. If any of the blue marking lines reappear — they may just do that in areas where I marked a bit heavily or changed the design — I’ll just spritz and let dry until they stop appearing.
Stitching the large, sweeping vine and leaf designs was quite a challenge. I had to stop, shift fabric and restart quite often to move the design across the top. Doing that and keeping the lines smooth was not always successful so I did my share of taking the quilting out. Let’s face it, there is simply no wiggle room when using a navy-blue thread on light-blue fabric. So, in spite of the light amount of design that appears here, the stitching took 2 days to complete.
The next step will be to block the piece. The eleven sunflowers are stitched twice to make them more bold that the leaves and vines. That extra stitching has created a bit of puckering. Though it isn’t dramatic, I don’t want to run into any pucker problems when I begin the next phase of quilting. Blocking at this stage will ensure that I can focus on the quilting design and not how to ease in bulges.
I’m happy with where I am on this project. I limber up the peach-colored thread next! Stay tuned.
Once I’ve made design decisions and have the large elements marked, I have a sense of accomplishment. Of course, there is accomplishment in getting that far, but actually the work has just begun. So here I am making some progress on quilting the sunflowers and vines.
When the large designs have been quilted, I will change to a peach-colored thread to quilt around those shapes. That quilting will all be done without any marking ahead. I especially like that kind of quilting because I’m free to change directions, shapes and sizes as I stitch. I can focus on what is happening in the moment and simply enjoy the process. I should be at that stage later today.
Love . . . we each express it in our own unique way. Manuel loves Dolores and shows her publicly on Lover’s Bridge.
How do you show your love?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I so thoroughly enjoyed the series of foot-square sunflower quilts begun in 2012 that you can imagine my delight in learning that the common sunflower is native to California. I’ve launched into a new piece featuring the sunflower but this one will be much larger — I’m envisioning at least 5′ x 2′. I enjoy working in this vertical configuration and this size will allow me more experimentation with design and quilting flourish.
I’ve chosen a lovely blue batik as background with a peach batik to back the sunflower scraps. The application of fabrics is done by hand applique. Even though batik fabrics are more difficult to needle, I like this aesthetic better than the machine option.
I tried piecing on the first sunflower scrap piece and just didn’t like the interruption of the seam lines. With hand applique I have an uninterrupted background that will allow my quilting design to flow more easily.
After fusing freezer-wrap paper to the back of the scrap areas, I’m using a blue water-soluble pen to mark the large quilting designs that will be stitched in navy-blue thread. I’ve been using freezer wrap for so many years and in so many ways that I cannot imagine life without it! It’s simply the perfect tool to stabilize this large area while I mark it. Only these large designs will be marked. When I’m done quilting these designs, the top will be stabilized and I can relax into free-motion quilting smaller designs that will fill the entire top. There will be thread color changes and beads. Stay tuned!
See the rest of the foot-square sunflower scrap pieces — all part of my Native California Plant series — here, here, here and here.
I’m thrilled to announce that Nature’s Fractal has become part of the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection (TCQC).
Del Thomas has collected over 250 art quilts since 1985. In addition to enjoying them in her home, she shares curated groups of her collection and promotes the art quilt through exhibits. It’s wonderful to know that my work will be cared for and act as ambassador for promoting the art I enjoy making.
And speaking of exhibits, Nature’s Fractal will be one of 48 quilts from the TCQC collection on exhibit at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange from July 3 through September 28.
Read about why Del collects art quilts and her most recent exhibit at the Visions Art Museum here.
Click on image for larger view.