Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Repeating Designs

Recently we started experimenting with creating screens that make repeating designs.  There is an online video and instructions by Julia Rothman on hand drawing a repeat design that can accessed for free; more in-depth instruction is available on Skillshare.  We started with one of our single image screen designs.
Following the tutorial instructions, the design is split in half vertically and the pieces flipped, then taped together on the back.  Then it is split horizontally and flipped/taped again.  That divides the image into quarters that are moved to the outside corners leaving open space in the middle.  Add a new design element in the center and you are ready to go.  Check out the link above for a better visual explanation of this process.
Once the design was complete, it was scanned to create a new screen.  Then it was ready to test with paint.
Ready for first print.
Three repeats are printed.
Here's what the screen looks like in the process of printing.  We used paper towels to mask previous prints that were still damp, so the paint wouldn't transfer to the back of the screen.  The difficulty comes in trying to line up the new placement with the previous print.  Patience is definitely required! 
It's fun to see the design emerging.
Two completed rows - 6 repeats.
The completed piece (with a missing corner!)  Not bad for a first attempt.  We can see some spots where the segments could have been better matched, and think some tweaking of the design may help avoid that issue; we see more experimentation ahead.  Stay tuned for more on this topic!

Monday, September 18, 2017

VQM Fall Exhibits

On Saturday Sue and Elizabeth attended the Celebration of Modern Quilting at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, VA, and also had the opportunity to see all of the current exhibits.
The event included viewing the exhibit including demos, lunch, and a presentation by Violet Craft
The Heritage Revisited exhibit, curated by Susan Emory of Swirly Girl Designs, is on the main floor of the museum.  Here is Sue next to her quilt "Primary Improv" - the red, yellow, blue and green piece to her right. It's a wonderful exhibit that provides an interesting contrast to the historic architecture of the museum. The quilts juried into the exhibit are examples of work in the following categories - improvisational pieces, use of negative space, foundation piecing, alternate gridwork and applique.
Above is an opportunity quilt designed by Susan Emory called "Seeds of Color".  It includes alternate grid work, improvisational quilting, applique, and foundation piecing.  Tickets for an opportunity to win this quilt are $1 each; the drawing for a winner will be on December 16.  Tickets can be purchased at the museum or on the website.
After a boxed lunch, we attended the presentation by Violet Craft.  Violet is a fabric and pattern designer from Portland, OR, who is active in the modern quilt movement. She shared her journey into the quilt industry and progression to where she is today, beginning with a children's clothing line, venturing into fabric design, and of course quilt design.  She has licensed some of her children's patterns to Indygo Junction and the photo above shows some of her "Forest Abstraction" pattern designs.  She has recently transitioned from designing for Michael Miller fabrics to Robert Kaufman. It's always interesting to hear how others have found their way into the quilt industry, often starting out in a completely unrelated field.
Back at the museum, we finished our tour of the exhibits.  A small room on the main floor held some "Treasures from the Vault", including the Belle Grove Album Quilt above (1991).  This was the museum's first fund raising quilt, which raised over $20,000 for the start of the museum.  It was designed by Anna Holland, hand appliqued by sixty quilters across Virginia, and hand quilted by Margie Hockman. The quilt was won by the Skyline Quilters Guild of Front Royal who donated it to the museum's permanent collection.
An outstanding exhibit on the 2nd floor is called "13 Perspectives" by the New Image Artists, a fiber group from the Washington, DC area. The photo above features a group of 8" mounted quilts showing the artists "Eye-dentity", each square created from their own unique perspective.  The pieces in this collection curated by Trudi Van Dyke run the gamut from figurative to abstract, wall art to 3D display pieces, all very intriguing. "Mastery of traditional as well as innovative techniques and materials provide a rich tapestry of visual excitement and stretch the definition of quilting."  It is well worth the trip to see this exhibit.
The final exhibit is the work of Pat Sloan, fabric and pattern designer.  This collection traces her evolving style of work over her career as a quilter.  Her signature pieced style combined with applique is evident in most of the pieces.  But also included are some more traditional as well as improvisational pieces.  It's a treat to be able to see a well-known quilter's work up close.
Not to be left out is the gift shop which contains an eclectic and ever changing array of gift items (for yourself or a friend!).  The photo above includes some pieces created by the artists of the 13 Perspectives exhibit.

We hope you will have the opportunity to make a trip to the Virginia Quilt Museum while these exhibits are up through Dec. 16.  It's great to have such a wonderful resource in our state, and always a treat to be able to make a visit.  And if you are so inclined, donations are welcome.  The museum does not receive any funding from the state, so depends on its membership, visitors, and donations to continue its mission to preserve our quilt history and share the art of quilting.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fall Classes

We are back on the calendar for teaching our thermofax classes this fall.  Printing with Thermofax Screens is scheduled for Oct. 14 at Artistic Artifacts.  Join us from 10 AM to 3:30 PM for a fun day of printing with our extensive collection of original screens.  Many images are elements of nature based on photos we have taken.  Others are more graphic designs.  We will work with textile paints, discharge products and thickened dye.  Bring as much fabric as you like (commercial fabrics, hand dyes, solids, prints) and build your stash of custom printed fabric!  You will also go home with a small screen of your choice, and learn to tape the edges for ease of use.  Go to the AA site for more information and registration.  Below are samples of our work.
And here are some pics of student work from previous classes.
 Come join us and learn to create your own unique fabric!

We are also teaching Photos to Thermofax Screens at Artistic Artifacts on Nov. 4 from 10 AM -1 PM.  We will show you how to use Photoshop Elements to convert a photo to a black and white image suitable for creating a thermofax screen that can then be used in your art quilts or mixed media work.  You will practice with some of our images first and then work with your own to see how you can incorporate your own unique imagery into your work without any concerns about copyright.  We'll also give you tips for taking photographs to make this process easier.  Soon you'll be looking at things with screen images in mind.  If you will be in the metropolitan DC area, come join us on Nov. 4!

Note: While your own laptop and copy of Photoshop Elements are most beneficial, you can share one of our laptops if you don't have one, and/or download a trial copy of Photoshop Elements to try for 30 days before purchasing. (Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for the free trial links.)  Send us an email at pgfiber2art  @ gmail dot com.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Customer Work

We love to hear from customers with pictures of their work and how they've used our screens!  This morning we received a note from a customer who made a special request.  In late spring, she requested a circular version of our crackle screen to use on pottery.  This was kind of a light bulb moment for us, as we had not thought about making some of our images into circles before, but filling this request became a springboard for doing the same with other images.  At any rate, back to our customer, this was our resulting screen.
Ava has an Etsy shop called TabletopPotterybyAva where she sells her handmade ceramics for the home.  She sent us two pictures, one before glazing and firing, one after.

We love the subtle effect the crackle gives the pates.  Very cool to see our design used this way.  Thanks for sharing, Ava!  And be sure to check out her Etsy shop, she has some very lovely work available for purchase.

In addition, check out our PGFiber2Art Etsy shop for this and our other circular images that were listed this summer.  They are mostly 5" diameter but the one shown here is 8".  We'll work on adding size variations to the shop.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Over the weekend Sue met some other members of her SAQA regional group at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC for a docent led tour.  SAQA stands for Studio Art Quilt Associates which is a national group that supports and promotes art quilts through exhibitions and education.  Though not focused on quilts, it was an in depth look at selected works in the museum.  Walking from the metro station to the museum, it was interesting to observe the architecture and how the new has grown up around the old.
The building on the far right is Madam Tussauds wax museum.
This sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein marks the corner of the museum property.  We found out from our docents that the museum building was originally the patent office, and also served as a hospital during the civil war.
We had a bit of extra time before the tour was to  begin, so took a quick look through the folk art gallery to see the quilts.  Perhaps quilts like these provide some of the roots of the modern quilt movement.
Top Left: Untitled (Octagons and Bars), 1930s-40s, wool, unidentified artist; improvisational quilts are an ongoing tradition in African American quilting.
Bottom Left: Untitled (Housetop Variation), 1920s, wool and cotton, unidentified artist
Top Right: Untitled (Strip Quilt with Suiting), 1930s, wool suiting, unidentified artist; African American origin.
Bottom Right: Untitled (String Quilt with Diamond Pattern), 1950s, cotton, unidentified artist
Notice that the first 3 made in the 20s-40s are darker colors and heavier fabrics such as wool, whereas the 4th made in the 50s is brighter cottons.  All are improvisational in design.
We also had to pause for pictures of the floor in the west wing of the museum - quilt designs are everywhere!
Moving on to the tour, we saw Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance", 1995-96.  It is oil and acrylic on canvas by David Hockney. A 9 minute cycle of changing lights transforms the painting and a viewing bench provides the opportunity for contemplation.
Though not a planned piece on the tour, we fiber people couldn't resist stopping to look at this "Soundsuit" by Nick Cave (2009).  It is created entirely out of vintage doilies and other crocheted pieces.  The idea of the "soundsuit", as the docent explained, was to block out sound for the wearer, and in effect to be invisible.
Requiem for Charleston by Lava Thomas (2016) deserves some quiet reflection.  Made of tambourines with calligraphy on lambskin, it honors the 9 men and women who died in the 2015 shooting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. 
"A Visit from the Old Mistress" was painted in 1876 by Winslow Homer.  During the Civil War, Homer was stationed with Union troops in Virginia to document events of the war.  Ten years after the war he made a return visit.  This tense scene illustrates the change in the relationship between the former mistress and now free black women having to negotiate for services she once was able to command.
"Cafe" was painted about 1939-40 by William H. Johnson, an African American painter who portrayed ordinary people in the black community.  This piece evokes the art that black artists and writers embraced during the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the fashionable zoot-suiters of the Big Band era.

While we saw only selected pieces during this visit, it was enough to whet the appetite for a return trip!

Monday, September 4, 2017

An afternoon with the Country Village Quilters' Guild

During her last week at Lake Winnipesaukee, Elizabeth sneaked in an afternoon visit to speak to the Country Village Quilters’ Guild in Moultonboro, New Hampshire.  20 ladies attended and had a great time learning about Indigo Dyeing and Shibori techniques.  Each person left with at least one 12 inch square of dyed fabric, some were able to complete 2 to 3 pieces.  Thanks to Terri Sontra of Purple Moose Designs, who is also their program chairman, for the invitation to be part of their guild meeting.
During her presentation, Elizabeth explained the different folds and everyone prepared their own square.
Once outside, each person handed Elizabeth their folded square and she added it to the indigo bucket.

Indigo dyeing doesn't take long so everyone was able to rinse and unfold their square after a few minutes.
Everyone seems pleased with the results.
Each piece was striking and different.

It was fun to introduce this group to a new technique.  We all had a great time!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Free Wheeling Single Girl

At the recent VCQ meeting, Sue was in Lee Taylor's workshop using the Free Wheeling Single Girl pattern by Denyse Schmidt
This is a fun project and she is looking forward to getting back to it and completing some more blocks.  There are some templates to trace onto freezer paper before you get started sewing, but once the sewing starts, the fun begins!  The arcs are pieced from wedges of scraps and then trimmed down to the template size. 
Then the center and outside background pieces are stitched to the arcs.
Four quarter arcs make up each block which finishes at about 22".  There is excess built into the pattern, so the finished size can vary - just make sure all your finished blocks end up the same!
This was one of Lee's sample quilts, using a mixture of neutral backgrounds.
Another sample uses a gray background.  You could also go with a dark background and lighter arcs, as in this block by Cathy Tyler of Richmond.
Cathy's background is a print of Paris, which can be seen better in the photo below.
Pat's block, below, uses a blue background.
As you can see, this block offers lots of options, and we bet you can't make just one!