Monday, May 21, 2018

Whisper Challenge

Over the past year, Sue's art quilt group participated in a challenge we called the Whisper Challenge.  Think of it as the quilted version of a game of "telephone" that you may have played as a child.  This is how it worked.  The first person in the challenge selected a photo and made a quilt based on that photo.  She then passed her quilt (not the photo) on to the second person.  The second person had a month to make a quilt based on the first quilt, which was then passed to the third person.  This process continued through 9 people, where each person saw only the previous quilt.  The only "rule" or guideline was size, which was 18x24 inches.  When all 9 quilts where completed, the results were revealed to the whole group. 
This photo of an individual from Tibet was the original photo chosen by Bobbie Dewees.
Her interpretation of the photo is shown in the quilt on the left above.  As you can see, she stayed pretty true to the original photo.  The second quilt (left to right) is by Willa Downes, who gave a Caribbean island twist to the original.  Third in the challenge was Barb Sherwood whose quilt takes on an African interpretation.  Fourth was Judy Albert, who selected a n Indonesian batik panel as the focal point of her quilt.  So far, we are taking a rather international tour!  Click on the photo for a closer look at all the quilts.
In the photo above, we again see the fourth quilt, followed by Anna Willard's interpretation.   She was inspired to create an African dancer, with a "Gee's Bend" style improvisational background.  The sixth quilt by Linda Cooper took the dance interpretation and focused on a gymnast (her daughter) on a balance beam.  Sue's quilt is the seventh; she found inspiration in the concept of  balance and the diagonal line of the balance beam so in turn screen printed these "birds on a branch" as her focal point.
Judy Grumbacher was the eighth participant and based on Sue's quilt, created this improvisational tree. And finally, Barbara Wise used the tree inspiration to create a whimsical tree of her own, but one that included birds. 
Here's a shot that shows the progression in all 9 quilts.  Quite a change from first to last!  But you can see how each quilter took some aspect of the previous quilt as inspiration for their creation.  We all enjoyed this concept, and are planning to start a new challenge this fall.  There will be more participants, so it will take a full year to complete.  We hope to exhibit this year's completed challenge in the 2019 Quilters Unlimited quilt show.  Members of the art quilt group are from Burke, Fairfax, and Vienna QU as well as the Norther Virginia SAQA pod.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Guild Retreat

Three weeks ago Sue spent a long weekend at her local guild retreat.  However with all the activity of April she somehow missed writing about it.  On Friday of the retreat we had a 1 day workshop with Terry Kramzar of Pennsylvania.  She led a workshop called "pieced quilting in layers". 
Sue had seen her work in a Quilt Odyssey show a few years ago and was eager to learn her technique.  Terry was an excellent instructor and really nice.  Her technique involves layering squares of the background fabric with fusible batting and quilting those two layers.
Various piecing techniques can be added next including an appliqued center square, adding triangles, and inserting strips.  Then the squares are joined into rows and then the rows are seamed to create the finished piece.
It's a very simple but effective technique, and low stress sewing.  No matching seams or points.
We had 19 people in the workshop.  Below are some of the projects the group worked on.
This is Sue's 5 x 5 grid of squares sewn together.
In addition to the class, Sue worked on a few other projects.
This fat quarter pop up, with the pieces previously cut out, was a quick starter.
Sue added the flower petals to 4 of these "free wheeling single girl" blocks to make into preemie quilts. 
And she started the quilting on this portrait from the Hollis Chatelain class at the beginning of April. It was a fun and productive weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Design & Wine at ArtSpace Herndon

Earlier this year we were invited to lead a Design & Wine session at ArtSpace Herndon and that event was held this past Tuesday.  Our project was printing tote bags with thermofax screens.  This was a new venture for us in several ways - new venue (we also led a Sunday class for kids dyeing t-shirts), new format/time frame, and a specific project.  Usually we teach screen printing as a more open-ended technique for fiber & mixed media artists, so we are not as concerned with a finished product.  It was a fun evening, we all learned a few things, and everyone had a product they could take home.  Hopefully some will want to learn more about thermofax printing!  Here are some photos of our experience.
Some attendees were groups of friends and/or regulars at Design & Wine events.
There was a mother/daughter pair.
Some chose a single image as a focal point.
Others chose to create an overall design.
Here's most of the group with their printed totes.
A small group of friends and their finished bags.
One enterprising individual also brought a t-shirt and created this design with our peacock feather screen.

ArtSpace is a nice environment for teaching a class (our class was held in the gallery).  As you can see in the photos, there is art work hanging in the background - the current exhibit is work by Herndon High School seniors, as well as work by Melanie Stanley, a local artist.  If you are in the area, stop in and take a look at the exhibit and explore other opportunities at ArtSpace Herndon.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Indigo T-shirts with Kids

Sunday at Herndon ArtSpace we taught a group of 7 kids and 1 mom about dyeing with indigo and some methods of creating resists for the dye called shibori.  Indigo is a natural dye that historically comes from plants, but a large amount of the dye produced today is synthetic.  It is the dye that is most often associated with denim and blue jeans. After learning some simple folds and other ways of creating resists with marble and golf balls, the girls practiced with bandanas.
Then we went outside to start the dyeing process.  The indigo forms a "flower" on top of the pot, which is basically foam, that needs to be removed before putting anything into the dye. After wetting the items to be dyed in plain water, they were ready to go into the indigo. 
It's important not to create a lot of movement in the indigo pot because that incorporates too much oxygen.  Hold the object you are dyeing below the surface and gently massage to work the dye through the layers. When the items are first removed from the indigo, they are green.  But exposure to oxygen in the air changes them to the familiar blue color.  Here are some of the bandanas.  You can still see small amounts of green in the first one.

After dyeing the bandanas, they prepared their t-shirts and went through the same process.  Here are some of the results.

They all seemed to have a good time and everyone had successful results.  It was fun to share this technique with a different age group!

Friday, May 4, 2018

VCQ Celebration 2018

It's been a busy month and we've fallen behind on the blog posts, so time to catch up!  Last weekend Sue and Elizabeth participated in VCQ's (Virginia Consortium of Quilters) biannual Celebration retreat at Smith Mountain Lake.  Every 2 years we gather for a a long weekend with 2 days of classes with nationally known teachers.  The 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake provides an all-in-one facility with dorms, dining hall and activity center and classrooms.  It's a lovely setting.
Along with classes other activities fill the weekend.  The first afternoon starts with a "meet the teacher" event where teachers have books, patterns and other items for sale as well as being available to meet and greet the attendees.  The after dinner program on the first night always includes a show & tell of projects from past Celebrations that people bring back finished. Here are some from this year.
This is Equal Rights, a pattern by Susan Emory of Swirly Girls that was taught in 2016.  There were quite a few of these in the show & tell which must have been gratifying for Susan as she returned to teach again this year.
These 2 were from a Bonnie Hunter class several Celebrations ago.
These 2 were from Victoria Findlay Wolfe's Double Wedding Ring class in 2016.
Another feature of Celebration is Block Lotto.  The committee chooses a block and makes kits, which members purchase, make the block, and return them to the committee.  For each block you turn in, you get a chance to win a set of blocks, or as was the case this year, one of 3 finished quilts.  In addition to the finished quilts, there were also several sets of blocks.  Sue won one of the sets of blocks, but will have to make the quilt herself.
The theme of the retreat was "Circle of Friends: Silver and Gold".  As in the past, there was a challenge based on the theme to make a wall quilt that illustrates the theme.  (Sometimes the challenge is a wearable item instead of a wall quilt.)  The picture above is the first place winner.
Sue's first-day class was called Circle Play with Karla Alexander.  We learned to set in an exact arc, and also to sew improvisational arcs.  Karla was also the speaker for the Friday evening program. Elizabeth was in a class with Susan Emory (Cosmos) which you'll see pictures of in show & tell.
Vendors for the weekend included Kelly Ann's of Warrenton and SewLoveLee from White Stone.  A knife sharpener was also there for one day.
Sue and Elizabeth were both in Karla's Paint Chip class on Saturday.  Above are Sue's completed blocks - it was nice to get all 20 blocks done in one day.  This pattern is in Karla's book Stack, Shuffle and Slide.
Mary Huey was the Saturday lecturer.  Her talk on color emphasized the importance of value, and made some memorable points.  In addition to previously mentioned activities, there was also a silent auction, peddler's table and raffle items.  On Sunday morning we wrap up with a show & tell of the classes from the weekend.
Melinda Bula taught fusible applique - a zinnia on the first day, and a rose on the second day.
These are some the blocks made in Susan Emory's Cosmos class. Her 2nd class was a Happy Place wall hanging.
Augusta Cole taught a strip-piecing class (above) and a mystery class (below).

Laura Blanchard taught this reversible table runner on the first day and "blocks on the move" the 2nd day.
Carolyn Friedlander taught a paper-pieced Envelopes class; her 2nd day class was hand applique.
Mary Huey's first class was a feathered star; pictured here is her 2nd class, a diamond star.

We had a great time and look forward to going back for another retreat in 2020, hopefully with some finished projects for show & tell!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Upcoming Classes

If you are in the Northern Virginia/ DC area, we have 2 classes coming up in May, both at ArtSpace Herndon in Fairfax County.  ArtSpace Herndon is a gallery and performance venue that offers opportunities for local artists to exhibit their work, teach classes and offer workshops, and also showcases performers.

On May 6, we are offering a workshop for kids from 2-4 pm:  Indigo T-Shirt Dyeing.  Kids ages 8-14 will blend art and science by learning to fold a white t- shirt for dyeing in indigo dye; when removed from the dye bath, items change from green to blue.  More info and registration here.

On May 8, we will lead a Design and Wine event from 7-9 pm to learn Thermofax Screen Printing.  Get some friends together to socialize while you learn this basic printing technique.  You will use our original design screens to print a tote bag and learn how this technique can be used to print yardage, scarves, t-shirts, on paper, and clay.  One fee covers all supplies as well as wine and snacks.  More info and registration here.

Hope to see some of you (or your kids) at one of these events!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Virginia Quilt Museum Current Exhibits

After the class last week with Hollis, Sue made a stop at the Virginia Quilt Museum on the way home - especially to see a group of Hollis' quilts that are on exhibit.  The main exhibit is a group of African American quilts "Stitching Our Stories in New and Traditional Expressions".  The exhibit, curated by Wilma Gerald of Norfolk, ranges from quilts with a strong African influence, to traditional quilts, art quilts, and dramatic story quilts.
"Mother" is by Katherine Wilson of District Heights, MD.  Her piece represents mankind's connection to the African continent as the common root of human ancestry.
"Slave Chain Quilt" is by Sisters of the Yam African American Quilters of Richmond, VA.  This was a group project made by the members of the guild.
This improvisational quilt is by Anna Williams and was loaned for the exhibit by Paula Golden.  Anna (1927-2010) was from Baton Rouge, LA, and was perhaps the first African American quilter whose improv quilts were recognized as art.

In conjunction with this exhibit is "Stories of West Africa", a collection of 12 quilts by Hollis Chatelain based on her educational coloring book of the same name.  Hollis spent 12 years in Africa living in Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Benin.  These quilts are all based on photos she took, each one showing the strength of family and community.
"Beautiful Wanderer" depicts a Fulani girl carrying goods on her head.  These nomadic shepherds wander the area south of the Sahara Desert.
"Whistle Blower" depicts a child on her mother's back blowing a whistle.  Children often make their own toys because manufactured ones are unavailable.  Click on these quilts for a larger view and a better look at the quilting.
The picture on the front of the coloring book is also one of the quilts.  "Fabrics for Sale" depicts a woman selling her textiles in the market.  The African fabrics are sold in 2 yard pieces and women usually buy 3.  One is used to make a top, one is worn as a skirt, and the third is used to create a sling to carry a baby.

The third exhibit features Virginia Quilts in the Jenny and David Powers Collection.  These quilts are representative of quilts made in the Shenandoah Valley.
Made about 1840, this pieced center medallion quilt is made of thousands of half square triangles.
This Wreath and Compass quilt was made about 1850.  It has a folk art quality and soft circular motion.
"Fanny Jane's Delight" was made about 1880.  It is an unquilted top.  Fanny designed this complex pattern which contains many half square triangles that had to be cut with scissors.  The museum is in the process of publishing this pattern.
Take a day trip this spring to Harrisonburg and visit the museum.  This exhibit runs through May 12.