Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Creative Arts Business Summit

Last week Sue and Elizabeth spent 3 energizing days at a Creative Arts Business Summit put on by the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals (ICAP).  We went into it at a crossroads with our screen printing business because of some upcoming supply issues, and were rejuvenated enough to commit to going forward with our business in whatever format it takes.  We hope that will be continuing with screen printing, but have a few things to work out.

Probably the best thing about the 3 days was meeting and getting to know other creative professionals, and learning that even those who have been in business for a while still benefit from the knowledge and interaction with others in similar fields.  The group included quilt pattern designers, a bag designer, shop owners, long arm quilters, some who provide a die cutting service, online shop owners, teachers, authors, even a quilters' retreat house owner. It was great to learn from the experiences of all these people and refocus on the things important to moving forward.
The conference room we were in at the Washington Dulles Hilton alternated between comfortable and icy cold.  On the 3rd day in was unseasonably cold outside, and consequently very cold inside, so much so that people wrapped themselves up in some quilts that were on display.
A special treat was the "swag" bag we received, packed with goodies from conference participants and sponsors.  Checker Distributors provided a goodie bag as well, with a 12" square ruler, pattern, collapsible trash holder,and microfiber screen cloth.

If you are a creative arts professional, consider attending CABS next year.  I  think you will find the connections and support invaluable.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mustard Seed (part 4)

In part 2 I mentioned that I highlighted the text in the parable of the mustard seed. Here's a close-up that shows the brown fabric marker I added to create a shadow and contrast to make it easier to read.  
And now for the quilting.  First was a zigzag around the stones to serve as the foundation and provide emphasis.
Then I stitched the village houses to look like stones, a free motion feather stitch on the mustard field, and wavy lines in the sky.
 The remainder of the surface was covered with small circles - and lots of thread!

So that's it, the story of the mustard seed quilt and how it all came together.  Hope you enjoyed my story!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mustard Seed (part 3)

My next step was printing the mustard seed plants. I wasn't sure of the base color I wanted to use so I did some test prints (I made a practice piece to try my ideas as I went through the process).  The gold is printed over a brown base and slightly offset to create a shadow effect.
  The next two pictures show the brown base print and the gold over print.

Additional prints are added.
The last step with the mustard plant was adding an additional print layer on the flower portion of the plant.

 Next step - the quilting.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mustard Seed (part 2)

After creating all the pieces, it was time to put them together.  The left panel was seamed to the linen foundation, and then the wall pieces were fused to the linen, slightly overlapping the seam.  While some of the following pictures may look the same at first glance, you may want to click on them for a larger view of the subtle changes.
Then I filled in the scene through the window.  I guess I should have taken more pictures of that part of the process.  If you can see the pile in the bottom left corner, and the small dark pieces scattered near the bottom of the quilt top, those are pieces I was "auditioning" for the village.  I played with some different fabrics to come up with the final selections that seemed to work best.  The construction of the village is a variation of a technique developed and taught by Karen Eckmeier in her Happy Villages quilts.  Beyond the village is the field of mustard plants.  This was done with a photo transfer onto "Extravorganza", which is a sheet of organza fabric adhered to paper so it can be fed though an ink jet printer.  The sky is a piece of hand dyed fabric.  All the elements seen through the window are fused in place prior to stitching.
In this next step, I added a layer of paint.  I used bubble wrap as a "stamp" by brushing the paint on the bubbles and then stamping it onto the fabric. I did this over the whole piece to better unify and blend the color contrasts.  I think it was a silver or grey paint.
Next came a layer of screen printing on the left panel in gold printing ink.  There are 3 different varieties of mustard: Brassica nigra (black mustard), B. juncea (brown mustard) and Sinapis alba (white mustard).  So I made a screen of these botanical plant names and printed it down about 3/4 of the length of the piece; I was saving the bottom 1/4 for something else.
The bottom section is also screen printed, with the text of the parable of the mustard seed, also in the gold paint.  In another post I'll show what I did later to enhance this section of text.  You can also better see the circles from the bubble wrap printing and the texture it adds to the piece.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mustard Seed (part 1)

The concept for the Spice Route Exhibit was presented in 2013 by Paula Golden and Ann Reardon and we had 10 months to complete our quilts.  Each participant chose a spice and one of 2 countries where it is produced, and then set about designing their quilt within size parameters.  In addition we were asked to incorporate this concept in our design:

"To add a unifying element to the exhibit, we are asking each artist to  design their piece as though they were looking through a window or an arch. Imagine if you were transported back in time and had just traveled along the Spice Route to the marketplace in Tanzania.  After the dusty ride– or so I would imagine – you had just taken a rest and were looking out the window of your room at the inn.  Consider the architectural elements from your selected spice’s country.  Interpretation of your selected spice can be a rendering of the botanical image of the plant, its flower or your visual interpretation of the spice’s flavor, history and color.  Consider the use of fabrics or fabric motifs from the spice country."

So I (Sue) selected mustard seed from Western Asia.  This encompasses a number of countries and I decided to focus on the area of Israel and Palestine.  Taking the guidelines into consideration, I wanted to incorporate both the window concept and botanical image of the plant, and tie them together with textural imagery and reference to the parable of the mustard seed.  After some research both online and in books, I started drawing my concept full size.  Following the rule of thirds, I allotted 2/3 of the width to the window and 1/3 to the panel on the left.
After drawing it out, I numbered all the parts of the window.  These were planned to be cut from a variety of fabrics so each would need to be a separate pattern piece.  I was using a piece of linen as the foundation on the right, and a dyed piece of the same linen for the panel on the left.
I knew I wanted to incorporate screen printing, which is how I made the image of the mustard plant.  I printed my image to try out the size proportions.
After sorting through a variety of neutral batiks, I decided which pieces to use where. Next I traced the drawn pattern onto freezer paper to make patterns for each piece.  The shiny side of the freezer paper adheres to the fabric when ironed, so that made it easy to get the pieces the right size and shape.
Once all the pieces were cut out, the next step was to apply Misty Fuse to the back of each so it could be fused to the linen foundation.
Keeping them all numbered was important to putting the puzzle together!  Follow along with the next steps in the process in the next post!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Along the Spice Route

Sue and Elizabeth are proud and excited to announce that they are part of a new quilt exhibit making it's debut this weekend at Quiltfest Destination Savannah.  Curated by Paula Golden and Ann Reardon, each quilt celebrates a particular spice and it's country of origin.  And we now have permission to share pictures of our quilts and process!

Background from Paula:  "Returning crusader knights brought with them treasure chests not filled with jewels, but cinnamon, ginger, and peppercorns. The story of spices, some 5000 years old, is also the history of trade and commerce. The American continent would not have been discovered as early had it not been for the European desire to break the Arab traders' spice monopoly.
...Along the Spice Route” features 41 wall quilts depicting artistic interpretations of spices that refine modern cuisine. The exhibit offers an opportunity to discover the spices’ countries of origin, the importance of ancient trade routes, and the lasting connections between the world’s cultural heritages.  Visit www.paulagolden.com to see pictures of all the quilts; click on Gallery, click on Along the Spice Route.  If you click on the first thumbnail for a larger view, you can then view as a slide show.  But I'm sure they will be much more spectacular in person!  You can also view the exhibit schedule to see if they will be coming to a location near you.

Above is Black Pepper from China, by Elizabeth Gibson.   Below is Mustard Seed from the Holy Land by Susan Price.
In the days to come we will show some close-ups and parts of our creative processes.

Quilt Show Finds (part 2)

Sue's other quilt show finds include this fabulous rainbow yard of fabric from Frieda Anderson.  We took one of her classes and she had various pieces of her hand-dyed fabric for sale.
She also bought the 3 fat quarters in the foreground - specifically to use with the hand-made batik fat quarter that was created in a workshop at Artistic Artifacts a few years ago.
Another project trying to take shape influenced the purchase of these two osnaburg fat quarters and embroidery threads from Fiber on a Whim.
 Some decorative pins and pendants also made their way into the shopping bag.
A wooden printing block from Artistic Artifacts also landed there; looks like it would work quite well with the screens printed on this piece of fabric.
And last but not least, a stop at the BabyLock dealer in Richmond on the way home is where she purchased a new walking foot for her machine (she managed to break the original) and several spools of Madeira thread - it's been hard to find a particular variegated color that she likes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quilt Show Finds (part 1)

On our Facebook page, Elizabeth did a series of posts about her purchases at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in February.  It's true that we often come home with a variety of things, some that you might not expect to see at a quilt show. This year we bought less than usual, but still enjoyed the numerous and varied vendors.  Here's a look at Elizabeth's purchases that she added to her sewing studio, with the exception of a ruler she bought for her charity quilt group to use.  You can read more about her purchases on our Facebook page.
Sue's purchases are shown below: fabrics of course, a book, jewelry, supplies for a knitting project, skin cream (yes, at a quilt show!), a new walking foot for her sewing machine, machine thread, embroidery thread, and an alpaca head band.
Now for some closer looks.  The book Sue bought contains Japanese design motifs - inspiration, we hope, for some new thermofax screens and quilt designs.
 And below, a ball of yarn in some springy colors along with a pattern for a cowl, circular needles, and a few other accessories.  So far, casting on has been done.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

VCQ March Meeting

Last weekend the Virginia Consortium of Quilters met in Williamsburg for our quarterly meeting.  My friend and I arrived Friday afternoon after a couple of stops at quilt shops.  The sun was out (for a while) and the temperature wasn't too bad so after checking into the hotel we drove downtown to the Colonial section and walked Duke of Gloucester Street.  By then the clouds had started to move in and the wind was picking up but it was still a pleasant afternoon for walking after sitting in the car most of the day.  There were several groups of students on field trips enjoying themselves.  It's always fun to visit Colonial Williamsburg.
Saturday was our workshop and meeting day.  There were 4 great classes to choose from plus a group working on our community service project and others in Come Quilt with Me.  Here are some pictures from show & tell at the end of the day.
 Sherry Whitford taught a class on thread painting.
 Martha Berry taught Little Layered Landscapes (above & below).

 Paula Dean taught free-motion machine quilting (above & below).
Alice Ridge taught Mock Molas.  Since this is the class I was in, I don't have pictures from show & tell.  But below is the piece I started in class.  The black background will be totally stitched and probably the interior of the bird too.  It was an easy and fun technique class.
Another fun part of the day occurred during the business meeting when "Madam Crystal" appeared to see what she could discern in the crystal ball about Celebration 2016.  She was able to see through the mist and reveal that one of the teachers coming to Smith Mountain Lake in April 2016 will be Victoria Findlay Wolfe with her scrappy modern quilts.  Check out her blog to learn more about this national teacher.  If you come to our May meeting, you may hear Madam Crystal reveal another teacher's name.  Registration for this always popular event begins at the August meeting.
I hope you'll join us in May at Blackstone Methodist retreat center.  The next newsletter with registration and workshop information will be out soon!  Watch for your email if you are a member, or check the VCQ website where it will be posted.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Passion Play - Little Birdie

The little birdie was the last addition to this quilt, and it too, is screen printed.  (It is also available in our Etsy shop.) I printed it in a few different colors but of course the black looked best.  It is printed on a color catcher and made into a fusible applique.  Not familiar with color catchers?  They are a laundry product made by Shout that you add to the washing machine to absorb excess dye.  They are intended for use with clothing that you think might bleed color, but are also great for use when washing fabric that's been dyed.  I throw one in the washer every time I wash fabric that I've dyed, and I've got a stack of a variety of colors.  They are great for printing on, and also for fusible applique since the edges won't fray - kind of like interfacing but not too stiff.
After fusing wonder under to the back of the bird, I cut it out pretty close to the outline and then fused it onto the quilt.  It is also edge stitched around the outside of the bird.  And since he looked like he needed something in his beak, I added the beads and disk that I found in an embellishment pack in my stash.  Here's a close up.
And there you have it - the anatomy of a quilt!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


In search of Roy G Biv, it is time this month for YELLOW pictures. We are linking to Julie Booth's blog and her friend Jennifer Coyne Qudeen in finding the colors of the rainbow.  Check out their blogs for more sunny yellows. This month's finds are courtesy of Elizabeth.
The Peepsmobile at National Harbor outside Washington, DC.
A screen printed scarf.
A lovely yellow rose.
A building in Cartagena, Columbia.
 Pale yellow fabric.
And of course a sunflower.