Monday, May 15, 2017

Threads of Resistance

Back in February, a call went out for fiber art interpreting the theme "Threads of Resistance" for an exhibit organized by the Artist Circle Alliance to protest the Trump administration's actions and policies.  The Artist Circle, made up of 10 prominent art quilters, conceived this exhibit as an opportunity for fiber artists to express their hopes and dreams, fear and anger regarding this new administration. 
The entry deadline was May 1 and over 500 entries were received for this juried exhibit.  Though the jurying is not yet complete, an online gallery of the entries has been created so that all the artwork may be viewed and the artists' voices heard.  The number of pieces that will be chosen for the traveling exhibit is not known, but likely will be only a fraction of the submissions.  Whatever your views and political opinions, we appreciate this opportunity for fiber artists to have their voices heard. On the website menu, go to "the artwork" link to see the submissions which are divided by topic and can be played as slideshows.

Sue submitted a piece for this exhibit called "Women's Voices Matter"; it depicts the Women's March on DC on Jan. 21 in which she took part.  Here is Sue's quilt, which can also be found on the website in the Women's Rights group. 
There are currently 12 venues scheduled for the exhibit through October 2018.  If you have the opportunity to visit any of these venues beginning in July at the New England Quilt Museum, we're sure it will be an exhibit worth seeing. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cindy Grisdela - Improv Quilting

Recently, Sue attended a lecture/trunk show by Cindy Grisdela, author of Artful Improv.
Her lecture traced her transition from traditional quilter to improvisational quilting. This is the style that she works exclusively in now. 
Cindy is a quilter local to Northern Virginia and also serves as the editor of the QU Digest, the e-newsletter of the Quilters Unlimited guild, so Sue was already familiar with Cindy and her work.
Below is the quilt featured on the cover of her book.
Not only is her piecing and layout interesting, as in the quilt below,
her free motion quilting makes great use of and enhances the negative spaces.
Sue was particularly interested in the lecture because she has an improv quilt in process and was looking for some inspiration to figure out how to complete it.  It's always helpful to see and hear about other quilters' work and process to help refine your own. More on Sue's quilt in another post.

Friday, April 14, 2017

How Do I....Gelatos

Once a month Artistic Artifacts holds a demo/make and take session on how to use a particular product.  Last night Sue attended a session on using Gelatos.  Gelatos are essentially acrylic paint sticks that are crayon like but easily blended with water.  Their main use is in mixed media art, but Sue was excited to learn some ways to use them on fabric and ribbons.
Sharon was the facilitator and demoed some of her favorite ways to use Gelatos.  Since water is an important component, we worked on the coated side of freezer paper. Other "tools" included a water spray bottle and baby wipes.
We were provided with a variety of materials to play with, including card stock, cardboard, found papers (map, sheet music, book page), ribbon and fabric. The baby wipes are perfect for smoothing and blending colors.
You can also use stencils and foam stamps. With stamps, they may deposit color, and sometimes take it away.
The piece of velvet ribbon really soaked up the color. It was fun to see how a bit of color and added water could transform a white piece of fabric to completely colored, much faster than dyeing!
The metallic Gelatos added a really nice sheen to paper.  It was fun to play with a different product and consider ways to use it in art quilts.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Open Studio April 23

We are repeating this post from March as a reminder that we are offering an Open Studio opportunity at Artistic Artifacts on April 23.  One of the big advantages of this open studio is a workspace where you don't have to worry about being messy or getting paint on the floor - especially if you don't have a dedicated wet studio space at home.  You also get to use our many screens and print to your heart's content!  So come join us and print some yardage for use in future projects!

After talking about this idea for a while, we have finally scheduled an Open Studio session at Artistic Artifacts.  The date is Sunday, April 23 from 9 AM to 1 PM.  This is a 4 hour block of time to print with our extensive collection of screens.  We will offer support and encouragement and address any individual questions but there will not be formal instruction.  The prerequisite is to have previously taken our basic Thermofax printing class, either at Artistic Artifacts or another venue (such as VCQ).  This is a wonderful opportunity to print yardage (or smaller pieces), improve your comfort level with printing, and experiment with patterning and layers.  You are also welcome to bring/use gelatin plates and rubber or wooden stamps to combine techniques.  All of these surface design techniques play well together.
This class will be held in the warehouse at AA, which can be cool depending on the weather, so dress in layers and wear old clothes or bring an apron, as well as comfortable shoes.  If you are a member of JAMS (Judy's Altered Minds), they will be meeting at 1:30 that day, so this is a great opportunity to spend the morning printing and then stick around for JAMS.  Check the class listings on the website for all the details and registration.  We hope to see you there!

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Quilter's Legacy and Give-Away

Many of you knew Elizabeth’s mother through our blog and Facebook page.  She was a lifelong seamstress, embroiderer, and quilter.  But beyond that she was very supportive of the creative endeavors of others, especially her daughters and their creative friends.  As a Girl Scout leader, her troop went camping and did all the outdoor activities that girl scouts do but she also focused on the handicraft and sewing badges, teaching scores of young people how to sew as well as many other crafting skills.  She taught The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction through an adult education program and must have used miles of sewing thread in her long life.  Here she is in the summer of 2015 teaching Elizabeth’s friend, Joni, how to use a rotary cutter.  
Barbara died a year ago today and it just happens that this week is also Elizabeth’s spring break from her job as a public school teacher.  So, she joined her sister at Barbara’s house in Mississippi to continue the task of clearing out the physical objects left in the house.  Barbara never had to move from her home of the last 40 years as some do and they tend to downsize as they step down from one home to the next home.  That means the house is full of stuff!!  Not only that, but she also has a summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee which many of you are more familiar with since that is where we go for our “quilt camps”.  In one day of tackling clearing out the sewing room yesterday, Elizabeth bagged up over 30 unfinished projects and you can hardly tell she worked in there!
Elizabeth also loves to sew but finishing projects was more common for Barbara than it is for Elizabeth so there is no way she will ever get to these.  Naturally, there is also loads of scraps and yardage, threads, embellishments and craft books!  My, quilters do also like books!
Now, the question is, “what to do with them”?  Well, here's an opportunity!

What do you think will happen to your crafting and sewing supplies once you are gone?  Leave a comment here on the blog and/or on the Facebook page and we will select a random winner who will receive a package containing yardage, a book, some embellishments and thread-nothing old and all quite usable!  Who knows what might be in it, think of it as a grab bag surprise! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Words of Wisdom

Quilting Arts magazine presents a Reader Challenge in each issue, asking readers to submit quilts of a specified size that show the reader's interpretation of a particular theme.  The challenge in the February/March issue for publication in the August/September issue was "Words of Wisdom" - a quilt based on a favorite quote or words of advice that guided their life.  Sue has participated in these challenges before, having several small quilts selected for publication.  This time, however, she was not as fortunate as the finalists were announce last week and her entry was not one of the 8 selected.  However, she likes her piece and feels it is worth sharing her quilt and process in this forum. 

Her piece is based on a quote by Martin Luther: "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."  This was a sentiment that spoke to her, especially in the light of the current state of political affairs in the U.S. and the world, and fits with her word of the year - positivity.  She visualized an image of the world topped by an apple tree, and set out to create that image in cloth.  The finished size requirement for this challenge was 8 1/2" by 11".
With the exception of the tree, all the fabrics are some of Sue's hand dyes.  The sky background is a shibori piece.  All design elements are original drawings.  The earth and tree were fused on top of the background.
Then apples were added to the tree.
Satin stitching was used to secure the continents, and free motion stitching on the tree, branches and leaves.  The quote was printed on ExtravOrganza ink-jet printable sheets and fused in place.  (ExtravOrganza is a Jacquard product.)
Our Thermofax crackle screen was used to print over the earth to depict it cracking/falling apart.  Quilting in the sky was added.
Some hand stitching was added to the apples for highlight and to secure the fusing, and the whole piece was faced for a clean finish.  While it may not have been selected for the magazine, Sue is happy with the finished piece and will enjoy seeing it on the design wall.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ps and Qs, Part 2

Lorie McCown is another member of Fiber Transformed with pieces in the museum exhibit. She recycles old clothes for her work by using reclaimed fabrics and adding photo image transfers during a layering process and enhancing the work with large hand stitches.  Her work is meant to tell the personal stories of the people in the photos.
Swedish artist, Lotta Helleberg, uses eco-dying and botanicals in her mono-printed works.  She is known for her negative images, as well as combining them with a ghost image, or as in “Pecan, Spring” where each print was a single image. 
She also had this lovely cyanotype print in the show.
And this one.

Graphic Artist. Jill Kerttula, uses photos printed on fabric and then heavily embellishes the work with thread and other found items.

This one is called Ginkgo Street.
Sculptor Mary Beth Bellah contributed two quilted spider web pieces to the exhibit. These photos are from the piece titled “Autumnal Watch”.  
She sprayed the web with an ink and then holding up the fabric walked through the web picking up the image as she moved and the web made contact with the fabric.  She believes in “more is more” and thus further embellished her pieces with lace and mixed media constructed spiders.
Elizabeth very much enjoyed the explanation and discussion of the work in the exhibit as it certainly helped in understanding the artist’s mission and motive in creating each piece.  This exhibit is scheduled to be at the museum until May 20, 2017.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ps and Qs, Part 1

After the lecture at the Virginia Quilt Museum by Dawn Flores about The Forest Project, the museum brought in box lunches for everyone and then we reconvened in an upstairs exhibit space for the Ps and Qs exhibit curated by Jill Jensen.  Jill led us around the exhibit telling us about the P (Printing) aspects of the different pieces in the exhibit. The Q stands for Quilting.

Jill is part of a group called “Fiber Transformed” which was recently highlighted in the most current edition (April/May 2017) of Quilting Arts Magazine starting on page 30.  A wood block print carver, she made this large block,
which was printed with black oil based ink on white fabric and then painted in with the blue water based textile paint for the water and boats.  She had to pay special attention when carving that the left and right sides of her block would be continuous ends for her prints.  The pieces were all printed prior to painting in the color and sewing so that the seam allowance would not interfere with the print process by creating a raised lip.
Continuing on around the room, she had two other pieces in the exhibit, the farm field scene which was also printed from one solid wood block;
and the baby Christening dress which was too old and fragile to salvage as a textile; so she painted it to make it stiff, rolled paint on the dress itself with a roller and then made a mono-print of the dress onto a piece of fabric which had been eco-dyed with both “Silver Dollar” and “Baby Blue” eucalyptus leaves.  She has used prints made from the dress in several other pieces of work but this was the only one in this exhibit. 
Work from 4 other artists in the exhibit will be shared in tomorrow's post.  The Fiber Transformed group is made up of  6 fiber artists living and working in Virginia and includes Jill Jensen, Mary Beth Bellah  (founder of the group), Jill Kerttula, Lorie McCown, Lotta Helleberg, and Wrenn Solcum.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Forest Project

Elizabeth went to Harrisonburg, Virginia on Saturday, March 25, 2017 for a lecture and visit at the Virginia Quilt Museum.  The lecturer was Dawn Flores of The Forest Project.
Behind Dawn’s house near Richmond, Virginia is a park and a piece of land which was going to be developed.  Dawn shared how she and her neighbors used positive advocacy to develop relationships with the family who owned the land, the developers and the builders to document the process of change-over-time using art mediums.  Along the journey she was able to add professional and amateur artists, school children (Collegiate School Residency), filmmakers, and re-claimers to the process enabling many people to heal from the experience of witnessing a loss of trees from their environs.  Keeping a sense of realism to the project by grounding herself in understanding all sides of the story, from knowing that even her own neighborhood had once been a forest, to the respect the developers showed when they visited her disassembling and re-purposing the various parts of the old farm house allowed for a powerful sense of grief to turn to a sense of good coming from many different aspects of the experiences.
What drove Elizabeth to go to the lecture was Dawn’s printing of images from the Forest Project.  Hearing about these in the quilt museum’s newsletter peaked her curiosity.  Dawn showed photographs she had taken and then manipulated in order to create new images which could be considered patterns suitable for printing onto fabric. Dawn then sent these images to Spoonflower for printing on cotton sateen. 
While she can now be considered a quilter, Dawn was a painter who is associated with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School and other institutions as a teacher of watercolor and photography, especially those with a bend towards botanicals.  It was fascinating to learn how she took her photos and transformed them with computer software all the way to the place where she could then have ecofriendly, vegetable dyed fabric in hand to use not only for herself, but for other artists to also buy and use. 
Currently, she is recruiting quilt artists to use the fabric printed with her images to make quilts which can be photographed in the environs of The Forest Project, as well as possibly turning into a curated show.  

If you go to Dawn’s website, be sure to click on the link for The Forest Project so you understand the vast scope of this project as each facet has a page all its own.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

In the Studio

What have we been working on in the studio?  Now that taxes are done, we're trying to get back to the backlog of projects. Sue's got several things in process, and more planned on the agenda.  Here are 4 preemie charity quilts that are sandwiched and ready for quilting - a good opportunity to practice free motion quilting.
Another work in progress is this wedding quilt - top done, backing pieced. Needs to be sandwiched and quilted, and finished before the first anniversary in a couple of months!
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been busy with mug rugs.  Last week it was St. Patrick's Day.
This week she's moved on to Easter.  Cute!
What are you working on?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bucket List (Savannah Flashback)

One more check-off on Elizabeth’s “bucket list” was enjoyed while we were in Savannah for QuiltCon 2017.
This was a visit to the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, a beautiful historic home on a grand avenue in Savannah.  Since we took the on/off trolley tour, we were able to disembark and enjoy our view of the Baptist Church, where the feather in Forrest Gump drifted down from the steeple, and cross the street to visit the birthplace.  The birthplace is now the home of the Girl Scouts of the USA and they run tours for troops of girls from around the world who make pilgrimages to the site; mornings are usually set aside for troop tours.  As well, ordinary tourists like us can tour the home in the afternoon hours.  Both Sue and Elizabeth had belonged to the girl scouting movement as children and were glad to see this childhood home of the founder of Girl Scouting.
Juliette Gordon Low was certainly an accomplished artist and her sculptures and paintings grace this mansion style home.  Right away we were treated to viewing the public and private rooms of this family where Juliette grew up surrounded by her parents and grandparents.  Near the end of the tour we visited the library where the original books are stacked around the fireplace mantle with nothing but gravity holding them up.  In the bookcases were books from more current eras which were all by female authors or topics relating to females.  The large table in the center was interactive so troops of girls could write poems or letters and leave them behind as part of a legacy collection on scouting.  An interesting piece of artwork on the table was a book with the pages folded to look like a 'g' and an 's'.
The garden was planted as it would have been in the time of Mrs. Low and it included a wrought iron gate which she made for a family home in England. 
England is where JGLow and her family were friends with Lord Baden Powell who was the founder of Boy Scouting.  It was on a visit there where she learned about the scouting movement and Lord Powell encouraged her to start a similar movement for girls in the United States.  Last week GS USA celebrated their 105th birthday.  Visiting this historic home was a memorable experience and one each girl scout or former girl scout is fortunate to get to do at least once in their lifetime.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Open Studio Session

After talking about this idea for a while, we have finally scheduled an Open Studio session at Artistic Artifacts.  The date is Sunday, April 23 from 9 AM to 1 PM.  This is a 4 hour block of time to print with our extensive collection of screens.  We will offer support and encouragement and address any individual questions but there will not be formal instruction.  The prerequisite is to have previously taken our basic Thermofax printing class, either at Artistic Artifacts or another venue (such as VCQ).  This is a wonderful opportunity to print yardage (or smaller pieces), improve your comfort level with printing, and experiment with patterning and layers.  You are also welcome to bring/use gelatin plates and rubber or wooden stamps to combine techniques.  All of these surface design techniques play well together.
This class will be held in the warehouse at AA, which can be cool depending on the weather, so dress in layers and wear old clothes or bring an apron, as well as comfortable shoes.  If you are a member of JAMS (Judy's Altered Minds), they will be meeting at 1:30 that day, so this is a great opportunity to spend the morning printing and then stick around for JAMS.  Check the class listings on the website for all the details and registration.  We hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Snow Dye

It's really amazing that we didn't get to do any snow dyeing this year until March - it's been a snowless winter until this past week, and even the couple of inches we got was less than predicted.  Just a few weeks ago we were hitting temperatures in the 70's, so this abrupt change back to freezing temps was not particularly welcome, especially for the cherry blossoms and other spring flowers popping up.  But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade; when nature gives us snow, we snow dye!  Sue soaked her fabric in soda ash Monday evening so it would be ready for the snow on Tuesday.  She decided she could fit 3 pans in the basement shower stall, so planned on a yard of fabric on top of each pan, with a half yard in the bottom.
The top photo shows the pans with the fabric arranged on screening above the pans (one has snow mounded on it).  The bottom photo shows the snow added and dye solution poured over each. 
She had mixed 3 colors - purple, teal and turkey red - and decided to use 2 colors on each pan.  The one on the left had purple as the base color with red added.  The top right had a teal base with purple added. The bottom right had a red base with teal added.  After batching for 24 hours, the fabric was first rinsed in cold water, then soaked in hot water over night.  After a hot water wash in the washing machine with synthropol, they were dried and ironed.  The results are below.
The above 1 yard piece is the purple base with red added.
Next is this 1 yard piece which has the red base with teal added.
Third is the teal with purple added.  The photo makes it appear more purple but the teal shows more in reality.  The other 3 pieces where half yards that were folded and accordion pleated in the bottom of the pans to catch the melting snow and dye. 
These have some interesting textures and might work well in landscapes if turned horizontally.  So those are Sue's results.  Stay tuned to see how Elizabeth's pieces turned out.