Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Inspired by a Painting Challenge

Fiber Visions is the new name of Sue's art quilt group that meets monthly, for the last year via Zoom.  The inability to meet in person has not stopped the group from completing a new challenge. Last December, member Terry issued a challenge to create a quilt inspired by a painting.  The selected painting is called Skiffs by Gustave Caillebotte which is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It was painted in 1877 and exhibited at the 4th impressionist exhibition in 1879.

The only guideline was a height of 24 inches.  Other than that, quilts could be any width, landscape or portrait, or irregular in shape.  Photos of the finished quilts were to be submitted by April 20 and the results were revealed to the group in a slide show at the May 5 meeting.  Nine quilters participated, with one person submitting 3 quilts.  Inspiration could be taken from any aspect on the painting - colors, shapes, mood, textures.  Following are the interpretations of the Fiber Visions artists.
Linda Cooper - Serenity
Linda drew inspiration from the skiff shape when designing her flower and the oars provided inspiration for the yellow leaves
Willa Downes - Crew Practice on the Occoquan
Willa's daughter rowed in high school and college and coached a college team for a couple of years. As soon as she saw the painting she knew she had to put her rowing in the quilt. 
Lisa Greisen - Fleeing the Dark
Lisa was initially drawn to the turquoise and orange flecks in the water and wanted to create a watery effect and the movement of the water. But the more she looked at this painting through the gloomy days of winter, she felt that the trees in the background were overshadowing and ominous and that the skiffs were fleeing from that darkness. Hence, the name sprung from that.
Janet Palfey - Movement
Janet was inspired by the stripe-y reflections in the water and the shapes of the paddle blades. She tried to use a similar color pallet of striped, commercial cotton fabrics to show movement, placing the stripes horizontally to indicate calmer sections. She quilted the lower 2/3 at a 20 degree angle - the same as the paddle in the foreground of Caillebotte’s painting.
Terry Peckarsky - Take Me to the River
The colors in Caillebotte's Skiffs inspired Terry to play with the analogous color scheme using Katie Pasquini Masopust's Artful Log Cabin technique for an abstract response to the painting.
Terry Peckarsky - Local Motion
Terry was fascinated by the texture of the water in Caillebotte's Skiffs, so attempted to recreate the artist's brushstrokes in small rectangles of fabric. Her photo of a single rower on the C&O canal seemed to be right at home.
Terry Peckarsky - Let's Row
Upturned canoes at the lake near Terry's home seem poised to get in the water. She altered the photo before printing on fabric and quilted it tightly. She printed the words of a French folk song about "mon petit joli bateau," or "my pretty little boat," as a reference to the French painter's Yerres River. The wavy flanges and the three-dimensional pinwheels suggest the movement of the water and the paddles of the oars on the highly textured water.
Susan Price - Ripples
The cool blue-greens in Skiffs by Gustave Caillebotte were Sue's inspiration for this challenge. If you look at pieces displayed on her design wall, you’ll see that this is a color she uses a lot! For this challenge, she decided to try to make an abstract version of the painting. Her goal was to convey a feeling of tranquility reflecting the gentle ripples in the water.
Bonnie Rhoby - Skiffs Texturized
Stepping out of her usual realistic work Bonnie wanted to capture the texture of the painting and still relay to the viewer the overall essence of the subject. She used various styles of yarn that were either hand stitched or machine stitched. Of course there had to be some needle turn appliqué.
Barbara Sherwood - Lazy River
Barb was inspired by the gently flowing waters in the photo. She used the following materials: Cotton fabric and thread, wool felt batting.
Barbara Wise - Floating
Elements of the piece that inspired Barbara are the colors blue, green, grey, and yellow. Keeping within her signature style but using geometric shapes, she tells an abstract story of falling leaves on water. Background squares are painted, rectangular tree is a monoprint, and square leaves are fabric dyed with turmeric.

Here's a look at all the pieces together.  As with our last challenge, it is a cohesive group, tied together by color, shape and movement.  We did a great job, didn't we?  It's always fun and interesting to see everyone's interpretation and how our individual styles interact with each other. 



Friday, February 26, 2021

Incline Dye Test

Elizabeth's sister recently sent her an idea for incline dyeing that she thought was doable.  While fascinated by the technique she otherwise wasn't willing to go through all the steps for the set up to make it work.  This idea needed only a milk jug and a container.  Elizabeth used a 1/2 gallon milk jug since she was going to practice on a toddler t-shirt which had been treated with soda ash.   The dye was Midnight Blue by ProChem and Dye.

First, was to cut off the bottom of the milk jug and pull the hem of the shirt through the opening in the jug.  Then bunch up the top of the shirt inside the jug.

Next was to put on powdered dye followed by snow or ice, but you could use liquid or you could put the dye on after the snow

Once the snow melted she let the jug and shirt sit undisturbed for 48 hours and then followed a standard wash out of cold water followed by hot water and a wash with synthropol or Blue Dawn dish detergent.

Here is the result, you can see that the bottom of the shirt looks different from the top.  The bottom has streaks where the dye was allowed to run or flow with gravity into the bottom of the container and the top was scrunch up so the dye flowed around the scrunches producing a different pattern.  

This is a technique she will definitely try again.

Front of the shirt.

Back of the shirt.

If you give this technique a try, please let us know if you like your results.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Craft Napa - Surprise Printing

Four years ago, Sue went to Craft Napa with 2 friends for 3 days of fiber art classes.  What a fun time!  Things haven't worked out to return to this California retreat, but this year because of the pandemic, it moved online like so many other events.  Being virtual, anyone could participate from the comfort of home.  So Sue signed up for one class.  There were others she was interested in, but as sometimes happens, several were on the same day so choices had to be made.  The class she took was called Surprise Printing taught by Margarita Korioth.  The technique involved using Caran d'Ache water soluble wax pastel crayons with transparent extender and silk screens to created printed blocks.  The "surprise" is seeing what your blocks look like after washing off the excess crayon. 

These were some of our supplies.  The teacher's kit included the 2 silk screens (made with heat transfer vinyl) and selected colors of Caran d'Ache water soluble wax pastels. (Sue purchased this larger set.) We also needed some squares and rectangles of white Kona cotton and transparent extender - ProChem is a recommended brand. 

To create blocks, we first colored the cotton squares with the wax pastel crayons.  Then we used the silk screen to overprint with the transparent extender.  These were then set aside to dry.  We also made a repeat pattern with the other screen on a rectangular piece of cotton.  The third component created was a wide strip that could be cut into narrower strips for sashing and/or binding.  This piece was done by separating it into segments with painter's tape and coloring in between.  The transparent extender was brushed over top.  All were allowed to dry before heat setting and then soaking in water (about 10 minutes) to remove the excess crayon.  The extra color doesn't come out completely, but enough to fade into the background and allow the printed design to stand out.

The pieces above were the first ones completed.  After some additional instruction, there was time to make some more!

These additional blocks and repeat section are drying before heat setting and rinsing.

Above are the finished second group of pieces. Now what to do with them?  Margarita used hers to make both a quilt and a pillow. Check out this link to see more of her work.  The blocks can be assembled randomly in rows, with or without sashing, bordered if desired.  Use your imagination!  This was a fun process and we're excited to see how it can be adapted for use with Thermofax screens. Experiments to come!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Imagination: 1 x 4

The Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Regional groups of North Carolina/Virginia and Washington DC/Maryland/West Virginia issued a challenge last year to members to make a quilt based on the theme Imagination.  They were asked to "use their imagination to escape reality, explore thoughts and feelings, and express themselves by creating a new quilt in a format measuring one foot wide by four feet high". Approximately 70 submissions were juried by Maggie Vanderweit, selecting 50 for the exhibit. Originally intended to be an in-person exhibit, the Covid 19 pandemic altered those plans to make it a virtual exhibit that can be seen on Black Rock Center for the Arts' website now through February 20.  It will also be part of the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival's virtual show at the end of February. 

Sue's submission, The Imagination of Nature, is one of the 50 pieces selected. After considering several ideas, a piece of eco-printed fabric came to mind.  It was about 6 feet long by 1 foot wide, so easily fit the size requirements of the challenge.  It served as the "iron blanket" in making an eco-printed silk scarf; essentially, a piece of cotton that keeps the plant material in place in the printing process.  In addition to the length of cotton, there were several pieces of silk used as test prints that might be incorporated in the 1 x 4 design.

Planning began by looking at the length of fabric, measuring, auditioning potential fabrics, and selecting the portions of the print to use.  Also part of the planning was looking for quotes that tied nature and imagination together.  Two quotes were chosen and printed on Extravorganza (organza that is adhered  to a backing for use in an inkjet printer).  The original print was divided into 3 sections, with the quotes forming the divisions above and below the center portion.  Three of the silk prints were chosen and fused to pieces of silk for layering on top of the cotton.  A bird was screen printed on a color catcher (a non-woven fabric sheet used to absorb excess dye in the laundry) and added as a focal point.

Above is the center section.  Except for some machine anchor stitching, the quilting is done by hand with embroidery threads.  Some "ghost" leaves were added to the background with stitching.  

This is the top section, with the largest of the 3 silk prints. 

Above is a close-up of the bottom section.  Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

The virtual exhibit on the Black Rock website gives you two options for viewing; one is a 3-D gallery view which is a guided tour similar to being in a real gallery.  The second option is viewing a still image of each quilt that can be enlarged for a closer view.  You can also view a separate document of the artists' statements and jurors remarks.  All of the pieces in the exhibit are for sale.  So find a comfortable spot, put on some quiet music, and enjoy a gallery tour of these beautiful quilts!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Violet Protest

 A few months ago, Sue signed up to make 5 quilt blocks for the Violet Protest.  The Violet Protest is a national public effort to make and send 50 textile squares to every member of Congress in support of core American values.  Sadly, it seems this effort is needed now more than ever.  The core values include:

  • respect for the other
  • citizenship
  • compromise
  • country over party/corporate influence
  • courage
  • candor
  • compassion
  • creativity
The blocks are to be made of equal amounts of red and blue, symbolizing that the blending of the 2 colors results in violet - thus the Violet Protest.  The 8" square textile units can be made from a variety of techniques including knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing, quilting, embroidery, applique, felting, or any combination of these techniques.  

All squares received by Feb. 1 will be exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum beginning in March 2021.  The final deadline is August 1 for sending to Congress, so it is not too late if you'd like to participate!  The blocks will be equally divided and sent to each of the 535 members of Congress in late 2021.

Please go to the Violet Protest website to learn more about this project, see photos of completed blocks, an artist's rendering of the museum display, and a sample of the letter that will accompany the blocks sent to members of Congress.  You can also volunteer to make blocks and/or donate to the cause.  

These are Sue's finished blocks.  Note they are all separate blocks with bound edges, just laying side by side.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year to all our readers!

(Background vector created by pikisuperstar -

Best wishes for a creative 2021 to you all and thank you for your support in 2020.  

We know that many of you spent some of 2020 designing custom images and we are pleased to make screens so you can use your own unique designs to add that very personal touch to your work. We're also happy for you to use the screens we sell in our Etsy shop to enhance your work.  

Whether you are a mixed media artist, a textile artist or a potter, Thermofax screens allow you to incorporate your own vision into your work.  While our classes were on hold for most of 2020, your continued patronage of our online shop allowed us to grow our small business this past year and we want you to know we are grateful to each one of you for giving us the privilege of assisting in your creative endeavors.

To extend our thanks and get you started creating in 2021, use coupon code THANKYOU at checkout for a 10% discount for the month of January.  

Please show us what you have made with Thermofax screens and if you like, we will share your creations and expertise with our community.  Send us your questions about screens and the process and we will try our best to answer them for you.

Here is to a happy and healthy new year in 2021 for everyone,

Elizabeth and Sue

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Personalize Your Face Masks

Here it is November and many sewists have spent time making masks these past 9 months as we try to lessen the impacts of this global pandemic.

This summer, Elizabeth ordered some premade cotton-knit 2 layer face masks and dyed them using the ice dyeing techniques we have talked about before.  Search the label ice dyeing on this post to see old posts where we mentioned ice dyeing.

After dyeing some masks she got to work using thermofax screens to add images.  She tried adding an owl from our collection which had previously worked well on a woven cotton but found that it was too detailed and just looked blob-like on the knit mask fabric (top left)  Since less detailed images seemed to work best she tried some of the screens in our collection which were hand drawn and had thicker lines.  She was also particularly pulled to the words that could be added either alone on a mask or over top of another image.  

As these masks were premade and included some gathering around the edges it wasn't always easy to get the image into the space without a wrinkle or two.  This was exacerbated by trying to use the screen a second time once paint was blocking the view of the image.  Thus, she did a lot more screen cleaning than normal. Screening fabric first and then sewing the mask is an alternative if you sew.

If you have a simple line drawing you think might look good on a mask, send us the image sized for the small screen and see if you can make your own personalized mask.  This cardinal came from the Graphics Fairy, a free source for vintage, public domain art work. 

This is a dragonfly that Sue drew on a piece of paper with a black pen.  We can make a screen from your drawing so long as the image is black and white.

A favorite is when you can screen two images and have one as a foreground and one as a background such as these daisies and then add a sentiment or positive word on top.

Different fonts will give you different looks so play around and see what words you can fit in the size of the mask you are using.  There are so many to choose from just in Microsoft Word alone.  Above, the word "Flourish" is in a font called "Casteller". Most of the fonts we used are in the range of 65-120 font size but that would depend on the length of your word and the size of the printing space available on your mask.  Enjoy personalizing your mask with your own work.  We would be happy to help you.  Visit our Etsy shop to see our screens and order a personalized screen. Right now there is a 20% off sale through December 3, 2020. 

If you use a word though, by careful when you put your mask on because you might be walking around with your mask on upside down!  How embarrassing is that?