Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blast Off!

     Here is my second wheel chair cover. (I never took a photo of my first one.) This one I made for a gentleman who used to work for NASA in the Apollo 11 project. His mind is completely intact and I visit him regularly in the retirement home. He had a stroke and is extremely weak in his legs and needs a wheel chair to get around and can't use one arm at all and can hardly use his other arm. This wheel chair cover was my Christmas gift to him.
Up, Up, and Away
The clouds and the flames are stuffed so that they are somewhat three dimensional. I hand-painted the moon and the rocket and the flames. Then I added thread sketching before I quilted it.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other Art Quilt Blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let the artists know you stopped by.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Starry Night

May you all have a peaceful and Merry Christmas.

Thanks for reading my posts. I appreciate your kindness and support.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Unseasonably Warm

     I haven't been posting lately because I've been stuck and unable to show what's been on my design wall. I was working on a call for entry and got to a point where the work just got ugly and I didn't know what to do with it. I had a vision for it, but couldn't get it to come out. Meanwhile, at my sketching sessions with my friends, I was sketching a couple of designs for quilts that quickly came out of nowhere and are just what I want, but don't fit any calls for entry. Go figure. (I can't wait to make those quilts, but those will have to wait.)
     So I took the ugly work off the design wall. And I put up a new one for a different call for entry called Florida in Fabric. It's due in January. Since I live in Florida, I've been meaning to enter this one and have just been putting it off until I got the other one done. This new one has been flowing nicely. I had the fabrics already created. I monoprinted them awhile ago when the call came out. I created patterns on the gelatin plate that reminded me of sand, ocean, sky, tides, etc. and used colors that reminded me of walks along a beach.
     Then I assembled the panels of the fabrics collage-style on batting, added image transfers of photos I took, added stitching, appliqué, and other surface techniques (it's still in process). Here are some close-ups of it so far.
bird panel

shell panel

beach grass panel

That's all I can show you so far. But I'm very happy with it.
     As I've been working on it, I'm getting a feel for what went wrong with my other call for entry and am ready to try again. It's not due until February. What I'm learning is to do work that comes from my heart and and if I have to work too hard to make it come out, then it isn't meant to be. This piece about Florida came together very quickly and easily because Florida is a part of me and I could smell and feel the beach as I assembled this quilt. It has been a joy to make.
     If I can immerse myself back into the location where I experienced the other call for entry (it was in Panama where I took the photo that I'm trying to interpret into cloth), then it also will come from the heart and will just flow and be a joy to make. And now that I've stepped away for a bit of time, I think I can start over and do it right. And this time, I think it will just be easy. And if it isn't, then I'll pass on the other call for entry, do the one for Florida, and get busy making the quilts whose designs appear to me out of nowhere. They are the ones that are meant to be for me.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you stopped by.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SAQA Trunk Show

     I finished my piece for SAQA's Trunk Show.  The Trunk Show is literally just that. The quilts get mounted professionally and then put into a trunk and then travel to all sorts of guilds and venues for up to three years. If the artist wants to offer them for sale, they are put up for sale, if not, then they are returned to the artist at the end of the show. They all have to be 10" x 7" and they will premiere at the 2014 SAQA conference in Washington, DC, and then travel all across the United States and around the world. I got to see one of the trunk shows at our art group meeting one month and the quilts we saw were spectacular.
     Here's my contribution:
Resonating with the Universe
If you look back at its beginnings from the impromptu session ( Impromptu ), I ripped out much of the stitching and redid it to place the right elements on top. All of the stitching is done by hand (unusual for me) except for the yarns on the outer edge. Those are machine zigzagged on. (I never know how to spell that.) zig-zagged? zigzagged? zig zagged?  Please comment and correct me on the spelling. The computer spell check accepts all of them.
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you stopped by.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Good Gelatin Plate (I hope)?

     Since my large "permanent" plate had developed some small mold spots, I cut it up into pieces about 3 inches square and put them into a glass bowl and microwaved them for 3 minutes. They were completely melted. Then I added 1/4 cup glycerin to the mix. Gave it a good stir and poured it back into the cookie pan. It set hard within 15 minutes. Hopefully, that will do the trick. I still have a little glycerin left over, so if mold grows again, I'll remelt it and add some more. The problem may be with the type of glycerin I'm using, however. I bought it at Hobby Lobby in the soap making department. On the label it says non-edible. That could be because it has some ingredients in it other than glycerin. There is no ingredient list on the label and it doesn't say 100% glycerin on the label.
     My small gelatin plate is still mold free and I used glycerin from a health food store. That glycerin was edible and was 100% glycerin. It was also very expensive. 
So now the ingredients in the large plate are:
12 TBS gelatin
3 1/4 cups glycerin
3 cups boiling water

Here's the link for the original recipe: Original Recipe

Time will tell how it goes...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Update on Gelatin Plate

BIG OH OH! I got out my large gelatin plate today and saw that it was growing some small mold spots. It's not supposed to do that!!! I took a look at the small plate that I made in August from the exact same recipe and it is just fine. The only difference is that I used a different brand of glycerin in the small plate. I bought the glycerin for the small plate at a health food store and it was very expensive. I bought the glycerin for the large plate at Hobby Lobby. My plan is to cut up my large plate tomorrow, melt it in the microwave, add some more glycerin, and hopefully it will harden again and not grow mold. I'll let you know in a new blog post.


 Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine some time back listed some prompts you could use to spark ideas in creating art. At our last meeting, my art group, ArtsEtc., did an activity in which the leader pulled out prompts from an envelope one by one. After a prompt was called out, we each executed the direction onto our working surface. My surface was a 12 x 12 piece of batting. I brought a collection of fabrics I had made (from gelatin monoprinting), some commercial fabric from   Marcia Derse,  some pearle cottons, embroidery floss, sheers, and 3-D items, needles, and thread. Here are the prompts that were pulled. We were allowed to ignore the ones that we didn’t like. I followed all but #6.
1.) Add a strong diagonal.
2.) Add a trapunto. (I added a stuffed monk.)
3.) Add a repeating shape in several sizes.
4.) Add a doodle.
5.) Add a circle.
6.) Gather.
7.) Add strips.
8.) Add embroidery.
9.) Add a geometric.
10.) Add a sheer.

Since I’m trying to develop a body of work, I brought materials that stick to the colors and themes of that body. The activity took about an hour and a half and lots of talk and laughs.
     After I made it and took it home, I read that  SAQA wants a 10 x 7 piece for a trunk show and I thought the composition of part of it was good enough and if I work on it more and quilt it and embroider it, I can make it into a nice art quilt. So I rearranged some of the elements and cut it to size. (I forgot to take a photo before I did all this. Whoops.) So to get a “before” photo I stuck all the pieces next to each other.Here’s the 12 x 12 piece. 
definitely an impromptu work

Here it is cut to the proper size for the trunk show.
In-process, cut to size
The plan is to add quilting, embroidery and edging and other elements as needed.
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you stopped by.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm Getting Attached to My Monk

     At my art group ArtsEtc, we've decided to start each monthly meeting with a quick sketching exercise from a book called "Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series" by Carla Sonheim even though we are basically fiber artists. We only spend about 15 minutes doing it to get our creative juices going. Our sketching leader chooses the exercise and this last time the instruction was to quickly draw 30 cats. I knew I wouldn't have time for details, so I only drew the outline of the cat over and over; no eyes or whiskers or other details. I only had time to get 22 of them on my paper before time was called.
     Then the homework was to choose our favorite drawing we made and to put it on a 5 x 7 cardstock and develop it into a composition and bring it to the next meeting. Here's mine.
I used a combination of watercolors, acrylics, Shiva paintstiks (I love those), and a black Sharpie fine point marker.
     The other homework was to bring a photo of a giraffe. Intriguing. In the meantime, I'm monoprinting and texture rubbing fabrics for a couple of quilts I'm preparing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Remarkable Project

      I have a friend, Margaret Loomis, in my art group, ArtsEtc,  who has come up with an amazing idea and has put it into action. She saw that Alzheimer’s patients were lined up in their wheelchairs in the hallways of their nursing home and they sat with their heads down with no stimulation for several hours. To provide some interaction for them, she decided to make covers for their wheelchairs that had three dimensional art so that they could reach out and touch the cover on the chair in front of theirs. She made sure that there were no embellishments on the covers that could be removed by the patients and put in their mouths like buttons, sequins, beads, etc. She also found out that patients with dementia and Alzheimer's can be disturbed by shiny things so no glitter, foils, or shiny fabrics. She also made sure that the covers were comfortable on the side facing the back of the patient and that they are machine-washable. Here are five of the many she has made so far.
African Iris
I'm Still Me

And here's the artist!

     Even more amazing, a nurse got wind of her idea and has applied for a grant to do a study at one of our local rehab homes with an Alzheimer’s wing to see the effects of the covers on the patients and the staff. So our art group is busy making the wheelchair covers for the study. 
     I’m sharing this with you because I’m hoping you will pass this on to many others. They don’t take long to make and really brighten up someone’s world. I could see many guilds and other groups taking this project on. Even if the staff of a retirement home or hospital is cheered up by wheelchair art, it will have a positive effect on their patients.
     Here's a diagram of how to make them. It has the size for a wheelchair for the average adult. I cut batting and backing fabric the length and width of the whole thing and spray basted them together. Then I spray basted the part that would go against the person's back. Then I assembled the artwork and attached that last by fusing and finally quilted the whole thing. I attached bias tape to the edges with a zig zag stitch to all the edges and it was finished.

     My personal goal is to make wheel chair covers on a regular basis for a retirement home in the long term ward with the understanding that the staff will put them on the wheel chairs in the morning when the patients are using the chairs, and then velcro or pin them onto the curtains that divide the patient’s beds from each other in their rooms in the afternoons when they are in bed so that they can see the art on the cover when they are in bed. I’m going to sew velcro onto the cover and onto the dividing curtain if the staff will allow it. If the retirement home doesn’t like the idea, then I’ll make the covers for children at the local hospital or find a place that will want them on a regular basis. Nov. 14:  I recently found out that they cannot be put onto the curtains because the curtains are fire retardant and the fabrics of the wheelchair covers would have to be fire retardant, also. Makes sense.

     Wheelchair art doesn’t have to be as elaborate as Margaret’s. One of our group made several covers that are blocks of traditional log cabins and her covers are gorgeous. Mine is a bouquet of flowers that I made by fusing fabrics that I fussy cut and fused onto a background and then zig-zagged stitched to make sure they stayed on after machine washed. Anything that is cheerful would be appreciated. But Margaret has truly inspired us at ArtsEtc with her beautiful art and her clever and witty take on these wheelchair covers!
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday  where you can visit other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let the artists know you visited.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Back At It

     My surgeon took all restrictions off today! My arm still is sore, but I can do whatever I can tolerate. Yipee! And I found out I don't need surgery on my other shoulder. It's just arthritis in that one and exercise will keep it going.  When I was at physical therapy doing my exercises, I noticed the sheet on the table and saw that it was thin and had some holes in it and that it had a nice pattern on it in gray. The nurse saw me handling it and said "You seem to be rather focused on that sheet." I said it has some holes in it and if you are getting ready to throw it away, please don't. I'll be glad to put it to a good use. (I can see that gray pattern in strata and rocks and all sorts of backgrounds and the thin material is just what I want for my quilts.) Then I heard my husband from the waiting room saying "Is my wife asking for stuff again?" I ended up walking out of there with four sets of sheets. Tee Hee.
Treasure for me

     This past week, I took out my mini gelatin plate that I made in August and had stored in my studio at room temperature and it is just as good as new. So I made a large one following the same recipe. I know you can buy the permanent gelatin plates now, but they don't make large enough ones for me. Plus, if you damage them, I'm not sure you can melt them and reform them. With this recipe, you can store them at room temperature and they won't grow mold and if you damage them, you can microwave them to melt them and then cool them to reset them. Not many places sell glycerin anymore, though, and it's getting a little expensive. You can find it at health food stores, on-line drugstores like Walgreen etc. (but then you have to pay shipping), in the soap-making section of Hobby Lobby (use the 40% off coupons), and places like that.
Nov. 16. BIG OH OH! I got out my large gelatin plate today and saw that it was growing some small mold spots. It's not supposed to do that!!! I took a look at the small plate that I made in August from the exact same recipe and it is just fine. The only difference is that I used a different brand of glycerin in the small plate. I bought the glycerin for the small plate at a health food store and it was very expensive. I bought the glycerin for the large plate at Hobby Lobby. My plan is to cut up my large plate tomorrow, melt it in the microwave, add some more glycerin, and hopefully it will harden again and not grow mold. I'll let you know in a new blog post.
Here's the recipe I followed:
12 TBS Gelatin
3 cups Glycerin
3 cups boiling water

1.) Mix the gelatin into the glycerin.
2.) Add the boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
3.) Pour into the pan.
4.) Let harden at room temperature.
This was enough to fill an 11inch x 17 inch cookie pan. I leave it in the pan permanently even while I print. I made a cover for the pan. Cover for Pan If I damage the gelatin plate, I'll cut it up and put it in a microwavable container and melt it and then pour it back into the cookie pan.

To clean up, do NOT clean up in your sink or you will clog up your pipes. Wipe up the gelatin with newspaper and throw away. I also rinsed everything with hot water outside on our dirt driveway.

     I monoprinted a white T-shirt using the method I use to make the fabrics for my latest quilts. Here it is so far. I'm going to use Shiva paintstiks to add rubbings to it later this week. That will unify the parts more.
Front of T-shirt

Back of T-Shirt

Lastly, the small gelatin plate that I made in August was from the same recipe, but here is the amount I used:
2 TBS Gelatin
1/2 cup Glycerin
1/2 cup Boiling Water
Here is a photo of the container I poured it into. It's a sandwich container I bought at a Dollar Store. Once the gelatin set, I flipped it over and removed the gelatin. I keep it stored upside-down on the lid so that I can use it.
The container upside-down
with the gelatin inside

The mini gelatin plate sitting on the lid

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Christmas Cards Already?

     Well, my shoulder is healed enough now that I can do some sewing. The thing that is painful is rotary cutting, so I have to do only a little of that a time. I have three large art quilts sketched out and am excited about them and ready to start on the first of those, but I thought I'd start (and finish) small sewing items first. At one of my art meetings this summer, we did gelatin monoprinting and I took a small gelatin plate (about 6 x 7). I decided make prints that I could use for Christmas cards this year.
     I originally wanted to print a nativity scene, but that was too complicated for the time I had and the number of prints I wanted to make. So then I thought I could use small fern fronds to look like evergreen trees and I would use string to look like trails of falling snow. I used regular acrylic paints mixed with Gac 900 fabric medium about 50/50.  I tore up an old sheet into small rectangles about 6 x7 inches. Here are the steps I did:
1.) I mixed up the paints on a plastic plate to get a light blue. I mixed the GAC900 into the paint.
2.) I brayered the blue paint mixture onto the gelatin plate.
3.) I put the fern fronds on top of the paint on the gelatin in an arrangement I liked.
4.) I put string on top of the paint and ferns in a curvy line on the gelatin plate.
5.) I laid the sheet rectangle on top and pressed in down with my hand and lifted it off after I was sure the paint had made good contact.
6.) I cleaned off the gelatin plate with a cotton wipe rag and a squirt bottle of water.

I repeated steps 2-6 until I had printed 30 rectangles.

After the paint was dry, I stamped some circles onto each rectangle with gold Lumiere paint from Jacquard and I stamped some snowflakes on each with some Sargent Art Acrylic Glitter Glaze mixed with white acrylic paint.  Here's a photo of several of the rectangles after they were printed and stamped.


Then I cut some cardstock and printed a phrase on it. I trimmed each rectangle to fit on the cardstock the way I wanted it to fit above the phrase. I applied a little glue stick the long edges of the fabric and stuck it on the cardstock and then I machine stitched it using a shimmery thread (I don't know the brand or type because its label fell off long ago.)
The finished card
So the card doesn't look like evergreen trees as intended. But since I live in Florida, I guess it's OK for me to use ferns (with snow?) It did snow here once for about 2 minutes on our driveway. Each card is different and maybe by next year, I can think up a nativity design I can monoprint.  I'll send 30 of my artistically inclined friends and relatives these cards and the rest will get the standard cards. Only because I didn't have the energy to make more of the prints that day. 
I'm linking this to   Off The Wall Friday   where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Taking Photos of Quilts: Summary

I decided to make one last post about photography. I used to be a teacher and we were taught to end a lesson with a summary so here it is in a list fashion. Now that I've written down all the settings that work for me on a piece of paper, I can pin a quilt on the design wall, set up the lights, set up the camera on the tripod, and start shooting and be done in about 25 minutes. I keep the lights screwed into the reflectors with the clamps and store them in a drawer so that they are ready to go. And I keep the 2x4-stands against the wall in my studio. But they could easily fit into a closet that isn't used often. So here is the list for taking photos of the whole quilt with my husband's digital Pentax K-7:
1.) F-stop 10
2.) iso 1600
3.) 12 second delay
4.) lens set between 47-55 mm
5.) set camera focus to auto
6.) set white balance (WB) It's a symbol that looks like a sun
7.) For regular quilts, I set the lights about 4.5 ft away. For quilts that are shiny, I set the lights about 7 ft away.
8.) For quilts that are about 24-36 inches large, I set the camera about 6-8 ft away. For small quilts, I set the camera as close as I could get it and still fit the quilt in the picture.
9.) Make sure the lens is pointed level to the quilt as Holly outlines in the link on my post below.

I promise, once you have done it a few times, it becomes easier and easier. I used to dread having to photograph my quilts. Now, I'm confident it will work. You just have to get past that initial set up stage.  I kept putting it off but finally made myself do it. I gave myself a reward of chocolate for having done it. :) Write down on paper what worked and what didn't and keep that list in a safe place so you don't have to do it all over again. Go for it and it will work!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taking Photos Of Quilts Part 2

Last week, I told you how I solved the problem of getting all of my quilt photos in focus. Now, I’ll tell you how I solved the problem of getting my camera to read the correct colors of my quilts. For some of my quilts, the camera didn’t seem to have any problem at all. The colors in the photo matched perfectly the colors of the quilt. But, for some reason, the camera has a problem reading teals and other blues.
     To counteract that, I always used to set the camera into its “program” mode instead of auto mode. And then I set the white balance by aiming the lens at a white surface like a white piece of paper or the white design wall and setting the white balance. Then I took the photo. The photo came out ok, but not great. The other thing I did to counteract the problem was to try to adjust the color after I took the photo using Photoshop Elements. Sometimes, I could get the photo to get very close to the actual colors of the quilt. But every now and then, I just could not get it right. It was very frustrating. Taking the photo outside when the sun was out, but not in the direct sunlight worked the best, but that meant that I had to wait for a good weather day and I had to have a spot with no shadows that would fall on the quilt. 

     Then I found this link Shoot That Quilt! from Holly Knott (By the way, she also designs websites) and it made a world of a difference!  The key is to use the lights that she recommends.  The lights are inexpensive. They are so much like daylight and so economical that I installed one in a lamp on my craft table and one in an overhead light hanging from a ceiling fan in my studio. The only problem I have with the set up in the description from the link, is that the clamps on the reflectors that I bought had a tendency to slip off of the 2x4’s and one fell onto the floor and broke one of the lights. So to solve that, I tied a strip of fabric to the reflector and put a push-pin for extra security. Here is a photo that shows how I secure the light to the 2x4.
Secured with fabric and push-pin into 2x4

So now I can take photos no matter what the weather is outside. I set up the lights (side by side) just as Holly describes in her article in the link. When they aren't being used, I keep the lights (screwed into the reflectors attached to the fabric strips) stored in a drawer. And I keep the 2x4 stands against a wall in the studio.  It is very quick to set them up and get the camera on the tripod. I can get it all ready to shoot in about 15 minutes.
     Here is a photo of an art quilt I made called “Water Cycles” that I had a great deal of trouble getting accurate colors on the photo until I used these lights. It has a lot of teal and other blues in it. (I don't know why that particular hue is so difficult to photograph on my quilts.) When I used the lights Holly Knott recommended, the photo was perfect without any adjustments.

Water Cycles Art Quilt

     The other thing I discovered about lighting is that for quilts that have a sheen, foil, or have a glossy fabric, it helps to move the lights as far back as possible to reduce glare.
     I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Taking Photos of Quilts Part 1

     I used to think that my small Point-and-Shoot camera (Canon Power Shot) was fine for all my photography. When I compared my travel photos I took on it to the photos my husband took on his professional camera (Pentax K7), mine looked as good (sometimes, better) than his. My photos were sharply in focus and the colors were true. And the detail shots from my camera were wonderful. He didn’t own a macro lens, so he couldn’t take close-up shots and my camera has a button in the Program to take close-ups. 
But I discovered my camera’s weaknesses when I took quilt photos:
1.) When I took photos of my quilts from a distance to get the whole quilt in the photo, they seemed adequate, but when I looked at the photo on the computer monitor and zoomed in, they seemed a little fuzzy. (And I was using a tripod and a 10 second delay.) When I looked at quilt photos from art quilts of some of my favorite artists, I could zoom in on their photos a great deal and their photos stayed sharply in focus. Sometimes, I could even see individual stitches on their quilts when I zoomed in.

2.) On some of my quilts, the camera had trouble reading the correct colors. It didn’t matter if I took the photo outside in the daylight or inside. 

So, to solve problem number one:
     I asked for help from a Yahoo group from SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associoates) that I belong to and I got a lot of good advice from them. Various members told me that I probably didn’t have my aperture on the camera set high enough (which means I didn’t have my camera set to focus on both the depth of the valleys produced by the quilting and the top surfaces of the quilt at the same time.) 
     I did some research on-line about point-and-shoot cameras and found out that they do not have adjustable apertures. They only have one aperture setting. That works fine if you are taking landscape photos, or portraits where you aren’t going to be zooming in, or close-up shots where everything you want is at about the same depth. But it doesn’t work for quilts because quilts have depth due to the stitching and quilting. It’s okay for photos that you are going to only use for your blog, but not for your website where you want people to be able to zoom in to see the quality of your work to make sales. It’s not okay for photos for calls for entry where you want the jurors to be impressed with your work, either.
     The only answer I found is to use a camera that you can adjust the aperture setting to above 8. I ended up using my husband’s camera for the whole shots and using an aperture setting of 10 to get clear, crisp photos. And of course, I had the camera on a tripod and had the camera set for a time delay. I used a 12 second delay. I set the tripod at a distance so that the quilt fit well into the photo and had space to crop later using photo software. I had the quilt pinned to my design wall, which is white felt glued onto insulation board.  DESIGN WALL  I had the pins pinned onto the back of the quilts so that they could not be seen.
Here I’ll show you an example with a quilt called "Three Round Bales". I it made several years ago with the theme of a hayfield. (I was influenced by Gustav Klimt at the time, after a trip to Eastern Europe and made several art quilts with the Klimt influence.) Because of many beads, wires, and stitches, it has a fair degree of depth in places, and needed to have a camera with a high aperture setting to get a good depth of field. 
Hayfield art quilt photo with the Pentax

quilt photo with my point-and-shoot camera
You can see that the second photo is adequate, but isn't in focus everywhere if you zoom in on it.

And since my detail shots with my point-and-shoot camera came out so crisp and focused I just couldn’t figure out why the whole quilt shot kept coming out fuzzy until I found out that my camera only had the one aperture setting in it.
Here is a detail shot with my little point-and-shoot camera.
Detail showing wire and beads

You can visit my website to see the other detail shots of this quilt and to read the background information and see the other Klimt-influenced farm hayfield quilts I made at that time (go to the Landscape section of the Gallery).

Next week, I’ll post how I solved problem number two.
I hope I’m not boring you with technical details. I just know how I struggled with this when I was trying to enter quilts into calls for entry and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I hope it helps some of you.

By the way, if you join SAQA, you get to belong to their Yahoo discussion group and you can search back through all the topics that have ever been discussed there. I have learned so much from this group of artists on an amazing variety of topics. You can ask any question and that same day it will be answered in detail by several people. And that is only one of the membership benefits. Visit to learn more about membership.

And here is a link to a book that is very helpful about photographing quilts and editing the photos called Digital Essentials by Gloria Hansen

I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Uploading Photos

Since I still can't sew, I've been working on cleaning out files on my hard drive and getting rid of not so great photos of my quilts and uploading better photos of them. I've finally mastered getting good photos of them (I hope). My next blog post will detail some things I've learned and have some links on how to photograph quilts. For me, it was a long learning curve.With the old method of photography I used, I had a terrible time getting clear enough detail on the shots of the whole quilts and the camera just couldn't get a good read on the true colors. Now, I think I have enough detail on the whole quilt shots and the colors are just right without much effort.
     In the meantime, here is a photo of a quilt I made this past Spring and some detail shots of it. This quilt is not at all in my usual style. I made it for a special call for entry. It didn't get accepted to that show, but I'm glad I made it. The idea just popped into my head and I had to keep on working on it madly until it was finished. Usually, I work on pieces very slowly.
      I've named and renamed this quilt. Presently, it is called "Circle of Emotions". It used to be called "Spirit of Emotions".  I thought of "Of Two Minds" and "The Prescience of Mind".  All of them fit, but none speak to me. What about you? Here is the artist statement that goes along with it:

It is amazing how complicating emotions are and that colors can help us identify with those feelings. In this piece I tried to show two opposing sides; the fiery, passionate side with loving feelings and stormy outbursts and the colder, more calculating side where the all-knowing eye sets the gears in motion to analyze with detachment of emotion. I chose to use deeply saturated colors and many silks because of their shimmer, adding to the feelings of passion. I selected a pattern for quilting the background to represent both icicles and teardrops. And in the midst of all this complexity of feeling, the Spirit of Emotions keeps it all in balance.
Circle of Emotions

Detail 1 Female figure and gears

Detail 2 The Eye
I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments to let them know you visited.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Making of Gardens and Galaxies

Since I'm unable to sew after having surgery on my shoulder (it went very well... the physical therapy starts later today), I thought that I would post about a quilt I made several years ago. It began at a workshop with my art group, ArtsEtc. on how to paint with dyes on silk. We were told to bring a drawing or a photo and that we would be working with brightly saturated colors. When I visited a plant market in Ecuador, I took this photo of a succulent. I liked the shape of the leaves and thought that maybe I could use it someday.
A succulent
To get it ready for the workshop, I manipulated it in Photoshop Elements 10 and added bright colors.
Colored-in photo
I printed that photo out on paper and took it to the workshop. The instructions were to sketch the main outlines on the white silk with pencil. Then we painted the pencil lines with gutta resist. Once the gutta was dry, I painted in the shapes with dyes that were close to the colors in the photo above. I ended up with a very pleasing silk painting that looked like a batik. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of it.
     The question for me, was what to do with it? I could turn it into a whole-cloth art quilt (but I had never quilted on silk before and I was afraid of ruining it). I could make it into a pillow cushion (but I didn't have a room in our house in which it would coordinate).
     Later that year, I traveled to Vietnam and bought a bunch of silk remnants literally off the floor of tailor shops and when I got home and was putting all silk fabrics together in a bin (including the one I painted) inspiration struck.
     I cut the piece into squares and paired it with some squares of silk from Vietnam, did some embellishing with sashing, netting, sheers, and beads. And so Gardens and Galaxies was born.

Gardens and Galaxies

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Bought Some Art!

     Last week, I took a short road trip to visit a relative in North Carolina and get a change of scenery before I have rotator cuff surgery next week. I won't be able to sew (even hand stitch) for anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks! I can't imagine. Anyway, Susan Lenz got in touch with me and invited me to stop by her studio in Columbia, South Carolina while I was passing by. And I'm so glad I did.
     I'm amazed by how prolific she has been. Shelves and shelves full of quilts she has made. And all of them are not only beautiful, but they are packed with deep meaning. The walls are also covered with her fiber works. I wish I had remembered to take my camera inside, but I had left it in the car. And talk about her personality... she is one bubbly and talkative person. She has so much to say. I would have loved to stay longer, but my husband and I had to get back on the road.  But there was no way I could leave without buying one of her pieces. I chose one she was inspired to make from a water fixture in Arkansas while she was doing a workshop there. She had it framed and matted perfectly. It's called Hot Springs Relic II. I'm linking this to  Off The Wall Friday  where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.
Hot Springs Relic II by Susan Lenz

Opus approves of the new addition to the studio

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Little Something New

     I felt like making something small and quick.
     Most Tuesdays, I meet up with some friends downtown in a group we've formed called "Sketch Out". We just sit in a park and sketch. Lately, I've been bringing air plants from my yard at home and sketching those. I'm not good at drawing, which is why I like to go to Sketch Out. It forces me to practice regularly.
sketch book

     Well, I was sitting at home on Saturday morning and decided to quickly try to sew one of my sketches with black thread on white cloth. I thought I'd spend maybe 10 minutes or so. I cut up an old white sheet and put a small piece of it (about 12 x 12) on a piece of batting. I put my sketch book with the sketch of the air plants next to the sewing machine and set up the machine for free motion and just began to free-motion sew on the blank white cloth on the batting. I figured I had nothing to lose. I tried to "draw" a few air plants with the black thread.
     After I had it done (and it did only take about 10 minutes), I decided to take it another step. I got out my Derwent Inktense Pencils and I colored in the wood stick and the plants. I used a small paintbrush I had forgotten to clean one day and the bristles were all stuck together and it was perfect for the small spaces. For some of the spaces, I wet the brush with water and and then wiped it directly onto the pencil and then onto the cloth.
     Then, I thought I should keep going. So I got out acrylic paints and GAC 900 and painted the background light blues. That needed more texture so I dipped a toilet paper roll into white acrylic paint and stamped it here and there. Then I dipped a piece that came off a rattan furniture into some tan paint and stamped that spiral design here and there.

     After it dried, I free-motion quilted the background with air plants using a variegated thread and couched a green yarn around the edge. I ended up spending several (maybe 6 or so) hours on it. So much for my 10 minutes. Not a great work of art, but fun and satisfying for a spur of the moment urge to create.
Air Plant Mini Quilt

Friday, September 6, 2013


This is the final version of my quilt. And it is named "Contemplation".  It is 27" x 33". It is the third in the series of my body of work. (The second piece is one I donated to the SAQA auction.)

I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday
where you can visit other art quilt sites and please make comments to let the artists know you stopped by.

For those of you who haven't been following along or those who want a quick summary, here are quick links to the process of making it:
1.) Creating the background fabrics

2.) Placing the background fabric panels on the batting

3.) Sewing the fabrics in place

4.) Designing the composition

5.) Making fabric for the rocks

6.) Adding more texture to the background

7.) Quilt with not-so-nice shadows

Friday, August 30, 2013

New Quilt Unveiled

I sewed on two yarns for an edge to the monk, rock, sun/moon quilt late last night. I think I have some things that need touched up. I may need to outline the flag with a darker thread, I may need to change the shape of the shadow of the rock cairn (I don't like the shape now), and my physicist husband says the shadow of the monk is at the wrong angle (but I like the way it looks now).  Plus I need a name for the quilt. But here is a photo of how it is now. As you see, I cut off the left side of the quilt, added some mountains, added embroidery, blended areas of the sky, added fabric to the bottom, and other things that I presently am forgetting.
Can you help me name this quilt?
For my next post, I'll show a photo of it all fixed up and links to the past posts showing all the steps of making it. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please comment on their posts so that they know you visited.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adding Fabrics to The Monk, The Rocks, And The Sun/Moon

     Now that I've chosen a design for my monk/rock cairn quilt using Photoshop Elements, I've moved on to cutting out the monk and rocks from fabrics. I used a commercial piece of fabric for the monk and I've started to hand embroider on it. I used some of the monoprinted fabric I made for the rocks. For the sun/moon, I painted white cotton fabric with a combination of Jacquard Textile, Neopaque, and Dye-na-flow paints as well as some regular acrylic paints.

     I won't show you my final chosen design yet. I've changed it since you last saw it.  But here are some close-up photos as it is now.

Partially completed monk

I've machine-stitched across the sky area some and I've hand- embroidered some. I haven't decided how much stitching to add to the rocks so they are still just pinned on.
Rock cairn with flag
I don't know why I'm so attracted to the monk theme lately, but it is really speaking to me. The problem is that there is a call for artists I'm interested in and I want to make a quilt for it that involves a bicycle and a beach. But if I keep with my body of work and this spiritual theme do I put a monk on the bike? Balancing a rock cairn in his hand? (I think not.) I'll figure something out for that entry.

I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find Art Quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Answer to the Thermofax Pattern Mystery

Here's the answer to what the pattern was in this photo from my last post:
Mystery thermofax print pattern
Sea fan
I found this sea fan on a beach after a bad storm. I took a close-up photo of part of it and played around with it in Photoshop Elements and then sent it off to have it made into a thermofax screen. I think I can get a lot of use out of this pattern as a background element in my art quilts. I actually was inspired to get this pattern by the texture on a cantaloupe. I painted a cantaloupe with black paint and rolled it around on fabric with the intention of scanning it in and using that to get a thermofax screen, but it didn't work out well enough. And the paint seeped into the fruit and I had to throw away the cantaloupe, too.

By the way, I just updated my Etsy shopFiberArtsByRegina  with new photos. My regular art quilts are for sale on my website, but I have smaller items I made for sale in my Etsy shop. I'm just now starting to promote it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Two Art Quilts at Once?

     Even though I'm still working on my rock, monk, sun, quilt, SAQA has an exhibit coming up with a deadline in February that I want to enter. I thought I should get things together for this new quilt while I still work on the monk quilt, too.
     I have an idea brewing that involves a background using a pattern I developed a while ago from a can of black beans. Yes, black beans. I had a thermofax screen made from the pattern and several other screens made from other patterns I played around with in Photoshop Elements. (There are several good places where you can order custom made screens:   and  I had never done any printing with the screens before so I was hesitant to do it. But after watching some YouTube videos Thermofax printing Part 1   and  Thermofax printing Part 2   and Creating Repeat Prints   and How to Wash a Thermofax Screen   and reading some articles in Quilting Arts Magazines, I determined this was the best way to get the results I wanted.
     In the videos listed above, Lynn Krawczyk shows to put the paint on the screen and use a sponge brush (cut off) and then just rub the brush around on the screen to spread the paint. I liked that idea and it worked well for all my screens except for one of them. Here are the patterns that the method gave good results. I used a combination of colors of regular acrylic paints and a little Jacquard Lumiere Paint, also.
Three prints on a torn piece of a t-shirt

Anyone guess what this is a pattern of?

I'll post the answer tomorrow.

I tried doing repeats. Could start a trend of "Put A Monk On It!"

But, for the black beans, the pattern was too detailed and the sponge brush method lost all the details. I experimented with different paint thicknesses, but to no avail. So then what I did was go to the old fashioned method of printing for this particular screen. I spooned the paint along the top of the duct tape and used a credit card to spread the paint down the screen. And it gave a perfect print with all the details.
Black beans and rice anyone?

So now that I know I can print it. I'm going to order the paint I need and plan out my new quilt and get back to work on my monk, rock, and sun quilt.

I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can see other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you visited.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adding More Texture and Blending to the Background

     I went to my monthly studio meeting with my art group, ArtsEtc. This meeting was an exercise in texture rubbings. I decided to take my background for the art quilt I've been working on and try to unite the panels more by using the Shiva paintstiks in two ways.
     The first way, was to take the paints and mix the colors on an old plastic plate to get a pale blue and then load a stencil brush with the paint. Then I brushed the paint onto the edges of the whitest panel to have it blend into the bluer panels around it more. The orangish panel was a little too orangish for me for this quilt and I had plans to sew a white sheer fabric on top to tone it down. Instead, I brushed white/gray paintstiks on top. I think it helped.
     The second way, was to make texture rubbings that would overflow the edges of the panels to help blend the panels together more. The problem with this was that the background was already a quilt and the thickness prevented pattern from the texture plates from rubbing through. But there is always a way...
     So here is what the solution was: (I put plastic onto the table surface to keep it clean.)
1.) I took the paintstiks and rubbed them right onto the brass trivet. I used various colors together.
Half of trivet is rubbed with paintstiks of various colors

2.) I placed the trivet paint-side down on the quilt where I wanted the pattern to be.
Trivet placed paint-side down

3.) I carefully, flipped the quilt over and rubbed from the back side of the quilt.
Rubbing with my hand
You can also rub with a hard edge like a ruler

4.) In this panel edge, I felt I wanted more unity. I thought there was too much of a difference between the two panels. (You can see some places in the top of the photo and the bottom where I already did this procedure.)
Needs something here

5.) So I took several colors of paintstiks and rubbed them directly onto this plastic rubbing plate.
Thick with paints

6.) And I place the painted part of this plate paint side down where I wanted the pattern onto the quilt. I flipped the quilt over and I rubbed from the back side of the quilt.
Rubbing the texture from the back

7.) Here you can see the same section with its new pattern uniting the panels better.
With pattern overflowing the edge

So it's not too late to add texture rubbings to quilts after quilting. You just have to do it from the back. If you want a really well defined rubbing, then use a hard edge like a ruler to do the rubbing. If you want a more diffuse rubbing, then use your hand to do the rubbing. But do have the texture plate really thick with paint.             TIP: Practice the technique on a small scrap quilt first.

I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday Where you can visit other artist's art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let them know you were there.