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