Monday, March 16, 2020

Vintage Everything....

It was all about old quilts at the Alachua County Library Headquarters in Gainesville, Florida, last week. In fact, it's been all about quilts all month long in many of the branches, but more about that later. I was given the opportunity to put together a program featuring antique quilts titled "Revisiting Old Beauties." I invited two quilt collecting friends to join me, and together we shared some lovely pieces. This Golden Wedding Ring is a unique rendition of the timeless and popular 1930s Double Wedding Ring pattern. The colors have stayed so vibrant.

This is collector Jill Allen's Lone Star quilt top. It's a Pennsylvania quilt, her specialty in collecting. The large star is precision pieced while the satellite stars were pieced, then appliqued on the quilt top. It's circa 1920s and may have been what is known as a "kit quilt". This means the fabric colors were selected and pieces cut by a manufacturer, leaving the sewing and assembly to the quilter. It sparkles.

Jill was unable to join us for the presentation, though she did send her quilts. Here I am, left, with quilter and collector Debra Johnston, right, standing in front of Debra's Golden Wedding Ring and getting ready to talk about each of the quilts we brought. We estimated that at least half of our quilts were a century old, with others approaching that.

After showing each quilt, our expert holders and folders lined the quilts up on tables so that program visitors could take a close look at the fabrics, stitching, and quilting on each of the 20 or so quilts we brought. You can get a glimpse of my late 1800s to early 1900s sampler top, my early 1900s Bow Tie, my late 1800s Red and White Triple Irish Chain, Jill's early Pennsylvania Log Cabin, Debra's 1930s Touching Stars... and that's about as far as you can see in this photo.

In addition to collecting, we talked about revisting vintage quilts by replicating them- making a quilt in the same patern, but using new fabrics and methods. Jill loves to study old quilts and replicate them, as she did with this beautiful Cotton Boll quilt. She had an extra applique block left over and put it on our guild free table. I grabbed it up and made a funky Christmas wallhanging with it, foreground.

Mary Peer of the Quilters of Alachua County Day Guild wore her patchwork pants to represent at this festive event. Mary did all of the hard work of coordinating themed quilt displays at library branches throughout the county. She's standing in front of another antique quilt replicated by Jill Allen. Jill calls this one The Vermont Quilt after seeing the original, which is in a private collection, in a publication of quilts of Vermont. Her work is masterful, and she's an award winner.

To add to the vintage celebration of the day, this terrific old 1956 Studebaker car was parked outside the library. I had to add a photo of it. We completed our program just ahead of the library suspending all programming in the coming weeks. Now we will stay in and sew. Wishing all of you well. Hope you enjoyed revisiting these old beauties!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Color Splash at Daytona Beach...

Lots of quilters traveled to Daytona Beach, FL, for the recent American Quilter's Society quilt show. It was a feast for the eyes and full of inspiration. This time I was drawn in by color-drenched quilts like Bricks 'n Gears by Claudia Pfeil. The complex piecing and wonderful quilting added to the beauty of this quilt.

The bright, happy fabrics used here, along with the variety of fonts in the lettering made this a "feel-good" quilt. It's called Against Such Things There is No Law and was made by Ben Darby.

The Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) had a special exhibit of quilts called Aloft. Each depicted the perspective from above which made each piece especially interesting. This is Lisa Thorpe's Flight From Portland, with an urban view.

Take Off by Jan Soules also gave a more pastoral air flight perspective.

I found Jean Renli Jurgenson's Hong Kong Taxi quite mesmerizing and almost dizzying!

Although not part of the Aloft exhibit, Kyoto Ochai's Space Fantasy has that aloft perspective. I've not seen rick rack that large, and I love the wonderful background fabrics used.

Marriane R. Williamson's Tornado certainly conveyed the terrifying chaos of such a weather event.

The color stimulation continued in the classes offered by various instructors. I took quilt artist Barbara Olson's Freeform Funky Castles class. It was a fun and playful session, and this is my Cotton Candy Castle that emerged. Of course it's just the beginning of it- I'm not sure where it will go from here.

 Barbara had lots of examples to inspire us in cutting and designing our castles. She uses fusible applique and finishes the edges with machine satin stitching.

Barbara uses black backgrounds make the colors really stand out.

Do you see Barbara's fantasy castle here? My brain switches back and forth from seeing candles to seeing castle turrets.

Here's the building material for our castles- a big pile of colorful prints. With classes, lectures, vendors and wonderful quilts, the AQS show was a great way to ignite the creative quilting juices!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Let's Face It...

One of my favorite ways to learn is in online classes. I'm currently enrolled in Wanderlust 2020 which offers weekly mixed media instruction taught by a variety of teachers. A recent lesson by Jeanne Oliver was jam-packed with new techniques. We learned to dye fabrics using avocado pits, turmeric, tea, and other kitchen items. Then we used those fabrics, or other dyed ones, in printing lino cuts of faces. And finally, we added embroidered details to complete the pieces. This face is printed on ice-dyed fabric and backed with dyed cheesecloth. It was great fun to make, and I learned a lot about lino cuts. There's a learning curve!

I made a second print on another scrap of dyed fabric, but this time I used free-motion stitching to outline and define some of the features. A bit of fabric marker for lips and cheeks, and she's done. The machine stitching allowed me to fill in some areas missing ink. I used acrylic paint as I didn't have any lino printing ink for fabric, so the coverage of my prints is a bit light.

The learning curve involves remembering that what you want to show in the print stays, and the rest gets carved away. Somehow my brain resists that line of thought so I had to keep reminding myself. And I learned that if you slip and cut away something you wanted, it can't be put back. Note part of her lip along with a couple of other places where a steadier hand might have helped.

Since the acrylic ink didn't work so well, I then tried permanent stamp pad ink. That's a bit too light as well. So I've ordered some of the proper ink, and we'll see what happens. The yellow background is turmeric dyed cotton. I'll keep practicing this new skill.

Meanwhile, our instructor for the online class Sunshine Dolls, Kecia Deveney, encouraged us to try our hand at drawing faces for dolls. So I drew some circles on cotton fabric and spent an evening drawing and coloring these whimsical faces. They'll be used in some upcoming doll projects. So for right now, it's all about the faces!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Be Still My Heart...

Hearts- apparently a theme for me. I began this heart needlework piece years ago and it just sat, unfinished, in my sewing room. I'd come across it, think I needed to do something with it, and set it aside again. Well at last the heart has come into its own. I finished it in time for Valentine's Day! All those lace, silk ribbon, button trims- finally see the light of day.

I turned the heart into a stuffed hanging door accent by stitching on some silk ribbon-yarn ties. Now I can look at it an enjoy it on a daily basis.

Hearts are a tricky shape when it comes to stuffing them and keeping a smooth edge. My method to overcome the challenge is to completely stitch around the heart shape with the backing, right sides together and leaving no opening for turning. Then I slice the backing and turn the heart right side out through it. And I add the poly-fill stuffing through the slit. That allows me to push the stuffing up against the seamlines all the way around, while trying to smooth the edges as best I can. Once that's done, I hand stitch the opening closed in the back and add another heart shape to cover it. I used double-stick fusible to the second heart shape and stitched on beads to edge it. Now the back looks presentable again.

Here's another hand- and machine-stitched heart ornament made some years ago. It was shown in Piecework Magazine in response to a call for readers to submit entries.

I used the same method to cover the opening in the backing.

And the third heart is one I showed recently on the blog, but it seemed to be a good time to add it to the mix. I do love the Crazy Quilt style. More than two of anything is a "collection" I'm told. So here is my heart collection!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Arty Things...

With a good deal of excitement I'm sharing the current issue of Somerset Studio (Spring 2020 issue), on newsstands February 1. My crinkle journal is one of the featured articles! I sent it off to the editorial offices in response to a call for journal art and was invited to submit an article describing the process of making it. The cover line says, "A Crinkle in Time-A Handmade Book Filled with Transparent Beauty." There are more than a dozen other articles plus lots of photos of art work in the issue.

Are you familiar with the Stampington & Company magazines? They are beautiful quality publications with wonderful photography. I'm delighted with the images and layout of my article. The journal has a transparent look and is made using cereal box liners. Those allow you to embed threads, images, paper doilies and more in the pages. And you can sew it all up. Recycling at its best!

And in other arty news... I had the chance to visit Ocala, Florida's Appleton Museum for the opening of a wonderful exhibit on Flamenco-From Spain to the US. In addition to the exhibit, which features beautiful costumes and artifacts from Flamenco's history as performance art, we were treated to a guest speaker and curator's lecture and demonstration. Photography of the exhibit itself is not permitted so I can't share that other than to say it's worth the admission price! The exhibit is on until late May.

We learned that Flamenco has its roots in the tradition of the Romany Gypsy people of Spain. Our speaker, from Santa Fe's Museum of International Folk Art, has danced Flamenco from the age of 11 years. She outlined the elements of Flamenco and told how it developed and was shaped by cultural influences.

Fans were used to tell a story in the festive dance.

And of course castanets! There are pairs in the exhibit for museum visitors to try out. Our speaker advised that castanets are to be worn over the thumbs- there is a right and a left in each pair. And each one of the pair has a slightly different sound. Percussion is a big part of Flamenco.

Colorful embroidered shawls are also a part of the drama of the dance. They were usually imported from China.

Want to try it yourself? The museum gift shop has a colorful display of shawls, fans, books and more.

And here's a fun addition in the shop- it's the Art-o-Mat. Purchase a special coin, drop it into the vending machine, and choose a lever to pull. Out pops a small treasure created by an artisan. Support the arts and get a surprise!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hello Sunshine!

I kind of thought I wasn't a "doll person". And yet.... it seems I definitely am! Especially when it's this Sunshine Doll made in an online class with artist Kecia Deveney. Enrollment in the class included two "sunshine" faces Kecia printed on muslin fabric, along with a couple more bonuses. The class went live on January 1 this year, but we had received our printed faces ahead of that time, so we were ready to jump in. 

Kecia shows every step of the dollmaking process in videos for which she offers the link to a special class site. Each video is a manageable length so you can work along with her, though she suggests watching all of the videos first to get an overview of where you're headed in designing the doll. Layering fabrics and elements of handwork are key elements in the design process. If there's one thing I've got, it's bits and pieces of this and that lying around in the sewing room just itching to get put to work. And here are just a few incorporated into Belle, the Sunshine Girl.

One of the videos shows how to add color to the printed face and how to include it in the construction of the doll. This was great fun and provided an evening's entertainment.

I chose a denim-look cotton print for Bella's base fabric and overlaid the back with a couple of vintage quilt blocks- a piece of a Dresden Plate and the ever-popular Grandmother's Flower Garden block pieced using hexagons around a "flower center".

But wait- there are two faces in the class package! While I was working on Bella, Faith was busy inventing herself! This time I chose a rust-dyed fabric given to me by a quilting friend as the base. Then came another vintage quilt block along with lace, button, and stitched embellishments. I can see I'm going to have to shorten those arms! They are just waaaay too long. Fortunately, Kecia has provided us with more than one construction option in her instructions, so this will be an easy fix.

This is Faith's backside, and it sports the printed badge that came with the class mailing. If you have bits and pieces and a creative urge, I encourage you to look into Kecia's fun class. Get a big bag of stuffing, though- you'll need it. And just in case you don't want to stop at two of these cute dolls, Kecia offers instruction on how to make your own faces to use in more of these projects. That, of course, will be my next endeavor so stay tuned!

PS- a note from Kecia reminded me that two printed faces were part of the early bird special for enrollment. We don't want anyone disappointed. Just so you know.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Stitchies Galore...

Is your sewing room anything like mine, with containers of small bits of fabrics and trims? Well a lot of the ones that live here have now found a new home in a special handwork project. Fiber artist Liz Kettle came up with the concept called Stitch Meditations and shares more about it in a video on her website. She is right in saying that making these small stitched pieces is both relaxing and quite satisfying as you watch a small pile of them grow! I started each of mine with a 4" square of light gray flannel and then built on top of the flannel with fabric bits and hand embroidery. I keep a container of elements handy, and then rummage through to find combinations I like.

The process was also featured in a recent issue of Quilting Arts (Issue 101, October/November 2019) and includes many examples for inspiration. The editors also issued a Reader Challenge based on the 4" squares and will show selected winners in an upcoming issue.

Embellish the pieces in any way you like. Most of mine are embroidered only, but I added buttons to one and some cheesecloth, lace motif, and velvet leaf to others (seen below). Pretty much any combo of materials that strikes my fancy goes!

I noticed on Pinterest that artist Lenna Andrews of Creative Swaps was making one of these "Stitchies" each day for a year as her art practice, and posting her photos. She enjoyed making them so much, that she has organized a Stitchie Swap. We will trade three of these small Stitchies which are due on February 1. You can learn more and see the ones I sent her at the link above. It won't be long before we receive our new pieces of art. What fun! And meanwhile, I'm adding to the pile. I'll show more of these in an upcoming post.