Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Serious Study...

That means notetaking. And that means a notebook. Which of course means a notebook cover. You follow my logic, right?

Our guild's Art Quilt small group is doing a book study of "Fabric Embellishing" by Ruth Chandler, et al (shown above). For our upcoming meeting, each of us explored the sections on fabric manipulation. Some of the samples I made will go into a journal size piece and placed in a study notebook. But not all of them. The small notebook cover above was made using fabric that was wrinkled in the manner of the old-style broomstick skirts. I wet and slightly pleated the fabric first, then twisted the daylights out of it until it knotted back on itself. Then it went into a knee-high and hung to dry. That took a long time since the fabric mass was so dense. You can see a piece of it on top of the book.

We also tucked and bubbled fabrics. Two tucking samples here show even tucks, and less planned ones with both wide and narrow tucks. The bubbling below was done by poking wet fabric through a grid with a chopstick or other tool, and allowing it to dry before removing the fabric from the grid. The texture was secured by ironing fusible web to the back of the piece.

While enjoying the various techniques, I was also thinking about how they might be used in projects. Certainly in purses is one idea. Then a Christmas catalog arrived (*sigh*... yes, on October 29th.. a holiday catalog). But inside were some jewel-toned Christmas stockings made using tucked fabric with a faux-fur cuff. Lovely! So I'll be looking around for these manipulated fabrics to see how they're used.

To add yet more quilty fun to the weekend, this afternoon our local art museum presented a film called "A Century of Quilts". A PBS production, it reviewed some notable quiltmakers and their quilts. Beautiful photography and interesting interviews and background. Several of us in the audience were struck by the man who made mosaic quilts containing thousands of tiny hexagons in the early 1900s. His day job was as a dynamite handler! Steady hands were his gift. Watch it if you get the chance

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Have a Crazy Heart...

Somehow I got started making these patchwork paper hearts with pen-stitched details. And once I did, I couldn't seem to stop. My card making friend Prue gave me a template from a pretty, crazy-pieced heart she made, and things just went crazy from there.

Now call me crazy, but I've signed up for a paper and ephemera swap with an online group. Each participant will put together 10 envelopes containing 10 or more pieces of interesting paper and bits for use in mixed media projects and journals. So each person I swap with will get a patchwork heart to start with, since I've made so many!

I also found these two books in a used book store. I'll tear pages from them to include as well. One is a pattern drafting book in Japanese. There was a time when I felt guilty for cannibalizing books to use in projects. After all, I'm a retired teacher, plus I worked at one time in a library and a bookstore. It was a challenge to overcome that reverence for books that made me gasp at the thought of ripping into them. But really, who's going to want to play "Buckaroo Boogie" anyway? And if they do, they can find the music on the internet, and they'll never miss this piano book I bought for $2. Right?

I'll recieve 10 envelopes in return and each will be full of other people's stuff. You know how intriguing other people's stuff always is. This will be fun!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pieces of the Past...

Vintage quilts and blocks hold a big appeal for me. And occasionally the appeal is in the multi-generational nature of a project. Case in point: this Sunbonnet Sue quilt, brought to our recent quilt retreat by guild member Marietta. Her mother made the appliqued and embroidered blocks in the late 1930s. As a child, Marietta was allowed to embroider on some of them. However, the blocks were set aside, unassembled, for quite some time. Marietta kept them with her through a number of moves, and eventually unearthed them in the 1990s to set the blocks together in a quilt. She even found the old pattern flyer with which the blocks were made! What a treasure.

Sunbonnet Sue is engaged in different activities in the blocks... playing with her doll, tossing a ball, and carrying her school books. I love these expressive blocks, and am happy Marietta has preserved them in a piece that will now be a legacy in her family.

I like to "rescue" old quilt blocks, too. This small piece is one I made using a block that probably dates from the late 1800s or early 1900s. With the period reproduction print fabrics that became widely available in the 1990s, I was able to set the old block into a new piece. I even love old blocks that are badly made! Just look at the wavy lines in the patchwork... endearing. And I'm a bit of an expert at making my own wavy lines in patchwork, too!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Do-it-Yourself Retreat...

What fun we had recently when my friend Joanne flew to Orlando from Pennsylvania, and we met at Disney World for a 3-day retreat. I loaded the car with supplies like paper, paint, stamps, inks, fabrics, glue, stencils, scissors, punches. You name it, it was in there. I had prepared the fabric journal covers, above, and our intention was to create papers and pages to fill them.

So on the first day we did a creative warm-up exercise that included setting a timer to complete each series of tasks in making these papers. We painted, glued, sprayed our way to creating some beautiful background papers to use in journals and other projects. And since there was little to no time to think about what we were doing, the entire process became intuitive. We even composed and glued down a poem, making use of words we'd had 5 minutes to cut from brochures. While the papers dried, we took a boat ride from our Port Orleans Riverside resort to Downtown Disney, where we had a great meal at the Rainforest Cafe. My first visit, so I enjoyed the blaring elephants and the beautiful fish in the aquarium. One poor little girl near us was terrified of the elephants, and unfortunately her family's table was right next to one. She cried through each animated episode. Poor little girl!

I brought a plastic table cloth and we were very careful with our supplies. Plus we tidied up when it was time for the room to be cleaned. We didn't want to cause the housekeeping staff to faint ... but here's a peek at our "studio" at its worst.

The second day we visited Epcot theme park. Even though it was hot, we enjoyed the park immensely. We're big fans of Soarin', and got to go soarin' twice. Had a delicious dinner at Coral Reef, and just relished the day.

The third day was spent working on our journal pages. While the sewing machine was in the car, we decided to glue tack our pages and add the stitching to them at home. I haven't gotten to dress up my journal yet, or sew the pages in, but that's in the "coming attractions." Joanne devoted pages in her journal to the Disney experience, as you can see by the welcoming Mickey image, shown below. Here are a few of our pages, followed by a photo taken from the riverside gazebo on the resort grounds where we read our daily devotionals. Such a refreshing get-away. My small-town newspaper used to report on the activities of the local folks, and always ended with this summary statement... which certainly fits our retreat: "And a fine time was had by all".

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Swooning With the Oldies...

Despite all the quilts and "quilty things" I get up to, there is nothing that makes my heart skip a beat like a vintage quilt. Appreciation for old quilts is what got me started in quilting to begin with. And I had the opportunity to spend quality time with a number of old quilts, and the women who also love them, when I attended the quarterly meeting of the Florida Quilt Study Group. Calendar conflicts had kept me from attending for many months, so it was a real pleasure to rejoin the group.

Take for instance this stunning Ocean Waves quilt, brought by group member Jill. The sheer number of those tiny, tiny triangles fills me with admiration for the long-ago quiltmaker. Just look at all those prints! The amount of blue used in this quilt seemed to really set off the other colors and make them sparkle. And if this Ocean Waves whets your appetite, take a look at The Quilt Index to see more... Ocean Waves with Redwork, with dark background fabrics, in pastels, you name the variation and you'll find an example. The Quilt Index is a quilt documentation resource that provides information and images on quilts housed in museum collections as well as those held privately. Just type in the pattern of interest, and pages upon pages of references and images are yours for the browsing. Warning: you can spend a whole afternoon or more just wandering through the site! But it's so worth your time, and your many questions will get answers.

A quick and admiring glance at a beautiful antique like the vertical strippy (my absolute favorite setting) tied quilt, above, is one thing, but an up-close look truly provides a fascinating glimpse into history. The photo shows the backing folded over and lying on the quilt top. The quilt contains century-old fabrics, including mourning prints, ticking, and even the very early (late 1700s?) piece, shown at right. Well-known quilt appraiser Teddy Pruitt also attended the group, and offered lots of tid bits about these old quilts. That's right... not only is Teddy's profession old quilts, but she spends her recreational time with them, too. Good for her!

Below right is the backing full on (love those pieced backings!), and another photo of the quilt top. The block photo at center shows my nomination of a fabric to be included in a line of reproduction prints. That green with the amorphous blob is a print I'd use again and again. Well, I could go on and on, but you probably want to go spend some time at The Quilt Index and at Teddy's website. So much to see, so little time.