Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Current WIP - Part 2

Hibiscus - Week 2

Patience is a virtue that eludes me with more frequency than I would like to admit. None of my work comes together quickly. I do make time to be in my studio, but it never seems to be sufficient to create all that I want to create. I work on simplifying my technique. Then I am inspired to add layers of simplicity until once again I am faced with anything but a simple quilt. That simple little hibiscus quilt continues to blossom, but at the same speed that a watched blossom unfurls.

Thread Painted Hibiscus

Detail of Thread Painting

This week I finished the machine appliqué portion and started the thread painting.

I have experimented with multiple forms of appliqué over the years. I started with needle turn appliqué. (Talk about labor intensive!) I moved from there to fusible appliqué that had a satin stitched edge. This required a far more extensive thread collection than I was willing to invest in, since the thread needed to "match" the fabric it was surrounding. I experimented with just quilting over the appliqué pieces, but this often resulted in raggedy edges. That was great if the appliqué involved a cat with fur, but a disaster for a smooth edged feature like the wall the cat was walking on. Yesterday I discovered that my Bernina 1260 had a blanket stitch that was perfect. So, that is the option I went with for this quilt.

Hibiscus - The Flip Side

Backside of Thread Painted Hibiscus

I've taken Leah Day's advice and started to match my bobbin thread to my top thread. It takes more time, since every thread change is a double change, but I love the effect it has on the back of my quilt.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Current WIP

Last week I focused on flowers and how they have a way of appearing in my work. So it should come as no surprise that my current WIP (Work In Progress) is based on my new hibiscus plant.

I could have recreated the picture or a detail from the picture, but I prefer to give a sense of the image - an artist's impression. I am naturally drawn to value changes, light and shadow as well as positive and negative space. My first step was to select green fabrics from my collection to use as a background and for the leaves. Next I hunted through my hand dyes to find a coral/pink fabric with sufficient contrast to show up against the greens. 

I used my photo to trace the shape of the hibiscus flower, but opted to draw my leaves free hand. Although I've been making art quilts for over a decade, I still love the process and appearance of pieced blocks. So, that is what I did for the background. What gives them the artistic flair and makes it hard to distinguish the blocks is how I randomly piece the fabric, busting through the concept of using dark fabrics consistently in one section of the block and light in others.

The next step is to add thread. I will quilt the background and enhance the hibiscus and leaves with thread painting. The final step will be to add french knots at the end of my thread painted stamens. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

12.5" x 15"

4" x 6"
One of the stories my mother loved to share about me is that when I was a very young child, perhaps three or four years old, I was asked when my birthday was. I told the inquirer that it was “when the flowers come out in the spring.” My birthday was this past week and it remains entwined with flowers and Mother’s Day. Every seven years or so my birthday and Mother’s Day are one and the same.

Whether I am tending to our gardens, enjoying a nature walk, letting someone know I care or designing a quilt, flowers are often the focus. I find myself returning to flowers again and again in my work. I even did a series of petite quilts, each 4” x 6”, titled Branching Out and many of those pieces were of flowering branches.

My New Hibiscus Plant!
This weekend I did what I love to do on my combination birthday and Mother’s Day weekend, I went to the local nursery and selected flowers to fill in the gaps of my perennial gardens and plant in containers located our deck and atrium, I even treated myself to a stunning tropical hibiscus resplendent with blooms and buds. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quilting Along with Leah - Week 16 - Zippling

The latest Leah Day assignment is zippling. It is done in a similar fashion to stippling, but without any curved lines, just straight lines and angles. I tried and tried to work out the design first with pencil and paper, but it eluded me. So, I opted to skip mastering drawing out zippling and to go directly to the sewing machine. In order to ease my panic I opted to have fun with fabric and thread.

Close-up of Zippling Showing Off the Aurofil Variegated Thread

I purposefully selected black fabric and a lovely glossy Aurofil variegated thread in jewel tones. Much to my elated surprise I had no problem zippling when I attempted it at the machine. If sharp angles and straight lines make sense for a quilt, zippling will be my choice.

I did zipple in rows. I found it more difficult to hide my rows with zippling than with stippling. I can detect channels between several of the rows.

Full View of Zippling Showing Gaps in Rows