Posts tagged inspiration

Making Tattoo

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Woohoo! My first piece in Dinner@8! I know there are a lot of you that can’t comprehend what a big deal this is, but it’s kind of like winning the lottery. It’s a juried invitational show, so I had to apply to be a part of the Dinner@8 group in order to be invited to make a piece for the current year’s show. After I was accepted, I made a piece according to the theme, which this year was Personal Iconography: Graffiti on Cloth.

I haven’t shown the piece in process on the website because that’s a no-no in this show. Virgin rules, except you can post after acceptances go out.

I’ll admit that I was stumped by this year’s theme. My goal, just as I did the Yvonne Porcella piece (Yvonne in the Garden), was to make a piece that was wholly in my style while still working within the framework of the theme, but I knew that doing that with this theme was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to make a portrait of a person, and I spent some time thinking about how tattoos are so personal and would work well within the theme. My daughter has several tattoos, and she spends a lot of time considering the symbology of each piece and finding the right artist before she gets them. I wanted to honor that, but I also knew that finding a female model would be hard. I envisioned a back shot with the main tattoo on the arm. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to me to be a deeply personal pose, enough that I didn’t know anyone personally that I felt I could ask. And really, who’s always available? (Me.) Thank goodness I have a remote control for my camera. I set it up in my studio, and by the end of one afternoon, I had a series of shots I could work with to create what I had in my mind.

I started with the shoulders and back first since the hair would drop over the back. I usually start with the face, but in this instance, the shoulders made more sense. This is the first couple of values.

This is the 3rd value. I ran out of the fabric — or rather ran short on it. I knew I needed enough to cut out for the face and decided that I needed to supplement with a fabric that was close. I could use it on the extended arm and the change would be less visible. (This prompted a late night run to JoAnn’s as it was the only thing open at the time, & I was in the creative head space to keep moving forward.)

This is also the point at which I realized I needed to complete the hand along with the arm — and make sure I had enough fabric to do it as well.

And then I added the deeper values, a dark tan and a couple of dark blues — and then the black garment.

And then I started on the face using the same fabric. These are the first two, and you can just see the basic outline.

This is the 3rd value, the one that I ran out of. I’ve had this fabric for a long time, and I’ll have to try to replace it. (Never let anyone tell you that calicos don’t have value. They’re wonderful for faces.)

This is the 4th value. It inadvertently looks a little like horns, but really, that’s just my high forehead that will go under the hair.

The 5th value. You can tell I was working at night in this one.

And then the rest of the darkest values. I leave the main parts of the eyes and the mouth for the end, so at this point, she looks a little bit like a zombie. I did play around with the darks around the eyes a little bit. I naturally have very dark circles around my eyes, but it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing in the piece, so I backed off on the value a little. (This is part of what I call creative license. Do what’s best for the piece and don’t feel tied to exact duplication of the photograph.)

These are the eyes. Not quite right. I almost always freehand cut these nowadays.

And in this one, a darker blue around the rims of the irises and larger pupils. Then I made the teeth (or the suggestion of teeth) and the mouth.

I did go back later and make the eyebrow on the right darker.

I spent quite some time trying to figure out how I would do the tattoos. I wanted them to look like dotwork tattoos, and so screen printing seemed the way to go. I had, years ago, done some screen printing. What could go wrong? I drew the tattoos in my sketchbook, scanned them, skewed them in Photoshop so they would look as if they were on an arm and tilted across the back, and sent them to Fiber on a Whim to be burned to screens. After fusing my figure to a background and appliquéing it in place, I then screened them right on my piece. What was I thinking? The moon is clean but way too light, and the crow is a mess. I even have a paint blotch above the crow’s head.

With the moon, I just grabbed a fabric marker and filled in all of the light spots to clean it up.

The crow was much harder. I think it sat on my ironing board for at least a week while I thought it over. No use crying over split milk. I had leftover fabric, so I made a bunch of screens of the crow until I got a decent screen. I now have mad appreciation for anyone that screen prints, especially to fabric. It’s much harder than it looks to get a clean screen print.

On the finished piece, I cut out the crow and the blotch. I had to pick out appliqué stitches in two places. Those will be covered by the new crow.

Then I took the new crow, cut around the crow shape, and then fused it onto the arm. I also made a patch to fuse onto the area of the blotch that I had to cut out. Then I ran an appliqué stitch around the crow and the patch. I worried that it would be too obvious around the bottom area where the fabric value is darker, but it’s hardly noticeable on the final piece. There’s only about a quarter inch of light fabric around the crow, and it blends with the fabric it’s next to. In the end, it was a good solution to a difficult problem.

As I was making the piece, I thought it would be cool to add graffiti to the background. That’s why I went with a solid blue background. I even studied graffiti shapes and practiced lettering. I made the graffiti, but then I decided it was too much of an in-your-face interpretation of the theme — so I took them off. That was much worse. So I spent time thinking about the background — and about how I approach my work. In the end, I decided that I didn’t want to be safe, and leaving off the graffiti was safe. Keeping them on there gave the piece a vibrancy it didn’t have without them. So I played with their placement and added black outlines to them and some sparkly points.

You can see the final piece on the Tattoo page here.

Tattoo will premiere in the Dinner@8 exhibit at International Quilt Market & Festival in Houston this coming October/November.

What’s in a Name

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I have finally completed the horses. I spent almost 137 hours on them. The bulk of that time was cutting and fusing, which was over 63 hours, and then I spend almost 30 hours quilting it.

As noted before, I used my home machine, a Janome 7700. I just set up extra tables all the way around to hold the weight of it as I quilted it. I also practiced drawing my background design from all angles so I wouldn’t have to move the quilt around as much.

This is detail of the first horse on the left — shows some of the intricate background quilting.

This is detail of the second horse on the right.

And now I’m faced with naming this piece. When I hear the song Renegades by X Ambassadors, that feels about right. To me, the horses are renegades in the sense that they’re rebellious and unconventional. However, if you look up the definition of renegade, it’s a traitor or deserter — which isn’t right at all.

They are military horses used in cavalry, and Calvary might make a good name — or War Horses.

If you have an opinion on a name, please leave a comment. I would love to have some input.

 

The Creative Spirit

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I’ve been hard at work in my studio since my last post, pouring the creative spirit out of me and into my work. And I’ve surprised myself.

If you remember, I had finished the first horse, so I began cutting out the second horse, its companion. This shows the light values of the face.

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And then the darker brown values.

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And finally the darkest brown values.

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Here is the horse head without all of the leather straps, bridle, and silver.

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Then I added all of the leather parts around the face.

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And finally the leather collar.

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Once I added the silver, I put it up on the design wall for a quick picture.

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At this point, I put it up next to the other horse to see how it would look. Wow. I loved it on the black, but I always do.

I considered for a while making a pieced background, but I finally decided that the horses themselves are so intricate, a pieced background would only create a distraction. I found a great smudged black that works well.

This is both of the horses appliquéd onto the background. The grays in the background black look lighter than they actually are — my camera phone is limited in its range and chose to highlight all of the silver. The final photographs after quilting will be difficult, but this piece may warrant my first trip to a professional photographer.

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For those interested in the process, I abandoned my usual appliqué technique, which is a tight zigzag around all of the rough edges. Even a free-motion straight stitch around the edges as an appliqué technique was difficult as the pieces tried to pull off as I worked on it. The horses were large and complex, and Wonder Under can only hold so well. The silver, especially, didn’t want to adhere. It was always the first appliquéd for each of the horses.

And the end result is more artistic. I’m letting go of the restrictions of the quilt world and embracing the art side. The free motion stitch is much more like drawing on the piece. I still haven’t decided if I’ll add some tulle for added protection to the raw edges.

They each have their own personalities, and I’m surprised at what has crawled out of my brain.

And now I begin thinking about the quilting process. I have a hard time just pinning this on the wall by myself because it’s so large. I tried to take a local long-arm class at the beginning of the month but it was full. The next one is not until the first of December, and I don’t know that I want to wait, but I’m also uncertain about tackling this bear of a piece on my local machine. I do happen to have a Hinterberg frame that I bought years ago — it sits in pieces in the corner. I abandoned it when I realized that my Viking didn’t have enough harp space for me to use it on the frame. But I did get another 4.5 inches, I believe, in harp space when I upgraded to the Janome. It might be worth trying it.

For the Love

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So after finishing Minerva and going through my Quilt National rejection, I needed a new direction in my work. So I was flipping through photographs that I’ve taken, and I found one of two horses in full military gear that I took during the Gold Rush Parade in Dahlonega last year. I knew instantly that it was going to be my next piece.

It’s the first piece in a while that I haven’t made for a show theme, and I gave zero consideration to marketing it. I am making this simply because I want to, which appears to be feeding my creative muse in a positive way.

And almost unconsciously, I have made this piece huge — which is funny, because two years ago, I would have made something that would fit the size of my table. I suppose I felt the need to make these life size. So the general size of the pattern that I’ve made is 48″ long by 69″ or so wide. And let me just say that making a piece in this scale is daunting. I have broken it up into sections to make it easier — I’m making each horse separately — and for each horse, I make the face, and then the rest of the head, and then the back, and then the neck, and then all the leather, and then all the silver hardware. It still causes unique difficulties. I’m not sure that I can appliqué it in the same way that I usually do — certainly not all at once — maybe not even one horse at a time. And there are so many pieces in even just the first horse, I’m considering doing what I did with the auction piece I did for IQA, Loyal, and using a straight stitch around the shapes instead of my usual zigzag — maybe even incorporating it into the quilting in the same way I did Loyal. I’m even considering covering the piece with tulle like Susan Carlson does, to provide another layer of protection for the raw edges.

But all of that discussion in my head is not while I’m in my studio. In my studio, I am in the zone.

For this piece, the first 2 values are very light — in fact, I probably could have dispensed with the lightest and just used the batik here. It’s hard to discern where the first value even is.

Horse Value 1 and 2

And this shows the 3rd and 4th values. The 3rd value is a batik I’ve always struggled with, but I think it works well here.

Horse Value 3 and 4

For the 5th & 6th values, I purposefully went into navy blues. Painters sometimes use blues for shadows, and I love the richness it gives the piece.

Horse Value 5 and 6

And then I had to construct an eye. In the photograph, there’s a piece of leather to the right of the eye that mostly obscures it. However, it’s important for the piece to have a successful eye. It’s a large part of what draws in the viewer’s eye. So I found a pencil and drew out what I thought would work.

Horse Eye

And then I stepped back and really looked at it. I wanted to make sure that the fabrics were working before I continued — and they’re just not. There is a definite value change between two and three, but the step is too great. The horse looks more like a palomino with spots. So I went back to my fabrics and pulled out a honey yellow. Much better, and I can see the first value now.

Horse Value 2 change

I recut all the pieces and carefully peeled away the fabric that wasn’t working and re-fused it back together. And then I started on the neck. All the spaces are for leather bridle, harness, et cetera.

Horse Neck

And then I went to work and stopped taking pictures. But as you can see, I worked one section at a time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I had fused down all of the horse pieces before doing any of the leather or silver. Here is the horse completed with the leather.

Horse with Bridle

And then here it is with the silver. The only thing I really questioned was the chain running from the top down to the mouth. There really wasn’t an easy way to do it. I may go look for some silver braided trim to use instead.

At this point, she’s finally off the flat table and pinned up on my design. She’ll be the far left horse — that’s why so much of her body is in deep shadow. The forward horse on the right will have a lot more of the brown detail.

 

Horse with Silver

I have a few drafting things to finish before I start cutting out the front horse. I also think that I’ll change the horse fabrics a little. I don’t think I’d have enough fabric to make the other one completely anyway. It’s amazing that I was able to get this far without making a trip to the fabric store — well, except for the silver.

And yes, this is silver spandex, just like the gold spandex that I used in The Last Supper. This time I was smarter and fused a non-woven interfacing to it before cutting it out to help control stretch, and then I added the fusible. Last time, I only used the fusible and it was harder to control.

Loyal

2016 IQA Auction

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This year, I was again asked to create a piece for IQA’s Celebrity Mini Quilt Silent Auction. It’s an honor to be invited, and I try to support IQA as much as I can. They have helped sell my work, and they have bought my work for their private collection. That’s a lot. So once a year, I stop what I’m doing and create something for them for their auction.

This year, I wanted to make a piece that was more like the rest of my work The last two years, the pieces have been tiny. So I wanted something that was a little bigger but still small that would give more of a sense of my personal style. I finally decided that the broadest appeal to the general public would be a dog or cat, and given that I don’t have a cat and people don’t typically take their cats out in public in the same way that dog owners do, I chose a pic from my catalogue of dog pics.

I found this pic of a black dog that I’m sure I took during a lacrosse game. I have no idea who he belonged to, but he was cute so I took his picture. I think he’s a schnauzer. I zoomed in on his face and loved his quirky expression.

In keeping with my new penchant to use unexpected fabrics (but then also working only from my current stash), I decided that the best way to do a black dog would be to use blue fabrics. Gray doesn’t have the same character as the blue grays. So, like with Minerva, I wanted to create a black dog using blue fabrics — but the end result should look like a black dog, not a blue one.

This shows the 1st two values on my pressing sheet.

This is my 3rd value. You’ll see in a minute, there was a hole for the space at the bottom of the ear that I forgot to cut out of this layer.

When I realized it, I traced the shape onto freezer paper and ironed it to the front.

You can see the freezer paper template in this one — which also shows the 4th value. There’s a lot more character in him now.

And then the 5th value was the actual pure black. He has a lot more dimension now — but he needs a proper mouth and eye.

There’s a little bit of tongue tucked in there and then a row of teeth and two fangs on either side of his gum line.

And then his eyeball. As I have often done lately, I constructed it as it was in the drawing made from the values in the pic — but then ripped it off and redrew it as it needed to be in order to look as it needed to look. There are some things you can finesse if they’re not quite right — the eye isn’t one of them.

And then I ripped the appliqué off the pressing sheet and cut out the freezer template to give me the space I needed on the underside of the ear. You can see the ear more clearly now, especially ironed on to the background fabric. This yellow was a nice contrast.

At this point, it isn’t appliquéd. I decided to appliqué stitch and quilt at the same time, so I sandwiched this rough top up and straight free-motion stitched around all of the shapes.

After the appliqué was done, it still needed more quilting to be evenly quilted — and of course the background had to be quilted.

The only thing I might do differently in the future, in terms of construction of a small piece, would be to pillowcase it so I wouldn’t have to add a facing to finish the edges. That took a while. But I opted against doing it because I thought this piece was a little big for that and I didn’t want any issues with it not laying flat or creating a tuck on the back. I wanted it to be perfect.

I snapped a few shots before sending him off in the mail — he’s due Thursday — so I cut it close but he’ll make in under the wire.

Let’s hope he goes to a good home. He’ll debut at the Silent Auction in Houston in November.

LoyalIf you want to see the finished piece, he’s here.

 

Minerva

The Rules Have Changed

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Many years ago, I entered Quilt National, and like many others, my piece was rejected. Since then, I haven’t entered again due to their virgin rules which said that the piece couldn’t have been displayed anywhere at all ever in any part online or on physical view in a public venue. I have always enjoyed showing my in progress work on my blog which disqualified anything I might want to enter.

But this year, in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be at Quilt National have changed their rules. They now allow social media marketing of your piece. They only require that the piece not have exhibited publicly in the US or been published.

And I have a piece that I’ve been working on most of the summer that I just finished, so I held my breath and entered it. We’ll see. Quilt National takes 3%, I believe, of their entries. In the past, they’ve been almost completely an abstract show, but in the last exhibit in ’15, there were a few illustrative pieces, so I’ve decided to try. You never know if you don’t try.

This has been a strange piece for me. I can do realism in fabric. That isn’t a stretch for me. But I’m to the point that I need more. I need my work to speak more. And so I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone. I drafted a picture of one of my dogs, but I couldn’t get excited about making her in realistic colors, so I chose wild ones. My base was purple. I even went down into pink for the latest shade.

It was my original intent to use Kaffe Fassett prints — but I still haven’t figured out how to makes those work. There are some fabulous artists that do, like Danny Amazons and Sophie Standing. I think my issue is one of scale. They work very large, and making the large Kaffe Fassett prints work in a very large piece is much easier than in a medium piece.

So as I went, I changed several fabrics.

This is how I began, a pink batik.

Minerva in process 1

This shows the next two values, a batik that varies from a muddy pink to a blue purple and a print with red, purple, and yellow. This last one was my wild card. To me, it gives the impression of the spiky fur.

Minerva in process 2

The fourth value is a deeper purple.

Minerva in process 3

And the fifth value is the deepest purple.

Minerva in process 4

And this is what she looks like after I went back and added the eyes. And I’m struck because I’ve used pink and purple, and yet she still comes across and orange and brown.

Minerva in process 5

I made a black pieced background for her. At this point, I realized that she needed the deeper black in the pupil — the purple alone wasn’t giving quite enough depth.

Minerva in process 6

And then I played with the background to make the piece come alive. My first thought was to add many narrow yellow strips on the black, but that became distracting. Someone suggested using some red too, and I played with placement until I came up with something that adds energy to the piece but doesn’t distract from the main subject.

Minerva in process 7

It is about 36″ square which is what I would call a medium piece — but it’s large for the head of a dog. Its greatest impact is seen when you step back from the piece.

MinervaIf you want to see it as completed, click on the thumbnail pic to the left or here.

My intention was for her to be somewhat abstracted, and in some way, my experiment yielded something strangely more realistic. I think using the deep purples pulls on the Impressionistic background I learned from my mother’s work. I may continue to explore that in my next piece.

Closure and Grace

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Yvonne in the GardenI have completed Yvonne in the Garden. She was surprisingly easy to do. I’ve reached a point where portraits are not difficult constructions for me. Giving the piece deeper meaning is more difficult, however, than the technical skill required to create a portrait. For Yvonne, after her portrait was completed, I was tasked with putting her in a space that was hers. To anyone familiar with her work, I have hopefully succeeded by drawing on the inspiration of her work. For Yvonne, red was a neutral so it was an obvious choice. She loved hot colors. When I didn’t have enough of the right red, I just supplemented with purple — which I think was actually pretty close to what Yvonne would do. I then freehand drew out her name and flowers and a few stars to give the feeling of her inhabiting one of her own pieces. Since her passing, I think she would be happy existing in a realm of her own imagination.

I currently have two pieces hanging at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs, GA through June 17th — both The Canary and The Last Supper. The reception was more fun than I’ve had in ages. I believe I was the only fiber artist in the show, but I had a very warm reception from the other artists and a lot of interest in my subjects. I’m finding that putting clues in my work is definitely a successful way of drawing interest in a piece. The gallery was packed that night, and I was surprised there weren’t more people that approached me regarding my self-portrait, but later in the evening, as the crowd thinned, I had more people recognize me from my work.

And now here we are at summer. I think I counted 10 or 12 pieces that I’ve done in the last year which is double what I usually do. At this point, I’m entering shows — 3 on Sunday and a couple more to come in the next month. I think I’m going to take a breath now and consider my next piece. DD2 came home last night with a very large raven painting that she did in school, and it calls to me. I’ve always loved the grace of ravens.

Channeling My Inner Yvonne

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Pokey Bolton put out a call a few months ago for an exhibit honoring Yvonne Porcella. I was never personally acquainted with her, but she was the founder and first president of Studio Art Quilt Associates, an organization that has made great strides in advancing the art of the quilt in our culture, from which I have personally benefitted. So I have decided to pay homage to her exquisite life and learn more about her in the process.

She was part of a group of ladies for whom red was a neutral. Such brass. I struggle with hot colors, but I knew that this would be a fun challenge. I also hoped to merge my style with hers, and in the process, learn to further loosen up my creativity. My process of portraiture is largely controlled, but there is something to be said for freeing your mind to accept creative karma into your work. As you’ll see, it helped me immensely in the final design.

I chose a selfie of her from her Facebook photo album. I later realized that it was also the pic being used as the cover for the show, although that was not my original intent in choosing it. No matter. I was only using it for inspiration. My final piece would be markedly different.

I started with the lightest shades. The final piece will be relatively small — 18″ x 26″, so I could fit her face on my small pressing sheet (which at this point is torn and marked but it still works).

Yvonne IP1

This is the 3rd value — you can begin to see the outline of her face take shape.

Yvonne IP2

The 4th value give you shadows.

Yvonne IP3

The 5th gives more.

Yvonne IP4

The 6th value. The lines under her eyes are the shadows of her glasses on her face.

Yvonne IP5

And yes, I’m pushing the envelope with a 7th value.

Yvonne IP6

Her eyes in the picture were of no help. The shadow from her glasses was too great, so I had to redraw them as I thought they would be.

Yvonne IP7

And here are her signature black and white checked glasses.

Yvonne IP8

Then I added the teeth and the mouth.

Yvonne IP9

And then she sat for a while, and I decided that her eyes weren’t commanding enough, so I changed the irises of her eyes to a deeper blue.

Yvonne IP10

Yesterday, I finally had to time to work on her for a while. My original idea was not to have a hat or clothing — just have her face among blooms, but when the time came to cut into fabric, I wasn’t seeing it that way anymore. I changed my mind about the hat and the scarf and shirt, and I decided to have a green background with red, purple, pink, and orange squares covering it in a grid fashion.

Yvonne IP11

And by the way, I didn’t photograph my first attempt at her hat. It was awful. When something is yellow, it is hardly every TRULY yellow. I threw it in my scrap bin and remade it in more orange and brown tones.

Yvonne IP12

But you see, this is wrong also. It is not the spirit of her at all. So after I woke up this morning, I ripped her off that green. Red is her neutral, so I knew I needed to start with red.

I had the perfect piece, but it wasn’t large enough — which was actually perfect because it forced me to use purple — which is more like what she would have done. I also changed her shirt to a pattern that had warmer colors.

I studied several of her pieces, and decided that free-hand block letters of her name would be perfect in a bright red. Then I added the stars that she often used, and then finished with a few flowers.

I’m going to let it sit for the rest of the day before I decide if I want to add more. The print on the scarf is the right mix and black and white — but the square of the dominoes are making the scarf seem less flowing than a scarf should be. I may have to run to the fabric store for a replacement.

Yvonne IP13

The Last Supper

From Sting to Sing

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Back in late July (I had to look this up — I can’t believe how long I’ve been working in this piece), I had an idea for a new piece. I had finished up most of the work for the Wash & Wax exhibit and wanted to get back to realism. A SAQA call for entry created a spark of imagination, and I was off and running on a large ambitious piece.

The central figure in this piece is a vulture. This is the vulture with the first value.

vulture1

The second value.

vulture2

The third value.

vulture3

The fourth value. The bird really starts to come alive here.

vulture4

The fifth value.

vulture5

And the sixth value — all those really dark nooks and crannies.

vulture6

But there’s a lot more to this piece than just the vulture. There’s also a stained glass window. I knew that if I had the right fabric, I could fussy cut sections to give me the stained glass effect. I scoured the local quilt shops, but they just didn’t have what I needed. I ended up finding some Paula Nadelstern prints online, however, that were perfect.

This is the beginning. The drawing is under the pressing sheet so you can see where I’m going with this.

glass1

I originally picked a print in teal, but at the last minute, I also bought it in another color way and ended up using them both. I used the teal for the swirls and the purple/green/red for the main windows.

glass2

I had a very small piece of fabric in my stash that was perfect for the outer border. I had less than a fat quarter, but I had just enough.

glass3

And then I added this black stained glass print for the leading (also a Paula Nadelstern print.)

glass4

I pinned it to my black design wall with the vulture to see how if they were working together.

glass & vulture

And then I kept going. I had a picture I had taken years ago of the brass lectionary podium in a church. I considered drafting out values and using flat cotton fabrics, but really, there’s a lot more choices in that fabric store beyond cottons. I found this metallic gold spandex nylon that has a black shadow to it. It’s stretchy, but what the heck. I figured the Wonder Under would help stabilize it.

I was still able to cut out some fairly complex shapes without it falling apart. This is a part of a screen section.

brass1

And this is part of the larger structure. I didn’t take many pictures of the lectionary as I worked on it. Suffice it to say that I had luckily cut out all of the complex parts before I broke my wrist — my right wrist.

brass2

That was on Labor Day. I was in the middle of curating a show at The Art Place and preparing for the opening of Wash & Wax. Thankfully, the only work I had left for the opening was to hand sew the binding of a 9 foot long piece. With a cast on my right arm, I would insert the needle with the right hand, and then pull it through & out with the left.

This shows the lectionary completed with a wooden railing at the top, the stained glass window, and other elements.

background without vulture

And here is the vulture in his place. I did, by the way, appliqué each piece on to the background as I went. I couldn’t risk the spandex stretching out of control on me, and it didn’t stick as well as I would have liked with the Wonder Under — but working one piece at a time, I worked through it like a large puzzle.

background with vulture

This pic is blurry (the sheen off that metallic fabric was confusing the camera in my iPhone), but it shows the addition of the Arabic symbol for Nazarene spray painted on the back wall.

background with Nazarene

And then of course I had to add the spilled wine and broken bread at the bottom — symbolizing the broken blood and body of Christ — which also symbolizes the broken body and blood of Christians being murdered in the Middle East.

background with wine & bread

And even though I was in a lot of pain, I just kept going. Entries were due October 31, and I had spent too much time on this piece to miss the deadline.

I really worried about quilting this large piece. I still had my cast on, and I knew it would be heavy. I debated renting time on a long arm at the local quilt shop, but I finally realized that that was a new skill for me, and I really didn’t want this to be a practice piece for quilting.

So I moved all of my tables in my studio. In front of my machine, I have a board (which sits on my ironing board), and I put one table on the other side of that. Then I crammed another one just to the left of my chair. (I briefly envisioned creating a sewing table built like a doughnut.)

In the end, it worked. It supported the quilt perfectly, and I was able to quilt this in a week.

In this pic, you can see how the quilting outlines the vulture’s neck and defines his feathers better.

quilted vulture

At about this time, I got my cast off, only to learn that I had lost 50% range of motion in my wrist. But I just kept going. I managed to add the facing and the sleeve to the back. And then I photographed it myself. I bought some more lights since the piece is so large (once again wishing I had a Speedlite flash), but after spending a couple of days on it (and wishing I had someone I could just take it to), I finally got some good, sharp pics for entry.

I entered it a week before the deadline. I was so proud of myself. I loved how the piece turned out, and I felt confident that it would be a great contender for inclusion in the show. You can see the full piece on its page The Last Supper.

The Last Supper

I was wrong. My rejection email came this morning. However, I’m still very proud of this piece, and I was pushed to develop a complex story for my subject. I wouldn’t change a thing.

So I take the sting of rejection, and I move on. I will enter it somewhere else, and it will have a life. It didn’t fit in that show, but it will fit somewhere else. I just have to figure out where next is.

The Best of Intentions

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One of the last pieces that Leisa and I planned for our collaboration was a piece that we planned to cut into 12 smaller pieces that we would then frame and sell individually. I planned it to be a size that would split easily into 12 pieces and would fit in the size frame we chose with some extra to pull around to the back.

The best of intentions. So in my notes, I’ve been referring to this piece as Abstract-Mini’s.

I started with the red. I shared this on my Facebook to give a taste of what the new piece would be like.

abstract7_1

And here is all the red laid out. I put on the grays only if they fell within the color areas I was working on.

abstract7_2

Then I added yellow. Should have really done it first. Tucked it under the red.

abstract7_3

And here are the blues — with a little bit of orange up in the right-hand corner.

abstract7_4

Then I had to go back to the store because I didn’t have nearly enough gray. I had promised Leisa the appliqué of this last week, and so I was really pressed for time. When I came home to wash it (because I always wash my fabric before I use it), I realized my washing machine had died. It was full of soaking wet towels. The engine still worked, but a belt had broken so the tub couldn’t spin out all the water.

So I triaged all the towels across my deck. Unlike in other countries, hanging laundry in the yard is largely frowned upon here. It is certainly against my HOA rules, but I didn’t have a lot of choices.

And for my new fabrics, I set them to boil in my extra large ceramic pot on the stove. Boiling is actually better for getting out excess dye, and while I had it going, I rewashed all my new reds, too. (One of them had crocked onto some of the gray fabric all ready.)

By early Sunday, it was all cut out. I pinned it on my design wall and took a pic.

abstract7_5

It’s much calmer than the other pieces. There isn’t as much darkness, and the grays give a lighter feeling of the soapiness in the car wash. I liked it, but I started to see that it wasn’t going to cut up well at all.

I did tell Leisa about my concern and told her that I’d leave her with the final decision. We set a meeting for today.

This morning, I had some time and decided that the dots in the pattern of the gray fabrics didn’t add enough texture, so I started randomly cutting out bubbles and adding them. I think it looks better. (The color is also better overall since it’s daylight in my studio at the time I took the pic versus nighttime in the pic above.)

abstract7_6

We met at Starbuck’s, and she agreed — this wouldn’t cut up well into 12 pieces. Each of the 12 pieces needs to have a lot of detail. The scale of this is wrong for that. This will, however, still be a wonderful piece in its entirety. I have changed its temporary name to abstract #7.

And now Leisa has it to work her embroidery magic on. I also gave her #5. It’s done except for a sleeve on the back. She wants to spend a couple of weeks hand-stitching on that one.

The planned abstract #7 will now become #8. It will be digitally printed onto fabric, and I will share more on that piece at a later time. We both agreed that we love that inspirational piece too much to not include it in the show.

I still have to do 12 mini’s, though. I am planning to cut them more organically using the fabrics that I used in #7.

So I’m behind — and yet ahead.

My new washing machine comes tomorrow. When I picked it out, I told the salesman, it has to be a top loader, it has to accept high sudsing detergent (which any quilter that uses synthrapol knows — and which means no High Efficiency), and the basket has to be big because I do a lot of laundry. There were two choices. I went with the Whirlpool. I suspect that the next time I have to buy a washing machine, I won’t have a choice but to buy an HE. Let’s hope they’ve worked out the problems with them by then.

I’m also working on an article about the collaboration for the SAQA Journal. Leisa and I talked about the draft today, and this afternoon, I spent a couple of hours rephotographing three of the pieces in my studio on a white background. It took me a couple of hours to get the pics where I felt like they would be good enough. I understand why people pay a professional photographer. One shot can take a really long time.

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