Thursday, March 22, 2018

Breaking the Rules

Today I resumed working on an art quilt that will definitely horrify traditional quilters.  Here is a detail of it:

This is a ragged old printed tablecloth that I covered with crayon rubbings of gravestone cravings, two shocking "violations" right there.  What self-respecting quilter would use a torn and stained tablecloth in a quilt, not to mention scribbling all over it with crayons?  I'm not stopping there with the upheaval of quilting rules, I am putting the tablecloth - a light value piece of fabric, over a black background!  So much for "work light to dark," this one is dark to light.

Now, my intent with this quilt is really not to shock the traditional quilters, or anyone.  I started this more as a challenge to myself to make something out of the worn-out tablecloth that I got stuck with from an auction box lot.  This is even more of a challenge for me as this quilt is the largest piece I have attempted.  It will finish at about 50 X 58, certainly not close to bed quilt size, but new territory for me.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ideas and Inspiration

What was I thinking in my last post, promising to write about getting ideas?  For me, ideas for art pieces come from anywhere and everywhere.  If I lived to be 100 and sewed constantly until then, I still would not get out all the ideas that I have in my head.  For those of you looking for inspiration, it is a matter of training yourself to see and not just look.  Don’t overlook simple things, if you pass over many possible ideas, it is time to ask yourself whether or not you really want to make something.  Forget about the myth of waiting for inspiration, ideas are all around you. 

I might be captivated by a vintage textile.  My collages usually start with two or three vintage pieces that I like, and I build a composition around them.

A color combination could get me started:

I am surrounded by beautiful Appalachian meadows, forests and farmland, some of my art reflects the scenery I see every day.

Oddly, abandoned buildings hold great fascination for me.  My fabric boxes are my way of capturing the passage of time.  Those same boxes came about first from a quote in a John Steinbeck novel. 

Most importantly, just make things!  Make time to be creative at least several times a week.  Turn off the TV for an hour, and create.  Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, it will happen, but that is how we all learn.  I am always reciting my mantra that a new skill or technique will not be perfect the first time that you try it.  Keep going!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Getting Started with Art Quilts

A day late...

I'm often asked how to get started in art quilting.  There are many resources out there now for art quilting, not just books, but blogs (like this one!), workshops, retreats, online classes and more.  To me, the most important thing in an art quilt is that the finished piece is your own original design.  No patterns or kits, just your personal vision.  Too many people let themselves get intimidated by being original and creative.  Creating artwork in any media is no different than learning a language, playing a musical instrument, or any other skill.  Way back in our youth, we started to learn to read and write by first learning letters and their sounds.  The letters were put together in words, then sentences.  We learned grammar and punctuation, building to paragraphs.  Best-selling novels are not written by kindergartners!  Did you learn to sew in one hour? 

Two early projects that I made from The Art Quilt Workbook
Image and designs copyright RPS
Art has its own elements that need to be mastered a little at a time: color, design and composition.  Creativity can be learned or more appropriately, re-learned.  Too often , creativity is discouraged as we proceed in our education.  Yes, rules should be followed, but we also need to recognized when the rules must stick , and when we can stray from them. 

One of the exercises that I made from The Fiber Artist's Guide to Color and Design
Image and design copyright RPS

I have encountered three excellent books for anyone interested in art quilting and being more creative.  The first is Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston (C&T Publishing, 2007).  Another one is The Fiber Artist's Guide to Color and Design: The Basics and Beyond by Heather Thomas (Landauer Publishing, 2011).  One more is Art + Quilt by Lyric Kinard (Interweave Press, 2009).  All three do a great job of explaining the vocabulary of art design elements, and have a series of exercises to complete, highlighting the design concepts.  It is crucial to do the exercises - build your skill set.  Most importantly, make things!

Next time, a bit about getting ideas.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Postcard from Lebanon, Ohio

What a weekend!  It was good to visit an old stomping ground of mine, even if I did not get to do any sightseeing or much shopping (outside of the quilt show). 

The show was successful for me, not so much financially, but in that I inspired a significant number of people.  I really appreciate the positive responses to my product line and finished art work.  Most of all, I am honored that I had several people approach me expressing their own desires to be more creative.  Keep reading my rambles here for answers to your questions of me.  I have much to get through here over the next couple of weeks from this past weekend.  Welcome to new readers!

Before I get to creative concerns on Thursday, I want to give my appreciation to several Lebanon, Ohio organizations and businesses.  First, the Warren County Historical Society for holding the quilt show.  I hope that it was a successful fundraiser.  Travelers to the region for next year's show or other reasons, I recommend the Shaker Inn Motel for lodging, a nicely maintained vintage motel.  Eat at the Breakfast Club early (the chocolate chip waffles are amazing), Houston Inn for an upscale meal, Doc's (great food, but boisterous bar atmosphere), and for a historic, upscale place with food well worth the price, The Golden Lamb

Next time, I will have some book recommendations for those of you who want to jump into art quilting and some thoughts on getting inspiration.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Little Progress

Aside from spring planting and fall harvest, nothing gets me off track more than packing for a quilt show.  I have not accomplished much on the samples for the demos I will be doing this weekend, but I have enough done to show the samples.
Image and design copyright RPS
This is part of a collage that I am doing on a vintage tea towel.  Take a look at the feather stitch I used to stitch a length of silk sari ribbon around a square cut from a vintage hankie.

Image and design copyright RPS
This is a bigger view of the above detail.  The piece above the hankie is a mini collage that I started as another project that stalled, so it is going into this tea towel creation.  I am feeding my fascination with layers upon layers with this piece.

Not my stitching here!  This was the stitching on the tea towel when I rescued it in an auction box lot.

Finally, a little stitching I managed to finish on one of the collages that I will be talking about in Lebanon, Ohio this weekend.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stitching Around

Maybe I am too ambitious, as I habitually envision myself completing more than I actually do.  Obviously, I am not as far long on my collages as I wanted to be.  But, I have been stitching:
The stitching in the center of the doily is just a lazy daisy in a Valdani 8 weight.  I think it is looking reminiscent of a sunflower seed head. 

I have also played with filling in the designs in the ivory dyed doily:
Here is a detail of the stitching:
I like the leaves, but I am not completely sold on using the buttonhole stitch to fill in the flower petals.  It is looking better the more I go along.  How much father will I have crept along by Thursday?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Collage with Vintage Textiles

I'll be giving a short demo each day of the upcoming Lebanon, Ohio quilt show on creating a unique fabric collage with vintage fabric and fancy pieces.

This is a finished collage, a very simple composition made from a fancy hankie, a hand dyed damask napkin, vintage ties and some pieces of my "scrap-lace" fabric technique.
Image and design copyright RPS

Over the next couple of weeks,  I will be working on a few more collages to showcase the items I sell at the quilt shows.  I'll post the progress here as they come together leading up to the show on the first weekend of March.  Here's the start I have on the two I will concentrating on:
Image and design copyright RPS
Image and design copyright RPS

Check back Thursday to see my next steps on these.