Thursday, September 29, 2016

Inspiration in a Meadow

I often get asked the question, "Where do you get ideas for your art work?"  For me, the answer is: everywhere, in almost anything!  I have too many ideas, and not enough lifetime, I'm sure.  If you are searching for ideas, scale things back - start by considering only one design aspect.  For example, look at color.  Decide on a color blend, and then choose a pattern or move forward with creating a composition.

This time of year, the meadows around my home are full of feathery goldenrod and deep purple asters in bloom.

Purple and yellow are direct complements of each other on the color wheel, making them fun to work with in design exploration.  Last winter, I had the goldenrod and aster in mind when I made these three crazy patch square boxes:

The flowers really are not referenced in the embellishing, I simply wanted to capture the colors.  Even without recognizable images of the flowers that inspired me, I am still reminded of my lovely autumn meadow each time I see the boxes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Last week was a significant transition for me, and I did not intend to let an entire week go by without posting, but it did.  I have started a part time job, which will provide a little bit of predictable income.  After two years of working for myself, trying to make a go of this art and fabric business, I must do a little restructuring.  I'm not giving up on the business, I still want to keep it up, it just won't be on the scale that I had hoped for someday.  Although, who knows, sometimes amazing things have happened in my life, and I'm sure great things are still waiting for me.

Over the past weekend, I was a vendor at the current venue for the Inspired by the National Parks quilt show.  I was very impressed with the fabric interpretations of our National Parks, the exhibit is a excellent showcase of the versatility of the art quilt and the creativity of the artists.  If it is coming to a location near you, go see it.  I am now inspired to attempt my own pictorial art quilt over the winter.

Thank you to those of you who discovered me and made purchases at the Vendor's Weekend.  I will be at only two more shows this year.  Next up is the Town Square Quilt Lovers' Guild show, Saturday, October 8 (9-6) and Sunday October 9 (10-5) at the Caldwell Elementary School, Fairground Road, Caldwell, Ohio. Admission is $5.

The last show for me this year is the Mutton Hill Quilt Show, Saturday October 22 (10-6) and Sunday, October 23 (10-5) at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron Ohio.  Admission is $10, it is a fundraiser for the Summit County Historical Society.  This promises to be a fabulous show, with more than 200 quilts on display and great vendors (including Rags Paper Stitches!).  If you are in Ohio, don't miss it!  Please come out, visit and shop.  I'd always love to see what you've made from my fabric and embellishments.

I promise to have a creative post on Thursday.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

More Cigarette Silks

In an earlier post this year, I lamented the lack of cigarette silks in my collection of vintage textiles.  I have corrected that now, with this recent antiques mall find:
This is an unfinished project, done in the crazy quilt assembly style.  Most of the pieces are true cigarette silks, printed with flags of various nations.  The silks are larger than the two that I have already, these are about 3 X 4".  Two pieces are commemorative ribbons from social club events with a European ancestry requirement.  These identical ribbons are dated 1927, and I have no idea yet what language they are imprinted with... will have to investigate "Kesajuhlet."  The world of old social clubs and secret societies is a whole areal of study on their own, a fascinating study.... for someone else!

The silks are machine sewn to a piece of muslin backing, then lengths of satin ribbon were machine sewn over the seams,  The maker hand stitched over almost all of the ribbon with a herringbone stitch.  What I want to know (and never will) is why the yellow herringbone stitching on the top horizontal row stops half way across, and why four of the silks are upside down.

What is fun for me is making connections with these vintage objects,  I'll never know the maker or the answers to the above questions, but I am certain that the hand stitches are done in Glossilla Rope embroidery cording ("Brighter than Silk").  I found a stash of new-old-stock Glossilla at a recent quilt show:
I have found it to be impossible to pull through regular cotton fabric, but it works well for couching or for the weaving thread in whipped and threaded back and running stitches.  Someday soon I will try it through silk.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quilting ideas

The actual process of quilting my textile art pieces always gives me trouble.  I'm bored with the usual quilting motifs; most of them just don't work well with my ragged edge collage technique.  I must quilt these creations, the stitching holds the layers together and it is mandatory to enter them in shows, the stitching through layers of fabric is the total identity of "quilt."  The quilt stitching is also a vital design element in the whole piece.

I'm not proposing any solid answers here to my own dilemma; I guess I am just ranting today.  I have some ideas that I am soon to attempt.  Recently, I found these line drawings while doing research on something else:
This page is from the October, 1887 Criterion magazine, located at the Marietta College Library.  I believe that it was part of an order form for embroidery patterns, but I am wondering if I could use the idea of line drawing and turn that into quilting designs.  The concept probably still won't work with most of my collages, but I could easily come up with another overall design concept to feature the line drawing-quilting.  Maybe I'll just use much bigger collage pieces.  Creativity is all about rethinking what you have done and figuring out how to do what you want to do.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

End of Year Goals

Five art quilt goals I want to meet by the end of the year:

1. Get through workshop #4 in A Fiber Artist's Guide to Color and Design (Heather Thomas, Landauer Publishing, 2011).  A couple of years ago, I made three art quilts from workshop #1 in this book, and got sidetracked on moving forward with the other workshops.

2. Make at least four more pages for my sample fabric book from Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond (Chandler/Kettle/Thomas/Vleck; Landauer Publishing, 2009).  Another ongoing project that I set aside.
Image and design copyright RPS, please do not pin or post elsewhere

3. Find my copy of Art Quilt Workbook (Davila & Waterson, C & T Publishing, 2007), and do two more chapters/workshops.  Do you see a trend developing here?  Finish unfinished things!

4. Finish my ATC-a-day project that I started three years ago, or was it four years...
Image and design copyright RPS, please do not pin or post elsewhere

5. Start my entry for Quilt National 2019!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

More Auction Treasures

If you are looking for creative inspiration, there is so much in your own community.  This past weekend for me was chock full of local history.  I attended an estate sale and an estate auction and came away with more knowledge of the area I now call home and some great future art project ideas. 
The first sale yielded a small collection of gravestone rubbing how-to books and supplies, among other items.  Old cemeteries are a great source for local history and genealogy, and potential places to observe folk art stone carving.  I have already been well acquainted with incorporating gravestone carving into my own art, first in ceramics, and now making crayon rubbings on fabric.  This is a printed vintage tablecloth, pulled out of the weekly junk auction, covered in a collage of gravestone rubbings:
Image copyright RPS, please do not pin or re-post

The auction was the estate of a couple who had printed the town newspaper for decades.  There were a few rare local history books; I was soundly outbid on one lot of the books, but I bought the second lot, and I am dutifully studying them.  Half of the auction was the contents of the house, the other half was the bulk of the printing items.  The newspaper was apparently printed in a shed at the back of the property.  A calendar from 1974 in the shed had a note on December 26 that read, “Last day of Home Towner.”  After the printing of that last newspaper, the owner must have locked the shed and left it.  I bought a boxful of copies of two local history booklets that had been printed there and were authored by the couple.  There were lots and lots of old metal printing blocks for advertising, all of them went out of my price range.  I would have liked to get a few for display and to have something from this piece of area history.  I didn’t want to bid too much on them, as the metal plates were too shallow to use for rubbings, and I don’t want to get into messy printing inks.  I’m more interested in things that I can use rather than just look at these days.

There were several boxes of 9 X 12” sheets of embossed advertising graphics.  They were embossed in a positive orientation, which made them good for rubbings, if the fine detail could be captured.
Image copyright RPS, please do not pin or re-post

 I decided to take a chance on them.  Luckily, no one else wanted them, I and have two large boxes full of the sheets and a boxful of the monthly catalogs for the ad sheets from the manufacturer.  The ad sheets I now have are from the mid to late 1960s.

I have not been able to find much about these ad sheets.  All I have found so far is from an Ebay listing  from seller BenningtonBargains: “In the days of hot type, advertisers would send these mats to newspapers who would pour lead into them and then use the lead plate on presses to print the ads in newspapers.  These were generally discarded after the lead pouring.  So this mat is extremely rare.”  It looks like they are made of fine grained paper (heavier than cardstock) with some sort of coating.

I am happy to report that they make great rubbings on fabric:
Image copyright RPS, please do not pin or re-post

They work decently with paper, although the sections with finer detail do not turn out as well.  These open up so many creative possibilities in my collage explorations.  I will have some of the ad sheets for sale at upcoming quilt shows, and I will list a few on my Etsy store in the next week.