The Parasol Dancers of Green Lake

A few weeks back I posted a video from Kunming China showing women doing their morning exercises using highly colored parasols. Over these past weeks, this inspiration has slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front of my mind!!! After a lot of contemplation (AND procrastination), I have made a start!!!

The first thing that I did was to pull some screen grabs off of the video…

They are not high quality images but they served their purpose. I printed them out in black and white and used a sharpie to trace around several of the ladies in each of the poses…….

The good thing about using sharpie is that the ink soaks thru and you can see it from the back…..instant pattern!!…..

I picked out a couple of the pictures and enlarged them to the size that I was planning to work with.

Now it was decision time!!! How was I going to portray these wonderful women…..in fabric, in paint or in thread. At some point I had the idea to thread paint or quilt the women but add color for the parasols. This is the rabbit trail that I am currently heading down!!!!

For the first sample, I added a thin fusible interfacing to the back of the background fabric, traced the design, added the fabric parasol and machine stitched it…..

Then it was critique time…..

  • First of all, I had used a white thread in the bobbin and the white stitching came thru….NOT good!!
  • Second, I felt that the ribs on the parasol were too heavy
  • Finally, I wasn’t sure exactly how I could quilt it and make the ladies stand out.

Let’s try again!!!

This time I decided to layer the quilt sandwich and actually quilt the design in. And to take it one step further, I added two layers of batting (Warm & Natural on the bottom and Wool on the top) so that it would have a Trapunto look……

I put in a few pins to hold the layers in place……

….and it was back to the machine for stitching, using the normal 50 wt thread for the bodies and a bobbin weight thread for the parasol ribs…..

I REALLY like this a lot better!! Now to fill in the background!!

I had done the initial stitching/quilting on my normal machine (Juanita) because I had better control for the details and also because I could use a smaller needle. But, for the filler quilting, I turned to Julio (sit-down long-arm) to make the process fast and effortless!!

This is where it stands now…..

As I have written this post, I started thinking about the fact that the background could also contain some shrubbery, trees or other foliage and that would give it even more interest, both in visual effects but also for the quilter!!

There is definitely more to come with this project……..I will get back to you…………….

Throw Back Thursday….my first “Art” quilt

Amber, our Daughter-In-Law came into our life back in 2006 and in July of 2010 she married our son Brian.

Amber trained as an art teacher and was in the classroom over 10 years, recently leaving the classroom to become an instructional coach. Back in the early days of her teaching I wanted to make something that could be used to decorate her classroom and, of course, it had to be a quilt!!

I had so much fun making this quilt with just a basic idea in mind……

At this stage of my quilting career, I was making quilts that were fairly traditional in nature, never having even thought about making an “art quilt”!! So, I laughingly call this my “First Art Quilt”!!

Fortunately it hasn’t been my last!!!

Oh my…this is going to be fun!!

Yesterday I described my ARGHHHH day and ended the post by saying that I would try the machine quilting again….maybe…..or maybe I would start a new project. I am sure that it is no surprise that I STARTED SOMETHING NEW!!!!

When I had my “Inspiration Day” last weekend, I found one fiber art piece that looked like fun and would give me a chance to try some different surface techniques. During the week I gathered up my supplies and today I made a test piece to see how things would work and see if the paints that I owned were appropriate.

The first step was to cut little swatches of lots of the fabrics that I had pulled….

I moved to the machine and free-motion stitched them down, using the full-circle darning foot rather than the open toe. This keeps the foot from getting caught under loose edges…..

Then I mixed up a few of my Setacolor paints. Before I show the result, let me tell you about my paint collection. Many years ago (maybe 15 or more) I happened to be in a Michaels store when they were obviously dropping the line of Pebeo & Jacquard paints, and I bought them for 25 to 50 cents per bottle. Needless to say, I stocked up. This is what I still have left after all of these years…..

Most of them are in pretty bad shape, either very thick or almost empty, but I am always impressed with what a little bit of water or a mixer such as white or black can do to revitalize them. Someday I will need to replace them but today is NOT that day.

I mixed up a small pot of blue and another of green and started painting……

The middle stripes were applied with a stiff brush and I think that the paint is a little too thick. The two outside rows (green on right and blue on left) were applied with a makeup sponge and I am much happy with their appearance. I also know that using a sea sponge would change the texture.

I was pleased with the coverage that the paint brought to the 3-D “stuff”, and especially happy with the flannel, burlap and color catcher…..

I don’t see the point to using silk unless I spend some time to ravel the edges and I have just had the idea to maybe cut out some circles and ravel around them. (See…this is why I blog….I get ideas as I write)!!

As I just now looked back at the project that I am emulating, I think that the paints were too thick and I will water them down and try to make it more of a wash rather than heavy paint.

Now I patiently waited for it to dry…..NOT SO MUCH. I laid down paper towels on the paint and used a dry iron!!!

The next step was to try stitching on it and seeing if it would work over the paint and especially over the raised embroidery work. I started with some basic stitching with regular thread…..

Then I tried one of the “buttercups”, made with Tulle and thread……

Probably too much Tulle, but I can adjust that as I go. ALSO, I just realized that I was supposed to use Organza rather than Tulle so that will make a huge difference!!

Final step was to try one of the Daisies. I decided to test my machine out buy using two threads at one time…..

I also slowed Juanita down to the turtle position…..

…..and started making LONG stitches by moving the fabric quickly when the needle was up……

This is certainly not perfect but at least I have an idea that I can accomplish it!!

I enjoyed playing with some threads that I have collected from over the years but never used for quilting purposes……

Finally, I took some red paint and tried doing a little dry brushing on the raised embellishments. I think that I might use this, especially if I put a group of embroidery flowers in one area.

Bottom line….I cant wait to get started on this project!!!!

What was I thinking?

Since I had finished “Bridge Over the River KEW“, it was time to turn back to the Color Wheel quilt that I have been slowly working on for the past YEAR!!!

Now that the hand applique on the corner’s were finished I needed to turn these five pieces into one very BIG piece…..

I had been dreading this part of the process since it would be extremely easy to get the triangles off center and then the whole thing would be skewed. When doing the corner design I had marked all of the sewing lines, so it was easy to match those lines up, iron a crease where the sewing line would go and then simply sew along the marked line….

After the initial sewing, I laid the top out on the floor and used the laser square to see how close it was….

There was one corner that needed some work…..

….but a bit of ripping and re-sewing soon had that fixed.

The bottom line is that the final trim will be very close but I will get it quilted and then see where it is.

Next I needed to make a back for the quilt and at this point I started asking myself exactly what I was thinking when I designed this quilt and WHY did I make it so big!!!

It was fun using a number of multi-colored pieces of fabric for the back…..

…..especially the cute psychedelic VW Bug fabric!!

So for now, I will put this into the line-up for quilting….it is number three in the queue.