Something seems wrong about the title of this post. How could anything good come from the ongoing pandemic?
Even though I didn’t have extra time during the lockdown, for some reason, I have had tons of time this summer. Part of this is because of the new paradigm that I initiated in 2019, where I am using blocks of time to accomplish my goals. Part of it is because of the many gatherings that have been canceled and part is because our usual overseas travels have been curtailed!!
Because of this extra time, I have been able to finish many of my ongoing projects and am ready to try some different techniques and just do a little bit of playing!! So on Saturday, my goal was to look for inspiration…..
……for future projects, especially thinking to expand my knowledge of drawing, painting, and surface design.
But first, I wanted to get my studio cleaned up again, including cleaning and oiling my machine…..
When Kaitlyn and I were both sewing a few weeks back, I had put up my Viking and enjoyed having both machines up. But, once I took the machine down it seemed like a nice area to leave open for other tasks…..like inspiration planning…..
The first thing that I did was watch a video that I bought many years ago featuring Jane LaFazio and her ideas about drawing, watercolor and keeping a journal……
This video ALWAYS inspires me and encourages me to start trying some drawing….something that I don’t really believe I can do.
I pulled out my art supply box and was pleased to see that I have all of the tools that she talks about, plus a few others…..
So starting on Monday, I am going to try to draw something at least 3 times each week.
I decided to do a quick run around the yard to get ideas of things that I could sketch and ran into some pretty butterflies along the way…..
Next I pulled out a stack of books about art quilts and design techniques, found a comfortable chair and started working thru them one by one. There were two that stood out to me….
“Art Quilt Workbook” contains exercises that might help to get me thinking in a different way, and “Fabric Art Workshop” has lots of surface design ideas. I am thinking that I may try to do some of these exercises as well.
BUT, all of these are designed for making Art Quilts and honestly, I don’t see myself as an art quilter. However, I am sure that trying new techniques will give ideas for future projects.
Finally, I remembered a book that I bought at a Quilt Show some years ago…..
The idea behind this book is to first layer and stitch a lot of textures onto a background piece that is only in whites and creams. Then you paint over the texture that you have developed and add the featured designs on the top. This sounds really interesting and something very different to anything that I have ever done.
So, I am planning to make this quilt……
I really don’t like copying designs that someone else has already done but I will follow the instructions for this quilt and use it to learn this technique.
The final thing that I thought thru was whether or not I needed to make more quilts that weren’t necessarily meaningful to me. What will I do with any new found inspirations? Do I want to put them on ETSY and see if I can sell them? Maybe put them in the member’s boutique at the next guild quilt show?
Or maybe it is okay to just make art pieces without having a reason? Can that be right? It sure doesn’t fit with the way I think but it seems that this may be a good time to take a chance and change that 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.
A little ways back I posted a video about how to spray baste a quilt. As I mention there, it was a charity quilt top that was given to me so that I could practice some quilting.
I normally quilt with a 50 weight thread and have been happy with the results, but when I was at the Houston show last year, I started thinking about trying some heavier threads. I bought three, two 30 wt Aurifil threads……
…..and one 12 wt Superior thread…..
I did a little bit with the rulers but didn’t have much luck with making it look okay (sometimes it is just that way) so I ended up doing most of it freehand. These were both done with the Aurifil……
I did a very SMALL amount of quilting using the 12 wt thread but it kept breaking so I quickly put it aside.
For the border, I turned to an old favorite thread….a 30 wt Variegated Sulky…..
I did not end up spending as much time on this quilt as I had planned but am okay with how it turned out……
I have learned that I REALLY like working with the 30 wt threads but am not sure that I will ever use a 12 wt thread again…..at least not without a LOT of practice!!!
Okay….pattern is made. Now comes the fun part of choosing colors. I will say again that it is so sweet to be able to see all of my fabric at one time…..
….especially those that don’t fit naturally into one color family.
When I was telling my friend Linda about my ideas for this quilt, I said that it was going to be abstract with bright colors. But, as I thought more about it, I just wasn’t sure. Here are some of the questions that went thru my mind…..
Make it abstract with colors?
Solids or prints?
“Crazy” print in the windows?
Gradation colors coming up the sides?
Gradations in “steps”?
Gradations in “windows”?
As I pondered the last two questions, I came to a decision that I really wanted to do gradations in the steps and windows. As I looked further at the design, my resolve became even firmer AND I decided that I wanted to keep the center section in blacks and greys. I can always add some color to the outside rigging, making long strings of color….but that decision can wait!!
Now I needed to put together the gradations of blacks and greys. I started with grey and made a layout of what I “thought” was a good gradation…..
Normally, I would look thru these with my value finder….
….but for some reason it has gone missing!!!
Instead, I took the above photo and edited it to black and white…..
Okay….I see a few that need to be moved.
After repeating this procedure several times, I came up with a decent gradation…..
Next, I did the same thing with the blacks…..
Since the gradation will be from light to dark with BOTH sets of fabrics, I needed to put them side by side to see how they looked…..
The final step was to use the Q-Pins (that I reviewed HERE) to mark the fabrics so that I can keep them in the correct order…..
NOW comes the REALLY fun part…..how am I going to put this top together???
When I posted the Inspiration Tuesday photo last week…..
…..I mentioned that it really was calling to me. I kept thinking about it more and more so this weekend, I made a start on the project.
My first task was to put the photo into Photoshop and start cleaning it up as much as I could. I started by applying the “Poster Edge” Filter to help further define the lines…..
I knew that I didn’t need the lights that ran along the top so I started by roughly erasing those….
Finally, I knew that I didn’t want the hooked lines that ran out from the middle ladder, so it was off with their heads…..
When I was happy with the clean-up job, I put the photo into Powerpoint so that I could play with the sizing a bit. I made the photo 6inches by 9 inches and then printed it out using the poster function. This enlarged the photo so that it was printed on a 3×3 page grid, making the finished product about 18 x 30 inches…..
I cut out and taped the 9 pages together…..
….and voila….my full size pattern was born!!
Now, you may have noted that the orientation of the photo has changed. When I printed out a full size photo, Michael and I both looked at it and decided that it needed to be upside down…..
It was simply too top-heavy in the original version.
I started looking at the full-size pattern and realized that there were other unnecessary lines so I started cleaning up some more…..using correction tape this time!!….
This photo was taken inside one of the greenhouses at Kew Gardens in London.
We were there for Michael to speak to a group of scientists and had spent the night with two of them. That morning, as we all walked into the back gate of Kew, one of our hosts asked what my plans were. I said that I was going to stick around the area until the gardens opened. He said that there was no reason to wait and that I could enter at the back and wander by myself!!!
SO….I had almost two lovely hours to stroll thru the area without any other visitors…..just me, my camera and the odd gardener!!! It was heaven!!!
BUT….back to the inspiration. It would be fun to use this as a pattern for a quilt using blocks of color and trying to get the perspective to work!!
And now as I think about it more I am getting really excited about this one. Who knows, maybe it will be my new “BIG” project!!!
This is a story about a UFO….. one that had been around for 11 years!!
It started back in 2007 when Michael and I spent two months in Oxford, England while he was a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. London was a mere 45 minutes by train so we spent as much time there as we could.
As we rode the London Underground, I became aware of how the people sitting across from me changed as the ride went on. At every stop someone would get off and someone else would take his/her place.
In October of 2009 these thoughts rose to the top of my brain and I decided to make a quilt with this idea. I spent a long time searching the internet for pictures of people to add to my train car and, using Photoshop, I was able to get an idea of what I wanted…..
Note….my proudest part of this photo is that I took another person’s legs and feet and added them to the young man on the left!!!
I started out using a machine applique technique where you prepare the piece for applique, glue it to the next piece and then zig-zag over the intersection with a mono-filament thread. After doing the first person using this technique I decided to switch to fusible applique.
Anyway….here is where it stood when I stopped working on it…..
And it has been weighing on my mind ever since!!!
Today, I pulled it out for the last time….determined to either finish it or scrap it…..and SCRAP IT won!!
These were my thoughts…..
My skills have progressed far beyond this first attempt
It is larger in format than I typically work on now.
There is too much difference in technique in the faces. The boy has very few shades while the woman (actually based on a photo of me) has too many shades and the little girl doesn’t work at all…..
The only part that I was REALLY happy with were the child’s hands…..
I would basically need to start over and I am not interested in doing that
As I thought further, I remember that I learned SO much when I started this project….first about using Photoshop and then about designing faces. I also over-dyed a bunch of the fabrics which was a first for me.
The bottom line is that it was a great project for it’s time but that time is past and it is time to….
So….all of the fabric came off of the wall and out of the project box and added back into my stash.
It was exciting to find all of the skin-tone fabrics that I had collected those many years ago…..
Many of these were hand-dyed by my friend Anita and it was fun to see all of her tags reminding her of the recipe for each of the pieces…..
Now that this project is out of my head, I need to figure out exactly what big project I want to work on next!!!!