Friday, September 28, 2012

Monkey Sees, Monkey Does: a new small quilt plus

    Are you going back to school this busy September;  or are you always learning new things. I try to take some new workshop usually, so I got busy with what Sue Martell and Jo Diggs taught me. The last time I saw Betsy, she asked if I had started making Maine landscapes (I reported on hers August 18) and I took her hint to do a Jo Diggs workshop. Jo Diggs is a master applique landscape fabric artist.

    So I loosely cut out the fabric Sue encouraged me to buy in her sister's shop, and all but copied one of Sue's on the drive to NYC. All I did was layer fabric over muslin and started at the top, adding shapes on, to pin the shapes down. I whipstitched the seam allowances under the main shapes with silk thread that Jo says lies flatter. There are sky, rock, water, tree, plant and sand fabrics available; but you can paint your own white or muslin fabrics with fabric paints so that the fabrics remain soft. I like applique in that you can do it on a car ride or in front of tv news and you don't need a sewing machine. I feel romantic toward hand stitching...all of those little stitches.

     However, when I returned home, I became a monster. I couldn't bear to go much to do! Whereas Jo Diggs puts mats around her landscapes, I wanted fabric borders and had to get out a sewing machine to add a twig fabric from The City Quilter. I dug in my bias tape drawer for white and cream. I didn't want machine stitches to show so I used Stitch Witchery on the inner frame and a sewing machine and backside whipstitch on the white outer frame. I messed up a bit (fusible dirtying my borders, messing up my iron) trying to go so fast, but the fabric picture is ok as a memory of trip to Maine on our 50th...not so perfect as Sue's or Jo's,  but one step in learning a new technique.

photo I took of a Jo Diggs landscape...note the reflections 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Square spiral: a Reveal Day posting

     If you were asked to design a spiral quilt block, what would you come up with. Below is my offering at Material Mavens. After you try to draw the pattern and color it (it is tricky), I recommend your visit to see, enlarge the photos, and read the explanations given by 12 participants in this international journal quilt group. For my 12" x 12" offering, I wrote:

     Because I am often in a spiral, I felt confident to work with this theme for September. I have earrings galore which have spiral designs. I often feel like a dancer in a spiral; and I like the zany and untraditional that the symbol connotes.

     At a recent quilt show, I obsessed over a seemingly simple spiral block quilt that did not seem to interest others. I casually tried to sketch how to compose the mildly tricky block; so I was pleased to have an excuse to work with the block in detail. All I needed was the two colors of fabrics.

     At the NH Mancuso quilt show, in the last vendor booth which I visited,  there were batik spirals fabrics perfect for the job. I chose colors opposite on the color wheel to hint at, somewhat like yin and yang, the good and the bad spirals in life or the world today. I set the small erratic fabric spirals inside the larger architectural spiral of achieved calm. The back of the quilt is a hand-dyed spiral of a same color which I found in my stash.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sketching on the road...a new product

     Many times people pack up paints and pens to produce works of art on a vacation; and then they find they never have a chance to use them. As you know, I often stitch Sashiko in the car while listening to a good book on CD as Joe, the car enthusiast drives. For this trip, part of our 50th celebration, I decided I would sketch in the car.

      If you sketch on a trip, I think your memories are more indelible or tangible than when you only take photos. I put a sketchbook, Micron pen .005, water soluable pencils, pencil sharpener and Niji waterbrushes loaded with water in my purse. From the minute we hit the road, I didn't know what to sketch and thought...what the heck...I will sketch anything in front of me without giving it thought!

      Believe me, my sketches look as if I didn't give them any thought. The road goes by FAST and is bumpy! But it was fun to mark the path with pen, then color with watercolor pencils and wet the marks down as well. I don't think this was my favorite sketching solution, but I love having a rough 60 pages of marks and some memory flags to remind me of what to paint when I get to it at home. One should paint her 50th anniversary!  

      After  I wore down the Micron point in Castine, ME, I made the exciting discovery that there are Sharpie fine point pens now that don't bleed through the paper, and more than that, there are Sharpies that come with a retractable fine point so you won't have to look for lost tops under seats in the car! When I couldn't replace some of my Caran d'Arche watercolor pencils in the USA, I found Derwent watercolor pencils in Rockland a surprisingly good substitute. Heavenly. And of course there are different results for sketching on arrival but this was an experiment! Click photos to enlarge.