Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Embroidery for Children: Needling Noah

    Over Thanksgiving we drove to New York City and I embroidered Noah in sunshine and dark in the car, trying to figure out the stitches while listening to a book CD on the life of Henry VIII.
    For Christmas, among other things, I wanted to give the grandchildren sewing kits and "lessons" should they want;  but I thought I better learn how before imparting my wisdom. 
    In the 60's I had embroidered jean fabrics. The colorful floss looks pretty against the rough dark blue. If I find a sample of my work in the attic, I will post later. But this time I was starting with a blank slate. Mother said I could do anything, so I threaded the needle with the included Persian wool and took off deciphering the instructions.
    Embroidery should be easy, and these enchanting books on sewing I got for the children have numerous ideas for using felt and fabric. 
Alice's Noah and animals, almost finished.
a design for Paragon by SHERBY BARBER
    Friend Alice had just completed her recently found, incompleted Noah and animals on the way to the ark (from her efforts in the 70's) and encouraged me to get this kit on Ebay. Bill ordered for me and I am having fun. Embroidery perks up many crafts from simple felt pieces to quilts and clothes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the book on the table, Giving Thanks, from Plimoth PlantationDancing Mocassin said, "Wunniook. Be well." Resolved, his six-year-old new friend from England replied,  "Good night. God keep you."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pitiful Portrait: things fall apart

(click to view the melt)
       I read several books and watched DVDs on making fabric portraits. I resisted starting, thinking I didn't have the proper fabrics. But finally I dove in. Do or die. Well, the first and third values, the light and the orange, were off; but I continued. I put netting over the fused fabric and pressed. To my horror, the netting melted and I was left with a deformed piece. What to do. Point out that artists/craftsmen always run into problems. Everyone can be an artist. It is just that artists don't give up. I will no doubt try again, but it is an exhausting pursuit. I will simplify. I don't mind showing the battered 73 year old, mostly at my hand. And I might give up! How could things go so wrong? They always do!!! (Next day:  I can take a paint brush to it!)

        Tomorrow is an early Thanksgiving at our house. I have some Pilgrim hats and some feathers. Hope these excite the children. Another direction for awhile :*

Friday, November 19, 2010

Journal quilt: Book Club tackles Llosa

  This week, Books N Laps met at my house to discuss Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Nobel Prize winner, Mario Vargas Llosa.  There were ten of us in attendance, and my arranging the chairs and the coffee cups in my deep red living room show up in this journal quilt.
   I didn't know where all the red came from except the novel set in Peru was exciting, like red; my living room colors are similar, which I just realized; and the cover of the book sports these exact colors. Granted there was the buzz of organizing the house (crafts people know about clearing paths), the arrival of a lively dog, gathering food and making the pumpkin bars...all added to my having gotten only 5 hours sleep, hoping not to reveal that I had made it only 3/4 the way through the dazzling novel which I plan to finish now.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Portrait Quilt: a tardy journal quilt effort

(click to enlarge)
    Learning about portrait quilts has occupied my attention since a workshop with Esterita Austin a few weeks ago, so a journal quilt should mark that weekend. I wish I could have a new portrait that would put together my new wisdom, but I am still learning and not sure what directions to take.
    Today I watched Making Faces, a DVD by Maria Elkins, who presented several approaches to convince those who think they can't draw a portrait to try. I know I won't want to stitch on the faces as much, but this is a very informative DVD.  Portrait Quilts: Painted Faces You Can Do by Bonnie Lyn McCaffery also arrived in the mail yesterday and I have not had time to read it. It may be more about painting than I want to do, but I will learn about textile paints and presenting unstitched faces. Portraits for Fabric Lovers by the lucid teacher Marilyn Belford is extremely helpful re computer aides as is Photo-inspired Art Quilts by Leni Levenson Wiener which comes with a DVD. I also plan to check out Patt Blair and her husband's book. They work with computers and ink.
     I decided not to waste the inspirational workshop effort, but to turn my effort into a journal quilt. For the first time I used invisible thread on top (Sulky worked fine); and I used the unfinished piece as it was. I did not plan to complete the class assignment at home. I cut some maroon tulle to go over the slightly loose pieces, not entirely secured by MistyFuse, and quilted with the invisible thread over all. I free-motion quilted the text...suggesting I may not know where I am going now, but I will try try again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fabric Portrait Quilts: some references and ideas

     I wrote on October 26, about a portrait fabric workshop I took with Esterita Austin. I thought I would pass on some book titles I have found since then that might be helpful using fabric and soft textile paint (So Soft, Jacquard).
     In the past, when painting oil portraits, if something did not look right, and I had a photo, I would scan it into the computer and use a filter in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to get a fresh look at what was wrong. The Cut-Out filter or the Posterizing filter were amazingly helpful to find the needed emphasis.
     Now I am thinking about making a small wall portrait quilt for someone's gift from fabric rather than oil paint. One idea is to take a photo, remove the color and use a filter. You would outline the shapes on freezer paper, cut out each shape as a template for fabric, cut fabric in one of the 5 values from white to grays to black, fuse each piece w an iron to a background fabric and layer the finished piece to batting and a backside fabric...finishing the edges and quilting as inspired. Susan suggested I use this photo of Beth and the girls. Click to enlarge.
cut-out filter

color removed

Photo-Inspired Art Quilts: From Composition to Finished Piece by Leni Levenson Wiener
Portraits for Fabric Lovers by Marilyn Belford
Work in Fabric & Thread by Deidre Scherer
Portrait Quilts: Painted Faces You Can Do by Bonnie Lyn McCaffery 
and thanks to Sharon (in comments): Quilting Arts Workshop Making Faces: Beginning and Advanced Portraits  (DVD) by Maria Elkins

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Midterm Madness:, a Journal Quilt

    The lack of eloquence during the the 2010 midterm election was mad, maddening and disheartening.
     Elections have always been rough and tumble, but I have never had to turn off the television so regularly as during the last one.  This journal quilt is filled with signs and language leading up to the November 2, 2010 election.

     Joe and I a great time at Patricia and Diego's fabulous art-filled home in downtown Boston last night. I will mail this fabric postcard tomorrow.