Sunday, June 29, 2008

Exercise Two

Heavy rain on Quilt Island this morning permitted me to sew to my heart's content. I worked on my daughter's portrait quilt. I'm working on Chapter 3 of Art Quilt Workshop; this exercise follows the pear quilt but you work with your own drawing from a photo. The example showed a young boy's face and after looking at some of my photos, I decided to try to capture my daughter's likeness in fabric. The photo is of her when she was about four, so sweet!

In deciding where to place her on the background fabric I kept in mind the rule of thirds. I folded the background fabric in thirds vertically and then horizontally. Anywhere the folds intersect (four places) would make a good place to put the focal point, in this case I used her eyes as that point. It makes the portrait more interesting, she's not dead center and so the background spaces are not exactly the same, giving the viewer more to look at.

I only used two colors for her hair, but added two more colors with the thread. I used a shiny brown and a shiny maroon red rayon thread to add highlights. I am quite happy with my first attempt at doing a fabric portrait. It really takes a lot of thought. the Art Quilt Workshop authors give some suggestions for further exploration in this area and one quilt artist they mention is Susan Carlson. I was pleased to see her as I have her book and used it several years ago. Susan lives in Harpswell, I think.

I mostly think of fish and underwater sea worlds when I think of Susan Carlson, so I was surprised when I opened her book and saw all of her fabric portraits. What an inspiration! I may try this again .

After ironing the fabrics to make up the portrait I began quilting in different colored threads. I started with the top of the nose in light pink thread. Then I did the cheeks and around the eyes. I added the dark brown at the top of the eyes afterwards and am pleased with how that came out. I am not so pleased with how the quilting around the mouth and cheeks came out. That's hard to do! I wanted her to look smiling and happy, not all wrinkly. I did take out a line of stitches and immediately saw that the needle holes were really going to show. I spritzed it with my water sprayer and rubbed a bit, then ironed it and it looks fine. Whew!

Lastly, I decided to put a facing on the back rather than a binding. I have done this before and I've seen a video of how one person does this, but I kind of fudged this. I don't know why it was so difficult, but eventually I got it right. I really like the way it looks on the front, nice and flat. I just didn't want a binding on this one.

I'm not ready to start another photo quilt just yet. We have a family picnic on Quilt Island every year and I have to get ready for that. DH and I are going to Baxter State Park afterwards for a mini-vacation. We used to go every year with the kids from the time they were very young until high school. This will be our first summer up there without them. It will be fun, but we will be remembering all those happy times, I'm sure. Swimming, hiking, canoeing, lazing around the campfire. Ahhh......Have a happy 4th of July America!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

It is hot here on Quilt Island. My friend Carolyn and I went strawberry picking today. We picked strawberries on Monday, too. I made jam and intend to make some more tonight when the kitchen cools down. I picked 4 quarts Monday, but only 3 today. Strawberries are so fragile, aren't they? So delicious.

As a child I remember a wooden plaque with a basket of strawberries that my grandfather made with a wood burning kit. After the design was made the scene was stained with soft colors. I would like to have that plaque now.

Today I have been working on a fusible art quilt from Art Quilt Workshop by Jane Davila and Ellen Waterston. I saw Jane on The Quilt Show and ordered the book from Amazon right away. Jane and Ellen take you step by step, project by project through the elements of design. Different techniques for creating art quilts are shown. You start at the beginning of the book and do all the exercises, building on what you have learned. I have really been enjoying it.

One of the first exercises is about perspective. All the quilts you make to complete the exercises are only 9x11, so they are fairly quick to do and don't require much fabric. I chose to make a quilt using diminishing size to show perspective. I don't know that it really worked here, but I had fun making it. I think if the whole quilt were bigger and there was more space between the pumpkins it would work better.

Click on the photo to see more detail. The size of this quilt is small but I really made an effort to make all the details just right. Sometimes I have a tendency to say any old thing will do, but I want these little quilts to be really good.

The quilt I am working on today is a fusible rendition of a photo. Before attempting to create my own quilt from my own photo, I followed the pattern in the book for a pear. It kind of looks like paint by numbers, but very effective. I really like it.

I used some of the many leftovers from my Louisa Smith Citrus quilt to make the border. I kept running out of bobbin thread when I did the machine quilting, don't you hate that? I kept thinking "that's enough thread" on the bobbin and it was not. Wish I had won that bobbin winder at the Back Road quilt auction earlier this month.

So, the photo I am using is one of my daughter Zoe when she was four. I made a drawing of her face and hair. Then I traced each element onto lightweight fusible web. I've been picking out mostly solid color fabrics. I can't decide if it looks okay or is really horrid. I think this may be one of those projects that you have to just go ahead and make before I can really make an assessment. I think quilting will really help bring out the details. Or not.

Looks like another thundershower on Quilt Island, so I will say goodbye for now.

Art Quilt Workshop

I am a subscriber to The Quilt Show by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. If you are not familiar with it, it is an online quilt show hosted by Alex and Ricky. Each episode features a different guest quilter who shows her work and demontrates a technique. I have learned so much from these shows. Even if I do not care to try a technique, the enthusiasm and dedication of the quilters is inpiring and encouraging for my own work.

The Quilt Show has had two seasons and the third will be starting up in July. In this last round Louisa Smith was one of the guests. She wrote Strips 'n Curves: a new take on strip piecing. I got the book through interlibrary loan (gee, it is nice to be a librarian!) and made one of her quilts.

You make a number of strip sets and then cut the curved shapes and sew the "cookie" shape to the "bite" shape. My strip sets started with the darkest green to the lightest yellow in the center to the orange at the other end. I bought my fabrics based on the yellow and orange print I found, which I used for some of the "cookies." These are really not my usual colors at all, but when I saw that yellow print I had to have it. Actually the quilt pattern I used from Louisa's book is titled Citrus and uses the same colors. I had planned on using the pattern, but with a different range of colors.

When my son Alex was seven he once told me he wished all the world was orange. At the time it made me both smile and cringe. Orange, for heaven's sake! He is still an orange and green person. I'm still a blue person, but orange is the complement of blue, right?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome to the Island

Hello from Quilt Island! Quilting has been my passion for many years. My mother taught me to quilt when I was in my twenties. She took quilting classes with her friends back in the 1970s when the great quilt revival was happening around the Bicentennial. I learned how to piece from her, but did not really get going with my own quilting until my children were born in the mid-1980s.

I've done many crafts in the past and still am a passionate knitter, but when I started quilting again I felt I could leave all the other crafts behi
nd. I had found my niche, and I have happily stayed with it all these years.(Well, I recently have been indulging in dollhouses and have a blog for that, too.) I love quilt history and sharing my quilts with my friends at Tacoma Lakes Quilters here in Maine. I am a member of the Pine Tree Quilters Guild in Maine.

Last weekend I went to Cottonweeds in Freeport for just a few fat quarters. Right! Is that possible? While I was getting my fabric cut I saw a beautiful wall hanging or lap quilt behind the cutting table. Hmm, maybe that's why they put it there. Anyway, I found out it was a block of the month project. I have never done one before and this one was only for four or five months, so I signed up. It is c
alled Holiday Chorus and features a panel of different birds including a cardinal, a chickadee and a nuthatch. The colors are soft and warm, gold and brown, deep red and olive green. It has a Christmas look to it because of the red and green but will be suitable throughout the winter season.

Here is the first installment...
Please come back to Quilt Island soon!