Heidi Parkes a fiber artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the instructor at one of the classes I attended. The class, held at Blue Bar Quilts, focused on the art of creating layered quilts using a sandwich of silk organza, fabric scraps, and cotton batting. The combined grouping was then secured with safety pins and hand quilted with a running stitch.
Sentiments is not the first of my fiber art pieces to utilize this method. The original specimen is called Wild Flowers, Art Piece # 73. After creating Wild Flowers I was so enamored with the technique that I decided to make a second item; that second item is Sentiments.
Sentiments began with the same base of cotton batting as did Wild Flowers. On top of the batting were placed scraps of fabric from my inventory. To add interest I intentionally cut strips containing sentiments or phrases. The strips were then scattered about the surface of the fabric scraps. I used a rainbow of colored threads to stitch first a circular motion in the center of my piece then cascading rows of stitching radiating out from there. To complete my piece I enveloped the four raw edges with a backing of muslin. For ease of display a hanging sleeve of muslin was added as well. Also included is a hand-stitched label containing the title, my name and the date my art piece was completed. Sentiments measures 15 1/2” x 15”.
I am proud to have added my second layered art quilt to my portfolio and to have had you here for the unveiling. I hope that you will feel inspired to share your thoughts by adding a comment.
Many times, after learning a new skill, I find myself making multiple fiber art pieces using the same techniques. Today’s reveal is an example of that tendency. Black, White, and Gray, Art Piece # 111 was assembled using the Boro stitching lessons I learned through Maday Delgado. I had the wonderful privilege of taking one of her classes in March, 2019 at Blue Bar Quilts. The First item to result from her teachings was A Boro Collage, Art Piece # 110.
This second specimen focused on the color pallet of white, black and gray. Having never made a fiber piece with just those three colors, I decided to use the concept on this item. Black, White andGray, just as with A Boro Collage, was created from raw edged fabric scraps. Except for a few synthetic fiber fabrics most of the scraps contained within this art quilt are 100% cotton. The scraps vary in size and pattern. The Boro stitching was applied with similarly colored Perle cotton thread using somewhat parallel lines. Almost all of the knots used to secure beginning and ending points in the stitching are displayed on the front of the piece. Occasionally a tale of extra thread was left to dangle freely; adding an unexpected element of interest. The outer edges of my art piece were surrounded by a white on black cotton binding. On the back is a fabric sleeve for hanging as well as a label with identifying features. The varied colors, stitching and fabric designs give this fiber art piece a one-of-a-kind appearance.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about and seeing this lovely addition to my portfolio. Inspired to share your thoughts? You can express your feelings by adding a comment.
I have had so many wonderful opportunities to learn from the experts in the world of fiber arts. Just over one year ago I attended a Boro stitching class taught by Maday Delgado. Boro, according to Wikipedia is:
Boro is a class of Japanese textiles that have been mended or patched together. The term is derived from Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. As hemp was more widely available in Japan than cotton, they were often woven together for warmth. Hemp usage was necessitated by the fact that cotton, a tropical plant, could not be cultivated in cold areas such as the Tohoku region, especially the northernmost region of Aomori Prefecture. Furthermore, during the Edo period, fabrics made from silk and cotton were reserved for only a select portion of the upper class. Boro thus came to predominately signify clothing worn by the peasant farming classes, who mended their garments with spare fabric scraps out of economic necessity. In many cases, the usage of such a boro garment would be handed down over generations, eventually resembling a patchwork after decades of mending.
The class was held at Blue Bar Quilts (one of my favorite fiber art vendors). Maday’s warm and approachable personality make her an inviting person to learn from. Our class was filled with individuals, of all skill levels, eager to learn her approach. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Maday’s class. The techniques I learned were combined with my previous knowledge to create the art piece I am sharing with you today.
Known as A Boro Collage, Art Piece # 110, this item incorporates scraps of fabric collected from the class as well as my own inventory. The scraps, radiating from warm colors on the left to cool on the right, were layered over a white cotton batting. All of the stitching was done on just those two layers. Maday believes that the back of a hand stitched art collage is just as beautiful as the front and as a result should not be hidden behind opaque fabric. Therefore my silk organza backing was not added until my piece was complete.
For most of the stitching I used a Sashiko thread. This thread is made from a multi-strand, tightly twisted, very soft, heavy-weight cotton. The strands cannot be separated as with regular embroidery floss. The thread, when subjected to moisture will expand slightly making it less likely to pull out. You can purchase Sashiko thread in a variety of colors.
As you examine my art piece, notice that the rows of stitching do not all extend from one edge to the other. Some of them form angular shapes while others create a curved motion. Also of interest is the exposed knots, the dangling lengths of thread and a most unusual stitch design known as Fish Tale. The dangling stray threads and exposed knots are design elements that Maday believes can add interest to your art piece. A Fish Tale is created using individual lengths of thread applied in rows of stitching that arch up to form a curve and then return back down. Extra thread is left dangling at both the beginning and ending points of the pattern. I’ve included a photo of one of the added Fish Tales below.
To give my art piece a more rustic appearance I used an unusual binding. Once my stitching was complete raw-edged scraps of fabric were placed right side down on top of my art piece. A row of machine stitching was used to secured them. The scraps were then folded to the back and stitched in place with Sashiko thread.
I’m so happy you were able to share in this reveal. I hope that you enjoyed reading about and discovering the uniqueness of my fiber art piece and that you will feel inspired to leave a comment.
Is there anything more amazing than participating in a solo art show!
I had the opportunity to exhibit art pieces at Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, WI. The memorable event was held during September, 2019.
Choosing, hanging and observing my works of art was an experience I will never forget. Plans for the show were nine months in the making. Everything right down to the smallest detail was analyzed over and over again. An artist reception was held on September 14, 2019. Meeting and conversing with my fellow enthusiasts filled my heart with joy.
Five months have passed since the finale of my memorable event yet the images and conversations remain vivid in my mind. Since many of you would not have been able to attend I have assembled a grouping of photos for you to experience. To see them as a slide show click on one of them and the show will begin.
Late in 2018 I received an invitation from Gael, the owner of Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, Wisconsin, to display my art quilts in a solo exhibit. My response, after overcoming the shock, was absolutely! September of this year was set aside for my event. Yesterday the two of us sorted through, organized and put on display 64 of my art pieces. The experience was exhilarating!
I am overjoyed to proudly announce the official opening of my solo art exhibit titled Transformation. The event will run from September 1, 2019, until September 30, 2019. A reception with refreshments will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Please stop by on the 14th to say hello and share in my excitement. I would love to see you. If you are able to stop by during the exhibit, please don’t forget to sign my guest book and leave a few comments.
Before departing I must say thank you to the individuals that have had an impact on my art. First on my list is Gael from Blue Bar Quilts. Thank you Gael for giving me this awesome opportunity! Your interest in my art has brought me so much joy! Next I would like to extend appreciation to the individuals that have had a profound impact on my journey. They are Rayna Gillman, Lisa Binkley, Judy Coates Perez, Pam Beal, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Susan Carlson, Cindy Grisdela, Heidi Parkes, and Maday Delgado. Your amazing talent has helped me to expand my horizons and become the artist I am today. The last and most important person is my husband Gary. Without his unconditional encouragement and financial backing I never would have had this opportunity.
Now, make plans to visit Blue Bar Quilts some time between September 1 – September 30, 2019, to observe my solo art show and of course do a little shopping.
There is a local fabric store that is celebrating their first anniversary in business. To honor this anniversary they have offered a challenge. The challenge is to create a quilt measuring no larger than 20” x 20”. The deadline to submit entries is March 31, 2018. All projects must include this fabric.
So How Come?
Sound familiar? Sure it does! It is almost identical to the challenge I am running on this blog.
So how did I let myself get involved in another Mystery Challenge? I have frequented this store many times to search out fabrics for my ongoing projects. Their inventory includes many unusual prints which makes them a great resource. I’ve often been able to find just the right item to fit my needs. I also receive their newsletters.
In one of their emails they shared information about their upcoming anniversary as well as the opportunity to participate in their Mystery Challenge. As incentive to encourage participation they are offering cash prizes. The thought of winning cash probably draws people in but there is a small catch…an entrance fee. It’s not incredibly expensive. Just makes the cost of a fat quarter a bit much if one doesn’t follow through with the challenge.
The chance of winning money, surprisingly, is not my reason to join. The fabric wasn’t the draw either because I’m not particularly fond of the print or the colors. Gaining exposure through the judging process is what drew my attention. After tossing the idea around in my head, over and over again, I finally decided to take a leap. So here I am creating another project.
improvisation challenges you to rethink your common practices
Those were only a few of the words Sherri uses to describe improv. She also describes improv in this way:
Commitment on the Edge of the Unknown (page 97)
Where Should I Start?
The best place to start with a book is usually at the beginning. Like most books Sherri’s is divided into chapters, or scores, as she refers to them. I have read Sherri’s book from cover to cover many times. Many of the processes in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously are very familiar to me. The scores on curved piecing were the most intriguing though. Having already been exposed to the others I have decided to skip ahead and jump right into the fire. I’m going to begin with the “unknown.”
Score # 9
Using Sherri’s book as my inspiration I am going to follow her “Score # 9” to create my first “curved piece.” This will be a learning experience and a great opportunity to expand my horizons. So, let’s get started.
My first task was to harvest fabrics from my inventory to pair with the assigned fabric. I pulled some pinks, greens, oranges and blues. The focus fabric has hints of lime green incorporated in the pattern. Since lime green is one of my favorites I made sure that color was included.
I used my camera to take both color as well as mono photos of my fabrics to analyze them for their values. My hope was to achieve a well-rounded selection from the start.
Twisted Threads Colors Selection
Twisted Threads Mono Tones
Here’s how my color choices stacked up.
After choosing my fabrics it was time to get the construction process started.
Let’s Cut Fabric
I didn’t exactly follow Sherri’s instructions to a tee. She suggests using a scissors rather than a rotary cutter. I tried doing that but wasn’t fond of how my strips turned out. It is possible that if I had my scissors sharpened I may have been more successful. Not wanting to be bothered with that now I chose to use my rotary cutter. Keeping that sharp is much easier. I also used a ruler. Sherri believes in cutting her fabrics free-hand but once again I wasn’t pleased with that outcome either. Aren’t I a rebel!
I created many sets of wedge strips; here’s one of them.
Below is a larger selection.
Next I stitched groupings of wedge strips together.
Notice all the pins. Sherri uses loads of pins to temporarily hold her wedge strips together. This makes it easier to keep the strips aligned while stitching. Of course each pin is removed just before the needle reaches it. The more pins the better.
This is what a strip looked like after it was stitched but before it was pressed open.
I made multiple sets of wedge strips using different arrangements of fabric. The photo above shows some of them.
Composing A Design
After building my inventory of wedge strips it was time to start composing a design. I placed all of the strip sets on my design wall and played around with different arrangements. As I found groupings that I liked I took them to my sewing machine to stitch them together. Many times the attaching of the strips meant there were sections that needed removing. Those were trimmed using my rotary cutter. The removed strips were saved and added in new areas.
The whole process of pinning, stitching and trimming went on for hours. Each adjustment or addition changed my piece in dramatic ways.
Once I had a design that I was happy with I auditioned various fabrics to use for the background. I even enlisted the help of my hubby to narrow down the options. He had many great insights to share. I guess he’s been listening to me after all! 🙂 With a background chosen I was ready to proceed with the quilting.
I decided to fuse my design to the background fabric. Before doing so I turned under the raw edges 1/4” and pressed them in place. Next I hand stitched the outer edge to my background with a dark purple thread. Once my wedge design was securely fastened I used a variegated yellow thread to quilt it. On the background fabric I echoed around my center design with a matching, variegated purple thread.
After the quilting was complete I trimmed off the excess fabric; remember my piece couldn’t be larger than 20” x 20”. The raw edges were then protected by facings. A label and hanging sleeve were also added. This is how my piece looked when it was finished.
I’m sure you have probably noticed, from the labels on the photos above, that I have given this piece the name Twisted Threads. As I was creating my piece the process of cutting and turning the various groupings every direction brought to mind a vision of twisted threads. Twisted Threads then seemed like the natural choice for a name so that’s where the name came from.
Part of creating art is the evaluation process that comes at the end. On page 20 Sherri says:
Never judge a work as good or bad.
Instead she recommends that you
evaluate your work in a non-judgmental way.
She uses these questions to evaluate her pieces:
What surprised me?
What did I discover or learn?
What was satisfying about the process or outcome?
What was dissatisfying?
If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?
Where do I want to go from here?
I found the process of creating my curved art piece challenging and interesting all at the same time. The steps taken to make the wedged strips was fun to follow. I enjoyed seeing how the different color combinations changed with the addition of new strips. Stitching the curved pieces together was the area that stretched me the most. Merging the concave edges with those that were convex is what tried my patience. This was a much slower process than I was used to but its results were far more rewarding.
If you had asked me right after I had finished my curved piece if I would be making another I probably would have said, “No!” Now that I have had some time to evaluate my experience and think about what I would do differently, my answer would be, “You Bet!”
As I stated earlier, merging the curved edges together into one was the most challenging. To help make the process easier in the future I would strive to create gentler curves. The curves with the more pronounced angles were the hardest to manage. If those were eliminated the experience would be much less stressful.
I also would resist the temptation to use up all of the trimmed-off segments. My piece, as it turned out, has so many different angles merging into one another. Each one of those sections is screaming for attention. If I had added breathing-room via the use of solid colors I believe my piece would have been much more relaxing to look at.
Moving forward I would like to improve my skills for the techniques that I have learned. I’d also like to explore the addition of bias strips as a means of adding negative space. My next attempt at creating a curved piece will most likely be on a larger scale. There will be no need to stay within the 20” x 20” dimensions.
There’s my evaluation. Time now to enter my project in the contest.
I am always so thankful for your visits and the wonderful comments you share. Your participation is very much appreciated!