Smooth Sailing


Not too long ago I shared plans to spend time sewing, shopping, and just having fun with a group of friends. Sadly my first full day has come and gone.

Almost all of my time was focused on my hand stitching pile of unfinished projects. Thankfully all of those items were finished. Take a look.

It feels so great to have crossed over that hurdle. Time to focus on other things!

Warm wishes to you!

Many Dots, AP # 82


Polka dots and French knots are two of my favorite things to add to art work—the quilt I’m revealing today has plenty of both. Many Dots, AP # 82 was given its name because of its circular elements.

Also incorporated are leftover scraps from previous projects. You will see them near the center. The first is a triangular grouping of green fabrics. The second section is directly to the right. Both were partnered with fabrics that nicely meld them all together. I really like it when I can find a use for remnants too good to toss.

To finish my project I added a mixture of hand and machine quilting. I also included three turquoise beads and a matching lime green button. My striking, newly finished art quilt looks like this.

Many Dots, AP # 82

Thank You for sharing your time!

Once In A Blue Moo, AP # 81


“Once in a blue moon” is a well-known idiom. The phrase refers to the occurrence of a second full moon within a calendar month. This phenomena only happens about once every thirty-two months.

The phrase “Once in a Blue Moon was the inspiration for today’s art quilt. Initially begun at the Pam Beal Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact class, this project took on a whimsical nature with the addition of an unusual embellishment and fabric strip.

Once In A Blue Moon Moo, AP # 81

A quick glance at the above photo reveals the presence of a vertical navy blue section of fabric with the word Moo repeatedly printed on its surface. This piece of fabric gave me the idea to call my project Once In a Blue Moon Moo. 

A careful tour of the 7 3/4 x 7 3/4” art quilt will reveal:

  • the presence of a multi-colored barn with;
  • a stylish, wood-grained, teal door;
  • sporting a teal zipper pull to act as the door’s handle;
  • a chimney fashioned from a tiny teal fabric scrap;
  • a grassy base represented by the fringed, teal, horizontal, fabric strip;
  • cleverly applied hand quilting using both matching and coordinating colors (note the stitches used to represent smoke arising from the chimney);
  • as well as a machine applied zig-zag stitch to secure raw edges.

All of these added elements helped to make this special art quilt a great addition to my portfolio. I hope that after you have examined each of my design elements you too will be able to grasp my vision.

Thank You for sharing your time!

Cobblestones, AP # 80


Today I am sharing another finished art piece. This one is called Cobblestones, AP # 80.

While in Ohio at the 2017 Quilt Surface and Design Symposium (QSDS) I used my spare time to document my visit through photographs. One of the photos I took was of an exposed section of cobblestones peaking through a layer of bricks and asphalt. The photo provided inspiration for my Cobblestones quilt.

A Cobblestone Street

Cobblestone features an off-centered grouping of tiny colorful squares enveloped by strips of a soft mint colored fabric. The tiny squares, or artistically replicated cobblestones, were quilted with minimally spaced, hand-applied stitches. The soft mint fabric sections were quilted with matching thread using both machine and hand stitching. Cobblestone measures 10 x 4 1/2”.

This very simple masterpiece initially took shape during Pam Beal’s class Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact. The finishing touches were applied in my studio at home. If Pam were to see it today I believe she would say that it definitely fits into the minimalist category. Here’s my finished piece.

Cobblestones, AP # 80

Thank You for sharing your time!

Wise Old Owl


One of the joys of finishing an art piece is sharing it with you. My most recent finish is a piece titled Wise Old Owl, AP # 76. Read on to discover it’s details.

The Beginning

I participated in Pam Beal’s class Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact back in the spring of 2018. The specimen being shown today was started during that class.

This quilt, as with many others, started from leftover scraps. If you refer to the photo below you will see them in the center of the art piece. They are the dangling strips of random fabrics. This odd grouping adds an unexpected point of interest. Further interest was added through these special features:

  • Three Stitches: In the quilt’s uppermost area you will notice three stitches. Pam often adds elements of surprise to her masterpieces. These three stitches are my surprise touch.
  • One Bead: Adding further excitement is the addition of an unusual single teal bead. The bead was purchased from Etsy long before I began this project. Since then I had been waiting for just the right opportunity to use it. This project seemed like the perfect place.
  • Three Small Beads: The goal of a balanced quilt is evenly distributed color. To spread the presence of teal in yet another location, three small teal beads were stitched to the black horizontal fabric strip.
  • Zigzag Stitch: The grouping of fabric strips with uneven lengths and varied colors have raw edges. Normally raw edges would be secured inside a seam. Since these were not I added a row of zigzag stitching to prevent unraveling.
  • Black Strip: Although it may be hard to tell the horizontal black strip extends beyond the mini quilt’s edges on both sides. Each end of the strip was stitched together to protect the unfinished edges.

The Name

Here’s why I’ve named my piece Wise Old Owl:

  • The teal triangle reminds me of eyebrows.
  • The two small grey triangles, on either side of the eyebrows, look like eyes,
  • The short black vertical strip of fabric beneath the eyes forms a beak.
  • The horizontal black strips extending beyond the sides of the quilt look like outstretched wings.

Finishing Touches

Ms. Wise Old Owl has a black binding to protect her delicate edges. Her backside is covered with a matching black fabric. Inside she is kept warm by a layer of Warm & Natural batting. She measures 13 x 8″.

Wise Old Owl, AP # 76
A Closer Look at some of the Owl’s Details

Thank You for visiting!

X’s and O’s, AP # 75


Sidetracked

Before heading to Woodland Ridge for Pam Beal’s class, I stopped in Menomonie at the cutest little fabric shop called Thread Lab. The art piece I will share today incorporates three of the fabrics purchased during my shopping spree.

Undivided Attention

This is the third post featuring art quilts resulting from my attendance at Pam Beal’s class Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact.

One of the concepts I learned there was

“L” Shape Balance.

What??

Those that read and write the English language are familiar with the letter “L”. The “L” begins with a downward swipe of the pen, then continues on toward the right. These two lines form a ninety degree angle.

The English language is read from top to bottom and left to right. This top to bottom, left to right flow is replicated in the letter “L”. When viewing art our eye travels along the same path.

Lets Review

If you recall, I mentioned earlier one of the traits Pam said was important for a successful art piece. The term I am referring to is “L” Shape Balance. If my quilt were to achieve “L” Shape Balance then my eye would begin in the top left corner and proceed across and down the surface.

I believe my mini art piece achieves that balance. The blue fabric, situated to the left of the center, echoes the downward movement of a pen creating the first part of an “L”. The grey fabric directly below can be identified with the left to right swipe.

Did I loose you?

In other words, my eye first travels from top to bottom down the surface of the blue fabric. Next it makes a right angle and follows along the grey strip to the outer right edge.

Is that better?

X’s and O’s

X’s and O’s are often used to signify a hug and a kiss when writing sentiments in, say for instance—a card. I’ve titled today’s art piece X’s and O’s not because I’m sending you a kiss or a hug. Instead I’ve chosen this reference because of the fabrics I used to create it.

X's and O's
X’s and O’s, AP # 75

If you look closely in the body of my piece you will see skinny strips of fabric accentuated by the letter “X”. You will also notice a blue fabric decorated with black dots. The “X’s” and dots, or “O’s” were the inspiration for my quilt’s name.

What’s Left?

Let’s look at the remaining features of my art piece. This small art quilt was made using three different colors—black, grey and blue. The

  • blue fabric with the black dots;
  • the grey and black fabric with the x’s; and
  • the darker grey and black near the bottom

were purchased during my fabric shopping trip. The balance of the other fabrics were harvested from my stash.

Hand Quilted

Years and years ago I tried mastering the art of hand quilting. After several attempts I threw in the towel and turned to machine quilting. Hand quilting is Pam’s preferred method. After seeing Pam’s masterpieces and how lovely they looked with her stitching I decided to give it another try.

Thread Colors

I chose three thread colors for my stitching.

  • The grey fabrics were accented with grey thread.
  • Black thread was my obvious choice for the two black border pieces.
  • In the remaining sections I used a soft blue.

After achieving a workable rhythm I actually grew to appreciate hand quilting. The somewhat uneven appearance of my stitches gives my small project a more rustic texture.

Surprise!

Strategically placed stray stitches along with random beading are Pam’s go-to-method for adding elements of surprise. Using this for my inspiration I added a few stray stitches along with four French knots in the quilt’s right, grey panel. These two elements add a little sparkle.

The Little Things

Now that we have examined the obvious details let’s take one last look at the unmentioned features.

  • X’s and O’s measures 14” L x 8 5/8“ w.
  • Surrounding my quilt is a binding made from black fabric.
  • In between the quilt sandwich is a layer of Warm & Natural batting.
  • The back is protected by a layer of black fabric.
  • A hanging sleeve and label have been attached as well.

That’s A Wrap

With so much to share, this has been a very long post. I think you would agree though that it was well worth the read.

Thank you so much for sticking with me. Let’s do this again!

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1973, AP # 74


A Strong Desire

The older I get the stronger my desire to explore and experience the many forms of art. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend numerous classes—each one exposing me to techniques or philosophies I have not tried.

One of the classes I attended was Pam Beal’s Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact. If you click on the link attached to the class name you will be taken to the blog post she shared once our class was complete. Within that post is numerous photos of her own work as well as the work of her students. Photos # 7, 8 and 10 show a few of my projects. Photo # 8 is the subject of today’s story.

Let’s Begin!

1973 was the year I graduated from high school. My graduating class contained 400+ students—way too many to remember them all by name.

Our official school colors were cardinal and grey. Often times they were referred to as red and grey by our cheerleaders. I can still recall one of the chants—

Red and grey,

red and grey,

fight, fight!

The Name Is

Recently I put finishing touches on a small art quilt started while attending Pam Beal’s class.

After adding the last detail I always give my art quilts a name. Sometimes the process turns very slowly—in this instance it was quick and painless.

My Assistant

My husband is very familiar with my class colors and the year of my graduation. When I proudly shared my finished piece he instantly named the quilt

1973

in honor of my high school graduation and my class colors.

1973
1973, AP # 74

Distinguishing Features

Pam Beal’s quilts primarily contain straight line piecing. On occasion she adds an element of surprise through circles or curved pieces.

Following in Pam’s footsteps, 1973 was assembled with geometric, straight-line shapes. Added for pizazz were two gently curved strips—one each in the upper and lower quadrants.

These wavy lines add interest and movement by drawing your eye from one side to the other. Pam emphasized that a well-balanced piece will

keep your eye moving.

One way of providing movement is to

bring your elements (i.e. colors, piecing, quilting) off the page,

or in this case, off the mini quilt.

I think 1973 has achieved that feature through the addition of those strips.

Color Pallet

Since the theme of the class was minimalism I kept my color pallet simple. Chosen were grey, both light and dark; fuchsia; white and black. The grey tones are not part of my normal color family. In fact, grey is one of my least favorite colors. Given that this class was supposed to help me reach outside my comfort zone I made the decision to challenge my norms by adding colors unusual to me.

Another Door

Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact taught me the qualities of a well-balanced art piece. Learning these traits opened my eyes to new opportunities to analyze my own work. These revelations, in essence, swung open another door.

Doorway Features

Just as with Blue Door  this mini art piece also reflects the imagery of a doorway.

  • The doorway was assembled using strategically placed rectangles of color.
  • Standing outside looking in you will notice a window made from fuchsia cotton fabric.
  • Radiating from the window is additional rectangular shapes fashioned from a soft grey, more fuchsia and white. These added fuchsia and white fabrics give the door interest.
  • Emphasizing the image of a door knob is the oversized silver snap.
  • Strips of fuchsia colored cotton lead your eye to the outer right edge of my piece. By leading your eye in that direction I am enticing you to reach for and turn the door knob.
  • To add even more interest and encouragement of motion I added hand quilting. The stitched lines in and around the door bring your focus to the opportunity for discovery. An open door can lead to new and exciting experiences.
  • The grey stitches reaching from the left edge outward to the right give my piece even more movement. A movement that should also tease you to open wide the door.

The Final Details

1973

  • Measures: 11 7/8” L x 9 3/8” W
  • It Contains: Cotton fabrics
  • Is bound and backed with: Black fabric
  • Is sandwiched with: Warm & Natural Batting

In Conclusion

This was the second of many art quilts to develop during the Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact class. I will continue to reveal the other ones in future posts.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about and seeing my latest art piece. Perhaps the tips shared will help you when analyzing your own works of art.

Please Share!

If there were aspects of my quilt or techniques that you found interesting, please share those thoughts. I learn so much from your comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for visiting! I look forward to our next opportunity.

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The Blue Door, AP # 66


Being Stretched

Since May 2016 I have had the amazing opportunity to attend classes at the Woodland Ridge Retreat. While there I have studied under Rayna Gillman, Lisa Binkley, and Pam Beal. Pam taught the class Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact.

Opening oneself up to new ideas can be scary and exciting at the same time.

Pam’s class stretched me in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. She nudged me to think outside the box, use unconventional materials and incorporate blank or negative space.

The small expressions of art that developed from those trying moments will be the focus of my attention over the next several postings.

First Up

The first to take shape was Blue Door.

Blue Door, AP # 66
Blue Door, AP # 66

Near the center is a stitched together grouping of blue and teal strips. The denim colored pieces were the inspiration for my small quilt’s name. They are the doorway to my new adventure.

By attending this class I was in essence opening a new door.

A door that led me into a hallway filled with apprehension, inspiration and intrigue.

How fitting to name the first minimalist art quilt to evolve from Pam’s class

Blue Door.

A Closer Look

Let’s take an even closer look.

Immediately surrounding the door are two thin strips of a soft gray fabric. Those slivers of light surrounding the door represent the opportunities just waiting to burst through and enlighten my exploration.

Apprehension

Next to the rays of light are black fabric. The black symbolizes the apprehension I often feel before I open new doors. As my heart beats faster and my muscles begin to tighten I feel as if I’m surrounded by darkness…unable to focus.

The Handle

In the lower right corner is a small green rectangle. This added pop of color is the handle to my door.

Stitched on top of the green fabric is an iridescent bead. The bead, with its shiny facade, beckons me to open the door.

Aha Moments

I reach for the door and turn the knob. As the door creaks open the fog or darkness begins to fade and is replaced by an even brighter light. The bright light that expands my way of thinking is represented by the two larger strips of the same soft gray fabric.

Filtering through the bright light are the “aha” moments when the uncertainty begins to unravel. Understanding new concepts is not something that happens all at once. The learning comes slowly. Those glimmers or breakthroughs are identified by the blue and teal print fabrics.

Hand Quilting

Throughout the entire miniature art quilt you will see rows of carefully placed hand stitching. The thread colors selected were meant to quietly compliment the fabrics without drawing unnecessary attention.

Finishing Touches

Blue Door, AP # 66 measures 12” long and 8 3/4” wide. A single layer of cotton batting secretly rests between the quilt top and the black cotton backing. A sleeve for hanging and a label were added to the back.

New Opportunities

The process of creating my small art quilt took me on a journey that opened opportunities for greater growth in my exploration of the arts. I’m very pleased with its outcome.

Your Reaction Please!

Now that you have met Blue Door what are your thoughts?

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Minimalist Design


What is it?

Any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.

Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston

Early in June I took a class taught by Pam Beal. The class title was

Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact.

I’ve been experimenting with fabric for decades.

My path began with structured piecing using quilt patterns and rigid measurements. From there I turned to impromptu piecing.

My first introduction to minimalist design was through a book written by Rayna Gillman and reinforced by a class of hers.

Pam says she is

an improvisational quilter from the Liberated School of Design.

I enjoyed listening to and learning from Pam. Here’s one of her wonderful quilts.

Lilly Pad A LA Mode
Lily Pad A LA Mode, 24” x 38 1/2”, 2013. Designed, made and hand quilted in a floor frame by Pam J. Beal, Mass City, Michigan.

While at the class I created a number of small art pieces. Some of them used colors and combinations that were out of my comfort zone.

The mini projects, numbering at least 16, are anxious to meet you.

Be watching for their debut.

Blessings to you!

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