In April I began retrofitting many of my smaller art pieces to make them suitable for attaching to a stretched canvas frames. I call this adventure Operation Renovation. The topic of today’s journal entry is an item that I first revealed in July, 2018. This specimen was called Court House Friends 7 of 14. Court house friends is a reference to a grouping of court house blocks I received in a block swap. The blocks had colors that I was not particularly fond of. Rather than leaving them as is I opted to turn them into improv art pieces; sixteen different art projects resulted from that experiment. The pieced center, with its surrounding white border, looked like this in July, 2018.
In The Beginning:
To modify Court House Friends 7 of 14 I began by removing the facings and other components that had been attached to the back. After carefully trimming and pressing my small art piece I went in search of a fabric that would compliment the colors already present in the small quilt. I found a lovely purple and teal batik with accents of rust and burgundy. I chose this one because not only did it match with the colors in the existing art piece but it also added an interesting element that didn’t provide a distraction.
Wrapping It Up:
Court House Friends 7 of 14 originally measured 5 7/8” x 10 7/8”. The target frame size was 11” x 14”. After making a few calculations I cut properly sized strips of fabric to add as borders. With the borders attached I created a quilt sandwich by stacking the renovated art quilt with a layer of batting and backing. The last step, in this renovation process, was quilting. The new borders were the only items that needed quilting; to those I added a zig zag pattern with a multi-colored variegated thread.
Since the visual identity of my fiber art piece had been changed I decided its name should be as well. While viewing the composition I studied the arrangement of the fabrics in the pieced center. The single vertical line with the horizontal protrusions reminded me of the rungs on a ladder. Identifying that image gave me the inspiration to name my art quilt Up The Ladder, Art Piece # 52.
When my new and improved project was finished, this is how it appeared.
Even though the changes were relatively minor I think she looks much prettier now. How about you?
Thank you for being here and for reading until the very end!
On my agenda today is the continuation of Operation renovation. I began a series earlier this year to adapt several of my fiber art pieces for mounting on stretched canvas frames. The candidates chosen were items that had been completed months or even years ago. In my opinion, all of them had a mediocre existence.
To prepare my subjects for a make-over I first stripped away their bindings and other finishing touches. Once that was complete the renovation process could begin. Some of the changes were subtle while others were quite dramatic; watching each one morph from its original status to a freshly refurbished fiber art piece was amazing.
After struggling to fit it into the design I made the decision to keep it as a solo specimen.
The center of the block was a leftover scrap from one of my earlier art pieces. Thankfully I saved the remnant because it made a great building block for this one. The pieced center is surrounded by two borders; the first is a shade of magenta and the second a faded denim. In it’s original version, the fiber art piece was quilted with a straight-line motif using a variegated thread.
During my quest to repurpose/reinvent a number of my specimens I chose this one as a candidate. Not too much had to be done to adapt it for mounting on a stretched canvas frame. The original facings were stripped away. The resulting raw edges were then trimmed to freshen them up. A new border was added to adapt it for mounting on canvas. To blend the original faded denim border with the new addition I chose to use the same color fabric. Once the size was adequate for mounting I added a layer of batting and backing, then attached the sandwich to the frame.
Typically once the fiber art quilt is attached no further stitching is required; however, lately I have been adding a variety of hand stitches to some of my smaller pieces. The hand stitches add an element of design that would not be possible with a sewing machine. When the items are small they are easy to work with because the wooden frame acts as an embroidery hoop, giving the fabric stability.
For this item hand stitching was essential. While the colors of the specimen were interesting they lacked the luster I desired. To initiate my embellishment process I selected an overly large button with numerous holes. Rather than stitching it to the frame with the button perpendicular to its edges I chose to place it on the diagonal. Next I secured the button in place by running a few simple stitches through the holes; which by the way are difficult to see now.
Sue Spargo has a book called Creative Stitching, Second Edition. I enjoy reading through and experimenting with some of the stitches in her book. One of my favorites is the drizzle stitch. The three dimensional stitch creates twisted protrusions that extend above the fabric surface. The holes of my added button seemed like the perfect place to insert them.
Look closely and you will see that I used a variety of thread colors and lengths of drizzle stitch to fill in the holes of the button. The combination of the on-point button and the drizzle stitches reminded me of a flower’s center. To capitalize on that idea I added four groupings of hand-applied stitching along the sides of the button. Each of the lines is capped-off with a matching colored French knot. The added lines represent the petals of a flower.
With the addition of the button, and hand stitching this composition went from ho hum to WOW; which makes this operation renovation project an obvious success. I’m so glad I decided to give this small fiber art piece a second chance.
Originally titled Bubbles because of the circles seen throughout many of the fabrics, I decided the title no longer applied. While pondering the many available options, I very easily could have selected something with a floral theme; instead I chose to identify the structure of the original block as the basis for the new name. This block has the essence of a log cabin design. Going with that as my significant feature I have named this item Abstract Log Cabin, Art Piece # 38.
This is how my newly renovated project looked when she left the studio.
In it final form Abstract Log Cabin measures 12” x 12” x 1 1/2”. Added to the back of the frame is a paper barrier to protect the art piece from dust and bugs. Two d-rings and wire were attached to make it easy to be hung on a wall. Also added are silicone bumpers to help with stability and encourage ventilation.
So, what do you think? Was this a worthwhile project? Does the composition look better now than she did before?
Halloween is only days away. All around me I see the holiday decorations of my neighbors. The most prominent of which are the inflated images of pumpkins, monsters and ghosts. Typically we join up with our children and grandchildren to share a meal and walk about a neighborhood trick-or-treating. Given the ever-present pandemic the visit to neighboring homes will be eliminated. In place of those festivities we have plans for games and other activities. Our group is small and the home at which we will gather is large enough for social distancing. I’ve even surveyed my grandchildren to learn about their favorite candies. Even though they won’t fill their bags with candy from the neighbors I will make certain I do my part.
The closeness of Halloween makes this the perfect time to reveal my art piece called One Eyed Monster. I have been spending the last several postings talking about my 8”x10” finished projects; today’s entry continues on that same track.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have made a shift in how I start my 8”x10” projects. Originally my small stitching pieces were attached to a naked stretched canvas frame. By naked I mean that the white canvas was left as is. This method had been my preferred style; I thought the starkness of the white canvas and the rough texture added their own type of element. I even liked how rustic my name looked when it was written on the canvas.
As time went by I wanted to add even more interest to my compositions. Incorporating fabric as a base for my projects gave me another opportunity to expand my art even further. All of the fiber art pieces that I am sharing today and in the future will begin with a fabric background.
As you could tell by the title of this journal entry, I will be revealing fiber art pieces 192-199. They continue with the shift I made from using plain white backgrounds to fabric. Each project begins first with the stretched canvas frame. If I were creating a typical quilt the first layer of the sandwich would be a fabric backing; in this instance it is the canvas frame. Next to follow is a layer of batting, white or black depending upon the color intensity of the next fabric; the batting helps to give the frames edges a more rounded appearance. The third element is the fabric that will serve as the composition’s background. This addition holds a very important function as it sets the theme for everything else that will follow.
Once the three layers of the sandwich have been established it is time to start assembling the decorative features. The parameters for those items is wide open; the only limitation here is your imagination. I’ve been known to use as many as four layers of fabric and or embellishments. I also like to include a variety of doodads such as lace, buttons, beads and snaps, to name a few.
The finishing touch is the hand or machine stitching. This process can make or break your final outcome. It also can be the most enjoyable step. Here is where you can either stay low-key or go hog wild. I let the initial image of the fiber art piece sink in for a while. This gives me a chance to get a feel for the possible avenues I might follow. Once my thought process is complete I gather up the thread colors I will use, thread my needle and get to work. Even though I map out a plan of attack for my stitching that doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind along the way. There have been many times when I have decided to go in an entirely different direction. All that matters is that the final outcome looks wonderful.
Without Further Ado:
Let me introduce you to items 192-199!
One Eyed Monster, Art Piece # 192
EcoPrint, Art Piece # 193
Shiny Blue Moon, Art Piece # 194
Navel Orange, Art Piece # 195
Raspberry Orange Slush, Art Piece # 196
Hashtag, Art Piece # 197
Bruised, Art Piece # 198
Floating Stars, Art Piece # 199
Did the One Eyed Monster scare you?
I hope that you enjoyed seeing and reading about each of the eight projects; especially the One Eyed Monster! If time allows, please share your thoughts in a comment.
Do you remember The Odd One, Art Piece # 17 and Ahoy, Art Piece # 18? I wrote about their adventures recently. Both were part of a reassignment project that focused on turning boring art pieces into something much more attractive. The composition I am showing today was part of that process. Let’s take a look.
Three different fiber art pieces were dismantled for this renovation project. They were: The Chosen Nine, Four Friends I and Four Friends II. The reassignment process netted 17 different blocks and of those two were singled out for this specimen. Both were chosen because of their similarities. A close look at the two blocks will show that they appear to be arrows. Also of interest is the fabrics found on the right side of each arrow; look closely and you will see that they are identical. These similarities made putting them together a natural choice.
Aside from trimming each block down to 4 1/2” x 4 1/2”, not much else needed to be done. I selected a gorgeous blue fabric to act as a spacer between the two blocks as well as borders for the outside edges. Before attaching it to a 11” x 14” stretched canvas frame I layered the new quilt top with batting and a backing. The quilting in the arrow blocks was already present. To the surrounding blue fabric I added lines of straight-line quilting with a variegated thread. Notice how they add an interesting design element of their own.
Long before I added the last quilting stitch I decided what name I would give to this item. Given that the two blocks looked like arrows, I purposely arranged them to point in an upward direction. The upward movement inspired me to name this fiber art piece Up, Art Piece # 19.
As with all my other frame mounted art projects, this one was given a protective paper backing. The backing serves as a barrier from dust and bugs. A hanging system of two d-rings and wire was attached to aid in display. To provide for ventilation and stability silicone bumpers were added.
I think the appearance of this fiber art piece is far more appealing now that it was before. See for yourself.
I appreciate your interest in my activities and your willingness to read this journal to the very end! Your participation has made my day!
Part of the fun of a renovation project is seeing the before and after photos. Let’s see what Four Friends looked like before I tackled her reinvention.
Portions of this sweet little project were once part of a much larger one. When I decided to modify a number of my art pieces, this was one of the products to evolve. A total of 17 building blocks were harvested from three existing fiber art quilts. After shuffling them around to create new and improved specimens four blocks were chosen for this composition.
Once the selection process was over I trimmed each of the four blocks down to 4 1/2”x4 1/2”. In their previous state, the stark white borders were just too boring for me; this time around I wanted to add more color.
To distract the attention from the dramatic white borders I added strips cut from a royal blue fabric printed with floating fish. The floating fish worked perfectly with the theme I was developing. Next I added a layer of batting and a backing. The entire sandwich was then quilted with straight-line quilting using a color coordinated variegated thread.
Choosing A Name:
My art pieces always have an assigned name; sometimes it’s chosen even before the fabrics are stitched together. For this item I new exactly what I would call it the minute I selected the blocks. All four were chosen to be together because they reminded me of a boat. Since they were created using improvisational techniques I think it is amazing that this even occurred. A grouping of ugly quilt blocks were repeatedly cut apart and stitched back together with no intention of ending up with a boat image. How crazy is that!
The four little boats with their floating fish borders now had a nautical theme. To set them on a path for smooth sailing I chose to call them Ahoy. Here is how they looked just before their maiden voyage.
Do you see what I am talking about?
Once Ahoy was attached to the stretched canvas frame I added a layer of protection from dust and bugs with a paper backing. To make it easy to display the fiber art piece on a wall two d-rings and wire were added. I also attached silicone bumpers for ventilation and to help with stability. Ahoy, in its final form, measures 12”x12”x7/8”.
As always I am thrilled that you were able to spend time with me today! I hope that you enjoyed reading about my adventure as much as I did in sharing it. Let’s make a plan to do this again!
This year has been very busy with my renovation project, my solo art exhibit, finishing oodles of 8”x10” small art pieces and starting my own online store. Sandwiched in-between were numerous trips to my little cabin in the woods as well as fun activities with my peeps; all while practicing social distancing. The online store has taken up most of the time I would normally have spent on my blog. With the majority of those tasks accomplished, I can once again share my triumphs with Operation Renovation.
A Return To Operation Renovation:
Operation Renovation is a project I started back in January. During the early days of this pandemic I searched for something to focus my attention on. At the time, I had a number of art pieces that were finished but not quite to my liking. With my pandemic anxiety level reaching an all-time high I decided to redirect my attention to those less-than-appealing projects. A number of successful outcomes have already been shared but I still have quite a few to go; time to get back to sharing my progress.
This art quilt began during the summer of 2017 (see photo above). In its original form it was a grouping of nine improvisational building blocks. Each of the blocks was surrounded by four white borders. The nine, with their stark white edges, were stitched together and surrounded by a white binding. They were quilted with a simple, but attractive straight-line quilting motif. The finished quilt remained in that state until recently; that’s when I decided the composition was just too blah. To remedy my dilemma I grabbed a seam ripper and removed the binding, then gave it a good pressing
At the same time I decided to tackle the renovation of Art Piece # 17 I had also decided to work on two other items. Those compositions contained four blocks each. They are Four Friends # 1 and Four Friends # 2. All three quilts could very easily have been left intact and mounted on a stretched canvas frame. Since I was making changes I decided to go wild and cut them all apart; I ended up with seventeen 5 1/2”x5 1/2″ units. To change things even further I reallocated them into eight separate art compositions: a six piece, a four piece, a two piece and five individual specimens.
The six piece composition was the first one to be finished. To give this item a punch of color I chose to add a two-tone blue border around each block. All six blocks were then stitched together to form a new quilt top. The newly created fiber art piece was sandwiched together with a layer of batting and a new fabric backing. To secure the layers together I traveled around each block stitching straight-lines with a variegated blue thread.
A New Name:
Once the quilting was finished I decided to give this renovated item a new name. As I allowed my eyes to travel over its surface I made a discovery; one of the units incorporated into the project was quilted differently than the others. This revelation gave me the inspiration to title this fiber art piece The Odd One. See if you can locate it!
In its finished form The Odd One measures 16″x20″. Protecting the back from dust and bugs is a paper backing. For ease of display two d-rings and wire were added to facilitate hanging on a wall. Silicone bumpers were also added to help minimize sideways movement stability and to promote air circulation.
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing the once blah specimen turn into something much more spectacular. Sharing these stories with you is one of the best parts of the entire process. Thank you for being here!
Ta Da! I’ve created my 100th fiber art piece! Time to dance a little jig. 🙂
Autumn Jazz was created during the polyester stretch velvet class I took in May 2019. Measuring 7 3/4” x 9 3/4” it is one of my favorite polyester creations.
I’ve always been fond of autumn colors. Many of the furnishings and fixtures in my home reflect that appreciation. When I combined the colors for this specimen it seemed only natural to expand on the warm color pallet often associated with autumn.
All of the polyester stretch velvet fabrics were anchored together with a light fusible product heated by an iron. Each of the small sections contains a minimum of at least two layers of polyester. To accentuate the finished structure I added geometric shaped lines of machine quilting. A black cotton border was added to all four sides. They too were quilted with rows of straight lines.
The warm and inviting appearance of Autumn Jazz has made it a wonderful addition to my portfolio.
When I hear the words, “follow the lines,” I am reminded of the instructions I received as a child. The phrase was uttered to encourage me to stay within the lines while coloring on paper. The meaning, in this instance, is much different. This installment in my polyester stretch velvet revelations will introduce you to an art piece I call Follow the Lines.
Art Piece # 99 was assigned the name Follow the Lines because of the added quilting. The angular movement, of the stitches, is reminiscent of a corn maze one would explore.
As was mentioned earlier, this 7 3/4” x 9 3/4” portfolio installment was constructed primarily from polyester stretch velvet. The various layers were secured together with a fusible web and an iron. Making the item appears as if it were shrouded by a curtain is a very fine sheet of mesh. Although the specimen had a unique quality of its own it still needed quilting to complete the process. Complimenting the perimeter of the polyester fiber art piece is a border of black cotton fabric embellished with rows of straight-line quilting.