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Wandering My Way Back

I must have gotten lost in my search for the great chocolate chip cookies that I have mentioned in pervious posts.  More recently, I have been pursuing great milkshakes more than cookies.  The quilt show circuit has come back in full force, it has been great to be back on the road from time to time. Welcome to readers joining me in my creative adventures.

Over the past two years I had hoped to make progress finishing up older projects.  That has not gone as I planned, but I am pleased to report that this year I started and finished the largest art quilt in my oeuvre so far.  The Ohio Amish Country Quilt Show had a challenge class this year for Log Cabin quilts.  I decided to make my own creative, wonky interpretation of the traditional Log Cabin block.  Here it is:

Deconstructed Log Cabin


The blocks started with either chunks of dyed cotton batting or dyed vintage napkins.  I backed each base piece with muslin, and added raw edge applique scraps to the top.  Starting with a small square just off center, I kept adding longer fabric strips around the block, leaving space to show the dyed base piece colors.  Next, I went wild with hand embroidery.  After all the blocks were finished, I made a quilt sandwich from a vintage damask tablecloth, batting and backing; machine quilting the blocks to the sandwich.  I finished the quilting and binding at 10:30 PM the day before the quilt had to be turned in to make it into the show!  I am very pleased with the way it turned out, and I am happy that it is inspiring others as well.  I am looking at other traditional quilt blocks to use this raw edge technique on, and I am working on developing a future workshop in this technique.

Next week, I will be back with my latest fabric dyeing adventures.

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Getting Back on Track

Yes, I am still here!  What happened to me since my last post?  Well, things like chocolate chip cookies, writing poetry, planting seeds, fresh baked bread, spring flowers, bird watching and so on.  Of course, I have been stitching too, though my color and design project is definitely going to be a two year endeavor.  Other than the neutral palette pieces that I have previously introduced, I have pieces started for the second workshop (monochrome) and the third workshop (complementary color).  Additionally, I have selected fabric for no less than six collages dealing with the fourth workshop, complex complements.  I’m getting back on track with posting once a week here, so please check back for profiles of my continuing color adventures.  I will discuss the monochrome workshop next week.  Meanwhile, here is a picture of one of my neutral palette collages with some stitching:

The first workshop also incorporates an investigation of balance as it relates to art design.  This is the example for radial balance, where the design emerges from a main focal point.  This particular collage also uses informal or asymmetrical balance, even though I have another collage for that type of balance.  I am finding that some pieces of art straddle more than one category of certain design elements.  In these cases, a piece of art will usually be a better representative of one category more than another.  When I finish my intended sample of informal balance, I will post it alongside this radial balance piece, and I’ll compare and contrast the two.

Until next week, I will keep stitching, and searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

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Finding Balance with the Colors of an Ohio Winter

Already, I have made my yearlong color and design project more complicated than I intended, but I am having fun with it.  I have taken to heart my own advice to play with the elements of composition.  My monthly goals have been revised a bit, I am going to aim for having the fabric pieces placed by the end of each month.  The stitching on these will take much longer, especially since I started out by trying to make five wall hangings for January’s workshop on balance using a neutral palette.  This has been an unusually snowy winter in my part of Ohio, the neutral palette required of this workshop is exactly what I see outside.   Here is what I have so far:

Formal or Symmetrical Balance

Informal or Asymmetrical Balance

Radial Balance

Crystallographic Balance

I have several questions that I keep asking myself about the pieces as I work on them.  Am I using the full range of values (light to dark)?  Is the viewer’s attention going to move all around the piece?  Will I want to keep looking at each piece?  Is it something I want to live with?

There are more things to think about when evaluating artwork.  Right now, I need to think about workshop #2, February is half over already.

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The End of the Squares

I am happy to report that I finished my year of 4 x 4” squares on time!  Here are the December squares:

Now, I must decide what to do with all of these crazy squares.  My original intent was to keep some as prototypes for larger pieces.  I like to think of these as sketches – throughout the project, I played with composition, color combinations and to a lesser degree, getting more creative with my stitching.  While I made my way through the year, I thought the squares that I did not decide to keep would get mounted on small canvas panels to sell at art fairs.

On New Year’s Day, I laid out all of the squares, and they looked great all together.  I am now considering making an art quilt of them, and making more squares for my original plan sometime in the future.  I am thinking it would be best to wait and see when and how the art fair comeback trail will unfold before making huge plans.

Of course, seeing all the squares out together with the idea of making them into a single work raised a few questions.  Not just the technical issues of putting them together, but more personal questions: Can I live without the squares that I love if the piece sells?  Will I really want to keep the resulting piece – will I see it as a constant reminder of a year that I want to forget?  Making four squares a week certainly helped to get me through having nearly everything that I was looking forward to in 2020 taken away.  Now that I have let the first week of 2021 slip by, I need to get busy with my new year-long series.

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Looking Forward with a Past Project

Again, I have changed course from my intended plans.  I’m being flexible!  The pumpkin and autumn leaves that I promised in my last post will come some other time.  Meanwhile, I have my 4 x 4” squares from November:

In the eleventh month of this project, I am finally pushing myself to get more creative with my stitching by filling the shapes created by the fabric pieces and jumping outside the edges.

Looking ahead to 2021 (and hoping that we get to go to art festivals, quilt shows and sewing industry expos again), I have decided on my yearlong project.  I am going to revisit the book A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design by Heather Thomas (Landauer Publishing, 2011), and complete all twelve workshops in the book.  Back in 2011 when I bought my copy of the book, I completed the first workshop, and then never went on to the second.  I am going to start over, since my skill level has improved since 2011, not to mention my creative vision changing over the years.

I will also investigate some new fabric collage techniques in this project, with the intent of making multiple small quilts for each workshop to test out all of the new things I want to try.  Ambitious?  Oh yes!  I have already started cutting fabric.  The first workshop focuses on value, texture and balance using a restricted neutral palette.  I’ll start off with pieces of commercial print fabric cut to the intended finished size.

These first four collage quilts for Workshop 1 will be collaged with bits and pieces in much the same way that I have stitched my 4 x 4” squares.  The bits and pieces will include assorted fabrics, trims and funky yarns.

Another set of collaged quilts will emerge from pieced backgrounds that will have more fabric pieces, lace, doilies, trims and stitching added to them.

How far will I get with this?  I could work on the neutrals for an entire year!  Keep checking back to see what happens in my latest creative adventure.