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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.

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Lessons from Eggplant

Every once in a while, I completely forget that not everyone has had the same life experience and knowledge that I have.  We’ve all done it.  Recently, at a local produce auction, I was inspecting some lovely white eggplant that, unlike the eggplant that most are familiar with, was two inches in diameter and 5-6 inches long.  An older gentleman came up to me and asked, “What are those?”  I was stunned that someone buying vegetables at a produce auction wasn’t aware of different varieties.  Take a look at photo transfer image on this little art quilt that I made a few years ago.  Among an amazing assortment of peppers, there is a basket of tiny green eggplant, and another basket of white eggplant looking very much like… eggs.

Eggplant isn’t just eggplant, there are the standard pear shaped black, and then there are other shapes, colors and tastes.  The same goes for most other cultivated fruits and vegetables.  Of course, I politely explained the world of eggplant varieties to the man, and perhaps he went away a bit wiser.  I have a series going of heirloom vegetable quilts.  Here is a fabric portrait of carrots that I grow, in colors true to the real roots.

A week later, I was contemplating a half peck of okra that I wanted, and another bidder asked me a familiar question, “What are those?”  Another teaching moment, and this time, I piqued this gentleman’s curiously.  He asked if he could have a few to try if I ended up buying them.  I readily agreed, wanting to encourage him to try something new.  I was the high bidder on the okra, and I kept my promise, giving him a generous handful with cooking instructions.

Those of us who are creative in the visual arts need to look for similar encouraging teaching moments in our encounters who might be curious about making something but think that they cannot.  Take a travel kit of art supplies wherever you go, sit out where others can see you make something.  Have some finished artist trading cards to give away, or even give out some extra supplies like a blank card and a few colored pencils.  Encourage anyone who asks about what you are doing.  Be positive, talk to them about being persistent and patient about learning something new.  Ask them if they make a craft, or if anyone in their family has a special skill.  Share your knowledge, and look to learn new things from others.

In case you are curious about the world of heirloom vegetables, check out Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek Seeds.  And for the record, I am not a vegetarian, I love a good hamburger and many other delicious foods.

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Working Through Challenges

Using vintage linens and working in a collage style presents some challenging problems.  Certain traditional quilt methods of assembly just don’t work well with my creative visions and materials of choice.  If you’ve visited my booth at a quilt show, you’ll know that I sell quite a few dyed vintage damask table linens.  Many of them have a nice finished edge that I want to preserve while using them in a collage.  I am still trying to come up with an easy way to bind all the layers and not lose that finished edge.  Today, I am embarking on my latest attempt at this quest.

Starting with a medium size dyed damask napkin that will be the base of the collage, I picked out a couple of smaller squares on which to stitch scrap compositions.  These smaller squares will be similar to the 4 x 4” square that I have been featuring in previous posts.  The next step was to select scraps to add to the little squares:

I pulled out more scraps than I’ll be able to use in this project, but that’s OK – it is good to have more to choose from during the early planning stages.  Next, I started working with the wool square.  Several little scraps jumped out at me, and the placement of them came together quickly.

Notice that all the pieces are separate from each other.  How would they look with a piece of fabric underneath (other than the background) that connected them together?

I like the second version, the additional piece of fabric adds another layer of interest.  I’m going to take a look at some trims and funky yarns to add, as I think I’m ready to start stitching this one over the next couple of days.

I invite you to follow along in my quest over the next week or so, will this work out, or be a dead end?  This will also be another look into my creative process.

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Cancelations? Get Creative.

Here in Ohio, the coronavirus has caused a multitude of event cancellations, and the list seems to grow by the hour.  I’m not going to get on a political soapbox about the response to the virus, other than to suggest that if you suddenly have some spare time due to event, school or work closure, take the opportunity to learn something new.

Turn off the TV, turn off the news, get off the internet for a little while, (after you finish reading this post, of course!) get out your needle and thread, or pencil and sketchbook, or any tools or supplies that you’ve had sitting and make something!  If you’re like me, you might have a stack or two of craft books that are begging to be read.  Pick out a book, open it and start a project from one of those books.  Think about the creative skills that you have mastered, and take some time to teach it to someone else.  Making something or expressing yourself creatively is a great escape from the troubles of the world.  With, that I am off to escape from my laptop and get lost in some stitching.

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A Surprise Sampler

Every time that I learn a new stitch, I try it out first on some bit of scrap fabric.  Over the past year, a 9 x 10” piece of fabric for test stitching has been floating around my hand stitching nook.  It resurfaced a few days ago, and I almost tossed it out.  Here it is:

After having it sitting on top of a pile of projects for a few days, I think I will hang on to it.  I am really enjoying the sampler look of it, while at the same time it shows the randomness that was inherent in its creation.  Adding to the long list of things that I want to make, I’d love to do a small series of pieces with many sections of different hand stitches.  I could have a lot of fun with this.