Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Touch of the Sixties

No blogging for over a week and now I'm posting twice in 12 hours!!  I hurt my wrist last week and was unable to do much for a couple of days.  Happily it's back to normal and I was able to complete this piece which I call "Flower Power Revisited".    Starting with a flower garden doodled with Tsukeniko inks and a comment from my friend that it was shaped like a flower power bug, my design turned into a beetle car driving across a quilted 'road' leaving behind a trail of flowers.   Along the top of the car I embroidered the words "when will they ever learn?" Does anyone remember that song?  I'll give you a hint - it has 'Flowers' in the title.    With shiva paintstiks and my own homemade stencils I stencilled more flowers and words like 'peace', 'love', freedom', happiness'.   Does anyone remember the songs of  "Hair" the musical?    When I began, the piece was kind of whimsical but it soon took a turn in the road just like the car itself which I placed on a slightly downward route heading off the quilt.   In an earlier post I talked about the philosophy behind this piece.  I guess in these days of wars, oil spills,  consumerism, instability, destruction of the environment and temperature change,  I wonder what kind of movement can bring us out of it this time.

Most of my pieces have a message but usually it is a subtle one.   My concern for the environment often results in quilts depicting my own connection with nature - I believe that encouraging people to feel connected to nature is the best way to save our natural world and ultimately our existence.   The message in this piece is still a bit subtle I think.

Here is a photo of the funky fabric I used as backing.

Grid Challenge

Here are the completed grid design pieces from our latest challenge.   Shirley, Iris and I each took an 11 x 14 stretched canvas and designed a piece of fabric art, fitting it into the back of the canvas.   The only other rule was that we had to use a grid design.   We came up with totally different pieces.

Shirley's piece is an interesting array of doors.   She used shiva paintstiks and a stencil to decorate the frame.                                          

Iris designed her piece around the four seasons.   I love the striking colours on the black background.

I already posted my piece but I'll include it here as well.  The grid is in the background - eight fabric rectangles surrounding a photo of a favourite pathway.   I used lutrador painted with inks and caran d'ache watercolour crayons for the appliqued trees in the foreground and added highlights with shiva paintstiks to indicate the sun shining through the trees.
Aren't they all great examples of using a grid design!   This was quite a challenge to complete -  a grid design was never my favourite.  Interestingly it has given me ideas for more.

As I mentioned before, our next challenge is a tryptych - each of us will complete 1/3 of the pattern designed by Shirley.  Can't wait to see the results.

In  my next post I'll show you my completed piece called  "Flower Power Revisited".   This one took me in another totally different direction.

And I'm finally starting my commissioned piece with a Mexican theme.  I purchased some Robert Kaufman solids (beautiful shades of Kona cotton) and am planning it in a folk art style.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Quilting Challenges

In my next post I will show you photos of our last quilting challenge - using a grid composition (I have already posted mine).

That project completed, my friends and I got together yesterday to decide on our next challenge.   Shirley had asked us to bring 3 magazines with us.   She proceeded to place them in a bag and asked us to each pick a number.  Then we had to reach into the bag, choose a magazine without looking, turn to the page number that we had chosen and use whatever was on that page for our inspiration.    With much groaning and complaining we complied.   We barely missed a page full of dead birds and another of a sexy pregnant woman.    We did have some interesting subjects - a bearded paper mache man, some impressionist art, a very colourful grasshopper, a beach with a zillion sea gulls, an Egyptian motif......It was coming down to the wire when someone reminded us of the tryptych we had wanted to do and we all jumped ship.  We are so fickle!!

So we set aside the above-mentioned challenge for now and perused the mags and Shirley's photos until we found a picture of beach change houses on the coast of England with great perspective.   We combined several aspects of different photos and Shirley drew a pattern which we cut into 3 sections.   Each of us has to complete our section separately.   The only rules were that the lines had to meet at the edges (ex houses, skyline etc) and that we stick to the chosen colours (but we can decide on the shade, fabric, plain or patterned etc).  We also decided on a folk art style which suited me because I am just starting to work on a commissioned piece representing a location in Mexico which will also be done in a folk art style.   I'll keep you posted.

Here is a list of ideas we have for future challenges:
1.  Through a microscope -  Start with a piece of patterned fabric - Enlarge an small area of the fabric.   Re-create the enlarged section then applique it onto the original fabric and quilt it.  We got this idea from one of Cathy Miller's quilts.

2.  Sketch to music and create an abstract art quilt.

3. Self-Portrait (this got a lot of groans).  I think it would be fun!

3. Take some fabric scraps, glue, scissors, and a stretched canvas outdoors and work live -  'en pleine air' (I got this idea from someone on my online quilting group and adapted it for us - thanks!)

4.  Take a photo of the centre of a flower and create an abstract from it (I like this one).

5.  Find our 'spirit animal' and quilt it!  Or alternately decide what animal we think we are most like and make an art quilt........a sloth???    Really!

Well this should keep us busy for awhile.   Feel free to try these.   Anyone have any more ideas?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Concerts, Gardens, and More Critters

I'm finally getting around to blogging about the concert I attended last Sunday night in Ottawa.   Cathy Miller, the singing quilter, writes beautiful songs about quilting  - historical songs that bring tears to our eyes, like The Rajah Quilt, and very funny songs like 100 Ways to Hide your Stash.  Her husband accompanies her.  Every quilter in the room (and their partners) had tears in their eyes then roared with laughter as she mixed storytelling with songs and a trunk show of her own quilts.   She starts by giving us some historical background about the quilt and the song.  For the non-quilters she describes techniques and the meaning of some quilting terms.   She told us that she started out writing songs for a Quilt Canada Exhibition in Ottawa in the early 90s.  It was later on that she began quilting - and her quilts are fabulous.

The most interesting one for me is a song using the various names of quilting blocks - well, it was really based on the expression 'stack and slash' (I hope that's accurate - it's a long story).     Every block in the quilt is part of the story in her song.   We were invited to  'read' the story in the quilt from left to right top to bottom - with blocks such as 'log cabin' 'sunbonnet sue' and 'puss in the corner' .    Take a look and see if you know the names of them.

I must admit, not being a traditional quilter I was stumped but my friend knew many of them.   Cathy is amazing and her songs speak to all quilters.    She has sung at hundreds of quilt guilds all over the world and apparently even does quilt cruises.  If you ever have a chance to bring her to your city or town you will not be disappointed.  (No she is not paying me for the compliments).  My friend emailed me today to say that she is still basking in the glow of Cathy's concert.

Here is a photo I took this week in my friend's garden.   I've never done a poppy quilt before......

And last of all, we met this prickly little critter out on the trail last Monday.   Neither of us wanted to give way so after staring at each other for some minutes and some grumbling on his part, he decided to walk around us.  Needless to say we were not going to make the first move.