Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tastes and techniques change

A few years ago I belonged to another challenge group, the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. They have a challenge each month, with some parameters, wide or narrow, and the idea is that you complete the challenge within a week, no overthinking, lots of chance to experiment. It is always good to have a playday, even when you are in middle of a larger, more difficult work that is going to take weeks or months to complete.

I made this one for a space challenge, using lutradur through my inkjet printer, and a photo from NASA of the Orion Nebula. I have never used that technique since, and I was a little disappointed that the colours were not as intense as I hoped.

Luckily, time has passed, and I have evolved, so I wouldn't want to repeat that for the current theme.

The downside of the evolution is that we accumulate fabric, threads and supplies over a number of years, and then find it is not to our current taste, or, as in my case, I now use a lot of my own hand-dyes. What to do with all that commercial fabric in turquoise, magenta and multi-colour prints? Originally I imagined I would do some bed quilts using strips or blocks, but that is not going to happen!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Latitude Aussies finally meet!

Deborah & Linden at AQC 2014
After 18 months of 'getting to know' each other online through the Latitude Quilt group, Linden and I finally met, face-to-face yesterday.
Although we live in the same state of Australia, we are separated by some 3 hours drive, with Linden living in the north of the state and me in Melbourne. 

The Australasian Quilting Convention, being held over 4 days this weekend, brought Linden and her husband to Melbourne, giving us the opportunity to rendezvous at the Expo.  We met up for coffee and a bite of lunch, both ready to sit and rest our weary feet for a while! 

AQC is a combined Expo, quilt show and convention of workshops, seminars and other activities. There is something for everyone, and a feast of fabrics, quilting gadgets, patterns, machines and books to tempt all who venture through the doors! To see some of the amazing quilts that were on show, visit the AQC website. Linden has a couple of beautiful quilts on display this year - it was worth a visit just to see them! 

Royal Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne
The Royal Exhibition Buildings are World Heritage listed, featuring some of Melbourne's fine early architecture. It is a large, impressive space, located in the heart of the city and surrounded by beautiful gardens (and some treasured elm trees that have not been exposed to the devastation of Dutch Elm disease), so well suited to an event such as this.

Linden and I spent a lovely hour or so chatting about family, life, music and - of course - quilting! We both agreed that it is so lovely that the Latitude quilt group has brought together two people who may never otherwise have met, even though we live in the same (somewhat vast) country!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Learning to Work in a Series

When reading about various artists and their development, you often notice that they work in series. Whether it's Picasso, Monet or Nancy Crow, working in series is often attributed to developing their style, improving their skill as well as developing a cohesive body of work.

Since I was interested in all of these things I decided to do a course on working in a series.

The first thing I learned was that you need to choose a theme that you are passionate about so that you don't become bored too quickly. I chose emotions and decided to start with depression. My interest in emotions is from the effect that various emotions have on your spirit or soul.

I then learned to set up certain parameters that would be constant throughout the series, such as the size, the colour, the style and to have other parameters that would change such as any of the above.

My first piece: Depression #1


When I was doing my self critique of this quilt I decided that I liked the damaged bohdi leaf that represented the damaged spirit but I felt that the colours were a bit too bright to convey the idea of depression.

Based on these decisions I did a second piece with the same basic design but with more muted colours.

Depression #2:

I liked this colour palette better as it had the subdued colours of depression as I perceive it. I also used this design to work out a better visual path around the design by printing darker and lighter areas on the right side of the design.

At this point I felt that what I was most interested in in the design was the bohdi leaf and its deterioration.

For the third quilt I focused on the bohdi leaf and on the use of texture to try and draw the viewer deeper into what I was trying to convey.

Depression #3:

This quilt was a new and scary direction for me as it depended almost entirely on free motion quilting which I find quite intimidating especially in a pale colour on a dark background!

On critiquing the quilt I felt that I should have left more areas where the quilting was more open to add a bit of variety to the design, so in my next quilt....

Stay tuned for further developments!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hugs and Kisses

Love encompasses so much of life and motivates us in many ways. Everyday we use symbols to tell people we love them in texts, letters and notes. For this challenge the plan was to use the symbols and colours of love to create fabric that would convey the same message.  
The traditional colour of love is red, this together with it's complementary colour set the colour scheme and then stylised imagery was added.
These presented challenges, as a way of creating a stencil with small crosses and circles, various stamps for trialling and making a grid for the stamping had to be devised. Who said love was easy?
It all went well until the heart motif turned out to be upside down once the excess fabric was cut away. The choice was then leave the quilt in this state or cut it away and redesign with the left over bits of fabric. The perfect grid was a thing of the past,  but it has character and imperfection, just like love.

I know what you will answer

What a capacious word LOVE. 
It has so many meanings: love to children, love to man, love to parents, love to nature, love to quilting and so on and so on.

The idea came out really quickly. I wanted to dedicate this quilt to our love – my husband and me. I wanted to do a lot of handwork so “boro” style has been chosen.

Colours and forms of scraps symbolize our characters.

Very often while sitting together quietly I ask my husband: ”May I ask you?”
He:      I know what you will ask.
I:          I know what you will answer.
He:      Yes, I love you!
I:          I love you too.

Is this love?

The Writing's on the Wall

Love - The Writing's on the Wall - Amanda Sievers comes in so many forms and can be expressed in so many different ways that, for this challenge, the idea of using graffiti really appealed to me and gave me a great platform to explore surface design at a higher level than I had done before. I also wanted to try to convey the idea of how fluid love can be - how love comes and goes, how love moves and shifts in intensity, how it can be strong and vibrant, possibly at the beginning of a relationship (or further into a relationship, if we can be that fortunate) and how love can fade, dull and diminish over time, like the writing on a wall.

This piece gave me opportunity to really work on building layers and exploring surface design more deeply. I first dyed a piece of cotton mid grey, then I silk screened on an ezy-screen print I made of the brick wall. Next I got out the chlorox bleach pen and started taking out some colour which you can see in the light green areas. Once happy with that, I got out the sharpies and fabric pens, drawing and writing expressions of love all over the piece. I also used liquid paper (white-out), stamped on some hearts in red acrylic paint that I cut from lino block and smudged and sponged on some purple & red acrylic paint. Lastly, I used an image transfer paste for the large word 'LOV' that I had created using sharpies on white copy paper. It looked incomplete, so I added the 'e' at the end with fabric pens and finally the piece looked balance to me.

Lastly I quilted the piece using pretty rough stitching along the lines of the brick work and major elements.

Materials: Cotton hand dyed fabric, acrylic paint, sharpie pens, fabric pens, silk screen paint, white-out, chlorox bleach pen, dylon image transfer paste, Madeira thread.

Flowers for Valentine

Love.... so many ideas, so many interpretations, so many different aspects. It took me a long time to decide about this quilt. Would I make a quilt about the city I was born, Paris, for many the city of love, about my love for quilting, my kids... 
Valentine day was last month and when I decided I really had to start on this quilt I remembered the happy faces of my three children when they gave my the tulips my husband had bought for valentine day. I choose bright colours to represent both the bright happy faces of my children and some of the tulips colours. I used a thermofax screen, first with discharge past on the green and dark pink then with gold on both fabrics and yellow, orange and red on the white, yellow and orange fabrics to represent the different tulips I got. I cut the diffrent pieces of fabric into smaller parts and started assembling them in a diffrent order, kind of puzzle like. First I wanted to quilt hearts on the background but finally decided to quilt only straight lines. When the quilting was finished I hand-appliqued the small blue piece of fabric with a golden tulip stamped as a focal point. I made this stamp last year in a class about tulips on fabric.

commercial hand-dyed fabrics
thermofax screnn with discharge past and fabric paints
stamp withn fabric paint
polyester batting
machine piecing, hand appliqué, machine quilting

Sabine Courtellemont-Max

Song of Solomon by Linden Lancaster

'Song of Solomon' (or 'Song of Songs') is a book of the Old Testament. It tells of the intimate story between a young King Solomon and a Jewish maiden, their feelings for each other and their longing to be together. 
I started off with a lovely soft screen printed background. Various elements referencing love were then added. I printed the text from an antique bible (that was falling apart) onto fabric, which was fused on. The music is from the song ‘When you were Sweet Sixteen’, one of my favourite love songs made famous by the Irish band 'The Furies'. Lace and buttons, represent a wedding gown.  I have used warm colours to depict passion. Roses, the flower of love, have been thread sketched/quilted in a contrasting black thread over the top to add some definition and  unification. Darker reds, yellows and pinks were then splashed into the flowers with inks and crayons.

Song of Solomon

Detail 1

Detail 2


Krokus - Liebe zum Fruehlingsgarten
(Crocus - Love for the garden in spring)

Gabriele Bach: Krokus - Liebe zum Fruehlingsgarten

Love is a very difficult theme and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. But when I saw my little garden in the sunshine, it was clear for me, what I wanted to show in my quilt. I love my garden, espacially in the early spring when it is full of crocusses and snowdrops. The crocus is a wild sort and they become every year more.
For my quilt I had the idea to show the flower with a wide border. I admire often the handembroidery in other quilts and this time I wanted to use seed stitch to present the wealth of crocus blossoms in my garden. I have selfdyed embroidery yarn, which waits to be used.
Every year again I admire the crocusses in my garden and I am very happy that I made at least a quilt with the crocusses

Detail of Krokus
Detail of Krokus

I used mostly selfdyed cotton and embroidery yarn, pieced and quilted with the machine and made the embroidery by hand.

Love’s Illusions

Most of us grew up with a fairy tale, Hollywood movie image of love. One day our Prince Charming would sweep us off our feet and whisk us away to a wonderful castle where we would live, rich and happy forever. There would never be any problems or discord, just longing gazes into each other’s eyes and eternal bliss.

For most of us who have been in relationships in the real world, we know that Life sends us many challenges whether health or finances or family or personal issues that test our love.

These challenges can affect a relationship and make it stronger or eventually wear it down. For those who survive the tests the result is a true love based on having seen each other at our best and our worse and having decided that we love and respect and accept each other no matter what. This is True Love!

In this quilt I have woven a double ikat in shades of red to represent love in its many forms and in shades of blue-green to represent the various challenges. The resulting fabric is the fabric of Life.

The white fabric is covered in black text that represents the good and bad aspects of a relationship. The red text consists of the fairy tale words. When we look at love through rose-coloured glasses we selectively choose the fairy tale words and ignore the rest.

Stone Love

The theme for March was LOVE and as this word can be interpreted in so many ways I come to think
of my love for stones and the way they have always fascinated me with their shapes, textures and colors. Not far from where I live there is a church ruin from the 12:th century, which slowly is falling to pieces but with still some lovely stonewalls remaining. Those stonewalls have inspired me to make this  stone piece.

For the stones I used fabrics that I had rust dyed and also some fabrics crackled with flour paste and painted with black acrylic paint.
The stones are raw edged appliquéd. Threads used are cotton and the batting is 80/20 cotton polyester.

Love - ursa major and ursa minor

I am not a sentimental person, and I have almost no family, so it was quite hard to think of special moments that involve love. So instead I thought of the way that animals show affection, and the strong bond between mothers and their offspring.

I found a photo of polar bears that illustrated my point quite well.  Several friends have been to the Arctic in recent years to see polar bears - one saw lots, and another only one in the distance. I am a supporter of Greenpeace, and was involved in mailing people about the Greenpeace activists who were imprisoned in Russia as they were protesting against drilling there.

All of these combined to make this a subject that I feel strongly about, preserving areas of natural ecosystems that are at risk of being permanently destroyed. We know that polar bears are finding the shorter hunting season a problem, and many starve as a result.

As I constructed my piece, using all hand dyed or painted fabrics, it reminded me of the marble floor in the church Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. This has a meridian line across the floor and up one wall, which the sun strikes and shows which astrological sign is current in the calendar. That thought led me to investigate the constellations of ursa major and ursa minor, a nice play on the mother and baby bears. I have never been able to 'see' the creatures and people in the stars. These are relatively close to the shapes in some star guides.

One collection of zodiac signs from Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Love Tulip

When I put out this challenge, I called it maybe trite but when I started working on it, it really ended up as a challenge for me. While I was looking in my sketchbooks, and my heart for ideas, I came across a journal-quilt I made last year. It was worked with spraying through stencils with some tulips. And I really love tulips with their many shapes patterns and colours. And not to forget it's history. The first tulip in Norway, bloomed in the garden of an old pharmacy here in the center of Bergen more than 400 years ago.
So I had an idea, but how to interpret it. By spraying and stenciling I managed to get a piece of cloth I liked, but I also needed a focus. I went to one of my other great love: Letters, in all it's sizes and fonts. And how they can be decorative as well as have a meaning. So I stenciled a big L on top of it all and put the rest of the letters for love as a decoration on it. I hand quilted the visible tulips, machine-quilted the background and appliqued a photo-transfer of a tulip from my garden as a finishing touch.

And some close-ups:

Moroccan Spice

Moroccan Spice
I can't believe another two months have passed already and it's time for the next 'reveal'!
This time I have chosen a slightly unusual approach to the theme ('Love' ) by exploring sensory love. Sensory derives from the Latin sentire - to feel or perceive while love I've taken in the context of feelings, pleasure and emotions. 
As a result, Moroccan Spice examines my love for:
  • the visual aspect of the exotic and enticing mounds of spices found in Moroccan souks - markets and bazaars
  • the colours of Morocco - spices, carpets, architecture, clothing and decorative embellishments
  • the designs and colours of mosaics, which can vary from the ordered to the abstract and are often highly colourful
Given my current explorations into the possibilities of Inktense as a colouring medium, this piece has been dyed exclusively using Inktense. To prepare the work I first colour washed the background fabric using simple outlines for the major shapes. I then colour washed a larger piece in broad bands of colours, to be used for the mosaic pieces.
The process was then a gradual one of building up the lines of mosaic until I was satisfied. Each piece was individually fused and raw-edge stitched - this took quite a while!
The quilting occurs in the 'channels' between some of the mosaic tiles, using coloured threads and a little gold metallic thread.
Detail 1 - mosaic pieces
To finish the piece, the untiled areas have been embellished with beads.
Detail 2 - beading
Detail 3 - beading
Size is 15" x 15". Materials - cotton dyed with Inktense, beads, rayon, polyester and metallic threads. Techniques - hand painting, raw edge appliqué, beading.

More of my work can be seen on my blog