Friday, August 31, 2012

Off The Wall Friday

Again this week, I'm linking up to Off The Wall Friday over at Nina-Marie's blog. Last week you saw the background for the piece I'm showing today. (Check out what everyone else has on their design wall by clicking on the Off The Wall button on the right-hand side of this page.)

This week I have continued work on my second piece for the SAQA exhibit explained here. The background is machine quilted. Hopefully, it looks like snow. The main design for this piece is made of hand and machine appliqued bias strips, pieced blackbirds, and fused bird shapes. Last week I only had the background finished. This week I got all of the birds put on and the bias strips appliqued around most of them.

I will finish adding the bias strips and add some beads to make the snow glisten. I will be auditioning some beads that look like sunflower seeds to see if I want to add those to the piece.
This is a close up of some of the birds. If you click on the picture, you can see how the blackbirds have been pieced. The cardinal is made of red silk.

I've also worked on some English paper pieced hexagons. I started out using 3/4" hexagons; but once I saw a quilt made of tiny hexagons at The Sanctuary (in this post), I changed my mind and redid it using 1/2" hexagons. The littler hexagons are on the top piece; what I had finished already with the 3/4" hexagons is below it.
The basting threads are still in the pieces and won't be removed for awhile. We are heading to my son's (a 10 hour drive) soon, and I figure this will be a good take-along project for the car.

Check back next Friday to see if I have made any progress. Please leave a comment; I love to read them. It is nice to know that I'm not just "talking" to myself!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quilt Show at the Sanctuary

I had the opportunity to go to the quilt show at The Sanctuary in Zionsville, IN. From Tuesday, August 7 - Saturday, September 1, 2012, artist, Nancy Noel, welcomes quilters and collectors alike to the Premiere Quilt Show at her gallery, The Sanctuary, in the quaint historic village of Zionsville. Vintage and contemporary quilts, most available for purchase, will take their place alongside Nancy's art throughout the beautifully restored 150 year old Victorian church that is home to her largest and most complete collection. Quilts are a part of everyone's personal history and many of Nancy's images include or feature a quilt...such a natural pairing of art and textiles! There are hand quilting demonstrations and quilt history and discovery sessions about the quilts in your closet. Daily gallery tours are offered. If you are interested in seeing this exhibit, only have a few more days. If you'd like more information, check this website--The Sanctuary.

I was lucky enough to visit on a day when a hand quilting demonstration was occurring. I am a hand quilter too, so I spent a little time talking to Esther Koble, the woman demonstrating her quilting expertise. (You can see one of Nancy's paintings in the background.)
Esther is from Flora, IN, and is 95 years young. She told me she has been quilting 40 years and didn't know what she would do if she didn't quilt. She must have quite a stash; she said it was about to take over her house! Hmmm, she sound like almost everyone I know. Here's a closeup of Esther and the scrap quilt she was working on.
I have just started working on a hexagon quilt. I wanted small hexagons, so I started using the 3/4" size. When I saw this Grandmother's Flower Garden (not the pattern I'm making) I decided I'm going to have to go with a smaller hexagon template. I like the smaller size so much better.
Here is a closeup.
I think these had to be 1/2" hexagons.

I thought this quilt was interesting because of its border. (It was folded so the border was just about all I could photograph.)
This is a traditional Irish Chain quilt, but the border is a nice surprise. It is nicely improvisational. I like it that the "triangles" in the border are not all even and most of the points are cut off. It really gives the quilt an unexpected quirkiness.
Last, I found one more quilt very interesting--definitely not my taste, but it had such an interesting story behind it. I don't know about you, but I LOVE to hear the story(ies) behind quilts.
This quilt was also folded, so I really couldn't get much more of it in a picture than this. Here is what I think the interesting part of the story is. According to the card attached to the quilt, it is called "Wreath of Leaves," and a pair of them was made. The Gossard Co. of Michigan had corset factories in Logansport and Huntington, Indiana, from the 1920s into the 1970s; the peach jacquard satins in this quilt were probably offcuts brought home by one of the women who worked in either of the factories. The fabrics give a soft shimmer to the surface of the design. If you are interested in more detail about this quilt read the rest of this paragraph; if not, skip this next part. "Seamless mint green cotton is used for the front--and back--of this quilt, which has an appliqued design reminiscent of kit quilt designs. This does not appear to be a kit, but rather an individual effort at a center medallion design. The center figure is a 40" wreath with 8 branching arms as follows: an open 10" center is framed by an interlocking series of half-circles formed of medium green bias tape; where each set of half-circles intersects there is a leaf of peach jacquard weave satin with iridescent floral motifs. Twenty-two of these leaves frame the outside of the center wreath, and 8 branching green bias arms with 6 leaves each curve gracefully from the wreath itself. Framing the center design field is an undulating vine of the green bias, with spaced pairs of leaves on each side, slightly off-set from each other. The applied binding matches the front and back. Beautifully appliqued, nicely hand quilted in outline and in 2" square lattice on the diagonal over the entire surface, in green thread. Unused and unwashed; will make a generous bedspread on a twin bed."

This is the third year for this quilt show at The Sanctuary. If you would like to go on a day when there is a hand quilting demo or an informative lecture on the quilts, you have missed that opportunity for this year. I imagine there will be another show next year. If you choose to wait till next summer, check the website for the dates for next year's show when it gets closer to the time. I would recommend going to the quilt lecture and/or the hand quilting demo; both are REALLY interesting. I got to hear the lecture one of the years I went, and this year I was just lucky to hit a day when Esther was hand quilting. Be sure to save time to eat lunch in Zionsville. There are lots of good places to have a nice lunch. Actually, there is a restaurant right in The Sanctuary called Ghyslain. You'll (at the very least) want to pick up a piece of candy or pastry there. If you plan on eating lunch there, you might want to give them a call and make reservations. Check out the info on the restaurant here--Ghyslain.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Off the Wall Friday

On Fridays, I'll be posting WIPs (works in progress), tutorials, finished pieces, inspiration, design, etc. My intention is to post every week. I'm doing this in conjunction with other quilt artists, who are also posting links to their blogs, on Nina-Marie's blog Creations...Quilts, Art...Whatever. If you are interested in seeing designing and the processes followed to get to a finished piece of art or if you are just curious about what is on everyone's design wall, check out the blog every Friday.

This week, I'm sharing two projects I'm currently working on. I'm trying to get two or three pieces finished in time for entry into a SAQA exhibit--"The View from Here: Quilts of the Ohio River Valley. SAQA members from Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio." The theme is "What the artists think of and see when they view their home and surroundings." Pieces must be "quilts" and may be representational or abstract. The work should relate to our local environment or what we see from where we live, our home, backyard, city, or town.

I have given this a lot of thought and have come to the conclusion that one of my favorite things to do when I'm home (besides working on my artwork) is looking at the view out my window into my backyard to watch the birds at my bird feeder. I particularly like to watch the birds in the wintertime when there is a nice sheet of snow on the ground. I like the stark contrast between the whiteness of the snow and the color of the birds. One particular winter day, ALL the birds on the ground were "those ugly" blackbirds EXCEPT for one beautiful red cardinal. I was really aggravated that the "ugly" blackbirds were dominating the bird feeders, eating up all my seed, and weren't even pretty to look at. After I had ranted and raved, I got to feeling bad about maligning the blackbirds. I realized that they need to eat too, and they can't help the fact that they aren't "pretty."

That revelation led me to think about this on a larger scale. People who aren't considered "pretty" by society often have needs that aren't met--simply because of their appearance. We all can't be pretty. All this narrative has led me to the subject of this blog post--my new pieces designed for the exhibit. (I hope I get in!) The first is almost finished; I plan to add some beads to the snow to hoping that will make it glisten.
 This is a closeup of the quilting for the snow (top), the window sill (I tried to make it look like wood grain.), and brick.
The second piece is still in the beginning "work-in-progress" stage. I have it drawn up and am currently working on the quilting. Generally, I do my appliqueing first and quilting last; this time, I decided to "mix it up" and quilt first. We'll see how that goes. For the quilting, I'm using a thread called Yenmet Pearlescent Thread from Japan. It is new to me, but I'm really liking the way it looks. It is a pearly white and is gorgeous. 
I'll be adding blackbirds and cardinal appliques along with bias strips. (I am working on a series of quilts made using a bias strip technique.) This is the first I've done with the background being quilted before I add the appliques and bias strips. We'll see how it works. 

Again, check back next Friday to see what progress I've made (if any) and check out what everyone else has accomplished on Nina-Marie's blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exciting Exhibit--Penny Sisto

I just had the opportunity to visit fiber artist Penny Sisto's exhibit, "Prayer Banners," at the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library (in southern Indiana). This is a fabulous exhibit of quilts of faith.
Several quilts depict the Virgin of Guadalupe (as in the photo above). You can also see African Guadalupe (which incorporates many different African-inspired fabrics), Folk Art Guadalupe (which blends in pieces from a red and cream quilt), and several others. As I viewed Penny's quilts, I was drawn in by her use of many many different types and textures of fabrics, paint, and hand and machine stitching. I get the idea that Penny's philosophy is "more is better!"

The faces in her pieces are unforgettable. The highlights and shadows give her work great depth and reality. My favorite piece in this exhibit is "Earth Song" (below). The eyes in this piece are quite mysterious.
The details in each piece are mind boggling. If you'd like to see the exhibit, you need to hurry; it ends on August 26. Check out the details here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Bit of Dyeing with Sugar Syrup Resist--Fabric & Thread

This month's technique over at And Then We Set It On Fire is using sugar syrup resist, so I have been doing some dyeing using that technique. Here are my finished four pieces of fabric. I love the interesting swirls and blotches on the fabric, but I'm not so crazy about my colors. Obviously, I'm new to and learn. I did overdye two of these fabrics. Take a look. If you'd like to know how to dye using a sugar syrup resist, head on over to And Then We Set It On Fire blog. I have a link to the tutorial at the bottom of this blog entry.

This is the original (below). The overdye is underneath it.
The piece below actually turned out paler than it looks in this picture. The overdyed piece is below it.
The lighting in my studio isn't great. The fabrics are fairly uniform in color. They are not lighter at the top and darker at the bottom. That's caused by my lighting (or lack thereof). I am going to be working on a better lighting setup. Hopefully, that will help.

If you'd like to find out about my process and see the work in stages, check out this blog post from the And Then We Set It On Fire blog. You can also see what some of the other resident artists have been doing. If you'd like to try some yourself, Lisa Kerpoe has a great tutorial on the Fire blog here.

While I had my dyes out, I decided to dye some thread. I soda ash soaked some cotton crochet thread and wrapped it around some rolled up plastic mesh. Then I used an eye dropper to drop Pumpkin Spice, Golden Yellow, and Mixing Red dyes onto the thread. I haven't rinsed it yet, but I'm sure liking how it looks right now!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New Exhibit in Louisville

One of my fellow LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) members is having an exhibit with her brother in Louisville. Here are a couple of photos from the exhibit along with the press release. I'm not familiar with the work of Karen's brother, but Karen does some fabulous fiber work. Check out the exhibit if you get a chance.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Louisville, Kentucky, August 10, 2012 – Wayside Christian Mission’s Wayside Expressions Gallery will feature works of art by sibling artists, Karen “Karoda” Davis and Ronald “Upfromsumdirt” Davis, during the month of September. The name of the exhibition is “Unfamiliar Familial.”

The opening reception will be on First Friday, September 7, 2012, from 5 PM to 9 PM. The gallery is located on the first floor of Hotel Louisville, 120 West Broadway Street, Louisville, Kentucky. There is a second reception on the Third Sunday, September 16, 2012, from 2 to 4 PM. The exhibition runs from September 5, 2012 to October 2, 2012.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 1:30 PM. The gallery can be opened by appointment by e-mailing Randy Webber ( or Elmer Lucille Allen (

This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Southern Indiana Welcomes Penny Sisto

For any fiber lover close enough, there is an exhibit at the Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library (in southern Indiana) that is not to be missed. "Prayer Banners" is being shown through August 26, 2012. The exhibit features quilts that echo the faith of fiber artist Penny Sisto of Floyds Knobs. Hours: Call 812-357-6401 or 800-987-7311 or visit the Saint Meinrad Library site. If you would like to know more about the art of Penny Sisto, check out her website. Here are just a couple of the beautiful quilts you'll see. (Thank you, Penny, for giving me permission to post these two photos.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Work for the Fire Blog

For the month of July, on the And Then We Set It On Fire blog, we worked on a mixed media surface design technique outlined in "Stitch, Cloth, Paper & Paint" by Angie Hughes. I was slow in getting started, but finally got my piece painted today. I haven't decided, yet, whether I will use it "as is" or not. I may do a bit more hand stitching--not sure yet. I'm thinking of cutting it to size, wrapping it around a canvas, and adding a couple more small pieces on top of it. it is after being painted. I used my iPad to take the photo, and I'm not sure why, but the lines that appear to be gold are actually silver. (Please click on this picture to get a better look. You can REALLY see the texture if you do.)

If you'd like to check out the steps I used on this piece, check out Step 1 and Step 2 on the Fire blog.

You also need to check out this month's technique presented by Lisa Kerpoe--sugar resist. She has a great tutorial on making some beautiful one-of-a-kind fabrics. If you leave a comment by August 6, you can win a resist-dyed sample set including 7 pieces of cloth, totaling about 1 yard of fabric. The set includes cotton, silk noil, rayon and silk/cotton. If you would like to enter the drawing, leave a comment on this Fire post.