Friday, October 9, 2015

A new improv quilt takes form

Improv is . . . setting limits to expand horizons.  
-- Sherri Lynn Wood, The Improv Handbook
My Modern Improv class at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest has evolved from last spring and summer's class, Quilt Improv.  As much as I loved the sample from this past June's class, it didn't feel like true improvisational quiltmaking to me and probably should've been called Intro to Improv.  It was based on 12 block styles that could be mixed and matched to make an improv-style quilt.

"Improv 2-15," from my previous Quilt Improv class
Modern Improv, the newly revamped class, is based on The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood.  The author doesn't use templates or rulers, and prefers cutting with scissors rather than rotary cutters! (I still use mine, as I'm faster and more accurate when using a rotary cutter.)
"Evaluate and identify a personal lexicon
of improv patchwork techniques and shapes,
then juxtapose two or more of them into a
single composition."
-- Sherri Lynn Wood
Sherri's statement above pretty much describes the way I work.  The shape I chose to focus on for my new sample is the curve, and I'm using wedge-shaped pieces and layered curves to create my design.  I've been more indecisive while making this project than I usually am.

Like most improv projects, I don't tend to sketch a design in advance or even think much about it.  I just cut fabric, sew pieces together, slash them apart, and add another piece.  I make lots of these units, put them on the design wall, and try to arrange them into something pleasing.
Too much yellow
Trojan warrior's helmet?
Audition # . . . 47??

Add more light blue (spaces for eye to rest)
The author writes,
Improv is experimenting and getting lost ... eventually you are sure to find your way back, having discovered something new.
I was still a bit off-track (not lost!).  I decided against that light blue and reduced the amount of it at the bottom right.  After all, the solid dark blue already provides a break for the eye:

Unsure about the blue batik at center
of curve, and the shape is still a Trojan warrior's helmet!

Chopped the "helmet" in half, rotated pieces, added light blue AGAIN!
Auditioning continues to continue and will continue to do so until it's done. Soon, I hope!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Workshop with Sidnee Snell

I first learned of Portland textile artist Sidnee Snell through an episode of OPB's Oregon Art Beat, and became a huge fan of her art.  When I read that Rogue Modern Quilt Guild in Ashland was offering a one-day class taught by Sidnee, I signed up right away.

Sidnee's technique, which she calls foundation applique, is based on a photograph, usually digitally manipulated, then broken down into a sort of paint-by-numbers pattern, but in this case, it's more like applique-by-numbers. She gave us each a still-life photo featuring a cup and saucer with a spoon, and the corresponding pattern enlarged to about 16" x 20". We each began constructing our own version of  the still life, using our own fabrics along with Sidnee's enormous pile of hand-dyed fabrics, which she brought specifically for us to use.  (I've never met a more generous instructor!)

Here's the photo we worked from:

Photo courtesy of Sidnee Snell
 And my version of her image:
Cup & saucer, not yet quilted

In my opinion, one of the most appealing characteristics of Sidnee's work is her quilting, and the magical way she adds texture and movement to her art.  (If you haven't clicked on the links above to see her work, please go back and do so.  It's a real treat!)  I can only hope to come close to emulating what she does.

But I have to put this project aside for now and finish up some other things.  I'll update this post with a photo of the quilted and finished cup & saucer when it's done.  I was really fortunate to get to take this class, as I later learned that Sidnee doesn't usually teach.  Lucky for me to catch her after this guild was able to convince her to come to Ashland and share her techniques.  And to make  the weekend even better, we stayed with long-time friends Louise (Louie) and Rob in Ashland, whom we don't see often enough.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dye-painting, continued

I've continued dye-painting since the weekend retreat at Vera's. One of these pieces produced a surprise!  I didn't notice that it had previously been stamped and screenprinted with Jacquard's Color Magnet at Vera's.  (Light yellow markings on the back were evidence of the Color Magnet application, but I didn't see them when I started painting on the other side).  I'm not sure what I was attempting to do because the dye-painted side was just a mess of brush strokes in two colors (green/blues and amethyst/fuschia).
But once it was dried, the images stamped with Color Magnet were very apparent:
Color Magnet results

Here are a few other pieces I've dye-painted since the weekend retreat.  The first was a monoprint that turned out much too light.  I forgot that I'd washed it and it no longer contained any soda ash, so I mixed up some solution and sprayed it on, but it was too little, too late.  Much of the dye washed out.

Overdyed monoprint
The second was an experiment for an idea that's been percolating in my imagination for awhile and involves dye-painting a whole-cloth piece that's already been quilted.  I wanted to try out the same color palette  to see what it might look like:

Sample for a larger project
More on that project later!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Spiral Staircase/Oregon Lighthouse Challenge

We decided on our next challenge when we met in August.

After looking through some of our members' photos, we chose one as the inspiration for our next challenge. It involves designing and constructing an abstract quilt based on Erika's photo of a spiral staircase (inside an Oregon lighthouse).
Erika's spiral staircase photo
To achieve a cohesive look among all of our pieces (since we'd like to exhibit them as a group), we decided  to construct them primarily of neutrals (at least 75% black, white, grey, brown, and/or beige), plus 25% or less of another color(s).  Minimum size will be 84" (total of all outside edges) and isn't due til January 2016.

I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Weekend of Dye-Painting

In addition to Fiberexplorations, Deb and I are also members of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) and attend the Valley-South group in Eugene.  Vera, a fellow SAQA member, hosted six of us last weekend for a chance to play and experiment with dye-painting. Vera lives near Canyonville, about 3-1/2 hrs south of Salem.  Near her ranch, the Stouts Fire was still growing.  Though the flames were moving south and southeast of the ranch, the smoke blanketed Vera's little valley in the mornings.

Smoke from nearby Stouts Fire
View from Vera's house, showing the dyers hiking
down Vera's driveway to her studio (bldg. near middle)
The dye-painting process involves painting with thickened Procion dyes on soda-soaked cotton fabric.  (The soda ash causes the dye colors to bond with the cotton fibers.  By thickening the normally-fluid dyes, you can better control where you want the color to stay.)
My upside-down color-mixing "chart."
(Black lines added when I got home.)

We worked through some of the exercises in Ann Johnston's book Color by Design.  Here are a few of my other results:
Thin colors painted on wet fabric.  Later: added thin lines and brush marks
Thin colors on wet fabric; grid added later via corn dextrin resist.
Low-water immersion dyed background.
When dry:  Green grid added via rubbings. Found object stamped in blue. Black lines painted with liner brush..
What a perfect weekend it was; Vera was the best kind of host, making us all feel welcome and at home.  We worked and played, ate lots of wonderful food, and made new friends.  As a retired veterinarian, Vera kindly provided two cats for us to pet, Clayton and Mousey.  Both slept with me the first night, but Mousey and I truly bonded.  Vera only recently adopted her, and offered to let me take Mousey home!  I would have, but  it would've made Baby jealous.
Vera's sweet girl, Mousey, who almost came home with me!

Baby, waiting for me at home.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

UFO Challenge

Poor, neglected blog!   It hasn't been given the attention it deserves, and there's work by members of the Fiberexplorations group that needs to be celebrated here.

Through late spring and into summer, members shared their finished pieces for the UFO Challenge (Unfinished Objects, that is).  We each chose one piece from our piles of unfinished projects and vowed to finish it.  To be truthful, the excitement level for this challenge was relatively low, which is probably normal.  How many of us have projects that were set aside to finish later, but later never came?  In many cases, that was because the initial enthusiasm for that project waned, and it's hard to get that back once it's gone.

Here's a beautifully-embellished wallhanging that Nancy finished:

Nancy's wallhanging
detail of Nancy's UFO Challenge piece
detail, embellishments

Lisa's Plumeria (though still in progress) is an original design based on a photograph she took:
"Plumeria" by Lisa

"Plumeria," detail

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"A Color Runs Through It" Comes to Salem

"Lighter Than Air" (detail), by Georgia French

Fiberexplorations member Deb Sorem is one of five textile artists whose work is featured in the show A Color Runs Through It: Art Quilts at Salem's Bush Barn Art Center.

Each of the five artists designed and created a series of quilts featuring a specific color.  We were lucky enough to see Deb's pieces (showcasing the color green) at one of our meetings earlier this year.  Most of them featured an abstract study of a daffodil's growth cycle, from bulb to full flower.  Fascinating!
"Awakening" by Deb Sorem
The other four fiber artists (Diane K. English, Georgia French, Laura Jaszkowski, and Paulette Landers) chose red, yellow, purple, and blue, respectively.

Deb's study of green, showcased alongside the other artists' color studies, creates an exciting and vibrant visual treat, and you have until August 29th to see it!