Eclipse, deconstructed

This is the post where I reveal all my beauty secrets.  Kidding.

This is the post where I tell you how I made my Four-in-Art quilt, showing a technique   I’d read about this technique somewhere, but that crazed-woman-at-the-computer didn’t bookmark it or file it away neatly.  So I had to wing it, which is okay.

First, cut yourself a square of black fabric.  I used the wrong side of a fabric that I hoarded about 15 years ago, and I’m still trying to get rid of it.  (It’s a great fabric, really.)  Then get yourself some Steam-A-Seam II, the fusible applique stuff that will be sticky when you lift up the transfer paper, after you’ve ironed it on.

I did check to make sure that I adhered the non-release side of the Steam-A-Seam II, leaving the side that would release easily facing me.

Gather together some scraps in the colors you want to place on your background.  Since I was doing the eclipse, I basically had three: yellow, black, blue.  Throw in some related colors, just to keep it interesting.  For me, that meant some lighter blues, and orange.

Pile up your color, then randomly cut through the fabrics, and then do it again.  You need some bigger pieces (1-1/2″), but also lots of smaller pieces (1/2″).

I traced a circle on my paper, slightly off-center — because none of us saw that eclipse dead-center — and cut out a hole out of the paper backing.

I laid out my black scraps, making a loose circle. Then I tucked my yellow/orange sun flares behind the circle, pressing down with my fingers to make them adhere to that sticky surface.

Then I oopsed:

I went to the ironing board and ironed it all down.  WRONG.  While this seemed like a good idea, you know–to make sure all those pieces were not going to go anywhere — in reality it prevented me from lifting up the edges and tucking in more yellows,  and the blues.  So maybe if you can protect the edges of your design from the hot iron it might be a good idea?  Or just wait until the end?

Milky Way MJA

Star Fields, by Matthew Anselmo of MattsClicks

Then my son Matthew, who is an expert landscape photographer, put up pictures of the Milky Way on his Instagram, MattsClicks.  This gave me to freedom to really add in color to the heavens, so I pulled a greater variety of blues (and some with purples) and started scattering them around, trying to keep a “street” of lighter blues to represent the Milky Way. (Thanks, Matt!)

Eclipse_4inart_methods8Add in your bits and pieces, filling up the background in a random, organic way.

NOW go to the ironing board, lay your transfer paper over the design (the crackly sheet that came with your fusible), and press, lifting up and down, not sliding, until you think it’s adhered.

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I used three different colors of thread, and just scribbled free-motion-quilted the pieces down.  I did a series of circles in black in the moon, the followed the shapes for the solar flares, then a random loopy design in the heavens.

Eclipse_4inart_methods9aThis is where I notice that the moon has two eyeballs staring right at me.  And this is where I go get some more scraps, use a regular old-school glue stick and paste more fabric scraps over the eyeballs (you don’t see it in the first one, do you?).  Quilt, again.  And then I thought that the moon looked more like a black lump of coal than the moon (even though it does have a mountain-y horizon…it’s not THAT bumpy).  More scraps glued on, more FMQ. I finished up by going in giant circle around the perimeter of the moon, to reinforce that Orb in the Sky thing.

Well.  Not quite.  But that’s what my work table looked like after I trimmed it up, bound it, and made the label.  I’m a total believer in a clean workspace at all times.  I’m a total believer in a clean workspace at least once every couple of weeks.  I mean, I’d like it to be all the time, but I create in small room, and I decided to adjust to the life I have.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the Deconstruction Post for the Final Four-in-Art Quilt.  I probably won’t leave the art quilt in the dust, though, as it’s a quick way to make a quilt while trying out a new technique.  Given that it is often smaller (most of mine were 12″ square), you can crank one out in a day, or an afternoon, if your design is not too complicated.

Thank you for coming along on this five-year journey.

~Elizabeth, of OPQuilt.com

Rewards for WorkingCreatively

Eclipse: Final *Four-in-Art* Art Quilt

 

Eclipse_fourinart_frontEclipse • Quilt #189
Four-in-Art, Series Four: Light
12″ square

Click to enlarge any photo.

This is the final post of our Four-in-Art Art Quilt group.

Our group had its genesis when I saw the Twelve-by-Twelve group at a quilt show. Rachel and I emailed back and forth about maybe trying to make some art quilts.  I think we had done tons of regular quilts, and were looking for something new.  The idea was to put out a theme, create a quilt around the theme and maybe try a new technique while we were at it.  It started with just four quilters who wanted to try something, so we called ourselves Four-in-Art, and I made up a logo, incorporating the idea of four:

Sometime later, we added four more quilters, then switched the scheduling to four times a year, so we were still Four-in-Art.  We created a blog to post our quilts, for once you archive, you are real.

 Here is an overview of my quilts: (By the way, I am following the newspaper convention of captioning underneath my photos, so look there for details.
Year 1: Nature

We took turns coming up with the overarching theme for the year, then again, turns for the quarterly challenges.  The challenges are, from the upper left: Queen Anne’s Lace, Tree(s), Fire, Owl.  It was liberating to craft this way, without getting out too many rulers or drafting things on the computer (see below for a glimpse of my journal).

Year2_FourinArtYear 2: Urban  Quarterly Challenges (from upper left): Maps, Structure, Landmarks, Contrast, Light (we seem to like this topic).Year 3: Literature  —  We could choose what segment of literature to focus on.  Some did a series of novels, Nancy did a series of children’s books’ titles, which she then donated to her local library, and I did a series of poems.  I love the poems, pretty much hate these quilts, for a variety of reasons.  Year 4: Color, and the challenges (again, from upper left): Microscopic, Music, Purple Passion, and I’ve Got the Blues.

And this year’s, with the yearly theme of Light.  The quarterly challenges were: Shimmer,  Light in the Darkness, Stained Glass Shadows, and Illumination.

It’s very satisfying to notice the growth, the steps backward, the consequence of leaving things to the last minute, and how having enough time impacts what you can create.  I also learned new techniques, new ways of doing things, new ways to incorporate design beyond the grid and have it mean something.

A few pages from my notebook/sketchbook.  It really helped to keep one of these, and not just for the journaling.  I was often able to arrive at an idea for my quilt through drawing out (that old mysterious hand-brain connection) and writing out my feelings about the theme and the challenge.

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(I came back in later and pasted in the four quilts we did under that theme.)

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It was also a place to keep patterns, those bits and pieces of paper that led me to the final quilt, as well as notes and thoughts while on the run:

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Pages about this quilt (the second page is digitally pasted on top of the first).  You can see the rejected ideas.

This little quilt, Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, is my favorite, not only for the idea of Contrast which it expresses (and was our challenge for this 12″ square quilt), but also because I learned how to print photos onto fabric [making my own photo-ready fabric, not buying it] and had a great time doing this.

I have more than one that qualifies for the Least-Favorite-Maybe-Even-Hate, so I won’t tell you which ones.  But I can share the why: when I was trying to be too “artsy” and didn’t let the idea drive the design, or when I forced the design, or when I was new at this and just had no clue how to execute the idea.

Four-in-Art Index

I used to have a dedicated page for all the Four-in-Art quilts, but recently I was cleaning out around here and filed them away in the Master Index to my quilts.  Now they are all on the 200 Quilts page, making them easy to find.  Slowly I’m going through the posts, adding the tag “Technique” to those pages that show how I tried a new way of doing things, or a new method.  I hope they will be helpful for you (use my search engines to the right–Wordpress has outstanding search capability).

It’s been a wonderful journey, these past five years, and my hat is off to those who started — and stuck — with me: Rachel and Betty.  They were some of the best companions to have alongside me as I traveled this road.  Other travelers were Leanne (SheCanQuilt), Anne (SpringLeaf Studios), Amanda, Carla, Jennifer, Nancy (Patchwork Breeze), Simone (Quiltalicious), Susan (PatchworknPlay), and Camilla.  Finally, Catherine (Knotted Cotton) and Janine (Rainbow Hare), who were also members, will be carrying this art quilt group forward, through their Endeavorers.  Click on their links to be taken to their blogs. And thank you for reading this WHOLE thing.

Now, please enjoy the final round of quilts for the Four-in-Art group!

Betty        Blogpost on Four-in-Art

Catherine         http://www.knottedcotton.com

Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simone         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com

All of our blocks are on our blog, Four-in-Art.

 

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Four-in-Art Quarterly Challenge: Stained Glass Shadows

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Shadow owes its life to light.
~an old saying

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I am to provide the theme for our next quarterly challenge, and I choose Stained Glass Shadows.  I love the saturated lights left on floors, walls, and benches in cathedrals by brilliantly lit stained glass windows and I wanted to make that my challenge.stainedglassshadow_3

Sometimes the colors play with what’s already there: think of the duality of jewel tones spilling ephemerally onto hard marble surfaces.
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I like how sometimes they look like they’ve been through the Holi Festival of Colors, as if the surfaces had been doused in brightly colored chalks and powdery hues.stainedglassshadow_5 stainedglassshadow_6 Think of transparency and playing with color blending.  Many edges on stained glass shadows are soft, blurring into the other colors.stainedglassshadow_7

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All photos were taken by my husband or I, in the National Cathedral, in Washington, D.C.

While the opposite of light is dark, in shadows, the darkness is doubled down, softened, the shapes revealing as well as obscuring.  A whole new conversation can happen with shadows.

Reveal date is August 1, 2017.

 

Halfway There

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Halfway There
Quilt # 180
13-1/2″ wide by 20″ tall

That night, I was alone in bed in the guest room, five pillows behind me and one to each side, propping me up in a sitting position.  I couldn’t lay down to sleep as it was too painful, so I semi-sat there, my head leaning back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.

My husband Dave had tucked me in that night, as he had done every night since the rotator cuff surgery three weeks earlier, helping me find the right position for the pillows, touching my cheek, making sure I knew he loved me, then turned out the light and walked down the hallway to our bedroom that now seemed oh, so far far away.  I felt adrift on a sea of pillows.

Halfway There_4detailI tried to shift slightly, trying to move to a more comfortable position: there wasn’t one. The pain pills they gave me from surgery had been effective, but unfortunately their side effect was ever-present weeping, so I’d ditched them a couple of weeks earlier, relying instead on acetaminophen, which barely tamped down the pain and discomfort.  I was pretty much a mess.Halfway There_3I gazed at the ceiling, waiting for that sleep that wouldn’t come — hadn’t come, since I’d moved from the uncomfortable recliner chair two days post-surgery and had come off the prescribed drugs.  The light from the white Christmas lights we’d left in the laurel bush outside the window shone up through the slatted blinds, casting a linear design on the ceiling.

I studied that pattern of line-upon-line, trying to let it dissimulate the discouragement: there was three more weeks of the sling, the sleeplessness, the being away from my husband, the not-sewing, the one-handedness, the inability to be present in my own life, the trying to be cheerful for whole minutes at a time.  Three more weeks of pain.  Three more weeks of the uncomfortable sling and the loneliness.  Three down, three to go.

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The shadows were linear like the slats in the blinds: they started light, the bright lines gradually decreasing until the dark bands became more prominent, obliterating the light.  Half shadow, half light.  Half of each.  The realization that I was halfway there settled into the cracks in my fractured thinking.  The timer on the Christmas lights clicked off, all was shadow and I finally fell asleep, exhausted by the pain, the mental struggle — and, as anyone who has been through this knows — the isolation.Halfway There_8Halfway There_10backOur theme this year is Light, and Camilla chose this quarter’s theme of Light in the Darkness.  I certainly had time to think about it.  I loved the nuance and the subtlety of it, and was glad to figure out how to interpret it.Halfway There_11label

Halfway There_9

There is no deconstruction post for this art quilt.  I had to cut off lots of outside edges when I trimmed up my Piggies! quilt blocks, and used those pieces to make a “whole cloth” of low-volume prints to be my “ceiling” fabric, as we have those old-time popcorn ceilings with texture. Using flat white cloth didn’t seem right for what I had seen night-after-night. I also liked that all those blocks sent from my friends helped pull me along and out of the sadness and loved their significance in this quilt, and appreciated anew all the encouraging comments from those who cheered me on (thank you).  The darkness seemed to have a texture of its own as well.  I did indeed have time to study it, and thought this seed print from Australia would stand in well for the shadows seen by a quilter, staring at the ceiling, late into the night.

It’s my turn to announce the next theme so look for it in my next post.  And my recovery?  It’s going well.  I’m now past the three-month mark and while occasionally achy, don’t have much pain.  I go to physical therapy regularly.  When I hit the 12-week mark, my therapist said, “You’re about halfway there.”  I guess that finish line moves, depending on the perspective; I do expect at six months I will hear it again.

You’ll notice that the quilt is sometimes light-on-top and sometimes dark-on-top.  I think it works either way.

Last thought: when I stood in the aisles at Road to California this past year, not buying anything,  I hoped that by next year’s quilt conference I would be able to say it was all done and all behind me.

I still have that hope.

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Please take the time to visit the other Four-in-Art Quilters in our Fifth year, as they interpret their visions of Light in the Darkness:

Betty        Backyard Camping

Camilla         http://faffling.blogspot.co.nz/

Catherine         http://www.knottedcotton.com

Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simone         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com

All of our blocks are on our blog, Four-in-Art.

Deconstruction of Shimmery Tunnel of Memories • Four-in-Art Feb. 2107

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This is the deconstruction post for my recent Four-in-Art Challenge of Shimmer.

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First off: what a lame title.  I had another name picked for this (“Multiverse Snapshot”) which is a much cooler name, but I’d forgotten that I had chosen it, and instead on the label put this blathery clichéed title.  Now that you know how I really feel about it, I’ll tell you how I put this together. (And no, I’m not making another label.)

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I wanted to recreate the little specks of light from Multiverse (see previous post), so cut strips of silvery metallic fabric.  This is leftover fabric from my friend Lisa’s American Flag project (a flag the size of a basketball court); she rescued me when I couldn’t find my own lamé in my sewing room. Just for the record, that stuff is a challenge to work with: the strands kept going off on their own, as you can see above.shimmerytunnel_2

I wanted the vantage point to be off the piece, so I drew a dot on a post-it note off the paper, but when that didn’t prove to be a far enough vantage point, I went further to the left, making the radiating lines in red pencil.shimmerytunnel_3

I had some strips of solids leftover from this quilt, and put them into use.shimmerytunnel_4

After sandwiching the silver/black fabric, I cut it into narrow strips.shimmerytunnel_5

I seamed a couple of those strips end-to-end, laid the resulting longer strip in the center, and chose a bright solid to lead off the piece, and stitched down one side.  I went back and forth between doing this piece in a series of gray and black fabrics vs. rainbow, but knew that I didn’t have a wide enough range to get the effect of Multiverse, so changed it up to a muted rainbow.shimmerytunnel_6

I pinned it on, flipped it over and sewed on the drawn lines, for the most part.  Sometimes I went narrower, but used these lined to keep the correct angle going.shimmerytunnel_7

A good beginning.  You can see by the red cast of this photograph that I’m sewing at night.

A lot of times I’m tired at the end of the day and don’t want to sew, but then I say: “What do I want to have done before I go to bed tonight?” and head back into the sewing room.  Often just working for ten or so minutes will engage me enough to keep going at it for at least an hour.

I was feeling a lot of pressure to get this sewn up ahead of time, because I knew that I would have had a surgery when this posted (it happened about a week ago: a repair to a severed tendon on my rotator cuff) and I knew I’d be unable to complete this, or any sewing at all, for some time.shimmerytunnel_8

But hopefully it will be good to get the pain gone (cause is referenced here) and my shoulder back in working condition.shimmerytunnel_9

I almost like the back better than the front.  If I had any creative guts at all, I would have gone with this.  My professor in my digital art class once told me: “You have a problem with tidiness in your art.”  Yep, I’m all about the tidiness, as long as you don’t look at my garage.  Or sewing room.shimmerytunnel_10

I stitched around the outside edge to stabilize it, and went to bed.shimmerytunnel_11

After thinking it over and drawing all sorts of fantastical loopy lines on scratch paper, I went linear, quilting on the cottons, not that silvery shredding lamé.shimmerytunnel_12

Done.

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I backed it with this new piece of fabric, “Dropping Seeds” by Roseanne Morton.  Okay, I want this fabric in ALL colors; it’s terrific.  I chose a simple black very narrow binding, and did my usual two squares-folded-on-the-diagonal-and-sewn-into-the-top-corners for how I’ll hang it.  (I put a dowel cut to size in those “pockets” and suspend the piece on a pushpin or nail.) Happy Shimmering!

Next quarter’s challenge, due May 1st,  is Light in the Darkness.