Sunday, October 16, 2016

Whimsical Landscape - Oregon Mountain

Wold Quilting Travel Adventure
with JoJo Hall
I'm on a World Quilting Travel Adventure with  JoJo Hall. The fun started in September. We will be visiting a different place every month and then making a souvenir from that destination based on  JoJo's design.

Our first destination was Oregon, where  JoJo lives. She posted a whole bunch of interesting facts about Oregon. Then, if we registered for a passport, we received a pattern of Mount Hood with the lake in front of it. It's a really beauty.

Here's a picture of  JoJo's quilt.

Jojo Hall's quilt of Oregon.
 JoJo's original pattern was very large, so I made it my usual landscape art quilt size, about 8" x 12". This size was much more manageable since I was in the middle of working on my Art with Fabric blog hop quilt.

I really wanted to have fun with this project, so I started digging into my scrap bag for something to play with. I found the black fabric with yellow polka dots and knew that it would give the project a whimsical feel.
Picking fun fabrics from my scrap bag
Picking fun fabrics from my scrap bag
I didn't love the fabrics, but I knew that I wanted to do some serious embellishing, which meant that a lot of the fabric wouldn't really show that much.
Sparkling tulle over the mountain top
Sparkling tulle over the mountain top

I wanted to add something to make the snow cap stand out a little. I added sparkling tulle over the white fabric and then back stitched with white embroidery floss to attach it. The easiest way to do this is to use a larger piece of tulle, stitch it in place and then cut the excess. 

Next I added embellishment to the fields at the bottom of the mountain (no lake in my landscape). I really like adding embellishment, and since I was going for whimsical, I went all out. I embroidered using all types of chunky wool. When the wool was too heavy to embroider, I just couched it.

Adding embellishment
Adding embellishment 
I also covered some of the flower fabric that I really didn't like with tulle to mute it. Do you recognize the row of daisies? I've had that in my sewing supplies since I was probably 12 years old! My girlfriend had some when she was younger too!

I finished by adding a few beads and buttons to the project. I even found a small airplane to add in the sky!

Whimsical Landscape - Souvenir of Oregon
Whimsical Landscape - Souvenir of Oregon
I had a great time making this souvenir from Oregon. I didn't follow JoJo's pattern very much. One day when I have the time and energy, I'd like to make one more like her's. It really is beautiful.

What I learned:

  • I was so keen to get this blog up that I forgot about What I learned! That's the first time - I think it was also a result of being tired and (gasp!) too much quilting :-)
  • I really need to get more of these types of playful quilts done. It seems that when they are small and done for fun, then I not only have fun, but I learn and am not afraid of making mistakes because ultimately it doesn't matter. That is very liberating!
Join JoJo Hall on a World Quilting Travel Adventure. The destination for October is Hawaii, Our souvenir is very nice - check it out. Hopefully I'll be making something fairly soon. JoJo also featured my quilt on her post! How cool is that???!

I'll be linking this post to some linky parties. Check out what others are up to! Oh Scrap! MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Fabric Tuesday, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Off the Wall Friday

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Art with Fabric - Stained-glass window

Art with Fabric blog hop
Welcome to the Art with Fabric blog hop. My art quilt is based on the stained-glass windows of Gaudì's Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, Spain.

The windows within the Sagrada Familia are a beautiful progression of colours from blue, green and yellow, to orange, red and purple. My piece is a depiction of the colours found in these windows.

Stained-glass windows
of the Sagrada Familia

The stained-glass windows were created by Joan Vila-Grau based on architect Antoni Gaudi's plans. The shapes of the glass pieces are a mixture of curves and lines. Since Gaudi's designs were greatly influenced by elements in nature, I created my stained-glass to represent parts of nature based on the colours used.
Stained-glass of the Sagrada Familia
My interpretation of the stained-glass window of the Sagrada Familia
White depicting the clear
textured glass
The straight lines and green of trees
The straight lines and green of trees
The first row of the stained-glass represents the white light of the Creator. In the Sagrada Familia, the windows of the upper portion of the transept are made of clear textured glass that shimmer onto the vaults. In the art quilt, I used white-on-white fabric that I thread sketched based on their designs.

The second row begins with purple that links it to the last row of the window. The blue that follows represents the sky and rain. These shapes are more circular than the green shapes at the end of the row. These have straighter, more angular lines that depict the forests and majestic trees.
The yellow of the sun

I used all kinds of thread sketching designs, and tried to use the same design on all of the pieces of the same colour. This was sometimes difficult to do since some fabrics were only slightly different and I wasn't always able to match them.

Continuation of green
in the third row
The third row continues with blue flowing from the second row; goes to yellow in the middle; and then continues with the green from the second row. The shapes continue to represent elements such as curves and long vertical pieces of blue for rain; a sun and diamonds of yellow and more angular trees in green.

In the fourth row, the blue turns to green and then transitions to yellow and orange. In the yellow and orange section, I have tried to depict the setting sun - circular for the sun with rays streaming down. The bright orange and yellow of this section stand out in the window.
Yellow and orange of the setting sun
Brown, red and purple of the
earth and rocks

The fifth and last row represent the grasses in green, as well as the earth and rocks ranging from brown, red to purple. The purple also links the beginning of the window to the end.

What I learned:
  • This was by far the most ambitious and difficult piece I've worked on. Unfortunately, I don't think that I was quite ready for it.
  • As much as I love the picture of the stained-glass window, the real project was not a success. It's not easy to admit that I made a lot of mistakes - but after my initial disappointment I have to say that I learned a lot and will hopefully be wiser for it.
 What went wrong?
  • I used the freezer paper to cut each piece and then sewed them together using raw edge
    Raw edge applique and freezer paper
    Raw edge applique and freezer paper
    applique. This technique requires a level of sewing precision that I don't have, and am not particularly striving for. I had briefly considered adjusting the pattern to foundation paper piecing. I'm sorry that I didn't do this. It would have changed the pattern somewhat, but since it was mine to make up, I'm sure it would have been fine. It would have taken a lot longer to create but would have resulted in precise piecing, easily covered with "lead cane" or ribbon. It would also have eliminated the need for a bonding agent (see next point).
  • Using Heat and Bond light behind the glass pieces was necessary, as I discovered while piecing the first row. I also didn't cover the full piece with the bonding agent. If I had free motion quilted (FMQ) each piece instead of thread sketching them, they might have turned out better. But since I didn't, many of the pieces came out lumpy.
  • After completing the lead cane with ribbon, I made the sides based on the design around some of the windows in the Sagrada Familia. The fabric I used was too dark and took away from the focus of the window. If the stained-glass window had worked out, the background could have been fixed. But since there is no way to fix the window, it's not worth the effort to change the background.

Although it was a tough piece to work on, I am very happy with my design of the colours and shapes of the stained-glass window. I'm not sure that I will ever come back to this piece, but I might be able to pull it off if I used foundation paper piecing. That could be an interesting challenge, especially if it didn't involve a deadline! Thanks for taking this learning journey with me. You can read the whole adventure in the following posts:
On the very bright side, I now have an amazing collection of solids and silk thread. There's got to be a few wonderful projects resulting from these!

Don't forget to see the creations of the other participating art quilters. See the entire schedule here.

Thank you Alida for organizing this wonderful blog hop. Next time I'm going to try to be a little less ambitious!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Blog hop almost here

Art with Fabric blog hop button
Art with Fabric blog hop
It's almost that time already! Fibre artists from around the globe will show their creations based on art, architecture, books or music. If last spring was an indicator, it's going to be awesome. What a treat to see everyone's creations.

The Art with Fabric bog hop is almost here - and I'm sort of, almost ready. I will definitely have something to post, it just might not be the absolute final version. There are ways of creating an art piece that will be presentable but that will then have a second section added to it shortly after. At least that's my working theory. We'll see if I can pull it off :-)

I have been working as hard as I can on this, and if I had a super power, I would still choose the ability to stop and restart time. Imagine what I could do in that pause! But, since I haven't acquired that particular power yet, here's what I've been doing without adding pauses.

When I left that wonderful quilting retreat where I worked between 8 and 10 hours a day, except for Sunday, the picture below shows what I had accomplished. I had finished rows one to four of the stained glass window. I'm very happy to say that, to date, it's come out better than I expected.

Rows 1 to 4 of the window

Getting the pattern ready for row 5

I resumed work on the window a few days after my retreat. This was the first (and last time I hope), that I've had to rest after a retreat. I followed the same process at home and it went well.
Final row has been attached and is ready to be sewn

After finishing the final row, it was time for the free motion quilting, which technically was more paint sketching, since there was no batting and therefor no quilting involved.

That's what I did last weekend. I wanted each piece with the same colour to have the same pattern. This was the most challenging part because some of the colours are almost, but not quite, identical. I really enjoyed the thread sketching and finding different patterns to stitch.

I took the picture below to see what my window would look like if it wasn't quilted and had light coming through it. It just might be worth making something like this in the future.
Light coming through the thread sketched window
The window is now pieced. Here's what's next:

  • Add panels to the sides and top of the window;
  • Quilt; and
  • Add the lead cane (ribbon) between each piece of glass!!! 

For the side panels, I've consulted my photos, countless images on the web as well as the book below, The Colours of Light, that I bought at the Sagrada Familia the last time I was there. Although Gaudi designed the church and left specific instructions for the work to take place after his death, the master behind creating the stained glass windows is Joan Vila Grau. If you want to learn more, this link will take you to an interview with Joan Vila Grau about his work.

The Colours of Light
Now you know my plans for this weekend (which is Thanksgiving in Canada).

Finishing these tasks should result in the first part of my project. I'm afraid that you'll have to come back to see the results of both Part 1 and 2.

What I've learned:

  • Sometimes there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done. That's when we have to be flexible and come up with plan B (or C, or D, etc.)
  • I went shopping last night for the lead cane (aka ribbon) for my window. I am hoping that I found the perfect ribbon, that I will be able to machine stitch it onto the quilt and that it will look great. This is my favourite outcome!
  • I'll be sending poor, frazzled Alida, who is organising this blog hop, a picture as soon as I can.

My post within the Art with Fabric blog hop will be next Friday, October 14, 2016.

Please join all of the artists who will be participating in this blog hop next week. I know that they have worked hard on their creation. Let's encourage them.

I am linking this post to the following linky parties: Needle & Thread Thursday, Off the Wall Friday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finally over the procrastination and planning

My favourite quilting retreat space
Life is good! I spent the first evening of my quilting retreat, starting this post while sipping a gin and tonic, and enjoying the rewards of a day spent working on my Art with Fabric piece.

In last week's post, I was procrastinating by planning my project. Although it was procrastination, it was well worth it. I was able to figure out roughly how to tackle this project.
Art with Fabric blog hop

I received all of the fabrics that I ordered. Look at these beautiful colours! If you want to enhance your stash, try making a multi-coloured stained glass window! I got the Kona cottons from Mad About Patchwork and some lovely Whisper Whites - Ultra Whites from Flare Fabrics. After washing everything, I had no excuses left!

This fabric rainbow makes me happy :-)

It was time to start. I brought my supplies downstairs to the kitchen table and made my calculations for the project based on my submission to the Colour Unboxed fibre art exhibition. The final size will be 30" by 40" (ish). Bigger than my usual art quilts but small enough to be manageable on my machine. Anything bigger and I'll need a large studio!

Supplies for drafting the window

I started drafting the stained glass window on freezer paper; the circular part at the top of the window and then the next four rows of colour. It took me a few hours but since I had practiced drawing and colouring it, this part went fairly quickly.

The first two rows drafter onto freezer paper

Once finished, I hung the draft in front of our French windows to photograph. I sent the entire plan to my girlfriend who is a stained glass artist. I'm happy to say that there was only one minor adjustment to make. Of course, I'm adjusting as I'm making the quilt, but at least I know that I'm following proper stained glass principles.

Draft of the stained glass window pattern on freezer paper
If you're not familiar with the properties of freezer paper, let me enlighten you! I imagine it must be good in the freezer, but it's amazing for quilting. You draw on the flat side, cut out the image from the freezer paper and the iron the shiny side to your fabric. This project would be much more difficult without freezer paper!

I started by numbering all of the pieces in the first section and then cutting them. Before ironing the pieces to the fabric, I take a picture so that I can put the puzzle back together again.

The pieces are cut and will eventually be ironed to the fabrics

The pieces are put back in order 
I completed the top circular part of the window before leaving for the retreat. Since I want the background to represent the sandstone wall, I added the brown behind the circular piece before placing the stained glass pieces. The sides will be easy to add because they're straight, but I really didn't want to add the circular part afterwards. It's important to keep the potential complications to a minimum!

Choosing, cutting and placing the fabrics
I continued the process with the second row, learning as I went along (you can read about this below). At the retreat, I have a small table where I cut and piece my fabrics. You can see my IPod in the background. That were I check to make sure that I'm putting the puzzle back together properly.

I work in sections. Now all the pieces have been cut and are ready to be placed.

When I finished sections 1 and 2, I took out the ruler to make sure that I'm still on track. Yikes - it looks like I have some minor adjustments to make at the bottom of row 2. It's OK if the pieces are too long since they can be clipped or covered, but too short is not an option.

Rows 1 and 2 
Since I'm making this up as I go along, I just kept at it. Now my stained glass has two new pieces.

What I learned:

  • I was thrilled when I stopped procrastinating and finally started the project. Why, oh why do I keep doing this?
  • The quilting retreat was a last minute thing. The Universe provided when I needed it! Thank you. I am very grateful :-)
  • For the first circular row I just placed and sewed the fabric directly on my background. I found it slightly hard to manage.
  • For the beginning of the second row, I put a little bit of Heat and Bond Light at the back of my fabric. That helped but I needed more of it.
  • By the end of the second row, I was on a roll. I still don't cover my entire piece with Heat and Bond Light but I put more on and this definitely helps.
  • At about the middle of the second row, I realized that my pieces were getting bigger because I was adding an eight to a quarter of an inch but not butting the pieces together. Good thing I figured that out before I ironed them all down.
  • It's tricky putting these together because you don't want to have spaces between the pieces but you don't want too much overlap. I'm now cutting the left side on the pattern line but adding the extra fabric to the right side so that the next piece will overlap. I just have to adjust this occasionally because the pieces are all different shapes.
  • I'm finding it hard not to make the pieces all perfect and attacking the fraying threads. I need to remind myself often that I will be covering the seams with something to represent the lead cane. Since I still have a lot of work to do on this quilt, the fraying will get just leave it!!!

I have to get back to the third row now. I hope to post something in the next few days on my progress.

Check out what everyone is doing through these linky parties: Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle and Thread Thursday, MOP Monday, Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop? Main Crush Monday, Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday,

Monday, September 12, 2016

Art with Fabric Blog Hop Coming

Art with Fabric blog hop 
Have you ever had an amazing idea for a project that scares the hell out of you? I know that this is a good thing, because it means that I’m stretching myself as an artist, but it’s still painful to go through.

To minimize the anxiety (and justify the procrastination), I’ve done a few things:
  • I did my homework so that I’m comfortable with the subject matter;
  • I’ve drawn several drafts with various amounts of detail;
  • I’ve gone through my fabric and purchased lots more;
  • I’ve written out the process I’ll use so that I know how to tackle the project; 
  • I’ve even sewn with some of special thread I’ll be using to get used to it (more on this below) and now…
  • I have to get off my butt and START!
This post is as much about convincing myself as it is another procrastination technique :-)

I can hear you ask….So what’s the project? It’s another Art with Fabric blog hop hosted by the wonderful Alida. As if my last project wasn’t ambitious enough, this time I’m not just outside the box, I feel like I’m floating (or hanging) 10 feet above it! Here’s a hint: it’s based on the amazing Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, Spain.
Passion Facade - Sagrada Familia
If you’re not familiar with this architectural marvel, check out their website. I’ve been lucky enough to visit it twice. I have to admit that it wasn't love at first sight. When I first saw it, I felt like I was walking onto a sci-fi movie set designed by someone on an LSD trip! I've grown to love it, but what won me over is the inside. WOW!!!

Here are some of the potential fabrics I've taken out for the project. As you can see, these are all solids. It would seem that I have lots of blue, green and red (pink) fabrics in my stash. I had to order some yellow and orange.
Mostly blue and green fabrics
Mostly blue and green fabrics
Reds and a bit of yellow and orange fabric
Reds and what little I have of yellow and orange fabric
What could require these colours within the Sagrada Familia? If you guessed the stained-glass windows, you are correct!
Stained glass windows
Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows and pillar
Stained glass windows and pillar
So what makes this project so out of the box for me? There are many things such as:

  • The size – I’ve decided that it will be roughly 30” by 40” – much bigger than my usual art quilts.
  • The fabric – I haven’t made many projects all in solids.
  • The subject – although it's based very loosely on elements found within the Sagrada Familia, it’s very much my representation.
  • The commitment and my expectations – this project is primarily for the Art with Fabric blog hop but I’m really hoping that it will be accepted for the Colour Unboxed fibre art exhibition that will be help at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum with Out of the Box Fibre Artists. This is an amazing opportunity – but it's adding to the pressure that I feel already.

Package of Kimono Silk thread
This is the lovely package I receive each month
I plan on doing a lot of free motion quilting in the windows. For this, I will be using mostly Kimono Silk thread from Superior Threads. For the last 4 months I have treated myself - I receive 6 spools of Kimono Silk thread in their Kimono Thread of the Month Club. The silk thread is very fine. #100. It's absolutely wonderful for FMQ that blends into the background. I am planning on using Superior Threads' Bottom Line, which is a #60, for the bobbin. They really work well together.

Kimono Silk threads - better for you than candy!
Kimono Silk threads - better for you than candy!
What I've learned:
  • I do this every time I have a big project (one that scares me) to do. I will procrastinate till I have such a tight deadline that I'll have no choice but to start and be stressed out.
  • At least I know that once I actually start, in theory, it shouldn't be too rough. 
  • I am really looking forward to the FMQ part - but I will make an effort to enjoy every step of the project.
  • Please come back to check on my progress. Being accountable will help me move forward.

I have linked this post to the following Linky Parties. Please check out everyone's work. MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle and Thread Thursday. Off the Wall Friday

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Textile and Colour Intermission

In between projects, I took a trip this weekend with my family. It was filled with colour, textiles and good food with family – all the best that life has to offer!
Chihuly Exhibition at the ROM in Toronto

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto has an amazing exhibition of glass by Chihuly (until January 2, 2017). It’s a symphony of light, colour and form. I’ll let you judge for yourself!

This is the first installation you see as you come into the exhibition. It may look like a bowl of glass beads in this photo but it’s actually a full-size boat filled with glass balls. Wow!

This is one of my favourites. It’s a glass ceiling filled with translucent glass shapes of myriad colours. They actually have mats on the floor for visitors to lie down and look up at the ceiling – which is how this picture came to be.
A truly beautiful glass ceiling by Chihuly
A truly beautiful glass ceiling by Chihuly

Reflected light from the glass ceiling by Chihuly
Reflected light from the 
glass ceiling by Chihuly
The reflected light is almost as beautiful as the light coming through the glass.

One of the calmer pieces is a row of old images of first nation people and a representation of glass baskets beneath them. Stunning.
Glass bowls by Chihuly based on Aboriginal baskets
Glass bowls by Chihuly based on Aboriginal baskets 

Toronto is also home to the Textile Museum of Canada. This weekend they had two exhibits - Bliss: Gardens Real and Imagined (until September 18, 2016) and Worlds on a String: Beads • Journeys • Inspirations (until October 23, 2016)

Original fabric designed by William Morris
Original fabric designed by William Morris
Bliss explores flowers and gardens in textiles throughout history while the Worlds on a String explores the history and significance of beaded objects.  My favourite exhibition was the garden and flower themed textiles. Since I’m a huge fan of the Arts and Crafts movement and William Morris, it was great to see the original fabric designed by Morris.

The colours are particularly tranquil and muted after the Chihuly exhibit.
Silk embroidery from China
Silk embroidery from China

Here is a beautiful embroidered piece from China.

Last but not least is the Worlds on a Bead exhibit. There were many beaded objects from all over the world, but I was struck by the colours and composition of these pieces by Ubuhle Beautiful Beads, a beading community established in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Bead
Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Beads

Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Bead
Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Bead
Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Bead
Beading by Ubuhle Beautiful Bead

What I learned:
  • My daughter just finished a course on the history of modern architecture. She took me through the ROM’s gallery of The legacy of European style through the ages (from the Middle Ages to the 20th century). Since I quizzed her for her mid-term and exams, it was great to see for myself the differences between Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Victorian periods in different countries.
  • When looking for a particular location in downtown Toronto, it’s important to get more than the street address – I missed the Textile Museum by one block and got very frustrated and hot. The upside – I found the wonderful Mi Taco Taqueria on Queen Street West. I love eating home-made foods from around the world! 
  • There are drawbacks to visiting more than one museum in one day. I was both hot and tired when I arrived at the Textile Museum. I took many photos since I knew I would appreciate them more when I was rested.

I've linked this eye candy post to the following links: Off the Wall Friday, MOP Monday, Monday Making