Sunday, November 18, 2018

Symphony in Stem Stitch

My piece is ready for the Out of the Box Fibre Artists group's exhibition at the Stittsville Library in December. I have never placed a piece in this venue but when the organiser said that it should be art with a quote, I got an idea 😊  Why not make something with one of the embroidery pieces that I've been working on?

Finding the right words

Google was made for finding suitable quotes (among a few other things of course!) On the Goodreads site I found the perfect beautiful quote by John Keates:

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"

Symphony in Stem Stitch



I've been working on this project for over a year. It's the second embroidery using free motion quilting (FMQ) motifs. It's been a lot of fun to create since it's very improvisational. I just started by doodling some FMQ motifs with a Frixion pen. I would embroider it using a stem stitch then add more doodling and keep at it. If I didn't like what I had drawn, I would simply iron it off.

This is the first picture of this project that was posted on this blog (see Related links below).
Embroidering colourful FMQ motifs

First stem stitch embroidery -
Étude in Stem Stitching
Adding FMQ motifs a little at a time

The image to the right is the first stem stitch embroidery piece that I started. I used much more muted colours. It's still a work-in-progress (WIP).

I started this to practice my stem stitch after taking a Craftsy course with Jessica Marquez.


This image has the binding attached and ready to be sewn to the back.
It just needs the binding to be sewn to the back
It's such a great feeling when a piece comes together the way I imaged it. It doesn't always happen, and sometimes it's really not a bad thing, or so I tell myself. 😊

What I learned
  • When I had almost finished the FMQ, I squared off the piece, marked it and then quilted it along the line. I then cut it a ½" past the line. This gave me the chance to finish the FMQ along the edges without going over it much. I don't mind loosing a little bit of FMQ when squaring it up, but if I don't mark it before finishing it, I tend to go over the edge - a lot!
  • I finally used my quilting ruler to FMQ the line around my piece. I used Angela Walter's "Shorty" ruler. I was pretty impressed since it's difficult to FMQ a straight line. I will definitely use it again.
  • I had no idea what I would do with these embroideries but I love asking the question...."What if?" So in this case, the question is "What if I FMQ an embroidery? What would that look like?"
  • I must say that I'm very pleased with the results. There is a lot of potential here for interesting effects for art quilts.
  • Now to make the label and packaging for the piece before tomorrow!
  • I was happy to see that my practice with stem stitching payed off. When I decided to finish this embroidery I could do the stem stitch without referring to my favourite embroidery book (see Related links) or the Craftsy class. Of course I haven't done any other stitches in a long while, except for a few French knots, so it may turn out that it's the only stitch I can now do without looking up! 😊
Related links
Linking Parties
I will be linking this post to several fun link-ups. Lets see what's happening in the quilting world! Free Motion Mavericks, Slow Sunday Stitching, TGIF Friday!, Friday Foto Fun, Finished or Not Friday, Off the Wall Friday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Moving It Forward, What I Made Monday, To-Do Tuesday,
Project details


Symphony in Stem Stitch
18 ¼" x 17 ¾"
Materials: cotton, embroidery floss, Kimono silk thread,
Techniques: embroidery - stem stitch and free motion quilting (FMQ)






Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A White History of Art - Art with Fabric Blog Hop

Welcome to the fall 2018 edition of the Art with Fabric blog hop. I'm thrilled to be participating again and would like to thank Alida for all of her hard work :-)

A White History of Art

A White History of Art
When Alida said that the theme would be colour, I'm not sure that I saw the "favourite" in front of it. For me colour is everything! I had a few ideas and when I mentioned them to my daughter, she suggested that I watch the BBC documentaries, History of Art in Three Colours. It was a great series that examined the role of gold, blue and white in art. I made notes on each documentary but the third one had me sketching - a very good sign!

I knew that I wanted images representing the shift in how we see art that was partially caused by the role of the colour white in art history.

The premise of the White documentary is that during the Renaissance, white art, particularly the sculptures of the Greek and Roman times, were seen as representing purity, simplicity, and elegance. White slowly evolved to represent the elite art of the establishment and eventually the superior white of conquerors.

The White of the Renaissance

The top corner images represent the Greek and Roman marble sculptures that were so admired from the Renaissance to the early 19th century.
Marble bust of a Goddess
In the top space are free motion quilted or embroidered words: purity, elegance, virtues, and simplicity. 
Marble torso of a man
In the top centre is a piece representing a white honey dish, made by the potter Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood experimented for years before coming up with the perfect white glaze for pottery.
White honey dish in a style made by Josiah Wedgwood.
White as elitist

The purity of white that was so revered from Renaissance, slowly changed from elegant and virtuous to represent an elitist, cold and sterile perfection in the modern era. As described in the documentary, one of the artists who started art's journey toward this exclusive and elitist path was James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an American who lived mostly in England. 
Representation of a Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl by Whistler
Through his paintings and the manner in which he displayed his art, Whistler represented a world where art was less approachable and more exclusive. He was one of the first artists to present his paintings on white walls with large spaces between each painting. Before this time, paintings were usually hung on walls with very little space between them, almost from floor to ceiling. 

This change, which was eventually called the white cube, resulted in art galleries, and the art within, to be seen as special spaces that were less accessible to the general public. The image below is the White Cube.
White cube - a huge shift in how we view art
During the years that followed, many modern artists started rebelling from this view of art. One of these is my daughter's favourite artist, Marcel Duchamp. In 1917 he created Fountain. My image isn't that obvious but it's a very white porcelain urinal. This was part of Duchamp's use of "ready-mades", everyday objects seen as art.  
Fountain - questioning what we see as art
From Duchamp, the documentary takes a journey to the fascist environment in Europe around the Second World War. It would seem that Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were huge fans of the purity of white marble. They had buildings, sculptures and monuments built to represent the new era. At this time, white is seen as austere and superior - the blanc moral. It is the colour of conquerors. 
The fascist view of white art
The White documentary approached the history of art from a different point of view. I found it all very fascinating. My hope for the future is that art starts being more accessible as it is shared and seen across the world through the internet. I also believe that the definition of art is also changing as people who would never have considered themselves artists a couple of decades ago are now seeing themselves and are being accepted as such. I suspect that the white history of art is far from finished!

What I learned
  • The background is an improvisation of white and off-white batiks that I used to make the background diamonds of the Kingfisher Stitch-Along blocks. 
  • I used many techniques to create this piece. I started with the centre panel of the White Girl. I wanted to make her three dimensional since there is no reason for a dress to be flat! I even pleated the top of her dress. It took a lot of experimenting but eventually I managed to get it all together.
  • Next came the marble torso and bust. For the torso, I was able to use an image, freezer paper, a light box and free motion quilting (FMQ) to get a fair semblance of a ripped torso. I didn't have any luck with that technique for the bust of the Goddess. I ended up using some photo transfer medium to create it. Unfortunately it turned out more grey than white. I covered it in white gauze to get a paler colour.
  • The white honey pot was a lot of fun to make. I used a shimmering tulle for the background and then used some shiny sheer fabric for the pot. I even added some metallic thread through the bobbin in the FMQ. Finally I found some perfect lace to go around the tulle to give it the look of a table cloth.
  • The fountain was next. In hindsight, I wish that I had chosen an image that showed it from a different angle so that it looked more like a urinal. I used a rougher, looser woven fabric for the background, with the look of burlap - to contrast with the shininess of the satin of the Fountain.
  • The last two images were commissioned by Mussolini. There is the marble obelisk which has Mussolini's name engraved upon it and the marble statue of a boxer at the Stadio dei Marmi in Rome. 
  • I added words that were used in the different eras to talk about white. Some are embroidered while others are FMQ. The latter are much more legible but the embroidery adds texture.
Related links
Linking parties
I will be linking this post to many linky parties. Why not check out what everyone else is doing? Below you will find the links to the other participants in the blog hop. Check out the great art with fabric😊  Tuesday Colour Linky PartyLinky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Off The Wall Friday, TGIFF, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Friday Foto Finish, Finished or Not Friday, Needle & Thread Thursday, Finish It Up Friday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Moving It Forward, What I Made Monday

Project details


A White History of Art, based on the History of Art in Three Colours, WHITE
17½" x 17¾"
Materials: batik, cotton, satin, tulle, gauze, lace, burlap-type fabric, stabilizer, embroidery floss, beads, felt, metallic thread, Kimono silk thread
Techniques: photo transfer medium, improv piecing, markers, beading, embroidery, appliqué, FMQ, thread colouring.

Art with Fabric Blog Hop Schedule

Monday, November 5, 2018 - Day 1
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - Day 2
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - Day 3
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - Day 4
Friday, November 9, 2018 - Day 5



Sunday, November 04, 2018

November Madness

I don't think that I have more going on than usual, I just seem to feel more scattered 😕 Not sure what's happening there, maybe a little grounding is called for, anyway, I have a whole bunch of things to catch up on in this post, so let's get started!

Throwback Thursday

I don't have many quilts that I haven't blogged about yet. There are quite a few that were made PBE (pre-blogging era 😊) but I've slowly been including them in my posts when I can. I have a great PBE quilt for next month, when I host Throwback Thursday for Sandra, but you'll have to wait for that one!
Woven cotton runner
This month's project is a hand-woven runner. It was made in Timmins, Ontario, where I lived for a few years in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
Details of the trees on the edges
I learned to weave by taking night classes from Sylvia Martin at the Porcupine Campus of Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology. She was a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to use colour - if you can believe that!

This would have been one of the last things that I wove in Timmins. It was woven on the school's 8 shaft table loom, which took me a while to get the confidence to use. I wove mostly with cotton since I'm allergic to wool - nothing serious but it's hard to handle when it makes you itchy!

I gave this runner to my mother as a Christmas gift (since the trees look like Christmas trees). I know that she used all of the woven things I made for her. She also took great care of them, which is why I now have most of them.

I love this little corner of my dining room - it's the only area not covered in arts, school and computer  supplies :-) This area is full of art. Along with the runner, two of the planters were hand-made by my grandmother. You may also recognize the painting that was the inspiration for my first art quilt. If you don't recognize it, the link to the art quilt is below in Related links.
An area full of art in the dining room

FMQ bubbles for the dolphins
November's One Monthly Goal (OMG)

My October OMG was to create the quilt top for Charlotte's T-shirt and dress quilt. I got the quilt top finished and partly quilted, but haven't touched it since. There is still a lot of quilting to be done, but I'm going to try to finish it by the end of the month. I know that Charlotte would be thrilled to get the quilt sooner rather than later.
FMQ on one of Charlotte's dresses


Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Fall 2018  

The Art with Fabric Blog Hop begins tomorrow. This time the theme is colour.

As I mentioned in a previous post, "My piece is based on a BBC documentary series called A History of Art in Three Colours. While the first two films were interesting, it's the third one that caught my attention. My piece will feature white and its role in the evolution of art history, particularly in contemporary art."


Sneak peak at A White History of Art
Please come back on Wednesday, and in the mean time, go over to Alida's blog (see Related links) to see everyone's art work. It's always amazing!

What I learned
  • I loved weaving. It was my first fibre love 💖. At the time, I didn't think that I would find anything that I would ever love to do more that weaving. Once I left Timmins and the Porcupine Hand-weaving Guild, weaving just wasn't the same. I did continue to weave for a while in Ottawa but as the children were growing up, it felt that there wasn't time for weaving. It's only after I had my burnout that I realised how important creating with textiles was to my sanity and well-being. I've also come to realise that if I don't quilt or do some textile work during the week, that I'm a basket case by the weekend. It's a lesson that I forget from time to time to my detriment.
Related links

Linking Parties

I'm linking this post to Sandra's Throwback Thursday at mmm! Quilts. Don't forget to come back next month (December 6th)! The linky party will be here :-) I'm also linking up to the November One Monthly Goal (OMG) Setting post with Patty at Elm Street Quilt. Check out what's happening at all of these great parties! Slow Sunday Stitching, Monday Making, What I Made Monday, Design Wall Monday, Main Crush Monday, Moving It Forward, Tuesday Colour Linky Party, Linky Tuesday, Silly Mama Quilts WIPMidweek Makers,