Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Review: Art Quilts at Play


Art Quilts at Play: Ignite Your Inner Artist – Experiment with Surface Design Techniques by Jane Davila & Elin Waterston
C&T Publishing. 111 pages. $29.95

Mixed-media and fiber artists Jane Dávila and Elin Waterston, the team that brought us Art Quilt Workbook in 2007, have another hit on their hands, I think. This book encourages quilters to explore new techniques, materials and processes. It offers straightforward directions, concise supply lists, numerous illustrations and ample encouragement for beginners as well as those who already have their feet wet. It’s an excellent introduction for beginners, or a handy reference for the more experienced.

Section 1 includes chapters on:
1. fabric creation (mixing color, fabric dyeing, simple screen printing, nature printing, found object printing, stamp making, fabric painting with water-based resists, bleach discharging, and images on fabric)

2. special effects (paintstiks, fabric inks, water soluble pastels, painted fusible web, gel medium, expandable paint medium, shrink film, metalic foil and leafing, PearlEx powders, art glitter, and Angelina heat-bondable fiber)

3. a student gallery.

I had already played with most of these materials and techniques, so I didn't really need the first section. But as a teacher of surface design techniques for quilters, this is definitely a book I'll recommend, and refer to in class. Those without formal art training will also appreciate the glossary.

The second part of the book is what takes this beyond a mere how-to or reference book. Here are fun and interesting ways to push yourself out of your box, share your work, learn from others, and collaborate with other artists in a group.

Section 2 includes chapters on:
1. challenges (subject challenges, word challenges, process challenges)

2. collaborative projects (fabric art journals, surprise package, exquisite corpse, mixed media art)

3. art to trade (artist trading cards, fiber art postcards, small art swaps)

4. connections (online groups and the Internet, small in-person groups, critique groups)

5. collaborating artists gallery.

All in all, this is a great book with lots of practical exercises, as well as loads of inspiration, encouragement and energy.

You can order an autographed copy on Jane or Elin’s website.

The mermaid returns!


“Teach Me to Hear Mermaids Singing” is back home, safe and sound. She’s been traveling the world for the past 2-1/2 years. I made this quilt in 2006. It was the second art quilt I’d ever made. I started it after painting the face in a class taught by Bonnie McCaffery. The rest of the quilt is made up of tiny fabric pieces (some as small as 1/4") positioned under tulle, then heavily embellished with thread painting. You can see this in the detail shots below.

This quilt was selected as one of 50 finalists in the 2006 Husqvarna Viking competition “MasterPieces: Imagine That!” It was exhibited first at the 2006 International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston, and then toured to Sweden, Great Britain, Chicago, Finland, Australia and Denmark. I am happy to have her home!