Friday, September 30, 2011

“Meadowood Stitched” exhibition to open at DSBG

One hallway where “Meadowood Stitched” is exhibited
Today we hung the “Meadowood Stitched,” exhibition at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte. This is the work of Fiber Art Options, a group of fiber artists in the Charlotte area to which I belong. It is a beautiful venue. This is the second year we have exhibited our work here. The exhibition officially opens tomorrow, and Nancy will be there demonstrating how she creates her work. 

P.J. Howard was among the first of us to arrive. Does she look prepared, or what? I love her t-shirt; it says, “I make stuff.”

We got to work. First we laid out all the pieces on the floor, and decided what should go where. Then we hung the pieces and took a preliminary look. Here is DeLane hanging her lovely felted wool piece:

After determining correct placement, P.J. and Janet Lasher measured to make sure that the pieces were all hanging at the right height:

Nancy Cook (right) worked out details with Cynthia Klemmer, DSBG’s director of education:

Here are photos of some of our pieces:

by Janet A. Lasher
by Linda Stegall

by P.J. Howard

by Deborah M. Langsam

by Susan Brubaker Knapp

by DeLane Rosenau

by Nancy G Cook
One of two hallways where “Meadowood Stitched” is exhibited
My butterfly invites people to come down the hallway to “Meadowood Stitched”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My new DVD – and a giveaway!

I am pleased to announce that my third DVD with Quilting Arts/Interweave – Dynamic Quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch — will be available in late October (digital downloads will be available earlier in the month). This DVD focuses on my method of wholecloth painting, in which I start with white PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) fabric and cover the surface with paint before stitching.

Me on the set of Quilting Arts TV, shooting the DVD
In this 69-minute-long DVD, I teach how to turn your photos into realistic wholecloth
painted quilts. I cover supplies and tools, and how to:
  • choose the right photo
  • trace the design elements
  • enlarge your drawing
  • print it out
  • transfer the lines onto the fabric. 
There’s a bit of basic color theory and information on mixing paint colors, shades and tints. Next, I cover how to approach painting your piece and how to add shadows and highlights for greater realism. And in the last portion, I show how to bring your painted piece to life with thread sketching and quilting. Along the way, I illustrate all these things by showing how I’ve used them in my work.

The focus here is on realistic subjects, so I created the piece below, Still Life With Cherries, to demonstrate the key concepts in the DVD. 

Still Life With Cherries
This is the photo on which the quilt above is based:

I love the combination of paint and stitch! I think the texture that the stitch provides is what makes wholecloth painted quilts so much more interesting than paintings. Here are some detail shots of this small art quilt:

Still Life With Cherries (detail)

Still Life With Cherries (detail)

Still Life With Cherries (detail)

Still Life With Cherries (detail)

I’ve been teaching workshops on wholecloth painting for the past year, and this is really not a difficult technique to master once you have learned the basics. If you can’t get to one of my classes, the DVD gives you what you will need to be successful with the technique. 

The DVD will be available on the Quilting Arts/Interweave website – and on my website – in late October. I’ll keep you posted!

To celebrate, I’m giving away one copy of my new DVD! Post a comment after this post, telling me why you would like to win it. At noon on Sunday, October 23, I’ll draw one name at random. I’ll send a copy of the DVD to that winner as soon as I get back from teaching at International Quilt Festival, in early November. If already follow my blog, or if you sign up to follow it now (see the "Join this site" button in the upper right side of my blog, under my photo), tell me that in your post, and I’ll enter your name twice! UPDATE: Bee in Texas is the winner!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Psychedelic Peacock

I have been away for two days speaking and teaching at the Burke Quilters’ Guild in Morganton, NC, about an hour’s drive west of me. What a nice group! And Morganton is a really lovely, interesting town. Before I left, I got a bit more done on my peacock – especially on his head – so I thought I would share it with you. I’m hoping to do a lot more work on it in the next few days. 

I am pleased with what I’ve done so far on his head. It is funny that when I crop it this way, he looks pretty reptilian, doesn’t he? Peacocks have small, rounded, short feathers on their heads, and longer, stringier feathers on their necks. I tried to imitate this with my thread sketching.

I am taking artistic license with the feather strands, and making them much curlier at the top than they are in real life. 

Where the strands cross each other, it creates really wonderful grid patterns.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thread sketching Psychedelic Peacock

I have started thread sketching Psychedelic Peacock. It is going to take a long time! I am liking how the thread looks in the areas where the strands of feather overlap each other.

Right now, I am not sure if the thread is showing up as much as it needs to. I use a light-weight cotton thread (my favorite, Aurifil Cotton Mako 50) when I thread sketch. Heavier thread would cause too much draw up, as I am only working through the top of the quilt and a layer of interfacing. 

Of course, there will be more thread – and heavier thread – added when I quilt, but I had not intended to go over all these lines again. Perhaps I will quilt in between the existing lines on the feathers, using a similar color of thread. But that would be a heck of a lot of quilting! 

I am considering using some metallic paint around the eyes on the feathers – and maybe just a little on all of the feather parts – to add some shimmer or iridescence. That would be done after thread sketching and quilting, which is a little scary… it would be horrible to spill paint on a nearly finished piece. 
I also think I need to work on covering the spines of the feathers a bit more – either with thread or with paint – as they are too dominant against the black background.  

Here is a detail of the small feathers on the sides of the peacock’s neck:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meadowood Stitched is Oct. 1 through Nov. 14

You are invited! Please mark your calendars and make plans to visit our latest exhibition, Meadowood Stitched, at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, NC, just outside Charlotte. It runs October 1 through November 14. 

“Meadowood Stitched” is an exhibition of work by Fiber Art Options, a group of fiber artists from the Charlotte area who work in fabric, paper, fiber and thread.  This exhibition celebrates the opening of Meadowood Walk, the newest part of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, through an exploration of the colors, textures and intricacies of meadow and woodland plants, animals and insects. 

During the past year, members took hundreds of photos in the meadows and woodlands of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and in other meadows closer to their homes, and used these photos as inspiration for their work. Each piece reflects the myriad perspectives possible in a natural landscape combined with the unique style and methods of each artist. 

The exhibition will include the work of Nancy G. Cook, Linda Stegall, Deborah M. Langsam, P.J. Howard, DeLane Rosenau, Janet A. Lasher. And me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Psychedelic Peacock

Okay, after about three full days of work, pretty much non-stop (when I wasn’t cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving kids around, walking the dog, or sleeping), here’s where I stand on Psychedelic Peacock. All the planning, drawing, tracing, cutting and fusing are done! It is ready to thread sketch! Well, after I get the stabilizer ready.

In the shot above, you are only seeing the middle section (about 36" in depth, since that's the width of my work table). The shot below shows a bit more of the bottom. I know that the spines look really strong right now because they are so light in value, and the background is black. But they will get partially covered up with a lot of brightly colored thread, so I think they will recede significantly in the next step.

I am liking it a lot, and I usually end up liking my pieces much more when I’ve done a lot of free-motion stitching on them, so I’m excited to move on to the next step. But it may be challenging, because I don’t have a long-arm or mid-arm machine and this is a big piece (48" square), and it is pretty stiff, due to the fact that there are large areas of fusible adhesive in it, and there will be interfacing behind the whole thing.  Wish me luck!

I actually made it about 52" square to start. The heavy thread sketching I do tends to shrink pieces up a bit, and I can always crop it down a few inches at the end, if need be. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Psychedelic Peacock, Part 2

I spent all day today (a good 8 hours) working on Psychedelic Peacock, and I am liking how he looks. The photo above shows the top portion of what will be a 48" square piece. I will add a lot more detail on the face and beak when I thread sketch this piece. Right now, he looks pretty flat, but he definitely has that look in his eye that says, “Watch out!” The same look he had before he chased me off the lawn!

The colors really pop against the black background, don't they? Tomorrow I will take on all the “spines” of the individual feathers, and all those little fluffy feathers on either side of his neck. There are probably more than a hundred of them. And once I get more of the two blue fabrics, I will finish up his neck. Then I have a huge amount of stitching to do!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Psychedelic Peacock

This weekend, I got started on my latest piece, which will be pretty large, about 48" square. The sketch above shows what I’m aiming for (except that the background will be black instead of white). I’m going to do it in a pretty realistic way, but change a lot of the original colors.

The piece is based on the photo below, which I took at the zoo in Colorado Springs this summer while on our family vacation. This peacock was uncaged, strolling the lawn, and was initially quite happy to have his photo taken. I was pretty close to him, maybe about six feet away, when he decided that he didn’t like me much. He hissed, and came at me, and I retreated … but not before getting some great shots.

I started by cropping my photo to a square and printing it out 8" wide on my laser printer. After tracing the main lines in the image on tracing paper, I blew up the line drawing in Photoshop to the 48" size I needed. Then I placed this image in InDesign, a page layout program, and drew dotted lines every 8" across and 13.5" down (as the pages would be printed out on 8.5" x 14" legal-size paper). I positioned the sections, one at a time, on the page, and printed each out – a total of 28 sheets. Then I cut and taped them together along the dotted lines. You can see the dotted lines here if you look closely:

Here’s how it looked all together on the work table in my studio:

I placed black fabric on top of this drawing, pinned it to the paper, then positioned a light box underneath, and slid it from section to section, roughly drawing the lines with a mechanical chalk pencil. These lines will help me position the fabric pieces, after I’ve put fusible adhesive on the back of each.


Usually, I trace my lines onto clear upholstery vinyl, and use that as a positioning overlay to place all the fabric pieces correctly. In this case, since the piece is so big, I thought a vinyl overlay might be difficult to use, so I am trying this instead. 

Next, I needed to plan how I would color the drawing, since I’m not doing this in the actual peacock colors in my photo. My peacock is going to be kind of technicolor! So I took a copy of my line drawing, and had some fun with my watercolors. (The finished painting is at the top of this post.)

My next step will be to start tracing shapes onto my fusible adhesive. I use Lite Steam-a-Seam 2 from The Warm Company, because it works great for my process. Because it is slightly sticky after you remove the paper backing, it is very easy to position and reposition all the little pieces before you fuse them down. Sometimes I have a lot of little pieces, so this is an important feature for me. I also like the stability that the adhesive provides. Lite Steam-a-Seam 2 is not the lightest fusible adhesive out there – this is a plus if you are going to do a lot of threadwork on top of a piece, because it acts as a stabilizer, too. I will be using interfacing behind this piece to provide additional stability before I stitch; I’m doing all the little strands in the feathers with thread sketching.

By the way, my interest in peafowl goes back to the early 1990s, when my husband and I rented a late 1700s cottage on the Shadwell Estate. Shadwell is the land originally owned by Thomas Jefferson’s father, and where Jefferson grew up, just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Our landlord lived in a spectacular mansion built by Jefferson’s grandaughter, and we lived in the older, smaller house, which we called Boxbriar Cottage. It was the most amazing place I have ever lived, surrounded by 20-foot-tall boxwoods, pastures, gardens, enormous tulip poplars, and woods. 

Our landlords had peafowl; not long before we moved in, their peacock had been killed by an owl. His mate, peahen Emily, still sauntered the grounds, and we loved seeing her and hearing her eerie cat-like call in the evenings. When our landlords went out of town, we were given the job of feeding Emily, who ate quartered grapes, chopped walnuts and crushed Carr’s Water Crackers. I am not kidding you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Journal-making class with K. Grace Howes

Today, I took a journal-making class with my friend, K. Grace Howes of Redbarn Studios. It always find it fun – and liberating – to take a class in something I’ve never done before; this was a perfect example. Using Grace’s design for her “Coptic Stitch Journal,” I learned how to cover chipboard with fabric and paper for the covers, how to create signatures of paper for the inside, and how to stitch the whole thing together. 

Grace demonstrates one of the techniques.
Barbara stitches her journal together.
Elyse pulls her waxed linen thread through the binding.
Grace shows us how to do one of the trickier parts of the project.
The front of my journal is shibori fabric I made several years ago by stitching with a running stitch into white cotton fabric, pulling the thread very tight so that the fabric bunched up, knotting it, and then dropping the fabric in a vat a black dye. I think it looks like dental x-rays!

The front cover of my journal.
The inside of the front cover is a sparkly glitter paper:

The inside cover of my journal
I chose a Halloween theme for my journal. Don’t you just love that spiderweb paper (below)? These special papers separate the signatures, or folded bunches of paper inside the journal.

In this photo showing an overhead view, you can clearly see the four signatures:

Stitching the signatures and the book covers together with the waxed Irish linen was the trickiest part. Here’s how the side of my journal looks. I’m not sure that I did everything exactly right, but it looks pretty much okay!

I will probably do some embellishment on the front cover, but I’m going to let my ideas percolate for a while before I do. What a nice way to spend a Saturday morning!