Friday, August 4, 2017

What Shade Are You? Take A Look At A Quilt Made With Solids From RJR!


Aerial Geometry 2:  Home & Place (detail)
Since I have been studying with Nancy Crow these past few years I have rekindled my love of solids.  In addition to dyeing my own solids, which I love to do, I am using a lot of commercial solids.  One can imagine that "solids are solids"....it probably doesn't make much difference who you buy them from, right?  Wrong.
Did you know that many companies source their "gray goods" from multiple places?  That some companies outsource the dyeing to just as many sources?  Guess what happens to the quality control??  You got it.
Let's talk for a moment about RJR.  As a surface design artist it goes without saying that I spend a lot of time working with cloth;  quality is important to me.  Last summer when I was making objects with Urban Artifacts I had selected a group of solids to accompany the print line.  I noticed that the quality of the fabric was quite good.  This was feedback I received from every one of the makers who worked with the fabric.  I started to wonder about it and I inquired inside the company.  Here is what I learned:  the owners of RJR have had a long-standing relationship with the same Japanese company for the source of all their cloth as well as their printing and dyeing.  There is a very high quality of cotton broadcloth used and it is consistent.  This matters to me.

A few months ago I was approached about making a quilt for the "What Shade Are You?" project and I happily agreed because I really love the Cotton Supreme solids.  My style of working tends to be improvisational in nature so there is no pattern to be acquired with this project, but I'll share with you what I used to create my quilt.
Here is the list of all the fabrics:
283-On The Rocks
433-Silver Lining
380-Silver Screen
319-Overcast
321-Greyhound
395-Warm Gray
125-Silver
341-Stormy Night
282-Gale Force
92-Goldenrod
368-Goldilocks
357-Sunset Ruby
222-Redwork

3067-002 Box Springs in Wine
3067-003 Box Springs in Charcoal

I'm going to "walk" you through how I constructed this quilt and what I was thinking about when I was designing it.

I love to use a rotary cutter to "draw" lines and shapes into my fabric.  I think of the rotary cutter as my pen or paintbrush and the cloth as my paper or canvas.  When I piece elements together those seam lines become my gestural "marks".  For me, it has been a new and exciting way of thinking about the work. 
In this construction, another piece in an ongoing series called "Aerial Geometry", I am thinking about my experiences of flying over the Great Plains in a small aircraft and looking at the geometric layout of fields, crop rows, and farms dotted across the landscape.  Quite a bit of my abstracted work is about the meaning of home and place.  I'm interested in the juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements.  While it might not reach out and "smack you over the head" my work frequently includes shapes and symbols that represent these ideas in many of my quilts. 
Also in this quilt I have included a basic house-shape, a nest shape, and some graphic Alliums to represent my garden.
First, I free-cut numerous strips of all the neutral colors in my palette.  These were sewn together and small segments of Goldenrod, Goldilocks, Sunset Ruby, and Redwork were added randomly throughout.  I created sections of gray neutrals and "beige" neutrals separately. 


On my design wall I marked a general shape to represent the intended size of my construction.  I find this to be a helpful guide while working.

My desire was to alternate the gray and beige areas, which were cut from the long pieced sections
in alternating sizes and widths.  I wanted to vary the direction of the pieced shapes.


Here is how I "built" the construction:  first the pieces, then the rows,
then I joined the rows.  When piecing these somewhat amorphous shapes I overlaid the edges and
cut through them so the pieces would come together as a flat construction.
I didn't worry about that whilst piecing the strips because I steam-ironed the strips really well.
It does become important when laying the larger shapes together.

Here are all the large shapes before the rows are joined.

After the background was pieced together I created "stems" for my Allium elements
by cutting sections of Gale Force and Rework fabric colors, folding and sewing a quarter-inch
seam, then rolling the seam under and pinning the stems to the surface, then stitching in place.
Four stems were appliquéd prior to the quilting, and one was added afterward to create some visual depth.

Next, I stitched together a group of raw-edge strips of solids and prints to create
a "nest", which was stitched onto the surface of the construction.
I wanted all these elements on the surface prior to being quilted as I planned to add more elements
after the quilting.

Here is a closeup of the "nest" components.

Here is a photo of one of my dry giant Allium blossoms, still standing in my garden.  I enjoy their
metamorphosis and I like how they look after the blossoms have dried out.  They offer a
lovely visual texture in my garden so I leave them in place as long as possible.

My quilt was longarm-quilted by the talented Joanna Marsh from
Kustom Kwilts.  She did this beautiful matchstick quilting of the background.
I like to use a double batting of Quilter's Dream Orient and the top layer is Quilter's Dream wool.
This seems to be a perfect combo:  lightweight, breathable, and perfect for quilts that will need to be shipped and folded as the wool prevents creasing!

I free-motion embroidered the first layer of blossom with my sewing machine feed-dogs down.
Then, I hand-embroidered more stem components of the blossom and the buds were added with
French knots.  This is one of the few places where I really need to use a thimble because
that is a lot of layers of fabric and thread to push a needle through!


The roof and base of my "house" were created with Urban Artifacts by pillow-casing some batting between two layers, stitching and quilting the pieces, then appliquéing them to the quilted surface.


Next, I squared up the edged and stitched a facing onto the quilt, then turned it to the back and whip-stitched it in place.  This is a cotton canvas print from Rifle Paper company, which is
a division of Cotton & Steel (which is part of the RJR family, in case you didn't know!).

Here is what the turned corner looks like from the front.  I like the clean edge of a faced quilt,
particularly for one that is to be a wall piece.






I'm satisfied with the details of the construction.

And here is my finished quilt!
Dimensions are 40" by 40".

If you are coming to Quilt Market and/or Quilt Festival in fall, 2017, please look for my quilt as part of "Personal Iconography:   Graffiti On Cloth", a special exhibition presented by Dinner At Eight Artists.  Jamie Fingal, another designer for RJR, is the other half of the curating team with me. 
I hope you enjoyed seeing how my quilt was created.  I really encourage you to ask for Cotton Supreme Solids at your local quilt shop(s).  It is really a great product and I am a fan!










Monday, June 26, 2017

A Quilt-centric Summer.....

Sometimes all deadlines seem to collide into one small window, right?   Usually, it seems to happen near the holidays but, for me, it happened in June.  Many deadlines came to a head, and a few unanticipated opportunities that I simply could not pass up.  So, what I am trying to say is that, at times, I am my own worst enemy.  It seems that a good deadline is often needed to propel me across the finish line with some of my art projects.
I will write a separate post about traveling to Cleveland to tape two segments for "Fresh Quilting", but I wanted to write about the studio activity surrounding that and other projects.
First, I wanted to show you our little "quilt-turning" while the San Antonio Modern guild 
had its retreat in Kerrville at the Creations retreat center.  Have you heard about it?
Creations is an amazing quilt shop:  so well-curated!  They purchased the house across their shop parking lot and renovated it into a fabulous retreat center.  We love driving up there twice a year!
The "camp counselors" organized this quilt turning and each attendee brought a quilt to discuss.  We toured each others' rooms to see the quilts.  Fun!

I was surprised and thrilled to see Urban Artifacts was being carried in the shop!

I reside on the same shelf as Marcia Derse, and that gives me a lot of joy...

I knew Marcia's fabric would play well with mine, and vice versa.


 Okay, so I probably didn't really have time to go on that retreat but I MADE time to go because I love my sister guild-members and I didn't want to miss out on the fun.  Our guild is the best, people.
There is such generosity of spirit, acceptance, and mutual support with very little "drama".  I am a happy member.
Hi from the studio!  I'm standing in front of part of my very-full design wall.
These UFO's are haunting me...

Now, here is what I worked on back in my home studio:

"Hedgehog Social" is a digitally-printed piece that is based on a quilt I constructed
last year.  I took the photo of the quilt and altered the colors in PicMonkey, 
then printed FQs on the Spoonflower site.
The beautiful graffiti quilting is done by Joanna Marsh.

The theme of the month was:  facing the quilts!!!
Joanna Marsh, of Kustom Kwilts and Designs did the marvelous quilting
that I denoted for this piece, as well as the beautiful graffiti-style work on the Hedgehog quilt
and all the obsessive matchstick quilting that I requested on the others below.
Her work is just amazing and I am grateful to be able to collaborate with her.

This is another digital piece, part of a series that has begun this summer.
It is called "Summer of Love: Psychedelic Produce" (I know... it is a bit crazy)
This is an altered image of a cross-cut Napa cabbage.
I improv-cut and re-pieced the central portions of all four cabbages.
If you look closely you will notice that there are two tones of pink and two tones of yellow, a "glowing" one and a "flat" one (hello Nancy Crow-language).
I love the way this little subtlety makes the quilt sparkle.

Isn't the quilting amazing?!
Here is the back, a custom-printed Tula Pink fabric.  Gorgeous!
I love to put facings on most quilts as I love the clean edge they create. 
My facing has a curved corner.


This piece was created with solids sent to me by the sponsor of my segment on Improv Piecing
for "Fresh Quilting" series 200.  The quilt was ruler-free cut with a rotary cutter and machine-pieced.
Joanna quilted it with narrow matchstick lines that are slightly organic.
By the way, my new and perfect batting combo for pieces that will go to shows is this:
Quilter's Dream Orient (a silk/cotton blend) as the base, topped with Quilter's Dream Wool.
This combo is lightweight, will quilt to a very low-loft, and the wool prevents creasing during shipping.  It is just what I have been searching for.  Most double-bats get so weighty! 
This is just great.
This quilt is another digitally printed image, altered in PicMonkey and printed FQs from Spoonflower.  The image was taken under the pier at Wrightsville Beach NC when I traveled there
to stay with a friend after Quiltcon Savannah.  I created the negative space borders to reference
the architectural details seen in the pier.  I love this quilt!
Same batting:  Quilter's Dream Orient topped with QD Wool.
Organically matchstick quilted by Joanna Marsh.

This quilt, called "Interchange I", is a ruler-free improv quilt I constructed 
as part of a Nancy Crow workshop called "Sets & Variables".  This had a specific 
set of parameters that I had to adhere to:  size and two blocks were high contrast value, 
the two others were to have colors that were of the same value.  It was
quite challenging!  The quilt was longarm quilted by the wonderful Gina Pina from Austin.
This quilt has a single wool batting and the quilting echoes the basic shapes of the 
composition in 1/2" lines.  

I need to get a full image shot of this quilt, another from the Improvisational exercises workshop,
an advanced workshop with Nancy Crow.  This may be one of my very favorite quilts ever made.
I love this quilt so much.  It is very special to me, and I am just teasing you with this "quilt pile"
on my sewing table.  I was frantically putting the facing on it before I went to tape the 
"Fresh Quilting" episodes.  You will see it hanging in that blog post....


Next up: a detail from  "Resist Tyranny", a curator-piece I constructed to be part of 
an exhibition called Threads of Resistance.  


and here I am in Lowell at the New England Quilt Museum, standing in front of the quilt.


At the reception held at the home of my friend Sue Bleiweiss, on the right.
L-R:  Judy Coates Perez, Michele Muska, myself, and Sue.

So.  That was a LOT of quilt finishing inside the month of June.  Plus, I went to Los Angeles for a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, flew to Cleveland for the taping of Fresh Quilting, and squeezed a quilt retreat into the mix.  Hey, it keeps me out of mischief.