Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Working in Three-Dimensions

I've been feeling a slight tug toward creating three dimensional work for years. In fact, a couple years ago, I experimented with small fabric bowls and especially like this structure.

So I finally came back to it with the challenge of using this format to create a wall-hung art quilt.

I planned to created a two-sided quilt, cut it up, sew it into small vessels then sew the vessels back together. I wan't sure how it would come together, but I knew the only way to find out was to work through the process. (As is true with most things.)

I shared most of this process on FB and IG, but now it's all in one place here in this blog post.

I decided to create a Kansas landscape and gave myself the parameter of working with only my stash of pre-fused fabrics.

I built the design of felt for batting thinking that would give the vessels more body and structure.

Lots of wrinkly bits!

Beginning to be tamed, fused, flattened.

Here are the front and the back side by side.

Next I needed to quilt the whole thing. I started with this "wheat" section leaving some long threads to add movement and texture. I had to stitch from both the front and the back to get the loose threads on both sides. Sort of tedious.

And then I cut it into 6 inch squares.

As I began to form the vessels, I marked the dimensions on the edges and hand stitched.

Here's the first one I formed. It's fine, but the center square is not an actual square. My angles were a little off which skews the shape a little. Maybe not a big deal, but I needed to find a way to get a better and more consistent result.

I wondered if just one stitch at the corners would work?

No. Still skewed and I didn't like the open edges.

Clips to the rescue. Plus measuring!

Then I just kept stitching One by one by one.

I was beginning to think about construction and pinning them to my design wall.

I was liking the way the design folded over the corners. I knew the horizontal lines of the original design would be angled because of the construction of the vessels -- but they still felt visually connected.

Then I considered angling the vessels to restore the horizontal lines.

Aha! I really liked this version and especially liked the possibility of the open squares between the vessels.

Eventually I finished stitching up all the vessels, then I stitched them together. In this time-lapse, you can see me measuring the positions for the joins and stitching them together.

Finishing this was so satisfying. It was a fun process. It's good to do something different. 

I titled it Vessels: Heartland. It's 26x16x2" here's the front.

And here's the back.

Some details.

I am delighted to say that it was juried into Art Quilt Elements which will open at the Wayne Arts Center in March.

I'm intrigued by this structure and have been thinking about what to do next. Actually, I even ordered some fabric with a new idea in mind. Then I got distracted by something else. So, stay tuned.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Personal Symbols for Art Quilts Workshop at Craft Napa

I'm super excited to be teaching one of my favorite workshops at Craft Napa! It's Personal Symbols for Art Quilt Collage on Thursday, January 16, 2020. (Register here!)

We create small art quilt collages and mount them on mat board so they are ready to frame.

Check out these amazing students from some past workshops who literally left with finished pieces of original art.

I provide a kit of fabrics that are carefully curated so every student has a great selection to work with. Plus, the fabric is all pre-fused so everyone gets straight to creating rather than fussing with applying fusible. I always offer a few different kits so everyone finds something inspiring.

We work on a series of six small art quilt collages in the workshop. Here is my workshop sample series.

Here are some AMAZING in-progress series from students in past workshops.

Each so unique and original! That's what I try to make possible in my workshops. I offer a framework and set of step-by-step instructions, but there is opportunity for each student to make their own creative decisions along the way.

We talk about how personal symbols can inform the creative process. It's interesting to think about what that can mean to the artist -- and to the viewer. My own set of personal symbols are just simple shapes.

Some people don't find the idea of personal symbols particularly inspiring. No problem. Lots of students just work with interesting shapes that they like -- hearts, leaves, tea cups, or abstract designs like swirls or arrows.

Here's one of my original art quilt collages framed and hanging in our entry way. (Cheap Ikea frame!)

Curious about that fractured landscape? You can see more about that here.

Still want to know a bit more about the Personal Symbols for Art Quilts workshops? Here I am chatting about it.

Want to join me for this workshop at Craft Napa? I'd love to see you. Register here.

Another amazing thing about Craft Napa? Afternoon coffee and treats. So delightful.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Creating an Art Quilt Collage about Agnes Chase

I am delighted my quilt Grass Made It Possible will be included in the new special exhibition, A Better World, premiering at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in October and traveling to several venues through 2022.

I'm eager to share the quilt with you, but also to share the story about how it came about.

The call for entry asked artists to make a quilt inspired by someone who made a positive impact in the world. Wonderful! I can get behind that... except I don't really make quilts about people. This would be a challenge to find and harness some seed of inspiration that would allow me to make a quilt that will fit my personal style, but also the requirements of the theme.

I began by doing some research and making notes about women scientists looking especially for someone who worked with plants since I like botanical imagery.

I came across Mary Agnes Chase who studied grass and was a suffragist. Aha, a good possibility.

I texted my daughter Claire for her thoughts.

I found tons of pictures and scans of her reports, journals and letters in the online archives of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

I copied this bit about the "mule with a most agonizing trot" that she rode while collecting grass in Brazil.

She traveled to several countries -- and was the worldwide expert on grass at the time.

She worked at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History into her 80s.

I continued searching online and found a book she authored that included several of her original sketches of grasses. I thought they might be perfect inspiration for a quilt, so I ordered the book.


My friend Helen contacted me about some upcoming classes I'd be teaching. She was eager to study with me. I told her I thought the Sacred Threads weekend would be perfect. She could take some workshops plus see a wonderful quilt show. She quickly signed up. I was delighted she'd be there!

We've been friends for a long time! Here we are in Sunday School together in about 1977. We're in the back row. I'm wearing the plaid dress and Helen is wearing the pink dress.

My mom and I attended Helen's graduation when she received her doctorate in Divinity recently.

In another email to Helen, I mentioned that I was also excited to be teaching in the DC area since my daughter Claire would be interning at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History this summer. Here's Claire with her advisor and some of the tiny flies she is researching.

Are you sitting down? Here's a bit of Helen's email response.


Can you believe it? Me neither. So of course, I had to make a quilt about Agnes.

I started by pinning lots of fabric to my design wall.

Using the sketches in Agnes' book for inspiration, I began creating patterns for grass shapes and cutting them out.

Here's the inspiration for the purple grass.

I didn't take many in-progress pictures along the way so here's the finished quilt.

Knowing the exhibition is really about raising awareness and celebrating people who have made a positive impact on the world, I wanted to be sure the quilt was really about Agnes... and not just beautiful grasses. So I included this panel describing some of the many things she did, including her connection to Helen (and to me).

The quilt is titled Grass Made It Possible which comes from Agnes' writings.

"Grass made it possible for the human race to abandon the cave life..." but it also made it possible for me to learn more about Helen. I learned about myself through the creative process too -- as I always do. I learned more about the botany department at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and had lots of fun conversations with Claire about her work there.

I am especially inspired by Agnes' dedication to connecting with other women scientists all over the world. Just as grass connects us to the earth, we are connected to each other in innumerable ways. It may seem this quilt is about grass, it's really about celebrating those connections.