Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Dance

I was doing a happy dance on the inside after we finished assembling the petunias last night.  When we first laid out the six blocks on the cutting table around 7:00 pm, we were not really sure what in the world we had done.  We spent a couple hours fussing and fiddling and making seams and edges line up, and Jo finally got all the pieces put together.

She went into the next room to hang it on the wall, while the rest of us stood back.  One by one everybody said, "Wow!  That's amazing! Wow! It really looks GOOD."  I think we were all stunned and thrilled with how well it came together.  It was obviously done by six people, and we never wanted it to look all the same.  Part of what we love is how different everyone's interpretations were, and yet how much it hung together.

The other thing I was even more thrilled about was that my piece, though it was not perfect, seemed to fit in well with all the others.  It needed some adjusting and tweaking, but they all did a little bit.  So I was hugely relieved not to have a big messy thing right smack in the center of their beautiful work.

I would love to show it here, but will wait and see if we have any plans to enter it anywhere that would prohibit that, and of course not unless everyone agrees to "publishing" it.

And no, I still have no plans to ever do another appliqued pictorial quilt.  I am totally excited to get back to my abstract strip piecing!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pink Petunias

I finally forced my dear patient friends into giving me a deadline for this group quilt.  It's been dragging along for many months, probably close to a year, while all of us went through life changes, vacations, family emergencies, etc.  As of May I was the last one not finished with my section, and others have stepped in to take over the section of member number six, who bailed early in the process.

I admit I was not very motivated to finish. I have never done a group quilt, and I'm by far the most inexperienced of the group.  I was not entirely sure how to approach it, but figured it would have to end up being fused.  Over the past year, I've come to realize that fusing, and realism, are definitely not the direction I want to explore.  So I was motivated to do a good job for the group, but nervous about making a mess.  So, wonder of wonders, I actually am done early!  Well, okay, before the cheers go up, I'm not really done.  I'm done fusing.  I now have to stitch it down, and add some stitching lines for lines in the flowers.  Which I'm even more worried about.  But I have tonight and tomorrow for that.

So, here's a little photo essay of some elements.  I am always lazy about process photos, but you get the idea...

Here's a print of the photo we selected, taken by one of our members.  I drew the lines on it in Photoshop, trying to make the sections interesting shapes, and to give everyone at least one flower.

I enlarged the photo and printed it on our large format printer at work.  (Being an architect has some advantages!) I honestly can't remember now what the final size was, my piece seems to be about 15" x 18" maybe.  I know I had to print multiple sheets, because I wanted each person to have a little of the adjacent section, to see what they were matching up to.

I dawdled around for a long time doing de-saturations, posterizations and other stuff in Photoshop to try and figure out how I would construct everything.  I ended up making 6 different layers, gradated from light to dark, printing each on a separate piece of paper (not shown) so I would know which areas were to be light, medium light, etc.    

Then I made a full-size tracing outlining each piece.  This is the master-tracing and alignment map, that does not get cut up.  Then I traced other pieces on separate pieces of tracing paper and cut out the shapes.  Except for some where exactness really didn't matter, those I eyeballed.

I built up the assembly piece by piece on a Teflon sheet (most of the time, I occasionally fused things to my cutting board and drafting table, that didn't work nearly as well).  Then I laid the whole thing over a piece of lightweight muslin which had been prepared with Mistyfuse, and ironed it down.  Little tidbits of fusible were added to temporarily hold the layers together, but the stitching is intended to be the permanent attachment.

And here's where it now stands.  I have extended my pieces at least an inch beyond my border to allow for assembly.  I'm not sure how that's going to work, but we will hash it out on Wednesday.  
I'm generally pretty happy with it.  I also spent a lot of time fussing with the 3D bud in the lower left, but never ended up with anything I really liked.  It looks pretty lame now, but the side and bottom will be cut off and I hope that will help.  And some stitching, or quilting.  I also am not happy with the lower right flower section.  For the one on the upper left, I was able to use the directionality in the hand-dyed fabric to mimic the veins in the flower petal.  I didn't have a piece that would do that for the lower right. So I'm going to have to rely more on stitching. 

So that's what I've been up to.  After Wednesday, I'll be back to my own projects, and one of my first goals will be to get backing and batting ready for about four or thirteen different tops that are languishing, and start practicing my machine and free-motion quilting skills.


Long Absence

Life sometimes gets in the way of art, and bloggers go silent for months.  I get frustrated when it happens to my favorites, but I understand.  Somehow blogging just didn't come to the top of my priority list recently.  But I may be having a few extra visitors soon, so I thought I'd better catch up.  As far as art quilt news, here's the finished Tipping Point on display at the Whatcom Museum.
It's just a quick iPhone shot, because, as usual, I was rushing around at the very last moment getting the hanging system to work and didn't remember to snap a photo before heading over to the museum.   

Sadly, I missed the opening artist's reception at the beginning of July, due to one of the reasons I have been away; my younger brother had a very bad stroke and I went to L.A. and later to D.C. to spend time with him and support his family.  He's doing well, now, though has a long road ahead to recover.  

I have to say the thrill of seeing my work in "the museum" was everything I'd hoped.  I went alone on my lunch hour, and perused the exhibit without immediately searching the room for my piece, but finally it appeared!  Being an open call, there was a wide range of work displayed, an I felt that mine compared positively as far as the level of professionalism.   As you can see there is a slight ripple in the bottom edge and the upper corners don't lay flat.  Hanging systems are something I have not spent enough time on.  

The title of the exhibit is "Nature in the Balance," and several themes were suggested -
What is happening to the Earth?
Why is it happening?
What are your visions of the future?
How can people make a differerence?

I chose "What is happening to the Earth," and my artist's statement (100 word limit) was:

This piece explores the complexity and interconnectedness of our planet’s ecosystems, oceans and atmosphere.   Many climate scientists refer to the possibility of a “tipping point,” when the combined effects of warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and pollution on the planet have accelerated and reinforced each other to a point where no human action can bring them back into balance.  I suggest we are perilously close, if not already at that point.   I tried to interpret this theme abstractly by using a variety of different but related patterned fabrics to represent the variety and diversity of life on the planet.