Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A New and Improved Design Wall!

My studio is a small bedroom in my home. I am not complaining, because I realize that many people have less space than I do. I’m very thankful for what I have. But nevertheless, I store a lot in that room and use it for a wide variety of creative purposes. Given that, I need to maximize the utility of every square inch! Here you can see that it's a bit crowded in there...

A design wall is essential to art quilting, I think. For years I have been using a design wall that I would construct from stretcher bars and batting. I didn't have the space to leave it up all the time, so it would be up when I’m working on a project and then taken down. When it was up, I was frequently moving it around the room in order to access the closet, or this table, or that bookcase. It was inconvenient to say the least.

stretcher bars when being stored

So recently I decided to make a design wall on one of my sliding closet doors. The closet in my room has three sliding doors. The center door does not slide behind the other doors, allowing things to be placed on it without being knocked off when I slide the door. I have taped drawings to this center door for a long time without any problem.

door before design wall

I made the design wall out of insulation foam that I purchased at Home Depot. Home Depot has various thicknesses of insulation foam to choose from. I used a foam that is about 1.5 inches thick. I could have purchased a large sheet of it for less money than I spent, but the large sheet would not fit in my car.  Instead I purchased several two foot by two foot squares of the insulation foam. My door is three feet wide, so I cut some of the insulation foam sheets down the middle to make one foot by two foot sections. I placed a two foot by two foot piece next to a one foot by two foot piece to cover the width of the door. I covered most of the door this way, ending up with a three foot by six foot design wall.
insulation foam

The foam sheets were taped to the door using mounting tape. This tape is double sided and rated to support a heavier weight than the foam and anything I will ever pin to it.
mounting tape

After the foam was mounted on the door I covered it with white flannel. I simply pinned the flannel to the foam so that I could remove it for laundering when needed. Here is the design wall on the door with some photos pinned to it:

design wall on door

I liked the wall on the closet door so much I decided to add a smaller version to the back of another door in the room. It is incredibly convenient now to pin fabric, photos, drawings and other things up in an instant. I got this all done in one day too. It is a great improvement over what I was using.

I hope this gives you some ideas of how to better use your space. 

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bonsai - Borders, Quilting and Finishing

This post is going to describe the finishing steps for this Bonsai piece. After adding the foliage, I squared up the inner orange part of the quilt and then added a flange made from cream silk fabric to the bottom and left borders. After the flange was on,  I made a border from the brown table top fabric and added it to all four sides. I like uneven borders so if it looks like one side of the border is larger than the other, it is!

Once the borders were attached I did another round of squaring up, and then sandwiched the top, batting and back.  I machine quilted this piece with my HQ Sweet Sixteen. I tried to follow the pattern on the background fabric that was left by the tin tile impression. Where I couldn't see the impression I just made up a pattern to fill in the space. I used pretty tight stitching on the background. Here is a close up of part of the background.

background quilting

For the pot quilting I stitched a curving pattern reminiscent of ammonites. It is a pattern I use quite often. In this case it gave the pot the appearance of a ceramic vase, which is what I was going for. Here is a close up.

pot quilting
I also did machine quilting around the appliqué pieces, in the foliage and on the border. The border design was just a fan shape variation and straight lines.

border quilting

After the machine quilting was done I finished the edges with a facing, 

I named this quilt “Furui Bonsai No Ki”, which means “Old Bonsai” in Japanese. The Haiku I wrote for the label reads:

"Furui Bonsai No Ki

Old Man of Nature
Silent Garden Observer
Shaped to Perfection"

And with that I will call it a day. After all, it is always a good day when you finish a quilt!

Thanks for visiting my blog! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bonsai Foliage

The foliage on this fiber art piece was a lot of fun to make. I used a technique similar to "thread play", as described by Nancy Prince in her book.

To make the foliage I unraveled yarns and strip sliced nubby fabric. I added this to other fuzzy yarn pieces and threads.

foliage beginnings

unraveled yarn

I arranged the masses of threads, yarn parts and fabric into light, medium and dark value piles. Then I arranged the piles so they had a similar value arrangement to the painting. I created a few different clumps to represent the dominant leafy areas in the tree.

foliage clump

Once I had the masses the way I liked them, I placed them between two layers of Solvy water soluble stabilizer and pinned it. I call this a Solvy sandwich. I stitched all over this sandwich to secure the masses. After stitching I placed the sandwich into a water bath to dissolve the stabilizer.  I rinsed it well and let it dry.

Solvy sandwich

After drying I laid the foliage masses on the tree trunk and stitched them in place lightly. I held off on more stitching because I plan to use machine quilting stitching to secure it more. I didn't want to stitch too much at this stage for fear of compressing the mass. I wanted to keep the three dimensional appearance of the foliage. Here is a close up of the foliage. I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

Next I'll describe the machine quilting. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bonsai Table and Pot

Today’s post describes the making of the table and pot for the Bonsai fiber art piece shown here.
After the tree trunk, the table and pot were a snap. I cut out pattern pieces for these by placing freezer paper over my enlarged drawing and tracing the outline of each separate part.

table and pot pattern pieces

These are the table parts:
Legs, top, top edge and leg area front. I wanted a different fabric for the top to help give the impression of a horizontal surface, and to make it more interesting to look at. I used cotton browns for the table. The top and leg front was made from a large print, while the other areas were made from a subtle dark brown print.

brown fabrics for table

The pot had these parts:
Base, lip, and inside. Once again I selected fabrics based on color and value to try to give depth and highlights where needed. The lip and base were raw silk fabrics, while the inside of the pot was made with a cotton Japanese fabric.

pot fabrics

These were also needle-turn appliquéd to the back ground. This appliqué work was easy because of the straighter lines. Here is a close up of the table and pot stitched down.

The next step for this piece was making the foliage for the tree. I’ll describe that in an upcoming post. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bonsai Trunk

For today’s post I’m writing about how I made the tree trunk for the Bonsai fiber art piece that I show above. As I mentioned before, I made this from a watercolor painting I had done. My favorite part of the tree is its' trunk.  In particular, I love the twisted appearance of it, and I thought I captured that in the painting.   I wanted to make sure I got that same look in the fiber version of this, so I decided to make the trunk by painting it, the same way I did in the watercolor painting.

I used an ivory raw silk fabric for the trunk.

raw silk fabric

I cut out the trunk shape and marked the darkest areas with a Frixion pen. I wanted to start painting with my lighter values, so I mixed a pale yellow and pale mauve shade and started applying to the trunk. I used my watercolor painting as a guide for the placement of the colors. After painting the light values I put in mid-values and then dark values. I mixed the inks with aloe vera gel to give them more viscosity and prevent bleeding. After the dark values were in I came back and added some aqua blue for highlights on the trunk in a couple locations.

ink painting

watercolor painting

To set the paint I pressed the fabric. Then I hand appliquéd the trunk to the background fabric. I marked the outlines of the trunk on the orange background fabric so I would get the placement correct. I used a needle-turn appliqué technique with silk thread. I found it difficult to needle-turn the raw silk because it frays more than cotton. But I did the best I could and persevered! I had several branch openings to stitch down and some of these edges did not look great, but I knew I was going to add foliage to that area and those edges would be covered. It worked out and I was pleased with the look of it after it was done.

trunk stitched down

My next steps were adding the table and pot that the plant is in. I will describe those steps in an upcoming post. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Attend the Shades of Passion Show Artist's Reception - Virtually!

Did you miss SAQA's "Shades of Passion" show this year? If you did, you can enjoy a montage of images from the artist's reception by clicking on the link below. The video shows many of the art pieces in the show as well as artists and guests. 

Thanks to Laura and Luke Bisagna for creating this video - Shades of Passion

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mapping Out

Quilts on the Wall's "Maps" Exhibit will be on display with Ellen November's cartographic themed fiber art at the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes Estates. I have a piece in this show, it is the Mission themed fiber art piece shown on the postcard below on the far left.

The artist's reception is November 8th, from 2;30 pm to 5 pm. The show runs from November 1st through 29th. Additional exhibit information is shown below. It should be a wonderful show and I hope you can see it!