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!