Quilt Update!

So this is how the whole Attic Windows quilt is coming together: it will have a border with some log cabin and nine-patch blocks giving it a bit of a sampler feel, but that’s OK. Fell behind due to being on vacation for 2 weeks.

So that is 216 individual blocks! And….The digital antenna simply works at this location right now; it is not part of the design process:)

This quilt design wall is 80″ high. So there us room to compose a large quilt!

Attic Windows: Quilt Block as Metaphor

I’m working on a new quilt, a traditional block pattern called Attic Windows. Below is  the general color palette:

Quilt Blocks are stable fabric structures; fabric can be re-purposed and re-used when it is re-assembled along it’s grain–and the grain lets you go vertical or horizontal. When put back together, scraps of woven fabric are best assembled along the grain, that is if you want something you can use for generations and also through in the washing machine. Reassembling on a diagonal creates a bias; which can be useful in it’s own way, for something with drape, but not for making a quilt for use.

Here are some short videos cutting the vertical and horizontal strips, as well as monologue about picky-piecing and design elements to consider when choosing fabrics for a traditional Attic Windows block:



The point on the end of the 5″ long strip is achieved by cutting off the bottom at a 45″ angle, creating a mitered corner, which takes 2″ off the cut side. The window is a 3-inch square. The block un-assembled is 5″ square.

The current color palette matches the colors on the last major quilted piece I managed to complete in the past 5 years, the Diaspora piece from 2015, a highlight below. It is my favorite color scheme, pastels and the tertiary part of the color wheel. Then, I remember intentionally trying to use bold and durable primary colors–to challenge myself to use a different palette–only to have the unintended consequence of a new design process reduce those bold colors to…..you guessed it……pastels:

It feels good to resume a forgotten, enjoyable activity; what we love often falls away as we deal with economic survival, toil, labor. I encourage anyone reading this to consider now what can be done to remedy this situation in your life. There must be something you love to do and are not doing. If, due to the pressures, duties and responsibilities of your personal life this fell away somewhere along the way–do not worry!  If you want to get back to it you can. When the time and space presents, take the first step, which is often simply cleaning out a space and making room and setting your intentions.

Through the process of trying different creative ways of doing things we re-create; we make form from the old in a new way. You can use your experiences of being not creative when you are creative again.

But life situations happen. Sometimes there are other things to do in the other rooms of your own personal house. We forget about the room where the stuff is that we get out and discover and remember about who we are/were/will be.  It’s like going up into the attic after a long hot summer. It’s all cobwebby and musty. But, a more usable space again.

In many shamanic traditions the hummingbird is revered for being able to do the impossible. This is especially true of the great wisdom traditions of the Andes–what we in the States think of as Peru. Get your hummingbird on for when your window to create appears! Because if this tiny creature can do the impossible….surely you can set aside an afternoon to tidy up you “attic” or whatever the equivalent is in your personal life, this so you can start to do again what you think or thought was impossible.

Update on Paper Shredding Fabric Design

080815 blog 1 diaspora

This is what I’ve got so far in my ambitious diaspora project. The size is roughly 58″x58″. The concentration camp image is almost done; above that is the Lincoln memorial image, you can see it in pencil barely, and I’m going to start filling that in today. I’m auditioning text for the other spaces, not sure where that will all go yet. Also, the conquistidor shape, a rubbing from my recent visit to Santa Fe, will factor in somehow, as will the national weather service hurricane symbol, which you can see to the left.

Here’s a close up:

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And here is the stack of color photocopies (I’ve spent close to $100 on these) which I’ll be ripping up and fitting into the piece, somehow. I recently shared with one of the women in my bi-weekly art quilt group that I was spending my time shredding paper in my art studio; she asked me if I felt like a hamster. Not a lot of fabric is designed by ripping up paper and taping it together! Next time I’ll post a photo of the paper debris on the floor. It’s impressive. But, not until the Lincoln memorial design element is complete.

Screen Printing Saguaros

I need some fabric for the border of my quilt; I spent the weekend screen printing, and while I wanted the fabric dark, I started out light with a dark pink. Above, the first run of saguaros. Below, two silk screens with saguaros cut out of contact paper stuck; the screens are the same size, but the arrangement of the saguaros is different on each one.

I then did a run of blue, then gray over the pink:

This is how the fabric looked after the first run of gray, it’s the vertical piece on the right:

I thought it wasn’t dark enough, and printed another run of saguaros with what I thought was a darker gray, but it didn’t make too much difference; here’s both vertical pieces auditioning on either side of the quilt top, along with some fabric strips auditioning for window frames for the 6 windows:

I think I’m OK with the vertical border fabric as it is. Which is another way of saying I’m done screen printing out in the heat on my patio. The next step is to put it all together, and then I have to decide what colors to use to frame the windows; here’s a few strips I’m trying out. My sister had the great idea to alternate the colors and widths of the fabric strips for the windows.

Lots to do. More soon, when I can tear myself away from obsessive/compulsive fabric auditioning and sewing. It seems I just can’t stop trying out yet more colors and patterns to see what will work best. This is where having lots of fabric may be my doom.

And yet more baby steps…

This week I managed to get some garden and art related chores done after work.  It’s fall here in Arizona and temps next week will be in the 80s!!! Time to start the winter garden. I turned over my raised beds and added some potting soil…

Here are my nicely turned over beds; these are home to parnsip, carrot, beet, kale and lettuce; the wire on top is to discourage the local stray cats from confusing my garden with a litter box.

Then later in the week I tackled the dreadful art-quilt-framing issue. Here are my cedar stretcher bars on the back side of the desert marigold piece….

And here’s the piece pulled over the stretcher bars and stapled to the back. I know, it doesn’t look straight, but it is; just a bad camera angle:

Late this afternoon, I measured the stretched piece and cut some poplar molding I have to make a frame; I then used my new mitre-trimmer to make the neatest 45-degree angle cuts:

Unfortunately, my very amateur woodworking skills have got me again, and this frame is going to be just about a quarter-inch too small all around:

So I’m going to have to get a more accurate ruler for measuring; at least it’s reasuring to see that the mitre-trimmer makes a huge difference in cutting wood for frames, check out this very smooth fit below! And that’s not even glued yet.

If I can just get the measurements just right I’ll be fine. Maybe when I do this again, I need to make the stretcher bars and frame at the same time, before I stretch the quilt. It seems that with the quilted fabric stapled over the piece, if I make the frame just 1/4 bigger all around, that frame should then  neatly fit around stretched quilt art.

That’s my plan at least!

Desert Marigold: the 4th of 5

Feeling better. It’ll be a while before I complain about having my usual aches and pains, after this past weekend when I could barely walk! I mean, I’m used to being achy AND having some mobility. So I can at least walk around and complain at the same time!

This is the sketch for the 4th of 5 collage pieces I’m working on, all featuring desert plants/flowers; this piece is going to be 19″x23″. The sketch will be filled in with ripped up photocopies of photos I took of desert marigolds in my yard this past spring. The photos that inspired the basic shapes of the flowers, and which are the basis for the collage, are also shown in the photograph above.

I’ll start ripping tomorrow!

Penstemon Project

This photo of a Parry’s Penstemon in my backyard earlier this year is one of several I’m using for my new project, the third in a series of silk-paper lamination art quilts.

I traced some of the flower-shapes onto transparency plastic and used my trusty overhead projector to enlarge the design, so I could trace onto paper:

You can’t really see the traced design that well as it’s in pencil, but this is what it looks like on the dining room table, the transparency plastic is on the lower right-hand side:

Now I’m filling in the design with ripped up bits of photocopies of the photos of the Parry’s Penstemon, I think it’s looking OK so far:

More later. Back to ripping up paper and gluing it down. Too hot to do anything outside so might as well!

All Bound Up

Some of you may remember this: my mitre saw, and my plan last spring to build stretcher bars and frames for some of my small art quilts:

Well….I was almost able to do it. I need more time (and patience) to learn how to do some basic woodworking. Not exactly impossible….but not practical now. So the other day I dyed some black/gray fabric for the quilt binding, and officially finished this 19″ x 22 1/2″ piece, called A Poppy Dance. I should point out that silk coated in acrylic gel medium is highly reflective, so there’s a bit of shine here from the camera flash:

Likewise, this same-sized art quilt, Prickly Pear Pieces, was treated the same way with a tidy binding; if I hadn’t decided to do so,  this too would sit around waiting for my remedial woodworking skills to miraculously improve beyond what I remember from High School Shop class. And I don’t remember much, except building an ashtray  (that dates me!):

I brought both to my parent’s restaurant yesterday, where they’ll be put on the wall: I hope they sell!