Monday, May 16, 2016

An experiment in flower making

This is a detail of a small quilt of branches of a spring flowering tree. I had magnolias in mind but they're looking a bit more cherry blossom-y.

The method was :  I layered four pieces of fabric. The top is the green hand dyed background of the design. Underneath is ivory, light pink and deeper pink. I added the branches which are zigzag stitched on.  The I snipped into all three fabrics so I had six sections which I turned back and ironed -- that is tricky because they don't want to be ironed.  Then I filled the empty middle space with a knot of a strip of one, and sometimes two, of the pinks.  The knots seems to be a tightly furled bud with petals opening around it.  I tacked the end of the knoted pieces in back so they would not slip around.

I used a picture from a book of Japanese arts for the placement of twigs and flowers, but I'm not very happy with my choice.  Nevertheless, it's a few limbs.  I will include the full picture of this little quilt, which I have finished with a pillow case style backing and a narrow band of hot pink piping at the edge. I think of this as mainly an experiment.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Waiting for Spring to Spring Forth

No, the hydrangias, as in the new header photo, are not out yet -- the rhododendrons and azeleas aren't either.  Every season here has a different rhythm. It's definitely spring but the forsythia didn't open until near the end of April instead of early on as they usually do.  A chill, sometimes very cold (even snowy) wind slowed their opening. That same kind of chill in the air has had them clinging, now a tired old gold instead of the original gay, sweet yellow, the leaves are timidly trying to emerge.  The rhododendrons hesitate with tightly furled buds, not ready to open at all.  Some azeleas, if they have been planted in reasonably sheltered spots where they get whatever sun the stingy sky has offered have opened but cling in a bewildered, slump-shouldered way.  The daffodils and narcissus have opened and seem to stand around bewildered that time, for them is standing still. 

Meanwhile rain has fallen every day for a week. The pundits say there's a "low pressure system" stuck above Cape Cod.  I  look out my window now at fog; it is soft and a bit romantic but I am terribly tired of it. Spring is late; we had only two days when people thought it had arrived.  I watch people and see many have pulled out their flipflops. How cold their toes look. Here men of all ages seem to think wearing shorts is a delight, they look silly with their bony knees, hair legs above their socks and sneakers or other shoes.  I remember my fashionable earlier days with short skirts and panty hosed legs and being very, very chilly in such weather.  I don't do that any more.  I haven't even pulled out the short sleeved tee shirts -- or the flip flops. Maybe sometime next week ... if the weather changes.  In former years there have been wonderful April days when  I walked on my favorite beach, bare foot, along the tide line enjoying the coolness of the water around my ankles. I have not even been to the beach -- the wind has been forbidding.

But "true" spring will come. The rosa rugosa will bloom, the  plovers and terns will nest, and I will be able to go to the beach, find a quiet spot and do the tai chi easy which involves a period of deeply breathing that air off the water and contemplating the blue of the water and sky and perhaps some fluffy cumulus clouds drifting by, utterly peaceful, with no intent of spilling more rain.

Friday, May 06, 2016

A little spring inspired art quilt

A challenge to make a mini art quilt on a spring theme had me digging in the drawer with antique handkerchiefs. What's springier than all thost little bunches of flowers?  So I affixed it to a quilted background with the border of sheer purple ribbon and the collection of mismatched tiny white buttons  then added to the center a fancy-cut violet plant (or maybe it's a primrose) from a piece of decorator fabric, fused it on. Added a couple of butterflies and then a circle of narrow white lace to frame the plant.  I was delighted that I'd recently been given the siver-tone buttons that are in the four corners of the ribbon. They are embossed with a lovely two flower design which can be seen if you click the image to enlarge it.  This quilt is 12x12.

Now I am gathering ideas for a "tea party" mini art quilt for the same group.  Plus I have another art quilt challenge to work on and three different ideas about how to go about it.  Challenges are always fun for me.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Leni Wiener, textile artist

 These two pictures should be side by side, but it seems blogspot won't allow it.  The upperleft is called "Concerned" and the lower one is call "Hitting Bottom". They are from an amazing work of art by Leni Weiner, a textile artist from New York City who gave two wonderful talks at the Bayberry Guild this past week. 

Leni began as a traditional quilt artist and also a professional photographer. Then she honed her skills and  gradually cut away all the surroundings until she is, in this newest (I think) work showing only people sitting on a bench. They are in ones and twos and the whole secret is their body language -- you don't even see the bench except it is shownce without people siting on it. These are all real people although often devoid of distinguishing facial feature and often in clothing that is different colors than in the original photos Leni took (over a long periods of time. (There are about fifty individuals. As you can see, this is quilting, it is textile art. On her web site she has the set of people, which, on sides she showed when she gave a talk, was displayed in an art gallery in Taiwan. And will be shown elsewhere.

I was so fascinated by Leni's bio that I went to both the evening and day meeting of the guild (which I've never done before) and I'm glad I did. It's been a long time since a billiant art quilter, turned pure artist,has caught my attention. She gave an outline of her personal progression from traditional quilt, to portrait quilts (has written a book that I own) and along her journey to these very pure statements about people where one doesn't even need to see the bench to understand what they are doing and grasp the message from their body language alone. She spoke also of technique and of her understanding of using hue as the secret to good portraits. 

In short, I was blown away by this woman's brilliance. She hopes to publish a book of the bench sitters and if she does I certainly want a copy. I wish I could see the set "for real."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Black and White and Many Colors Too

I love making reversible quilts.  This is my boldest one so far.  The "front"is entirely made of black and white prints in a Greek key or squared spiral pattern. And the back has an accent print -- a print i bought as a remnant and, because it is so exuberant, I thought I'd never find a way to use it. But here it is. It's essentially black and white with bits of all those other colors among the elongated bubble black and white designs.  It was fun to make both sides. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter scene quilt

This winter scene was inspired by a cover of a New Yorker magazine from last winter.  The challenge from the Uncommon Threads group was to do something with the surface of the quilt. In this case it's quilted in wavy lines for snow -- nothing unusual. And then wisps of stretched out batting has been added for snow, in this photo it's most visible along the left side but there is more that didn't come out cearly in this photo.  And I used cotton for the snow on the trees. I'm still "playing" with the snow on the trees, pulling off overages and  considering where to stick on a bit more.   

For me the diminishing trees were a challenge. I had to make the most distant ones first and the continue overlapping the limbs and changing the color of the trunks and branches.  The people and dogs are a fairly straightforward copy. I actually fell in love with the dogs.  They all have their own personalities and purposes as they walk.  I take a little pride in adding the man's red jacket.  

I finished it yesterday and hung it in the dining area, taking down the autumn leaves quilt.  I'm thinking that now I have autumn and winter, I should do summer and spring.  I know what I will do for summer (a reprise of the yoga on the beach quilt but smaller) and I have a nebulous idea of what I'd like to do for spring.  .... But right now I've got a list of projects to work on and won't begin either in the near future. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quilts that are not quilts

Doesn't this have a quilty look?  This wooden structure wraps half way around the tree and has a bench on the inside.  It's an ideal place for a person to sit and meditate/contemplate, or for two or a few people to have a quiet conversation.  This is a fairly new addition at Heritage Plantation in Sandwish, Massachusetts. As you can tell from the green leaves in back the photo was taken before autumn came. Heritage is a large botanical garden, very beautiful all year long but spectacular in the spring.  It has a wonderful little museum with changing exhibits, a collectible car museum, a couple of very old buildings, and various sections, some almost hidden. A wonderful place to explore.